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  • Grease

    Grease

    ★★★★★

    Grease flattens the '50s into a cartoon - literally, in the opening credits - but it's also far grimier than its family-friendly reputation would suggest.

    This film doesn't attempt to be outwardly subversive or satirical in the way of National Lampoon's Animal House or American Graffiti (two films made in and set in similar eras to this). Still, there's more to it than a nostalgic retreat to the allegedly simpler 1950s from the more cynical 1970s (the aforementioned griminess, toned…

  • Shanty Tramp

    Shanty Tramp

    ★★

    Reminiscent of The Intruder but sleazier (both deal with racial tensions; both are cheapies; this is far more exploitative), Shanty Tramp is a grotesque portrayal of a deeply diseased America, where no good deed goes unpunished and everyone takes what they want with violence. The result is unpleasant, misanthropic and misogynistic, but also a little hypnotic. The dubbed dialogue, stiff dancing, languid editing and matter of fact framing and lighting turn everytown, USA into an endless, inescapable nightmare, where a…

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  • Into the Wild

    Into the Wild

    ★★½

    I know several people whose opinions I respect that have loved this film and even rate it among their favourites, but having read the book and now having seen the movie I’m still at the same conclusion, that Chris McCandless was at times an insufferable prick who believed he was some divine combination of Thoreau and Jack London. He didn’t deserve to die for this stupidity (many his age think they're indestructible) but he doesn’t deserve to be mythologised either.…

  • Withnail & I

    Withnail & I

    ★★★★½

    I like my substance abuse surrounded by dry British humour (though I'm not really a fan of Trainspotting). Withnail & I is full of narcissism, paranoia and gleeful disobedience but also a sense of despair - an understanding this lifestyle is unsustainable and self-destructive - adding the pathos that makes a comedy last. You can tell it was based on real experiences (of the writer-director, Bruce Robinson, who hasn't done that many films, but I really need to check out How…