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Amulet /Master

Amulet /Master

AMULET Can horror be 'progressive'? Actor and now director Romola Garai talks about 'changing the narrative' of horror with her first film but I'm not sure that she's managed it (what is this 'narrative' anyway?) though she might have thrown a few spokes in its...

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Bad Luck Banging, Or Loony Porn

Bad Luck Banging, Or Loony Porn

Ah, masks! Still de rigeur at the ICA at this point (this was before Plan B kicked in). During the London Film Festival I dared to go in there unmasked, which felt like a transgressive act, but hey, it was a festival and anyway isn't the ICA supposed to welcome...

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BFI London Film Festival 2021: Age and Agency

BFI London Film Festival 2021: Age and Agency

LA ABUELA In this Spanish film from Rec director Paco Plaza, Susana (Almudena Amor), a fashion model on the verge of success, has to take a career break when her grandmother Pilar (Vera Valdez) has a brain haemorrhage and she has to go and look after her, at least...

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Frightfest 2021

Frightfest 2021

NIGHT DRIVE A mysterious fugue enveloped Frightfest last year – it's like it didn't really happen. But suddenly here I am again in the Empire Leicester Square, and – after a few 'missing' years - Dave is even back, and sitting next to me. It all feels suspiciously...

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Censor / Surge

Censor / Surge

CENSOR Prano Bailey-Bond's Censor makes a link between censorship and (emotional, psychological) repression that's pretty obvious, but the film has a knack of making the obvious work – which has the additional virtue of being thematically appropriate. After all, the...

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Sins Of The Fleshapoids (1965)/Orphans Of The Cosmos (2008)

I settled down for this Kuchar Brothers double-bill at the BFI with three cushions (Christmas presents for Mum) in carrier bags, a burden bulky enough to suggest that I should have splashed out on another ticket. With an amused gay man on my left and Brian Sewell...

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (2006)

Who the hell's Diane Arbus? If this is your reaction to the above title, then you probably won't get much out of this film. I knew little about Diane Arbus, and having seen the film, now feel that I know less. Which is not the film's fault. It begins with a disclaimer...

Evolution (BFI London Film Festival 2015)

Not to be confused with a 2001 David Duchovny film I've never seen, Lucile Hadžihalilović's second feature cranks the eeriness of 2004's Innocence up a notch, coming on like an anxiety dream H P Lovecraft might have had as a child. On a remote volcanic island, a group...

The Angry Red Planet (1960)

There's often a sense in SF films, especially those of the 50's, that the real subjects of interest are not giant mantises or bug-eyed aliens but women. This is made explicit in director Robert Gordon's 1955 film It Came From Beneath The Sea (1955) where Faith...

Camille Claudel 1915

This meeting of two arthouse legends – Bruno Dumont, a director who has previously always refused to work with professional actors, and Juliette (Chocolat) Binoche – is heralded by posters screaming BINOCHE CLAUDEL DUMONT, in the manner of ads for an action movie...

Arrival

Denis Villeneuve's Arrival brings to our attention something about contact with alien life forms that to my knowledge hasn't been thoroughly explored up until now – how boring it might be. That's not to say that the film itself is boring – although it does hover on...

Further Dispatches From BFI Flare

Futuro Beach On the face of it this has everything you could possibly want from a Brazilian- German co-production – it begins in Brazil and it ends in Germany – and beneath the surface there’s enough happening to offset a vague sense of one's having seen something...

The Million Eyes Of Sumuru (1967)

'I have a million eyes, for I am Sumuru', says Shirley Eaton in voiceover at the beginning of this particular disaster. She doesn't really have a million eyes - that's the first disappointment. The notional 'million eyes' belong to her followers. Sumuru leads an...

Don’t Step On It, It Might Be Jake Gyllenhaal: Nightcrawler/Enemy

Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), the central figure of Dan Gilroy's Nightcrawler, resembles nothing so much as a cockroach that has unaccountably taken on human form – emerging out of the LA night as a petty thief with aspirations, he soon graduates into a 'nightcrawler',...

The Devil’s Rain (1975)

I've taken to listening to Shaun Keaveny on BBC6 Music in the mornings, via my TV – specifically Freeview 707. A couple of months ago my just-awoken fingers were fumblingly pressing those figures out on the remote and hesitated too long, inadvertently accessing 70, at...

Some more reviews.

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...

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...

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....

The Boxer’s Omen (1983) / Goodbye Dragon Inn (2003)

The Boxer’s Omen (1983) / Goodbye Dragon Inn (2003)

THE BOXER'S OMEN I saw this in late 2016 at the Barbican in a season called Cheap Thrills, a celebration of bad taste. Is this then a 'bad film'? If so, we need to dismiss any judgmental qualities that might still be clinging to the word 'bad'. We are not condemning...

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...

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...

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...