Category Archives: American

21. Dead Man – Jim Jarmusch (1995)

Repeat Viewing.

A trend I’ve picked up on Jarmusch movies is that his works really improve upon multiple viewings. It’s one of the highest compliments I could place on a directors body of work. Dead Man reveals depths that are hard to initially pick up on when you’re preoccupied with following the story, so I didn’t leave the cinema feeling blown away by it, far from it, but the film ate away at my brain until I felt compelled to view it again and that’s where it comes into it’s own.It’s been a criticism that Jarmuch’s work lacks narrative, which is naive crap frankly, but I would say that it’s not his primary goal in filmmaking- And thank fuck that a director (with English as their primary language) realises that there’s more to a movie than just telling a story, and, unsurprisingly, it’s taken a lover of Ozu and Vigo to show us it. Watch Dead Man, give it a few days, then watch it again. Repeat process until movie satisfaction is attained.

Marks out of ten – Eight

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18. Splendor – Gregg Araki (1999)

First Viewing

Araki’s the kind of director you’ll either love or hate- he’s from the John Waters school of crudity and sexual morality. When Araki’s good he’ll make a gem of a movie, see The Doom Generation, Kaboom and Mysterious Skin, but this isn’t up to those standards. It’s lacking the wit and biting tongue of an Amy Blue, for example. It’s watchable without being anything more. Oh, and Kelly McDonald is wildly miscast as Mike.

Marks out of ten – Six

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15. The Limits of Control – Jim Jarmusch (2009)

Repeat Viewing.

As an unashamed Jarmusch lover I approached this film with unadulterated excitement back when I first viewed it in June 09. I enjoyed the movie, but ultimately felt confused by what I had seen. Upon closer inspection and a second viewing I can now see the film for what it should be recognized as; a masterpiece. With no expectations this time around I allowed myself to revel in the mastery Jarmusch and Doyle weave with their photography and visuals. To explain the film seeks only to distract oneself from the greater picture, this is Jarmusch beyond popcorn cinema, this is art.

Marks out of ten – Ten 

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14. Whatever Works – Woody Allen (2009)

Repeat Viewing.

Certainly not a classic Allen film, but then I think we’ve all given up expecting another Manhattan or Interiors. It’s amusing enough, it keeps ones attention and Larry David avoids the classic pitfall of playing the lead male in an Allen-less Allen movie; doing a poor Woody Allen impression. It’s better than Scoop, but not quite as good as Vickie Christina Barcelona.

Marks out of ten – Seven

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13. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? – Mike Nichols (1966)

First Viewing.

I’m sure this joke’s been made before, but you could be forgiven for thinking this is a documentary of Burton and Taylor’s marriage. It’s intense, it’s fiery, and it’s wonderful. Burton and Taylor devour Albee’s cruel and cutting lines and give, perhaps, their finest performances captured on film. The best moments of this film are Burton and Taylor going at each other, Segal and Dennis hold up their end of the picture, but there’s no doubt where the greatness in this movie lies.

Marks out of ten – Nine

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11. LA Without A Map – Mika Kaurismäki (1998)

First Viewing.

Charming without ever being close to greatness. Vincent Gallo’s acting vacuum- as ever- is a reason to watch LA w/o a Map. Johnny Depp’s cameo(s) is amusing too. (And it has the bloke who was Doctor Who as the lead!) It’s predictable, formulaic and fun, there’s really not much more to say.

Marks out of ten – Six

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9. The Cameraman – Edward Sedgwick (1928)

First Viewing.

An amazing piece of pure cinema. Buster Keaton is magical as he drifts through 1920s New York City. He captures everything that makes a person fall in love with silent cinema. Some movies are truly great, but it’s hard to actively love them beyond their artistic form, this, on the other hand, is enjoyable and close to celluloid perfection. It’s a film that’s beyond critique.

Marks out of ten – Ten

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7. Celebrity – Woody Allen (1998)

First Viewing.

I always enjoy Allen’s films, of course they’re not always great, but give me a mediocre Allen film over a James-Cameron-look-at-the-size-of-my-dick-in-3D shitfest any day of the week. This film is often criticized by people missing the point of what this film really is, it’s satire. Allen Loves Bergman, I love Bergman, You love Bergman, We all love Bergman, but it doesn’t mean we can’t have a laugh at Bergman and Bergman-esque movies. Get with the programme.

Marks out of ten – Seven

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6. They Live By Night – Nicholas Ray (1949)

First Viewing.

If you put a gun to my head and asked me to pick my favourite Nick Ray movie I’d have to give some serious thought to suggesting They Live By Night over the iconic Rebel Without a Cause or the perspicacious Johnny Guitar. Rebel’s always going to get the acclaim, and Johnny’s always going to get the intellectual treatment, but TLBN is great cinema. It’s simple in it’s structure and even simpler in it’s execution, and it confidently purrs along doing everything right. Perhaps Ray’s most rounded work…

Marks out of ten – Ten

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5) Somewhere – Sofia Coppola (2010)

First Viewing.

The daughter of a Hollywood legend decides to make a film about the shitiness of fame starring Stephen Dorff. Sounds crap, right? Well, it’s not. Perhaps I should rephrase that, it’s not crap to anyone who enjoyed Vincent Gallo’s Brown Bunny (so that amounts to me, Vincent Gallo, Sofia Coppola and some girl from upstate New York.) It’s not as entertaining as Lost in Translation, but it’s a deeper and more mature form of filmmaking by Coppola. She should be applauded for that.

Marks out of ten – Eight

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4. Howl – Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman (2010)

First Viewing

There’s a few fantastic moments, a few beautiful moments and rather a lot of forgettable moments. It’s really only worth searching out if you’ve got a lot of love for Ginsberg, I do, and yet I still found myself underwhelmed.

Marks out of ten – Five

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3) Kaboom – Gregg Araki (2010)

First Viewing

The most watchable and enjoyable of Araki’s film since the cult classic The Doom Generation. Whilst Kaboom never reaches TDG “heights” it’s a spirited enough attempt by Araki to rediscover his more anarchistic and destructive filmmaking talent. Naturally, being an Araki movie, plot and acting aren’t given too much thought, but pure excitement, spiky dialogue and aesthetic mayhem are. If that’s your kind of thing then give it a go…Or if you just like a lot of fucking and sex jokes in your cinematic experience do it!

Marks out of ten – Seven

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2) No Direction Home – Martin Scorsese (2005)

First Viewing.

Does a great director making a documentary about a great musician equal a great movie? Probably. But then It’s hard to be objective about No Direction Home when I’m such a huge Dylan fan. I wasn’t expecting an earth shattering deconstruction of Dylan’s work and psyche by Scorsese, and, of course, I didn’t get it. In fact, I don’t feel like I know any more about Dylan the man, but, what I did get, was a film about Dylan making it big. And It’s good, entertaining stuff.

Marks out of ten – Eight

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1) The Freebie – Kate Aselton (2010)

First Viewing.

As this is the very first review I’m going to be as brief as possible for purely selfish reasons and review this in precisely three words; “it was okay.” I should’ve picked a better place to start, oh well. It’s only up from now on, presumably.

Marks out of ten – Six

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