The House of Sand and Fog – Movie Review!

A 2003 American psychological drama starring Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly.

“Abandoned by her husband, recovering drug addict Kathy Nicolo, living alone in a small house near the San Francisco Bay Area, ignores eviction notices erroneously sent to her for nonpayment of business taxes. Assuming the misunderstanding was cleared up, she is surprised when Sheriff’s Deputy Lester Burdon arrives to forcibly evict her. Telling Kathy that her home is to be auctioned off, Lester feels sympathy for her, helps her move out, and advises her to seek legal assistance to regain her house.”

That is when Kingsley moves his family into the home after a lawful purchase and Kathy is intent on going back to regain her home. What appears a simple feud soon take a dark turn as the family is treated with hostility. Although they are a good family and have done nothing wrong. It highlights the perception people have of immigrants and how they are treated differently than those born in a country. From work, to home ownership they are looked down upon.

Since the feud seems to be growing, in a relatively small and tight plot, it does open big doors to much potential. But the narrative take a narrow turn and focuses entirely on the negative, the miserable and in the end everyone suffers and leaves you wondering just who suffered the most or if Kathy was indeed in the wrong… personally at the end of the movie I saw her as the one who had done wrong.

I think the acting is superb. And this little gem popped up on Amazon Prime and I’ve left it for a while because it looked cheap, but was good. Granted that in some places the plot was a little bizarre and the direction skewed and awkward but it added to the reality of the movie scenes. Lighting and quality was good, and so was the set pieces of the house.

It is also rated a 15 but in my honest opinion the themes are so strong and at times sickening that I really don’t recommend anyone under 18 to watch this. There are scenes of a violent nature, sexual scenes, self harm and more which are not for under 18 – so please consider raising the age movie critics.

Well this is short because to talk about the movie in depth would ruin it. It’s an adult psychological drama and I would argue borderline horror. It was interesting to watch this movie adaption which I took a chance on. Unfortunately it was a one time viewing and a such I deduct a star;

3 1/2 stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Stonehearst Asylum: Movie review.

SPOILERS

A British powerhouse movie, starring some well known names: Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, David Thewlis, Ben Kingsley, Michael Caine & Brendan Gleeson.

Running at 1 hour and 52 mins with an IMDB rating of 6.8/10.

“The year is 1899, and medical school graduate Edward Newgate (Jim Sturgess) is the newest clinical recruit at Stonehearst: a mental asylum for the privileged and wealthy. He’s keen to gain as much experience as possible, but Edward observes the techniques of his superior Dr Silas Lamb (Kingsley) with increasing concern, as Lamb’s practice strays far from convention.”

Set within an isolated asylum, this is a gothic, haunting psychological thriller. I watched it last night, and I could vaguely recall some details so I suspect I have watched it before. Overall it was good, with good acting and an interesting storyline. Of course, it is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s Gothic-thriller Eliza Graves.

Edward Newgate arrives at the asylum which is in the midst of winter. It isn’t long before he is suspicious and it is revealed fairly soon that Dr Lamb, the man in charge, is in fact crazy and has locked up the staff and is essentially letting the crazies run the asylum. So, what does the doctor do?

Throughout there is talk of escaping with patient Eliza, but nothing comes of this. Instead, Lamb becomes increasingly disturbed and conducts some horrific experiments, saying that the whole show is essentially a big ‘experiment’ and he doesn’t believe in conventional medicine. Lamb is an ex military doctor.

Newgate soon discovers there is no way to escape without taking out Lamb and helping the other staff escape. It all escalates to a point where Eliza is forced to save Newgate from electrotherapy, during a conversation which reveals that he has followed the lady there all the way from London where he witnessed his professor conducting an experiment on her.

Slightly obsessive and deranged. Newgate has to crack the code or secret to the mad Dr Lambs mental condition. In the words of Dr Salt (Michael Caine), he has to crack him.

The film raises some good ethical and philosophical points, including treating patients without medication and instead allowing them to express themselves, and that compassion goes a long way in treating the insane. But take note that this takes place at the turn of the 20th century, 120 years ago when psychiatry was primitive and experimental.

Overall a good watch with some cracking acting. I would of liked to see Caine play a bigger role and Gleeson, but that was not the case and it’s Thewlis with the most screen time after Sturgess and Kingsley.

RATING4/5

Rating: 4 out of 5.