Year: 2016 Director: David MacKenzie
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
Westerns, the tv show Justified perhaps, those who can’t get enough Jeff Bridges..
Year: 2016 Director: David MacKenzie
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
Westerns, the tv show Justified perhaps, those who can’t get enough Jeff Bridges..
Year: 2016 Director: Jim Jarmusch
Sitting on a stately chair at the centre of this film about The Stooges is the most unlikely (almost) last man standing of the story is, as billed in the credits, James Osterberg as Iggy Pop – a battle scarred shit eating grinner that you could listen to all day long, Those deep honey mixed with gravel tones simply lay out the facts, m’am, with the other band members, managers and relatives filling in the blanks. Its thankfully free of irrelevant famous musician friend anecdotes or members of U2 telling you how their lives were changed.
Early footage of The Stooges is hard to come by and Jarmusch does a great job in eking it out over 2 hours, smearing it with clippings, sounds and grime. It’s a tale of more dumb luck than judgement as they attach themselves to the fertile Ann Arbor scene and the MC5 who help them get a record deal. Their first two albums are recorded in quick succession seemingly with Elektra having no idea what the hell to do with them. When they decide to drop them the guardian angel of David Bowie swoops down to save first » Continue Reading.
Year: 2016 Director: Adam Curtis
I’m guessing that Adam Curtis is a familiar name to many here, to some not so much – particularly as his work is now mainly seen on the BBC iplayer which those abroad may not be able to access. He’s a journalist and film-maker, who for the last two decades has been crafting a singular approach to documentary making. Curtis’ films are collages of archive clips from primarily the BBC News that explore a particular topic, anchored by Curtis’ own narrative voice and a kicking selection of background music. All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (2011) argued with a techno-optimist view, suggesting instead that technology has simplified and distorted our view of the world. Bitter Lake (2015) looked at how many Islamist terrorist groups have their origins in the nature of the alliance between the USA and Saudi Arabia; and now we have Hpernormalizion.
Hypernormalization starts in 1975 in New York – where the politicians have bankrupted the city and the financiers take over the running of government; in Syria – where Assad’s father, the first dictator, is trying to create a pan-Arab settlement for the middle East. Frustrated by the Americans’ support » Continue Reading.
Year: 2016 Director: Denis Villeneuve
Oh fuck me. Yes, I am still on a giddy post-cinema high, but this might just be the best science fiction movie I’ve ever seen.
It’s a first contact story, sparked off when twelve mysterious craft appear in locations all over the world. The US military enlist a linguistic expert, Dr Louise Banks (played by an excellent Amy Adams), to travel to the landing site in Montana and aid efforts to communicate with the aliens in order to discover the purpose behind their arrival, while in the background the global reaction threatens to slide into conflict. To say much more would be getting into spoiler territory – trust me, there is one word I am dying to type here to give some idea of what the film is about, but I’m scared lest it give too much away.
As someone who has consumed a great deal of science fiction, written and cinematic, there’s a feeling you get when you’re reading a great SF novel and you suddenly click with the concepts and ideas. It’s like someone has pried open the top of your head and filled it with light, changing the way you’re » Continue Reading.
Year: 1961 Director: Val Guest
I recently got 4 Blu Rays for £20 in Fopp so thought I’d review them as they are almost all new views to me.
A fresh 4K transfer from the BFI of Quatermass director, Val Guest’s apocalyptic drama, ‘The Day The Earth Caught Fire’ set in a London after two recent nuclear tests by opposing sides of the Cold War have led to climatic changes and possibly signal the end of the world as we know it. The staff of the Daily Express attempt to discover what is going on with top class investigative journalism (did I mention it was a fantasy?) as the world starts to burn.
It bears all the hallmarks of 50s60s science fiction – nuclear paranoia, a mistrust of the ruling classes and government, a slightly polemic and grandstanding screenplay (a BAFTA winning collaboration by Guest and Wolf Mankowitz) and a feeling that these mad scientists will be the death of us. What raises it above the schlock of films of this type is a more intelligent and nuanced approach which instead of showing the aftermath of a cataclysmic event gives us a sense of the world slowly falling » Continue Reading.
Year: 2016 Director: Ti West
In A Valley Of Violence has got 8 reviews on IMDB to date, four good and four bad. The bad ones criticise the story and the screenplay, comparing the story to the Keanu Reeves shoot-em-up revenge film John Wick (albeit as a Western). Which is fair enough. But the screenplay redeems it for me. It really turns the idea of classic tough guys on its head, showing them as people who really don’t want to get hurt, much less killed. The tough guys are Ethan Hawke and John Travolta, neither of whom fits the usual clearly delineated goodie/baddie stereotype. I was interested to see the baddest baddie is played by James Ransone, who I last saw having a fully explicit wank in the Larry Clark film Ken Park! Nice to see he’s gone on to have a proper career after such a courageously unselfconscious start. Also stars Doctor Who’s old assistant, Karen Gillan. Oh and the dog is brilliant.
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
John Wick, Unforgiven.
Year: 2013 Director: Lukas Moodysson
Many of the films that convey the essence of making music aren’t actually biopics or documentaries. Joining The Commitments, Whiplash at the top of the tree is this Swedish film from Eurofilm bad boy Lukas Moodysson. Moodysson’s most famous for two extremely depressing films – Lilya 4 Ever and A Hole In My Heart. The latter, which I have seen, is deeply unpleasant and audience-baiting. The clue to the joy that is We Are The Best! lies in his earlier film Together, in which he looks at life in a commune in seventies Sweden with sympathy and humour. Music is well used, and there are some terrific unsentimental and natural performances in Together from the children who have to bear the consequences of their parents lifestyle choices. We Are The Best moves forward ten years to Stockholm of the early eighties. Two teenage girls, Bobo and Klara, take their boredom, their desire to wind up their parents, and political views and decide to mix all this together into forming a punk band. They’ve no idea how to play music – brilliant- and their one song is about how school sports lessons are no answer to » Continue Reading.
Year: 2015 Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Green Room is the third feature from Jeremy Saulnier who’s last movie was the fabulous revenge thriller Blue Ruin. This is a thriller/horror which grips from the off and doesn’t let go. It follows punk band The Ain’t Rights slepping around the bars and dives earning next to nothing when they get a gig in the backwoods playing to a load of Right wing skinheads. At this point we get a rather good cover of the Dead Kennedy’s Nazi Punks Fuck Off but after that a shocking discovery ups the ante. From then on the band are in a fight for survival with limited weapons and no way out.
We really enjoyed this in a gruesome watching through your fingers way. The violence is ultra realistic and shocking when it happens. But there is a dark wit running through the film which is very well played. The performances are excellent with the nervous bassist played by the late Anton Yelchin and the cold calculating club owner Patrick Stewart standing out
A great horror that has been pared to the bone and well worth the 90 odd minutes.
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
Last House » Continue Reading.
Year: 2016 Director: Colm McCarthy
Of late the world has been overrun with so many zombie films that we assume that creatively the horror genre is pretty well braindead but it helps that ‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ starts from a curious unique scenario and pretty much follows through to its conclusion. MR Carey’s novel was a gripping page turner and the film script which he adapted maintains that tension aided by a superb sound design and clanging industrial music that makes the viewer uneasy. The girl of the title, Melanie, relative unknown Sennia Nanua lives in a military installation, together with several other children who are wheeled to a makeshift classroom each day strapped to their chairs. Reprising her role as Cruella De Ville, Glenn Close’s Dr Caldwell stalks their cells at night often leading to an empty desk the next morning. It’s best you know as little as possible before seeing this film so I’ll try and keep it vague.
The only ray of light in this tomblike existence for Melanie is Gemma Arterton as teacher, Miss Justineau, the only inhabitant to show anything but fear and contempt for the inmates. The authorities want the children to » Continue Reading.
Year: 2016 Director: Paul Elliott & Sean Lambeth
Martin Glover, aka Youth – a man of many parts – founder of and bassist with Killing Joke, poet, songwriter, artist, remixer, producer….the list goes on.
This intriguing documentary follows the man over an eighteen-month period, travelling with him in his trusty VW camper van, working in the recording stidio and pursuing his interest in painting.
It gives a very interesting insight into the man and his methods through extensive interviews with him and with the likes of Paul McCartney, Dave Gilmour, Jaz Coleman, Alex Paterson and Boy George to name but a few.
Studio sessions, smoke filled rooms and a steady stream of anecdotes keep the film moving along, as Youth recounts tales from his earliest days through to working with some of the biggest names in rock.
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
This is a really interesting watch if you’re a fan of Youth or of rock documentaries in general – and as a bonus it has a fantastic soundtrack from Killing Joke and also features a treasure trove of unreleased material from Youth himself.
Year: 2016 Director: Steve Read and Rob Alexander
This isn’t a ‘career-by-numbers’ fluff piece.
It follows Gary Numan and his wife as they leave the UK and try to settle in LA with their young family. By the looks of it, the crew was given more or less unlimited access to the Numan household, with the result that Read and Alexander have produced an amazingly candid piece. There’s no sense here that we’re being presented with anything that has been particularly dressed up for public edification. Gary and his amusingly bonkers missus Gemma come across as a lovably eccentric middle-aged couple, a less annoying version of The Osbournes.
The narrative tension focuses on the fact that, having hit a creative brick wall and suffered a serious bout of depression, Gary is under pressure to produce a special ‘comeback’ album. It’s going to be his first new work for about seven years and –as the family acclimatises to their new surroundings- we get the impression that their future depends upon the success (or otherwise) of Poppa Numan’s new record. He talks frankly about his Asperger’s syndrome and about how it has informed his creative process (and imposed limits on » Continue Reading.
Year: 2016 Director: Created by Michelle & Robert King
In two months time the United States will have to choose its president from the two most disliked candidates ever to run for the office. In the past year the tone and themes of the discourse have ranged from the nonsensical to the nonsensical and scary. A campaign which has placed front and centre conspiracy theories about Ted Cruz’s father’s involvement in the JFK assassination, Hillary Clinton spending most of her time off camera in a wheelchair because of Parkinson’s Disease and the incumbent President – a closet Muslim – being involved in the machinations of ISIS, is almost beyond satire. The nuttiness of these interesting times might explain why the creators of acclaimed Emmy-magnet The Good Wife have written a show about the consequence of a government takeover by mind controlling extraterrestrial insects. What sounds like The Thick Of It meets Invasion Of The Body Snatchers – a political satire/ sci fi hybrid – largely retains a lot of the soapy character interest for which its creators are known; it’s about as satirical as the film “Eat The Rich” and about as sci fi as Holmes And YoYo. In fact, » Continue Reading.
Year: 2016 Director: Andrew Dominik
This is movie puts in the spotlight Nick Cave, a man who is struggling in every sense of the word. Shot in black and white in shaky 3D the movie reminds me a lot of Eat the Document and Don’t Look Back. Ramshackle editing (was there any editing) in and out of focus it pretty much records anything and everything over a period. Footage of Nick and Warren Ellis trying to eke out or resurrect fragments of songs,in a cab, in his house. Stuff with his wife Susie and their surviving son,Earl.
The director is a friend and they worked on the Assassination of Jesse James movie. He asks some direct questions and Nick responds far less abruptly than I’d have expected. But then,as he says, I woke up a different person. The world is the same but my place in it has changed”. Later he says that he used to know how he will respond to certain stimuli/situations but now he has no idea. The early close-up shots , black and white and 3D on this hollow face with big dark bags under his eyes..”what happened to my face”… “those big bags weren’t » Continue Reading.
Year: 1975 Director: Stanley Kubrick
There are many films vying for the title of lost masterpiece. Barry Lyndon, if not that, is certainly the odd one out of the Kubrick oeuvre, passed even by Eyes Wide Shut until this year’s new print and re-release, which we were fortunate enough to see on a big cinema screen. And if you can get to a screening you should. The description of the cinematography used most frequently is like a Constable painting come to life. And this is true, but one could also think of Joseph Wright of Derby and even Caravaggio in the candlelit interior scenes. Every shot is framed like a painting, and the exterior scenes achieve a naturalism I’ve seen in very few other historical dramas. It’s georgeous throughout, from the early scenes in rural Ireland to the stately home of Lyndon’s final rise (and fall). Kubrick brings the same extra-ordinary visual flair to the costume drama as he does to sci-fi – a clarity that makes one feel that one is watching a documentary even though the head is marvelling at the artifice. The story is derived from an nineteenth-century novel The Luck of Barry Lyndon and as with » Continue Reading.
Year: 2016 Director: Ricky Gervais
Ricky Gervais can do no wrong. (I’m well aware when making that comment, that for many, he can do no right, since he polarises opinion to the extent there’s hardly anyone who says; ‘he’s okay, I suppose.’) Where Ricky is supreme however is among the movers and shakers, the big noises in Hollywood and London; not only the stars (and Keith Chegwin) apparently delighted to be humiliated in ‘Extras’, but producers and business corporations, investors prepared to back up Gervais’s various comedy productions with hard cash, despite the fact that not everything RG’s made has hit pay dirt. The biggest reason for this, is The Office’, his breakthrough piece, the magnificently conceived, observed and acted series which gave the world David Brent, chilled-out entertainer, friend as well as boss, self-obsessed philosopher, twat. On the back of Brent’s status as genuine comedy icon, Gervais has been given what looks like a blank cheque – and quite possibly a blank sheet of paper – to resurrect the Slough dilettante, who continues to follow his self-stated philosophy of ‘live fast, die old’. Since last seen Brent has suffered a nervous breakdown, been on prozac, undergone a weight gain » Continue Reading.
Year: 2016 Director: Jean-François Richet
Though Mad Mel Gibson’s forthcoming ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ heralds a return to the kind of directorial event film-making for which he’s famed, he’s been prepping the ground with a series of smaller, mea culpa acting turns, ‘The Beaver’, ‘Get The Gringo’ and now this.
Ergo, ‘Blood Father’ opens with Med Mel – I mean, his character, John Link – confessing all at an AA meeting. He’s done bad stuff. He’s sorry. He wants to begin again. Whether or not you forgive him is irrelevant. The question is whether you want to watch him, and the fact remains that from ‘Mad Max’ to ‘Apocalypto’, whether in front of the camera or behind it, Gibbo’s always turned out fascinating work. Not necessarily good work, mind you, but always with a welcome dollop of ‘what the fuck?’
Here he seems to be channelling his most commercial character, Riggs of ‘Lethal Weapon’. In fact, if you can imagine that Riggs has retired, grown an awesome beard and now works out of a caravan as a tattoo artist, only to be dragged into a violent feud involving his daughter, you’ve got the measure of ‘Blood Father’, both in terms of plot » Continue Reading.
Year: 2016 Director: Justin Lin
What’s reasonable to expect from a summer blockbuster? That’s the question that Star Trek Beyond (terrible title) asks. No-one’s asking for a life-changing cinematic experience. I’m guessing that no-one from Suicide Squad, STB or Bourne are going to trouble the acting and directing Oscar nominations. They’re virtually critic proof these things (see Suicide Squad’s abysmal reviews and solid numbers). Firstly, does it provide an entertaining couple of hours. No question that STB delivers. The interplay between Urban, Pine and Quinto is mellowing into a very likeable trio number. Put any two in a scene and there’s something to listen to as well as watch (whereas Bourne is a virtually silent movie experience, 258 words and all). Secondly,can we see where the money went? UNquestionably. It’s not just about blowing things up. Though there’s plenty of that. The 360 Simcity in spaces, Yorktown, is gobsmackingly beautiful, a fragile and vast snow globe with millions of people inside. Chief villain Idris Elba’s fleet is a twisting, turning school of fish that in its ultimate manifestation becomes a gigantic tube wave rolling like a Big One off Hawaii. Thirdly, does it respect the franchise? There’s some very neat » Continue Reading.
Year: 1968 Director: Various
This is a box set of perhaps the greatest ongoing detective of all time along with only the various Sherlocks, Poirot and Morse that match the quality and sheer enjoyment of this series. Columbo was created by William Link and Richard Levinson and played wonderfully by Peter Falk who provided his own raincoat and chose the car and dog that appeared in some episodes. Starting in 1968 with Perscription:Murder the first of two pilots, the second three years later. The fist season proper started the same year with a new upcoming director Steven Spielberg at the helm. It was an part of a strand of police programmes on NBC with McCloud and MacMillan and Wife and because of this there would only be ten or so episodes a series so the writers could keep the quality high and produce slightly longer and more in depth shows.
Columbo’s investigations mainly involved the rich and famous which the writers deliberately did to play the scruffy, dishevelled Columbo off against them, in fact writers said their ideal murderer would have been Noel Coward. Always coming out on top against his supposed betters Columbo has been described as the most » Continue Reading.
Year: 2015 Director: Bryan Carberry & Clay Tweel
I mentioned this film at the recent clique meeting and was surprised that no-one else had a) seen it or b) believed that it wasn’t something I’d just made up. As stories go, it does appear to be the ramblings of a balloon juice addict but truth is way weirder than fiction.
Mr John Wood loses his leg in a car accident, possibly while as high as a kite, and takes said limb home with him when he leaves the hospital. It ends up in storage, inside of all things a BBQ grill and due to his recreational drug use the payments aren’t kept up. As a result, the contents, including the leg, fall into the hands of local character, Shannon, who sees that the leg is his rightful property. So begins a legal and bizarre struggle over who owns John’s leg. Alongside this runs John’s relationship with his aggrieved mother who has had to suffer his druggy behaviour and isn’t sure she wants him, let alone the leg, back in her life.
The more ridiculous aspects of the situation are a backdrop to the nature of semi-celebrity with Shannon, like » Continue Reading.
Year: 2016 Director: Don Cheadle
Accomplished actor and director Don Cheadle resorted to crowd funding to get this movie done. and he had to introduce a white movie star Ewan McGregor to make it more commercially viable. It’s a biopic, which chops between scenes of Miles in the cool era to his drug fuelled recluse years in the 70’s before he returned with that wild fusion stuff.
I know a lot about Miles, got the records,seen him, read books, so I wasn’t overly fussed that this wasn’t a documentary. What interested me was that Cheadle co wrote some of the music and was sufficiently devoted to playing the role that his chops were raised to a level to be credible.
There are a few themes – Miles’ relationship with Frances Taylor (who is credited as an executive producer) and his remorse for this lost relationship – although never discussed the continuing pain of Miles’ degenerative hip condition and then there is the overt plot -Drugs / Miles wants record company money>”give us some new stuff” > reel of “new stuff gets stolen> guns car chases etc to retrieve it – the ripping yarn bit.
I really enjoyed those parts where » Continue Reading.
Year: 2016 Director: Paul Greengrass
I’ll come clean before I start, I adore the Bourne films. We’ve made sure were at the first night for all of them (except for ‘Legacy’, the one that Matt Damon is not in, which is also a cracking film.) However, unlike a mate of mine, I have no relationship with the books. So, when said mate starts to pick holes in scripts or plots, I can happily stick metaphorical fingers in my ears and ‘la, la, la’ to my hearts content. The newest one in the series finally sees Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass back in harness, each of them having said that the other one would be the only reason they would do another film. Greengrass has co-written the script for this and, to be honest, there is no director currently operating that is better at this kind of tense, fast-moving, action blockbuster. He is a master of his craft. This adventure has all the familiar Bourne hallmarks – a tense plot, strong acting from the great cast, brutal, epic fight sequences and a car chase that is one of the best ever filmed. Tommy Lee Jones plays the grizzled, gnarly CIA Director, » Continue Reading.
Year: 2015 Director: Wes Orshoski
Take two pairs of guys, throw ’em into the back of a van, add alcohol, wait for a fight to break out. The tumultuous lives and times of the first punk band to (insert relevant stat regarding single, album and/or CBGBs here) played out over just under two hours of (mostly) enjoyable reminiscence from most of the major players involved (producer Nick Mason is included, producer Nick Lowe is not). Feeling a little like an extended version of one of those BBC4 ‘Punk Night’ documentaries, everyone is in reasonably chipper form and generally come across as likeable (from a distance), and even as Rat Scabies is patiently explaining the minutae of the legal issues which have estranged him from the Vanian/Sensible core of the current line up you sense he still retains a kind of affection for them. The scene in which he describes a rehearsal room and one of the many splits (“We had everything we ever wanted…””) is genuinely moving. I watched it in the pub, with a selection of veterans from the punk wars, which made for a very convivial atmosphere around many of the stories regarding on-stage shenanigans (“When the Captain » Continue Reading.
Year: 2016 Director: Thorsten Schütte
“To many people Zappa has often seemed to be a force of cultural darkness. Bearded and gross and filthy, entirely obscene, a Mephistophelian figure, serving as a lone, brutal reminder of music’s potential for invoking chaos and destruction”. Those words, originally from Time Magazine, October, 1969 are intoned by an impossibly square TV frontman over footage of Frank walking through an Australian airport. Looking startlingly leonine and quite magnificent, all eyes are on him. There follows an uncomfortable 1973 discussion on Aussie TV about groupies with Zappa the only one in the room with anything remotely interesting to say.
Eat That Question premiered on June 24, 2016 in the US and barely three weeks later here it is on the big screen at the Perth International Film Festival. Such is the speed of mass media communication today. This movie is sub-titled “Zappa in His Own Words” and that’s exactly what we have here – no narrator, no talking heads and no celebrity contributors, just 90 mins of rare FZ concert and interview footage.
Starting with a bizarrely short-haired and be-suited Frank playing the bicycle on the Steve Allan TV show in March 1963, » Continue Reading.
Year: 1971 Director: Peter Bogdanovich
We’re not the Guardian on a Friday or Pitchfork are we. As reviewers our job appears to be threefold: to point our colleagues at new stuff of interest, to warn people off the bad stuff (son – 13- came back from ID Resurgence saying it dragged a bit – he’s the target audience so nothing to see there), and with the old stuff share our passions about jewels that may be lying in the grass.
So The Last Picture Show. Made in 1971 by the then-unknown Peter Bogdanovich and featuring the then also-unknowns Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd and Tim Bottoms. I first watched this in my twenties – drawn in by its name which crops up in every list of great movies- and its lack of upbeat action and visuals caused it to pass me by. Twenty years later I’ve just watched it again and can declare it to be an absolute masterpiece. So I’m sharing it here.
It shares DNA with the American coming-of-age movie: most clearly American Graffiti and Rebel Without A Cause. The former’s critique of the American dream is barely there behind the cool cars and music, the latter’s casts the » Continue Reading.