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  • Skin 2012

    ★★★ Watched 24 Jan, 2014 3

    Skin marks the third short film directed by actress, Jordana Spiro. Having completed the festival circuit it is now finally available online for the rest of us. Unlike many short films there is no real twist in the tail, instead this is a dark yet touching mood piece about young love and ill-judged expressions of affection.

    The plot revolves around a young amateur taxidermist and his tentative relationship with a girl at school. Within the opening minutes its tragic but…

  • Gambit 2012

    Watched 23 Jan, 2014 13

    How can a film with such a strong pedigree be so excruciatingly awful? A remake of a dated but fun 1960s caper written by the Coen brothers and starring some of Britain’s best acting talent. It sounds like the recipe for success but something went seriously wrong in production as this is an overstuffed, strained and ponderous attempt at comedy. If I hadn’t had to endure Scary Movie 5 as well this would have easily been the worst film of…

  • White Elephant 2012

    ★★½ Watched 23 Jan, 2014 3

    Dedicated to the memory of Father Carlos Mugica, an Argentinian priest whose murder remains unsolved, White Elephant is a film brimming with social issues but gets bogged down by its own importance. Directed by Pablo Trapero it tells the story of two priests working in the slums of Buenos Aires as they have to deal with gangs, drugs, bureaucracy and extreme poverty.

    Ricardo Darín (who also worked with Trapero on Carancho) stars as the soulful and terminally ill priest who…

  • The Great Beauty 2013

    ★★★ Watched 22 Jan, 2014 18

    It seems you’re not allowed to review The Great Beauty without mentioning Fellini at least once, so here goes: Fellini. Now that is out of the way I can actually attempt to discuss Paolo Sorrentino’s latest film, a work that captures both the great beauty and great ugliness of modern life. It is a film that will probably take several days to digest fully as it seems to be a film of great contradictions managing to simultaneously grasp for the…

  • The Seasoning House 2012

    ★½ Watched 22 Jan, 2014 1

    Recently, I reviewed Megan Griffiths’ Eden, a story about a woman kidnapped and forced into sex slavery, and commended it for avoiding grotty exploitation. Well only a week later and Paul Hyett’s debut film, which tackles a similar subject matter, does exactly that.

    The Seasoning House is a grim and grimy film set in the Balkans during the ‘90s conflict. Young girls are taken and their families executed as they are forced into prostitution inside the eponymous brothel. A deaf…

  • Scary Movie 5 2013

    ½ Watched 21 Jan, 2014 21

    This is far more terrifying than any of the movies it lampoons.

  • House of Tolerance 2011

    ★★★★ Watched 21 Jan, 2014 4

    Bertrand Bonello’s House of Tolerance is a bleak but bewitching journey into a failing Parisian brothel at the turn of the last century. It’s a languid and beautifully detailed study of life for its inhabitants and their regular male visitors. It is a film less interested in dramatic arcs and more about the routines of the women as they deal with drugs, disease, death and disfigurement.

    Despite the setting and constant presence of sex and naked flesh, House of Tolerance

  • Castle in the Sky 1986

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 20 Jan, 2014 36

    Laputa: Castle in the Sky is Hayao Miyazaki’s second greatest achievement as a director and the first film to be released by Studio Ghibli. It is a culmination of everything he learned from Castle of Cagliostro and Nausicaa and merged into a rollicking adventure story full of wonderful characters and unforgettable set pieces.

    Miyazaki has returned to familiar themes throughout his illustrious career - strong, independent female characters, environmental warnings, technology and orphaned children. All these elements are very much…

  • The Umbrella Man 2011

    ★★★ Watched 20 Jan, 2014

    Errol Morris’ short documentary explores the strange appearance of a man with an open umbrella captured on video during the assassination of president John F Kennedy. Was he the real shooter? Why was he using an umbrella on a beautiful clear day? Is fact stranger than the fiction created by conspiracy theorists?

    At a mere six-minutes, The Umbrella Man hardly goes into detail on the subject or the individual under the black umbrella but it not only celebrates the strange…

  • Possible Worlds 2000

    ★★★ Watched 19 Jan, 2014

    It’s a little surprising that Possible Worlds, Robert Lepage’s first English language film, isn’t more well known or, at the very least, doesn’t have a small cult following. Its story of alternate realities, brain theft and looping romance is the sort of thing that normally fosters a dedicated audience but instead this sci-fi mystery seems destined to be a forgotten curio.

    Possible Worlds is a tricky and twisting story about a man (Tom McManus) who exists and remembers his lives…

  • Why Stop Now? 2012

    ★½ Watched 19 Jan, 2014

    Why Stop Now? is a strained comedy of misadventure and family strife as a piano prodigy has a day to remember, first when he attempts to get his mother into rehab and then when he acts as a translator for a local drug dealer. Whilst the film may be packed with incident it really isn’t any fun whilst its failed attempts to shoehorn in life lessons and family reconnections fall flat.

    Written and directed by Phil Dorling and Ron Nyswaner…

  • Bullet Ballet 1998

    ★★★ Watched 18 Jan, 2014 10

    Although I’ve only watched a small number of his films it is clear director, Shinya Tsukamoto, possesses a distinctive and often aggressive approach to filmmaking. Bullet Ballet, an urban nightmare also starring Tsukamoto in the lead role, is no different with its violent editing and grainy monochrome cinematography. What it may lack narratively it makes up for in its experimental and uncompromising aesthetic.

    Bullet Ballet follows the self-destructive Goda (Tsukamoto), a salaryman working in commercials who becomes obsessed with finding…