Category Archives: Drama

Chemical Peel (2014)

Director: Hank Braxtan
Starring: Natalie Victoria, Arielle Brachfeld, Stephanie Greco, Lacy Fisher, Lony’e Perrine.USA. 1h 35m

I’d be a terrible hypocrite if I claim to champion indie movies and let this one slip by without raising a glass to it. Now I might be slightly biased with my opinion about this low budget horror but I was awake at about 3am feeling like death had warmed me up, delirious with a fever I thought a movie would help me pass over to a better place, and this gem cropped up, I love the title Chemical Peel, it sounds so grotty. So while high on chewable morphine I really got into the movie, I should add that later on I watched Blood Glacier for the first time and was doubly blown away. I have since watched the movie on tree more occasions and each time I’ve been laid up in bed with a virus and knocking on heavens door. I guess this makes it my official sick flick? Continue reading Chemical Peel (2014)

Naked (1993)

Director: Mike Leigh.
Starring. David Thewlis, Lesley Sharp, Katrin Cartlidge, Peter Wright, Ewen Bremner, Gina McKee, Greg Cruttwell. UK. 2h 12m.

It’s hard to talk about this brilliant, tres controversial, sour drama without describing it as a poignant thought provoking and slightly disturbing nocturnal odyssey, it’s the darkest journey throughout London by an unemployed Mancunian on the run after attempting to rape his date. But Johnny (Thewlis) is an infection character, he manages to draw people to him almost like a guardian angel at first, talking a language which they begin to understand, with his unique charm and eloquence but eventually he begins to erupt like a volcano of theories and rude personal attacks, and then he’s hot on the trail for the next conquest like a devil scavenging in the dark. Continue reading Naked (1993)

Red Dragon (2002)

Director: Brett Ratner
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes . USA. 2h 4m

There comes a time when every movie is going to be remade, no matter how cult or classic the original is. But did we really need this remake of the near perfect Michael Mann gusty thriller Manhunter (1986), Originally Brian Cox played the flesh eating doctor, but while his take on the now iconic doctor; is different from Hopkins laid back soft talker, Cox’s interpretation is very apt for the direction of Mann’s psychological dog fighting style. Is the Hopkins trademark on the character so powerful that he gets to shoulder his way through to complete his trilogy. Well, Dino De Laurentiis, producer of both Manhunter and Red Dragon and effectively the Lecter copyright holder, has decreed it. So Anthony Hopkins returns, for the final time, because after this he vowed never to play the role again and it’s not surprising as the task was given to Brett Ratner to facilitate, a director who can handle a fast paced popcorn action flick but really struggled with this type of deep psychological and powerfully cerebral thriller. If only this was an equally horrific sentimental comedy, like The Family Man, where Ratner would feel more at home. Continue reading Red Dragon (2002)

A Thought of Ecstasy

Director: Rolf Peter Kahl,
Starring: Rolf Peter Kahl, Ava Verne, Deborah Kara Unger, Lena Morris. Germany/USA. 1h 30m

This gentle murmur of a movie is half waking dream and half private investigation but the apparent nightmare that runs throughout its winding narrative is hidden behind a psychosexual noir.

A majority of the movie follows a bemused love sick German trailing around the American desert, in search for his estranged lover. With long sun bleached shots of the desert where naked bodies writhe together, mixed with elaborate sexual encounters set to pounding electronic soundtracks, the movie feels like a series of naughty dreams, but it’s easily missed quirk, is that the movie is strangely set in the near future, in an America going through a unusual heat wave and kind of political turmoil, this erotic thriller is science fiction as much as it’s art house, but the blend, while unusual is pretty captivating.

After finding a random book that reminds him of a heated love affair he had 20 years previous with a woman named Marie, Frank (Kahl) is spurred on by the reminder of their dark sexy fuelled romps, and immediately heads out to the USA to investigate the author. Her literary agent Liz (Unger) confirms the author is the same Marie, but has no contact details for her. Frank hangs around and meets a sex worker named Nina who sets up sophisticated scenarios with her colleague ?? and the pair record the sessions, Frank can’t help notice the similarity of Nina in both the women and becomes their cameraman in order to be closer to them, as he continues to read the book/journal about the mysterious Marie who he thought he knew but is only now discovering.

This is one of those movies where the journey is the movie, the destination is something you work out after the film had ended and that’s pretty unusual, but there’s a beautiful meandering sequence of sets and encounters to experience instead of gripping hold of a solid narrative and trying to mentally rip it apart, A Thought of Ecstasy forces it’s audience to sit back and feel and experience the delirium along with Frank.

Love is immortal. Seduction is Inevitable. Revenge is irresistible.

In-between scenes of Frank driving around the desert, reading Marie’s book, which runs like a journal of her time in the desert, his time alone is pretty dry, but once he’s with Nina and co, while she is a sex worker the movie slides into soft core porn, there’s plenty of nudity and sex, which I a lot of people were willing to trash it because of this, but accepting that it’s part of adult life the movie’s ability to shift totally is really impressive. Time seems to slow down, movements become like chorographical dance, is washed out sunny USA becomes soft and luxurious and very dark both in lighting and mood, this nightlife is very different and very seductive. You can see why Frank wants to be there, but the nagging feeling is that someone wants Frank to want to be there, and this is the big mystery which slowly unfolds to it’s resolute climax.

Rolf Peter Kahl, is the holy trinity of this project, director, writer and star, so while this is his all about him, you can only assume that the film is a perfect rendition of his original concept. It’s pretty easy to sit back and enjoy what’s put before you, it’s also impossible to just ignore that there is a bigger picture within a narrative that’s filled with naked bodies to move your attention away from the nitty gritty, or at least that’s how I felt about it.

On the surface it’s an attractive movie, but underneath all the softcore it’s a well of dark desires, death, a very distressing ending which is somewhat glazed over, but once you get it, it’s bloody brilliant if you can get through all the tits and art house it’s fully rewarding.

Rating 6/10

R: Amer (2009)
L: Desert Trip

Post Discussion

The Sacrament (2013)

Director: Ti West
Starring: Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen, Kentucker Aduley .USA. 1h 39m

Without any official admission this dramatic found footage movie is obviously based on Jim Jones and the mass suicide that he orchestrated at Jonestown. In all fairness the film gives a fairly accurate playback of the terrible events which occurred in Guyana, it does have a touch of cinematic license but for me, the kick in the gut wasn’t the shocking deaths but instead the failure to really show any respect to the dead. It was never the aim to reiterate the story blow by blow, that’s what documentaries and books are for, instead the movie dives in from a found footage aspect trying to give a fly on the wall view into the largest mass suicides in living memory. Continue reading The Sacrament (2013)

The Wicker Man (1973)

Director: Robin Hardy
Based on: The Ritual by David Pinner
Starring: Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Ingrid Pitt, Diane Cilento .UK. 1h 27m

In the past decade Horror Folklore as a genre has raised its curious demonic fiery head. This new dawning, pioneered by new cult directors such as Ben Wheatley, Ari Aster, Gavin Liam and Roger Eggers to name a few haven’t been able to make a movie without it being likened to the pioneering game changer, Robin Hardy’s slow-burning chiller The Wicker Man.

Looking back at it’s small budget and menial takings at the cinema, numerous cuts and actors paying for critics seats, it’s rise to cult status wasn’t a simple one but what it achieved was truly unique, not even it’s remake was able to mimic it’s true sense of dread and horror. Continue reading The Wicker Man (1973)

Belzebuth (2017)

Director: Emilio Portes.
Starring. Joaquin Cosio, Tate Ellington, Tobin Bell, Aurora Gil. Mexico. 1h 54m.

Whenever I need a real horror fix I usually find it within the ranks of non English, or at least non Hollywood movies, the last thing which really rocked my boat was the Turkish Baskin (2015) and the aptly named Aterrados/Terrified (2017) from Argentina to name a few, but in nearby Mexico I found a gem in Belzebuth. I was quite pleasantly surprised about this violent demonic film from seasoned director Portes, who’s mainly known for his fast paced action comedies, so to see him traverse this new genre like a pro says much about his outstanding directorial qualities and hopefully we’ll see more from him in the future, with this blinding spiritual sequel to Pastorela (2011). Continue reading Belzebuth (2017)

Història de la meva mort / The Story of my Death (2013)

Director: Albert Serra
Starring: Eliseu Huertas, Lluís Serrat Massanellas, Vicenç Altaió . UK. 2h 28m

Albert Serra, the Catalan trailblazer, always fascinates with his interpretations and adaptations of withering classic figures. Through a dusty lense he creates lavish cultured tapestries for them to play in, sometimes seeming alive now and again they seem as fragile and shaggy relics they have left behind.

His baroque mix up of pleasure meets desire in the guise of Cassanova meets Dracula combines fantasy and fiction in a flight of fancy style, at times it’s pretty grotesque while bolsters by lots of risque blush and tickles, a truly great adventure set against an unusual Transylvanian setting. Continue reading Història de la meva mort / The Story of my Death (2013)

Wild Away (2020)

Director: Iyke Odife
Starring: Ruth Kadiri, Tootsweet Annan, Melvin Odua .Nigeria. 1h 40m

Marriage can be a difficult game to play, even when you are a player.. That seems to be the surreal message of this painful romantic drama.

A married woman (Kadiri) is torn between her average husband and a charming Prince who is willing to turn down another royal and his life in a royal household just to be with her but she just can’t make up her mind. Continue reading Wild Away (2020)

Death Ship (1980)

Director: Alvin Rakoff
Starring: George Kennedy, RIchard Crenna, Nick Mancuso, Victoria Burgoyne. Canada. 1h 31m

Death Ship could easily be labelled as another prime example of how the horrors of World War II still plague the minds of modern man, with acts so cruel, barbaric and insane that the strong cinematic belief that this pinnacle of human shame has the power to infect and infest. Time and time again movies find the dark depraved experiments and human torture so hard to portray on screen that it’s analogiased as a demonic haunting, let’s face it, witnessing world War ii is like peering into vignettes of hell.

I wouldn’t want to say this was the blueprint for future ocean horrors but it so easy to see its effects in the tangled mess of Triangle (2009) and the palatable Ghost Ship (2002) the mechanics of this salty horror have more in common with Outpost (2008) and Christine (1983) and in my humble opinion Amityville (1979). Continue reading Death Ship (1980)