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Film Ticket Giveaway – Wicked Little Letters

LSJ Media and STUDIOCANAL have five double passes to the upcoming British comedy caper, WICKED LITTLE LETTERS. Starring Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley as two neighbours in an English seaside town in the 1920s where the residents start receiving anonymous letters filled with profanities. Based on a stranger than fiction true story. In Cinemas 21 March. Watch the trailer here.

For a chance to win one of the double passes, email your contact address and LSID number to [email protected] with the subject matter WICKED LITTLE LETTERS.

Film review – Love Lies Bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding comes in hot – a pulpy, melodramatic rollercoaster that hits hard and fast. If you’re seeking an adrenaline rush, you’ve found it. But don’t be fooled by the gritty exterior; beneath the steamy bedlam of this crime-fueled romantic thriller lies a profoundly sad yet cathartic exploration of self-discovery and the transformative power of unexpected connections. 

‘Pain is just weakness leaving the body’ and ‘The body achieves what the mind believes’ are just two of the pump-it-up adages adorning the walls of Crater Gym, a run-down shed nestled in a dead-end town – an overnight stop on the road to elsewhere. Here, we meet the gym’s manager, Lou (Kristen Stewart), elbow-deep in a faeces-clogged toilet. Forget the hot and sweaty men pumping iron; who is this surly mullet-sporting woman? I don’t care if she’s covered in faecal matter. I want to hold her. I can fix her. 

Unlike the gym’s patrons, Lou isn’t striving for anything. She’s just going through the motions of life. Unclog toilet. Wipe stale sweat from weights. Lock up. Go home. Feed the cat. Halfheartedly masturbate on the couch. The only reps she’s doing are packs of cigarettes, to the soundtrack of a smoking cessation cassette tape. 

The shackles of Lou’s monotonous existence are shattered the moment she locks eyes with Jackie (Katy O’Brian), a spandex-clad vivacious drifter with her sights set on Las Vegas bodybuilding stardom. “So, where did you appear from?” asks Lou, to which Jackie simply responds “Oklahoma”. There’s an air of mystery about her; she feels surreal, not a girl from Oklahoma, but an abstract manifestation birthed from a deep, dormant desire within Lou. Jackie is effervescent, living the American Dream, and, most importantly, free – everything Lou wishes she could be. 

The palpable magnetism between the pair soon leads to a visceral unravelling of their lives. As Lou’s hard exterior crumbles under the weight of a tragic event, her anguish prompts Jackie to commit a passionate act of love in the form of fierce violence, thrusting the duo into the criminal underworld of Lou’s domineering father, Lou Sr. (Ed Harris). Lou is no stranger to this cruel world; she’s tethered to it, haunted by her father’s oppressive presence and her sense of duty to protect her sister Beth (Jenna Malone) from her sleazebag partner, J.J. (played to revolting perfection by Dave Franco). But this cataclysmic event deals a decisive blow to Jackie’s psyche. The rage brewing inside her has been unleashed. 

Directed by Rose Glass of the cult horror Saint Maud and co-written by Weronika Tofilska, Love Lies Bleeding feels like a hallucinatory joyride. As soon as you think you’ve got a grip on things, Glass takes an unexpected turn and delivers surreal moments that defy an easy explanation. It’s thrilling, it’s disorienting, and it’s undeniably sensual – think Pat Califia’s Macho Sluts on roids. An ecstatic vortex of hypnotic rage, Love Lies Bleeding veers from chilling to morbidly comedic. 

As I left the cinema, blood still pumping, I overheard a critique of Stewart’s performance; that she can’t act without being told what lines and words to emphasise. I couldn’t disagree more. After all, how often do we emphasise the delivery of a “line” in our day-to-day lives? I’d wager the truth lies in our actions, not words. Few understand this better than Stewart, who portrays Lou with a blend of nonchalant toughness and subtle vulnerability, her expressions betraying traces of weariness beneath a facade of stoicism. Authenticity lives in the understated gestures – a twitchy recoil from unwanted contact, a defensive stance, a sideward glance. Of course, these subtleties are easily overlooked by the captivating presence of O’Brian; not her pulsating biceps and chiseled physique, but the tenderness that lies beneath. 

Love Lies Bleeding paints a nuanced portrait of two souls entangled in the struggle for connection, transcending the boundaries of a conventional romance. Confronted by the multifaceted nature of love – be it familial or romantic – we’re reminded the possibility of profound healing and rebirth exists within the throes of chaos. Lou and Jackie are more than vessels for passion; they’re mirrors reflecting the intricate dance between strength and vulnerability.  

Verdict: 5 out of 5
For those who love a hit of 1980s action-packed nostalgia injected straight into their veins and want nothing more than to ride off into the sunset with their baby girl and ginger pussy cat. 

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Brendan Rock in You'll Never Find Me, Photo Credit: Ian Routledge Copyright © 2023 Lot 14 Film Pty Ltd.2

Film review: You’ll Never Find Me

Josiah Allen and Indianna Bell’s You’ll Never Find Me is a horror film with no jump scares but enough atmosphere to keep the unsuspecting audience on edge. It is set entirely inside a caravan park in Adelaide during a calamitous storm, the kind where no one is out on the street and even staying indoors doesn’t feel safe.

So it’s only fitting that Patrick (Brendan Rock) is disturbed by a knock on the door. He lives alone with his own thoughts and past regrets; the storm adds noise and pressure to his rickety place, and he believes the local kids are also terrorising him. He suspiciously opens the door but is met by a drenched, defenceless young lady (Jordan Cowan) asking for help. We are never told her name, only the most simple backstory – she’s stranded and needs a place to dry out, and a phone to call someone to pick her up. Phones are out of order (this is a horror movie), and no one is in a hurry to leave. It’s inhospitable outside; it’s about to be inhospitable inside.

There is an admiring efficacy to Bell and Allen’s direction. The mystery moves the story’s pace, and with just two characters in the film, there’s little to keep the plot genuinely scary. But it says a lot from both filmmakers that they manage to concoct an especially unnerving and atmospheric piece of cinema that effectively chills one’s spine without ever showing anything too gruesome. 

Part of this comes from the script penned by Bell. A good portion of the film is for the audience to figure out who is the monster, and who is the innocent. Our expectations and goalposts change from scene to scene – at one moment, there is something threatening about the visitor; in the next it is Patrick who rubs us the wrong way. It’s simple, not particularly groundbreaking, but influential nonetheless.

This technique reminded me of the work of Mike Flanagan, especially in his Netflix series like Midnight Mass and The Haunting of Hill House. Long, quiet monologues between two characters with the purpose of revealing their disconcerting personalities and not advancing the plot. There is a gratifying conclusion. To the impatient viewer, there is a lesson to be learnt.

Patrick is an interesting character. Rock plays him with broken sadness that invites sympathy, but ever so quickly, it’s easy to turn on him. Is it because he’s a man? A lonely man? Are we conditioned to be suspicious of this kind of male protagonist? Alone in his caravan, obviously haunted by his own self-inflicted fears. Most importantly, are those fears valid? Yes, for the most part, they are, but Bell and Allen want us to come to terms with why.

It’s hard to accuse You’ll Never Find Me of anything when the film sets its aims to such a humble goal. Its simplicity is its strength, but also, sadly, its downfall. For a movie so visually well-structured, it could have explored its themes with more complexity. When the ending unravels, it leaves the impression that Bell didn’t have much more to say about the subject, nor tried to elevate the message. At that moment, it’s very by the number, which is deeply unsatisfying when the rest of the film is quiet, reflexive, and threatening.

That said, it’s a first feature for both Bell and Allen, and if anything, You’ll Never Find Me is a great welcoming card for two new young filmmakers looking at reshaping the genre for the future. For that alone, and what it means for the industry in Australia, it’s worth a look.

Verdict: 3.5 out of 5
For fans of psychological horror, gothic theatre, and low-budget features made with enough passion to stand against big studio films.