Tag Archives: Tom Felton

Werewolves of Berlin


by Hope Madden

If you’re hoping that Nazi werewolves are a kind of new villain, like the Nazi zombies that have been popular for the last decade, you may be disappointed in Burial. Rather than a horror tale of the supernatural sort, writer/director Ben Parker spins a WWII thriller more interested in the cancerous effect of a cult of personality.

So, less fun but probably more relevant.

It’s Christmas Day, London, 1991 and Anna Marshall (Harriet Walter) is watching Mikhail Gorbachev announce his resignation as President of USSR. Suddenly, she faces a home invader. The shaven headed thug (David Alexander) has come in search of information (and probably blood and terror). He believes she can confirm his deepest, most sacred belief: Hitler did not commit suicide but survived WWII.

Why would Anna know? Because she’s really Brana Vasilyeva (Charlotte Vega), and during the war she was a Soviet intelligence officer.

Quickly, we’re whisked to the spring of 1945. Brana and a small platoon of Russians are tasked with bringing Hitler’s body directly to Stalin because “Russians like to look their enemy in the eye.” That’s all fine and good until the platoon runs afoul of the “werewolves” — Nazis trained in guerilla warfare, who were unsuccessful as soldiers but pretty effective as terrorists.

The two groups come to a head just outside a small Polish village, where local Lukasz (Tom Felton) chooses between two villainous sides, deciding to help Brana and team in a standoff.

Parker’s film is never showy or lurid in the way you might expect from a movie carting Hitler’s carcass around. It’s an understated effort more interested in kicking around how toxic hateful leaders can be once they strike a chord with like-minded populations willing—eager, even—to dominate and victimize to prove how special they are.

Brana wants less to show Stalin the corpse than to end Hitler’s legacy. Given her holiday guest, that didn’t work.

There’s a lovely mixture of melancholy and fire that inform both Walter and Vega’s performances. Barry Ward, playing Russian soldier Tor, adds depth to the group but all performances are solid.

The language — English throughout with random bits of Russian, German and Polish — pulls you out of the cinematic fantasy. But Parker’s spare use of violence ensures that it makes an impression when it does show up.

The story frame works less well. Plus, I wanted real werewolves. But still, Burial is an effective piece of historical fiction.

Biblical Fugitive


by George Wolf

It’s not quite the Talladega Nights vision of Jesus in a tuxedo t-shirt singing lead for Lynyrd Skynyrd, but Risen casts the Biblical story of the resurrection as a political thriller.

Director/co-writer Kevin Reynolds (Waterworld) clearly has his eye on more than just the “faith-based” demographic. There’s good business in that audience, to be sure, but Risen is geared toward attracting more mainstream moviegoing tastes as well.

The film establishes a “non-believer” point of view at the outset, shortly after Pilate (Peter Firth) informs his trusted tribune Clavius (Joseph Fiennes in fine form) of the order to crucify “Yeshua” (Cliff Curtis). With a visit from the Emperor looming, Pilate charges Clavius with ensuring that the growing threat of Yeshua’s disciples dies with him.

Of course, the plot thickens once Yeshua’s body vanishes from the tomb. Clavius and his apprentice Lucius (Tom Felton) begin a desperate search for the body, or any body that might convince the masses their Messiah is dead.

It always seems awkward for Biblical characters to be speaking English, but here it fits the “B” movie feel of the narrative, as early political intrigue gives way to an all out manhunt. Regardless of what’s being spoken, Yeshua as portrayed by veteran supporting actor Curtis, a New Zealander with a Middle Eastern look, is a nice piece of casting.

A more familiar faith-based structure emerges in the film’s third act, as the doubting Clavius begins to see things he cannot explain, and the film’s worldview shifts to that of the converted.

That’s not an inherently bad thing, and the film gives the journey a welcome nuance. Though Reynolds overdoes the symbolism at times (Pilate washing his hands, Mary Magdalene bathed in sunbeans), Risen leans more on intelligence than obedience, and is ultimately more believable for it.



We’re Going to Need Another Bodice!




by George Wolf


To put it mildly, the story at the heart of In Secret has staying power.

It’s the latest telling of Therese Raquin, a novel by Emile Zola that has seen countless adaptations since its debut in 1867. The classic tale of lust, betrayal and murder has seen big and small screen productions, live stagings, and been sampled in a range of films, ranging from the noir staple The Postman Always Rings Twice to the Korean vampire flick Thirst.

This latest version sees writer/director Charlie Stratton adapting Neal Bell’s play and chasing Zola’s stated desire to produce a “study in temperament.” 

Elizabeth Olsen is Therese, who is stuck in a passionless marriage to Camille (Tom Felton), her sickly first cousin. They live with Camille’s doting mother Madame Raquin (Jessica Lange) in Paris, above the small shop she owns and Therese helps to keep running.

Camille brings his old friend Laurent (Oscar Isaac) home to visit, which ignites the long-repressed passions in Therese. Soon, she and Laurent are stealing every possible moment for bouts of bodice-ripping, which eventually leads to the pair imaging how nice it would be if Camille were to turn up dead,

Stratton, in his feature debut, is effective at setting the period, and the mood. The entire affair is laced with desperation, both before and after the murderous deed, and Stratton is able to differentiate between the shifting motivations of the characters.

His sublime cast is a huge help. Olsen continues to prove gifted at conveying much with the slightest of glances, and Isaac, fresh from his triumph in Inside LLewyn Davis, easily conveys Laurent’s penchant for blindly following his impulses.

Felton may be the biggest surprise. Since originating the Draco Malfoy role in the Harry Potter series, Felton has shown an impressive growth, and here he deftly gives Camille the dim-witted vulnerability which makes him an easy mark for,the scheming lovers.

And Lange? Well at this point, what can you say? She’s delicious, digging into a role which she makes even more effective once her character is forced to rely on her son’s killers for survival. Lange has been doing some of the best work of her storied career recently, people, take note!

In Secret is a pure, old-fashioned Gothic thriller, one that purposely takes a detached approach to the scheming. Those looking for a deep psychological look within the characters won’t get it.

You will get a filmmaker determined to stay as true as possible to the intent of its source material, and a cast talented enough to bring that vision to a satisfying fruition.