THE GENERAL

1926; directed by Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton; written by Al Boasberg, Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton, Charles Henry Smith and Paul Girard Smith; 75 mins

Having never seen any Buster Keaton before now but seen Tony Zhou’s wonderful YouTube video essay from his Every Frame a Painting channel, I decided to take the plunge with what is now Keaton’s most highly regarded work. Essentially, the most epic comedy routine of all time, this is an action-packed chase movie with massive set piece gags playing off against the stony face of Keaton’s baffled train driver. Continue reading

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THE THIRD MAN

1949; directed by Carol Reed; adapted by Graham Greene; 100 mins

Harry Lime is dead. This is a shock for friend and dimestore novelist, Holly Martins, who’s just turned up in Vienna specifically to catch up with him. What a way to start one of the greatest movies of all time! Your main character, played by your biggest star, isn’t going to be dead, he’s already there! This is just the start of a noir thriller that, almost 70 years on, still holds up as a stylish, rip-roaring crime classic! Continue reading

CARLOS

2010; directed by Olivier Assayas; adapted by Olivier Assayas, Dan Franck and Daniel Leconte; 339 mins

“The man who hijacked the world”

In a recent interview, the filmmaker and critic Alex Cox complained that critics have become “hucksters”, touting and selling films to audiences rather than being honest about a film. I agree with him up to a point but I do think that there is a slight element of whore-ishness that enters into it when you really love a film but you know it’s a tough sell. This is definitely the case with Carlos, which is one of my absolute favourite films but bear in mind that whilst – Yes! – I am selling this movie to you, I honestly love it to bits and I want to share it because it’s such an exciting movie! Continue reading

NZIFF ’17/08: THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER

2017; directed by Yorgos Lanthimos; written by Efthymis Filippou and Yorgos Lanthimos; 109 mins

Forewarned is forearmed: get onboard with this one otherwise you’re going to have a tough time of it! This is a deliberately difficult, alienating, uncomfortable, squirming, off-kilter horror movie that is ear-splittingly loud in places. If you do choose to go with it, you’ll find it… mostly rewarding. Continue reading

NZIFF ’17/06: RUMBLE: THE INDIANS WHO ROCKED THE WORLD

2017; directed by Catherine Bainbridge; co-directed by Alfonso Maiorana; 99 mins

The rock doc: One of the 20th century’s greatest inventions! More than any musical or even gig do I love Glastonbury, Woodstock, Punk: Attitude, The Future is Unwritten, Gimme Shelter and so many others. A great rock doc can take music you don’t even like and have you wanting more and realising the artistic integrity of musos who you previously thought were crap. Not only that, it can open you up to a whole vast tract of music that you were completely unaware of and this one kinda does a little bit of both: Continue reading

A FISTFUL OF DYNAMITE/DUCK, YOU SUCKER!/GIU, LA TESTA!/ONCE UPON A TIME… THE REVOLUTION

1971; directed by Sergio Leone; written by Roberto De Leonardis, Sergio Donati, Sergio Leone, Carlo Tritto and Luciano Vincenzoni; 154 mins

[Spoilers.]

“And then, the people who read the books, they all sit around the big polished tables, and they talk and talk and talk and eat and eat and eat, eh? But what has happened to the poor people? They’re dead! That’s your revolution.” – Juan Miranda

About the only film I would say is a genuine underrated classic. Perennially lost amidst all of Leone’s other films, A Fistful of Dynamite (by which it’ll be referred from here on in because that’s the name by which I came to it) is the dirty, smelly, subversive cousin sandwiched in between golden children, Once Upon a time in the West (1968) and Once Upon a Time in America (1984). It’s historically all over the place, to say nothing of the lead actors’ accents. When it came out, it was too ambivalent in it’s politics for the cultural elite and too arty for the studios, both of whom butchered it in their own way. This review is of the 154 minute version… that’s very important! Not the 121 minute version or the 138 minute version which miss out very crucial character beats. Continue reading