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Enemy 2013 2014 José Saramago, The Double, Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellini, Kedar Brown, Stephen R. Hart, Frank Welker, Denis Villeneuve Spider Ring

Enemy [Mild Spoilers]: when a history lecturer spots his doppelgänger in the background of a movie scene he becomes increasingly fascinated by the actor. Quite a difficult film to articulate, this probably falls vaguely under the Psychological Thriller banner. There’s a deliberately slow and intense build up, magnified by a doom-laden score that the intensity relies heavily on. This is completely Jake’s film, as we see him pull off playing two people, and then each character ‘impostering’ the other (Imagine Face/Off^²). Stylistically, there’s an intense amber hue for the duration, which I didn’t really see the point of – or understand. Naturally, there’s a lot of playing around with duality, repetition, mirrors, doubles, from the get-go, and although the film’s not explicitly wrapped up (the ending is a bit of a mystery/clusterfuck) there are a lot of clues and lines in there; namely that our lead may have a split personality. Definitely the least accessible film since he started working with ‘big’ names; this bleak, tense, and dark thriller is the perfect appetiser for Arrival; and lays out the “un film de Denis Villeneuve” style that he’s kept right through to his current, mega-budget films.

Score: 6.5/10

Enemy 2013 2014 José Saramago, The Double, Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellini, Kedar Brown, Stephen R. Hart, Frank Welker, Denis Villeneuve Doppelganger

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Possession 1981 Andrzej Żuławski, Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill, Margit Carstensen, Heinz Bennent, Johanna Hofer, Carl Duering, Shaun Lawton, Michael Hogben, Gerd Neubert, Carlo Rambaldi,

Possession (Original Cut): follows the breakdown of a relationship between an international spy and his increasingly disturbed wife. Highly stylized, the masterful direction immediately jumps out; the camera is perpetually moving, with long and involving shots that roam around the actors, thrusting you right into the middle of the powerful, visceral drama. The acting is superb throughout, borderline theatrical but it assists in dragging you further into the intriguing plot. The entire film has an unusual vibe that’s both quasi-religious and heavily-surreal – somewhere between arthouse and exploitation – aided by a phenomenally creepy score that is one of the most unsettling I can remember. Not without it’s flaws, by the 75-minute mark, I was wishing I’d opted for the 90-minute edit, as the film takes a lingering detour into an examination of the body, soul, god, chance, and faith. It’s also a movie that has echoed strongly throughout the years, with a lot of imagery and powerful shots “borrowed” from this, and some of the most photogenic Berlin buildings – inside and out. Capped off with a genuinely crazy, jaw-dropping ending this is a film that you won’t be forgetting in a hurry; yet is such an intense experience that you won be rushing to re-watch. Marginalized because of it’s supernatural and excessive elements, Possession is ripe for a retrospective viewing: almost 40 years on it remains a modern thriller/horror that was way, way ahead of it’s time.

Score: 8.5/10

Possession 1981 Andrzej Żuławski, Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill, Margit Carstensen, Heinz Bennent, Johanna Hofer, Carl Duering, Shaun Lawton, Michael Hogben, Gerd Neubert, Carlo Rambaldi,

Spring Breakers Bikini Hot Pants Cutoffs Harmony Korine, Benoît Debie, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Rachel Korine, James Franco

Spring Breakers: to fund their Spring Break, a ‘curvaceous quartet’ of gals rob a diner, which leads them to a decadent gangbanger rapper called “Alien”. Not one to watch with your parents, this opens with some terrible dubstep, and bikini babes partying (and a record-breaking 30 seconds ‘til the first slow-motion beer-covered tiddies). Despite being so sensational in parts the runtime hopscotches between a) surreal mix of “poignant & brilliant coming-of-age moments” (some of the most authentic-feeling ‘college girl’ insights) and b) “handheld/realistic/hedonistic Girls-Gone-Wild-type shenanigans”. It uses a very peculiar – non-standard – cinematic language that takes a while to tune in to; feeling almost dream-like, or stream-of-consciousness. Something more akin to a music video or (trying my hardest not to sound like a wanker here) “Liquid narrative”. There’s a heavily saturated / neon-drenched / golden hour colour palette that bumps already strong imagery up to the next level. Although it sells the film short; Spring Breakers feels like Michael Bay, Gaspar Noe, and Nicolas Winding Refn (content, narrative, cinematography respectively) got together to create a subversive alternative to the coming-of-age genre. The pairing of director Korine and legendary cinematographer Benoít Debie has produced something so sensorial and peculiar that it’s impossible to articulate. Is Spring Breakers a great film? Doubtful. Is it an important film? Possibly. Is it an interesting film? You bechurass it is!

Score: 7/10

Spring Breakers Neon Dock Harmony Korine, Benoît Debie, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Rachel Korine, James FrancoSpring Breakers Bikini Arrest Handcuffs Cops Harmony Korine, Benoît Debie, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Rachel Korine, James FrancoSpring Breakers Balaclava Harmony Korine, Benoît Debie, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Rachel Korine, James FrancoSpring Breakers Bikini Line Up Bra Panties Harmony Korine, Benoît Debie, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Rachel Korine, James FrancoSpring Breakers Title Card Neon Poster Logo Harmony Korine, Benoît Debie, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Rachel Korine, James FrancoSpring Breakers Bikini Court Arrest Harmony Korine, Benoît Debie, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Rachel Korine, James Franco

Alejandro Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Alfonso Arau, José Luis Fernández, Alf Junco, Jacqueline Luis, Mara Lorenzio, Paula Romo, David Silva, Héctor Martínez, José Legarreta

El topo: a surreal wild-west-type cowboy tale that’s heavy on the religious symbolism and appeared to have been conceived (& filmed) whilst on all of the drugs. The biggest thing this film has going for it is reel after reel of top-shelf insanity and phenomenal imagery: attempting to put some of the scenes into words wouldn’t do them justice – but suffice to say that the locations, landscapes, characters, and overall visuals are absolutely remarkable. Beyond the aesthetics, the rest of the film feels like a hodgepodge of themes, styles, and ideas. The tone continually bounces around from jarring “Texas Chainsaw” style, straight into to a Russ Meyers type shoe-sniffer: from po-faced religious moments through to Blazing Saddles levels of stupidity. It’s also – unfortunately – a film of two halves, that gets tangled up after the initial “mission” and really loses the head of steam (and patience) that the first have had built up. The foley work is particularly terrible – the film is shot outdoors, but most of the speech and effects appear to have been recorded in a boxy echo chamber. There’s also a lot of violent (although reddest blood ever) and exploitative stuff in here too, like the misuse of religion, lesbians, and midgets & disabled people for no real reason. Bizarre and easily one of the strangest & most overlooked cult movies ever made, El Topo is the most peculiar of beasts, that’s only worth watching for it’s sublime and visionary aesthetic.

Score: 5/10

Alejandro Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Alfonso Arau, José Luis Fernández, Alf Junco, Jacqueline Luis, Mara Lorenzio, Paula Romo, David Silva, Héctor Martínez, José Legarreta

Alejandro Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Alfonso Arau, José Luis Fernández, Alf Junco, Jacqueline Luis, Mara Lorenzio, Paula Romo, David Silva, Héctor Martínez, José Legarreta

Alejandro Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Alfonso Arau, José Luis Fernández, Alf Junco, Jacqueline Luis, Mara Lorenzio, Paula Romo, David Silva, Héctor Martínez, José Legarreta

Alejandro Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Alfonso Arau, José Luis Fernández, Alf Junco, Jacqueline Luis, Mara Lorenzio, Paula Romo, David Silva, Héctor Martínez, José Legarreta

 

LOGAN 2017 WOLVERINE Hugh Jackman, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Stephen Merchant, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, Elizabeth Rodriguez, James Mangold

LOGAN [Spoilers]: as Professor X’s health deteriorates Logan has to keep him – and the first new mutant in years – safe from all the bad guys. This is unlike any other big superhero film you’ve seen: grisly, balls-out, 15-rated (borderline 18!). There’s lots of “Fucks”, gratuitous boobs, and exploitation-level gore; with claws hacking up limbs & digging in to skulls etc. It’s also a film where the titular hero spends the majority of the runtime hobbling, coughing, and lumbering around like a broken man. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart give an absolute masterclass in character and acting, supplemented by a star-making performance from Dafne Keen. I wouldn’t want to be the actor that has to follow Jackman when the inevitable X-men reboot goes ahead – after 17 years in the role, he is Logan. The action scenes are sparse, but next-level-superb throughout – the highlight being the first time were introduced to Laura (a 10 minute fight-chase). As for flaws, there are only a few minor ones: Stephen Merchant’s horrific accent brings you right out of the film; and it spends a bit too much time introducing and building some minor characters. One of the main criticisms leveled against this is that it’s too “depressing” or “downbeat”, which I assume came from the same people who would prefer to see robots leveling cities. Logan is a character-driven road-trip western film (that happens to contain superheros) rammed with pathos and peril – what’s not to love?! It’s brutal, dark, raw, emotional, and – for me – this is the new standard for ALL future Marvel / Superhero / Comic Book movies.

Score: 9/10

LOGAN 2017 Xavier Hugh Jackman, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Stephen Merchant, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, Elizabeth Rodriguez, James Mangold

Blade Runner, Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, M. Emmet Walsh, Daryl Hannah, William Sanderson, Brion James, Joe Turkel, Joanna Cassidy, James Hong, Morgan Paull, Ridley Scott, Wake up time to die

Blade Runner (The Final Cut): A retired replicant hunter (aka a Blade Runner) must return to track down four fugitive android impostors in 2019 Los Angeles. It’s unbelievable to think that this was released in 1982 as everything about it looks and feels like a ‘modern’ movie: it’s still breathtaking, brimming with scenes and imagery that are nothing short of pure spectacle. Almost every shot is striking; and the scale/intricacy of the sets & worldbuilding is unbelievable. Despite all of this, Ridley isn’t above some tremendously naff product placement: Coca Cola billboards, Budweiser signage, Atari holograms, and a final fight illuminated by a humongous neon TDK sign… classy! There’s also a questionable sex scene and dubious mis-use of midget actors – to give the film a little edge and distraction. If imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery; you know that Blade Runner is a top-drawer sci-fi, as the future-metropolis aesthetics and theme of ‘what makes us human’ are echo through pretty much every subsequent Sci-Fi classic: Ghost in the Shell, The Fifth Element, Minority Report, The Matrix, Dark City, Total Recall, Brazil, Looper, Akira, Ex Machina… the list is endless. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the starting point for the movie (Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dear of Electric Sheep?” is a SF masterpiece). Overall, Blade Runner is a parodically boilerplate pulp/noir story; yet the world created & proto “cinema du look” style paired with the outstanding source material & sci-fi twists, propel this film into classic territory.

Score: 9/10

Blade Runner, Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, M. Emmet Walsh, Daryl Hannah, William Sanderson, Brion James, Joe Turkel, Joanna Cassidy, James Hong, Morgan Paull, Ridley Scott, Wake up time to die

Blade Runner, Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, M. Emmet Walsh, Daryl Hannah, William Sanderson, Brion James, Joe Turkel, Joanna Cassidy, James Hong, Morgan Paull, Ridley Scott, Wake up time to die

Blade Runner, Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, M. Emmet Walsh, Daryl Hannah, William Sanderson, Brion James, Joe Turkel, Joanna Cassidy, James Hong, Morgan Paull, Ridley Scott, Wake up time to die

Blade Runner, Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, M. Emmet Walsh, Daryl Hannah, William Sanderson, Brion James, Joe Turkel, Joanna Cassidy, James Hong, Morgan Paull, Ridley Scott, Wake up time to die

The Love Witch Banner Poster Samantha Robinson, Gian Keys, Laura Waddell, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, Jared Sanford, Robert Seeley, Jennifer Ingrum, Clive Ashborn, Stephen Wozniak, Elle Eva

The Love Witch: a modern-day witch is testing her potions on handsome men in a quest to find true love. I don’t think I’ve seen a more accurate and loving homage to retro-cinema… the saturated colours, audio fidelity, camera techniques, soundtrack, editing, clothes, lighting, stilted dialogue, and general B-movie tackiness… it’s all there, and it’s all immaculate; to the point where it’s difficult to accurately date. There’s also no other way to describe the fantastical / surreal / dreamlike / kitschy aesthetic than a “luscious eyegasm”. It is, however, disappointing that the actual content of the film is wafer thin: there’s a lot of super-shallow and tedious “but what IS love” type chatting and, more generally, it sticks far too rigidly to the 60s B-movie structure without adding or updating a single point. Picking up a 15-rating, it’s also a touch on the timid side for what could (and should?) have been a great gore-fest or sexploitation romp. The final complaint is that – although it’s absolutely gorgeous – the film is 30-minutes too long: the entire final act (renaissance fair / musical numbers) really tries the viewers patience. I’m not 100% sure it’s the feminist piece it’s being championed as (it’s a mental woman on a killing spree) but I will say that this is pure catnip for goth/burlesque/alternative people. The Love Witch is a film that puts everything in to its style and vision; leaving the rest of the film feeling slight… although blimey Charlie, it doesn’t half look beautiful.

Score: 4/10

The Love Witch Laboratory Samantha Robinson, Gian Keys, Laura Waddell, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, Jared Sanford, Robert Seeley, Jennifer Ingrum, Clive Ashborn, Stephen Wozniak, Elle Evans

The Love Witch Interior Samantha Robinson, Gian Keys, Laura Waddell, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, Jared Sanford, Robert Seeley, Jennifer Ingrum, Clive Ashborn, Stephen Wozniak, Elle EvansThe Love Witch Pentagram Samantha Robinson, Gian Keys, Laura Waddell, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, Jared Sanford, Robert Seeley, Jennifer Ingrum, Clive Ashborn, Stephen Wozniak, Elle Evans