Here he is again "il molleggiato" (Bendy Man) with Lola Falana. This tune is so darn funky. Celentano was a renaissance man. He did the showbiz works. He was a singer-songwriter, dancing man, musician, actor, comedian, record company owner, film director, vegetarian, Inter Milan supporter and a whole lot more. The best thing about him though is mos def his dancing. We all need to be this seriously suave so I've been practicing.
That's it front load your tune with the chorus and we're in immediately. After hearing this today I can't get it out of my head. I also think it's been ripped off in the last 20 years but I can't quite put my finger on who by, it's driving me insane. Great tune this.
Keep It Comin' Love works better with this awesome transition/connected track I'm Your Boogie Man like how you gotta have Donna Summer connected with Now I Need You/Workin' The Midnight Shift, INXS' remarkable Burn For You dropping right into Face The Change and not forgetting the one transcendent moment on The Pixies Trompe Le Monde LP when Palace Of The Brine is all of a sudden Letter From Memphis. These trax shouldn't be separated, there's a reason there's no silence between these tuuuuunes. They're of a piece and sort of a continuation of the previous number. Anyway the moment that little Keep It Comin' Love motif enters into the realm of sound it is a bliss rush, that is damn fine.
Had to do it. Sorry KC. Ooh that transition is sublime! One million of the world's best DJs couldn't emulate that spine tingling moment. Fucking ecstasy.
The Villainess aka 악녀 (2017)
It's funny that Parasite (2019) was a major cross over hit with western audiences because this film ticks all the right blockbuster entertainment boxes and is probably even more commercial. The Villainess is a sort of gangster/assassin/revenge movie but mainly it's just an outstanding ultra violent action flick. This is the sort of unbelievable fun action thrills we want, relentless and exhilarating. There is also emotional attachment to certain characters too which is quite an achievement from writer/director Jeon Byung-gil. Sook-hee (Kim Ok-vin) is the titular character who was raised on violence to blossom into a consummate smiling assassin. She is captured by an intel agency who want to use her for their own gains so she is sent to a reform prison for Assassins. Let the batshit crazy shenanigans begin. We get fake deaths, plastic surgery, questionable babies, gassings, murdered fathers, fake identities, bombs, sword fights on motorbikes, even love and that's not the half of it. After watching this it's hard not to say "That is the fucking best!" and yeah in my book it's probably the best action flick of the 10s. If you've not seen it was on either Stan or the nettflix. Good times.
An alright blockbuster action flick if you can get past the thickly layered on Hollywood cheese which almost destroys an unbeatable premise of an explosive runaway train. I mean It's still pretty naff. Sometimes you just gotta put that shit aside and try to just enjoy the ride. An unmanned train carrying carriages of diabolical chemicals picks up speed and needs to be stopped before destroying thousands of lives when it crashes. Frank (Denzel Washington) and Will (Chris Pine) are on another train ready for the rescue mission with the help of Connie (Rosario Dawson) in the control room and Ned (Lew Temple) in his 4WD. The tension and excitement build but Tony Scott turns the picture into something resembling a sports telecast, with people cheering and screaming while they watch events unfold on their TV screens. This was unnecessary and mawkish. Unstoppable is way way overrated (Hello QT & re-watchables podcast). I guess this is what they like to call a pizza or popcorn movie. Then again I'm happy to eat popcorn or pizza watching a Lars Von Trier film.
Sympathy For Mr Vengeance aka 복수는 나의 것 (2002)
Goin back to the original peak years for South Korean cinema when my video shop was the only place to find this shit. Recent (last 20 years) revenge movies don't come more mental or any better than those from South Korea. Particularly from the master director of the genre Park Chan-wook. This is the first in his trilogy of Vengeance movies and it is an auspicious entry. We go right into the underbelly of criminal organ trading here as a young deaf brother is trying to raise enough cash so that his sister may get a kidney. He comes up with a scam that goes horrifically awry. Some seriously grim events occur. Park Chan-wook who also co-wrote the screenplay is at the peak of his powers here. Brilliant.
A Bittersweet Life aka 달콤한 인생 (2005)
A mega violent gangster picture with a bit of a naive romance fantasy thrown in. Kim Jee-woon the man who directed one of the all time classic South Korean revenge films, I Saw The Devil (2010), presents these unusual gangsters with confusing motivations behind their actions. Their moral, brotherhood and gangster codes are all fucked up and wrong. Throw in some Catholic shit and pure Nihilism and voilà you've got yourself a an entertaining 21st century gangster flick.
Sweet Virginia (2017)
An average story of small town crime that gets out of hand. Set in rural Alaska. The main criminal is Charlie from HBO's Girls. It's just missing some pizzaz so it's not in the same ball park as low key crime gems like The Friends Of Eddie Coyle (1973), Going In Style (1979) Breaking In (1989), Blue Ruin (2004) etc.
Murder Mystery (2019)
A bit of silly fun that is seriously good. Knives Out (2019) gets all this critical praise for reinvigorating the Agatha Christie style whodunnit? genre but hey I think director Kyle Newacheck beat the critically acclaimed Rian Johnson to the punch. After watching Uncut Gems (2019) I wondered how many other good Adam Sandler movies I've ignored since I last saw him in Punch Drunk Love (2002) so I ended up here. Murder Mystery's been on my Netflix list for 7 or 8 months. A down on his luck NY cop Nick Spitz (Adam Sandler) is accidentally pushed into buying a European holiday for him and his wife Audrey (Jennifer Aniston) for their 15th wedding anniversary. In Europe they end up at a billionaire's family reunion on a yacht when the murder begins. The French detective believes it was Nick & Audrey Spitz though. How are they going to get out of this jam? Exciting fun ensues with much crap detective work, a game of cat & mouse, a body count and a spectacular car chase with Aniston behind the wheel of a Ferrari.
I Saw The Devil aka 악마를 보았다(2010)
In the last few movie posts I've been going back through the last 20 years. It's is nowhere near as bleak as I thought out there in the world of movies in the twenty first century. Here's one that I thought was at the end of the South Korean Revenge Movie cyclebut it kind of reinvigorated it although has anything topped it since? I Saw The Devil is a unique epic tale of vengeance. First of all the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous so kudos to DP Lee Moe-gae and director Kim Jee-woon. Kim Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun) a National Intelligence Service (NIS) agent has his world turned upside-down when his fiancée is brutally murdered. Agent Soo-hyun is then on the rampage to track down the killer Jang Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik) to exact vengeance upon him. Oh boy that is just the beginning. A brutal and bizarre game of cat and mouse continues for the rest of this spectacular movie. This is not for those with delicate sensibilities as it's very demented. Quite possibly best South Korean movie of the 10s.
Or is it Bram Stoker's Dracula anyway it's the 1992 one directed by Francis Coppola. After watching Mark Gatiss's 66.66% brilliant (ie. first two episodes are great & the third is a fail) three part Dracula (2020) series on Netflix I wanted to know more about the history of Dracula and Vampires. I'd only seen a couple of 70s Hammer iterations when I was a teenager, Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) TV show, From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) and Daughters Of Darkness (1971). I wouldn't say I was a Dracula or Vampire fan, I mean I admire breasts plus I thought the first three seasons of Buffy were ace. The only vampire film to really make an impact on me and is indeed one of my favourite films is Daughters Of Darkness but I thought that was probably straying pretty far from orthodox tellings of these stories. So I asked Emma who's a scholar of gothic horror literature "What would be a good place to start with a fairly straight forward telling of the Dracula story?" So here we are with 1992's Dracula which is fine entertainment with my only quibble being Keanu Reeves but his role as Jonathan Harker doesn't take up too much air time. The rest of the cast are in fine form including a good performance from the sometimes inconsistent Winona Ryder.
The Addiction (1995)
Grainy black & white vampire film. I finally watched The Addiction which me old mate Derek from Picture Search was always recommending to me ever since it came out. It felt and looked like a pretentious student film from the the late 60s or early 70s. It was like Ferrara was trying to convey every little bit of knowledge he had gained in his philosophy degree into one film while the genre was perhaps obligatory and could have been anything. This is the total opposite of what I was expecting. I guess I imagined it was going to be all flash and glamour and sexy vampires and a shallow empty 80s vibe. Oh well you can't win em all. It was still pretty good though. Kathleen (Lili Taylor) is doing a dissertation at NYU to get her Doctorate of Philosophy but one night she is bitten by a vampire (Annabella Sciora) in a dark stairwell. Then things get weird and it's particularly satisfying when the Vampire mayhem gets out of control at a posh academic party. Christopher Walken in a bit part steals the show as Piena the coolest old vampire ever. Sopranos fans take note as it features Carmela, Christopher and Gloria Trillo many years before they were cast in the greatest TV show of all time. Abel Ferrara always had a good eye for actors.
Interview With A Vampire (1994)
This was a first time watch for me and it was not what I was expecting at all. A surprise it certainly was. After watching Interview With A Vampire I didn't think these words would come out of my mouth "That was pretty fucking cool!" I'd always imagined it was going to be to be some kind of boring homo-erotic romance not the crazy shenanigans, bad arse vampires and exciting action we get here. It's perhaps 20 minutes too long but I can let that slide (because The Irishman is three & a half hours too long). Brad Pitt & Tom Cruise are great and Kirsten Dunst is brilliant. We get plenty of people on fire which is one of my favourite cinematic things next to bizarre usage of bows and arrows in modern settings. It left me wanting more, so I was disappointed to learn that the quasi-sequel was terrible.
Cops & Robbers (1973)
My favourite thing is cops and robbers movies made in the 70s so how could you go wrong with this? You can't because it's a secret lil gem of a film that ticks all the right boxes. Cesspool NYC check. Dodgy cops check. Mafia check. Absurd idea for a heist check. Great 70s music check. A movie with about the same production levels as Massacre Mafia Style check. New York Subway check. Choice 70s threads check. Late 60s/Early 70s cars check. Splendid low key acting check. Mild disillusion check. Car chases check. Joe Spinell check. My new favourite movie check. This has got lo-fi charm written all over it. It's not trying to be epic or profound or totally nihilistic. It's just ordinary people doing desperate things in desperate times. If you love your 70s crime and/or movies like The Friends Of Eddie Coyle (1973) and you haven't seen this you are in for a treat. This is going straight into the Space Debris Hall of Fame.
Uncut Gems (2019)
Movie most closely resembling an anxiety attack since Magnolia (1999). How did Adam Sandler not win an academy award for this? A dodgy jewellery dealer and degenerate gambler Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) gets himself into a pickle. Will his fortunes change now that he's acquired a new expensive uncut gem. This is an incredible ensemble cast, there are no week links here in this impeccably styled film. Uncut Gems is like a Robert Altman film gone hyper-berserk. The Weekend fans are in for a treat as he makes a funny and memorable cameo. This nerve shredding film is executed so well you'll probably need a couple of valium after watching it. It doesn't get better than this.
Oldboy aka 올드보이(2003)
As far as South Korean Revenge movies go this is THE ONE! Oldboy has got to be the most mental story of vengeance ever told on celluloid. People talk about batshit crazy movies but those flicks seem trivial as nothing can come close to this. This story outdoes the bible in epic biblical proportioning. Also Oldboy is without doubt the greatest film of the 00s. A man Oh dae-su (Choi Min-sik) is held captive in a room for 15 years for reasons unknown to him. His resentment and physical strength build every second of every day so that one day he will be able to wreak spectacular vengeance upon whoever is responsible for imprisoning him. When he is released the mystery unfolds until the devastating and controversial climax. Oldboy is a masterpiece. A brilliant premise executed to perfection by director/writer Park Chan-wook and his magic cinematic team.
Good Time (2017)
Finally got around to re-watching this 2017 offering from the Safdie Brothers after seeing their brand new masterpiece Uncut Gems (2020). The best thing about this film is of course the Oneohtrix Point Never soundtrack which was a return to the music of his glory days ie. Russian Mind (2009) Rifts (2009) and Returnal (2010). So it was his best album in 7 years and boy does doing soundtracks suit his sonic palate. Good Time is a bad day in the life/one crazy night sort of film. It makes After Hours (1985) seem like a breezy walk in the Park. The brothers Safdie haven't quite ratcheted up the tension to obscene heights like in Uncut Gems but the stress levels here are still through the roof. Brothers Connie (Robert Pattinson) and Nick (Benny Safdie) Nikas rob a bank but guess what? It doesn't quite work out how they had planned. How are they going to get themselves out of this dilemma? Especially when they keep crossing paths of other disastrous people who are a hinderance to their cause. The cast are are all terrific particularly the aforementioned duo plus Buddy Duress as Ray the crappy criminal and Taliah Lennice Webster as Crystal the naive pawn. An uncut gem of a film.
I was sitting in the cinema thinking "Why am I even here? I don't even really like war movies except for Apocalypse Now (1979) and Black Adder Goes Forth (1989). Anyway it turns out this is rather engrossing with a magical cinematic touch. It looks like the entire movie is filmed in two long continuous takes. 1917 is a World War One action army adventure with occasional comic moments amongst the grim devastation. Two young British corporals Will Schofield (George MacKay) and Thomas Blake (Dean Charles Chapman) are given orders to personally deliver a message to a Battalion many miles away to halt a planned attack as it will unnecessarily kill hundreds of men. This task is going to be treacherous and possibly deadly. Does this premise sound familiar to anybody? I think 1917 is just a different and much more fancy version of Gallipoli (1981). The two lead actors are terrific and a special mention must go to Andrew Scott for his brief appearance as the darkly comic Lieutenant Leslie. My only quibble is the use of unnecessary sentimental music in the final scene. This is masterful film-making though and credit must go to cinematographer Roger Deakins, editor Lee Smith and obviously Sam Mendes the Film's director...oh and everyone else who worked on this flick. Total movie magic. Perhaps I should watch Dunkirk (2017) as I hear it's even better.
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance aka 친절한 금자씨(2005)
The third part in Park Chan-wook's vengeance trilogy. The other two being Sympathy For Mr Vengeance (2002) and Oldboy (2003). Lee Geum-ja (Lee Young-ae) is convicted of kidnapping and murdering a five year old boy. Thirteen years later she is set free after good behaviour but she secretly has vengeance on her mind. A fantastic tale then unfolds from there. Park Chan-wook and his collaborators sure know how to write great stories and bring them to cinematic life with such assurance and magnificence. Is vengeance a big part of South Korean folklore or is it just these movies? Anyway this is totally entertaining and unforgettable.
Bad Day For The Cut (2017)
First of all the title is shite innit? So that's a shame. A bit of a change up here, this is a revenge film but this time it's from Northern Ireland. I was scrolling through Netflix on a Saturday night when the words "violent quest for revenge" caught my eye. Seeing as though I hadn't seen a film about vengeance in ages I thought I'd give it a go and much to my surprise it was a lil bewdy. Donal (Nigel O'Neill) is a middle aged farmer who lives with his poorly mum. One day she gets murdered though, so guess what? As hinted at above, a violent quest for revenge begins. Things get pretty complicated as the truth is unveiled over the course of the movie. Susan Lynch as Frankie Pierce is also on a revenge trip. Of course Donal and Frankie's paths cross as the bodies pile up. Does the violence ever end and at what cost to your soul? Woah existential man.
I broke my own rule of never watching another celebrity biopic again in my life. After 40 minutes I was totally regretting that decision as I was almost nodding off. It might as well have been a telly drama as it not cinematic at all. Celebrities get famous when they're young in a blaze of glory but there's trauma from early on then they get on the decline with mental health and drug problems and it all gets rather tragic blah, blah, blah. Anyway what pushes this film a smidge ahead of the rest of the cookie cutter biopics is two things. The first is that it just concentrated on two aspects of Judy Garland's (Renée Zelwegger) life that being the filming of Wizard of Oz (1939) and her London stage act several months prior to her death. The other being RenéeZelwegger's outstanding performance where she embodied Judy Garland so well it was sometimes uncanny. That doesn't mean the movie wasn't mostly fucking tedious though. I can't really recommend Judy but if you love your powerhouse actoring performances and biopics in general perhaps this is for you.
Blue Ruin (2013)
A lo-fi revenge movie of the highest order but don't expect fist pumping victory vengeance. The vengeance here is so poorly planned by Dwight Evans (Macon Blair) it goes terribly awry. I really enjoy crappy criminals on film, it just seems so much more real. This flaky dude hasn't studied the fine details of what to do about his vengeance, he's just feeling it and hoping for the best. Dwight has been living a transient life in his car since his parents were murdered 20 years ago. Then he is told that the killer Wade Cleland is being released from prison. The drama spirals out of control from there. This is a top lil crime film that will take you on an odd bittersweet journey. One of my favourite films of the 10s.
Mr Sleep (2019)
Well out of the four Stephen King movies of 2019 this is the best one but that wasn't a particularly hard achievement as the other three were not so good. Mr Sleep is a sequel to The Shining (1980). I can't say I loved it but I believe it's pretty faithful to the book so King fans are going to be pretty satisfied. It was entertaining enough while it was on to keep from being distracted. Director Mike Flanagan also seems to be trying to appease the Kubrick fans too, somewhat less successfully though. I mean last time I watched The Shining (1980) ten years ago I thought it was an OTT classic and I'll probably watch it again soon. I doubt I'll ever watch Mr Sleep again though. For Stephen King devotees.
The Nice Guys (2014)*
This isn't the laugh riot I was expecting so I just looked at it differently. The Nice Guys works well as a goofy private eye/neo-noir/buddy movie kinda thing. I felt like I was dreaming or tripping as all these recent obsessions of mine were all connecting up to this film somehow. When you think of LA neo-noir Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye (1971) is The one. Margaret Qualley is here and she's on LA streets and in cars on LA roads which is bit reminiscent of Once Upon A Time...in Hollywood (2019). We also get a hell of a lot of driving around LA Model Shop (1969) sylee plus there's scenes on those windy roads in the Hollywood hills like in Lost Highway (1997), Family Plot (1976) etc. At one stage a lady calls Holland March's (Ryan Gosling) daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) a strange hippy which is more connections with the Tarantino film ie. Rick Dalton's (Leo DiCaprio) contempt for hippies. John Boy from The Waltons (1972-81) is a character here and I've been crazy obsessed with The Americans (2013-18) TV show of late. Agent Gad from The Americans is played by Richard Earl Thomas who played the original John Boy which I only found out a week ago. I fucking hated The Waltons as a kid and wouldn't even watch it. Australians, or is it just me ?, don't understand the attraction to corny bullshit, it's just not in our DNA. Nice guys also has parallels to another LA private eye film Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice (2014) which I can't stop thinking about ever since I watched it a month ago. The Nice Guys also taps into the LA porn scene ala Boogie Nights (1997) another PTA film. Rusty Crowe and Ryan Gosling are not bad together as LA Private Eye duo reminiscent of film partnerships like those in Hickey and Boggs (1971) or Busting (1974). There was also a bit of Christmas in one bit which had me thinking of Christmas in LA Die Hard (1988) stylee which is weird as I attempted to watch that the other day...blah blah blah.
Apart from all that we get some incredible action scenes particularly towards the end. The Burbank Hotel scene and that amazing sequence where the film canister is finally found. The Nice Guys could have almost been a classic but it just doesn't deliver on its promise. I mean it's light and breezy, it's not unfunny but it's rarely laugh out loud. The Nice Guys is almost charming but there's something not quite right about it all, something's a bit off. All of these issues will probably eventually make it into a cult film one day. Who knows? If any of this has you curious have a look.
* I am under no illusions that this is good writing. It's just a rough ramble through my thoughts.
Umpteenth watch of this very re-watchable film. Linus Roche is amazing. He's got to be one of the most under utilised actors in cool movies ever. I mean apart from some good telly what good movies has he been in between Priest (1994) and Mandy (2018)?
Die Hard (1988)*
It was Christmas so I thought I'd give this another go but this film is for other people. I'm just not in the Die Hard gang. How people can enjoy Bruce Willis is one of the world's great mysteries so I don't get why every man and his dog loves this movie. Do any women? Anyway I don't have to get it because it ultimately doesn't matter. I don't like The Shawshank Redemption(199?) or The Big Lebowski (199?) either so...
*I'm not trying to be deliberately polemical because that's boring. I've given those 3 films several viewings in the hope that I might catch a glimpse of what other human specimens see in these films but to no avail.
It Follows (2014)
The vibe right from the get go is very unsettling, making you squeamish. It Follows is very well executed. A sexually transmitted curse haunts the lives of a bunch of youngsters in run down suburban Detroit. How are they going to overcome the malevolent masked entity or are they doomed? Early Cronenberg + Halloween + The Thing = excellent 10s horror movie. The Grey (2011) The Grey is an average Man Vs Wolf movie. There was an amazing scene of ten pairs of wolf eyes in the pitch darkness which was unforgettable and unnerving. It's too bad the rest of the film wasn't this cool. At least half an hour of fat could have been trimmed off this. The Grey was leading up to a final battle between John Ottway (Liam Neeeson) and the pack of wolves but it stupidly ends before the final showdown. That would have been the most fun and best part of the film. The audience would have loved seeing Ottway getting torn apart by a pack of wolves. We were left unsated, hungry like the wolf (...er, sorry).
Under The Skin (2013)
You will not forget this Jonathan Glazer film once you've seen it. It's a modern classic, perhaps the best film of the 2010s. Very good weird with a disturbing ending. This film is not for everyone and is pretty uncategorizible. An alien disguised as a female human (Scarlett Johansson) is on earth it seems to to lure men into her dark liquid pools of death. Along the way she ends up trying to be empathetic like some humans are. Perhaps that was part of her mission or maybe humanity just got under her skin. Under The Skin has hardly any dialogue. The nude Scarlett Johansson scene isn't the sexy scene you imagined it would be. In fact it is curiously un-erotic as she plays this robotically cold alien flawlessly. There are mysterious motorcycle men who I guess are her alien accomplices. Nothing is explained. You can read a whole lot of stuff into this film such as gender politics, the nature of rape, race relations, partisan politics or whatever you want really. Maybe just get off your head and enjoy the exquisite sound and vision synergy. Mica Levi provides one of the most off kilter, eerie and perfect soundtracks of all time.
More unforgettable weird from JonathanGlazer. Birth is compelling, mysterious, creepy and surreal. A ten year old boy Sean (Cameron Bright) shows up at a party that Anna (Nicole Kidman) is attending claiming to be the reincarnation of her dead husband. Things get more strange from there. Birth is just so unusual I still don't know what to make of it. I like its uncanny vibe. If you haven't seen Birth it is well worth a look as it's a rare film experience seriously like no other.
This is an instant pop culture moment. The Joker is so engrossing and spectacularly put together the thought of checking your i-phone will never cross your mind. You cannot turn your eyes away from today's greatest working actor Jaoquin Phoenix. Joker is a bombastic cross between Taxi Driver (1976) and King Of Comedy (1982) thinly disguised as comic book film, probably so it could just get made. Joker is a disturbing family/crime/horror/drama. Phoenix puts on an incomparable virtuoso acting performance. He is scaling heights in acting that have rarely, if ever, been reached before.
The Bourne Identity (2002)
I don't really need to talk about these nifty action thrillers. We've all seen them and we all seem to enjoy them. Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) wakes up with amnesia but slowly discovers he's some kind of spy. An entertaining game of cat and mouse ensues across Europe.
The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
Is this the best Bourne movie? Two years later Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is still suffering from amnesia despite some stuff slowly coming back to him. He realises he's some kind of assassin who worked for the CIA. Despite being at the ends of the earth some other assassins have tracked him down to a beach in India. Action and antics ensue. It's got all the good fun stuff car chases, identity theft, being framed, kidnapping, bombings, murder, phoney fingerprints, theft and more. Quite possibly the best action film of the 00s.
Don't Fuck With Cats (2019)
Emma couldn't handle the grim animal cruelty being described so this had to go after a few minutes. I haven't got around to watching it on my own yet, I doubt I ever will.
Parasite aka 기생충 (2019)
Every film commentator I respect has been telling me to stop what I'm doing and immediately go watch this film for ages now. It's just that when I see the words South Korean Movie I want the word "revenge" in there. Parasite has been called so many things a drama, a mystery, a comedy, a crime film, a thriller, a black comedy etc. So the word crime finally gave me something to hang on to in the hope that I might like it. One day there is going to be a sub-genre named retroactively called tangent films. This will fit right in there. I would like to say to the dickhead who wrote that this just seemed derivative you are so so wrong. The Joker: That's derivative. If someone can name me a story that resembles anything remotely close to this I'd like to know about it and I'd be very surprised. Sure there is brutal violence and incredible style that we've seen previously but this is a story that's not been told before. South Koreans seem incredibly adept at coming up with amazing and innovative stories to chuck into their genre flicks. Although there has been no consensus of what Parasite's genre actually is. An unmotivated family of four who are lacking in the funds department accidentally come up with a plan to start earning some money off a wealthy family in an innocent scam. Things take a devious and sour turn as unpredictable events unfold. The climax is something there is no way you could have predicted at the beginning of this movie. Masterful cinematography, acting, writing and direction. If Parasite is a message film and it does feel like one it's not quite clear to me what that message is, unless it's one of utter nihilism. Anyway I don't need anybody to tell me what to think, I already know. I'll stick to this just being a brilliant story, exhilarating entertainment and a fantastic artistic achievement. This has already entered the South Korean film canon hasn't it? I'd probably have it somewhere in my South Korean top 3 films of the 10s along with The Villainess (2017) and I Saw The Devil (2010).
Two Popes (2019)
This should have been called Two Popes Go To Confession. This is an ok lil cheesy drama about the old pope and the new pope. It's basically two actors actoring. Is this what they call a chamber piece? If you dig two characters talking to each other for two hours you might like this. Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce) describes some of his bad deeds while they both do confession on one another but PopeBenedict (Anthony Hopkins) seems to get off scot-free as his confession is muffled out in the sound design. I wanted to know more about his evil Nazi background. I like my catholic films with a bit more sex and violence than this I'm afraid. Two Popes won't be topping the catholic film charts anytime soon because how can you beat the all time masterpiece The Passion Of The Christ (2004)?
Without Warning (1980)
A don't go in the woods movie with a twist. There's no monstrous serial killer on the loose but there is a killer alien throwing frisbee aliens at anyone who dares cross its path. How can the aliens be overcome? Jack Palance, Martin Landau, Kevin Peter Hall and David Caruso star in this sci-fi/horror gem directed by Greydon Clark. Late night movie of the week.
Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)
OK I've had a turnaround on my judgement of this flick. Previously I have not been able to make it to the end. My old stance on Friday The 13th films was that only the first four were worth watching and the order from best to worst was II, I, IV then III. Currently I would have this on as the third best of the first five with IV now being my least favourite. Stay tuned for where I stand now on VI & VII. Anyway this one is the most gutter-scuzz of the lot. Don't look here for an uplifting heartfelt human triumph of a story, instead expect some of the most base and lowest humans can go type of behaviour. Speaking of shit this film has a leather boy going for a shit in the woods as well as a dude doing a poo in an outhouse after he he ate a dodgy burrito or was it an enchilada? Unlike in Friday The 13th III we don't actually get the audio this time of faeces splashing in the toilet water. Enough of the scatology, what about the rest of the movie? This time round the setting is not a summer camp but a mental asylum near Crystal Lake with very relaxed rules about what the inmates can do. We get Jason's grave being dug up, plenty of wrong sexy time, murder, more murder and some more gruesome murder. This movie surely has the highest body count of all The Friday The 13th movies up to this point. Perhaps because of the amount of kills the emphasis on gore isn't as high as in the previous four, unless I saw some old censored or cut version. It was on one of the major streaming sites though. Who knows?
TOP 16 or 17 HORRIFIC/DISTURBING MOVIES OF THE 2010s
I Saw The Devil (2010)
Under The Skin (2013)
The Perfection (2019)
The Invitation (2015)
It Follows (2014)
Black Swan (2010)
You're Next (2011)
Starry Eyes (2014)
The Loved Ones (2010)
The Shallows (2016)
All The Conjurings/Annabelles/Nuns (2013-2019) etc. are all intermingled in my brain so I can't recall which ones were the best but there were 2 or 3 really good ones.
It doesn't get much better than this, in fact it doesn't get any better! There is some seriously dangerous shoulder jive dancing here between singer Les Gray (RIP) and bass player Ray Stiles. Every time I watch this I still have the same anxiety that an injury is about to occur.
I've watched this ten times today. Lee Ranaldo posted a section of this clip on Instagram and said he couldn't stop watching it, now I can't. This is the most infectious video of dancing & pop music since I saw that Mud video of Dyna-mitewhen itfirst turned up on youtube many years ago.All I know about Celentano is that he's an Italian showbiz all-rounder. You name it he's done it. His nickname "il molleggatio" however comes from his exceptional dancing. It means "bendy man". Press play you will not regret it. Good times!
Mark Of The Mould -Baron Mordant
Cavity Slabs - Moon Wiring Club
Ghosteen - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Everywhere At The End Of Time: Stage 6 - The Caretaker
Facets/Air Example - N Chambers
Giant Swan - Giant Swan
Chernobyl OST - Hildur Guðnadóttir
Melts Into Love - xin
Tierra Del Fuego - Tayhana
Metabolizm/In Search Of A Third Mantra - Ekoplekz
Activated Clown - S. Araw Trio XIII
Sisypheans - Xylouris White
Negative Legacy - Robedoor
Utility - Barker
Geography Of The Abyss - Lo Five
Acreage - Bastion Void
The Debatable Lands - Howlround
My Diary - WOOdy
Baroo - Carl Stone
Ghastly Garden Centres - Moon Wiring Club
Roll With The Punches - Yu Su
Proto - Holly Herndon
bad guy cassingle
My music listening is the lowest it's ever been since I got my first transistor radio when I was small. The Migraines and cluster-fuck headaches are making me one of those people who hates music! I don't like those people and I don't wanna join their boring humourless club. I only put the radio on a couple of times this year and that was to listen to the footy. Along with the music mentioned above and below I did hear some great tunes in Emma's car from Billie EilishBury A Friend and Bad Guy which are a couple of the best pop songs I've heard in years. I thought this LA musician was definitely British though with her evocations of Martine circa Tricky's Maxinquaye (1995), grime, The Specials circa Ghost Town (1981) etc. I didn't buy her album because I wanted to keep those singles pure, was I wrong? Maybe her LP was full of classic tunes?
The above top ten here is no particular order as any one of these records could be my favourite 2019 album depending on the time and weather of any particular day. There are seven artists in the list and another three in the honourable mentions list who are new to me this year which even surprised me. Why is N Chambers formerly known as Panabrite not in all the end of year lists? He's producing the best music of his career right now including the excellent Facets and Air Example LPs this year. I'm also yet to spot Moon Wiring Club in one of these lists which is odd because Cavity Slabs is one of Ian Hodgson's finest LPs. Nobody talks about Cameron Stallones and his various incarnations of Sun Araw anymore but the S.Araw Trio XIII tape Activated Clown was a brilliant improv-psych-head-trip like no other and Yu Su's Roll With The Punches might just be the first album to be influenced by Sun Araw. Baron Mordant bows out of the music biz at the top of his game with Mark Of The Mould and nary a peep is to be heard from the music press (Simon Reynolds excepted). This just makes me concur to myself that the music press be it electronic or paper is so out of touch it is the embodiment of lame, it's dead. Also I think these are the final LPs from The Caretaker & Ekoplekz. So thanks and farewell to all you retiring legends.
Some other records I also enjoyed include Young Thug's So Much Fun, Ulla Straus' Big Room, Hollow Earthby Pye Corner Audio, ~ ~ ~ from Ana Roxanne, ATØ by Ziur, Pink Stuff which was Royal Trux remixed by Ariel Pink, Komachi's Meitei, FRKWYS Vol.15: Serenitatem the collaboration between Visible Cloaks, Yoshio Ojima & Satsuki Shibano, Himalaya from Carl Stone andTropical Fuck Storm's second LP Braindrops. I totally missed some new records ie. Separate Dimension the 5th LP from The Horrorist, Spirited Discussion by Rangers, Andy Stott's It Should Be Us, Kemper Norton's Brunton Calciner and Polymer from Warp legends Plaid.
??? Part 1: 100 Gecs. Are they pure genius or total shite. I like how they are so synthetic and that they're a big "get fucked!" to so called authentic or roots music. Are they just a slightly noisier Kesha though? Actually that sounds like a bloody good thing. I just talked myself into liking 100 Gecs or have I? Do I want to put this album on again?... dunno... time will tell, I guess.
??? Part 2: Gabber Modus Operandi. The 90s Nostalgia is irresistible but is it anything beyond that? Well the first track on HOXXXYAGenderuwo was black metal meets shoegaze meets gabba. Calon Arang and Sangkakala are pretty cool hardstyle tunes set in Indonesia, gabber exotica if you like. So that's pretty much a winner innit?
??? Part 3: Lingua Ignota. Her 2019 album Calugila is an event like a symphony, an epic pretentious art film or an OTT broadway musical. This impressive Black-Metal-Noise-Folk-Operatic-Mass is definitely worth listening to once for the experience. Going in for another serve might be a bit masochistic though.
My favourite score this year was from a HBO mini-series not a movie, Chernobyl by Hildur Guðnadóttir, which was sublime just like series was. She did The Joker score too which was a lot more bombastic compared to the supreme pitch black drone-ology of Chernobyl. Hildur fully grasps the tone of the images she is creating music for generating incredible synergy. As far as song-y soundtracks this year there was Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and The Irishman which were both meticulously curated for your retro listening pleasure.
Psychedelic rock keeps on keeping on and still getting critical praise. I thought after Dungen's brilliant Ta Det Lugnt (2004) LP it was done and dusted. Instead of Dungen being a full stop to the genre they hatched a bunch of acolytes. Perhaps LSD is a much cooler drug than E now which would explain Psych's persistence and dance music's slow death march. Did psych not reach its last innovative peak 20 years ago with The Boredoms astounding freak-out LP Vision Creation Newsun though?
Slowcore and Plunderphonics were the surprise genre revivals of 2019.
Post-Punk revival revival! Jesus Christ.
Dream Pop, Indie Pop, Death Metal, Gabber, Rave and Shoegaze seem to be the other new old trends. Although none of these genres ever really went away did they? Vanishing Twin's The Age Of Immunology is an impressive facsimile that's 50% Broadcast and 50% Stereolab, do I need that in my life though? Art Pop still seems to be the big thing. I've still never heard Angel Olsen. I didn't catch the new Lana Del Ray tunes in Emma's car so I dunno if it's the goods or not. I gave that Weyes Blood LP a go but...
Are there any new genres? Has there been anything new since Gqom? Let me know.
Fingertracks: Volume 1 - Various
Greg Belson's Divine Disco Volume 2: Obscure Gospel Disco 1979-87 - Various
Global Sounds Vol.4: AOR Soul Disco 1977-1986 - Various
The Time For Peace Is Now: Gospel Music About Us - Various
Cumbia Beat Volume 3: 21 Peruvian Tropical Gems - Various
Sicodélicos - Los Destellos
Vanity Box: Vanity Records - Various
Pacific Breeze: Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie 1976-86 - Various
Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-90 - Various
Nova + 4 - Yutaka Hirose
Still Way: Wave Notation 2 - Satoshi Ashikawa
Une Collection Des Chaînons I & II: Music For Spiral - Yoshio Ojima
Thousand Knives/B-2 Unit - Ryuichi Sakamoto
Al Hadaoui - Attarazat Addahabia & Faradjallah
Leite Quente Funaná De Cabo Verde - Grupo Pilon
Psicodelia Afro-Cubana de Senegal- Star Band de Dakar
Nigeria 70: No Wahala: Highlife, Afro-Funk & Juju 1973-1987 - Various
Africa Airways Five: Brace Brace Boogie 1976-82 - Various
Mogadisco: Dancing Magadishu Somalia 1977-91 - Various
Third Noise Principle: Formative North American Electronica 1975-84 - Various
Dancing In Darkness: EBM, Black Synth & Dark Beats From The 80s - Various
Neighborhroods - Ernest Hood
Re4sults, Not Answers - Young Scientist
Next Of Kin OST - Klaus Schulze
Viral Shedding/Spiritflesh - Nocturnal Emissions
Michael O'Shea - Michael O'Shea
All The Young Droogs - Various
Slayed? - Slade
Loverboy - Ariel Pink's Haunted Grafitti
Kirlian Visionz (2014-17) - Ekoplekz
Water Memory/Mount Vision - Emily A Sprague
These are obviously not ranked. An outstanding year for archival gear. RPM Records, Cherry Red, Ace, Soundway, Strut, Awesome Tapes From Africa, Africa Seven, Cultures Of Soul, Mr Bongo, Dark Entries, Numero Group, Light In The Attic, Wewantsounds, Soul Jazz, Freedom To Spend, Favorite France, Finders Keepers, Mexican Summer, RVNGTIntl., Bureau B and Allchival were on a reissue roll in 2019.
Peruvian cumbia, chica and psych get the compilation (Cumbia Beat Volume 3) and reissue (Los Destellos) treatment thanks to the underrated label Vampisoul. Speaking of Vampisoul they reissued a stack of original LPs from the most prestigious ye olde Columbian record label Discos Fuentes. I bought a bunch of these by the likes of Michi Sarmiento, Fruko Y Sus Tesos, Lito Barrientos Y Su Orquesta, Los Supremos etc. but they have yet to get any air time.
The Japanese deluge continues with Vanity Box which is the entire 7" and LP catalogue from Osaka's obscure subterranean label Vanity. They released minimal, electronic, post punk and experimental music from 1978-1981. Their catalogue is so rare that original copies of Vanity records go for absurd prices. So thanks to Kyou Records & WRWTFWW we can all now experience this cult label's output, most of which is stunningly unique. Special mention must also go to the Light In The Attic label for releasing Pacific Breeze and Kankyō Ongaku two excellent and comprehensive compilations covering 70s & 80s City Pop, AOR, Boogie, Ambient, Environmental, New Age etc. Plus there were reissues of Japanese classic LPs from Ryuichi Sakamoto, Yutaka Hirose, Akiko Yano, Satoshi Ashikawa, Yoshio Ojima and more thanks to the wonderful Wewantsounds and WRWTFWW labels.
Special mention must go to Strut who put out the 4th volume of Nigeria 70 this year on the 20th anniversary of the first volume which was a total game-changer in the archival compilation game. I still remember buying my copy on Chapel St. in Prahran at either a HMV or Virgin megastore back in the day. All of the tunes on Nigeria 70: No Wahala have never been issued outside of Africa before which is astounding. Ostinato Records had another brilliant year with three outstanding releases unearthing more gold from Cabo Verde and Senegal. Along with those aforementioned labels Analog Africa, Habibi Funk, Awesome Tapes From Africa and Africa Seven also provided choice compilations of African music this year from Somalia, Mali, Ghana, The Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Morocco and beyond. Surprisingly one of the best years ever in African archival reissues.
Then there was all this fabulous sweet obscure gospel disco, gospel, soul disco and choice AOR boogie. These irresistible soundz came courtesy of labels like ESP Institute, Cultures of Soul Records, Favorite Recordings & Luaka Bop. These compilations were a life affirming tonic to the absurd world in which we all now live.
2019 was also the year I finally got into Nocturnal Emissions after Ekoplekz mentioned his admiration for their 1988 classic Spiritflesh LP in a tweet. For a long time I've intended to sit down and give Nocturnal Emissions a good listen and Spiritflesh being reissued has made me a total believer. So I tracked down another Nocturnal Emissions 2019 reissue, 1983's Viral Shedding which is also cool but more beat-y conform to deform industrial than the ominous clanky enviro-ambience of Spiritflesh. Both of these sterling records were reissued by Mannequin Records along with the more song oriented Songs of Love & Revolution (1985). So now I've accumulated another six of their albums and they're all bloody good. This obsession could get out of hand like my Current 93 one has.
Finally we can't forget the miscellaneous archival releases in the fields of Glam-Rock, Soca, Avant-garde, Electronic, Noise, Experimental, EBM, Industrial-Dance, Ambient and whatever the fuck Michael O'Shea's brilliant music is.
2019 TELLY FLEABAG
I didn't think the charismatic Phoebe Waller-Bridge was going to be able to top the first season of Fleabag but I think she did. The finest cast and best show of 2019. CHERNOBYL
The only way to describe this 5 part HBO drama is grim yet gripping. It's hard to watch but you can't look away. A truly horrific catastrophe that happened in my lifetime. Now the mystery of what really happened is revealed. Great gloomy score from Hildur Guðnadóttir. MR INBETWEEN
Best Australian crime show since Wildside (1997-99). Dark, violent, hilarious and kinda touching. LINE OF DUTY
Another brilliant season of the best British cop show ever. Some people may not have liked it as much because they front loaded the season with the action packed episodes which in previous seasons were placed in the concluding episodes. It's still all about catching bent coppers. MINDHUNTER
Top shelf telly based on the life and books of John E Douglas the FBI's original serial killer profiler. Includes the frustrating Atlanta Child Murders case and sit downs with Son Of Sam and good ole Chuck Manson. It's all leading up to the next season though when I suspect they're finally going to track down BTK. THE CROWN
Very good but you can't top the first two seasons which were TV drama perfection. The episode about the Aberfan Disaster is truly haunting and horrific. THE DEVIL NEXT DOOR
Five part documentary series on John Demjanjuk. An elderly Grandfather in Cleveland is accused of being a notorious Nazi concentration camp guard responsible for psychotic cruelty and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. The best true crime documentary of the year. THE CONFESSION KILLER
If you thought American true crime documentaries couldn't get any more twisted think again. Get a look inside the demented world of Henry Lee Lucas, Texas Rangers and an absurd justice system. Shocking and infuriating.
2019 PODCAST PURE CINEMA PODCAST Elric Kane and Brian Saur posted their first episode of this podcast in February 2017. It was good but their tastes were so aligned with mine it sometimes felt like I was patting myself on the back listening to them rave about many of my favourite films. Twelve months ago they got sponsored by The New Beverly Cinema in LA which is owned by Quentin Tarantino. Once a month they now do a special episode devoted to going through what's on at that theatre for the month. For these episodes they are now joined by co-host Phil Blankenship and sometimes Jules McLean who are employees of the cinema. The New Beverly is a repertory cinema with a twist which is quite possibly paradigm-shifting. They don't just show the same old cult classics and midnight movies. They often show little known, popular, rare, strange, obscure, unloved, forgotten, and unheralded films from the the olden days, the recent past and even sometimes the present. This year they showed current flicks Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (of course), Dolemite Is My Name, Shirkers and probably a couple of others. They always roll film be it 35mm or 16mm, you won't get no digital there. Anyway these calendar episodes have become totally essential for me as they often introduce me to films I've never seen and sometimes never even heard of. Not only that there is always a total film buff as a special guest to guide us through what is about to be screened. QT turned up for the best episode of the year and I think in that one episode alone he mentioned at least 20 films I'd never heard of. The other highlight for me was when Larry Karaszewski (writer of Ed Wood, Dolemite Is My Name, Problem Child etc.) was there to drop his knowledge on a bunch of New Hollywood Era flicks, oh boy this man knows his stuff. Other guests on the calendar episodes have included Josh Olson, Kim Morgan, Alicia Malone, Pat Healy etc. The outstanding non-calendar episode for me was when legendary movie director Joe Dante (Pirañha, The Howling, Gremlins, The Burbs etc.) dropped in to talk about nothing else but Westerns for an hour and a half. Dante's film knowledge is probably unsurpassable, so that was an incredibly valuable episode. Onya PCP.
Report To The Commissioner (1975)
Five years ago I'd never heard of Report To The Commissioner but thanks once again to the great Kino Lorber blu-ray label for bringing great cinema from the past to my attention. This is another fine 70s crime movie that's under the radar of most because it doesn't make the cannons or the lists. There's no good reason why it shouldn't though. It's just as good as the famous, popular or critically acclaimed crime films of the 70s. For a start it's co-written by the legendary Ernest Tidyman of Shaft, French Connection and High Plains Drifter fame. There is some stunning and totally unique action here. A Dude with no legs who only has a crappy trolly where he uses his hands on the ground to gain momentum ends up in an outlandish chase on the night streets of NYC. There's another crazy chase between a cop and a dealer, this time on foot across the top of the NYC skyline and eventually into the bustling streets. This is all captured with frenetic energy by the cinematographer Mario Tosi. The acting, huh the acting, we've got Yaphet Kotto and Michael Moriarty so it's what you would expect, exceptional. Bo Lockley (Moriarty) a sensitive rookie cop is given the job of finding a missing woman by the name of Pat Butler (Susan Blakely). Little does Bo know she's actually a cop deep undercover. All hell breaks loose from then on. The intense elevator sequence has to be seen to be believed, I mean it should be an all-time iconic 70s film scene that everyone knows because it's unforgettable. If you've seen the film you know what I mean. The more I watch this flick the better it gets. Report To The Commissioner has a wicked street funk score which is surprisingly by Elmer Bernstein. Also look out for Richard Gere in his debut film role as creep Billy. For the uninitiated I recommend.
The Irishman (2019)
Oh god this was tedious and I've still got over an hour left to watch but that's never gonna happen. I don't wanna trash my heroes so I'll just to say it's time to retire Marty. You're still one of the all time great film directors and quite possibly the best. I was confused by Al Pacino who was playing Jimmy Hoffa as an Italian-American. Being an Australian I had to look up who the fuck the real life Hoffa was. He was no Italian-American that's for sure he was an American coming from German & Irish stock. Frank Sheerin played by Robert De Niro is an American with a totally Irish background. So this all had me baffled. Am I being racist? I don't think so. I'm just into good casting decisions. These old-timers don't seem to be making them at this point. Marty had to put his old mate Bob in the role as The Irishman which is pure senility (yeah yeah I know it was De Niro who suggested the entire project). Let it go though, you can cast someone else who would fit the role properly, you know. Oh and really? Ray Romano in a proper film? Crikey, that's mental! It might also be time for good ole Al Pacino to retire too before it gets too embarrassing. One thing is for sure though Marty has not lost the knack of putting together a fabulous and fitting set of songs for the soundtrack. Martin Scorsese was asked five or six years ago "Do you watch movies?" He said he tried but they are too long and he's getting old so there is not enough time to waste. Well fuck me Marty why expect us to sit through the entirety of The Irishman if even you can't?
The Silent Partner (1978)
I was trying to get into the Christmas spirit by watching the best movie of 1978 the other day. It does not get much better than this movie-wise. I've seen this so many times I don't think I can even write about it objectively. This dark heist-thriller is a masterpiece. Turn your eyes away if you think Christopher Plummer is the embodiment of that is pure and good in the world because his character Harry Reikle is not a particularly nice fella even though he's employed as Santa Clause at the local shopping mall. My minor quibble is that I don't understand Miles Cullen's (Elliot Gould) obsession with his workmate Julie Carver (Susannah York). She's a bit of an unlikeable mole (I mean that in the Aussie slang sense of the word) Anyway I guess that's Cullen's fallibility innit? It doesn't detract from the perfectly realised story-telling from Curtis Hansen (writer) in this film which never misses a beat. I'm always amazed that such troubled shoots can have such impressive outcomes. Bank teller Cullen stumbles stumbles upon a plan for his bank to be robbed so he devises a way to get a cut of the action. This causes a snowball of chaos with frightening consequences. His simple plan becomes a complex and thrilling game of cat and mouse. Gould is at his most nuanced here, probably his best ever performance.
IT: Chapter Two (2019)
OMFG! This nearly goes for 3 hours and it's only half the story! It is one of Emma's favourite books and even she said it could have been cut down to half the length. They even add stuff that's not in the book. Film-makers you are doing something very wrong if you are adding stuff to a Stephen King story, you need to be subtracting. It seems that every horror movie these days has to chuck in some Evil Dead type bits to show off and say I'm cool I love Evil Dead then I felt like I was in The Conjuring universe for a while followed by a visit to a Harry Potter film. I think that really I was just meant to be down a filthy sewer though. Suffice to say this was absolute tedious bullshit that should never need to be inflicted on anybody's eyeballs. The corny letter at the end read in a voice over made me want to be sick. If only the directer had been here to throw up on. This is for nostalgists who love the book's characters, who can will themselves to get past the generic filmmaking side of things. Having said that the acting and directing are good and hey it's got the brilliant Bill Hader but that's only consequential if you're an IT fan. Three hours back please.
Total Recall (1990)
This a hell of a rollercoaster ride of a movie that rarely lets up until the end. One of the original mindfuck movies before it all got trendy and became an actual thing with The Game (1997) Being John Malkovich (1999), Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004), Moon (2009), Inception (2010) and all the other ones I can't recall. Total Recall doesn't take itself too seriously and knows that it is just ultimately thrilling fun entertainment. Peak Sharon Stone rocks a stellar perm. The excitement lies in the frenetic action and trying to decipher what's real and what isn't. This is pure Pop Art.
Silent Night Deadly Night (1984)
This was a first time watch for me. I feel like Christmas tv viewing is more for British telly specials. The best in recent memory have been things like The Office Xmas Special, The Royale Family ones, Sherlock, Inside No.9 etc. Traditionally though the British specials weren't always Christmas-y just spooky stories like those of MR James. Anyway in the last fifteen years I've become a massive fan of a few North American Christmas films like cult faves Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972), Black Christmas (1974) and Silent Partner (1978). I always hated the cheesy American Xmas flicks and all those so called comedies which were shite. Anyway Yanks love a bit of Silent Night, Deadly Night at yuletide so I gave it a go. I wasn't disappointed either. Whereas those aforementioned Canadian & American favourites were sort of proper adult horror movies involving adults this one felt a bit transgressive as it involved a lot of little kids. I kept thinking what if you were 6 and you saw your parents watching this on Christmas eve? It would totally fuck you up. The first third of this is mainly through the eyes of a young boy Billy Chapman (Danny Wagner, Jonathan Best). Really disturbing shit happens to him during the Christmas holiday season. The rest of the flick when Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) is 18 then turns into a top tier slasher with plenty of boobs, blood, Billy's hairy arse, blind drunkenness and more. I think movies like this would have been so much more fun back in the day when you had outraged middlebrow American critics slamming these films as morally bankrupt. That taboo would have been so delicious at the time because it would have felt naughty, not so nice and a bit wrong when you got your hands on a VHS copy of this. Now that even the most demented horror movies seem to be totally acceptable the allure isn't as great. Still, this is fine fucked up Christmas fun.
The Strawberry Statement (1970)
A 60s campus radical film worth a look if you're interested in that kind of thing like Getting Straight (1970) or Zabriskie Point (1970). Quentin Tarantino took the opening tune The Circle Game sung by Buffy Saint Marie here and put it in his 2019 flick Once Upon A Time In... Hollywood. In the Tarantino flick it appears in the scene where Sharon Tate is cruising Hollywood and picks up a female hitch-hiker. It's a breezy breath of folky fresh air in both films. Simon (Bruce Davison) is an apolitical student at a Californian University in the late 60s. He eventually becomes entwined in campus political activism as he fancies Linda (Kim Darby). Events unfold from there. Despite a very cool soundtrack featuring Neil Young, Thunderclap Newman, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Plastic Ono Band and Buffy Saint Marie this film wasn't appealing to anyone at the time. I'd say it was a coupla years behind the times and was probably seen as phoney by real students and protestors of the time. The usual corporations trying to cash in on youth and counterculture. Now though it has that off kilter time capsule appeal.
This is a whole lotta silly fun. You gotta love a movie within a movie within a movie, particularly if it's done well. Kudos has to go to editor Tom Saben and whoever did the sound design. Michaels Lerner (as John) and Zelda Rubinstein (as John's mum) are wonderful in their roles in the movie within the movie called The Mommy. John has a very strange controlling mum and becomes a murderer. I think I like that movie better than the actual movie, if that makes any sense. The movie within The Mommy is an actual ye olde monster movie The Lost World (1925). So in the actual movie Anguish we have a bunch of cinema goers watching The Mommy at a theatre called The Rex. This audience eventually become agitated as they may have been subliminally hypnotised by what they're watching. One man (Angel Jove) becomes totally unhinged and bloody chaos ensues. The plot of Anguish mirrors that of The Mommy which makes it an interesting watch with all the overlapping drama. This might sound slightly confusing or convoluted on paper but it's a testament to director Bigas Luna that watching this film is not one bit baffling. Well worth a look.
The Haunting Of Julia aka Full Circle (1977)
This film has a lot going for it ie. quite possibly the greatest score ever, the beautiful cinematography, fabulous acting, Mia farrow's hair, creepy houses, even creepier old people and stately direction. This is not going to be for everyone however as it moves at a slow pace and remains rather mysterious even by the time the final credits roll. There is spooky stuff and a death toll though. For 70s horror aficionados, haunted house enthusiasts and Mia Farrow fans.
The Losers aka Nam's Angels (1970)
Well I wasn't expecting much from this so what a surprise that it wasn't just silly fun but a really good movie. I don't know why I was thinking that, maybe because it was a war movie but every Jack Starrett directed film I've seen has been fucking ace Race With The Devil (1975), The Gravy Train (1974), Hollywood Man (1976) etc. This had an absurd premise but was executed consummately and even had some unexpectedly touching moments. A gang of renegade bikers are unofficially hired by the US army to go into the Cambodian jungle to rescue an American agent. This motley crew get up to all sorts of wild antics ie. boozing, fighting & sex. They eventually rig up their motorbikes into insane military machines, one is a fusion of a harley at the front and a Volkswagen at the back suffice to say some mental action follows. The final assault to rescue the American (CIA?) agent Chet Davis (Jack Starrett) is spectacular although things don't go exactly according to plan. Look out for outstanding scenes in the jungle bar-disco with crazy 60s dancing and rock music. This has got to be a blueprint for the only other war movie I like Apocalypse Now, otherwise the similarities are a hell of a coincidence.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)
OK perhaps I've become fanatical to the point of obsession with Once Upon A Time... This was the sixth or seventh time I've watched it but the first time on my new blu-ray. It looked damn good too. My only quibble is, as mentioned originally here, the Steve McQueen scene. If that crappy 30 seconds was dropped I think we would have film perfection. The jump-cuts I can now deal with, they are fine and have their place within this film's context. Once Upon A Time... just gets funnier the more times you watch it. Every word out of Cliff Booth's (Brad Pitt) mouth is pure gold. Bruce Dern's cameo as George Spahn is champagne comedy. I'm loving the dance sequence at the playboy mansion with Mama Cass, Michelle Phillips and Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) to the oh so catchy Son Of A Lovin' Man by The Buchanan Brothers. Everything about the period detail is just so right the cars, the fashions, the restaurants, the trailers, the interior design, the streets, The Theatres, the fucking dog food labels etc. That scene with Cliff Booth fighting Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) has got to be the movie highlight of the last 10 years surely. Then there's the histrionically insecure Rick Dalton (Leo DiCaprio) on the set of the pilot for the western Lancer with the 9 year old girl Trudi Fraser (Julia Butters) where he coughs, splutters, spits and eventually cries as they talk about the crappy paperback he's reading. Then he's hilariously eating chicken during a take where he's delivering his lines to some cowboys. Later he fluffs his lines during the saloon scene and admonishes himself into his trailer's mirror in a maniacal tantrum that is both comical and poignant. But then we get fist pumping victory as he slays a scene in the saloon with Wayne Maunder (Luke Perry) where he throws Trudi to the ground. She later whispers in his ear "That was the best acting I've ever seen." It's all so incredibly bittersweet. I haven't even mentioned the last section of the film where Cliff & Rick return from Italy to have the most bizarre alcohol and drug fuelled night of their lives where there's plenty more comic gold and some of the most satisfying violence ever captured on celluloid. Who would have thought I'd be saying a Quentin Tarantino film is the best movie of 2019?
Enter The Void (2010)
I'm only ten years late on this one! My cousin couldn't believe that I said I didn't know who Noah Baumbach was the other day after she recommended his new film starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansen. I said I just haven't followed film closely since the 90s. Which is totally true. After getting bored of all those time loop/ultra twisty movies, never liking superhero flicks and getting diminishing returns from old faves Scorsese, The Coens, David Cronenberg, David Fincher et al. I didn't think there was anything out there for me on the big screen which didn't bother me one iota because television was fucking brilliant in the 00s. There was The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, Big Love, Breaking Bad, The Shield, The Office (UK), Peep Show, Ashes To Ashes, Black Books, Spaced, The Mighty Boosh, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development, 30 Rock etc. and we had to buy each season on DVD (streaming wasn't a thing yet) so we could watch them over and over again. It turns out I had seen Greenberg (2010) a movie by this Noah chap which I fucking hated. He wrote The Life Aquatic which I also detested so I didn't really feel like I'd missed much. After watching Enter The Void though I really feel like I've re-entered the cinematic 21st century again. Although I've seen the films of Park Chan-wook (me love the most) Jonathan Glazer (me love), Panos Cosmatos (me like a lot), James Wan (me sometimes like) and Nicholas Winding Refn (me no like). I think perhaps Gasper Noé is the most visionary director I have ignored during the new millennium. I am aware and have also seen some of the the films of Jennifer Kent, Sandi Tan, Taika Waititi, Karyn Kusama, Kim Gee-woon, Bong Joon-ho, The Safdies, Jeremy Saulnier and Alejandro G Innaritu. I wouldn't have a clue what people think of Gasper Noé. He might be cool or he might be a complete arsehole I really couldn't give a shit. For starters Enter The Void has quite possibly the best soundtrack ever. I mean talk about appealing to my ears, the soundtrack contains music from Throbbing Gristle, LFO, Coil, Christopher Franke, Delia Derbyshire, Annea Lockwood, Christian Vogel, Alvin Lucier plus a bunch of other outer limits artists I don't even know (which excites me). Noé seems to have obviously taken inspiration from Stanley Kubrick, Alejandro Jodorowsky,Aaronovsky circa Requiem For A Dream, probably Antonioni circa Zabriskie Point and some ye olde avant-garde cinema for Enter The Void. Having said that this is a pretty straight forward narrative. It's the visual style in which it is delivered that is outfuckingstanding. This film is a life/death cycle that follows a brother and sister who live amongst Tokyo's seedy underbelly. Linda (Paz De La Huerta) is a stripper while Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) is druggie on his way to becoming a fully fledged dealer. Oscar & Linda's relationship borders on the incestuous. Their story unfolds in a psychedelic blaze of stunning vivid neon colour which is lurid and fantastical. Enter The Void is somewhere between absolute pretentious bullshit and mind-blowing innovation. We definitely see some stuff that's never been visualised previously in cinema. You'll either love it or hate it or both.
You're Next (2011?)
The Davisons gather for a family reunion in their mansion out in the sticks. What could go wrong? Horror/Thriller movies from the 2010s don't get much better than this. We get many creative ultra violent moments, bows & arrows (always a winner in my book), Barbara Crampton, cute animal masks, a tough Aussie chick (Home & Away's Sharni Vinson), many "aw that would have really fucking hurt" moments and a pearler of a climax. Good times.
Starry Eyes (2014)
This satanic/body horror movie is pretty grim with some very brutal violence. I had to look away at one stage as Sarah Walker (Alexandra Essoe) pulled off her fingernail because it was way too realistic. The story is a familiar tale of fame and what people are willing to exchange for it. Hollywood wannabe Sarah needs to sell her soul, suck the cock of an elderly man The Producer (Louis Dezseran), a Harvey Weinstein type character, then sacrifice her friends to become the movie star she's always dreamt of being. There is some pretty gross stuff here to make David Cronenberg proud but it doesn't contain the humour to go along with it, unless I'm missing something. Starry Eyes is noteworthy for two reasons. One is the fabulous synth score from Jonathan Snipes and the other is the extraordinary acting performance from Alexandra Essoe. She is this movie. I don't know who gets nominations and awards but she should have got all of them all in 2014!
There's nothing wrong with this movie per se I mean it's made by possibly the world's finest film director Park Chan-wook. The acting's top shelf, the cinematography is gorgeous and the directing is of-course very fucking stylish. Stoker is based on the brilliantly suspenseful melodramatic thriller Shadow Of A Doubt (1943) directed by Alfred Hitchcock though so here lies a problem. From the moment the film started I was comparing it to Hitchcock. You don't really want to be compared to Hitchcock do you? I mean that's just setting yourself up for failure innit? Suspense is not really intensely built up like the master would have done, so it's just a bit lacking in the vitality department. Style over substance is something I didn't want to write but exercises such as these are always a little empty. I mean did anyone even bother watching Spike Lee's remake of Park Chan-wook's very own undeniable classic masterpiece Oldboy? Perhaps if I'd never seen Shadow Of A Doubt or wasn't aware that Stoker was based upon it my judgment may have been different. It's still worth a look though.