5 Essential British New Wave Movies…


saturday nite

The British New Wave of the ’60s had a profound impact on British culture. The films of that period focused on the ordinary lives of disaffected anti-heroes against a realistic, working-class backdrop—typically shot in stark black and white with terse dialogue in heavy regional accents. The themes and aesthetic are still visible in today’s film, TV, music, literature and art.

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The Toxic Avenger (1984) – 24 Carat Crud…


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Woody Allen famously keeps a drawer full of ideas scribbled on bits of paper, which he dips into when he needs inspiration for a new movie. It’s not always successful – it seems like he forgot to add anything else before shooting Magic in the Moonlight.

I’d like to think Troma movies get made in a similar fashion. I can picture Lloyd Kaufman, Troma’s cartoonish co-founder, sitting in a hottub with a couple of poodle-permed babes, scribbling crazy titles on cocktail napkins and handing them to his butler for safekeeping.

Titles include A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell, Dumpster Baby, Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid, and Maniac Nurses Find Ecstasy. They’re friday night four-pack-and-a-pizza movies, and any VHS junkie from the ’80s and ’90s will be familiar with the lurid cover art of Troma’s oeuvre. They’ve been going for over forty years now, barfing a steady steam of lowbrow, z-grade schlock into existence – if it’s got aliens, monsters, psychos, guns and tits, all on the front of the video box, chances are it’s Troma.

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Christmas Double Bill: It’s a Wonderful Life & Die Hard…


its a wonderful life 2

On the face of it, the festive classic It’s A Wonderful Life couldn’t be more different to action masterpiece Die Hard. The former has become an enduring part of the holiday season in the US and UK, while internet debate still rages about whether Die Hard is actually a Christmas movie at all.

These days we regard the Christmas Movie as a genre all of its own, but it is a relatively new invention. Check out any list of top Christmas films, and almost every popular choice – i.e. movies modern audiences still watch today – was made after World War II.

It’s a Wonderful Life stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a nice guy who finds himself standing on a bridge on Christmas Eve, contemplating suicide. He has sacrificed his dreams for the good of his family, friends and community, but circumstances have led him to the brink of ruin. Thankfully, the heavens are listening to the prayers of his loved ones and dispatch an angel, Clarence (Henry Travers) to show George that he really has a wonderful life. Clarence shows George what life would be like if he was never born, and what a positive impact he has had on everyone around him.

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The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) – Don’t dream it, be it…


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“If you’ve been itching for an opportunity to slip out in public dressed in just fishnet stockings, high heels and corset, you’ll be thrilled to hear that at Kino Scala they are showing The Rocky Horror Picture Show as part of this year’s Mezipatra Queer Film Festival. It’s an extra cause for celebration because this year marks the 40th anniversary of the cult classic.

By turn a musical, gaudy pastiche of 30s and 50s sci-fi monster movies, and creaky sex farce, Rocky originally bombed at the box office before being immediately picked up by a young, hip, counterculture crowd who turned late night screenings into a riotous exhibition of dress up, props, sing-a-longs and dancing in the aisles.

The story – for what it’s worth – concerns a young clean cut couple, Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon), caught out one stormy night when their car breaks down. They stumble upon the spooky mansion of Dr Frank N Furter (Tim Curry), on a night of celebration – he is about to reveal to his “unconventional conventionalists” an amazing scientific breakthrough, namely building a musclebound blond hunk named Rocky (Peter Hinwood) for his own sexual pleasure…” to read the rest of this article, please click here (opens in new tab)

Missing Child (2015) – What if you were the face on the missing poster?


Missing Child

In April 2012, UK police released an age progressed photo of Madeleine McCann, the little girl who disappeared from her holiday bedroom almost six years earlier, while her parents dined nearby. The high profile case captured the imagination of the public, and the new image prompted the question – if you were abducted at a young age, and saw an image in the media that you recognised as yourself, how would you react?

Brooklyn born director Luke Sabis at least partially attempts to answer that question in his debut feature, Missing Child. There are many movies following the tribulations of parents trying to track down missing children, so approaching the sad topic from the absent person’s perspective is an interesting spin on the subject.

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10 Indie film treats you must see this fall and winter…


Tangerine pic

2015 has been a disappointing year for film so far. Inside Out and Mad Max: Fury Road were the mainstream high points, and it has taken Independent films to offer some flavour, wit and intelligence – the creepy, cerebral Ex Machina, weird and wonderful The Duke of Burgundy, and the heartbreaking doc Amy.

Now that the blockbuster season is over, indie film makers move to the fore. With award season looming, we can warm our cockles this autumn with some intriguing indie film treats…

45 Years

The buzz grows around the performances of Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling in this poignant drama. Once darlings of the British indie film scene in the Sixties, they make their first appearance together as a retired couple discovering rifts in their marriage when the body of the husband’s former girlfriend is found just before their 45th wedding anniversary…

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American Ultra (2015) – Half baked…


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“If ever there’s a movie that sinks its own ship while still tied to the dock, it’s American Ultra. For the promotion of Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock stipulated that no-one should be admitted to the theatre after the movie had started, to prevent ruining the surprise.

If Hitchcock was alive today, and he’d seen American Ultra, he would no doubt recommend exactly the opposite – to preserve any sense of suspense, one should aim to join the movie about five minutes in.

One of the most baffling decisions director Nima Nourizadeh makes in his sophomore effort is to start at the end, then employ a flashback moment which literally flashes every key plot point on the screen before the story starts proper.

In doing so, every drop of suspense is eradicated before the movie even starts, and we’re left with an action comedy thriller without any thrills. To make matters worse, screenwriter Max Landis, following up from the interesting found footage superhero movie Chronicle, also forgets to write any jokes…” Read the rest of the review here (opens in new tab.)

Pontypool (2008) – Shut up or die…


Pontypool

I’ve never found zombies scary, especially in the traditional slow-and-stupid incarnations. Sure, there’s a sense of repulsion, largely generated by our anxiety about what happens to our bodies after we’re dead – many people agonise between burial and cremation, so the idea of rising from the grave as brain-eating cannibals is pretty repugnant.

Then there is the sense of creeping nihilistic dread, particularly in the Romero movies. While zombies are usually pretty easy to avoid or kill individually, you know they will always reach critical mass, ready to tear apart the survivors just as internal conflicts tear the group apart figuratively. But still, as terrifying as zombies are on paper or the imagination, to me there’s always the nagging doubt that they’re pretty naff on film – one bullshit metaphor away from a last-minute, unimaginative Halloween costume.

Pontypool, a low-budget Canadian curio, largely avoids the traditional pitfalls of the zombie pic by barely showing any zombies at all. By withholding the usual limb ripping and gut munching, it engages something usually reserved for the supernatural horror genre – our imaginations.

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Amy (2015) – Brings a tragic star back to life…


Amy 2015 Pic 2

Amy is the best film I’ve almost walked out on at the cinema. Not because it is a bad movie, but because I knew how it was going to end.

I knew how it was going to end before it started, of course, having witnessed the tragedy of Amy Winehouse’s dramatic rise and fall from the rabid perspective of the media not so long ago.

What makes the opening hour of Asif Kapadia’s earnest and heartfelt documentary so unbearable is that it brings Winehouse back to life so vividly. She fills the screen as a smart, funny, vulnerable, brash, beautiful, sublimely talented young artist, and it dawns on you that you’ll have to watch her die again from a different perspective, with greater knowledge of her as a human being, rather than just the addled tabloid caricature she eventually became…” Click here to read the full review (opens in a new tab)

Daisies (Sedmikrásky) – 1966 – Still fresh and angry…


Daisies 2

“Surrealist and Avant Garde films aren’t always the most popular choice for the average movie goer. Until Leos Carax’s demented Holy Motors generated some outside-bet Oscar buzz a few years ago, I’d rather watch a compilation tape of hairy builders getting a back, sack and crack before dabbling with the avant garde.

My perspective has changed slightly since then, largely on the basis of Denis Lavant’s incredible (literally) balls-out multiple performances in that movie, and casting my mind back over the past year of obsessive film consumption, two of my favourite discoveries were of the avant garde variety, Dziga Vertov’s hypnotic portrait of a city in Man with a Movie Camera, and Věra Chytilová’s playful yet provocative Daisies…” Click here to read the full review (opens in a new tab)

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