Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Will Poulter’

Midsommar *****

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 7th July, 2019

MidsommarMidsummer in Sweden is a time to escape the cities and relish the almost midnight sun, in jolly celebrations in which young maidens in ethnic dress and with crowns of flowers on their heads dance daintily as family and friends commune with nature. But what if a community of religious cultists obsessed with reading the runes and practising pagan rituals cut themselves off almost completely from the outside world and every 90 years had a particularly significant ceremony of blackest intent? That is the main scenario of Ari Aster’s new film, Midsommar, which is a brilliantly original piece, though not something for the squeamish. There’s a prologue in America where a very needy young woman (a great performance by Florence Pugh) is driving her boyfriend (Jack Reynor) to distraction, though when her worst fears about her sister’s bipolar condition are realised he rallies round and offers to take her to Sweden along with a fellow young anthropologist friend (William Jackson Harper), and another, rather goofy, college mate (Will Poulter) tags along. One knows as soon as this mismatched quartet pitch up in a superficially idyllic location where little blond children (in real life mainly Hungarian, rather than Swedish, as it happens), run around and the rest of the commune members are engaged in various pastoral and mystical activities that somehow everything is going to turn sour. Indeed, gradually the true nature of the cult begins to emerge and the sinister intentions of its leaders towards the foreign visitors become clear. Clues, like a bear imprisoned in a small wooden cage, are casually laid before the viewer. The rising tension is periodically punctured by some rather good jokes and sexual play. But darker and darker the action gets, despite the bright June light; far from bringing the two lead characters together the Bizarre situation drives them further apart and there are major casualties along the way. Some reviewers have described this a horror movie, but to my mind that is far too simplistic a classification. There are some nasty moments and one empathizes with  the growing anxiety of the American visitors. But it is a far more complex work of art than a mere shocker, making one think about relationships, family and the communal discipline of cults. And the ending is positively operatic as a climax.

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Wild Bill

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 27th March, 2012

There’s so much Hollywood crap being screened in British cinemas these days — as well as a few, genuinely worthwhile products of the Sunshine State — that it’s sometimes hard to realise just how much really good British film there is around. The French and the South Koreans protect their domestic film industry in the sense that they set quotas for their home-grown product in cinemas or on TV, to make sure it isn’t swamped by a tsunami of American pap. I’m not suggesting that such restrictive measures are necessarily appropriate for the UK, but I do wish the Coalition government would champion British film production more. Everyone knows the blockbusters, like The King’s Speech, or (for nostalgia) Three Weddings and a Funeral. But there is a lot of good stuff being issued now that deserves promoting more strongly. On Saturday evenig, I went to see Dexter Fletcher’s Wild Bill, which is an excellent example of truly worthwhile, extremely British cinema realité:  both confronting social issues in deprived, drug-and-crime ridden areas of London, such as parts of Newham, and at the same time portraying elements of parent-child responsibilities and bonding (which are universal) in a magnificently intimate, sensitive and significant way. This is not a movie full of stars from either side of the Atlantic, but the performances of Charlie Creed-Miles as the ex-con father and Will Poulter and Sammy Williams as his two sons are beautifully pitched. The vision of East London from the upper floor of a grotty tower-block in Stratford, gazing down on the Olympic site, is expertly projected as a metaphor for the widening gap in the reality of rich and poor, aspirational and dejected, homely and alienated. Yet this is a film that does not try to establish or defend moral values. No-one is in the film is truly good or truly bad; all are in shades of grey, which has left some American critics bemused. But I suspect most European and indeed South American audiences will “get” this. Highly recommended. A real treat, which may not garner any Oscars, but which will win its place in the rosta of fine British cinema.

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