Film Review: ‘Pasolini’

★★★★☆ Pasolini (2014) is another key work in Abel Ferrara’s terrific late master period. A biopic of the final days of Italian polymath Pier Paolo Pasolini (played by Willem Defoe), it operates as a diptych with the director’s previous film, Welcome to New York (2014). Both pictures deal with titans struggling to dictate the course…

Film Review: ‘Ricki and the Flash’

★★★☆☆ What does a Jonathan Demme film look like? From features to docs to television, he has an old studio player’s utilitarian work ethic; restless and unfussy. Aside from the musical fixation, there’s little in the way of recurring thematic concerns or visual tics. To rephrase the question, where is the auteur in Jonathan Demme?…

Blu-ray Review: ‘Pickup on South Street’

★★★★★ In an age where more films are available to us than ever before, the role of the curator is paramount. As the medium of criticism becomes defined by an anxiety born of the continued uncertainty of the uneasy shift to the post-print world, modern critics are finding themselves shackled to the gospel of now….

DVD Review: ‘Force Majeure’

★★★☆☆ What could have easily been a glib provocation turns out to be rigorous examination of masculinity in crisis in the hands of Swedish director Ruben Östlund. Force Majeure (2014) tests the limits (or troughs) of masculinity in the post-liberal age, charting the effects of decades of progression and asks: what is left of the…

Film Review: ‘She’s Funny That Way’

★★★☆☆ Watching Peter Bogdanovich’s She’s Funny That Way (2014) is a somewhat bittersweet experience. It’s terrific to see the great almost man return from TV movie purgatory with renewed focus to craft a lovely, quick-witted throwback with big stars on a broad canvass. But, on the other hand, one is acutely aware that the these…

Blu-ray Review: ‘Forty Guns’

★★★★★ During his tenure at The AV Club, Dissolve editor Scott Tobias conceived of ‘The New Cult Canon’ – a list of modern classics from across the board, blind to the demarcations of low and high culture. It was one of the key critical milestones of the last decade; acknowledging the inescapable importance of a…

DVD Review: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

★★★★☆ Should we really be that surprised that Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) is a good film? One of cinema’s great virtues is its ability to transform the dimestore aesthetic into art. Sam Taylor-Johnson’s adaptation of the infamous novel is no exception; brilliantly perched between cold irony and combustible trash, it’s a knowing and funny…

Film Review: ‘Entourage’

★★★☆☆ Looking at the many critical responses to director Doug Ellin’s swiftly maligned Entourage (2015), it’s easy to forget that the series was well-received – even acclaimed – for most of its seven series run. What’s more curious is that the picture shows great fidelity to the pervadingly low stakes wish-fulfilment fantasy of the show….

Film Review: ‘The Misfits’

★★★★★ During the powerful final sequence of John Huston’s The Misfits (1961), there is a moment that cuts through the fog of the film‘s legend and rips straight through the heart. Marilyn Monroe is standing in a barren expanse of land in which horses are being rounded-up. As a thrashing horse is pulled violently to…

DVD Review: ‘Jauja’

★★★★☆ Jauja (2014), the tantalisingly absurdist new feature from Argentinian Lisandro Alonso, is a film that lives and dies by its final act. Without giving anything away, the finale involves a dramatic shift that sequesters what came before it and views it through a whole new lens. By using the cinematic grammar of the Western…

DVD Review: ‘Ex Machina’

★★★★☆ The best science fiction serves as a barometer of the times, a tool with which to gauge the concerns of our age. In Ex Machina (2015), the superb directorial debut of genre polymath Alex Garland, our contemporary technological fear is internalised then cast into the future’s void. The consequences of The Age of Information…

Blu-ray Review: ‘Paper Moon’

★★★★☆ In LCD Soundsystem’s Losing My Edge, James Murphy charts the history of alternative music and places himself at every key scene along the way (“I was there at the first Suicide practices in a loft in New York City”) as a consolation for behind left behind by a scene in which he’s no longer…