Greetings all! Let’s get down to business so I can get back to Sitges to watch more horror movies, which I must admit make me feel so good.
Speaking of which, while A Monster Calls is not necessarily a horror film, it does reintroduce director J.A. Bayona to the big screen in a big-budget, joint Spanish-British venture based on the popular novel by Patrick Ness. The novel itself was inspired by an outline by author Siobhan Dowd, who died of terminal cancer before the book could be fleshed out. Ness took up the cause…and what a cause it was.
The film premiered at the Sitges Film Fest this past weekend before its release throughout the rest of Spain. The film commences with young Conor O'Malley (Lewis MacDougall) grappling with another recurring nightmare and, most importantly, the terminal illness of his mother (played to perfection by the lovely and waif-like Felicity Jones). Add bullying by school schmucks and standoffish guardians (Sigourney Weaver as his grandmother is a goddess) into the mix and Bayona instantly triggers sympathy for our little protagonist. One fateful night, Conor is confronted by a giant monster in the shape of a human-like yew tree (voiced-over by Liam Neeson). This tree, of his own conjuring, comes to tell him three stories.
Masterfully crafted in a way that appeals to all, this ‘therapy’ film will go down as a reference for helping youngsters deal with heavy loss. Absolutely beautiful and touching. But please note, you should have plenty of tissues on hand. ####
In an alternate realm, I'm quite certain that Steve Coogan and I are family - distant cousins, perhaps. I have watched this man hone his shtick of dry English humour for nearly two decades. Throw in Rob Brydon and a winning combination has yet again come to the big screen, served piping hot and ludicrously funny by director Michael Winterbottom.
In The Trip to Italy, we are transported to - you guessed it - Italy! As the protagonists road trip around the country, eating heaps of savoury meals in fantastic locales and writing restaurant reviews, laughter ensues. At times, Brydon carries on with certain jokes too long, but he still manages to be the guy with the best guffaws to accompany those delicious plates of pasta. Whereas in their former trip the guys were dealing with Coogan's recent split, here they're dealing with middle age. When they started pontificating about Alanis Morissette while slyly lambasting Avril Lavigne, you couldn't wipe the grin off my face. Such a fun viewing experience! ####
Ok....Sausage Party. It is duly noted that the younger generations of Americans (myself included) use crass language. Frankly, they are potty mouths. This trait portrayed in an animated film has a strange allure for many, but not everyone.
From the opening lines, there are so many double entendres, weak sex jokes and swear words that, by ten minutes in, audience members are either laughing their foolish arses off or sitting there wondering...que?! I was somewhere in the middle throughout the film.
Being one of the only Americans at the press premiere (quite likely the ONLY American), I let out the only guffaws while watching. Take that as you will. For me, the film was not stellar. It works as a raunchy Seth Rogen comedy cartoon for adults, however, it's so silly, pointed and baseless that although it's easy to laugh at, deep down you know you’re just wasting an hour and a half of your life. ###
Dearest readers, as the Sitges Film Festival is one of the longest annual film festivals in Europe (nearly 11 days!), I will see you lovely people back here with an extended review list in about a week. In the meantime, we’ll be posting commentary, interviews and reviews here on our webpage, live from Sitges.