Back to the Scene of the Shock

The Shock Doctrine (Mat Whitecross & Michael Winterbottom, 2009)

Last year I reviewed The Shock Doctrine, a documentary I found fascinating and moving as well as extremely saddening in parts.  It is now available legally on Youtube.  I recommend it unconditionally to anyone and everone.  Watch it with an open and critical mind, decide for yourself if you agree.  It is a brilliant thesis or a dreadful misappropriation of the truth depending on your point of view.  I may lean to the former but I implore you to look for yourself and see if you agree.

Watch it HERE.

(I can’t embed it because 4OD won’t let me)

Lunatics

24. The Crazies (Breck Eisner, 2010)

A remake of the little known George A. Romero film from the early 70s, this is a pretty entertaining slice of small-town America gone awry.  Ogden Marsh is the town in question and it is, all of a sudden, subject to some very strange goings on.  People are starting to act very in very strange, violent and dangerous ways and it is up to the town Sheriff to see if he can figure it out.  That would ordinarily be the set up and resolution for a film of this kind but credit where it is due because this film moves at breakneck speed.  There’s no bedding in period for this small town, you get all the information within five minutes and there is a simple and highly effective scene on the local baseball field which kicks off the action.  Everything proceeds with some hast from that point on and that’s what allows the film to take several turns I wasn’t expecting.  I won’t spoil it but after about half an hour the film has rattled through the story that a regular small town horror film would take for its duration.  The Crazies doesn’t do much wrong, but it doesn’t really do anything spectacular it is just a really solid piece of entertainment that is well filmed and well worth 90 minutes of your Friday night.  Special mention to English actor Joe Anderson as the deputy, upstaging his American counterparts with a damn good performance.

The Right Man

23. The short films of Jason Reitman

Someone put me on to the short films of up and coming film director and all round top chap Jason Reitman.  You might better know him as the director of Thank You for Smoking, Juno and Up in the Air – three excellent films.  But a quick dig around the internet reveals three of his early efforts are available to watch, and because I’m a diamond geezer I’ve stuck them up here for you.

First up is In God We Trust.  A cracking short film about karma and the actions of your life being totted up to see whether you get heaven or hell.  Our hero spies a chance to skew the result and goes on a last ditch mission to get to the pearly gates.  Smart, sharp, fast and funny have a watch (thanks to Leon Hurley from Official Playstation Magazine for the tip on this).

Gulp is more of a tech demo, showcasing some of the creative film-making techniques at Reitman’s disposal. There’s nothing major to it really but there are some definite hints about the style that would later emerge in his feature career.

Finally there is the extended comedy sketch of Consent. That’s all it really is but it is funny and manages to push the joke as far as it should go without overdoing it.  It’s also nice to see Reitman being loyal to his Jeff Witzke and giving him roles in all three of these short films as well as his features.

Blackalicious

22. Black Dynamite (Scott Sanders, 2009)

The first thing most people see or hear about Black Dynamite is the superb trailers that did the rounds on the internet back in 2008/2009.  So if you haven’t heard about it before I suggest you watch this trailer and get down with your bad self.

This is Michael Jai White’s passion project and he’s put together a really solid comedy.  Yes it is only really one joke, a parody of 70s blaxploitation pics, but it is a good one.  Taken to an extreme and then pushed even further this is clearly a film made with affection and some pretty sharp knowledge of the era it mimics.  Crash zooms, visible boom mics, low grade film, lionising kung fu – it’s all here.  Treat yourself and get this smooth, smooooth piece of action watched.

Small Budget and Big Ambition

21. Batman: City of Scars (Aaron Schoenke, 2010)

I had written a big piece about this Batman fan-film, including a list of the best fan films out there and the possible impact on the industry itself.  But then I thought it was pretty good and decided to shop it around a few publications to see if they were interested.  So you get the abbreviated version, for now…

Watch this Batman fan-film. I quite liked it.Roblox Robux Hack 2017

The Thing That Will Not Die

I know what you’re thinking. “Damn, is he still around?”

Well yes, as it happens, I am still around.  I’ve just been a very busy boy and as a result I haven’t had time to be doing all the reviews I usually would.  So here’s a rundown of some important stuff that has happened and may be happening soon:

  • I’ve made £350 this year from writing. Which is not a lot of money but pretty good considering how busy I’ve been and it is hopefully the start of something that will continue for the rest of my life. I might have another Guardian piece on the way soon and I have a monthly writing gig with exciting downloadable magazine FirstPlay. Available on your PS3 via the PSN Store now.
  • I’ve only watched about 15-20 films so far this year. Which is a shame because it is something I really love but that will change over the summer and I’ll continue to write for as long as possible.
  • I have passed the PGCE course & I have a job lined up to boot.
  • I am entering into tentative negotiations about putting the Chris vs Cinema formula into another medium.  More will hopefully be revealed soon.

So I’m back writing and hopefully reviewing over the next few months, but there is a clutch of films I have watched and not told you all about. So I’m going to do a brisk run through the lot of them now in a series of one-sentence micro-reviews.

Brace yourself…

3. District 13 – Ultimatum (Patrick Alessandrin, 2009) Disappointing sequel to the excellent French parkour action movie.
4. The Simpsons Movie (David Silverman, 2007) Almost an apology of a film, as though they had to do it to prove it works better in half hour chunks and now they can concentrate on that.
5. District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009) Brilliant, brutal, funny and scary sci-fi – proving that you can be smart and have dumb fun whilst looking good all at the same time.
6.The Hurt Locker (Catherine Bigelow, 2008) Oscar nabbing journey into the mind of a soldier is further proof that Bigelow is an excellent modern chronicler of masculinity.
7. The Wicker Man (Neil LaBute, 2006) Jesus titty-fucking Christ. See below.
8. Clue (Jonathan Lynn, 1985) Witty, silly and jolly good fun watching Tim Curry ham it up.
9. Up in the Air (Jason Reitman, 2009) Slick, sad and achingly beautiful – Jason Reitman has a pretty good track record so far.
10. A Streetcar Named Desire (Elia Kazan, 1951) #203 in IMDB top 250. Brando is an animal, Leigh is cheddar and the support is excellent – efficiently directed by whistle blowing tell-tale Kazan.
11. Logorama (François Alaux, Hervé de Crécy & Ludovic Houplain, 2009) Stunning Oscar winning animation, watch it here and now.
12. The Descent: Part 2 (Jon Harris, 2009) Pointless and insulting sequel whose only noteworthy scenes are weak reshoots from the original.
13. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009) Foul mouthed, verbose, irreverent and fun – welcome back QT.
14. Kick Ass (Matthew Vaughan, 2010) Foul mouthed, violent, irreverent and fun – Good day Mr Vaughan.
15. Solomon Kane (Michael J. Bassett, 2009) No nonsense adaptation of the pulpy stuff, all the better for it.
16. The Losers (Sylvain White, 2010) Slightly misfiring A-Team knock off adapted from a superior comic.
17. The Killer Inside Me (Michael Winterbottom, 2010) Mean piece of work with stunning central performance from Casey Affleck.
18. Zombieland (Ruben Fleischer, 2009) Highly enjoyable piece of throwaway fluff.
19. Iron Man 2 (Jon Favreau, 2010) Missed opportunity to capitalise on the original success, too many storylines and not enough of Tony being a wisecracking rich wanker.
20. Ong Bak: The Beginning (Tony Jaa, Panna Rittikrai, 2008) Cracking martial arts can’t disguise the fact that Tony Jaa had a breakdown filming this – it’s all over the place but beautifully so.

Whilst watching Neil LaBute’s utterly bizarre Wicker Man remake I decided to ‘live tweet’ the experience. The following nonsensical ramblings are a remarkably accurate portrayal of this genuinely odd piece of film-making…

Fucking hell that’s a weird start. Cage is banging in some right acting.

#wickermantwitblog Blonde girl in red being hit by truck motif. New twist on a classic cinema trope. Transcendant stuff. 10:14 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Was Neil Labute on very strong drugs? Cage clearly is. 10:27 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Leelee Sobieski! Cor, I used to fancy her rotten. Very pretty. Especially dressed in gingham. 10:31 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Lookit Cage’s eyes. Almost popping out of his head. Sobieski’s a fine vision though. 10:40 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog The Crow! Little Fibbers. A big fibber. 10:47 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Rowan is……. Dead? Superb acting, all forehead. 10:48 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Channel 5 are working hard to fuck this up even more than it is already. The ad for Vacancy is a reminder of good genre. 10:55 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Double fake out dream. Classic since American Werewolf. Neglects to use rowboat to get to plane. Madness. 11:08 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog No ill effects to swimming trip. Gun emptied? Probably not. HOODIES! Creepy Cage uses subtle b&e technique. 11:10 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Bees – all up in me face. Hilarious run through the field there Nicky. 11:20 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Cage seemingly immune to bees now. Ellen Burstyn looks alright for her age – she seems a bit embarrassed to be in this. 11:26 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Where is this island community getting their supply of padlocks? 11:30 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog How’dit get burned? Did they let Cage get bent off his tits before shooting every scene? 11:34 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Badly CGI’d blind women are a bit creepy. Where’s Leelee? I liked her. 11:41 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog It makes sense if that crap he drinks at the start of the film is crazy juice. 11:44 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Pow! Cage smashes woman right in the kisser. Bam! 11:44 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Ah ’tis the bearsuit. Shame Leelee has gone crackers. Swift kick to the chops has seen to her. Cage striking for misogyny 11:46 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Kapow! And another lady laid out. Is he after a record or something? 11:48 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog How fast is that kid? And I’m starting to wonder if there actually is a Wicker Man in this. 11:50 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog She’s not answered one fucking question properly. I’d shoot her for kicks. 11:52 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog There is a wicker man. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA my legs! Oh m’god. 11:53 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog Well that’s sort of similar really. I’d heard it was wildly different. It’s shit, obviously. But interestingly weird. 11:57 PM Jan 25th via web

#wickermantwitblog I’m over at the Police Academy? Bees in her fanny! 11:59 PM Jan 25th via web