Classics, Favourite films, Movies, Reviews

Favourite films – Zero Dark Thirty

I originally wrote this review in a somewhat shaken state after a press screening just before Zero Dark Thirty’s UK release. The film had already become a lightning rod for political controversy in the US where it was subject to an orchestrated political campaign against it, a campaign that intensified as it emerged as an Oscar contender. Director Kathryn Bigelow was raked over the coals by film critics, some elements of Hollywood’s liberal vanguard, and politicians. The controversy even went so far as to drag in the White House with Republican critics claiming that the CIA and the US Defence Department had leaked classified information to the filmmakers. Curiously most of these claims evaporated into thin air post Academy Awards.  Continue reading

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Classics, Hidden treasures, horror, Movies, Reviews

Hidden treasures – Possession

Andrzej Zulawski’s 1981 film Possession is a daunting movie of which to attempt a synopsis, let alone a review, defying the conventions of mainstream western film making and acting while also aligning itself with the horror genre to produce a film that is as unique and disturbing as David Lynch’s Eraserhead. Despite winning major awards for its lead actress Isabelle Adjani (César Award for Best Actress, Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award), Possession was banned in the UK on its video release as part of the Director of Public Prosecutions idiotic campaign against video nasties. In America, the film was drastically recut and re-scored with stupid optical effects added in a doomed attempt to make it appear more like a conventional demonic possession film. The films recent blu ray release (from Second Sight in the UK) offers an opportunity to sample one of the most singular of European genre films. Simply put, if you have never seen Possession then you have never seen a movie like it before. If you have seen Possession you know you have never seen anything like it since. Continue reading

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british film, Classics, exploitation, Favourite films, horror, Movies, Reviews

Favourite films – Theatre of Blood

Edward Lionheart (Vincent Price) – a prideful classical actor who refuses to act in anything but the works of The Bard – is professionally and personally destroyed by a scornful group of theatre critics who refuse to award him the Critic’s Circle Award he covets. Never knowingly prone to underselling a performance Lionheart apparently commits suicide in the wake of this humiliation. Unbeknown to the critics who savaged his reputation with glee in newsprint, Lionheart survives and plots elaborate revenge, murdering the Critic’s Circle members in gruesome and baroque scenarios derived the work of Shakespeare. Continue reading

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Classics, Favourite films, Movies, Reviews

Favourite films – Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

Sandwiched between Magnum Force and The Eiger Sanction – two fairly conventional pictures in Clint Eastwood’s filmography – Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is one of the regular curveballs the star would pitch to his audience during the height of his fame in front of the lens (in my opinion few major film stars have such understanding and mastery of their star image, and fewer still are so eager to subvert it). Continue reading

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Classics, exploitation, Favourite films, horror, Reviews

Favourite films – The Brood

David Cronenberg is a director whose films have often been accused of a lack of warmth and emotion, generally by people who (at best) are only looking at the surface of his work. Of his earlier films The Brood (1979) and The Dead Zone (1983) are the best ripostes to that point of view. Which isn’t to say that The Brood is in any way easy or comfortable viewing, in fact it is among the director’s most harrowing works, a scream of rage and sorrow that comes from personal experience. Continue reading

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Classics, Favourite films, Movies, science fiction

Adapting Philip K. Dick, the triumph of A Scanner Darkly

The writings and ideas of Philip K. Dick have had a profound impact on the development of science fiction as a film genre from the late nineteen seventies onwards. While many films have been adapted from his novels and short stories, and many more simply inspired by or influenced by Dick, really successful adaptations have been as elusive as the nature of reality is to a typical Dickian protagonist. Continue reading

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