Canon Will Eat Itself: Alien and Other Modern Icons

District 9 director Neil Blomkamp kicked up a fuss yesterday when it was reported that his upcoming Alien sequel would break continuity from the last two films of the franchise, Alien3 and Alien: Resurrection. Blomkamp has since stepped back from that assertion – “I’m not trying to undo Alien 3 or Alien: Resurrection, I just…

A Most Violent Year (2014)

On the surface, A Most Violent Year is markedly different from Chandor’s first two features – about Wall Street and the ocean, respectively – but it shares with them a disinterest in traditional dramaturgy; these films are political statements first, stories second. Margin Call was an excoriation of self-interested capitalism on the cusp of devastation,…

Jimi: All is By My Side (2013)

It’s easy to commiserate with the difficulties John Ridley – Oscar-winning screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave – faced getting his passion project, a biopic of Jimi Hendrix, off the ground. Unable to acquire the legal rights to Hendrix’s recordings or songs (a common problem – notice that the only Hendrix song you ever hear…

Jupiter Ascending (2015)

You don’t have to be an aficionado of science fiction to recognise that the Wachowski’s latest production, Jupiter Ascending, draws inspiration from countless sci-fi forebears. Oh, sure, it’s an “original” property, but as with the Wachowskis’ output from The Matrix and beyond, it’s an unabashed pastiche. Jupiter Ascending’s setting is classic space opera, galaxies ruled…

Road (2014)

Motorcycle racing requires a precise balance – both the physical balance necessary to navigate tight corners at high speeds, and the psychological balance of the exhilaration of extreme risk and the fatal consequences of pushing that risk too far. Unfortunately, motorcycle racing documentary Road, which chronicles the sharp turns of the Dunlops, an Irish family…

Boyhood (2014)

On Boyhood, Birth of a Nation and Being a White Critic

This morning I woke up, stumbled out of bed, then checked Twitter, because apparently that’s where my priorities are directed nowadays. I discovered that Film Twitter – that is, the loose collection of cinephiles and critics that populate Twitterdom – had set its sights on what sounded like a monumentally misjudged takedown of Best Picture…

Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (2013)

Sion Sono throws everything he’s got at Why Don’t You Play in Hell? “Everything” includes duelling yakuza clans, a ragtag crew of wannabe filmmakers called the “Fuck Bombers”, a budding actress packing an incredibly catchy toothpaste jingle and the querulous young man who pretends to be her boyfriend. The film’s introduction is necessarily a bit…