Aaron Paul and Kat Candler’s new film Hellion

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Kat Candler, creator of the brilliant short film Black Metal, has had her screenplay and full length feature Hellion picked up by a US distributor – Sundance Selects.

I’m doubly excited because the film stars Aaron Paul (from Breaking Bad, obviously) and Juliette Lewis, which will surely attract a huge audience.

Hellion concerns Jacob (Josh Wiggins), a 13-year-old boy obsessed with heavy metal and dirt bike racing, whose increasingly delinquent behaviour results in his younger brother Wes being relocated by Child Protective Services.

Bands appearing on the film’s soundtrack include Metallica, Slayer and The Sword. So what’s not to like?

Film Review: Her

Below is my review of Her for Rock’n’Reel Reviews.

Director: Spike Jonze

The idea of falling in love with a computer operating system probably seems outrageous and ridiculous, but in Her, Spike Jonze does a pretty good job at showing how this could soon enter the realm of possibility.

Imagine; an artificially intelligent operating system, programmed to meet your every need, as well as possessing a friendly ‘personality’ and even an apparent consciousness. This is exactly what Joaquin Phoenix’s character Theodore experiences and through his heart-warming, delicate performance, encourages you to empathise with this extraordinary situation, even if you might not understand or accept it.

Scarlett Johansson’s performance as Samantha, the voice of the operating system, is also far deeper than one would expect from a computer. She manages to convey an entire individuality within that piece of software.

Although the complexity of adult relationships is depicted in an honest and refreshing way, it’s difficult not to get sucked into Theodore’s melancholic state and on occasion the film feels slow and empty. However, this reflects the character’s bouts of loneliness and serves in highlighting the joy Samantha brings him.  If anything, it’s a reminder to cherish the positive relationships we have with significant others.

The concept of falling head-over-heels for a computer is absurd. But as we continue to let our real lives merge with the virtual world, how long will it be until our dependence on technology slips into full on immersion? Even romantically – as it seems to be accepted in this projection of the not-too-distant future.

Personal Score: 4/5

Metalhead film at Toronto Film Festival

Here we have another metal-themed film that looks really interesting. Metalhead is the latest film from Icelandic writer and director Ragnar Bragason and was just included at the Toronto Film Festival.

According to a synopsis from the festival, Metalhead centres around young heroine Hera who, after her older brother’s accidental death, rebuilds herself in his image – as a heavy metal devotee and musician. What is implied in the trailer is that Hera rapidly becomes more rebellious and possibly destructive as a result of her brother’s tragic death.

I am particularly interested to see how Bragason portrays the ways in which Hera’s character deals with her grief and anger through the catharsis of heavy metal. Definitely one to look out for!

Film Review: Animal Kingdom

Director: David Michod

As instantly as the first scene, crime thriller Animal Kingdom sucks the audience in to a vortex of destruction surrounding one family.

We follow J who, after having no choice but to move in with his grandmother and three uncles, is exposed to their dangerous behaviour. Whilst the family unit teeters towards jeopardy, we attentively grip hold so to find out whether young J will adapt or crumble under the mounting pressure brought on by his elders. Will he eat, or be eaten?

The acting is convincing from the whole cast and Jacki Weaver’s performance as J’s grandmother Janine, or ‘Smurf’, is especially intriguing. The character’s relationship with her family is astounding; while maternal and protective on the outside, you only have to look into her eyes to see that she is completely detached from the harsh reality of their situation.

After the family’s downfall, this hard-hitting production ends just as ferociously as it begins and we are left to consider whether J really has become one of the pack.

Personal Score: 3.5/5

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