Predator

Having spawned a string of god-awful sequels/spin-offs, and essentially being only an action jaunt to begin with, Predator gets somewhat of a bad rep considering how good it actually is.  True, it’s a cornerstone of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s catalogue but that isn’t something held in any higher regard than what it merits (which isn’t much).  Predator, at least for me, stands head and shoulders above the rest of Arnie’s tripe – and even ends up as my personal favourite action movie ever made.  That’s remarkable in and of itself, as action is a genre I always go into with the highest distaste and lack of interest.…   [continue reading]

Life of Brian

I wasn’t going to spotlight Life of Brian for some time, mainly because it’s already such a huge and revered part of popular culture.  With the recent tragic news of Terry Jones, core Monty Python member and the film’s director, having been diagnosed with dementia, I decided to write this in tribute to his overlooked work.  Being his directorial debut as the singular visionary, Life of Brian is a wonderfully realised work of comedic art.  Coherent and consistent in its style, it did away with the messy and compromised results of its predecessor, The Holy Grail (which featured a tandem team of Jones and fellow member Terry Gilliam at the helm).…   [continue reading]

Pom Poko

It would be frivolous to say that a lot of this movie’s focus is on the application of and meaning to racoon-dog bollocks (i.e. testicles).  However, this would also be true.  But let’s have that fact stated early on to avoid too much surprise later in the article.  What is a racoon-dog you may ask?  Well, put simply, it’s a little mammal with about as equal resemblance to a racoon as it has a dog (what a shock), and generally known in Japan as the “tanuki”.  Having said that, I can predict that a more burning question on your mind would go more along the lines of, ‘Yes, yes, but why does this mean I should care about their bollocks?’.…   [continue reading]

Toy Story

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Toy Story was a film of firsts, which set the bar so high that it may be some time before we see its like again.  Some may argue that more relevant Pixar releases, such as Up or Inside Out, have managed to match it, but I will admit to not being one of them.  Neither of those releases, despite Up‘s excellence, have been able to come anywhere near to the quality that permeates every aspect of Toy Story‘s production.  Simply consider how it birthed a genre and visual style without resting on those laurels.  Today it would be enough that it was some great visual step for mankind, not feeling any obligation to enhance that with consistently hilarious humour, memorable characters, sympathetic themes and the depth of an ocean.…   [continue reading]

Silent Running

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Silent Running is laughed at far too often than it deserves, but that’s mainly directed towards the pretty awful Joan Baez tunes that pepper the piece and occasionally campy dialogue throughout…

When getting over these speed bumps however, the film actually ends up being an awesomely coherent and thematic brother to the far more lauded and well-known 2001: A Space Odyssey.  That’s not even a facile analogy either, but one of the fundamental ideas it was based on.  Silent Running‘s main creative force, Douglas Trumbull, had a large hand in the creation of the entire of science fiction’s aesthetic.  This can’t be denied when you look at it his work, which is on display in such movies as Blade Runner, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Andromeda Strain and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.…   [continue reading]

Naked

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David Thewlis’ performance in Mike Leigh’s Naked is made second-to-none by it being utterly unique, along with the sheer ability of the whole thing.  The main appeal of the film eventually boils down to how brilliantly he brings his character, the darkly cynical yet quick-witted Johnny, to the screen.  This is made all the more impressive when you know that the majority of Naked‘s excellent dialogue is improvised, bolstered by heavy and intensive rehearsals to help the players mould their avatars.

While a grotty and washed out affair, which is sure to turn off many, that remains the only appropriate path towards the intended finished piece which, by all accounts, deserves far more than the sub-cult adoration it receives today.…   [continue reading]

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

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Wes Anderson is a director whose individual style and approach is probably more likely to go down in history than the actual content of his work.  This is a shame considering the sheer insight and nuance of his output, and that’s at its most true when looking at his underrated film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.  Sure, it has its cult following but it’s always been pushed close to the back of the Anderson queue, along with the likes of genuinely sub-par material like The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom.  I do, however, think that there’s a faithful group of those who consider the Belafonte and its crew the shining achievement of Anderson and his tight-knit team of collaborators.  …   [continue reading]