Blank City

I’m a sucker for documentary films that show me an outlet for unadulterated and exuberant passion. In and among the poverty of Seventies and Eighties New York, Celene Danhier’s remarkable film Blank City gives us a compelling and well worked out cinematic essay on the politics and artistry of the place and time. Ultimately, it is your basic talking heads documentary, interspersed with footage that redefines cinematic cool. The speakers are far too numerous to list – choice cuts include: Eric Mitchell, John Waters, John Lurie, Amos Poe, Steve Buscemi and Jim Jarmusch – and most of them are fascinating … Continue reading Blank City

Evil In The Time Of Heroes

Ancient Greeks and modern life meets zombies in a timeywimey action horror. Sounds like a laugh, right? Wrong. An ancient evil is released (don’t ask how – the movie doesn’t say), and a handful of survivors must hole up against a gargantuan zombie horde. The streets are deserted, other than the pockets of very fast-on-their-feet zombies. It’s like 28 Days Later, but with better gore effects and an even weaker story. This is almost certainly the goriest film you will see this year. Each of our main characters is introduced by a swift dousing in stage blood – think Noel … Continue reading Evil In The Time Of Heroes

The Last Rites of Ransom Pride

“We killed every man, we killed every child, we killed every goddamn dog! And we rode all the women, and when they couldn’t ride no more, we killed them!” Set in Glory, Texas and the Mexican border – The Last Rites of Ransom Pride is a rather dull action Western. The story deals with prostitute Juliette Flowers (Lizzie Caplan) and her quest to claim the body of her murdered lover, the titular scoundrel Ransom Pride (Scott Speedman). However, the body is being held by Bruja (Cote de Pablo) a mysterious, disfigured leader of a town in Mexico with an axe … Continue reading The Last Rites of Ransom Pride

Outcast

Outcast is a strange concoction of occult fantasy and social drama – think Ken Loach meets Angel Heart and you’re on the right track. An Irish woman, Mary (Kate Dickie) and her teenage son, Fergal (Niall Bruton) move to a lower-class council estate somewhere in “Bonnie Scotland, Lothian” and try to settle down. They are being chased by a pair of hunters, Cathal (James Nesbitt) and Liam (Ciarán McMenamin) – sworn to rid the world of a beast which is following Mary and Fergal. Their next door neighbour Petronella – a Scottish/Romanian girl saddled with a mentally-challenged tank of a … Continue reading Outcast

SoulBoy

Joe McCain (Martin Compston) is a young man in the slump of his life – not educated enough to escape from his rural village in Nowheresville up North, and has found nothing in his life to stir passion, other than girls. A gorgeous hairdresser, Jane (Nicola Burley) catches his eye, as does her collection of Northern Soul badges and records and in a weak attempt to impress her, attempts to bluff his way into the scene. Before long, Soul music becomes his life, with weekly trips to the Wigan Casino to manage. Drugs are a natural extension to this life … Continue reading SoulBoy

The People versus George Lucas

Fanboys are excellent at bitching about minutae over series they love; you give ’em an inch, they’ll run off with a list of gripes as long as your arm. While offering no new discoveries about the man in charge of Star Wars, Alexandre O Philippe’s movie is a rather affectionate fanboy love-in and whingefest about the galaxy far, far away and its checkshirted creator. The People vs George Lucas starts off with a set of hand-drawn and witty animated title cards and a short history of George Lucas: a misfit child, a genius photographer, car-crash victim, through to UCLA graduate. … Continue reading The People versus George Lucas

Superhero Me

Superhero Me immediately makes me think of all those deliciously sad people who wrote Jedi as their religion at the last census. They are such lovely, deluded creatures. First-time documentary filmmaker Steve Sale decides to become a superhero. His journey begins by recruiting comic-book experts for basic intelligence, for various traits that superheroes must have. In desperation, he even interviews his parents; when asked about superpowers, his dad comes out with “If you call Luck a superpower, I’ve got that!” So, to become a superhero, without obvious exceptional gifts, he recruits the help of a personal trainer – starting off … Continue reading Superhero Me

Thunder Soul

Thunder Soul is a sheer delight of a film. It is a sincere love-letter to the dedicated educators and inspirational individuals who can shape so many lives. Expertly made, passionately enthusiastic, it is one of the best films of the year. It was the early Seventies, and a blazing hot funk band was born. They were the Kashmere Stage Band,  phenomenally talented youngsters, led by Conrad “Prof” Johnson – one of those rare teachers; a startlingly talented composer and a leader who enforced discipline. A 37-year teaching veteran, he guided his pupils to develop their musical talents, and inspired respect … Continue reading Thunder Soul

World’s Greatest Dad

Divorced, mild-mannered teacher and wannabe author Lance Clayton (Robin Williams) is saddled with a wretched excuse for a teenage son, Kyle (Daryl Sabara – the sweet, puny kid from the delightful Spy Kids franchise). All his efforts at connecting with Kyle result in frustration and barely contained revulsion. His non-domestic life is equally in the doldrums: his poetry group is riddled with lazy plagiarist nitwits, a clandestine relationship with Claire (Alexie Gilmore), a frankly bobble-headed narcissist art teacher is flip-flopping between Lance and his fellow English teacher Mike (Henry Simmons). Mike is younger, popular, an alpha-male and has crucially been … Continue reading World’s Greatest Dad