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  • 100 years of evil

    100 years of evil 2010

    ★★★ Watched 16 Mar, 2013

    Review from my VOD column "This Week on Demand".

    What proof do we really have of Hitler’s demise? His body never recovered, supposedly burned after suicide, isn’t it possible that he might somehow have survived the war and lived on long after? That’s the silly supposition at the heart of Erik Eger and Magnus Oliv’s unyieldingly tongue-in-cheek mockumentary One Hundred Years of Evil, an increasingly absurd and delightfully deadpan emulation of conspiracy theory documentaries that traces the dictator through his…

  • 10 Rules for Sleeping Around

    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…

  • 11-11-11

    11-11-11 2011

    ★½ Watched 20 Jul, 2012

    “From the director of Saw II, III & IV” boasts the poster for 11-11-11, a horror thriller that, despite its director’s previous genre credentials, never manages to be anything more than a limp conspiracy story with very little ability to shock or scare. A bestselling author whose wife and son were recently killed in a fire started by a crazed fan, Joseph travels to Barcelona to visit his dying father and wheelchair-bound brother. An atheist in the face of his family’s…

  • 12:08 East of Bucharest

    12:08 East of Bucharest 2006

    ★★★★ Rewatched 30 Nov, 2013

    Review from Next Projection

    Was There or Wasn’t There? is perhaps the most apt Anglicisation of the original title of Corneliu Porumboiu’s feature debut 12:08 East of Bucharest, a name that better suggests the sense of wearied frustration that fills the film. There’s a desperation of sorts to the question, asked time and time again in the film as a small-town TV host attempts to gleam from his guests whether the historic Romanian revolution of 1989 manifested itself in their…

  • 12 Angry Men

    12 Angry Men 1957

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 01 Jan, 2015

    You can stuff your Birth of a Nations and Citizen Kanes, the second someone is silly enough to grant me influence over eager young film students' education, I'm showing them this. Cos what Sidney Lumet does here, other than making anyone who's ever been proud of doing a fine job of something on their first effort look like a blithering fool by comparison, is spin something theatrical and novelistic (i.e. inherently un-cinematic, by most standards) into a film that pretty…

  • 12 Years a Slave

    12 Years a Slave 2013

    ★★★★½ Watched 13 Jan, 2014 5

    I couldn’t but chuckle when one of our party, in discussing 12 Years a Slave post-screening, made mention of having read Armond White’s allegations that the film is nought more than torture porn. Yet making the brief trek home, I couldn’t quite get the notion out of my head. In getting the movie so terribly wrong—in my opinion; it’s his right to make those claims and none of ours to render them unworthy—old Armond’s got it unusually right, in a…

  • 13/13/13

    13/13/13 2013

    Watched 02 Dec, 2013

    Review from my VOD column "This Week on Demand"

    “On that day… we are demon” declares the tagline for 13/13/13, sure to set out even on its poster just how utterly nonsensical a movie it is. As their unprecedented success this year with Sharknado showed, low-budget exploitation production house The Asylum thrives on the ironic enjoyment of the so-bad-it’s-good crowd. That’s a reality 13/13/13—no relation to their earlier 11/11/11—eagerly embraces, employing obnoxiously awful performances and a plot that goes out…

  • 13 Sins

    13 Sins 2014

    ★★½ Watched 19 Apr, 2014

    It takes no exceptional insight into the ways of the world today to realise the reason behind the boom in violently-inclined what-would-you-do-for-money thrillers of late. From the well-liked ilk of Cheap Thrills to the far-less feted likes of The Brass Teapot, American cinema especially has taken fiscal desperation to entertainingly exploitative new ends. Enter 13 Sins, a loose reworking of the 2006 Thai film 13 Beloved that’s at once a remake smartly shifted to a specific new context and a…

  • 16 to Life

    16 to Life 2009

    ★★★ Watched 16 Mar, 2013

    Review from my VOD column "This Week on Demand".

    Clearly riffing on Clerks in the constitution of its narrative structure, 16 to Life restricts itself to the confines of a single workday at an Iowan fast food stand, centring primarily on Kate as she celebrates her sixteenth birthday and laments her non-existent love life while meddling in that of her co-workers. Adherent to formula with very few exceptions, it’s a decidedly unremarkable but undeniably charming story, writer/director Becky Smith graduating…

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey

    2001: A Space Odyssey 1968

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 17 Aug, 2013 3

    Capsule review from my Locarno 2013 coverage at Next Projection

    Locarno is a festival that pushes discovery above almost all else, taking chances on new visions and voices. That doesn’t preclude paying tribute to those of the past, though, and Douglas Trumbull’s award was celebrated Saturday morning with a screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey. That sense of discovery may be the thing I’ve loved most about this place, but I can’t pretend this one wasn’t my most anticipated. It…

  • 2010

    2010 1984

    ★★★½ Watched 19 May, 2012

    Considering how even making a sequel to 2001 sort of shows a complete lack of understanding as to its purpose, this really isn't nearly as bad as it could have been. Hyams knows he's going to be unfavourably compared to Kubrick left right and centre, so does his best to create something quite different that still respects the marvellous mythology established in the previous film. A great cast supports things splendidly, dodgy Russian accents notwithstanding, giving us a good deal…

  • 20 Ft Below: The Darkness Descending

    20 Ft Below: The Darkness Descending 2014

    ★½ Watched 17 May, 2014

    Review from my VOD column "This Week on Demand"

    If last week showcased the worst of Danny Trejo on autopilot, this week’s turn from the undiscerning star begs the question: is such banality actually better? 20ft Below: The Darkness Descending seems on the surface a departure of sorts, Trejo’s leathery visage put to use as the shadow-soaked subway-dwelling ringleader of a band of hoods beneath the surface of New York. Marc Clebanoff’s film—led less by Trejo than Kinga Philipps as…