Wednesday 8 April 2020

Arrows - I Love Rock 'n' Roll

You can't go wrong with a Chinnichap tune produced by Mickie Most in 1974 can you? This reached No 8 in the UK hit parade.

Mickie Most produces this Chinnichap composition which is a glam meets Bo Diddley blues ditty. It only made it to #51 in the UK.

Although Arrows were an English group they had two American Members Alan Merrill on vocals and bass plus Jake Hooker on guitar. The drummer Paul Varley was British. I love Rock 'n' Roll was a Merrill/Hooker composition. It became an all time classic hard rock/glam anthem when Joan Jett recorded a brilliant version of it in 1982 that went on to become one of the biggest hit singles of the 80s. The story goes that Jett saw Arrows perform the song on their own TV show while she was on tour in the UK in the 70s. This version sadly was not a hit anywhere. Yes according to the interweb Arrows had a show on the telly (?!). Anyway co-writing I Love Rock 'n' Roll makes you a rock legend. So onya Alan Merrill!

Thursday 2 April 2020

Get Tropical While You Go Troppo

While a lot of you are self isolating and getting cabin fever by now, why not hold your own Gone Troppo Disco at home while you still have food, money and your life. I know a lot of people are struggling financially, food-wise, toilet paper-wise, job-wise and health-wise. My heart and prayers go out to you. I'm scared, I'm sad, I have ill elderly parents and relatives. I'm trying to send out some love and joy into the enveloping darkness. Just tryin to keep my chin up.

Haiti Direct: Big Band, Mini Jazz & Twoubadou Sounds, 1960​-​1978 -Various
This came out on the great Strut label seven years ago and I missed it completely. It's raw garage latino jamz from the 60s & 70s. It's non-stop dancing time music to soothe the soul. Apparently this combines tunes from the two big Haitian scenes of the day, the Twoubadou & Compas scenes. Not being au-fait with music from Haiti one iota all I can say is if you love your French Caribbean, Peruvian, Columbian & Panamanian music of the same era you are bound to dig this. For those musicology minded Twoubadou is a guitar based latin music that fuses Méringue and Cubano Guajiro genres. Compas is a scaled down style of Méringue that literally means beat. Compas music was made by the small bands or mini jazz combos that were the happening thing in the mid 60s. No matter what, you know it's gonna be killer grooves all the way. In isolation of course, perhaps you and your loved one/s should get a shindig started by raiding the liquor cabinet or partaking of something more mind enhancing. Then push back the table, put on your dancing shoes and cut the rug.

Cadence Revolution: Disques Debs International Vol. 2Various
Now this one was released just a couple of months back on Strut and it's killer Afro-Latin grooves. If you loved Disques Debs International Vol. 1 from last year you are gonna love this too. It's actually just a continuation of the Disques Debs International label's output as it picks up where Volume 1 left off  at the end of 1972. Cadence Revolution is once again put together by legendary compilation curator extraordinaire Hugo Mendez and features many of the label's best tunes from 1973-1981. This is more fabulous latin jamz, this time from Guadeloupe and Martinique in the French Caribbean. This compilation focuses on the Cadence sound which was a creole melting pot of genres such as compas, salsa, biguine, Dominican influences, Congolese styles, quadrille, gwo ka, reggae etc. It's just good vibes all round and you know what do do once the needle hits the groove on this baby. It's party time to forget about COVID-19 for a moment. Apparently there is going to be one more compilation in this series so I can't wait for that!

The Ranil Stay Safe & Sound Selection - Ranil
If you've been following Analog Africa on social media you will know they have been dropping one tune per day from this fantastic little compilation for the last ten days on bandcamp. They are giving out the love in these horrifying and weird times by giving away this compilation of Ranil tunes for free. You can also donate however much you like and they are going to put that money into a Peruvian health charity. Raúl Llerena Vásquez aka Ranil is a mysterious and fiercely independent musician from the isolated city of Iquitos which is surrounded by the Amazonian wilderness in Peru. Iquitos is the largest metropolis in the world that cannot be reached by road. Ranil's info online is pretty sketchy although he does appear on three Peruvian chica/cumbia compilations that I have. On Discogs they have some of his records listed but no dates for most of them. I'm assuming most of what is compiled here is from the 60s and 70s. Ranil plays his own idiosyncratic style of cumbia that is a latin-psych delight to the ears. Effervescence for your feet and body.

Ranil y su Conjunto Tropical - Ranil
Once you've heard the above freebie you'll have to get this one. It's another recent Ranil compilation from the great Analog Africa label. Cumbia party time to forget the bad time. Deep Peruvian twangin-psych-grooves of the Amazonian Gods!

Friday 27 March 2020

Marc Acardipane Feat. Marshall Masters - Stereo Murder (Perc Remix) 2020

Just in time for the Corona Virus. 2017 may not have delivered Apocalypse-wise but 2020's giving it a good crack! First Australia was on fire before the year even began and it lasted for months. Meanwhile the US assassinated some Iranian bloke Qasem. Next Iran retaliated causing 110 Americans brain injuries but no deaths. Strangely World War 3 didn't eventuate. Then a virus COVID 19 spread like wildfire in China but they withheld this information from the world for a while and by the time the cat was out of the bag it was too fucking late. The virus is in every corner of the globe now and could potentially kill over a billion people! Isn't that great news? So why not get off yer fuckin head and get into the delightful hardcore gloom & doom sounds of legend Marc Acardipane before your body shuts down and dies, all in self-isolation of course. Maybe this is your last chance to gleefully spit in the face of the abyss that awaits us all. By the way this is an incredible remix. Jolly good tune.

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Throbbing Gristle


*Stole that title from Simon Reynolds' piece on TG & Industrial here

Saturday 14 March 2020

Mo movies - March


Jaws (1975)
SPOILER ALERT. I hadn't seen this for over 20 years and couldn't remember a thing about it so I thought I'd give it a whirl considering Emma bought me a Jaws t-shirt the other day. Amity Island has a killer shark roaming its beaches. How are they going to combat this commerce/people killing machine. The best part of the film is when it's just Brody, Quint and Hooper in a vessel out at sea to battle the Great White. Some very cool spectacular shit happens plus a ye olde drunken sailor sing along and eventually BOOM! there goes the shark. Robert Shaw as Quint the old salt and the shark as The Shark are the two outstanding creatures here. I will now wear my t-shirt with pride.

The Witness aka 목격자 (2018)
This was a first time watch for me as I only came across it one Sunday arvo on Stan. I'd never even heard of it. It's beginning to sound like a cliche but the South Koreans have done it again: This is a masterpiece. The Witness is where the serial killer thriller sub-genre is turned on its head. As I've said before eventually these films will be called Tangent movies and this one is no exception, many a tangent is gone off on. It never loses its pacing or entertainment value though. In fact it just keeps gaining in intrigue right up until the mortifying climax. Sang-Hoon (Lee Sung-min) witnesses a murder in his apartment complex but the killer Tae-ho (Kwak See-yang) sees him up in his sixth floor window. Sang-Hoon thinks he's going to be next on the killer's hit list so he doesn't report the crime to police. This is probably not the best of moves as shit soon hits the fan. Sang-Hoon is an infuriatingly spineless but believable character. Look out for a sterling performance from Kim Sang-ho as Detective Jae-Yeob. Kudos to the cast and crew who collectively pull off a piece of astonishing cinema. Totally recommended.

Big Bad Wolves (2013)
Excellent Israeli movie. You don't hear that sentence too often do you? This is some kind of violent crime/horror film. The plot here goes off in many unexpected directions and it's wonderful, darkly comic and brutally violent. A young male teacher is accused of paedophelia. The cops try to beat a confession out of  him but to no avail then things go apeshit. Who are the good guys? Who are the bad guys? Who's this bloke on a horse? Big Bad Wolves is a shocking tale executed to perfection. Creepy Israeli revenge horror anyone?

The Man With Two Brains (1983)
I was feeling very ill during the watching of this so I haven't got a hell of a lot to say except that this silly sci-fi comedy is pretty funny and even the occasional dated un-PC jokes are even funnier. Kathleen Turner is fabulous as the raunchy gold digger Dolores BenedictSteve Martin was on a remarkable roll back in the late 70s/early 80s. It might be time to revisit teen favourites Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982) and The Jerk (1979).

The Chaser aka 추격자 (2008)
Is this South Korean cinema's darkest film? It's certainly unrelentingly grim and horrific but it's still incredible film-making. This is an absurdly frustrating flick as the inept cops don't do their jobs properly and keep making things way way worse. A scumbag ex-cop turned pimp Eom Joong-ho suspects someone is selling his girls into slavery so he's on the look out for this scumbag Je Yeong-min only to discover that this scumbag is a way worse scumbag than he ever could have imagined. There's a lot more of police procedural in The Chaser than in (ab)normal South Korean terrifying thrillers. Na Hong-jin made an auspicious debut feature here and has gone on to direct two other highly regarded movies The Yellow Sea (2010) and The Wailing (2016). The Chaser is a hell of an experience that you won't forget too soon. Grisly fun for all the family.

Funny Games (1997)
I thought I'd never seen this attempt at a deconstruction of a thriller but then soon disappointingly realised I had. This is a really boring home invasion movie that feels like it was made by a bunch of year 11 students in the 90s. These kids would have thought we're gonna blow people's minds man by talking to the camera, blurring reality and fiction, fucking with linear narrative and timelines etc. Haneke thinks he's being oh so provocative and meta (man) but this is just amateur, dull and lame bullshit. An attempt at an intellectual exercise that falls flat on it obvious and bland face. I can't believe how many so called smart people have been sucked in by this but then again... Anyway if you are looking for a mental scuzzy home invasion type of film check out Canada's Death Weekend (1976) directed William Fruet. This is actually thrilling, horrifying and exhilarating ie. it's a successful thriller.

BANSHEE (2013-2016), LODGE 49 (2018-2019), CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (SEASON 10) & INSIDE No 9. (SEASON 5).

I got hooked on Banshee pretty quickly well I mean I'm seven years too late but whatever. I had to watch the entire first season with nothing else in-between. As I commented to KB Banshee is like primo 00s Alan Ball (an executive producer here) but like he's making an absurd ultra violent 11.30 pm time-slot 90s crime/action/cop show. A winning combo in my book. For others perhaps not. To put it another way it's like a HBO drama crossed with the aesthetics of Claws (2017- Corona Virus Panic). The finale of season one goes full Death Wish 3 (1985). Awesome trash.

Lodge 49 insidiously grabbed my attention and before I knew I'd watched the entire first season of that too. The key word of the moment in telly seems to be absurd and Lodge 49 isn't lacking in that department. This is treading a line between charming and stupid. It's a story of a small beach-side suburb where people's lives seem to be going nowhere but the mysterious Lodge 49 brings the disparate lives of the community together. I can't for the life of me figure out how it has managed to engage me for ten 40+ minute episodes. I have been watching it very late at night though...

I've been slowly working my way through season 5 of Inside No. 9 and season 10 of Curb. Saving and savouring each precious episode though. These two splendid shows are still the best telly has to offer.

Female Convict Scorpion: Beast Stable aka 女囚さそり けもの部屋 (1973)
Stop The Presses: MIND BLOWN! I've tried over the years to dig Japanese cinema but I just found much of it to be dull as fuck, just not for me. You can't like everything although I liked some stuff from the 70s, 80s & 90s that I saw on SBS-TV in the 90s which I only have vague recollections of now. Seijun Suzuki was the first Japanese director to make an indelible impression on me with the brilliant Tokyo Drifter (1966). Then I went through his filmography when the Melbourne International Film Festival held a retrospective of his work and down at the old video shop. Then I saw Hausu (1977) the fantastic off the wall cute psychedelic/comedy/horror directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi which is a work of pop art genius like no other. I didn't get into all that 90s/00s J-horror gear but hey maybe I need to give it another chance.

Female Convict Scorpion: Beast Stable is the third film in a series of four about Scorpion the female convict played by Meiko Kaji. It's a strange place to start but it's still a fucking good place. This has got be the most appealing style of film-making I've ever seen so thank-you director Shunya Itō for your rare and sublime aesthetic vision. Once again the epic scale of a greek tragedy clashes with pop culture exploitation to create a totally distinctive specimen of a movie. Scorpion aka Nami Matsushima aka Matsu breaks free from detective Kondo (Mikio Narita) in a jaw dropping moment of cinema. She eventually finds refuge with a prostitute Yuki and her mentally challenged brother. A game of cat and mouse ensues between Nami, the cops and Nami's nemesis Katsu (Reisen Lee) amongst taboo sex, brutal violence, nightmarish horror, surrealism and ethereal sequences. The adult themes are of the disturbing and very adult variety. Make no mistake though this is a cinematic masterpiece. I am curious now to see what else is waiting out there for me amongst the hundreds of Japanese exploitation films and whether they'll be this captivating?

Katalin Varga (2009/06)
This is a rural revenge film of the highest order. Right out of the gate the setting and cinematography (Márk Györi) here are fucking breathtaking. What a tone that sets for this utterly exquisite and idiosyncratic piece of cinema. The sound design (Gábor ifj. Erdélyi & György Kovács) and soundtrack are in complete harmony with the vision, narrative and atmosphere. This has got to be one of the best sound designed films ever. A soundtrack featuring Nurse With Wound, Roj, Xylitol, Steven Stapleton & Geoff Cox, David Tibet, The Csavas Band, Alan Burbridge, Sonic Catering Band, Adam Bohman etc. is a subterranean music lovers delight. To add to the peculiar tone Peter Strickland, an Englishman, directed this film in foreign languages he didn't understand. Katalin (Hilda Péter) is banished from her home and village as her husband discovered their child Orbán (Norbert Tankó) is not his. So Katalin and Orbán set out on a crusade for revenge somewhere in the exotic Carpathian Mountains in Romania. An extraordinary low budget DIY cinematic feat.

Shirkers (2018)
A bunch of young and naive film lovers become film-makers (Sandi Tan, Jasmine Ng & Sophia Siddique) along with an older male mentor (Georges Cardona) and make a movie in Singapore in the early 90s. The film was called Shirkers. These upstarts were set for world domination with their punk-ish and quirky DIY debut feature film. One day though, the film canisters disappeared along with their fellow film-maker Georges Cardona. In this documentary Sandi Tan, a unique and rambunctious individual, reveals a strange and mysterious story that will have you intrigued and probably infuriated for the duration of the movie. What happened to the film? Can it be rescued? Who was Cardona really? Was the movie actually any good? What has happened to this trio of ladies in the last 25 years? Some of these questions will be answered while you watch this fascinating 25 year journey. I recommend.

Lady Snowblood aka 修羅雪姫 (1973)
After watching Female Convict Scorpion: Beast Stable (1973) the other day I finally had to track down the most famous film starring Meiko Kaji Lady Snowblood. Perhaps I shouldn't have watched them so close together as I was comparing film styles way too much instead of just going with the flow of this film. It was like comparing MBV to Gang of Four. Two brilliant innovative bands who are nothing alike. Anyway Lady Snowblood turned out to be astounding anyway. This is where the Shakespearian Japanese folklore meets the absurdity of pop culture and it's irresistible. Splattered and spurting with ketchup coloured blood this is vengeance of the most fun variety although it's done with a serious straight-faced tone which makes it all the more glorious. Yuki Kashima (Meiko Kaji) is born in 1874 with a legacy to hunt down and kill three people who tormented and ruined her mother's life. From the age of eight Yuki is rigorously trained in the art of sword-fighting so by the time she is a young lady she is a flawless and ruthless assassin. Let the shenanigans begin. Will Yuki aka Lady Snowblood be able to fulfil the brutality expected of her? This is a great Japanese flick based on a Manga series. Oh and Quentin Tarantino ripped off swathes of this movie wholesale for his Kill Bill shows. Don't let that put you off though Lady Snowblood is a hundred times better than those empty homage flicks. Essential viewing.

Green Fish aka 초록 물고기 (1997)
If you are curious about the rise of South Korean cinema in the 21st century look no further than this right here. South Korea was so cool that they had a film director in their ministerial cabinet. Novelist and film director Lee Chang-dong was the minister of Culture in the early 00s. He directed his first flick, this terrific little gangster film in 1997, just before the pop culture blockbuster phenomenon of Kang Je-gyu's Shiri (1999) ignited the current new wave of South Korean cinema. Green Fish is a charming, bittersweet and rough around the edges family drama/gangster movie. This is not the super-slick South Korean cinema we all know and love in 2020. The violence here is is so shonky it's almost at Dolemite (1975) levels. The story however is a lil bewdy which more than makes up for any shortcomings this movie might have. Mak-dong (Han Sook-Kyu) is discharged from military service. Whilst travelling back home on a train he becomes embroiled in the life of Mi-ae (Shim Hye-jin) a gangster's moll. The directionless Mak-dong ends up working for this gangster who goes by the name of Bae Tae-gon (Moon Sung-keun). Things then start to unravel in this uncertain, bewildering and disillusioned time despite an economic upturn. Look out for two unforgettable gangster death scenes one in a toilet and one on the windscreen of a car. Green Fish was an auspicious debut for Lee Chang-dong who has gone on to further acclaim directing another five films including Peppermint Candy (2000), Poetry (2010) and Burning (2018).

Confessions aka 告白 (2010)
21st century vengeance Japanese stylee. This is on the artier side of the revenge movie genre, much of which is informed by dance, movement and choreography, so it's not going to be for everyone as its not action packed. Confessions is a top shelf cerebral, dark, atypical and mental revenge tale. I am constantly amazed at the inventiveness of revenge stories in this day and age. You would think you'd seen and heard it all before by now but nope here is another slice of unique Asian revenge cinema. A high school teacher's child is murdered by some of her pupils, further incredible, grim and devastating events unfold from there.

Mother aka 마더 (2009)
One of only two Bong Joon-ho films I had seen previous to Parasite (2019). I don't know why I never followed up on his other movies in that 10 year gap. I think they just didn't sound like they'd be up me alley like Mother (2009) and Memories of A Murder (2003) were. Anyway I feel like there's a definite theme running through the last few blog posts. Here's another epic tale of tragedy and vengeance of the biblical proportions. Sophocles with cell phones. Yoon Do-joon (Won Bin) a mentally challenged young man is charged with the murder of schoolgirl Moon Ah-jung (Moon Hee-ra). Do-joon's Mother (Kim Hye-ja) knows he's innocent though, so she sets out on a mission to find out the real facts as the police and even her own lawyers are content to just lazily blame her son. Kim Hye-ja puts in a dazzling performance as Mother and Won Bin is impeccable. Bong Joon-ho and his cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo were already at the peak of their superior powers here. Ten years later the American mainstream took notice. Mother is a 21st century classic. 

Tuesday 10 March 2020



Italian electro cosmic disco.

Friday 6 March 2020

Adriano Celentano - L'Unica Chance

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. 

Saturday 29 February 2020

K.C. & The Sunshine Band - Keep It Comin' Love


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.
*Added Entry 10/12/20: Metronomy's The Look (2011) is the song that borrows heavily from Keep It Comin' Love (1976). 

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. 

Tuesday 18 February 2020

More On Movies XXVIII

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-gilSook-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.

Unstoppable (2010)
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.

Tuesday 11 February 2020

More On Movies - February


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 cycle but 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-woonKim 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.

Dracula (1992)
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 SafdieNikas 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.

1917 (2019)
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.

Judy (2019)
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 Renée Zelwegger'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.