Deadgirl

I have a simple demand for exploitational, genre films like Deadgirl – if you’re going to bother opening the proverbial pandora’s box, you might as well open it up all the away. There’s nothing more frustrating than a half-assed horror flick that thinks it’s scarier and gorier than it actually is, relying on loud noises […]

Soul Power

By the time I learned about the exploits of Muhammad Ali, he had long since moved from being a boxer to being a political, historical figure, a celebrity afflicted with a medical condition that effectively muted his fiery speech. It was the exemplary When We Were Kings that first opened my eyes to Ali the […]

Derniere Maquis

Pretentious, obnoxious film about working in a pallet factory. Telling what should be an enlightening tale about a boss who is imposing his Islamic faith upon his workers via the construction of a mosque, we’re instead inundated with long, drawn out images of rows upon rows of red painted pallets, with forklifts scurrying back and […]

Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love

It’s hard to say definitively, but certainly one of my earliest introductions to non-English “World Music” was the collaboration between Peter Gabriel and Senagalese sensation Youssou N’Dour. And what an introduction – his soaring tenor seems to cut through any arrangement with bell-like clarity, a distinctive instrument that can truly be said to be one […]

Miracle at St. Anna

Early on in this travesty of a film, an elderly African American is watching a John Wayne WWII flick. Spittling at the screen, he intones “we were there, TOO, pilgrim…”This, then, is Spike’s answer to all those films that “forgot” to include Blacks in their retelling of war tales. Much was made of Spike’s verbal […]

Detroit Metal City

A mashup of jaunty J-pop and Death Metal drivel, what’s not to love? Based on the celebrated Manga, this is a pitch perfect film that certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously. The music is well made and produced, the situations a mix of hilarious and charming, and the performances almost uniformly excellent. It’s the tale […]

It Might Get Loud

The conceit is music to the ears of any music nerd – get Jimmy Page, Jack White and the Edge onto an intimate stage, have them bring their gear, and have them talk about their love of the guitar for a couple of hours. Film the results, and you have a hell of a doc. […]

Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World

The setup is a good one – exploring the radical changes that Chinese culture has undergone in this latest period of growth, through the experiences of those at the 5,000+ seat restaurant in a provincial town. Visions of epic kitchens, factory-like conditions and massive rooms soon give way to the fact that we’re about to […]

The Good, the Bad and the Weird

Spaghetti westerns are a fine indication of the incestuous nature of the history of cinema. The archetypical American Western is retold with samurai in Japan, while the Italians took the Japanese stylistic inventiveness, added their own flavor, set out to Spain and shot their own version of the Western mythos. Leone’s epic is reclaimed by […]

Burn After Reading

During last year’s No Country for Old Men press conference, there were no more than a few dozen of us attending. The brothers seemed low key and disinterested, and the film left the fest with hardly more than a blip of buzz from major critics (save, naturally, this trusted critic). Going on to win Best […]

JCVD

This is Dog Day Afternoon meets Double Dragon, a postmodern pastiche that trascends its genre ghetto and provides a compelling, often astonishing viewing experience. Self-reflexive without being trite, beautifully shot and staged, this is a triumphant film, transcending all expectation. The conceit, that the “real” Jean-Claude is caught up in a bank caper and is […]

Sauna

Period horror set in the Finnish outlands? Sign me up! Heck, period and horror/suspense can work wonders (Le Pacte des Loups comes to mind). Sadly, Sauna is nothing but a cold shower, a murky, moist tale that feels like a truly bad X Files episode (complete with black oil!). Think of the Seventh Seal meets […]

Examined Life

A “talking (while walking) head” doc where the filmmaker lets a number of pop and academic philosophers pontificate about life, the universe and everything while they row, promenade, ride in the back of cars, or simply meander around in circles. Loads of name dropping, from Plato to Deleuze, makes this feel far more like a […]

Passchendaele

The pitch is a simple one, “Paul Gross puts the Passion in Passchendaele!” Rather than drawing from cinematic masterpieces like Paths of Glory, Gross instead turns to Pearl Harbour for his tale of love, loss and war. The Great War is little more than a backdrop for a silly story. Cliches rain like artillery, as […]

RocknRolla

Guy Ritchie is back, sorta. After the gangbuster success of the Gangster flicks Snatch and Lock, Stock…, he missed critically and financially with the esoteric Revolver. With this film, he still is up to his usual visual tricks and colourful cast of denizens from the London criminal underground. This time a Russian billionaire footie-team owner […]