Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Debt (the 114 minutes that they stole from me)

The Debt
Directed by John Madden
Full production details on imdb

Thoroughly mediocre against raised expectations. Fun if you're easily gripped and can tolerate silly accents.

The characters are Israeli, it's set in Israel, they read Hebrew and there are Magen Davids everywhere. So why, oh why, do we need to have every character adopting a dubious and unique accent? It's clear what language they are 'speaking,' there is no purpose to this. The only logical argument I can see is that in a mixed nationality cast it is not clear which accent should be used for consistency, so why not settle for the accent of the language we are meant to imagine they are speaking. I'll tell you why not - because none of them can do it well enough and it just draws attention to the pretence, makes it forced and hammy. Better to have them all speak Hebrew in line with the German and Ukrainian segments. Or perhaps they thought we wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

So, The Debt and I didn't exactly get off to a great start.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Insert Play on Words About Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin
Directed by Lynne Ramsay
Full production details on imdb

A brave attempt at Shriver's book. Some of its power lost by being perhaps too faithful & unempathetic.

Kevin opens spectacularly, unexpectedly, uneasily. A surreal, grotesque, organic dream sequence with Swinton's Eva seemingly crucified and devoured. As this happens she wears her trademark expression which could be a smile, could be a grimace. Is this dream sequence a relief for Eva as she faces her demons, or is it just a manifestation of the hell she lives in? Either way this opening displays the richness of her subconscious, sets the tone and imagery of what is to come, raises unease.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Do I Want To Start a Film Club?

This weekend at the Roxy Bar and Screen, Scala Forever presented a panel of film club curators to provide a discussion point for those inspired to start a film club, under the revealing title 'I Want To Start a Film Club!'

By implication, those in attendance were interested in starting a club, and while I do fall into that category, I had a second agenda, stemming from a general interest in mapping the current 'club' scene in London and hearing more from the people that make it tick.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Whatever happened to Fay Wray?

King Kong
Directed by Merian C Cooper and Ernest B Schoesdsack
Full production details on imdb

State of the art 1933 epic. Soulful animation & classic adventure. Will charm even those reticent to suspend their disbelief.

Scala Forever is a film festival taking place across London from the 13th August to the 2nd October, a festival completely dedicated to celebrating the Scala cinema, Kings Cross, which dished up art house, cult, exploitation, B movies and international fare from 1981 to 1993.

The festival has films, panels, double bills and all nighters inspired by Scala and, as per its mission statement 'celebrating the current repertory film scene in London.' It is masterminded from the Roxy Bar and Screen on Borough high street, which, as one of 27 venues involved is the stage for the opening night.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

"A depraved cesspool of sin"

Caprica - Season 1.5
2010 - 2011
Full production details on imdb
Well produced, world spanning sci-fi thriller. Rollicking plot but lacking in subtlety, character and characterisation.

As Unvanquished opens with its recap of season 1.0 it suprises me how emotionally invested in Caprica I had become. I had previously thought that despite exciting storylines, the characters and character of the show weren't drawing me in. But as I'm reminded of the climactic end to the first half a season a sense of excitement engulfs me and I remember that there are some likeable characters (well, Vergis), and some interesting ones. Maybe I had been too harsh on the series so far. Or maybe it was just a well edited recap.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

I Like to Think of a Cybernetic Ecology...

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace
Part One: Love and Power
Written and Directed by Adam Curtis
Further production details on imdb

dramatically assembled sensationalist documentary dancing on the edge of plausibility.educational;subversive;intriguing.

The first in this triptych of documentaries by Adam Curtis purportedly about “The rise of the machines and the dream of a stable world,” Love and Power focusses on political, economic and violent events in recent history. Under the assumption that Curtis' Good BBC Documentary is well researched, accurate, with minimal agenda and not in the least bit paranoid, this seems an incredibly educational and enlightening 60 minutes. 

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Black Swan

It is easy to be snobby about Darren Aronofsky's recent mainstream offering Black Swan. Particularly in comparison to his earlier works - it doesn't have the edginess of π or the daring desparation of Requiem for a Dream. It's about ballet dancers. Competitive, bulemic girls. Creepy coreographers. Stereotpyes, or at least exaggerations, for which it has rightly received criticsm from the dance community.

The dance communtiy has also praised it. It was possible such a film could alienate the very world it attempts to portray, and there was some scepticism at the casting of an actress to play the role of a ballerina. Keen to allay any fears, the production saw Natalie Portman spend half a year training as a dancer, and she received praise for her performance, both as an actor and as a dancer. The supporting cast were less than impressive when it came to dancing, but Black Swan is a film, not a ballet, and acting is the skill required. Dancing is secondary. If you want fantastic dancing, go and see Swan Lake.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Saturday, 23 April 2011


I came across this short film from AJ Bond at the Duke Mitchell film club a few months ago, and found it close to cinematic perfection.

Friday, 22 April 2011


I love Wes Craven's Scream trilogy. An entertaining slasher series with knowing satire undeserving of the further pastiche of the Scary Movie series. It makes for a nicely concluded trilogy which helped define a generation of horror movies.

So I was understandably nervous of the dubiously titled Sre4m and sceptical as to whether it had anything to add to the series. Is it an easy money spinner or a genuinely inspired reunion flick?

Saturday, 16 April 2011

The Edge of Heaven

Film numero three is a recommendation from my mother, who wanted to share this film that she found remarkable for its apparent lack of genre. 

Sunday, 13 February 2011


This 2007 film from Marco Kreuzpaintner is an awareness raising piece about international sex trafficking. This is recommendation number two, which my girlfriend caught late night on Star Movies when staying in Bangkok. And it is definitely a film that you will want to talk about, for the subject matter and issues raised, if not the film itself.

Million Dollar Baby

So I'm going to start with a series of three quite different and unrelated films. The only connection is that in rapid succession I had movie recommendations from three important people in my life - my mum, my girlfriend and my flatmate. The first, recommended by my flatmate, was Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby.