With his indie credentials firmly established by neo-noir debut Brick and talents further supported by 2008’s The Brothers Bloom, writer-director Rian Johnson returns with his take on the sci-fi genre. A time travel chase film injected with both an underlying sense of moral precariousness and welcome comic relief, the set-up isn’t new, but the delivery certainly is. With Johnson deftly combining influences alongside his own discernible flair, Looper may call-back to cinema’s past, but its own modernity is never in question.
A historical comedy telling of how the vibrator was originally invented for a perceived medical purpose, Hysteria’s story may find its roots in an era less advanced than our own, but with “haven’t we come far” serving essentially as both the film’s plot and its only joke, any sense of modern sophistication soon gets old fast. After all, if the prospect of an overweight Italian lady bursting into operatic song whilst climaxing on a doctor’s table can be billed as the peak of 21st Century hilarity, it seems society still has a long way to go.
A blackly comic lampooning of American popular culture, writer-director Bobcat Goldthwait’s God Bless America takes aim at everything from The Jersey Shore to American Idol, shooting them down through the combined mediums of satire and bullets. It’s an entertaining ride where the blood flows and the commentary bites, but don’t expect any critiques you haven’t heard before.
The opening film for this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, it would be difficult to claim that William Friedkin’s Killer Joe was an obvious selection. Populated by grim people doing some pretty grim things, it’s a dark drama with both a sexual and violent edge. There’s levity, sure – in fact, there’s quite a lot of laughs – but it’s safe to say this isn’t an easy going crowd pleaser. Yet that’s just what makes it such a brilliant choice. You’ll never look at Matthew McConaughey or southern fried chicken in quite the same light again.
When a synopsis involves a group of American college students setting off on a road trip to an empty forest cabin, instinct tells us that the story will probably be a familiar one. Whether it’s to cannibals, zombies, or unwelcoming spirits, these kids are going to bite it – one after the other – until there’s just one of them left (final death optional). But have you ever stopped to wonder why it has to be that way? Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard have, and luckily for us, they’d like to share.
A nicely pitched counterbalance to the often grim visions we’ve come to associate with modern Scandinavian crime stories, Headhunters is less The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and more Coen brothers farce. A blackly comic thriller, it is at times wonderfully dark, but always far from dreary.
A bold directorial debut from Michael Haneke’s long-time casting director Markus Schleinzer, Michael is a remarkably assured piece of work. Dealing with a subject matter certain to create discomfort, the film uses a carefully restrained approach to provide a distressing yet entirely naturalistic portrait of a soft-spoken office worker who keeps a ten-year-old boy locked in his basement.
Suddenly that white gown is looking like an impractical choice…
A documentary focused around two young men charged with terrorism offences in the midst of the 2008 Republican National Convention, Better This World uses a combination of thoroughly gathered interviews and written record to provide a startling look at America’s escalated approach to internal security. Gripping viewing.
One of the most expensive films about an Arabian subject matter ever funded by an Arab, there’s no doubt that Black Gold is a labour of love from producer Tarak Ben Ammar. Adapted from Hans Reusch’s 1957 novel South of the Heart and uniting a strong international cast, the film strives for epic, but instead comes off as kitsch – a fine mixture of ingredients, disappointingly over baked in the fiery desert sun.