31 Days of Halloween 2020- Day 1- Blood Link (1982) ***

31 Days of Halloween 2020- Day 1- Blood Link (1982) ***

A man finds himself having visions of murders being committed that turn out to be true. His visions and investigations take him to Berlin where several revelations bring him face to face with the killer.

I love ‘one good twin, one evil twin’ movies. This is another example of this genre but is closer to Dead Ringers than Basket Case.

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I hate it when people describe movies as having a ‘dream like quality’ but that description is entirely applicable here. I’m not sure if this was the intended outcome for the movie’s director or if this was the result of inexperienced filmmaking but it works really well. If you like to have a few tokes whilst watching a film then that’s not needed here. It’s obvious that the cast and crew have done all of that for you. I’m surprised Mary Jane wasn’t given her own credit to be honest.

The Berlin locale works really well with moody, neon lit scenes of down town Berlin at night looking gorgeous and fitting the darkness of the film splendidly.

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Spot the difference- the posters for The New York Ripper and Blood Link.

And then theres the cast. Michael Moriarty shows his continuation of giving off-beat performances to bring to life off-beat characters after his surreal role in the brilliant Q. He’s just as idiosyncratic in Blood Link as he was in Larry Cohen’s cultfest and is a major part of why this film is so likeable and watchable. We also get Cameron ‘Toolbox Murders’ Mitchell as an ageing wrestler whois also fantastic. We also get an Ennio Morricone score (quite surprisingly).

File this movie under ‘Oddity’. Not a cult classic but well worth seeing.

*** out of *****

A Warning From History #19842020

A Warning From History #19842020

When I hear people say that 1984 is happening in 2020 I take it literally.

Not only is George Orwell’s novel replaying in front of our eyes but the actual year of 1984 was when the moral panic regarding the so-called Video Nasties here in the UK occurred. I thought we had learnt from that. Apparently not. Feel free to watch this documentary as a reminder.

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Gone With The Wind, Little Britain, The Inbetweeners, Fawlty Towers…in the age of streaming services it’s shocking that content can be withdrawn/deplatformed/erased/censored at the push of a button. How about these companies let viewers decide if something is acceptable or not, whether it is genuinely offensive or not and if it is whether we can learn from it if it is. We could also assess whether certain moral guardians are just being oversensitive. Or maybe if certain streaming services are just withdrawing their products to garner a little extra publicity.

Worrying times.VideoNasties2

 

 

Review- Jojo Rabbit (2019) *****

Review- Jojo Rabbit (2019) *****

Jojo is a proud Hitler Youth member. He decides to go on a weekend for fellow brainwashed enthusiasts. However, after a (very funny) accident with a grenade he finds himself hospitalised. At home recovering he discovers that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home. He confides this to his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (!)

This film is actually a comedy! An off the wall, zany and irreverant comedy that works beautifully. It was a massive gamble to make such a film in such oversensitive and ‘woke’ times. And it was Disney of all studios that made Jojo Rabbit! Should such a terrible period from history be depicted in such a chirpy and comical way? Should Hitler be portrayed as such a goofball within the film? YES! Whether it’s Mel Brooks (who said he loved JoJo Rabbit) with The Producers and it’s musical Springtime For Hitler or Joan Rivers making her controversial joke about the Holocaust on Fashion Police, humour reaches the parts that more earnest and serious pieces of ‘art’ can’t. It forces you to laugh at whatever is the target of the joke is and then analyse why you laughed at something that you normally wouldn’t see as comical.

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Whilst most critics have lauded the film, there are peripheral pundits who have either said that the filmmakers have gone too far (How dare they make a comedy starring Adolf Hitler?!) or that they didn’t go far enough (How dare they make a film about Nazi Germany and not show the full horror of what happened?!). The Guardian hated the film which is another reason for audiences go and see this gem of a film.

But, understandably, everything depicted in the film isn’t just for laughs. There are plenty of gut-wrenching moments when the full horror is brought home to the characters and audience alike. These poignant sequences aren’t milked for all their worth and this makes them all the more powerful and genuine. There were a couple of pivotal scenes which made me fight back tears. These scenes were played out for what they were without the whole film descending into a tissue-soaking cry-a-thon which would have cheapened and devalued the movie’s content.

The film also looks beautiful with set designs and a colour palate that makes Jojo Rabbit a feast for the eyes. This film is beautifully constructed. Jojo’s room, the house in which he resides, the cubby hole that houses Elsa and the surrounding environs are all aesthetically pleasing and a joy to behold.

 

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Also, check out the framing. Every scene feels just as quirky, off-kilter and as warped as the narrative. Watch out for the scene on the giant steps and the later scene with it’s emphasis on a character’s shoes and how this motif is used later on in the film in an extremely heartbreaking but dignified and tasteful way.

The soundtrack is also fantastic with The Beatles’ German language version of I Wanna Hold Your Hand (‘Komm, gib mir deine Hand’)  and Bowie’s Helden leading the way. In fact, these two rather obscure (to English eyes anyway) versions of well known songs normally heard in their Mother Tongue depict the whole feel of the film- off kilter, eschew and very original.

There are uniformly amazing performances by the likes of Roman Griffin Davis playing Jojo, Scarlett Johannsen as his mother, Thomasin McKenzie as Elsa the Jewish hideaway and Sam Rockwell (great to see him taking more risks with his choice of roles after starring in the ultra-woke and unbearable Three Billboards). Also, look out for Stephen Merchant as a very sinister Nazi inspector. He reminded me of The Demon Headmaster. But it’s director and screenwriter Taika Waititi who plays Adolf Hitler who steals the show. Every scene that hes in is comedy gold as he depicts Hitler as a kind of bro/dude best friend to Jojo. His lines and mannerisms are laugh out loud hysterical.

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4 parts humour, 1 part sentiment, this film has a power that will seep into your brain during it’s running time and stay with you long after the film is over. In fact my first thought on leaving the cinema was that I wanted to see it again.

I feel privileged to have seen one of the best films of 2020 on Jan the 1st of this year. A cracking start to a new decade of movies.

5 out of 5 stars