Category: Cinema Around the World

Around the World in 12 Horror Movies: Part Three

This trip through horror movies around the world has been that heady mix of educational and occasionally terrifying (like high school, amirite, fellas?) I have seen enough gore to last me until next Halloween. The body count has been uncountable, the screams still ring in my ears, I’m still laughing about bits of Dog Soldiers, I’m still confused about the end of Viy, and I still don’t think the torture porn genre has a point. It has been a blast and I’ll have to do the same thing next year. Part Three  Viy /  Вий (Russia 1967)  When I...

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Around the World in 12 Horror Movies: Part Two

I consider myself to be quite well-traveled and one thing I always try to do in a foreign country is visit the cinema. In Thailand I discovered that you have to stand for the national anthem before each movie. In Korea you can eat squid dipped in peanut butter. Turkey has the most ads before a film and every movie has an interval. America has the biggest seats/snacks, which may or may not be a coincidence. And in Cape Town there’s a cinema that serves alcohol and looks like it might collapse at any minute (it’s called The Labia...

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Around the World in 12 Horror Movies: Part One

One of the great things about watching movies is seeing how other countries view a genre. What do the French find funny? Or what tickles the Germans? What constitutes romance in Korea or Peru? What scares people? What makes the people sitting in Thai cinemas hide behind their fingers or jump out of their skin? What movies do Mexican teenagers dare each other to watch at sleepovers? For this trilogy of articles I watched 12 horror movies from around the world. I explored different sub-genres within the horror genre and found some supernatural romance, found footage, torture porn, blood-soaked rom-coms, possession movies, slasher flicks, monster flicks, and discovered an unalterable fact about foreign horror films: When you need to read subtitles you can’t look away or hide behind the sofa.  PART ONE   Let the Right on In / Låt den Rätte Komma In (Sweden 2008) An almost sweet, occasionally horrific, coming of age movie in which one of the characters does not age. I tried to avoid movies that had had a Hollywood remake for this feature, in the hopes of giving the readers something they may not have any knowledge of. However, when I asked some friends (namely Mr Google and Ms IMDB…I’m so lonely) this movie kept coming back as a favourite foreign film for both fans and haters of horror. After watching it I understood...

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The Babadook

Overview:  After finding a cryptic children’s book and dealing with her son’s concerns about a monster in his room, a widowed mother begins to suspect a sinister force is present in her home.  Causeway Films/Smoking Gun Productions; 2014; 94 Minutes. Kent/Davis:  If Jennifer Kent’s first feature,The Babadook, is any indication, we’ll be talking about this actress-turned-director for quite some time.  I hope the same holds true for star Essie Davis.  In Davis, Kent has found the perfect base ingredient for a stellar debut.  As widowed mother Amelia, Davis demands the sympathy that is imperative for this sort of layered...

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Felony

Overview:  Three detectives deal with the aftermath of a tragic hit and run involving a nine year old boy.  Benaroya Pictures, Blue-Tongue Films, Goalpost Pictures, and Screen Australia; Not Rated, 105 minutes. The Gray:  Unlike most police procedural dramas, the plot of Felony doesn’t revolve around solving a crime or catching the bad guy.  This film approaches its plot in reverse order, providing viewers with a firsthand look at the crime committed within the opening ten minutes of the run time.  After it hits the ground running, the pace slows abruptly, relying on tension, dialogue (which is as sharp as any I’ve...

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Bird People

Overview: A morose businessman (Josh Charles) makes a life-changing decision and a quiet hotel maid (Anaïs Demoustier) goes through a bizarre experience. Diaphana Distribution; 2014; Unrated; 128 Minutes Criss-Cross: I’m a sucker for so-called “hyperlink cinema”: films where multiple story lines that appear to be unrelated end up crossing over and affecting each other in meaningful ways. I adore Cloud Atlas and the Three Colours trilogy, and I’ll even go to bat for Alejandro González Iñárritu’s oft-maligned Amores Perros and Babel. Bird People is not, strictly speaking, a hyperlink film; it just barely qualifies due to its two overlapping...

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Five Films to Start Your Australian Film Obsession

I recently emigrated from England to Australia with my Australian wife. Having an Aussie wife has opened me up to some of the high and low points of Australian culture (The Real Housewives of Melbourne should be classified as a war crime). My wife, who played sports in her youth because Australia has summers, is not the big film geek that I am, so it has been an interesting switcheroo to have her recommend movies to me that I haven’t seen instead of vice versa. For this list I have chosen five Australian movies from different genres: comedy, horror,...

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Pride

Overview: The true story of a group of U.K. gay activists who worked to help miners during their lengthy strike of the National Union of Mineworkers in the summer of 1984. Finding the Comedy: I promised myself (and my editor) that this review would not descend into a political rant. But I will say as someone who grew up in Northern England during the 80’s, the miner’s strike was a big part of my education ofthe world. Seeing images of miners being attacked by police fostered in me a lasting distrust of authority and a hatred (though that word...

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Shaun of the Dead

In 2004, I was 14 years old and had idea of what my own interests were. My family never took trips to the theater, and I didn’t have the means to go on my own, but shortly after Christmas, somehow, my brother convinced our dad to bring home a DVD. That’s the first time I remember watching Shaun of the Dead and the first time I connected with a film on a substantial level. I distinctly remember after the film had ended, it was as if someone had finally laid the foundation for my personality. I watched the film on repeat for the next few months. Like any teenager, I still wrestled with other facets of my identity, but one quality-of-self was a fixture from then on:  I loved film. And since Shaun of the Dead was the first film to teach me that I had that sort of passion within, it’s not just my favorite movie, but one of my favorite parts of myself. While layered and intelligent, Shaun of the Dead is not a film that demands heavy analysis or the application of advanced film theory (though I’m sure one could manage if one were so inclined). It’s the perfect film for a teenager to carry into adulthood without having to step away from that attachment.  There’s enough to enjoy here in straightforward homage and patiently crafted...

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Starred Up

Overview:  A violent 19-year-old is transferred to an adult prison, where he quickly makes some dangerous enemies and is reunited with his estranged father.  Distributed by Tribeca Film, 106 minutes, not rated. Necessary Discomfort:  This is not an easy film to watch.  It’s an unapologetic, unflinching glance at a piece of a man’s disturbed journey in prison.  Enjoyment and entertainment are not the reactions most will have after a viewing, but rather equal parts of fascination and discomfort.  Starred Up doesn’t watch like an overdone, dramatic production that attempts to shock viewers with examples of the harsh realities of prison....

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Tracks

Overview: The true story of Robyn Davidson’s quest to cross Australia on foot. 2014; Transmission films;Rated Pg-13; 112 Minutes. Getting Away From it All: These days we are more connected than ever and sometimes it can be maddening trying to find a little peace and quiet and time to ourselves. Of course there’s a big difference between disconnecting your Facebook for a few weeks and deciding that you want to travel 2,700KM across barren Australia with four camels and a dog. This is what Robyn Davidson (played by Mia Wasikowska) decides to do when she wants to be alone....

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20,000 Days on Earth

Overview: Writer and musician Nick Cave marks his 20,000th day on the planet Earth. 2014; Drafthouse Films; Rated R; 98 Minutes Into the Archive: I love Nick Cave (The Australian David Bowie? Discuss) and I was lucky enough to see this movie a few months ago at an Istanbul film festival in a screening full of Cave fans. 20,000 Days on Earth is a documentary with fictional elements, or a fiction movie with documentary elements, that tells the story of Nick Cave’s 20,000th Day of Earth.  Cave spends a part of the movie in his own archive looking at baby...

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Wetlands

Overview: After an uncommon shaving accident, Helen Memel spends days in the hospital recounting her adventures in the sexually taboo. Strand Releasing; 2014; Not Rated; 109 minutes. Openly Filthy, Sexy, and Exciting: As someone who constantly complains about how movies treat violence with too little contempt, it’s refreshing to see a movie that is so open about fornication. Wetlands owns a chaotic energy that resembles elements of punk rock, and scenes are shot with a candy store-like fervor. An opening scene involving a dirty toilet seat in a public restroom (one to avoid if you’re a germaphobe), takes us immediately into...

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Frank

Overview:  A young man joins a band led by an enigmatic man who wears a giant fake head.  2014;  Magnolia Pictures; Rated R, 95 minutes. Unrewarded Impatience:  Let me just begin by saying that this movie succeeded in making me uncomfortable almost every second from beginning to end.  For a while, I thought the slow burn of the awkward social interactions and the unexplored, unstable dynamic were building up to something–  a big reveal, a tragic death, or a satisfying triumph.  But the end result is simply frustrating, and predictably sad.  None of the time we spend with the...

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God Help the Girl

Overview: A young woman (Emily Browning) suffering from anorexia and depression finds solace in songwriting and starts a band. Amplify; 2014; Not Rated; 111 Minutes Pretty Eve In The Tub: The opening scene of God Help the Girl is indescribably lovely. From the first words out of Emily Browning’s mouth, I was smiling. Her character, Eve, sneaks out of a hospital to go see a concert, musically narrating her plan. The scene has the wit of Wes Anderson’s best work without his occasionally crushing visual affect. In the following sequence, Eve returns to the hospital, and that charm is...

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