The Sinner Review: Biel stands out in latest Netflix original

The Sinner is about young mother Cora Tannetti (Jessica Biel), who one day on a family trip to the beach falls into a fit of rage and murders a seemingly innocent man right in front of her child.

A group of men and women in their twenties are sitting, soaking up the beach atmosphere and playing music out loud.  Cora sits, eyes fixated on this one group of people.  The song changes and something snaps inside Cora.  She jumps on one of the men and stabs him repeatedly, while everyone around starts screaming and running for their lives.  Her husband drags her off, but not in time to save her from killing her victim.  Cora went from peeling a pear for her son with a knife one second, to stabbing the life out of a man the next, for no apparent reason.

Before the murder scene, we are shown a glimpse into Cora’s what seems to be past life.  We know that she has experienced some sort of trauma previously … but that “some sort of trauma” is as much of a mystery to Cora as it is to us.

After murdering the man on the beach, Cora confesses to it straight away and expresses remorse.  However, she is baffled as to why she did it.  All she knows is that she killed a man – reason unknown.

First episode in, we’re left entangled in this huge mystery and wondering why?  However, I found that after episode one, it wasn’t enough to lure me in and continue on the discovery as to why.  Episode one doesn’t give away many details of the mystery, just that we know it is in fact an enigma; an enigma that didn’t appeal to me enough to follow it more.

Luckily, I stuck with it, continued onto episode two and never looked back.

Although episode one doesn’t give much away, as the series goes on, the plot thickens and finally you’ll have that burning desire to find out why Cora Tannetti became a murderer.

A big component to the success of the Sinner is Harry Amborse (Bill Pullman), the detective who doesn’t believe a woman like Cora would kill without motive.  He is certain there is a back story and will endeavour to find out what it is, while everyone else hopes for a guilty verdict.

Most crime drama series are the opposite of the Sinner and start off addictive and then halfway through, lose their appeal.  The Sinner may be a slow burner but the end completely justifies its slow pace and at times, bleakness.  At the beginning of the series, it was impossible to predict where it was going to go. “She confessed, how is there going to be another seven episodes?” I wondered.  However, it really blossoms as each episode passes.

The Sinner is unique in the sense that it has been dubbed a mystery and crime drama. However, the murder and the solving of the mystery is not the essence of the show.  Instead, the characters and how they are coping post-murder are what bring the mystery to life.  As a true crime/mystery genre lover, I can say with confidence that the answer or conclusion to a mystery is what usually draws me in.  It’s what keeps me enticed.  In the case of the Sinner, I was enjoying learning about Cora’s life and how her husband dealt with everything; without yearning for the answer.  Of course, the possibility of an answer also keeps the interest, but I was able to enjoy each episode without demanding it.  Some crime dramas tend to make episodes before the reveal tedious and all you want is the answer.  The Sinner is not guilty of this crime.

I would highly recommend The Sinner to anyone who enjoys crime drama but who doesn’t mind the focus being on the drama, not the crime.  The crime is not important in The Sinner.  We know who did it, where it took place, when … we just need to know the why.  I’d also recommend it for people whose favourite genres venture outside of crime/mystery; as long as you love a good drama!

**** 4/5 stars

By Jenna Cox

 

Barry Keoghan & Colin Farrell shine in psychological thriller

This film is certainly not for everyone, so if you’re not interested in psychological thrillers and dystopian films, choose Bad Moms 2 instead.

The opening scene of Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest film, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, greets us with open-heart surgery. The bare image of the heart beating is creepy, dark, yet at the same time, it sets the tone for the rest of the movie.

We’re then introduced to Dr Steven Murphy, a successful heart surgeon played by Irishman Colin Farrell. Similar to Lanthimos’ film, The Lobster, Farrell plays his role with an eerie, robotic tone of voice. In The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Farrell seemingly has it all – a big house, a great job, a beautiful wife (played by Nicole Kidman) and two teenage children.

In The Lobster, Lanthimos showcased Colin Farrell as a weak character, who was relying on love to save him. In The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Farrell is far from weak. His character Steven exudes confidence, he is well respected amongst his medical peers and he believes that he has done no wrong in life. Well, at least that’s how it looks to the viewer.

Lurking in the background of this idyllic world is a troublesome teenage boy, Martin, who is played by Barry Keoghan. Steven gives a lot of time to Martin; treating him to lunches and buying him expensive watches. To the viewer, it looks as though Martin may be the product of an affair that Steven had 16 years ago. However, their relationship is not built on love, but built on guilt.

Some years ago, Steven was reliant on alcohol. He performed some heart surgeries under the influence. One of these surgeries involved Martin’s father, who later died on the operating table. Martin, the blue-eyed innocent boy that we saw at the start of the film, is quietly biding his time.

Steven’s two teenage children, Bob and Kim (played by Sunny Sulijic and Raffey Cassidy) mysteriously become paralysed from the waist down one day. There is no medical science out there that can explain their illnesses. Yet, Martin knows. It is then up to heart surgeon Steven to make a sacrifice. An eye for an eye comes to mind.

The cast of The Killing of a Sacred Deer are excellent in how they act. Colin Farrell plays the ever-confident surgeon well. Similar to The Lobster, he is one of the stand-out characters of the film.

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Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell in The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Credit: Curzon Artificial Eye

Nicole Kidman, who plays Farrell’s wife, Anna, compliments his role. In the same robotic tone as Farrell, she plays a character who strives for perfection for her family. Yet, at the same time, she is willing to sacrifice all that for herself and her husband.

The performances of Steven and Anna’s two teenage children compliment the storyline. Scenes showing their paralysis are hard to watch, yet intriguing at the same time.

The actor that stole the movie’s attention was Barry Keoghan, who played the character of Martin. His unpredictability always made the viewer wonder where he’d be next, what he’d do next and what he’d say next. He is the one character that will hold your interest throughout the film. Any time he spoke or acted mysteriously, it was hard to pull yourself away from the seemingly innocent blue-eyed boy. His performance stole the show from beginning to end.

This film comes with one big fault. It runs for two hours long. Halfway through the film, the viewer has a fair idea of what’s going on and there’s absolutely no need for another hour. This film would have been sufficient to run for 90 minutes. It felt like it was slowly dragging on until the end. When you’ve paid good money to see the movie, that’s the last thing you need.

Overall, apart from the over-exaggerated time frame, I’d give this movie a 4/5. Yorgos Lanthimos and his team obviously spent much time perfecting these characters, perfecting this setting and plot and it shows. The music used in scenes is creepy, perfectly matching the tone of the movie. The way in which the cameras were poised to follow characters, spy on characters and engage with characters was an excellent tool to create a sinister atmosphere.

Nothing about The Killing of a Sacred Deer is for the faint-hearted. But, if you wonder whether everything is as perfect in life as it seems, this film is a must watch.

By Leanne Salmon

The trailer of the film can be found here;

Face your fears at Farmaphobia

Looking for one last scare this Bank Holiday weekend? Get yourself down to Ireland’s number one Halloween attraction Farmaphobia before it closes for another year on November 1st.

Based in Causey Farm in Co.Meath, Farmaphobia consists of a number of spooky attractions constructed on a traditional farm. The farmhouse, buildings and fields are all transformed into terrifying experiences for just one month each year.

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The Field of Screams at Farmaphobia

When booking your trip to Farmaphobia you have the option to choose between a scream pass and an X-scream pass. The scream pass price ranges from €18 to €20 and gives you access to three of five haunts. The X-scream pass price ranges between €27 and €32 and allows you to have access to all five haunts the farm has to offer.

Myself and four other reporters for The City visited three of the five haunts on Thursday night and this is how we got on.

The screams from the attractions could be heard from the moment we left the car and entered the farm. Scattered around the grounds were scary decorations and props, such as bonfires, guillotines and even a life sized Georgie from It, complete with his red balloon and severed arm.

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Life size Georgie from Stephen King’s IT

Our scream passes gave us access to three haunts. On arrival we were given a wristband that was marked each time we entered a haunt, ensuring each visitor could only enter once.

Vamporium and Mutation Morgue are set up like your standard haunted house, complete with dark rooms, small spaces to crawl through and terrifying actors who aren’t afraid to get up close and personal. To enter the Mutation Morgue, each visitor is put into a drawer that resembles a morgue refrigerator – an aspect of the experience that I can imagine would not be enjoyable if you’re claustrophobic.

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Morgue trays are not for the claustrophobic

What seemed to be the main attraction that everyone was talking about was the Field of Screams. This was the only attraction that we had to queue up for, meaning it is one of the most popular attractions Farmaphobia has to offer. Serving Stephen King’s Children of the Corn vibes, the Field of Screams is a maze cut into a field of corn that you have to stumble around in the dark in whilst being chased by crazy rednecks and lumberjacks with chainsaws. Be prepared to get dirty as even on a dry night we stumbled out of the field with mud up to our ankles.

The three attractions take roughly an hour to complete, but then you can explore the farm, get some food and take pictures with some of the terrifyingly brilliant decorations. With roughly a ninety minute drive between Dublin’s city centre and Causey Farm, Farmaphobia is definitely worth a visit if you’re looking to be truly frightened this Halloween.

You can get your tickets at www.farmaphobia.ie

By Cara Croke

Review: Terror Jr – Bop City

By Rachel D’Arcy

While it’s difficult to maintain anonymity in the age of the internet, Dance-Pop trio Terror Jr have managed to keep their identities a firm secret. They debuted their first single, 3 Strikes, in Kylie Jenner’s commercial for her lip glosses back in March, and have since gone on to release their debut album Bop City to critical acclaim.

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(Source: Twitter / Terror Jr)

With an auto-tuned, electronic heavy sound, it’s not dissimilar to what you might hear on the radio or in a club on a Friday night – somewhat generic, but it will get you in the mood to dance. Claiming they’re going to ‘reinvent pop’ on their Twitter feed, it’s easy to see why Terror Jr have gathered somewhat of a decent fanbase with only eight tracks in their back catalogue.

Pop music has come to be a release for many in the wake of what has been widely considered as a not-so-great 2016, and while Terror Jr manage to maintain an upbeat nature to all of they do, their lyrics such as “someone got shot on the TV, but it don’t feel like a movie,” explore the slightly darker edge of what has come to be life in the last two years or so.

As well as having a little more depth than other artists in their genre, they aren’t afraid to have fun with their melodies. Their lyrics aren’t afraid to explore the more explicit through the art of innuendo, especially on Come First, as well as the darkening reality we live in.

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(Source: Youtube)

It’s not all doom and gloom, even if they are called Terror Jr – Bop City has achieved critical acclaim all over the internet. Tracks like Sugar and album opener Little White Bars hook the leader with their solid beats and the enchanting vocals of their anonymous lead vocalist, Lisa Terror.

As they head to the studio to record new music – the band have said that Bop City will potentially be the first in a trilogy – all eyes should keep a look out for Terror Jr in 2017.

Review: Chi-Raq

By Conor McNally

Chi-Raq, the latest film directed by Spike Lee, is an adaption of the Greek comedy Lysistrata written by Aristophanes in 411 BC. Spike Lee decides it’s high time for a reboot and updates the play to modern-day southside Chicago. The area is nicknamed Chi-Raq by its citizens because the number of homicides there is greater than the number of US army fatalities in whole of the Iraq war.

For those in need of a quick brush-up on the work of Aristophanes, the play is about a woman named Lysistrata who attempts to end the Peloponnesian war with a sex strike. In the film, a woman also named Lysistrata tries the same tactic to bring peace between the rival gangs of Chicago. This can best be described as the ‘plot’ of the film although there are so many narrative detours and tangents that the film is best understood not in plot but in tone.

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(Source: Wikipedia)

Chi-Raq is anchored by a terrific performance from Teyonah Parris, who is supremely sexy and confident in her portrayal of Lysistrata. Films about gangs are so often centred on the men but Chi-Raq is far more interested in the female characters. The death of a child caught in the crossfire of a gang shooting results in the women realising they must take action. The wives and girlfriends of the rival gang members come together and decide that refusing their partners sex is the best way to force a change within their community.

What follows is a frequently funny and confusing hotchpotch of narrative strands that shows the city coming to terms with what’s happening. The dialogue is mostly delivered in rhyming verse which pays tribute to rap but feels more theatrical in its execution. The onscreen narration by Samuel L. Jackson only adds to the feeling that what we’re seeing is not a realistic portrayal of life in urban Chicago but a polemic, which deals with issues around violence in black communities in an artistic way that’s simultaneously new and very, very old.

The film is not just about Chicago, it is a call to action to stop the violence across American cities. Spike Lee recognises better than most the unfairness that African-Americans endure but rejects any excuses for gang violence. In the film, a Catholic priest played by John Cusack excoriates the NRA and the political class for their part in perpetuating the violence in American cities but Spike refuses to lay the blame solely on these institutions. Everyone has to help in solving a problem of this magnitude.

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(Source: Wikipedia)

There’s probably not a greater living director whose stock has fallen as much as Spike Lee in the last two decades. After bursting onto the scene more than 25 years ago with Do the Right Thing, still his masterpiece and one of the great modern American films, his output has lurched between the greatness of Malcom X and the awfulness of his Oldboy remake, interspersed with projects like Bamboozled, which charms and bewilders in equal measure.

Chi-Raq can be seen as a return to form for Spike but that assumes any kind of linear direction to his career. What makes him great is what also frustrates. He is a truly unique voice in cinema, a polemicist and an artist all wrapped into one. In Chi-Raq, Spike has so much to say about violence, oppression, gender and race and he says it all at the same time. This can lead to some unevenness in the film but very few can get their point across as strongly and enjoyably as Spike.

Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

By Kieva McLaughlin

If you are a fan of the Harry Potter franchise, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is a must see. JK Rowling and David Yeats came together again for the first of five movies about Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne, and his adventures with magical beasts.

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(Source: Vimeo)

While none of the main characters from Harry Potter appear in the movie, Grindelwald, a dark wizard and Dumbledore’s ex-best friend, is mentioned multiple times, with the headmaster himself even mentioned once. You do not need to have seen any of the Harry Potters to understand what is going on but if you are big fan, there’s plenty of exciting references you will recognise.

Eddie Redmayne plays the part of Newt Scamander exceptionally, and he is incredibly believable as the animal loving wizard he is portraying. Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler and Alison Sudol star alongside him. Dan Fogler plays the loveable ‘nomaj’ (American word for muggle) Kowalski, who you will leave the cinema only hoping he will reappear in the next movies. Katherine Waterston plays Tina, Newt’s love interest, with Alison Sudol playing her beautiful sister Queenie. My only criticism with the acting is that there is no real visible spark between Newt and Tina and the love story the audience is truly rooting for is the one between Kowalski and Queenie.

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(Source: Wikipedia)

The special effects and graphics are superb, but with a budget of $250 million it ought to be. All of the magical beasts and spells are done amazingly and you really believe the little furry blue sloth-like animals and tiny trees are just as much there as the actors and actresses.

There is a lot of humour throughout the film and you will be laughing throughout. There’s inside jokes for the true Harry Potter fans as well as new jokes especially for this newest magical franchise, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’.