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  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes 2011

    ★★★½ Watched 21 Jul, 2014

    There is an argument to be made that this prequel ruins the mystery and charm of the classic original in the same way that I accused Oz The Great and Powerful of doing. Yet whereas I believe that film is truly demeaning to the original, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a pretty fine work.

    For a blockbuster it comes across as a restrained character study that uses some very decent CGI and reliably sterling motion capture work…

  • Red Road 2006

    ★★★★½ Watched 20 Jul, 2014

    I was a little underwhelmed by Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights despite her innovative approach to the source material. I was delighted therefore to find her feature debut Red Road such an obtuse and enigmatic triumph.

    Kate Dickie, who I've previously seen giving able support in the likes of Game of Thrones, Prometheus and Filth stuns in the lead role of Jackie Morrison, a CCTV operator for Glasgow City Council who takes her role as protector for the people she sees…

  • The Guard 2011

    ★★★½ Rewatched 21 Jul, 2014

    John Michael McDonagh's debut suffers a little in comparison to the darkly superlative and moving Calvary, yet the subsequent viewing of that film has led me to a new appreciation of The Guard.

    I dismissed it initially as a knockabout comedy, albeit a very funny one. On a rewatch however, I can see the seeds for the more expansive emotional tone of its successor.

    As with Calvary the film is anchored by a reliably great turn from Brendan Gleeson as…

  • The Phantom of Liberty 1974

    ★★★★ Watched 18 Jul, 2014

    Noone could accuse Luis Buñuel of mellowing in his old age. Quite the opposite in fact. The Phantom of Liberty, his penultimate film made at the age of 1974, is a scabrous, scatological, prolonged yet unfocused attack on the mores of bourgeois French society.

    Using dream logic and surreal humour, Buñuel takes us on a strange yet brutally amusing Odyssey through seventies France. Like the narrative device used by the likes of Monty Python when moving between sketches, and by…

  • The Spirit of the Beehive 1973

    ★★★★ Watched 16 Jul, 2014

    I can't remember when I first became aware of the concept of death. I'm sure that I would have been aware of it in the abstract from a fairly young age. Certainly, I was almost nine before I dealt with it directly with the death of a grandparent. Children seem to be able to assimilate information by a strange osmosis, and there can be any kind of trigger or stimulus that can set off a chain reaction of half-formed ideas…

  • Frankenhooker 1990

    ★★½ Watched 12 Jul, 2014

    A genuinely bonkers take on Mary Shelley's classic. Frank Henenlotter takes the nuts and bolts (fuck you very much, I'm here all week etc) of that cautionary tale about going beyond the ethical limits of science, and presents us with a cautionary tale about going beyond the ethical limits of science while also informing us that all hookers will go fucking mental for crack.

    A genuine public service I think you will agree.

    Its really impossible to review this on…

  • Ain't Them Bodies Saints 2013

    ★★½ Watched 11 Jul, 2014

    Well this was a frustrating watch. It's very annoying for such a visual beautiful film to be so dull. Bradford Young's gorgeous sepia-tinged cinematography really evokes a mythic Texas that sings in elegy of the old West while examining a more recent past.

    It deserves a stirring tale of old-fashioned outlaws and forbidden love that crosses all boundaries. That film is simply not Ain't them Bodies Saints. David Lowery's film seems to be unsure what stance it is taking. He…

  • Day of the Dead 1985

    ★★★★½ Watched 11 Jul, 2014

    Day of the Dead might well be the crowning achievement on the original trilogy. It doesn't have the grungy immediacy of Night of the Living Dead, and it doesn't have as razor sharp a metaphor as Dawn of the Dead, but in terms of story, character and sheer gory chutzpah I think this takes it.

    I know Dawn... seems to be the critically acclaimed one, but I found it overly long and tedious in places, and you could tell from…

  • Young & Beautiful 2013

    ★★★ Watched 10 Jul, 2014

    Attempting to provide a cogent analysis of François Ozon's latest is like trying to scale a glacier. It is all glossy surface with nothing to grip on to. It is as cold and featureless as that metaphorical glacier and any attempt to gaze into will merely reflect back your own baffled expression.

    Is it a character study? A social drama? A classy experiment in detached titillation? It really is impossible to say.

    Marine Vacth is the 'young and beautiful' Isabelle…

  • Basket Case 1982

    ★★★½ Watched 09 Jul, 2014

    One of those lovely instances where a film’s low-budget works in its favour, Basket Case is a slipshod, wobbly gem that shows that as long as an idea is good it can overcome any shortcomings in its execution.

    The story regards Duane Bradley, a young man who comes to New York with nothing more than a roll of cash and a large wicker basket. Inside is his deformed, telepathic Siamese twin Belial, from whom he was separated by force by…

  • The Wolverine 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 09 Jul, 2014

    Wolverine is, for me, one of more existentially interesting superheroes. Even among the X-Men and the interesting politics of difference that runs as a subtext beneath their stories (like zombies, they work as a metaphor for so many things) Wolverine stands out, perhaps as the most overtly charismatic, but with the added dimension of his virtual immortality. Of course, the quandaries of eternal life aren't unfamiliar to anyone with a fleeting knowledge of, say, vampires for instance but Logan has…

  • Valerie and Her Week of Wonders 1970

    ★★★½ Watched 06 Jul, 2014

    It would be forgivable when attempting to review Valerie and her Week of Wonders to simply put to page some approximation of a shrug and a baffled smile. Jaromil Jireš' oneiric fable is a beautiful curiosity that works as a collage of images as well as a surrealist take on the sexual awakening of an adolescent girl.

    Valerie (Jaroslava Schallerová) is a thirteen year-old girl who finds herself in a series of dream-like lucid scenes of sexually-charged peril after having…