Director: Giorgos Lanthimos.
Starring. Aggeliki Papoulia, Aris Servetalis, Johnny Verkis, Ariane Labed, Maria Kirozi. Greece. 1h 33m.
After the amazing Dogtooth (2009) project, Lanthimos was a closely watched director, but his next project seemed like an amazing idea on paper but even with his surreal approach to film, personally I felt as if he missed his own target by being too realistic and not fantastical enough, or maybe the hype train mutated my anticipations to a level that not even a great director could reach.
ALPS is part is about a group of therapists who set up a business to allow families to get through the grieving process by supplying them with “trained” actors to play the roles of their loved ones, so they can have those precious last moments with them, say goodbye or to just have the feeling that they are still around for a few days. The drawbacks are that the actors don’t look like the people they are impersonating and they have to improvise on details the families give to them, hand written scripts and a few left over clothes but they make do, as method actors are especially adapted to do. Continue reading Alps (2012)
Director: Gerald Kargl
Starring:Erwin Leder, Edith Rosset, Josefine Lakatha, Sylvia Rabenreither. Austria. 1h 15m
I am constantly looking for films about serial killers that aren’t total let downs and after years of searching it seems I missed the boat as one of the greatest and more accurately disturbing films was released when I was a toddler, but despite its age it really hasn’t lost any of it’s vivacity and manages to detail the gruesome slaughtering of one family by a repetitive mass murder Werner Kniesek. Continue reading Angst / Fear (1983)
Director: Ben Wheatley Writer:Amy Jump
Starring: Julian Barratt, Michael Smiley, Reece Shearsmith, Ryan Pope and Richard Glover. UK. 1h 30m
A Field In England came out at a time when I was only just discovering how amazing Ben Wheatley is, after Sightseers (2012), Down Terrace (2009) and Kill List (2011) it was easy to see that he was quite a phenomenal director in his own write, and I especially admired his edition of the Dark Arts in kill List which seem to appear in a lot of his titles, and for quaint little twists that bound each kill victim together, maybe one day if he was related to another Wheatley who had mystified his audiences with the dark hearts back in the 70s??!!
But now he’s taking an historical turn with this unique black and white drama, Instead of speaking about the black hearts he’s going back to the original source, a group of men wandering around the English countryside during the civil war, after walking away from a battle; an act that they could easily have been hung for, they managed to hook up with a devout and cruel necromancer and fall under his dark spells, O’Neill (Smiley) terrorises the rest of the men and provokes them into helping him find a stash of treasure, while under the influence of hallucinogenic mushrooms. Continue reading A Field in England (2013)
Director: Alex Garland.
Based on: Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer
Starring. Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac. USA. 1h 57m.
This newest visionary delight from Alex Garland, doesn’t fit into the typical science fiction category, with other Netflix releases like Bright (2017) and Cloverfield Paradox (2018), where the effects and story are both weak in the later and jarring this side step into the cerebral is exactly what a lot of dedicated science fiction fans have been craving for so very long now. Taking on a model similar to the legendary Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979) or Solaris (1971), Annihilation plunges it’s audience into a lavish and dangerous new world to explore along with a scattering of emotive flashbacks added purely for good measure. Continue reading Annihilation (2018)
Director: Alan Parker.
Starring. Mickey Rourke, Lisa Bonet, Robert De Niro. USA. 1h 53m.
In the dark final scenes of Angel Heart, after you’ve picked your jaw up and shaken the last hour and 1 hour 53 minutes out of your system the sweat dries, the blood and dust settles and it’s all quite simple to understand but it certainly didn’t’ feel that way only moments before and you begin to feel silly for not seeing all the warning signs as the detective story turns into a dark occult nightmare. Continue reading Angel Heart (1987)
Director: Peter Greenaway. Music: Michael Nyman
Starring. Brian Deacon, Eric Deacon, Andrea Ferreol, Frances Barber UK/Netherlands. 1h 51m.
It’s impossible to mention Greenaway without Nyman, the two work so well together (until their falling out.. ) but it’s noteworthy to mention that this is the first collaboration with cinematographer Sacha Vierny and who he referred to as the most important collaborator, Vierny passed in the 1990s.
The film has lots of subtexts; the first is loss and grieving. Twin zoologists, Oswald and Oliver Deuce are at work studying animal behaviour when their wives are killed in a car tragic accident involving a large white swan which crashes through the windscreen, the eccentric woman who was driving the car, Alba Bewick (Ferreol) survives but has to have her leg amputated. Continue reading A Zed & Two Noughts (1985)
Director: Peter Fleischmann.
Original book same title by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
Starring. Alexander Philippenko, Edward Zentara, Werner Herzog. Russia/USSR/(West)Germany. 1h 59m.
While trying to get hold of the second remake of Hard to be a God (2013) I noticed a resurgence of the earlier remake from the 80’s and managed to watch them in chronological order, not that it matters much as they are two extremely different movies which look at different fragments of a brilliant science fiction story, originally written by Arkand and Boris Strugatsky, this is a simplistic version of a deeper more complicated story but it’s easier to watch and at times stomach more than the 2013 version.
On another planet out in the vast universe a simple civilisation is going through their Medieval period and it’s quite similar to ours, this has sparked interest in the more advanced cultures, namely us! An employee of the institute of experimental history from Earth is sent to this planet disguised as a noble named Rumata of Estor and he’s tasked to observe the culture and find the previous person who was sent there to also observe, another spy who has perished while trying to raise an unlucky coup against the main palace and Rumata has to take his place as a resident. He soon discovers that many of the 30 others have also perished in this harsh society and is soon pulled into the next coup Soon he meets all the horrors of medieval society, war, palace coups, mass executions, peasantry and they prove to be too barbaric for scientist, and he’s disgusted to find out that people are slaughtered if they are considered to be too intellectual, and thus keeping the society in a permanent state of Medieval life. Continue reading Es ist nicht leicht ein Gott zu sein / Hard to be a God (1989)
Director: Takashi Miike. Story by: Ryū Murakami
Starring. Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina. Japan. 1h 43m.
Famed as being one of the breakthrough modern Japanese video nasties, the Audition has a sacred place in the hearts of anyone who likes the gore and chills turned right up, from the granddaddy of Japanese bizarre cinema, Takashi Miike.
Based on the chilling horror novel The Audition By Ryū Murakami (thanks to @GiornataNera for the info, if you ever need someone awesome to follow on twitter check out this wonderful guy) and it captures an mesmerizing dreamlike feel when things start to get weird the “deeper” throws of the movie. Continue reading Odishon / The Audition (1999)
Director: Lamberto Bava
Starring. Michele Soavi, Andrew Occhipinti, Fabola Toledo, Anny Papa. Italy. 1h 50m.
The literal translation of the title is The House with the Dark Staircase which is a little bit more appropriate; at least for the opening scene. Initially cast as a mini-series the film was scraped by Italian TV moguls for being too violent, so re edited as a much shorter film.
Starting with a peculiar scene a groups of boys dare each other to go down some dark stairs (hence the name) eventually one of the boys is forced down into the darkness where he meets his grisly fate, from there Bava leisurely sets the pace of a whodunit with some impressive jump scares. Continue reading La Casa Con La Scala Nel Buio / A Blade in the Dark (1983)
Director: Alfonso Brescia.
Starring. Robert Hoffman, Irina Demick, Pilar Velazquez, Adolfo Celi. Italy. 1h 32m.
I’m not sure what the fascination is with the Giallo scene and parks, houses being on the edge, and girls getting killing in them. But this was a bit of a jumbled mess for me, I got the story but some of the characters were a little too bat-shit-crazy to make the film all that plausible. Continue reading Ragazza Tutta Nuda Assassinata Nel Parco / A girl killed in the park (1972)