Wednesday, 30 January 2019

POLAR (full review at Screen Realm)

Netflix’s new action movie, Polar, is based on Victor Santos’ webcomic and graphic novel of the same name. Polar tells the story of professional contract killer Duncan Visla (Mads Mikkelsen) a.k.a. The Black Kaiser, who is fourteen days off retirement. Once retired, his pension will cost his former employer Mr Blut (Matt Lucas), $8 million, unless Blut’s gang of assassins kill Duncan first, to become the default beneficiary.

Polar is the first of two frosty Mads Mikkelsen movies this year, with Joe Penna’s superb tale of sub-zero survival, Arctic, set for release in February. Do not confuse the two however, as Arctic is a sublime high tension nailbiter, while Polar is… most definitely not.

Read the full review at Screen Realm:
IMDB: Polar

Monday, 7 January 2019


Top 12 Movies of 2018

1. Mandy
Cosmatos and Cage proved a perfect match with a berserk tale of grief and revenge. Visually spectacular and continuing Cosmatos’ obsession with grotesque villains, outlandish weaponry and the 1980s. While it won’t be for everyone, Mandy has a bit more plot to chew on than Beyond The Black Rainbow and it rewards repeat viewing with its striking visuals and unsettling atmosphere.

2. Brawl in Cell Block 99
Released globally in 2017 but only making it to Australia in 2018, S. Craig Zahler’s swaggering prison flick stunned with its 70s anti-hero stylings, tough guy dialogue and unflinching brutality. It’s the perfect follow up to Bone Tomahawk, and utterly riveting in the slow build toward inevitable cataclysm. It’s also far, far better than its disappointing successor Dragged Across Concrete which got festival screenings this year.

3.  A Quiet Place
It takes considerable skill to create tension in a horror movie, but it’s another level of skill entirely to sustain that tension for the entire duration of a film. A Quiet Place demonstrates this ability with an almost implausible ease, creating a genuine nail biter around a simple yet irresistible concept, exceeding the hype in the process.

4. You Were Never Really Here
Lynne Ramsay’s grubby revenge picture is by turns, ugly and beautiful.  Very little violence is actually seen, yet such is Ramsay’s skill here, you walk out thinking you’ve seen far more brutality than you have. Joaquin Phoenix is fantastic as hired muscle on the trail of a missing girl and it’s another cracking entry in the resurgence of revenge movies over the last few years.

5. Euthanizer (Armomurhaaja)
Precisely as downbeat as you think movie about a pet euthanizer will be. Billed as a black comedy, it’s a classic case of a marketing department not knowing what to do with a film that does not sit comfortably within an established category. Yes, there is humour here, but it’s also a dark drama about bullying, loneliness and cruelty. Euthanizer wants us to consider our relationship with animals and asks some uncomfortable questions within that.  When you think it’s gone as dark as it will go, it goes darker, but it never feels exploitative.  However, Euthanizer is confronting, and I don’t recommend it if you’re feeling a bit fragile, but it’s still an excellent movie that deserves to find its audience in 2019.

6. The Night Comes For Us
Pure, distilled action insanity. Timo Tjahjanto belted out an inventive, brutal, action classic-in-waiting. If you pine for the days when John Woo was delivering stylishly violent set piece after set piece then look no further.  The Night Comes For Us is an action masterpiece and yeah I’m saying it, it’s better than The Raid.

7. The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs
The Coen Brothers’ western anthology comprises six unrelated frontier tales that nicely encapsulate everything that’s great about their filmography.  The deft comedy, the dark violence and the sublime dialogue - there is no one who writes dialogue better than the Coens on top form. The stories range from weird, to sinister, to idiosyncratic musical numbers, and yet they remind me of Ethan Coen’s short story anthology, Gates Of Eden, as much as anything. After the disappointment of Hail, Caesar!, The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs is a very welcome return to form.

8. American Animals
An innovatively told crime story concerning the attempted heist of valuable art books from a university library in 2004. Using actors and talking head footage of the people involved, American Animals succeeds in its unenviable task of mashing together drama and documentary, resulting in a hugely satisfying true crime film and cautionary tale against letting wild ideas get out of hand.

9. Ant-Man and the Wasp

A really great, fun sequel that doesn’t get too bogged down in the ongoing Avengers / MCU storyline and really benefits because of it. Ant-Man and the Wasp exists within that larger story, but has plenty of space to just do it’s own thing – which is more of the same fun capering we came to expect from the first movie. Ant-Man and the Wasp is also aided by its excellent cast, with great actors in smaller roles, including the surprising but very welcome addition of Hugh from The Detectorists (Divian Ladwa) as a truth serum wielding henchman. Great fun.

10. Arctic
Stranded on the Arctic tundra after his plane goes down, Mads Mikkelsen acts almost the entire movie on his own, in Joe Penna’s riveting wilderness survival tale. Another film that really manages to apply tension, but in an entirely different way from a horror movie.  It really puts you through the ringer.

11. Let The Corpses Tan
Cattet and Forzani’s most accessible movie is a sun bleached, leather creaking, speedometer cranking crime yarn that whittles down the numbers with double cross after double cross. A seedy peek at holiday resort euro-crime, that makes you feel hot and sweaty just from watching it.

12. Overlord
Overlord is not brain science, but then it never claims to be. What it does claim, is to pit a small band of Allied soldiers against a bunch monsters and evil nazi bastards, in the basement of a creepy old church. It’s silly and gory and historically ambivalent. But it delivers.

Honourable mentions

Still trying to formulate an opinion on this. It was waaay too long but there’s something about it that’s stuck with me, and I will definitely revisit it.

Paddington 2

Lacking the sheer surprise of the first movie, but a joyful heartwarmer nonetheless. Utterly impossible to dislike.

Isle Of Dogs

Wes Anderson’s futuristic,  Japanese, canine caper. Wonderfully animated and just the right amount of ‘strange’ to keep things interesting.

Mom and Dad

Another rampage movie from Crank co-director, Brian Taylor, with Nic Cage and Selma Blair trying to kill their kids. The best part is Cage listening to Reagan Youth in his basement!

Three Bilboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
Yeah that’s right, I was that one person that didn’t like it. I did not find the dark humour remotely amusing and there was a mean streak running throughout that left a bad taste. McDormand and the rest were great of course, but they couldn’t save this ugly movie.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

MOWGLI: LEGEND OF THE JUNGLE (full review at Screen Realm)

The much-delayed Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle finally arrives on our screens via Netflix and a limited cinema release. With a host of diverse filmmakers – from Ron Howard to Alejandro González Iñárritu – attached to the film at various times, the long-gestating project heralds Andy Serkis’ second feature as director following Andrew Garfield-starring biopic Breathe.

Originally scheduled for release back in 2016, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle was set to clash with Disney’s live action Jungle Book update, directed by Jon Favreau. But when two similar movies turn out at the same time, one will inevitably sink without trace. For example, not many folk will remember the 1991 Robin Hood movie starring Patrick Bergin that could not escape the shadow of Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, despite beating it to theatres by a month. However, they might recall the irony of the tables turning two years later, with Costner on the receiving end, his three-hour Wyatt Earp biopic getting upstaged by George P. Cosmatos’ rollicking Tombstone.

Read the full review at Screen Realm:

IMDB: Mowgli: The Legend Of The Jungle

Monday, 3 December 2018

CLIMAX (full review at Screen Realm)

Climax is the latest controversial feature from Gaspar Noé (Irreversible, Enter the Void, Love), purportedly based on true events, and setting the festival circuit aflutter with its seedy depiction of very a bad drug experience and stunning dance choreography.

The film takes place during the nineties and we’re introduced to various members of a French dance company via videotaped job interviews that preface the movie. We then meet the company as they let loose for a pre-tour party. The party progresses as you would expect, until they discover the sangria has been spiked, and with nearly the entire company having indulged, everyone begins to have a considerably bad time. And just in case it needs saying, things go downhill rather quickly.

Read the full review at Screen Realm:

IMDB: Climax

LORDS OF CHAOS (full review at Diabolique Magazine)

Lords of Chaos (2018) is the fourth feature from director Jonas Åkerlund, and charts the inception of Norwegian Black Metal in the early 1990s. The movie attempts to shine some light on mysterious progenitor Øystein Aarseth a.k.a. Euronymous, Olso’s infamous record shop Helvete and the bands that sprung up around it. But mostly it’s a segway into the outrageous, headline grabbing events that brought Norwegian Black Metal to the attention of the World.

Based on the book of the same name by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Soderlind (but omitting the salacious subtitle The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground), Lords Of Chaos is a hard film to categorise because as the creaky old saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction. So it emerges as part musical biopic, part thriller, part horror movie. It’s the age old story of teenagers being dickheads, large egos running rampant, money, suicide, church burning and murder.

Read the full review at Diabolique Magazine:

IMDB: Lords Of Chaos

Sunday, 25 November 2018

DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE (full review at Screen Realm)

Few filmmakers working today are as crucial as S.Craig Zahler. Novelist, screenwriter and with Bone Tomahawk and Brawl In Cell Block 99, the director of two of the best films this decade has seen so far. A renaissance man for pulp cinema, he’s even had time to scratch out an excellent column for Fangoria magazine on home made horror. In this reviewer’s opinion, only Jeremy Saulnier and Ben Wheatley can really give him a run for his money.

So with that in mind, it’s safe to say the bar is set quite high for Dragged Across Concrete, another foray into the type of pulpy crime universe Zahler is making his own. Unfortunately, instead of clearing that bar with ease, Concrete ducks just underneath it.

Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn) are two detectives, suspended from active duty after being captured on video using excessive force on a suspect. Ridgeman needs to move his family out of their bad neighbourhood and Lurasetti has an expensive wedding on the horizon, so with their ability to earn taken away from them, they turn to a less legal income stream. Working off a tip, they stake out a local drug lord, soon discovering what they thought would be a routine drug trade, is fact the preparation for an elaborate and savage bank robbery.

Read the full review at Screen Realm:

IMDB: Dragged Across Concrete

NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (full article at Diabolique Magazine)

In 1986 Fred Dekker, made his directorial debut with that trickiest of all genre blends – the horror comedy. He was twenty six years old, and wrote the movie in two weeks, incorporating all of his favourite elements of horror, science fiction and classic 50s B-movies into Night Of The Creeps. Although it failed to set the box office alight on release, Night Of The Creeps found its audience in the years to follow, developing into a popular cult favourite. As it enters its 32nd year, what better time to take a look at why Night Of The Creeps is still so much fun.

Read the full article at Diabolique:

IMDB: Night Of The Creeps