Condition of Return

Condition of Return (2023)

“What makes a person do something like that?”, Special Agent Molcheck (Larry S. White) will ask as he picks up Dr Donald Thomas (Dean Cain) at the airport in Phoenix near the beginning of Condition of Return.  We already know what the ‘something’ is, because the film’s prologue showed a visibly upset Eve (the ever…

Orphan First Kill

Orphan: First Kill (2022)

Orphan: First Kill first published by VODzilla.co Jaume Collet-Serra’s Orphan (2009) told the story of a bourgeois family adopting a nine-year-old in an attempt to fill the chasm of grief left by a stillbirth, only to discover that they have let into their already fraught household a psychopathic murderess (played by Isabelle Fuhrman) who is…

Pearl

Pearl (2022)

Pearl has its UK première at the Glasgow Film Festival 2023 The opening of writer/director Ti West’s previous feature X (2022) showed the corpse-strewn tableau of an old, battered farm, first in what appeared to be 1.375:1 aspect ratio, and then, as the camera passed through the barn’s square doorway which had been occluding the…

First Cow

First Cow (2019)

First Cow first published by Movies On Weekends “It’s the getting started that’s the puzzle,” says King-Lu (Orion Lee) in Kelly Reichardt‘s First Cow. “No way for a poor man to start. You need capital. Or you need some kind of miracle… Or a crime.” It is the early nineteenth century, not that far removed…

Five Rules

The Five Rules Of Success (2020)

As a film about time, The Five Rules Of Success aptly opens with a man who has been doing it. In a single, fluid shot, we track a character (Santiago Segura) listed only as X in the credits, although eventually named Chino in the film, as he paces his prison cell before being summoned out,…

Dreamland

Dreamland (2019)

Dreamland first published by EyeforFilm Though its events extend further backwards and forwards in time, Dreamland is set primarily in 1935, while the Great Depression is in full swing and rural Bismark in Texas is beset with dust bowl conditions destructive of all farming efforts. In other words, this is a small-town community where dreams…

Willie

Willie Dynamite (1974)

Willie Dynamite first published by Little White Lies, as part 27 of my Cinema Psychotronicum column In the opening scenes of Gilbert Moses’ feature debut Willie Dynamite, its eponymous protagonist (Roscoe Orman) displays all the polished veneer of success within American patriarchy. He drives a flashily modified, purple-painted car (his name emblazoned across its customised plates)…

Water

Hell Or High Water (2016)

Hell Or High Water first published by Real Crime Magazine “You act as though we’re going to get away with this,” says Toby (Chris Pine). “I’ve never met nobody got away with anything ever,” replies his older brother Tanner (Ben Foster). ‘This’ is a spate of bank robberies that they have been carrying out together across…

Stranger Than Paradise

Stranger Than Paradise (1984)

Stranger Than Paradise first published by EyeforFilm Although Jim Jarmusch already had his barely seen student thesis film Permanent Vacation (1980) to his name, it was his next feature, Stranger Than Paradise, that would launch him into the rarefied pantheon of great independent directors. It would garner, among other plaudits, the Camera d’Or at Cannes, the Golden Leopard…

St. Vincent (2014)

Review first published by Grolsch FilmWorks It begins with Vincent McKenna (Bill Murray) drunkenly telling a joke in a bar – a locale which, along with his seen-better-days Brooklyn house, the Belmont Park race course, and the palatial Sunningvale care home – forms Vincent’s typical environment. It ends, as the closing credits roll, with Vincent sitting in…

Turbo (2013)

Review first published by Film4. Synopsis: For his feature debut, long-time animator David Soren directs this animated tale of a snail unwilling to fail. Review: “Why is this confusing?” asks stay-at-home, literally spineless snail Chet (voiced inimitably by Paul Giamatti). “I am not a girl!” Of course, identity confusion abounds in Turbo, the latest 3D…