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  • Unforgiven

    Unforgiven 1992

    ★★★★½ Watched 10 Jun, 2015 1

    Revitalising a moribund genre and providing a template for all that followed, Unforgiven is likely to go down as Clint Eastwood’s masterpiece. It strips away the notions of romance that still resolutely clung to the idea of the Old West, and is as caked in moral murk as the protagonist William Munney’s face is in pig muck at the beginning of the film.

    Eastwood plays Munney, ex-outlaw and ruthless killer, saved and redeemed by the love of a good woman.…

  • The Vanishing

    The Vanishing 1988

    ★★★★ Watched 03 Jun, 2015 2

    Hannah Arendt’s concept of the ‘banality of evil’ was formulated to describe the unassuming monstrosity of Adolf Eichmann during his trial in 1961. It can be used to describe many screen villains in subsequent years, but I’ve rarely seen a more distilled version of this idea than the character of Raymond (Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu) in George Sluizer’s The Vanishing.

    Not so much a whodunit but a why-did-he-do-it, Sluizer peels back the shell of the genial family man to expose what makes…

  • The Apartment

    The Apartment 1960

    ★★★★ Watched 02 Jun, 2015

    Billy Wilder really didn’t make bad movies, did he? I’m slowly catching up with his catalogue, and The Apartment is another tremendous piece of work.

    What I like about his movies is the often cynical outlook underpinning his films, and The Apartment is no different, making mockery of the idea of meritocracy in the American workplace. CC Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is an everyman office drone who is making inroads into the insurance company at which he works. He states early…

  • Mad Max: Fury Road

    Mad Max: Fury Road 2015

    ★★★★★ Watched 31 May, 2015

    Within ten minutes of the appropriately tainted and rusted logo of Warner Bros showing up on the screen, I found myself pinned back in my seat, eyes peeled as wide as Alex’s in A Clockwork Orange without the need for them being wedged open. My hands were gripping the armrests, a bucket of Sprite forgotten at my side; and I was grinning like a pilled-up Cheshire cat.

    This is what an action movie should look like. For all the mega-budget…

  • Honeymoon

    Honeymoon 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 28 May, 2015

    Honeymoon is the debut film from Leigh Janiak. It’s another in the long line of low-budget horrors of the last few years, and it is one of the better ones.

    Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway play a newlywed couple who head out into the sticks for a secluded honeymoon in a cabin. Bad-idea antennae are already twitching at this sentence. This cabin is modern and spacious and pretty however; not the dilapidated death-traps of Evil Dead and its imitators. Things…

  • A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

    A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night 2014

    ★★★★½ Watched 27 May, 2015 2

    Vampire movies are officially cool again after being defanged and neutered; twisted into sparkly, mopey adverts for the abstinence movement by the Twilight movies. I don’t have a problem with horror staples being reimagined for a younger audience. In a lot of cases that audience are smart enough to dig deeper and we have our next wave of genre-savvy cineastes. However, Twilight seemed to suck all the danger and dark romanticism from its undead protagonists.

    Thankfully, in the last few…

  • Venus in Fur

    Venus in Fur 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 25 May, 2015

    Roman Polanski returns to tread the boards again in another stage adaptation. Once again, he is pre-occupied with constraints. But whereas Carnage was all Bunuel-esque conceit as it trapped its hapless protagonists in a single location from which circumstances dictated they were unable to leave, in Venus in Fur theatre director Thomas (Matthieu Amalric) is seduced by the intimacy and the constricting implications of his stage.

    For Polanski and playwright David Ives, the stage works as a conduit of dichotomies:…

  • The Innocents

    The Innocents 1961

    ★★★★ Watched 13 May, 2015

    The thing I took away from a first viewing of The Innocents is what a suggestive film it is. I don’t mean in a crude, Carry On… kind of way, but in the way the film is fecund with quiet euphemism, and it is through our unravelling of these subtly sexual undertones that our sympathy remains with the main character, even as her fears turn to obsession.

    Deborah Kerr’s Miss Giddens is a woman of perhaps mid-to-late thirties, who is…

  • The Grey

    The Grey 2011

    ★★★★½ Watched 12 May, 2015

    I tried to think of another instance in which I felt moved at the end of an action, or survival-thriller film. Not just engaged or adrenalized, but really strongly, emotionally connected. I think the last time was perhaps The Descent, and this was coincidentally the film that I kept returning to as a comparison while watching The Grey.

    I had completely disregarded Joe Carnahan’s film upon its release, assuming it to be another generic entry in Liam Neeson’s action renaissance.…

  • Avengers: Age of Ultron

    Avengers: Age of Ultron 2015

    ★★★½ Watched 10 May, 2015

    Joss Whedon does well handling this behemoth despite being pulled in as many different directions as the luckless Frank Cotton at the end of Hellraiser. There are even more characters stuffed into the narrative to which screen-time must be allocated, boxes ticked, executives placated, fan boys and girls sated. Fortunately, his A-grade cast doesn’t seem to be full of actors renowned for being drenched in ego. One can only imagine the potential clash were it otherwise.

    Avengers: Age of Ultron

  • Network

    Network 1976

    ★★★★½ Watched 09 May, 2015 4

    “Good evening. Today is Wednesday, September the 24th, and this is my last broadcast. Yesterday I announced on this program that I was going to commit public suicide, admittedly an act of madness. Well, I’ll tell you what happened: I just ran out of bullshit. I just ran out of bullshit.” – Howard Beale

    We’re kind of used to the idea of TV as being some kind of malign force; a seductive demon crouched in the corner of the room…

  • Leviathan

    Leviathan 2014

    ★★★★★ Watched 06 May, 2015 4

    “Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook or tie down its tongue with a rope?” – Book of Job

    The title of Andrey Zvyagintsev’s fourth feature is rich in religious and political allegory, referring to a biblical sea creature and Thomas Hobbes famous polemic on the state as social contract. In his bleak tale of the exercising of small-town corruption going hand in glove with hypocritical religious piety, Zvyagintsev paints a richly allusive picture that is both graceful and…