Candyman & The Courier
Say his name five times and he shall be summoned. This notorious sleepover practice is arguably more famous than its origin, that being Bernard Rose’s Candyman, itself based on a Clive Barker short story. The film has become regarded as a classic of modern horror, spawning two sequels in 1995 and 1999.
We now have another sequel which ignores both Farewell to the Flesh and Day of the Dead. Produced by Jordan Peele and directed by Nia DaCosta, the film has the shadows of Get Out and Us looming over it. It has layered points to make about race and class which were prevalent in the original. Gentrification and the superciliousness of the modern art world are at the core of this Candyman film. The cinematography has real panache, invoking Kurbrick’s hallway shots from The Shining in several instances.
That being said, like the original, the high praise is frankly undue. Certainly the film is intriguing and makes the titular beastie a threatening presence for the most part, but the pacing does not pick up enough, and none of the characters are that likeable or sympathetic. The last twenty minutes or so become somewhat incomprehensible. In the end, after some thought-provoking exploration, there doesn’t seem to be a clear point. One could argue that is the intention, but the last quarter of the film comes across as being a little aimless, and then rather abruptly, it ends.
Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the real-life spy Greville Wynne in this nifty little period thriller from Dominic Cooke. Set during the early 1960s, the film details the exploits of Wynne and his Russian contact and fellow industrialist, Oleg Penkovsky, and their joint efforts to prevent a nuclear catastrophe as relations between Kennedy and Khrushchev begin to sour over Cuba, and the placement of Soviet missiles.
The film begins at a leisurely pace with plenty of dry humour, but although the costumes, locations, and sets scream authentic, there is never a sense of urgency. To my surprise, as I assumed this would be the default tone for the whole running time, this does change around the halfway mark, and things indeed become intense. The performances from everyone are strong, and although Cumberbatch isn’t stretched in the role of a polite and somewhat jittery Englishman, it is a sympathetic and three-dimensional portrayal of a man out of his depth who comes to realise the immense importance of what he is doing.
Not a world-beating espionage tale by any means, particularly when compared to classics like The IPCRESS File or Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy but it’s still a well-crafted and functional piece.