Film: The Conspiracy (2012)

The Conspiracy @

Here’s a good little movie.  So it shares a problem with some found footage movies in that it isn’t always clear whether footage is supposed to be ‘found’ or not, but this also sort of works as the film (maybe inadvertently) questions the uniform, polished look and reliability of many modern documentaries… which fits in nicely with the matter at hand.

The real fun is in the second half where the form suits the subject perfectly, enticing you to lean in, come closer before all hell breaks loose.  Granted, we’ve been this way many times before but it’s well done here and that’s what matters.


Film: Stake Land (2010)

Stake Land @

There’s plenty to like about Stake Land, a tale of survival in a post-vampire plague world.  The characters and ideas are interesting, the look is spot on, the scares and grue are as they should be and Mister, the film’s rock, is the original movie badass.

The really interesting thing however, what lifts it above the many similar movies, is it’s communal take on the apocalypse.  This is a film in which people are drawn to each other, often in celebration, rather than thrown apart.  To be a vampire is to be lonely and cast out, a great distinction from the living which has always echoed through tales of the undead.  Even Mister seems to crave company, a character trait that nicely subverts the stereotype and pays off neatly come the end.

Yes, there are wrong-uns but it’s nice to have a bit of warmth in the end times.

Highly recommended.

Film: Lucy (2014)

Lucy @

As with Nymphomaniac (2013), Lucy frustrates due to a tendency to keep telling us what we are seeing.  Whether it’s the Nature Channel foregrounding of the hunter / prey scenario being played out in the opening scenes or Morgan Freeman’s Basil Exposition character, popping up more and more to explain what we are seeing, the whole thing, despite having that Luc Besson comic book feel, just gets in the way of itself.

Then, the film suddenly becomes something else and we are in a mixture of X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963) and The Tree of Life (2011) and Transcendence (2014).  Does it suddenly become a satisfying movie?  No, not entirely but it does become a bit more interesting even if it is crippled by being neither one thing or another.

Film: Into the Storm (2014)

Into the Storm @

So the problem here is that the movie is a complete dog.

There are 101 reasons why the film is terrible but the overarching blame must rest on the ‘found footage’ gimmick that is applied in such a slip-shod fashion that whenever it is highlighted it knocks you out of the film as you wonder ‘who was holding that camera?’, ‘how are we watching footage from that camera when it just got sucked into a fire tornado?’ or ‘if I was just about to drown would I really be filming a video diary?’ etc.

The word ‘conceit’ looms large here in big flashing lights but, perversely, this is the only movie I’ve watched in the past couple of years where I kept wishing it was in 3D… because if ever something should have been a fairground ride it was this one.

Film: The Battery (2012)

The Battery @

The Battery is a film that reminds me why I like films.

It makes me think of when I was younger, hunting out all the films I could get my hands on, diving in and coming up with low budget gems.  These films, a mixture of Soderbergh and Romero taped from late night TV and rescued from second-hand shops, formed the way I think about cinema and the films that I like and dislike.

The Battery could easily be one of those films.  It’s a proud, low-budget, great looking, genre movie where hell is other people, it’s got that 90’s vibe and a brilliant soundtrack.  It’s also funny and genuine with a couple of truthful performances that give it a real centre.

Highly Recommended

Film: The Raid 2 (2014)

The Raid 2 @

There was always the danger that taking The Raid (2011), a tight knock-out of an action movie, and expanding it beyond the original premise would strip out the unique appeal.  Thankfully, Gareth Evans has not only built on the first instalment, opening out the world of corruption and criminal gangs beyond the tower block, but has unleashed the energy captured within those walls.

This is a great fun, often stunning, hard 18 action movie that brilliantly showcases the talents of those involved.  It’s full of characters and character that make each fight scene memorable and doesn’t outstay it’s 150 minute runtime; a genuine antidote to the factory pressed 12A banalities presently clogging up cinema screens.

Highly Recommended.

Film: The Boston Strangler (1968)

The Boston Strangler @

This is the true story of Albert Desalvo, the self-confessed Boston Strangler. The characters and incidents you are about to see are based on fact.

Yeah, except it’s not though is it?

Moral qualms aside, and this film has none, it’s a disgrace, The Boston Strangler is well put together.  The use of split screen adds to the forensic atmosphere (even if the investigative skills on display amount to contacting a psychic and hassling gay men) and the later interrogation scenes blend past, present and memory almost bordering on the Fritz Lang.  It also boasts great performances.

But the real lie is the ‘quality’.  Many films do this, they scream quality in a way that means to hide hollowness, patronising elitism and regressive values.  I don’t mind films playing fast and loose with the truth, that’s half the fun, but I’ll take the honest gutter level exploitation flick over this rotter any day.

Film: Nymphomaniac: Vol. I and II (2013)

Nymphomaniac @

The problem with Nymphomaniac is the same problem I have with stage musicals; zero subtext.  Telling the tale of Joe, the film’s titular nymphomaniac, we move between story and storyteller with interjections by the on-screen listener that play like a visual director’s commentary.  At times, tedious barely covers it and that’s a shame because elsewhere in this film you will also find director Lars von Trier at his playful, artistic and provocative best (or worst depending how you feel about him) and there is something quite undeniably spectacular about the whole enterprise.


Film: Sorcerer (1977)

Sorcerer @

Here’s a film.

Four men transporting highly unstable nitroglycerin across the jungle in a couple of old trucks.

A real film.

Essentially lost for 37 years, Sorcerer is one of those sweaty, tough and tense as all hell existential movies that remind you why you like cinema and why directors like William Friedkin are so vital.  The film puts you in the driving seat, on that bridge, that bridge, and in range of those explosives.  Unfortunately, it came out in the summer of 1977 and the rest is history.

Here’s a film that’s very highly recommended.