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Post-Horror: Men / Bergman Island

Post-Horror: Men / Bergman Island

MEN I see that the Barbican are putting on a summer season of 'post-horror' films. Is that a film you see after a horror film, for light relief perhaps? Well no, apparently – it's just another iteration of our old friend 'elevated horror'. So the films in question...

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Peeping Tom (1960)

Peeping Tom (1960)

I used to say that Michael Powell's Peeping Tom was my favourite film. That I don't say it now has nothing to do with the quality of the film or my changing perception of it; more, it's down to a realisation that there are too many films, and that I have too many...

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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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Gentrified Horror: The Nightcomers (1971) and Us

THE NIGHTCOMERS In Nick Pinkerton's positive Sight and Sound review of Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (which I thought was shit by the way) I first encountered the phrase 'gentrified horror', a pejorative term for the kind of upmarket horror that plays to...

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...

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...

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...

Ghost Theatre / Yakuza Apocalypse

GHOST THEATRE Hideo Nakata, director of the Ring movies and the excellent Dark Water returns with this theatrical tale that never comes to life – unlike the dummy being used as a prop in the play Ghost Theatre revolves around. The dummy's head, you see, comes from a...

Frankenstein 1970

This begins generically but effectively with a screaming girl being pursued across the (German, it turns out) countryside by a nightmarishly-contorted Frankenstein's monster whose face we never see; this proves, however, to be part of a TV programme being shot in the...

The Brand New Testament (BFI London Film Festival 2015)

Jaco Van Dormael's film might end up being remembered as the one where Catherine Deneuve sleeps with a gorilla, but that's the least of it. Benoît Poolvoorde is God, a middle-aged slob who never leaves his apartment and spends most of his time on his computer,...

BFI London Film Festival 2014: Three Horrors at the Odeon Covent Garden

SPRING If you thought Richard Linklater's Before Sunset might have been improved if Julie Delpy had periodically turned into a squid (and is there anyone who doesn't?), then this may well be the film for you. American backpacker Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) hooks up with...

Stray Dogs

‘What is this life if, filled with care/We have no time to stand and stare?’, said the Victorian poet W. H. Davies. Good point, and a view clearly shared by Chinese director Tsai-Ming-liang, who transfixes (hopefully) his audience with fixed shots of his characters...

The Wolf Of Wall Street

Mere seconds after rogue stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) appears in Martin Scorsese's film, I was eagerly awaiting his comeuppance, if not actual slow death by steamroller. Unfortunately I had to wait nearly 3 hours and even then (SPOILER ALERT) it...

Some more reviews.

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...

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...

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...