Brut Force

Brut Force (2022)

With a bruised fist that just lost her her job at Inside L.A. Magazine, cub journalist Sloan Sawyer (Lelia Symington) finds herself temporarily unemployed, so agrees, when summoned by a phone call, to return to her home town of Santa Lucia in California’s wine-growing hinterlands. There, someone has been intimidating the migrant workers at the…

Good Madam

Good Madam (Mlungu Wam) (2021)

Good Madam (Mlungu Wam) had its UK première at Glasgow Film Festival 2022  “So we should just pretend not to be here even though we are?”, says young Winnie (Kamvalethu Jonas Reziya) to her mother Tsidi (Chumisa Cosa) in Jenna Cato Bass’s Good Madam (Mlungu Wam), summarising the rules of their new home. After the…

Toy Terminator

Toy Terminator (2021)

The doll’s house is the arena where (typically) little white girls play out, or occasionally resist, the model of life that they have inherited from their family and culture, in an idealised, plastic parody of patriarchy. The Toy Terminator opens with an image of a doll’s house – a cottage (that is clearly a model)…

Marathon

Marathon (2021)

According to legend, in 490 B.C.E. a messenger ran without stopping from Marathon to Athens to report as quickly as possible the improbable victory of the Athenian army against the overwhelming numbers of an invading Persian force, and dropped dead after giving the news to the Assembly. This 26-and-a-half-mile dash would become the model for…

Shorta

Shorta (2020)

“I can’t breathe,” 19-year-old Talib Ben Hassi (Jack Pedersen) shouts repeatedly, as police officers hold him down in a cell. With those three words right at the beginning of Shorta, writer/directors’ Frederik Louis Hviid and Anders Ølholm evoke the phrase used by Eric Garner and many other African-Americans before they died at the hands of…

Spiral

Spiral (2019)

Spiral first published by SciFiNow In 1995, Malik (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman) and his husband Aaron (Ari Cohen) move with Aaron’s teenaged daughter Kayla (Jennifer Laporte) into the small town of Rusty Creek, far from their old home in Chicago. Both men are very much in love and entirely open about being gay, but stay-at-home freelance ghostwriter…

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…

Candyman

Candyman (1992)

Candyman first published by Little White Lies, as entry 68 in my Cinema Psychotronicum column Graduate student Helen (Virginia Madsen) and her colleague Bernadette Walsh (Kasi Lemmons) are recording younger undergraduates tell macabre, can’t-really-be-true stories that happened to a friend of a friend, for a study on urban myths. The first such myth that Helen…

Doe

Doe (2018)

A heavily bearded man (Timothy Davis) wakes up covered in newspapers on a park bench, with absolutely no idea who he is or how he got there. Eight years later, and still remembering nothing of his past save for a red-and-white-hued dream about holding a rabbit, this John Doe has become John Hutton – now…

Get

Get Out (2017)

Get Out first published by Little White Lies A beleaguered protagonist struggles to determine whether he is just being paranoid, or there truly is a grand conspiracy – with him as its malevolent focus. While one way to approach this sort of material is through the filter of horror, another would be just to make a…

Suture

Suture (1993)

Suture first published by Little White Lies as part 13 of my Cinema Psychotronicum column “How is it that we know who we are?”, asks psychiatrist Dr Shinoda (Sab Simono) in voiceover at the beginning of Suture. As he continues to discuss the deeply ingrained sense of personal identity, remaining in place no matter how confusing…