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  • Death Bell 2008

    ★★ Watched 25 Jun, 2014

    The Far East really seems to have a strange attitude toward their kids, or at least filmmakers seem to have. if there aren't lank-haired waifs pouring from a TV screen they are being sent off to desert islands to bump each other off for the televisual delectation of the general populous.

    Chang's (the pseudonym of Yoon Hong-seung) Death Bell is another example of sadism towards the younger generation. It concerns a group of twenty teenagers who are in an elite…

  • Intouchables 2011

    ★★★½ Watched 25 Jun, 2014

    I held off on watching this one for a long time as I was convinced it would be a mawkish inspirational issue movie; contrived and manipulative. Then I read the almost unanimous praise it has received, and along with my admiration for François Cluzet from his work in Tell No One and Little White Lies it convinced me to give it a view.

    At its core, Intouchables works best as an odd-couple partnership in the Walter Matthau/ Jack Lemmon mode…

  • 8 Women 2002

    ★★★½ Watched 24 Jun, 2014

    I think François Ozon may well be the best male director of women since Pedro Almodovar. In fact, 8 Women has a similar feel to the hysterical farce of Dark Habits or Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

    Based on a 1958 play by Robert Thomas, the story involves the eight women of the title getting together to celebrate Christmas at the salubrious home of Marcel. When Marcel is found murdered, the women must get to the bottom…

  • The House of the Devil 2009

    ★★★ Watched 23 Jun, 2014

    Having now watched two Ti West films, it's easy to see that he doesn't have any interest in giving us non-stop thrills. What he is interested in is atmosphere, and The House of the Devil has it in spades.

    West has meticulously recreated the look and the feel of classic 80s horror. The picture looks like grainy stock. The fashions; the cars; the theme music feels like prime John Carpenter. The problem is that it isn't so much a slow…

  • Inside Llewyn Davis 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 21 Jun, 2014

    A meandering meditation on authenticity and the cliche of the struggling artist, the Coen brothers tap into the same vein of comedic melancholy that served them so well in the wonderful and underappreciated A Serious Man.

    Oscar Isaac is Llewyn Davis, an undeniably talented folk musician in the boho haven of Greenwich Village in 1961. Davis is almost the dictionary definition of the wandering troubadour. He spends the night on the sofas of long-suffering friends and supplements the meager income…

  • We Are What We Are 2013

    ★★★½ Watched 21 Jun, 2014

    Not so much a remake of Jorge Michel Grau's 2010 Mexican original, Jim Mickle's We Are What We Are takes the very bare bones of Grau's vision and does his own thing entirely with compelling results.

    Mickle's tale of a cannibal family relocates the action from the urban squalor of Mexico City to the rural backwoods of the Catskills in the southern part of New York State. Whereas the original begins with the death of the family patriarch; here it…

  • The Broken Circle Breakdown 2012

    ★★★★½ Watched 19 Jun, 2014

    Wow; it's been a while since a film has really put me through the wringer like The Broken Circle Breakdown. Felix Van Groeningen's fractured melodrama charts the relationship of Didier and Elise (Johan Heldenbergh and Veerle Baetens), two opposites attracting in Ghent, Belgium. They fall in love and have a daughter, who falls ill with cancer.

    By chopping his narrative into non-linear shards, Van Groeningen instantly recalls Blue Valentine, and the scenes of early romance between the pair are joyous…

  • Short Term 12 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 18 Jun, 2014

    Sometimes a film really resonates with a mood and Short Term 12 really did that. I've had a really tough few weeks with various personal things and I've been quite pragmatic and held it together. Until I sat down and watched this film.

    I don't know what I was really expecting; perhaps something along the lines of Kings of Summer or The Way, Way Back. Instead I got the genuinely moving story of Grace (Brie Larson), a young woman who…

  • Antiviral 2012

    ★★★ Watched 18 Jun, 2014 2

    I had an idea for a story a while back where the rich could pay to have their diseases transmitted to the poor via nanotechnology (or handwavium or whatever). It was supposed to be some comment on an unequal society or some such. Clearly, I hadn't gone far enough.

    Brandon Cronenberg's Antiviral works on the premise that society has become so venal, shallow and obsessed with celebrity that the wealthy will pay to become afflicted with the very ailments their…

  • Gangs of New York 2002

    ★★★½ Watched 16 Jun, 2014

    New York is a city that has been heavily mythologised throughout the 20th century. Martin Scorcese has played his own small part in that, and has left a legacy of films about the city that will be viewed for generations to come.

    With Gangs of New York he turned his attention to a vision of the Big Apple that will be far more unfamiliar to the viewer. Based on a book of the same name byIt is about the foundations…

  • Waking Life 2001

    ★★★★ Watched 14 Jun, 2014

    How do we know we're really alive?
    Do we possess such a thing as a soul, or are we products of rapidly firing neurons? Are our lives mapped out for us, or are we truly possessed of free will?

    These are some of the questions asked by Richard Linklater in this wildly innovative 'rotoshopped' animated odyssey. Wiley Wiggins plays an unnamed character who meets a series of characters who regale him with their views of the universe. Scientists, philosophers, theologians,…

  • Miller's Crossing 1990

    ★★★★½ Watched 12 Jun, 2014

    What's the rumpus?

    The Coen brothers third film is a langorous trip through the tropes of the American gangster film, and firmly established them as the great appropriators of cinematic history, before Tarantino was ever on the scene.

    Fully aware of the influence that Dashiell Hammett had on the likes of Kurosawa's Yojimbo and Leone's A Fistful of Dollars, Joel and Ethan take literary inspiration from Hammett and visual cues from Kurosawa and Leone in a gloriously cyclical mode of…