Thursday, August 30, 2012

Double Review: Headhunters / Jackpot

A Tale of Two Nesbøs

I've pretty much ignored this whole 'Scandicrime' phase (I've also never read a Dan Brown book, a fact that I state with great pride). Sure, I read the Stieg Larsson trilogy, even if the first was the only one of any real note. But I feel confident that I'm not missing a whole lot ignoring the vast amount of Scandinavian airport novels suddenly popping up around the place. Some may be good, some may even be very good: but, with such a rich world of literature out there, disposable crime novels alas rarely make the cut.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Unusual Ineptitude of The Expendables 2: A Technical Analysis

Vaseline Vision

I wasn't going to review The Expendables 2. It's basically critic proof. What can be said? It's trash, and mostly knows its trash. There's a few fun cameos, cheesy one-liners and a high body count. The acting's universally awful, the narrative schlocky to the extreme (abandoned plutonium!). I didn't like it much at all, but it was a tad better than the first. Just a tad. It does what it says on the tin. Consider that my definitive 'review'.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Review: Take This Waltz

Love Will Tear Us Apart

Sarah Polley made a tremendous bang with her beautiful whisper of a debut Away With Her back in 2006. A film of raw emotion and insight, the poignant story of an elderly married couple dealing with the onslaught of Alzheimer's was mature well beyond Polley's years, and a genuine surprise coming from a young Canadian actress known for her indie roles and very occasional Hollywood projects. It's taken her half a decade and a handful of acting projects before hopping back into the director's chair, but she has finally delivered her sophomore feature Take This Waltz.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Dusk 'til Dawn

From the very first shot, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia presents itself as a purely cinematic delight. After a very brief prologue, we are placed smack bang in the middle of the Turkish mountains, where we and the characters will spend the next 90 minutes or so. It's nighttime, and a motley crew of ten or so (police officers, a doctor, two handcuffed suspects, a prosecutor, some 'diggers' and two soldiers there to provide military grade lighting) are out searching for a dead body. Night has rarely felt so menacing yet so strangely beautiful. Often illuminated only by headlights, and soundtracked to distant thunder, the mountainous setting for this film is absolutely captivating. The takes are often long, and the editing considered. Yet it's rarely boring, and the film makes much effort to keep the audience involved.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Review - Searching for Sugarman

Dead or Alive?

 Sixto Rodriguez, as various subjects in this new documentary are keen to point out, is the greatest musician you've never heard of. The mysterious Detroitian recorded two albums in the 1970s, which were beloved by the few people who heard them. But, in the American music industry, cult following counts for little. Sixto (or 'Jesus' as he was often credited as on record sleeves) was dropped from his label, and promptly disappeared. Rumours abounded that he committed ritualistic suicide on stage at the end of a gig. Somehow, a Rodriguez record made its way to South Africa, where it captured the popular imagination of the population. The album Cold Fact ultimately proved to be one of the most successful albums of all time in the country, acting as a soundtrack to South Africa's social revolution and campaigns against apartheid. A few decades later, a music journalist and a long-term Rodriguez fan decided to do some research into the borderline anonymous icon, and turned up some surprising findings...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Review: God Bless America

Easy Targets

Image Courtesy of Magnet Releasing

Have you ever felt pop culture is stupefying at an alarming rate? Do the endless reality shows, religious zealotry and ignorant political scaremongering get you down? Would you like to see a funny, subversive and provocative cinematic satire of these issues? I know I would! God Bless America is not that film.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sight & Sound pronounce Greatest Films Ever, 2012 edition: Eisenstein fans outraged


I am no big fan of 'best of' lists for any number of reasons, but Sight & Sound's decennial (word of the day!) Greatest Films poll is more intriguing than most. With responses from more than 850 film writers, critics and professionals, the detailed survey has the unique ability to be able to analyse and present a list of films that have been and remain particularly influential in the discourse surrounding cinema. More interestingly still, a poll of 300+ directors further suggests the films that have most inspired the auteurs of today, and therefore the works that have most significantly influenced the great contemporary filmmakers.

Review: Red Desert

A Terrible Beauty

I do try my hardest to watch at least a couple of film from all the most beloved, influential auteurs out there, but there's plenty I just have not had the time to get around to yet. Michelangelo Antonioni was, until a few hours ago, a director I had embarrassingly never made the effort to explore. Luckily, a BFI restoration of Red Desert currently playing here in Dublin has given me the opportunity to begin my exploration of the man's work. It's only a start - L'Avventura and Blowup are on my internal list of bucket - but I'm certainly curious to check out more based on the strengths of this one.