WORMWOOD

2017; directed by Errol Morris; written by Kieran Fitzgerald and Steven Hathaway & Molly Rokosz; 260 mins, 6 episodes

From the start, you know this is gonna be edging towards an accusation of murder but the beauty of Errol Morris being given a more epic scope to weave together this tale is that he can lead you down several stray threads before coming to the final solution. Ultimately, it seems to be in the service of crafting a credible case before going big. At the heart of his investigation is another autopsy on the nature of truth but Morris uses it as a bed from which to grow out his subject’s conspiracy theory so that it can become conspiracy fact. Continue reading

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DJANGO UNCHAINED

2012; written and directed by Quentin Tarantino; 165 mins

There is a moment, two thirds of the way through The Hateful Eight, when Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Major Marquis Warren, says; “Let’s slow this down. Let’s slow this waaaay down!” and in my head, I was thinking; “Please Christ – let’s not!” I’m on and off with Tarantino. When you see, read or hear any interviews with the man himself, you realise his films are him. I imagine being around him would be both great and exasperating. He seems to be a genuinely smart, giving person whose greatest love affair is with himself. Continue reading

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

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

SPOTLIGHT

2015; directed by Tom McCarthy; written by Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer; 129 mins

[MILD SPOILERS. Sorry.]

The Oscars are a big bunch of bullshit as I think I have said on many occasions on this blog but of the two Best Picture nominees from that year that I have seen, I am so glad this won over The Revenant! A measured, intelligent, low-key drama with actual depth as opposed to the appearance of such. This is that rarest of films that had me forgetting about its construction and losing myself in the story. Whilst it may move toward cliched emotional surges, they are, at worst, earned – at best, totally artistically justified within the good ‘ol three-act structure that American cinema can do so magnificently well. Continue reading

LOS OLVIDADOS

1950; directed by Luis Buñuel; written by Luis Alcoriza and Luis Buñuel; 77 mins

The eye-slicing bit from Un chien andalou really put the shits up me when I accidentally saw it at the age of 12, so consequently, I shied away from watching Luis Buñuel films. Still! This one turned up for free so I figured I’d give him a go. Turns out this is one of his least surreal films – not without its bizarre moments but pretty close to the era’s definition of a docudrama. 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