Film reviews and more

Month: October 2015

Film Review: ‘Under Milk Wood’

★☆☆☆☆ In his childhood town, in his beloved Wales, Dylan Thomas is spinning in his grave. In what may be one of the most perverse and unusual approaches to unfurling a poetic work across the big screen, Under Milk Wood (2015) makes a great effort to little reward. It’s a disorienting adaptation and not in an amusing mid-century, stream-of-consciousness […]

Film Review: ‘Taxi Tehran’

★★★★☆ By the very nature of its existence, Jafar Panahi’s latest film Taxi Tehran (2015) is a bold act of defiance. It’s his third such exploit since he was convicted by the Iranian government five years ago and banned from filmmaking, but is a far less wilfully serious affair than either 2011’s This Is Not a Film or the […]

Film Review: ‘Spectre’

★★☆☆☆ “The dead are alive,” we’re informed at the start of Sam Mendes’ second Bond outing Spectre (2015), and there’s a definite sense that this 24th entry into the franchise is attempting to resurrect ghosts from the past. Sadly, it is far from successful. The action begins gliding through the bustling streets of Mexico City on the Day of […]

Film Review: ‘Fresh Dressed’

★★★☆☆ Director Sacha Jenkins’ Fresh Dressed (2015) harks back to the early 1990s, the nascent days of hip-hop and the change in fashion engendered by an entirely new musical form. Beneath the bold, multi-coloured graffiti-inspired designs, baggy pants and bling there’s more to this stylish documentary than initially meets the eye. There is some crossover early on with Shan […]

Film Review ‘Do I Sound Gay’

★★★☆☆ The ‘gay voice’ is a superficial character trait that can have serious implications for the men who possess it. Do I Sound Gay? (2014) director David Thorpe believes this personally. His speech patterns include the sibilant ‘esses’ and elongated vowels that immediately out him to any savvy listeners, and the framing device of Do I Sound Gay? centres […]

Film Review: ‘Black Souls’

★★★☆☆ Francesco Munzi’s Black Souls (2014) is a grimly serious family tragedy centred around the feuds within the Calabrian equivalent of the mafia, the ‘Ndrangheta. The drama begins in Amsterdam where a business deal is going down between mob boss Luigi (Marco Leonardi) and some Spanish, or South American partners. It doesn’t really matter which as this proves to […]

DVD Review: ‘Theeb’

★★★★☆ “Only two kinds of creature get fun in the desert. Bedouins and gods”, the exquisitely cynical diplomat Mr. Dryden (Claude Rains) tells T.E. Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) in David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia (1962), “and you’re neither.” He could have added a third category of desert tourists: directors. The desert is a supremely photogenic location and filmmakers as diverse […]

Blu-ray Review: ‘Seconds’

★★★★☆ Although described as a sci-fi thriller in most quarters, both of these labels seem a little too disingenuous when it comes to identifying the twisted beauty of Seconds (1966). The film’s opening credits courtesy of the great Saul Bass offer an abstract and distorted reflection of a series of figures. It’s a simply-staged but hugely effective visual precursor […]

DVD Review: ‘Pasolini’

★★★★☆ For a love-letter between one great disruptor of Italian cinema to another, Pasolini (2014) is remarkably restrained. Cult director Abel Ferrara never once allows his clear admiration of his subject to unsteady his hand, defying the grandiose, narrative conventions of the biopic genre to instead create something that is both reverential and realistic – a human-sized portrait of […]

DVD Review: ‘Mr. Holmes’

★★★★☆ At the heart of Mr. Holmes (2015) lies that old John Ford maxim about printing the legend. Bill Condon’s film is an investigation into the trouble caused by creative licence and bending the truth. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character of course, but even so, but as an examination of facts and falsehoods, logic and illogic, time and […]

Blu-ray Review: ‘Hellraiser: Scarlet Box’

★★★★★ Clive Barker’s S&M Gothic fantasia has been poorly served (tainted even) by a string of DTV sequels. The Liverpool-born horror visionary’s Cenobites and Lament Configuration are without a shadow of a doubt among the most compelling creations in all of literature and genre cinema. The Pope of Pain – that’s Pinhead (played by Doug Bradley) – is as […]

DVD Review: ‘Cartel Land’

★★★★☆ The Mexican drug trade and its impact on the US has been documented in several films and shows from Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic (2000) and Ridley Scott’s The Counsellor (2013) to Breaking Bad and most recently Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario (2015). The sense of hopelessness in the face of almost unimaginable brutality powered by the logic of feral capitalism has also […]