Archive for September, 2013


We Are What We Are (Jim Mickle, 2013)

September 29, 2013


Jim Mickle’s previous film Stake Land, a post-apocalyptic road movie with a vampiric threat, combined the tone of something like The Road with narrative flourishes (invincible hunter known only as Mister, vampires launched from helicopters like dropping bombs) more akin to comic books. The end result: a laboriously dreary film of poorly-defined characters, trite attempts at grandeur through some insipid narration, and an ill-fitting tone. One sequence showed some promise, however; the aforementioned vampire dropping takes place in a long, unbroken tracking shot of an outdoor party in a refugee town, suddenly disrupted by the threat from above, the only moment the lethargic film gets a pulse and actually visualises a frightening concept well. Mickle’s follow-up feature doesn’t contain an overtly frantic sequence like that, but instead the direction, consistency of an effective tone and building of genuine dread throughout the entire feature proves universally strong. We Are What We Are is not just a remarkable improvement compared to Stake Land, it’s also better than the Mexican film it is based on and one of the best, tensest horror efforts of recent memory…

Click for the full review at Sound on Sight


Mousterpiece Cinema #111: Ghosts of the Abyss

September 28, 2013


I’m on the latest episode of Disney podcast Mousterpiece Cinema, discussing, with Josh Spiegel and Gabe Bucsko, James Cameron’s Disney-produced documentary detour down to the Titanic wreckage. The film features Bill “B-Pax” Paxton and some baffling 9/11 references.

Stream the episode here.
Alternatively, you can download the episode or subscribe to the podcast by looking up Mousterpiece Cinema on iTunes.


Seen Your Video #26: From Murderous Southern Hick to Nixon

September 27, 2013


On the latest episode of Seen Your Video, Chris Ward and I take close looks at Frank Tashlin’s Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? and Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color, the former as part of a new intent to profile a chosen older film each episode. We also discuss some recent viewings, including Plein soleil, The Great Escape and the much disliked The Impossible.

Stream the episode here.
Alternatively, you can download the episode or subscribe to the podcast by looking up Seen Your Video on iTunes.


Scotland Loves Anime 2013: The Fourth Impact

September 19, 2013


The Scotland Loves Anime festival returns to Glasgow and Edinburgh in October for a fourth year of screenings and talks, and that rare opportunity to watch Japanese animation on the big screen – the place where so much of it begs to be seen. Over two consecutive weekends, Glasgow Film Theatre (11-13 Oct) and Edinburgh Filmhouse (18-20 Oct) will showcase some of the best of contemporary and classic anime for both the well-versed and those completely new to the medium…

Click for full article for The Skinny
Also available in The Skinny’s September 2013 edition


Four Frames: There Was a Father (Yasujirô Ozu, 1942)

September 17, 2013


There Was a Father (1942) is one of two films Yasujirô Ozu made during Japan’s efforts in World War II and, as such, is a film that was influenced by the Japanese government’s increased control over all aspects of the country’s film industry. Under the watch of the ruling powers, films were encouraged to promote a positive message. There Was a Father achieves this unique blend of containing a propaganda message of sorts to satisfy the authorities, that of “Father” knowing best and how one must perform one’s work to the absolute fullest, while also, in a subtle fashion, retaining an address of the emotional consequences wrought by the pursuit of duty in the film’s narrative…

Click for the full feature for The Big Picture


In a World… (Lake Bell, 2013)

September 13, 2013


Actress Lake Bell makes her feature writing and directing debut with this funny ensemble piece set within and around the world of voice-over artists. Carol Solomon (Bell herself) is a cash-strapped freelance vocal coach who toils in the shadow of her father (Fred Melamed), stage name Sam Sotto, a trailer voice-over king. As Sotto grooms a male heir of sorts (Ken Marino), Carol starts landing some trailer gigs of her own, becoming a threat to both men as the potential voice for Hollywood’s next huge franchise…

Click for the full review for The Skinny


Insidious: Chapter 2 (James Wan, 2013)

September 13, 2013

Insidious - Chapter 2

Insidious: Chapter 2 joins the less than stellar ranks of films like The Descent: Part 2 in being an immediate continuation of a horror film that, though ending with a looming threat, did not call for a sequel. After a prologue set in 1986, the film kicks off on the night its predecessor ended, with Rose Byrne’s Renai Lambert questioned by police over the supernatural events that led to the murder by strangulation of psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye). Insidious’ final moments saw Elise confront the strange behaviour of Renai’s husband Josh (Patrick Wilson), the man now seemingly possessed by the spirit of a black-veiled bride thanks to the Poltergeist meets A Nightmare on Elm Street mishaps that encompassed the film’s third act. Chapter 2 sees the Lambert family, as well as new Elise stand-in Carl (Steve Coulter) and returning ghost busters Tucker and Specs (Angus Sampson and the film’s writer Leigh Whannell), deal with Josh’s strange behaviour, the return of the ghostly haunting, and an increasingly convoluted ascent into Whannell and director James Wan’s respective rectums…

Click for the full review at Sound on Sight