7:30 PM, 7th October, 2016
Ex-biker John Link (Gibson) has his reclusive life turned upside down when he gets an unexpected call from his runaway daughter Lydia (Moriarty, best known for her key role in Netflix’s “Jessica Jones”). Lydia is on the run from a rather violent gang of drug dealers (led by Diego Luna), and after her running sees Link’s trailer destroyed by the gang, the pair are forced to take to the road.
Say what you will about Gibson’s personal life (he’s certainly an ugly drunk and his mid-life-crisis has been a mess of more epic proportions than his movies) but he knows how to make a good movie both in front of and behind the camera. If anything, in this case, his rocky public persona only helps sell the washed out anti-hero of this piece. Teaming with director Jean-François Richet, who cemented his gritty B-movie credentials with a pair of cracking movies based on French gangster Jacques Mesrine (Public Enemy #1 and Killer Instinct), has helped the film feel fresh despite its ‘70s grindhouse vibe. The pairing certainly made a splash at Cannes this year, where the film earned genuine critical acclaim – something virtually unheard of for the genre.
Blood Father packs a punch at every turn and makes every second of its sub-90-minute runtime count.
9:08 PM, 7th October, 2016
There is a particular US independent cinema school at the moment that I nickname “the sons of John Carpenter”. Making smart, intense, tight thrillers on a low budget but with maximum tension, films like It Follows and The Guest have brought a welcome grittiness and rawness back into a genre landscape that is heavy in sequels and overproduced remakes. Green Room is another in that movement.
“The Ain’t Rights” are a punk band having a notably unsuccessful tour of the Pacific Northwest, but when a gig in Oregon is cancelled, a last-minute replacement booking at an out-of-the-way private club seems like it will at least get them gas money to drive home. But the venue turns out to be a Neo-Nazi skinhead bar, and while they manage to play their set without incident, a shocking discovery means that soon, they’re barricaded in the dingy backstage area and find themselves facing very real and very deadly threats.
An exercise in testing the nerves, interrupted by exceedingly violent outbursts, this is not necessarily an easy night’s viewing, but it’s an effective one. Anton Yelchin and Patrick Stewart are far from Star Trek here: Yelchin epitomises nervous out-of-his-depthness as the dangers he’s in become more and more apparent, and Stewart’s frightening as the dour, matter-of-fact leader of the Neo-Nazis. Director Jeremy Saulnier has major skills and is clearly going to be a figure to watch in the future, so get in now so you can say “I liked him before he was wildly popular.”