• Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

Birthing Hips Sink Ships: Dark Shadows & Improbable Feminism…

I will concede that I am fonder of Dark Shadows than most. I’ve been disappointed with a lot of Tim Burton’s recent output, but something about his revival of the seventies soap opera worked strangely well. I’ll be the first to concede that it’s pretty esoteric. After all, like Casa de mi Padre, it’s effectively one single joke stretched across a film’s runtime. However, I couldn’t help but warm to it, at least because it seemed like Burton was enjoying himself a lot more than head been with films like Alice in Wonderland. There was something quite cheeky about it, from the way that it portrayed its central character as ridiculously unheroic through to the fact that it was perhaps the year’s most subversive feminist film.

Indeed, watching the film again this weekend, it struck me just how feminist the narrative actually was, despite the somewhat superficial distractions from that.

darkshadows10

Continue reading

A View to a Bond Baddie: Francisco Scaramanga

To celebrate James Bond’s 50th birthday on screen, we’re going to take a look at the character and his films. We’ve already reviewed all the classic movies, so we’ll be looking at his iconic baddies, and even at the character himself.

You see, Mr Bond, like every great artist, I want to create an indisputable masterpiece once in my lifetime. The death of 007 mano a mano, face to face, will be mine.

You mean stuffed and displayed  over your rocky mantelpiece?

That’s an amusing idea,  but I was thinking in terms of history.  A duel between titans. My golden gun against your Walther PPK. Each of us with a 50-50 chance.

Six bullets to your one?

I only need one.

Scaramanga and Bond

Was there ever a better Bond villain wasted in a more terrible film? Okay, maybe Christopher Walken as Max Zorin comes close, but Christopher Lee as Francisco Scaramanga feels like the only potentially redemptive aspect of the tonally mismatched The Man With The Golden Gun, a movie about a duel to a death that involves a karate school, secret lairs, giant frickin’ lasers and a slide whistle. Scaramanga is easily the most compelling thing about the whole film, and that might explain the contempt that many people hold for it. After all, the eponymous assassin is missing for most of the middle section of the film.

The eyes of a killer…

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: The Woman in Black

The Woman in Black is a stately, old-fashioned horror film – the kind of Victorian era ghost story that I honestly feared had vanished from the multiplex. James Watkins’ adaptation of Susie Hill’s cult 1983 horror novel revels in the classic horror conventions, complete with jump scares, a stylish atmosphere and a hyperactive orchestral string section. It’s very much a loving resurrection of the type of classy conventional scary movies that have been replaced by serial killer or found footage films. There are moments when the movie might stick a little bit too close to that classic formula, and it feels a little brisk in the middle, but it’s a hugely enjoyable and thrilling experience.

Potter at the gates at dawn?

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: Dracula – Prince of Darkness

It’s interesting that Hammer chose to package Dracula: Prince of Darkness in the “best of” collection I picked up for my gran over Christmas. It isn’t that it’s hardly the strongest entry in Hammer’s canon, but it’s also not the strongest instalment in their Dracula franchise. It’s the third release in the series chronologically (and, arguably, in terms of quality), following The Horror of Dracula and The Brides of Dracula). It’s not a bad film, if you’re a fan of these sorts of sixties gothic horrors, but it’s not necessarily a good one either. It’s functional, if not efficient, and never really finds anything particularly compelling about any of its characters or its set up.

You can Count on me!

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: Hugo

I’m of two minds about Hugo. My inner cinephile loves it, soaking in Scorsese’s pure and unadulterated enthusiasm for cinema, finding a way to engage his audience with an adventure that literally branches through the history of cinema. On the other hand, it seems more than a bit disjointed, as if Scorsese knew the start point and the end point, but had a bit of difficulty synching it all up and getting it flowing organically. While I think Scorsese’s unbridled enthusiasm and passion edge out any concerns about the rather uneven feel of the finished project, I do wonder how the movie will play to younger audiences, or families who don’t have a long love affair with cinema.

Like clockwork...

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: The Resident

While I was watching The Resident, I couldn’t help but think of Pacific Heights. Maybe it was the fact that I had just watched Jackie Brown and Michael Keaton was fresh in my head, but I really couldn’t get the comparison out of my head. Both movies have a rather fascinating central premise, and a fertile ground for horror – the notion that we know next-to-nothing about the people we finding ourselves living with – but both also fail to follow through on some truly great potential. There are moments when The Resident seems to be working, but they’re all too briefly brushed aside in a movie that doesn’t seem willing to build or develop its unsettling undertones.

This relationship is suffocating her...

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: The Man With The Golden Gun

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

The Man With The Golden Gun is frequently derided as the worst film of the Roger Moore era, guilty of taking all the excesses of the period and turning them up to eleven. Being honest, I’m not entirely convinced. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a bad film – one of the worst Bond films – but I’m not entirely convinced that it is as universally disappointing as Moonraker or as ridiculously underwhelming as Octopussy. There is, I’d argue, very possibly one tiny little gem buried amid this trainwreck of a Bond film – the man with the golden gun himself, as played by Christopher Lee.

This foe is going to put Bond through his paces…

Continue reading