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

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LETTER NEVER SENT

1959; directed by Mikhail Kalatazov; adapted by Grigori Koltunov, Valeri Osipov and Viktor Rozov; 96 mins

The unsung great of Russian cinema, Mikhail Kalatazov was a propagandist. He made films for the Soviet Union that fell in line with the official party thinking. However, what the party didn’t seem to appreciate was that Kalatazov was a cinematic genius. Alongside key collaborator, cinematographer Sergei Urusevskiy, Kalatazov crafted some of the most revolutionary images in film. Continue reading

AIRPLANE!

1980; written and directed by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker; 88 mins

It’s telling that even in star Julie Hagerty’s IMDb bio, the writer seems to rue the fact that she got her start in a comedy. It’s a strange thing about comedies that they’re not treated with the respect that dramas get and yet, as someone who does stand-up, I would argue, it’s much harder to make someone laugh than it is to make someone think. All comedy requires at least a modicum of thought and thence, hopefully, laughter. Perhaps this is why that twat Woody Allen got such an easy ride for his chin-stroker comedy*. Sub-par dramas will get an easy ride if they give off the appearance of trying to make an audience think about something… but comedy? It ain’t enough to give the appearance of trying to make people laugh. In a way – fair enough – but d’you you see my point? Continue reading

THE TRAILERS OF BEN WHEATLEY

You’ve more than likely noticed this too but certainly for me as a weekly critic, it became glaringly obvious the monotony of trailers. There is one particular British filmmaker who’s trailers don’t necessarily buck the trend I don’t think but all of them are so well constructed and so rewatchable that I’ve wanted to post something in appreciation for a long time. The filmmaker is Ben Wheatley, the films are Down Terrace, Kill List, Sightseers, A Field in England, High-Rise and Free Fire and here they are in their full enjoyable glory… Continue reading

THE MASTER

2012; written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson; 132 mins

This is the concept album. This is Sandinista! This is Trout Mask Replica. It’s the one that threw everybody off the beaten track. Me definitely. I’ve seen it about eight or nine times but never really got it. Punch-Drunk Love was a departure from the established PTA style that we thought we knew (big, brash, highly-strung ensemble filmmaking). There Will Be Blood was even more different. Both of them still recognisably PTA features, though. Still both had the themes, the look, the sound. This is a distant, inscrutable chamber piece that stops and starts. No great long takes of any particular virtuosity, no attempt to make any bold statements or wow the crowds with directorial flourish. Just a spare, slightly lairy, low hum of a film. 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