Sunday 31 January 2021

The Swarm by Just Philippot - review

French genre cinema is relatively rare these days compared to the heydays of the New French Extremity over ten years ago, with the recent Raw by Julie Ducournau a notable exception. Then along came The Swarm (La Nuée) and the prospect of a French bugs horror was intriguing. 

In The Swarm, widowed mom Virginie (Suliane Brahim) struggles to make a living and support her children in rural France. Her latest project, the breeding of edible grasshoppers, did not deliver the expected yield and brings ridicule to the whole family, especially her teenage daughter who gets bullied at school and who is embarrassed by her mom's unsuccessful and odd endeavour. A chance discovery leads to a reversal of fortune but also comes with a heavy price.

Saturday 30 January 2021

Sundance 2021: Censor by Prano Bailey-Bond

For non British audiences and younger generations, video nasties and the moral hysteria around those might not mean much but it is this interesting and not so proud part of the British film industry history that Prano Bailey-Bond has picked for the background of Censor. Opening with a montage of these infamous films, including some prominent footage of Abel Ferrara's The Driller Killer, we are reminded how opportunistic politicians and moral crusaders whipped up a frenzy at the time, their target a list of films they seldom bothered to watch yet were subsequently banned.

In Censor, Enid (Niamh Algar), is, well, a censor who becomes convinced that there is a connection between a past tragedy in her family and a film she watches in the course of her work. She sets out to investigate and find its elusive director as real life and fiction collide.