After all, it's just a ride….


The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (2014)

One trailer to rule them all, here we go again for one final trek around Middle Earth;

I haven’t braved the Special Extended Edition of The Desolation Of Smaug yet although it is sitting there tempting me with its golden hues, the more I reflected on that film the less I liked it but still it must be mine – mostly for the tsunami of production extras. Maybe this will absolve past sins, and (NERD ALERT) I can’t pretend that the possibility of seeing Elrond and Galadriel in full Eldar action isn’t the granting of this Tolkienophile’s most fervent screen wishes….

I Don’t Know Jack (2002)

Well here now is a hair-raising treasure which is the very definition of niche, a Lynch produced 90 minute documentary on his friend and early collaborator Jack Nance;

He was quite a character, a shame he isn’t around to grace next years Twin Peaks resurrection, but great stuff anyway. In other news inbetween finalizing my Nightcrawler review I found the time to finally hunt down Jarmusch’s vampire exercise Only Lovers Left Alive. Probably his most placidly entertaining film for a good few years, and just about everything you’d expect from a Jim Jarmusch vampire movie – no more, no less.

Hardcore (2015?) Trailer

No it’s not a remake of Paul Schrader’s 1979 sordid classic, in fact I’m not sure exactly what this ‘film‘ is, and those with something of a nervous disposition toward screen violence should consider themselves warned, but This. Is Insane;

Yes that is the bigot accented dude from District Nine and Elysium. Cheeky swine even chucked a Wilhelm in there….

The Babadook (2014)

bab1 There is a gulf between genuinely chilling and mildly disconcerting horror cinema isn’t there? The current penchant for the jumpy, harshly cut and deafening fears of Insidious, The Conjuring or its bastardised sister Annabelle leave me parched in a sea of tedious techniques, yearning for a full draught of the genuinely spooky fare which the Spanish and to a lesser extent the Japanese used to excel in. Now me and a certain Mr. Kermode frequently fall out over some of his more ridiculous opinions (his championing of the exerable Twilight films is simply unforgiveable, they are terrible films both technically and thematically) but I still tend to trust his judgment on some fronts, as he quite astutely made the case when podcast reviewing the anticipated new antipodean horror The Babadook that real, effective horror trades in the uncanny and the supernatural with a grounding in reality, with characters we empathize and identify with, and don’t just resort to the lowest common denominator jump scares that any 5 year old with a video camera could execute. I first became aware of this film around a year ago when it started terrifying festival audiences and I’ve been steadily charting its frightening tendrils reaching across the globe, until it finally made ground in the UK just time for All Hallows Eve, riding on a crest of critical celebration. Some have compared it with the little known 1980′s frightmare Paperhouse given the picture book symmetry and story of a young child lost in an increasingly dangerous world of fantasy and adult superstitions, so I was very much looking forward to this film as another potential gift of the Autumn season, as I ambled through the November chill for a Sunday Cineworld matinee alongside the media mauling Nightcrawler.

bab2Strained and stretched single mother Amelia (Essie Davis) is almost at the end of her increasingly fraught mental tether. Raising her poorly behaved young son Samuel (Noah Weiseman) alone after his father was killed in a car accident she is struggling to maintain her modest nursing job and keep food on the table, her only source of assistance being her sister Claire (Hayley McElhinney) whom harbors a barely concealed enmity toward her nephews increasingly erratic conduct. To compound the stress Amelia’s  grasp of motherhood may have been tainted by the fact that their absent father was killed on the very day that Samuel was delivered, prompting her to not entertain such childrearing concerns as birthday parties, anniversaries or associated celebrations, a dictate which further isolates her increasingly fraught child from her and his peers. Attempting to forge some lasting relationship with the child she alights upon a mysterious story book found hidden in the house called The Babadook, a leering charcoal tainted tale of a terrifying figure which frightens young families, igniting in Samuel the urge to see and hear the spectral figure lurking in every shadowy corner of the house. As the story develops and Samuel’s demeanor further deteriorates one has to wonder that maybe, just perhaps his menacing hallucinations  aren’t completely unfounded….

BAB3Debut writer & director Jennifer Kent has selected her ingredients wisely in order to percolate this supernatural stew, with flavours of Lynch at his skin-crawlingly creepiest, of Polanski’s Repulsion and more than a sprigot of Kubrick’s The Shining mulched into the mix, but the final dish is a rather thin and unnourishing gruel, and I’m sorry to say I was more than a little underwhelmed. It’s another fall at the hurdle of expectations, it is certainly not a bad film with a fair share of genuinely chilling moments, but they never coalesce into anything coherent or controlled, as the plot strands and intensity unravelling in the films final conflict. Kent erects a very unsettling Fredudian undercurrent which lurks beneath the gray and pallid color palette, it’s drained emulsion the shade of blood curdling in frosty cheeks, but as the plot well, loses the plot The Babadook defiantly fails to navigate such fertile territory, lurching from one scene to the next without fully twitching on the chillblades. If you are so inclined here is the 10 minute short that Jennifer Kent made before securing financing, may will give you a flavor of proceedings.

bAB4I’ll concede that child actor Weismen somehow manages to transform his original irritating behavior as posterboy for enforced sterilization into a google eyed empathy as we realize that it’s the more corporeal elements in the house which offers the real threat to his body and soul, while Davis thrashes around in a misguidedly directed shift from exhaustion to sanity shattering anger, a fractured performance hastily glued together from an incomplete selection of fragments. The film does boast a masterful deployment of sound – always a central emphasis in any horror movie worth its reputation – shifting from chittering spectral  gibberish to abrupt guillotine of total silence to enhance attention on the imagery, building crescendos in certain sections which are dissipated by some rather clichéd and badly worn genre contortions. In the final ledger I think The Babadook is filed under the ‘ambitious and promising failure’ section, perhaps bruised by the unreasonable lofty expectations on my part. On the other hand Kim Newman, one of the worlds foremost scholars on horror and genre cinema has proclaimed The Babadook as a masterpiece of its type, and although I’m inclined to disagree you may find more permanent chills in leafing through it’s faintly petrifying pages;

Can’t See The Woods For The Trees?

If you’ve recently enjoyed watching The Cabin In The Woods then delive further with this fun little deconstruction, and the numerous sly references littered throughout the movie;

The Other Side Of The Year….

This has been rumoured and muttered about or many years now but finally it seems we cinephiles can rejoice, for Orson Welles final, unfinished film will miraculously be seen in theatres next year. Lest we forget, even Welles butchered and mangled films can have their astounding moments;

What We Do In The Shadows (2014) Extended Trailer

Well, when I say trailer I should say first six minutes of this well received horror-comedy, a notoriously difficult hybrid genre to successfully stake. I’m mostly posting this to distract myself from the Interstellar reviews which are littering spiral galaxies of spoliers across the social media multiverse, I’m heroically resisting the urge and not reading a damn thing but the general consensus seems to be very positive. Anyway, here’s this which might make you giggle;

A Keanu Odyssey….

Always gets a little slow around here, when we’re in the initial furious pangs of a technically detailed new assignment. Nevertheless the movie world cares not a jot for Minty’s inhibited abilities, as a small clutch of recent trailers have materialised this week which deserve our undivided attention. Firstly, the bleeding obvious;

This film is going to make an outrageous, civilisation shattering epoch of money. Looks like fun and curiously a natural clean visual connection to the original film (Same DP as Guardians Of The Galaxy eh? Hmmm), Ultron was one of favourite villains when I was a mere transistor so I’m looking forward to seeing the indestructible one finally rendered on-screen. It also kinda amuses me that there was lots of eye rolling and mutterings of ‘who cares?’ when DC unveiled their cinematic universe recently, then this drops and everyone loses their marvellous fucking marbles. Now then, I always love a ‘sleeper’, a film which wasn’t necessarily on many people’s radar which somehow obliterates its modest expectations, and can even catapult a waning star back into the firmament;

The reports I’ve been hearing on this are extraordinary, absolutely outrageous schlock which would make Shane Black blush, and other ‘this is like action film x on methamphetamines’ asides. Normally I would be off to see this highly regarded little monster this weekend but I’m entertaining guests, I’ll give it a lurk next weekend which is actually Halloween isn’t it? Seems apt. Finally something a little more classy, as I know the publicist whom is leading the campaign for this re-release I thought it best to honor her wishes and let you gaze beyond the infinite in 21st century digital delight;

The Toast Of Croydon……

Now that’s what I call synchronisfuckingnation, as we stroll out of the London Film Festival on Sunday, into my third day job assignment of the year down in deepest South London – welcome. OK, OK, once you’ve stopped chuckling at my fortune with such salubrious surroundings I at least had perhaps the most entertaining induction today, two hours of calmly and carefully being advised of the specific protocols, projects and procedures, followed by three hours with the woman I’m replacing who insisted I forgot everything I’d just heard as our mutual colleague was (and I quote) ‘a fucking idiot’ – welcome to local government. The entire day reminded me of the US comedy series Parks & Recreation which I gave a second chance after a lacklustre BBC4 outing a few years ago, and I’m glad I did as the slow burn of the characters and local government milieu are finally paying dividends. I’ve still not seen a filibuster of this quality but believe me, those evening cabinet boards battles can get pretty darn racy;

So I just wanted to wade into a recent controversy of Paul Schrader’s latest debacle, as once again it seems the final film has been taken from him and edited into a completely different picture, leading to the rather unusual occurrence of star Nic Cage, director and executive producer Winding-Refn distancing themselves from the final product and shrieking of artistic interference. Here’s the trailer, what do you think?

Yeah, didn’t exactly quite get my blood pumping and I love Paul Schrader, although after the diminish returns of his recent movies there has been some dark mutterings in certain corners of the interest that there is ‘no smoke without fire’ and maybe his cuts really were very bad and required such unprecedented interference – we should see in a few months. I’ll be damned if I can find that clip from Iron Man III about ‘the toast of Croydon’ but here we are……and yes this made me giggle.

BFI London Film Festival 2014 – Day Nine

And that’s a wrap, I thought about attending the final gala press screening of Fury but c’mon, 9.00am on a Sunday is bloody pushing it for a film being released next Wednesday, not to mention the picture doesn’t particularly appeal to me. So lets mop up a few other films I caught before we take a breather of precisely two days before the BFI Days Of  Fear & Wonder begins with my first Southbank Screening - no rest for the wicked indeed;

Have you researched your Latvian slasher movies recently? It’s a miniscule genre with a body count of one, as this is the first ever made. Alas, it was exceptionally unmemorable, and even its austerity theme of the evil oligargs deserving their cruel despatch it lacks any spark of originality or indeed, dread.

Whilst I didn’t see the Festival Surprise Film which they always keep shrouded in immense secrecy I was pleased to see it was Birdman, a project which has been steadily soaring to the lofty peak of expectations. The enormous praise has been unanimous from other festival showings, and although I’ve read some intriguing elements of the film production and construction I’ll keep them quiet for now. The London critics were just as impressed as the TiFF and Venice contingent, so I’m really looking forward to this now.

Restoration is always a pleasure at a festival, alas I missed The Tales Of Hoffman (which truth be told is not one of my favourite Powell & Pressburgers) so I went in a rather different direction with this Chinese Wuxia classic. Like many of my generation I grew watching all the Bruce Lee pictures (The Big Boss, Fists Of Fury, Game Of Death) and some of the early Jackie Chan’s (Snake In The Eagles Shadow, Drunken Master), but generally speaking 1960′s martial art remain something of a blind spot. Review here, and here are my warblings on The Tribe.

My final picture was Jamie Marks Is Dead, which immediately put me in the mind of the 1980′s teen alienation classic Rivers Edge. Although it suffers in comparison his was good though, a little creepy, and again a palpable sense of isolation which seems to be a recurring theme. So that’s that for another year, for the final tally The Tribe, Foxcatcher, Whiplash, Spring and The Duke of Burgundy were the highlights. So now its time to take to the stars, and the good news we have a mission clearance for all eight of the tickets I initially applied for so prepeare for hyperspace etc….


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