Film review: “Shirley”

Josephine Decker channels the gothic atmosphere and horribly thrilling storytelling of Shirley Jackson’s writing in this fictionalised portrait of the author

It’s hard to succinctly describe what Shirley is, but it most assuredly isn’t a biopic. Josephine Decker and screenwriter Sarah Gubbins (adapting Susan Scarf Merrell’s novel) give us a fictionalized portrait of author Shirley Jackson (Moss), presenting her as if she was a character in one of her stories.

The gothic atmosphere, psychological fragmentation and cruel barbs recall Jackson’s writing, but the aesthetic style is all Decker’s. Her woozily subjective camerawork and fluid approach to narrative will likely alienate as many as it entrances, but few could deny it’s a bracingly inventive and bold piece of work – every scene feels charged with anxiety, bitterness or desire.

As in Madeline’s Madeline, Decker probes at the point where artistic inspiration and exploitation meet. Rose (Young) is a young woman entering Jackson’s life just as she writes about the disappearance of a female college student. As reality and fiction blend, Rose grows into a far more complicated and intriguing character than the wide-eyed newlywed we are introduced to, and Young more than holds her own against her co-stars. Michael Stuhlbarg is perfectly awful as Jackson’s smarmy and condescending husband, while Moss attacks the title role with relish, giving us a painfully vulnerable yet larger than life Jackson. “I’m a witch, didn’t anyone tell you?” she tells Rose when they first meet, and you half-believe her.

Source: The Skinny

Rudy Giuliani faces questions after compromising scene in new Borat film

Trump’s personal attorney has indiscreet encounter with actor playing Borat’s daughter in hotel room during pandemic

The reputation of Rudy Giuliani could be set for a further blow with the release of highly embarrassing footage in Sacha Baron Cohen’s follow-up to Borat.

In the film, released on Friday, the former New York mayor and current personal attorney to Donald Trump is seen reaching into his trousers and apparently touching his genitals while reclining on a bed in the presence of the actor playing Borat’s daughter, who is posing as a TV journalist.

Following an obsequious interview for a fake conservative news programme, the pair retreat at her suggestion for a drink to the bedroom of a hotel suite, which is rigged with concealed cameras.

After she removes his microphone, Giuliani, 76, can be seen lying back on the bed, fiddling with his untucked shirt and reaching into his trousers. They are then interrupted by Borat who runs in and says: “She’s 15. She’s too old for you.”

Representatives for Giuliani have not replied to the Guardian’s requests for comment.

Word of the incident first emerged on 7 July, when Giuliani called New York police to report the intrusion of an unusually dressed man.

“This guy comes running in, wearing a crazy, what I would say was a pink transgender outfit,” Giuliani told the New York Post. “It was a pink bikini, with lace, underneath a translucent mesh top, it looked absurd. He had the beard, bare legs, and wasn’t what I would call distractingly attractive.

“This person comes in yelling and screaming, and I thought this must be a scam or a shakedown, so I reported it to the police. He then ran away,” Giuliani said. The police found no crime had been committed.

Giuliani continued: “I only later realised it must have been Sacha Baron Cohen. I thought about all the people he previously fooled and I felt good about myself because he didn’t get me.”

Viewers may be less convinced that Baron Cohen, reprising his role as the bumbling reporter Borat Sagdiyev, and Maria Bakalova, who plays his daughter, Tutar, had no success.

In the film Borat is dispatched by the Kazakh government back to the US to present a bribe to an ally of Donald Trump in order to ingratiate his country with the administration. After the monkey earmarked for the gift is indisposed, Borat’s supposedly underage offspring becomes the replacement present.

Even before he reaches into his trousers, Giuliani does not appear to acquit himself especially impressively during the encounter. Flattered and flirtatious, he drinks scotch, coughs, fails to socially distance and claims Trump’s speedy actions in the spring saved a million Americans from dying of Covid. He also agrees – in theory at least – to eat a bat with his interviewer.

Giuliani has become a key figure in the late stages of the US presidential election after obtaining a laptop hard drive purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden and left at a repair shop in Delaware.

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Film review: The good lord offers little salvation in the horrific Saint Maud

Movie "Saint Maud"

Rose Glass delivers a blistering debut horror that sees a young nurse struggle to cope with isolation, temptation and salvation.

Psalm 31:23

Love the Lord, all you his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful.

The philosophy and morality of the Bible are so interwoven into our society, that it seems we’ve chosen the parts we’re ok with, and discarded the rest. It’s easy to forget then the sheer brutality contained within a book that was written and amended thousands of years ago, guided by the voices of evermore contradictory men who twisted (or upheld) the supposed word of God. In Saint Maud that viciousness is brought to life when a private nurse attempts to “save” the soul of her patient, an enigmatic former dancer whose body has been taken over by cancer. One of God’s cruellest tricks. Continue reading

“Say Your Prayers” review – goofy Christian hitman comedy

Smart pacing, sharp editing and classy cameos elevate this Yorkshire-set tale above many recent crime capers

The team behind 2016’s eye-catching indie Chubby Funny – producer Helen Simmons and director Harry Michell – return with another agreeably off-beam comedy, this time with a starrier cast and a goofy, Four Lions-ish premise. It’s the tale of sibling Christian hitmen who, envious of the column inches logged by rival fundamentalists, set out to kill a Dawkins-like author at a literary festival in Ilkley.

Tim (Harry Melling) is the childlike younger brother, ill-suited to grisly murder; the uptight Vic (Tom Brooke) an unrepentant sociopath. Their target (Roger Allam, master of glib dismissiveness) need not worry unduly: an astutely timed prologue shows our would-be ruthless killers stalking a rambler who looks just enough like Allam for the first of several terrible mistakes to be made.

The pacing of that opening instantly elevates Michell’s film over a half-dozen recent British crime-comedies. We’re heading towards a set-piece that’s the Yorkshire Britpic equivalent of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation’s opera-house assassination, while the gags allow supporting players to dig in and make an impression. Anna Maxwell Martin is formidably sarky as a detective aghast at having to enter the artsy-fartsy literary scene; Derek Jacobi has a classy cameo as a priest who justifies the hit with chilly mouthfuls of scripture; Matthew Steer’s brisk, funny sketch of the spineless festival chief will likely cue cringes of recognition in some quarters.

Having the action observed by a roving male voice choir – representing the C of E’s safe centre ground – looks like a cheeky crib from the Icelandic hit Woman at War, but it’s a solid evening’s entertainment, assembled with an assurance rare at this budgetary level. Norwegian-born cinematographer Sverre Sørdal provides attractive glimpses of the moors (still under-utilised as a Britfilm resource), while sharp editing serves both the comedy and thriller aspects. Simmons and Michell, blessed with good ideas and the craft to do them justice, are building a notable filmography on the margins: let’s hope the industry’s moneymen are watching.

Source: Say Your Prayers review – goofy Christian hitman comedy