One More Time With Feeling was designed to ideally be watched before Skeleton Tree was released; so to watch it for the first time now, after living with that raw, naked and shivering mass of beauty and heartbreak is, clearly, a very different experience than that originally intended. But I don’t think that makes it any less powerful a film in its own right.
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Drafthouse / MVD
John Rad‘s Dangerous Men is probably, unfortunately for me, review-proof. Made on a shoestring by Rad, an Iranian who moved to America literally 24 hours before Khomeini got in and — understandably — decided not to go back, it’s a crazy slice of slam-bang crime action, and it may just be the Deadly Premonition of moves when it comes to asking “is it any good?”
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Robert Mugge’s film A Joyful Noise is like stepping into a time machine. He has captured a unique insight into a particularly mystical bubble of 1980s African American counter-culture. Although, thinking about it, our main protagonist Mr Mystery, AKA Sun Ra, might not be too interested in limiting himself to any earth-based ethnicity.
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As I write this, the horror community is mourning the loss of Gunnar Hansen, whose turn (yes, that one, round and round with a buzzing saw in the middle of the road in the blazing sun) as Leatherface helped put Tobe Hooper on the map, Texas Chainsaw Massacre having not only been a huge hit, but unbeknownst to anyone having also changed the face of horror forever.
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Aleksei German‘s Hard To Be A God is sci-fi in the Tarkovsky tradition, very much a state of mind rather than flashy tech and shiny spaceship CGI. The film is based on Arkady and Boris Strugatsky‘s 1964 novel of the same name, and was completed after the director’s death by his son Aleksei German Jr.
The back story is that a group of earth scientists (although they don’t seem very scientific) have been sent to a alien world, a planet whose evolution is currently entrenched in the unprecedented filth of mediaeval squalor, their mission to help (or is it just to observe?) this fledgling civilization.
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If you were to look for a definition of the term “cult movie”, you might find the huge stone face of Zardoz staring back at you from the page, bellowing “the gun is good, the penis is bad”. Because it is for this and dozens of other images of batshit unheimlich that Zardoz has earned its cult status.
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Second Sight Films
Penelope Spheeris‘s epic three-part documentary series about the shifting scene in music in LA in the ’80s and ’90s makes even more interesting viewing now than it did before. Well, I’m mostly talking about the first two movies, as until now I’ve never seen the third.
The documentary form, as well as Spheeris’s hands-off style (of which more later) mean that instead of becoming dated, or simply frozen as historical artefacts, they’ve grown new layers of meaning as context has changed all around them. (Just for some context for those of a less American disposition, filming on Part I concluded in the same month that Ian Curtis of Joy Division died).
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Continue reading The Decline of Western Civilization Collection […]
Gabriel Carrer‘s In The House Of Flies is an ’80s movie, made in the second decade of the twenty-first century designed around a trope from the first which became a cliché and eventually a sub-genre all of its own, though it does a bloody good job of avoiding cliché and in the process returns the trope to its ingenious origins.
Remember Saw? The first one, I mean. The one that had that wicked premise of the two guys, the handcuffs and the hacksaw and which promised to be a twisted psychological thriller? And to an extent actually was one, but which also spiralled out on a more ghoulish trajectory and gave birth the the oh-so-soon-to-be-completely-played-to-death mainstream torture porn craze? Imagine if it had stuck to that premise, or
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The Lonely Life is a 27-minute film written and directed by Mike Aho and starring Will Oldham, the erstwhile acting persona of the musical genius also known as Bonnie “Prince” Billy. The film was crowdfunded using Kickstarter in 2012 and filmed just outside Austin, Texas.
Billed as “A low-fi sci-fi psychedelic journey of a man trying to understand his past,” The Lonely Life contains animations by artists Travis Millard, Mel Kadel, Jeremy Fish, Michael Sieben and the Okay Mountain Collective and was made on a shoestring budget of $9,305.
It is a delightful visual spectacle from the outset, filmed on hand-held cameras and utilising the exceptional natural light of the region, creating a dreamy delicacy that offers a pleasingly jarring contrast against the themes of the story. The film
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His wife mostly hides. I think she knows what he’s going to say, or rather what he’s not going to say. She’s central and peripheral in this tale and that seems about right since so is Nick. He’s in every scene and every scene is about him (or, more properly, for him) but we don’t get anything as ‘startlingly frank’ as you’d imagine. He’s there but he’s not there. 20,000 Days is a visit to the Court of Cave and, whilst gently mocking in places (the ‘Lionel Ritchie’ moment is a stand-out scene), it doesn’t attempt to get to grips with anything except what Cave thinks of himself. Nothing here is unguarded, especially the unguarded moments. It’s all as real as a fake therapy session.
Now, to be fair, no one’s
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New Wave Films
Irish film maker Pat Collins, largely known for his documentary work, has successfully merged genres here. The star, Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhride plays a sound recordist of the same name and it just so happens that Bhride is a sound recordist in real life. Seemingly not a natural actor, the scenes have this extended reality to them, which transcend the boundaries of fictional cinema and leave you asking questions of how the film-makers managed to capture such subtlety.
Collins has rounded up a team of location sound recordists, including the prolific Chris Watson, that together with some clever mixing by Ken Galvin engulf your ears with a sea of sounds that seem so familiar to us in our waking life. Familiar, yet these are
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Bath Salt Zombies sets out its stall pretty early on; which is just as well, seeing as how it’s probably not really for everyone. It opens with a great animated spoof public information film about the dangers of bath salts (the drug, not the actual toiletries) which sees a trashy teen given the drug by a foul-mouthed Satan, with predictable murderous consequences. By the time the announcer says “Bath salts may seem like a crackerjack time, but believe you me, sonny Jim, they’re nothing but a menace”, you’ll probably have a fair idea of whether you’re going to like this one or not. And then, before the opening credits, we get some drugs, some gratuitous nudity, a couple of murders and an idea of just how low-budget this movie is.
And it’s REALLY low-budget. Think somewhere between
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One of the classic structures to horror fiction is pretty much the same as the classic “two men went into a pub” joke. As are so many things in life, chiefly among them instances of two men going into a pub. Get some broadly-drawn characters, put them in a place and a situation, work through the story, and then BAM!- hit ’em with the punchline. Jon Gorman and Thomas Edward Seymour‘s latest defiantly indie horror pic does this almost to perfection, and is all the better for it. An adaptation of Rudyard Kipling‘s “Mark Of The Beast,” it takes the unusual step of simultaneously sticking very close to the original text and uprooting the action from colonial India and plonking it down in the rural USA and making it dress up as a cabin in
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