Saturday, 17 December 2011

THE WAY (2009)

If you had told me at the beginning of the year that one of my favourite movies seen during 2011 would be directed by Emilio Estevez I'd probably collapsed laughing. No disrespect to Emilio, it just seemed there were likely to be better candidates. But THE WAY has insinuated itself into that select band of films that become personal favourites for reasons beyond their merits as cinema. Emilio's real life dad plays a respectable and rather dull dentist who has issues with his more adventurous son's lifestyle. The son (played by Emilio) heads for Europe and sets out to walk the pilgrimage route - El Camino - to Santiago in Spain. On his first day he is killed in a freak storm. Dad goes to Europe to bring the body home but makes a spot decision to do the pilgrimage carrying his son's ashes. On the surface that is about it but this is a film that goes far beneath the surface. Along the route he meets and reluctantly travels with three other other pilgrims - a Canadian, an Irishman and a Dutchman. All believe they have rather superficial reasons for making the 800 km journey , but on a pilgrimage (and I speak from experience) you often find that your head ends up in a completely unexpected place. THE WAY is not a religious film, certainly not a Christian film in any accepted denominational way and it isn't even particularly spiritual in any obvious soul searching way. Yet, in being about the experience of simply being human it manages to be both religious and spiritual without ever resorting to sanctimonious preaching. At the same time the film is very moving and very funny. Rating *****

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


Opinions on this low budget horror film seem to be sharply divided between those who think it is an incompetent mess and those who hail director Ti Hardin as a genius. I fall into neither camp. I've been a horror film fan for about fifty years now and one thing I've learned is that amongst horror film fans - and here I mean those who watch very little else - a little talent goes a long way. So, what have we got here? Well, there is a virtually non-existant plot with very little in the way of development and an ending which seemed to me to be confused, derivative, predictable and dramatically unsatisfying. Having said all that HOUSE OF THE DEVIL has a lot going for it. For a start it is very well acted by the entire cast. We could expect no less of Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov who are old hands at being slightly disturbing or disturbed but it is up to Jocelin Donahue to carry the film virtually single handed while nothing seems to be happening to move the plot along and it is to her credit that I never felt the slightest bit bored. This, of course, is also points to director Hardin who cleverly disguises the fact that he has nothing much in the way of a script - although, even there the dialogue scenes are pretty good. Yes, I kind of liked it and liked it enough to want to check out Hardin's THE INN KEEPERS. If you check HOUSE OF THE DEVIL don't expect too much and you might be pleasantly surprised - at least for 9o minutes. Rating **