Locked In

Locked In (2021)

The title of writer/director/producer Carlos V. Gutierrez’s feature debut Locked In comes with multiple meanings. Most obviously it refers to the self-storage centre which here, as also in Shane Carruth’s Primer (2004), Michael Craft’s Storage (2009), Johannes Roberts’ Storage 24 (2012), Tom DeNucci’s Self Storage (2013) and Matt Winn’s The Hoarder (2015), serves not only…

Vampiress

The Barcelona Vampiress (La vampira de Barcelona) (2020)

“Based on real facts,” states text that opens Lluís Danés’ The Barcelona Vampiress (La vampira de Barcelona). This is an entirely conventional, and questionable, assertion of veridicality, which viewers have long been inured to taking with a pinch of salt – and the overstated tautology of the phrase ‘real facts’ (‘fets reals’) comes across overtly…

Standing

The Man Standing Next (Namsanui bujangdeul) (2020)

Woo Min-ho‘s The Man Standing Next (Namsanui bujangdeul) is a period film set, like his previous The Drug King (2018), in the Seventies, and chronicling the last 40 days of military dictator Park’s Presidency before he and his Chief of Security were assassinated by the Director of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency – who was…

Why Don’t You Just Die! (Papa, Sdokhni) (2018)

Why Don’t You Just Die! (Papa, Sdokhni) was written for S&S, although I don’t think it was ever published. Review: Papa, Sdokhni, the original Russian title of Why Don’t You Just Die!, translates roughly as “Daddy, die” – and it will come as little surprise that Russian writer/director Kirill Sokolov‘s rambunctious feature debut is a…

Whistleblower

The Whistleblower (Chui shao ren) (2019)

The Whistleblower first published by Sight & Sound, February 2020 Review: After a one-night stand with old flame Siliang (Tang Wei) – whose hotel bedroom is festooned with paintings of Salome and Medusa as (unheeded) warnings that this femme is very much of the fatale kind – Melbourne-based company PR and family man Mark (Lei…

Blue

Black and Blue (2019)

Black and Blue first published by Sight & Sound, December 2019 Review: Deon Taylor’s Black and Blue begins with a black woman in a hoodie jogging along the street. A police car pulls her over, its front tyre splashing her with water from a puddle. Two aggressive white male officers get out, one pushing her…

Idol

Idol (Woosang) (2019)

This is (more or less) the text from my onstage introduction to a screening of Idol (Woosang) at the London Korean Film Festival 2019 When it comes to spoilers, there’s an unwritten code that anything which happens in a film’s first third is fair game for advance disclosure and discussion – but that anything which…

Surveillance

Surveillance (2008)

Surveillance first published by Little White Lies At the core of Surveillance is Stephanie (Ryan Simpkins), an eight-year-old girl who has witnessed “some things children shouldn’t see”, and who has been ignored ever since by every adult she has tried to tell. She might even, at a stretch, be regarded as a figure for the…

Orgies

Orgies of Edo (1969)

Orgies of Edo first published by Little White Lies, as the 69th instalment in my Cinema Psychotronicum column By the time he came to make Orgies of Edo (Zankoku ijô gyakutai monogatari: Genroku onna keizu), writer/director Teruo Ishii had already established himself in multiple genres: boxing (King of the Ring: The World of Glory, 1957),…

Trust

The Trust (2016)

First published by RealCrime Magazine Brothers Ben and Alex Bewer’s collaborative feature debut The Trust both opens and closes with the Knights’ 1968 instrumental track Tipping Strings – its brassy, bombastic funk setting an ironising tone for the moral descent that the rest of the film will track with escalating intensity. Initially and ultimately, The…

Everyone

War On Everyone (2016)

First published by Real Crime In Albuquerque, New Mexico, single alcoholic Terry Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård) and family man Bob Balaño (Michael Peña) are a pair of police detectives who have long since broken bad. Robbing from the criminal and giving to themselves, they pay practically no heed to the law, although they do have their…