“Like its genetically modified star attraction, the Indominus Rex, Jurassic World is a strange hybrid of the franchise’s greatest hits, part sequel, part reboot and part homage to Steven Spielberg’s much-loved original. It capitalises on nostalgia and Chris Pratt’s likable presence, providing two hours of solid monster mayhem without ever getting beyond the pace of a spooked herd of Stegosaurus…” Click here to read the full article (Opens in separate tab)
“Mildred: Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against?
Johnny: Whaddya got?
– The Wild One (1953)
Urinating on its own birthday candles this year, David Fincher’s argumentative, narcissistic, hypocritical Fight Club will be sixteen years old. It already feels like a period piece, a slice of premillennial angst full of smug slogans and speeches that can’t decide what it is fighting against.
It is the last “poor me” grumble of the 20th century from Generation X, almost exactly two years before Osama bin Laden weaponised some passenger jets and gave the Western world something to really worry about…” Click here to read the rest of this article (opens in a new tab.)
Like his characters in The Duke of Burgundy, writer-director Peter Strickland is a man with very specific tastes. Inspired by European exploitation flicks of the 60s and 70s, Strickland uses sleazy genre tropes as a jumping off point, creating his own peculiar world of heightened reality. Unlike Tarantino, who mashes all his influences together into a primary-coloured pop culture collage, Strickland’s vision is exactingly beautiful, highly strung, and very, very niche.
“When it comes to modes of transport, I’m a pedestrian. Pushing forty now, I’ve never taken a driving lesson, let alone driven a car. Some of my friends back in England used to get their kicks from revving their cars around town, occasionally parking up behind Burger King to pump music from dishwasher-sized subwoofers stashed in their boot. The whole scene left me cold – why not just walk, get pissed in the pub and put some tunes on the jukebox instead?
This is probably the reason why I – with my (abridged) encyclopaedic knowledge of film – have made it to the seventh installment of The Fast and the Furious franchise with complete ignorance of the previous six movies, and went into Furious 7 with no idea of what to expect…” click here to read the full article (opens in a seperate tab)
If you’ve even kept half an ear to the ground of the international horror scene over the past decade or so, you can’t have missed Insidious, the haunted-house horror from the minds of James Wan and Leigh Whannel, the duo behind cult slasher flick Saw. I say this because I am someone with my ear permanently stuck to the floor (like that bit in Blair Witch Project!) and constantly on the look out for cool new horror movies, and when I saw the hype surrounding Insidious I swore I would see it as soon as I possibly could. So I did.
“It has been a long time since a film altered my view of the world I live in. Petr Václav’s Cesta Ven did just that, exposing the reality of life for the Czech Republic’s Roma community.
I’ve always been aware that this is a country where the gap between the wealthy and the poor is far wider and more visible than back in the UK, but I’ve been insulated from the harsher truths by my cosy expat bubble. The film also made me realise that it would take a bizarre and unlikely set of circumstances for me to ever come close to the levels of poverty and hopelessness experienced by the characters in this eye-opening slice of social realism…” You can read the full review here (opens in new tab.)
“Russell Crowe’s The Water Diviner is corny and ambitious, flirting with the epic while teetering on the brink of TV movie melodrama. Crowe directs his first film like a man worried that he might never get the chance again, painting a war drama, historical adventure and cross-culture romance with urgent, chunky brushstrokes. He also draws the most Russell Crowe-like performance since Gladiator from his leading man, Russell Crowe…” Read the full review here (opens in separate tab.)
“There’s a little seen film called The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey, where some English miners from the Middle Ages tunnel through the earth and emerge in modern day New Zealand. Watching Marketa Lazarová feels a bit like that in reverse – you leave your comfortable 21st century life behind for a few hours and pop up in medieval Bohemia.
Director František Vláčil spent around two years filming on location, which meant his cast and crew were afforded barely much more luxury than the story’s characters. Few films have such a feeling of history – not in the studious sense of dates and places, but of deep dark waters of time rolling beneath the keel of the present day’s unsteady ship. Few films also match Marketa Lazarová‘s dazzling visuals with such authentic production values, so while the virtuosity of Vláčil’s film making often distracts from the story, the credibility of its setting is never in doubt.” Read the full review here (opens in a seperate tab)
History was always dull at school. Boring men in brown suits in musty classrooms full of brown books that no-one ever read, droning on about the bloody Nazis. Now I look back at it, I think: how do you fuck up teaching something like World War II? With the right teacher, history could be the most exciting subject ever! When you synopsize WWII, it sounds like the most thrilling blockbuster imaginable, full of massive battles, daring escapes and featuring some of the worst bad guys in history. That stuff should just teach itself!
Now the great and terrible 20th Century recedes into history, and it’s left up to us to assess it and try not to make the same mistakes. Luckily we have documentaries like The Fog of War to help us understand some of the key events, Errol Morris’ tricky, morally complex portrait of a man whose life was irrevocably entwined with war and death.
Like many people of my age, I loved a good John Hughes movie growing up, but never considered that there might be any subtext to his films. After all, he was a director who made a career writing, producing and directing frothy, fun, mainstream flicks aimed primarily at younger audiences.
However, I only saw The Breakfast Club for the first time recently, and the touchy-feely story of teen angst was instantly my equivalent of Nada’s special shades in John Carpenter’s They Live! – suddenly I saw the innate conservatism behind Hughes’ work, which is fine, and the hidden message behind his superficially rebellious pictures – OBEY and CONFORM!