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

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SNOWDEN

2016; directed by Oliver Stone; adapted by Kieran Fitzgerald and Oliver Stone; 134 mins

Having followed Stone on Facebook for a while, it was abundantly clear that he adores Edward Snowden and what the man has achieved, so the idea of Stone being the director to bring this story to the big screen as a feature drama was very exciting. Not just because of it’s contemporary resonance and immediacy, which, ideally, is the director’s ballpark but it really felt like, after quite a few years off the boil, the story had got him fired up and this could be the comebackContinue 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

TOP TEN: 2016

So, 2016 was a bit different as I started my new weekly job as film critic for Radio One in Dunedin but still, even having seen a vast amount more movies that year, there were many that were drip fed through to us, here in New Zealand, throughout 2017. So, for a more fully rounded annual best of, I’ve once again waited til now to give you my absolute favourites that really stuck out from the pack! Plus, there are a bunch of honourable mentions afterwards that I wanted to flag up: 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

THE LURE

2015; directed by Agnieszka SmoczyƄska; written by Robert Bolesto; 92 mins

Polish cannibal mermaid musical. If nothing about those four words is exciting to you then piss off and don’t come back. As is almost inevitable these days, this film came nowhere near cinemas in NZ (well, near me anyway) so I bought the Criterion DVD instead. So glad I finally did because, alongside films such as Embrace of the Serpent and the works of Roy Andersson, this shows that there are still brilliant, intelligent and – crucially – original movies out there. Continue reading