The Double (2013)

The Double is a thoroughly unpleasant cinematic experience. Whether or not that makes it a bad flm is a more complicated subject. Amongst the most affective films I’ve seen are films mired in misery – Requiem for a Dream or Irréversible – so I’m not prepared to dismiss a movie simply because it can’t be…

Thirst (2009)

Thirst (2009)

Thirst tackles vampirism as a metaphor for primal transgression – forbidden sexual desires and our capacity for violence – a conventional narrative that’s elevated by Park Chan-wook’s stylistic excess (that excess isn’t always appreciated – the runtime didn’t need to stretch past two hours). Song Kang-ho stars as a tormented priest turned vampire after a…

The Boxtrolls (2014)

The Boxtrolls (2014)

On a purely visual basis, The Boxtrolls is one of the most inventive animated films in some time. Like Laika predecessors Paranorman and Coraline, it’s animated in tremendously tactile stop-motion. Its troglodytic characters are cast amongst the cobblestone streets of a 18th century minor metropolis which brings to mind, variously: the spindly grotesquery of the…

Nosferatu (1922)

“[Nosferatu] is not a political figure, not even in the allegorical way in which the diabolical Dr. Caligari can be seen to represent oppressive political authority. Rather, he is both the agent and the icon of death, the natural cause and the supernatural symbol, metonymy combined with metaphor, at once elemental and unearthly.” – Gilberto…

The Grandmaster (2013)

The artistry of kung fu is found in its discreteness and in its completeness. Most martial arts are composed of distinct movements; thrusts, jabs and parries akin to the bars of a musical composition or the paragraphs of a novel. The fluid fabrication found in these movements coheres into a kind of violent beauty: their…

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

Halfway into Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Joseph Gordon-Levitt – battered and bloodied – ascends a fire escape, consumed by trepidation. We know this because he continues to grimly intone his fears on the narration track, and because there’s a woman waiting for him in the hotel room at the top of the…

Belle (2013)

Belle (2013)

It doesn’t surprise me to learn that British costume drama Belle came about after its screenwriter, Misan Sagay, spotted an 18th century portrait of a woman of colour, apparently an ensconced member of the aristocracy in an era where black skin was synonymous with slavery. The film is fundamentally good-intentioned, but strikes me as the…

Death From Above 1979

Death From Above 1979 – The Physical World

Death From Above 1979’s 2004 debut You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine always struck me as a scorched earth deal, a grenade tossed by Sebastien Grainger and Jesse F. Keeler into an unsuspecting music scene before striding away, completely nonchalant. The robustness of the record suggested a simplicity that belied how tricky it was to…

Jacques Tati - The Restored Collection

Jacques Tati: The Restored Collection

I am all about director boxsets. There’s something intimidating about the exploration required to engage in completionist cinephilia, where you endeavour to see every single picture a director filmed, so it’s a relief to simply plonk a box down on your shelf and set yourself a more manageable goal, rather than scurrying around the outskirts…