Monday, 7 December 2015

Funny Games (1997)

Director - Michael Haneke

The film that put Haneke on the map. Two young men take a family hostage in their summer home. Really uncomfortable to watch despite the fact that almost none of the violence happens on screen. By far and away the best film to deal with one of Haneke’s major obsessions - the depiction of violence in films and how the audience reacts to it. Haneke doesn’t make bad films. Essential viewing.

Hesher (2010)

Director - Spencer Susser

Mum dies in a car crash, dad finds it hard to leave the sofa and TJ (Devin Brochu) their teen son is getting into all sorts of post-traumatic trouble. So far so American indie drama. Then Joseph Gordon-Levitt turns up as the title character. It's almost as if he’s stepped out of a totally different movie. Hesher is a potty-mouthed delinquent. You know this as he has long hair and looks perma-stoned. The whole thing never really gels. Levitt tries his best to act like he imagines those sort of people are, but comes across as a total caricature. Could have been good, Brochu is a real find, but the film just doesn’t work. Best avoided.

Suspiria (1977)

Director - Dario Argento

Arguably Argento’s masterpiece, this is a step away from his Giallo roots and into the world of full-on horror. An American ballet dancer turns up for her first day at her new school in Germany only to find that everything is a little upside down. Oh and a couple of students have been brutally murdered (in one of Argento’s greatest set-pieces). Witches, huge Goblin soundtrack, lots of rain, cinematography that you sink into and a script that only just hangs together. Horror films never looked this good again. 

The Offence (1972)

Director - Sidney Lumet 

Gritty British cop drama staring Sean Connery as a cop that kills a suspect during an interrogation. Not quite up there with Lumet’s greatest films (Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, 12 Angry Men), but for a taught itchy '70s drama you could do far worse.

Profondo rosso [Deep Red] (1975)

Director - Dario Argento

Argento’s first stone-cold classic, is this tale about a jazzer (David Hemmings) who witnesses one of his neighbours being offed, and sets about trying to figure out what the heck is going on. Argento makes a huge leap forward with his cinematography with elaborate tracking shots and incredible close ups. If you’re new to the big world of Argento you could do worse than starting here. Gorgeous score by Goblin too.

Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! (2008)

Director - Mark Hartley

The title says it all, this is a wild, fast-paced doc about Australian b-movies from the late '60s through to the start of the '90s. Leaping through porn, car-porn, horror and comedy director Hartley obvious not only knows his subject but is head-over-heels about it. By the time the end credits roll you’ll have scribbled down a huge list of ‘must see’ films. Really entertaining.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Mitt liv som hund [My Life as a Dog] (1985)

Director - Lasse Hallström

Wonderful Swedish film about a boy who goes to live with his weird uncle in rural Sweden once his mother becomes ill. Odd, dark, very dramatic and best of all surprisingly funny. Sadly Hallström wouldn’t make many more films as well balanced as this once he crossed the pond. Perfect rainy Sunday afternoon viewing.