Archive for November, 2014

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The Babadook (Jennifer Kent, 2014)

November 29, 2014

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The Babadook contains DNA from such disparate influences as Roman Polanski, Joe Dante, Georges Méliès, German expressionism, and Roald Dahl, but Australian writer-director Jennifer Kent’s very impressive feature debut is an intensely emotional horror film that feels completely unique in the current film landscape. It’s an allegory on grief, love, loss, and maternal trauma, and is as consistently unnerving as many a Polanski movie (and is the scariest thing with Roald Dahl blood since Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)…

Click for the full review for Sound On Sight

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LFF 2014: The Old Guard

November 27, 2014

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Wrote some things about Sion Sono’s Tokyo Tribe and Gregg Araki’s White Bird in a Blizzard as part of a series of London Film Festival roundups for The Skinny.

Read here.

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Stations of the Cross (Dietrich Brüggemann, 2014)

November 26, 2014

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Stations of the Cross is made up of 14 segments, each filmed in a single long and often static take, where meticulous compositions and dry performances drive a biting look at fundamentalist Catholicism and domineering parenting, as well as the surrounding secular society that fails to properly intervene when one young girl takes the notion of sacrifice for following God’s will too far…

Click for the full review for The Skinny

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The Homesman (Tommy Lee Jones, 2014)

November 23, 2014

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Set during the pioneer era, The Homesman subverts the usual trajectory of westerns set in this time by instead focusing on a journey from what will eventually become Nebraska territory in the West to more Eastern Iowa, wherein defeat via the frontier is a primary concern, whether it be a defeat of the mind, body, soul, or all together. Director Tommy Lee Jones’s last theatrically released film was The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005), a contemporary neo-western with shades of Sam Peckinpah in its flavour. The Homesman may have the set dressing of a more traditional, old-school genre entry, but this film, adapted from Glendon Swarthout’s 1988 novel, is much more offbeat than one might expect…

Click for the full review for Sound On Sight

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LFF 2014: The New(ish) Voices

November 22, 2014

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Wrote a wee thing about Ignatiy Vishnevetsky’s Ellie Lumme as part of a series of London Film Festival roundups for The Skinny.

Read here.

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I (Francis Lawrence, 2014)

November 19, 2014

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In a previous review of the second instalment of The Hunger Games series, I expressed some dismay that Catching Fire didn’t really have a conclusion to speak of, with its cliffhanger ending reminding me less of The Empire Strikes Back and more of The Matrix Reloaded or Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. The argument I made was that what makes the Star Wars film still satisfying is that it has an actual sense of narrative progression and character achievement despite abandoning its players in the midst of doom and gloom. Going back and revisiting Catching Fire, I admit I may have been a little harsh as quite a bit of substantial material in terms of world-building and character development is crammed in there before the game-changing reveal. The same cannot be said, however, for Mockingjay – Part I, which, in its eking out of just one half of Suzanne Collins’ final Hunger Games novel, is much more deserving of that complaint and is by far the least satisfying film of the series to date…

Click for the full review for Sound On Sight

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Programme Notes: Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2014)

November 11, 2014

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I was commissioned to write a programme note for Glasgow Film Theatre for their screenings of Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan during November. You can find an online copy of what I produced for them here.