Monday, 31 October 2016

Top 10 Best Films of the 1970s

The 1970s is by and far my favorite decade in cinema. I love more movies from the ‘60s but the incredible evolution of genre and style the next decade heralded, in particularly for the waning Hollywood market, cements it for me as the greatest set of 10 years the medium has ever endured.

One of its most admirable traits is definition: You can’t always place flicks from other decades. The lines blur and you wonder if you’re watching something from the 50s, 40s, maybe even 30s. On the contemporary end I couldn’t tell you if something that came out a week ago was actually from 2006. But when you watch a 70s movie… you know you’re watching a 70s movie. It’s as simple as that.

TV Reviews: Hannibal S1

TV’s take on Thomas Harris’ infamous Dr Hannibal Lecter, who first knew filmic fame as played by Antony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs, AMC’s Hannibal might just be the finest take on the tale we’ve yet to receive. Lambs has been blunted over the years and failed to chill me even when I was young, with Hopkins’ Hannibal a hammy, if entertaining, caricature. The previous adaptations have all run in that same characterized vein, hyperbolic by nature and often venturing into hilariously absurd (see. Brain dinner) if morbid moments- a characteristic AMC’s Hannibal is refreshingly free of.

PCC Classic Horror All-Nighter

After over 12 hours from 8.45 on the 29th to 9am on the 30th watching a laundry-list of the greatest horror films ever made (...and Alien.)- What better way to celebrate my favorite night to the movies ever than a little run through the terror...

Sunday, 23 October 2016

2010s Reviews: Gangs of Wasseypur

The story of rival gangs, revenge and politics, Gangs of Wasseypur marked a solid voice from Indian cinema that rang across the world at Cannes and continues to be regarded as one of the country's very best works. Hailed there as the Hindi Godfather- director Anurag Kashyap's work is certainly more colorful and electric, if no-where near as polished. 

60s Reviews: The Colour of Pomegranates

My recent run-ins with much-revered Armenian auteur Sergei Paradjanov have proven that you can indeed make films less than 85 minutes long as dull as any overstuffed 3 hours swords-and-sandals epic- if not more so. The Colour of Pomegranates began with the promise of eerie, enigmatic lines read from an ancient book and then immediate descended into the kind of film people who call anything remotely out of their comfort zone "pretentious" would physically salivate over. 

Noughties Reviews: Saw

I’ve always maintained that we should never judge eachother for what we like- never look down on fans of Transformers or the like. There is no good or bad taste- just taste.

That being said: James Wan’s hopelessly gratuitous work is manipulative to no end. It’s designed with the thinnest façade of intelligence any self-respecting fan of cinema, no matter how ‘casual’ that affinity may be, should see through immediately. Wan’s seedy, slimy, unforgivably cynical intent seems to be to make a movie for people who don’t pay that level of attention. He aims at a crowd more than happy with any simple slasher piece and injects it with the most minimal idea of smart storytelling possible to try and cheat them.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Director Retrospectives: Martin Scorsese

I have to preface this by saying that I love Martin Scorsese. I am fascinated by his countless insightful interviews and admire how intimately familiar he is with the filmic medium. Several of his movies rank among my favorites and by no means does the perceptibly lack-luster average of scores reflect my affection for his work. I enjoy the majority of it- just find a lot of flaws in them too. Without further ado, lets dive in!

Director Retrospectives: Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen is, well: a shame. Two of his works rank among the most proficient of their respective decades, brimming with perceptible skill and bristling with a quiet confidence more modern films desperately need. That being said, his most recent work left me cold- and whilst he could just be searching for good material the man has yet to announce a follow-up.

What's worse: Recently hist proposed HBO show Codes of Conduct was cancelled, leaving me to wonder where exactly he's going to go next. Its a shame that a film-maker of such skill seems lost- thought that may just be me getting all too paranoid over something that doesn't warrant any fear. Regardless, if McQueen was to retire right now, the brief but vital legacy he would leave is something we could all learn from...

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

80s Reviews: The Long Good Friday

Following London crime kingpin Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins, in his break-out role) and his struggles against the Irish mafia as they conspire to tear apart the empire he is building in Blighty- director John Mackenzie's might just be the finest film of 1980, which is undoubtedly quite a criterion. 

Monday, 17 October 2016

80s Reviews: Akira

The story of a young boy infected with some sort of supernatural force during a bike crash in a futuristic post-WWIII neo-Tokyo, Akira’s sizzling style- evident right from the dazzling opening sequence- marked it out as a defining moment in Japanese animation. How does it hold up?

Saturday, 15 October 2016

50s Reviews: Hiroshima, mon amour

Hiroshima, mon amour plays out like a backwards Before Sunrise: Tracking two lovers who have seemingly just met through their shorts span of time together, except against the backdrop of a city slowly recovering from nuclear destruction.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

80s Reviews: Henry - Portrait of a Serial Killer

The partly-true story of a murderer operating without motive or pattern across the darker side of America, Henry is a stripped, down tale of terror which achieves a hell of a lot despite a minuscule budget and a shooting-span of just a few weeks. Perhaps the best film ever shot in such brevity along with the fantastic Detour- it’s also one of the very finest serial killer flicks ever conceived. 

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

2010s Reviews: Under the Skin

Following a deadly alien's travels through Scotland, picking up unsuspecting men and luring them into her lair for assimilation- Under the Skin is a film which begins with about an hour of really enticing, deeply unsettling material and then sadly seems to hemorrhage from within. 

Monday, 10 October 2016

1970s Reviews: The Devils

A few days after discovering the truly boring, inexplicably notorious Cannibal Holocaust (whose extreme gore and sexual violence it blunted by the infantile hands it is crafted with) I stumbled upon a truly terrifying work of art: Something vicious and rightfully absent of any shame for the absurd levels of brutality it presents. A mini-Marketa Lazarová filled with comparable invention, skill and stunning form… Ken Russell’s miraculous The Devils.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Noughties Reviews: Sexy Beast

Following a retired gangster as he is pulled back into the life he left behind for one last job, Sexy Beast has got me even more excited for Jonathan Glazer’s next film. 2014’s Under the Skin displayed incredible directorial skill and, whilst not as good, this earlier effort is even more compelling.

Friday, 7 October 2016

80s Reviews: the Cook, the Thief, his Wife & her Lover

I reserve the word 'dark' for special occasions. We see so much discussion today over superhero flicks, warring between 'darker is better' and 'just have some fun'- painting the argument in a ridiculous coat of black and white, not realizing that we can live with both entertainment and compelling portraits of pain. The excessive servings of extreme cinema, from Dogtooth to Audition among others, prove more than anything that to create a dark film, you need more than kicked-in teeth, dim lighting and someone saying "fuck" every so often. This primitive, almost childish view mounted by the superhero genre is not done much more justice in the form of gratuitous violence, sex and contrived taboo in the exposed pieces a-la Salo

I say all of this because anyone who is sick and tired of the pitiful attitude of 'dark' superhero romps and naive crime dramas who are about as edgy as pre-school scissors simply have to see Peter Greenway's The Cook, the Thief, his Wife & her Lover. Its as ugly, unbearable and diseased as any film I've ever seen- and that's what makes it so special.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

70s Reviews: El Topo

Following writer, director, composer Alejandro Jodorowsky as the eponymous ‘Mole’, a gunfighter clad in black who is convinced to quest against four legendary masters of dueling, El Topo is a fantasy flick unlike any other. For one it’s a hell of a lot more brutal: counting at least one vividly violent on-screen offing every couple of minutes and many more unexplained bodies piling up along the way. A far-cry from your Fantasia’s, then, but does the pool of blood bubbling below every action of the picture enrichen El Topo, or drown it where it stands?

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

2010s Reviews: Hell or High Water

Following two brothers’ string of heists across the state of Texas and a pair of cops’ attempts to head off the crime spree, Hell or High Water is the worst kind of film: It’s technically proficient, stylistically inoffensive and totally unremarkable in every single way.

2010s Reviews: The Magnificent Seven

Re-re-treading the steps of Akira Kurosawa’s landmark masterwork Seven Samurai, Antwone Fuqua’s greatest failure is re-re-treading the steps of Akira Kurosawa’s landmark masterwork Seven Samurai and letting us all know it. The film is interspersed with shots and scenes ripped straight out of the deservedly revered epic: nabbing the distant hazy shots of Kikuchiyo on a horse and the immortal wides of warriors riding laterally across a darkened plain. There’s even a horribly jarring, inexplicably protracted death of Vincent D’Onofrio’s character designed to mimic the slow, grinding hell of SS’s climax which is a contender for worst scene of the year.

Monday, 3 October 2016

a candid conversation about Wake in Fright

As far as the plot is concerned, Wake in Fright follows an English schoolteacher on contract in Australia who, at the end of the year's work, makes his way back to Sydney but on the way is delayed indefinitely in a reportedly charming area of the outback known as 'The Yabba'.

On first viewing, Kotcheff's film gave me the only panic attack I've ever had in my life. Near 20 minutes after it was over I felt a strange, creeping force scuttling across my mind. It provoked me to start pacing about the room, talking to myself frantically about what I had just seen- searching for some explanation and in that a reason to make it all go away. I scrabbled about for anything to consume: Picking clean chicken bones, rummaging through empty takeout containers and continually downing any drink within arms reach. Once all the food was gone, I began rocking back and forth on my bed- often plunging my face into the pillows and their darkness in an attempt to escape the feeling. 

Its an experience I'm evidently really shaken by, one which drove me to a low I never thought I'd reach and will certainly take more seriously when others profess to have felt the same. What continues to puzzle me about it is that just days prior I'd rented Cannibal Holocaust from my university library; an action driven by the endless stories of its extreme and provocative nature which, after seeing works which do something really special with excessive content like my much-touted Irréversible and Ken Russell's explosive The Devils, actually motivates me to see a movie even more. Bar mortally repugnant scene in which a group of film-makers actually disembowel a live turtle, Ruggero Deodato's work failed to move me on any level and if anything the gratuitous physical and sexual violence just came across as childish. Little wonder why Eli Roth loves it so much.

The question I'll leave those undecided on pressing the 'continue reading' button with is this: Given those points of comparison- films in which there are 10 minute long single-take rape sequences, graphic bone breaking and killing by Fire Extinguisher along with genuine animal cruelty and sadistic murders of native villagers plus nun orgies, genital mutilation, flagellation, exorcism by giant Medieval steam-gun and sex with a massive wooden carving of Christ (I still wonder exactly why The Devils was banned by Christian censors) did the comparably tame Wake in Fright end up doing the most damage?