INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION

1970; directed by Elio Petri; written by Elio Petri and Ugo Pirro; 115 mins

A study in Fascism from a Communist director and a then-Communist star, Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto) is a dark, perverse forgotten gem. A satirical look at one man’s sadomasochistic desire to be humiliated, be it in the bedroom or in the full glare of his empire. Continue reading

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RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11

1954; directed by Don Siegel; written by Richard Collins; 80 mins

Issue-tainment don’t come much pulpier than this! The passion project of producer Walter Wanger, who’d served time for armed assault and saw, first-hand, the hideous conditions that prison inmates had to endure, the film was made in a disused Folsom Prison block with real inmates and directed by industry fixture, Don Siegel. This is one of those movies, I was hooked in by the title (I think about the same time I first watched Assault on Precinct 13) and have spent the last however long trying to get my hands on a copy! Continue reading

LAYER CAKE

2004; directed by Matthew Vaughn; adapted by J.J. Connolly; 105 mins

I don’t really like the films of Matthew Vaughn. I don’t trust his politics. He seems to be a small-c conservative (hiding in plain sight, to be fair), turning his nose up at the lower classes and generally putting out a rather off-colour sense of humour. Kick-Ass, I thought, was overrated and sounded like a couple of rich white men (Vaughn and author Mark Millar) crying victim at political correctness and Kingsman: The Golden Circle was just tacky and shit with an unbearable supporting role for Elton John. For all that, though, I love Layer Cake! It’s all surface, it’s derivative, it’s got all his faults in embryo but God damn it’s fun! Continue reading

NATURAL BORN KILLERS

1994; directed by Oliver Stone; written by Richard Rutowski, Oliver Stone and David Veloz; 122 mins

TOP TEN

If someone asked; “what were the 90s like?”, you should sit them down with the VHS of this and leave them alone for 2 hours. However, here is a film that’s gone way down in people’s opinion, almost to the point of being a whipping boy, for many, of every excess that was bad about that decade and also about its director. Certainly, if the stories of its making are anything to go by – which are scurrilously and thoroughly entertainingly documented in producer Jane Hamsher‘s book Killer Instinct – then it was a production that almost lived it’s own film. It’s a film that was at the pinnacle of the taboo-busting, “ultraviolent”, early Tarantino glut that came in the wake of Reservoir Dogs but its sheer surreality and bald-faced bombast also came at the tail end of the ten-film decade (1986-1995) of Oliver Stone. A film about media over-exposure that was released around the culmination of his own media over-exposure and escalating visual and narrative style. It’s all but forgotten today but I think it is a near-masterpiece, a deceptively well made movie and one of my ten favourite films of all time. Continue reading

THE WAILING

2016; written and directed by Na Hong-jin; 156 mins

[Mild spoilers]

Ho-ly Jesus – this is good! Na Hong-jin’s previous films, The Chaser and The Yellow Sea, were quite something. He was compared to Michael Mann which was a justified appraisal from the off. His films were flawed but pretty damn near that mark. It was obvious, though, that Na had a great film in him and this is it! Us fans have had to wait six years but The Wailing was well worth the wait! Continue reading

LETHAL WEAPON 2

1989; directed by Richard Donner; Written by Jeffrey Boam, Shane Black and Warren Murphy; 114 mins

Absence makes the heart grow fonder and so this must’ve seemed par for the course back when it came out but looking at these older Hollywood crime flicks, it amazes me just how damn good they really are. This isn’t going to be a review about how everything is shit now, though. We’re going through a really great period of action films with things like The Raid, John Wick, The Bourne movies and Atomic Blonde but films like Lethal Weapon 2 do have a something that the new ones don’t. Continue reading

CASINO

1995; directed by Martin Scorsese; adapted by Nicholas Pileggi and Martin Scorsese; 170 mins

It’s a strange beast, Casino. If someone asked you what you actually liked about the story and the characters, you’d be hard pressed to give an answer. “Mobsters. They’re quite interesting (in a morbid sort of way)”. Otherwise, you have a hard-nosed, unfun, career gambler, an uber-psycho gangster and the junkie Vegas hustler hanging on their coat tails. It’s a much harder film to like than GoodFellas but it’s so damn riveting! Continue reading