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In Pictures 2: Rope (1948) /Possessor (2020)

In Pictures 2: Rope (1948) /Possessor (2020)

ROPE On the extras on my DVD of Alfred Hitchcock's Rope screenwriter Arthur Laurents nails several of the reasons why this adaptation of Patrick Hamilton's play (based on the Leopold/Loeb case in which a couple of students felt entitled to kill a 14 year old boy...

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Apples / In The Earth

Apples / In The Earth

APPLES Who on earth, returning to the cinema after – well OK, during – a global pandemic would go and see a film that is about the pandemic, even if obliquely? About six people (including me) is the answer, if this afternoon showing is anything to go by. Apples seems...

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In Pictures

In Pictures

BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964) Mario Bava's The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963) is said to be the first giallo, but of Bava's films it is this that feels like the ur-giallo, a template for everything that came after – not just 70's gialli, but 80's slasher films as well....

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Screen Time

Screen Time

MYSTERIES OF LISBON (2010) Lockdown was a good time to finally sit down, maybe even lie down, and watch those films whose running time demanded an entire day devoted to them, and their extras. The Chilean director Raúl Ruiz, in the extras on the New Wave Films DVD of...

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Downton Abbey (2019) / Ray and Liz (2018)

Downton Abbey (2019) / Ray and Liz (2018)

DOWNTON ABBEY For many years the TV series Downton Abbey, created by Julian Fellowes, mined the Sunday night craving for reassurance about the past, presenting it as a world in which everyone knew their place. The past, at least the past we never knew personally, is a...

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Frightfest 2018 – The Cleaning Lady, Braid and Piercing

THE CLEANING LADY Frightfest is now 'owned' by Arrow Video, which makes sense. The only difference I could see was that there were a lot of free DVD's lying around, which I certainly wasn't complaining about (I'll save that for when I watch them). The first two films...

Blue / Trog (1993 and 1970)

In his introduction to Derek Jarman's Blue John Waters, who selected it as one of his favourite British films for a celebration of all things JW at the BFI, recalled how the first time he saw it the cinema had posters up warning punters that Blue was a film that...

Hail Caesar! / High Rise

One of the funnier scenes in the Coen Brothers' 50's Hollywood-set latest has Ralph Fiennes as a fussy English director struggling to incorporate studio-imposed Western star Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) into his drawing room comedy Merrily We Dance. Before his utter...

Frightfest 2015 Day Three

Over Your Dead Body The vexing question of what to see and what not to see at these festivals often results in me scouring the internet for reviews from other festivals. It didn't do me a lot of good in this case since I found two reviews for OYDB, one of which...

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)

Outside the screen at the BFI stands horror film critic and musician Stephen Thrower (author of several enormous books on horror films which I would love to read if only I had the time - and money) next to a cake in the shape of a four-poster bed - though smaller, of...

Under The Skin

I took a half day off work to see this, and thus missed Ann Widdecombe on the Jeremy Vine show talking about 'What It Means To Be Human'. However, this offered a roughly comparable experience. An attractive alien disguised as movie star Scarlett Johanssen drives round...

The Bat (1959)

This comes from a cheap and pretty random box set of 'horror' DVD's I got as a Secret Santa present – thanks, Lorraine! - so there's no frills here, no trailer or 'Making Of': they barely manage to give you the film itself. Which is bad anyway, so creaky you can...

Our Time / Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

OUR TIME There was quite a high turnout for this three-hour epic of directorial self-laceration from Mexican director Carlos Reygadas, although admittedly this was at the Minema screen at the Curzon Bloomsbury, which seats about 20 people. I had a guy ahead of me...

New Year’s Evil (1980) / Bloody New Year (1987)

New Year is, as everybody knows, a massive anticlimax. We all get frantically excited about what turns out to be just a glib transition into more of the same. Here are two films (showing in the BFI's Cult strand) which try to give New Year some genuine significance...

The Secret of Dorian Gray (1969)

Ah, Valentine's Day – my favourite feast day, since my single status means I don't have to observe it. Nevertheless I was moved to recognise it to the extent of braving rail replacement services to get to the Barbican, where film programmer Josh Saco (aka Cigarette...

Some more reviews.

LFF 2019: Jallikattu/Saint Maud

LFF 2019: Jallikattu/Saint Maud

Ah yes, the London Film Festival. I remember that. Well it did happen this year, it was just 'different' – they even tried to suggest that the festival we had (mostly online) represented some kind of exciting innovation rather than an attempt to pretend that a film...

Phantoms of the Opera

Phantoms of the Opera

IL MOSTRO DELLA OPERA (1964) In the days before the cities became tombs and the cinemas morgues I went to a showing of this obscure Italian film at the Barbican on a Saturday morning, only to discover that I was encroaching upon a Phantom Of The Opera symposium. Who...

Rabid (1977) / Black Magic 2 (1976)

Rabid (1977) / Black Magic 2 (1976)

RABID (1977) I watched this (on Arrow Video Blu-Ray) quite early on in lockdown, before the later symptoms of COVID-19 like frothing at the mouth with blue foam and biting people in the neck appeared. Oh no wait, that hasn't happened yet has it? Nevertheless this is...

Privilege (1967) / Duck Soup (1933)

Privilege (1967) / Duck Soup (1933)

PRIVILEGE On this BFI DVD you get a couple of early short films from director Peter Watkins, one of which is 1961's The Forgotten Faces, an urgent, authentic-seeming account of the 1956 people's uprising in Hungary, filmed in Canterbury. Therein lies the moral of much...

LOCKDOWN! The Giant Claw (1957)

LOCKDOWN! The Giant Claw (1957)

How often have I fantasized about the government forbidding me to leave the house so that I am finally compelled to watch all the DVDs I have accumulated over the years? Well never, since that would have been absurd, even for a fantasy. Nevertheless here we are. Or at...

The Burning (1981)

The Burning (1981)

CAUTION: Contains unlicensed film theory Carol Clover's Men Women and Chainsaws is most famous for drawing our attention to the figure of the Final Girl. Clover had been struck by the way that slasher films, aimed (as she saw it) at an audience of adolescent males and...

In Fabric / Little Joe

In Fabric / Little Joe

IN FABRIC Peter Strickland's follow-up to the excellent Duke Of Burgundy is a bumpier ride, but you get to enjoy that after a while. Apparently it's set in 1993 – I read this on the Sight and Sound letters page – but it seems to be taking place in some kind of...

Horrors Of The London Film Festival 2019

Horrors Of The London Film Festival 2019

DEERSKIN Horror films have fielded some unlikely 'monsters' over the years and director Quentin Dupieux has already supplied a notable one with 2010's Rubber, whose 'villain' was a spare tyre. His new film explores the malign potential of a jacket. Filling it out, and...