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  • The Dirties 2013

    ★★½ Added

    Review from my VOD column "This Week on Demand"

    There’s promise to spare in The Dirties, Matt Johnson’s determinedly daring found-footage school shooting film, and alas that remains the case once the movie’s over too. It’s a commendable concept, make no mistake, and one mounted with a mix of humour and heart that’s nothing if not impressively delicate. It’s also, though, a slave to the setbacks of so many its ilk where the teen video-cam diary conceit is concerned: be…

  • Milius 2013

    ★★★ Watched 15 Apr, 2014

    Review from my VOD column "This Week on Demand"

    Conspicuously keeping its subject off-screen without explanation as though expecting us to be shocked when his fate’s revealed, Joey Figueroa and Zak Knutson’s documentary profile of ‘70s cinema renegade John Milius isn’t as well-conceived as even the worst of his work, but it’s a fitting tribute to a singular screenwriter all the same. That’s the role for which he’s best remembered, his contributions—credited or no—to Jaws and Apocalypse Now ensuring a…

  • Let the Right One In 2008

    ★★★★½ Added

    Review from my VOD column "This Week on Demand"

    Decry Twilight all you like: the melodrama was worth it for a world in which Let the Right One In earned attention for its alternate take on vampire lore. Thomas Alfredson’s breakthrough is a horror movie masterpiece, its tremendous treatise on childhood isolation as striking as a drop of blood on the Stockholm snows. Alfredson’s aesthetic control is astonishing, he and cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema serving John Ajvide Lindqvist’s self-adapted novel…

  • Everyday 2012

    ★★½ Watched 10 Apr, 2014

    Review from my VOD column "This Week on Demand"

    Between the striking versatility with which his hugely diverse projects are brought to life and the oft-absurd speed with which he churns them out, it’s not for no reason that Michael Winterbottom might seem sometimes like the British Isles’ answer to Richard Linklater. He cements the comparison, not to mention the distinction it draws between the directors, with Everyday, a family drama shot intermittently over the course of five years to…

  • Beyond Outrage 2012

    ★★½ Watched 18 Apr, 2014

    Review from my VOD column "This Week on Demand"

    If, as its fans claimed, Takeshi Kitano’s Outrage was the director’s cynically self-aware return to the genre that made him famous after three less-than-successful efforts outside it, its sequel must be the self-hating outcome of that predecessor’s success. Stripped of the tongue-in-cheek comedy that made the first film fun even amidst the underdone plot machinations that paved the way for its violence, Beyond Outrage plods through a narrative that’s little more…

  • Bastards 2013

    ★★★ Added

    Review from my VOD column "This Week on Demand"

    “Typical” isn’t a word one might think to associate with acclaimed French auteur Claire Denis, and for good reason: Bastards, if trading in the kind of narrative aspects not uncommon among Francophone thrillers, bears the distinctive marks of its maker in the seething sexuality so often underlying her work. Yet as Denis’ movies go, this tale of a sailor returning to land in the wake of his brother-in-law’s suicide tends to…

  • A Touch of Sin 2013

    ★★★½ Watched 16 Apr, 2014

    Review from my VOD column "This Week on Demand"

    “Episodic” is less a criticism of A Touch of Sin than a simple statement of fact, but if Jia Zhanke’s disarmingly violent tetraptych seeks strength in numbers where its observations are concerned, it also finds its insights diluted by the bare repetition of these four not-dissimilar stories. Still, it’s all under the auspices of a director with masterly control; like the roving cameras that linger long on the lasting effects of…

  • All Things To All Men 2013

    ★★ Watched 11 Apr, 2014

    Review from my VOD column "This Week on Demand"

    Bearing the kind of title that’s just asking for trouble, Kidulthood-Adulthood producer George Isaac’s directorial debut isn’t any less uninspired under the alternate title of The Deadly Game, but it’s at least then not an outright lie. All Things to All Men is few to any, a desperately bland crime thriller that’s barely memorable to the beginning of the closing credits, never mind their end. Gabriel Byrne growls and scowls his…

  • The Raid 2 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 17 Apr, 2014 3

    If the story doesn't exactly hold water—and it doesn't, enjoyable as it is playing keep-up—it's excusable given the freedom it affords Evans to run off and prove that he's the world's most elegant balletist* trapped in the body of a very tall Welshman. He is an extraordinary director, and if the cramped quarters invention of The Raid didn't prove that (spoiler: it did), this sprawling sequel most certainly should. As often as I gasped as the brutality of the bloodshed…

  • Jabberwocky 1971

    ★★★★ Rewatched 17 Apr, 2014

    This man needs help.

  • Frankie and Alice 2014

    ★½ Watched 10 Apr, 2014

    The eight individuals in total credited for Frankie & Alice under story and screenplay make terribly tempting—too tempting for many, no doubt—the allure of an arguably insensitive joke. But to suggest the movie might share the dissociative identity disorder of its subject is to mistakenly afford each of the films it looks likely to become at any given moment would have any identity of its own. As directed by television mainstay Geoffrey Sax—last seen on the big screen with the ill-fated…

  • 10 Rules for Sleeping Around 2013

    ½ Watched 09 Apr, 2014

    “I’m reaching for the bottom” chirp the peppy pop lyrics of the song over which 10 Rules for Sleeping Around’s opening credits unfold, and oh what an apt sentiment it is. Leslie Greif’s soi-disant sex comedy reaches for the bottom and doesn’t stop there, sinking beneath the surface to new chthonic depths of cinematic depravity. “I have standards,” an affronted character at one point insists, his accuser retorting “about as low as a limbo stick”. But limbo’s the game of…