Wednesday 28 December 2011

2011 - the ones I loved (part the second)

Here's the second part of The Fourth Wall's ten movies that make this year's hall of fame. It's worth mentioning that there are a few movies that I haven't seen that may have been destined for the list - The Artist, Margaret and Weekend - and some that are worth a nod of appreciation - Take Shelter, Kaboom, Tucker and Dale vs Evil, Animal Kingdom, Red State, Meek's Cutoff, NEDS and Elite Squad: The Enemy Within.

Snowtown - Justin Kurzel, Australia
why? - For the largely non-professional cast, the year's best score, the line 'come and say hello to Barry', Daniel Henshall's chilling performance, being a directorial debut and for being the most gut wrenching true crime movie since Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer.

Pina 3D - Wim Wenders, Germany
why? - The breathtaking dancing, the superb music, the striking locations, the expert use of 3D technology, for blending a musical with a documentary and for making contemporary dance accessible to a wide audience.

A Separation - Asghar Farhadi, Iran
why? - For continuing the current wave of important Iranian films, it's deconstruction of class, gender, religious, political, moral and ethical issues, the uniformly impressive performances, it's emotional ambiguity and for eschewing an easy conclusion.

Poetry - Chang-dong Lee, South Korea
why? - Jeong-hie Yun's stunning performance and the lead character's age, the class issues, the social mores, its unsentimental attitude, for making poetry bearable onscreen, Lee's immaculate direction and for treating the audience with the intelligence the film itself contains.

The Turin Horse - Bela Tarr, Hungary
why? - Because every single moment is monumental yet minimal, the recurring aural motif, the horse, the wind, the repetition, the starkness of the imagery, the uniqueness of its vision and for not caring one iota about commercial sensibilities.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

2011 - the ones I loved (part the first)

I wouldn't say that 2011 has been a vintage year in the cinema, with some of the most hyped/most loved films leaving me underwhelmed, but there has been enough to warrant a 'best of' list. So, in no particular order here's the first five of the ten that have made The Fourth Wall hall of fame for 2011.

13 Assassins - Takeshi Miike, Japan
why? - The gradual build up, for 'total massacre', for one of modern cinema's great screen villains, the stampede of burning cattle and the relentless second half of the film - one gigantic, superbly choreographed fight sequence.

Le Quattro Volte - Michelangelo Frammartino, Italy
why? - The goats, the dog, the van and the block of wood, the gentle assurance of its direction, its contemplative qualities, it's virtually wordless narrative and for being spiritual but not religious.

Kill List - Ben Wheatley, UK
why? - For messing with genre conventions, for the black humour, for the hammer scene, for 'right, let's go kill this MP then', for the narrative ambiguity, for the ending, for the gripping lead performances.

Melancholia - Lars Von Trier, USA
why? - The unforgettable imagery, Kirsten Dunst's best performance, for Charlotte Rampling's ice queen, the excruciating post-wedding party, its metaphoric qualities, for not being Antichrist and for being beautiful despite its apocalyptic theme.

Drive - Nicholas Winding Refn, USA
why? - For sparking the #gayforgosling hashtag, it's Point Blank aura, its use of LA, for looking and sounding like it could have been made at any time since the 70s, Refn's bravura direction, the soundtrack and the sheer cinematic wow-factor.

Thursday 15 December 2011

Watched - no 28 - Tatsumi (Eric Khoo, 2011)

Japanese mangaka artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi's memoir A Drifting Life, the winner of two Eisner Awards in 2010, forms the basis for Singaporean film-maker Eric Khoo's animated take on his life story and gekiga style short stories. Gekiga was a term coined by Tatsumi to differentiate his adult oriented, hard hitting cartoon strips from the more youth friendly manga offerings that traditionally dominate the market. Animated in Indonesia and chosen as Singapore's entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at next year's Oscars, Tatsumi intersperses scenes from Tatsumi's life with five of his resolutely tough tales of life in Japan since WWII. The five tales – Hell, Beloved Monkey, Just a Man, Good-Bye and Occupation – drawn in Tatsumi's style, contain a startling mix of murder, alienation, incest, lust and tragedy and an obligatory sting in the tale for the individual protagonists.

Tatsumi's youth in Osaka and subsequent rise to prominence as one of Japan's foremost mangaka covers the initial post-war period through the to the resurgence of the country as both an economic and political force. The horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan's post-war rebuilding (both physical and mental) and changing social conditions and mores clearly influence the short stories and are reflected in Tatsumi's own family life, aspirations and inner struggles. Tatsumi's voice-over narration provides an aural guide to compliment the visual snapshots of the celebrated artist's life and the denouement sees the man himself, in the flesh, still hard at work in his studio at the grand old age of 76.This visually stunning, enlightening film is well worth catching up with whether you're familiar with the man and his work or not.

Watched - no 27 - The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)

Bela Tarr's latest is unlike any other film you're likely to see this year; appearing to be more sculpted than directed, shot in striking monochrome and with little in the way of plot, dialogue or character development. The starting point for Tarr's gruelling but unforgettable exercise into 'the heaviness of human existence' ,as he describes it himself, is drawn from an encounter in 1889 between Nietzsche and a frustrated farmer whipping his recalcitrant horse. The German philosopher intervened and subsequently fell into a state of mental torpor that would last until his death in 1900. Tarr imagines the life of the horse, its owner and his daughter on a small farmstead outside of Turin over the following six days. This minimalist but monumental portrayal of the daily grind of the subjects - ritualistic, suffocating and relentless, highlighted by the repeated use of a mournful, cello led aural motif - unfolds in only 30 shots over nearly two and a half hours, stunningly composed by Tarr and masterfully captured by DOP Fred Kelemen.

The ceaseless howl of the wind from a never ending, increasingly oppressive storm raging around them, which leaves them isolated and stripped of the most basic of necessities for life – water - lead the isolated farmer, his daughter and their ailing horse to first attempt an escape from and then dutifully accept what appears to be their approaching fate – death, represented at the film's climax by a literal dying of the light. The Turin Horse, with its precisely composed imagery, existential atmosphere and blatant disregard for commercial success, is a momentous slap in the face to the banality of much of contemporary cinema. Staggeringly impressive.

Saturday 3 December 2011

Rogue Cinema review - December

My last review for, before taking a sabbatical to concentrate on a major project, is of Jose Padilha's Elite Squad: The Enemy Within. Click on the link below, have a read and then watch the film - it's a bit of a corker.

Thursday 1 December 2011

Around the World in Eighty Movies - number 6

Country: Austria
Title: Der Siebente Kontinent (The Seventh Continent)
Director: Michael Haneke
Cast: Birgit Doll, Dieter Berner, Leni Tanzer, Udo Samel
Year: 1989
Running time:104 minutes
Genre: Drama
Notable for: Being the first part of Haneke's 'glaciation trilogy'

After a stint as a film critic and years directing movies for television, the German born Austrian film-maker Michael Haneke made his big screen debut in 1989 with The Seventh Continent. Though his second feature, Benny's Video (1992) (the second part of the loosely aligned 'glaciation trilogy' which was completed in 1994 by 71 Fragments of A Chronology of Chance) created more of an impression on the film-making world, The Seventh Continent contains all of the elements that have since positioned Haneke as one of the most important, and divisive, directors currently working. The icy precision, narrative ambiguity, complex depiction of screen violence, bleak view of contemporary life, disconcerting framing and stately pacing that mark all of Haneke's films combine to relate the tale of a comfortably middle class Austrian family and their unexplained decision to commit suicide after systematically destroying everything they own.

Reportedly inspired by a real life incident, The Seventh Continent hints at the family's extreme behaviour as being driven by a nihilistic hatred of the spiritually empty isolation and futility of life in a late capitalist, consumerist society. As always with Haneke though, there is plenty left to consider, both onscreen and off.

To Die For... - Samira Ahmed

My favourite film is the ultimate 80s power-shouldered fantasy about making it on Wall Street and yet also a deeply sweet movie about feminism and class. Working class secretary Tess McGill is nearly 30, and battling sexism every step of the way trying to make it as an investment banker. Backed by her wisecracking best friend (Joan Cusack), she fights off an evil Queen (Sigourney Weaver) and captivates a lost knight (Harrison Ford) along the way, using the armour of wit (“I have a head for business and a bod for sin, anything wrong with that?”), intelligence and borrowed clothes. With its feisty leading ladies Working Girl combines the feminist charm of 30s screwball comedies with a darker sense of the forces of privilege at work. I love that it’s packed with soon to be famous actors in tiny parts: Notably Kevin Spacey as a coked-up, sleazy banker. The famous pullout at the end is lifted from a Kurosawa film, placing our heroine as merely a worker bee in a giant hive. Still, set almost entirely in the world of Wall Street offices, the film is not just a fascinating period piece, but captures the magic of making it in New York City.
Samira Ahmed
Samira Ahmed is a freelance journalist, writer and broadcaster at the BBC, where she has presented Radio 4's PM, The World Tonight and Sunday as well as presenting two of the 2011 proms for BBC4. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent and on The Spectator's arts blog Night & Day.

Friday 25 November 2011

Brighton Cine-City Film Festival - round up pt2

Part two of the Cine-City coverage is up now on Little White Lies' website. I review Nick Broomfield's disappointing Sarah Palin: You Betcha!, Ben Rivers' Two Years at Sea and Karl Marcovics' impressive Austrian rites of passage drama Atmen (Breathing).

Click on the link to check out my thoughts on these diverse films -

Thursday 24 November 2011

Brighton Cine-City Film Festival - round up pt1

My blogging partner and Duke of Yorks staff member Sophie Brown has kicked off our joint coverage of the festival for Little White Lies -
Click on the link below to read her reviews of opening night film Shame, Steve McQueen's critically acclaimed sex addiction drama and The Turin Horse, Bela Tarr's latest extraordinary release.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Brighton Cine-City Film Festival - free app

The 9th Brighton Cine-City Film Festival kicks off today with a sold out screening of Steve McQueen's Shame followed by 18 days of movies, events and exhibitions across various locations in the city. A Cine-City app has launched to accompany the festival. It's free to download to your Iphone or Ipad to keep you up to date with all the daily festival news as well as enabling you to watch short films throughout the 18 days.

Download the app here -

Saturday 12 November 2011

Brighton Cine-City Film Festival

The 9th Cine-City Film Festival begins in Brighton on Thursday the17th of November with Steve McQqueen's Shame, and runs until Roman Polanski's Carnage brings the festival to a close on Sunday the 4th of December. If you follow the link below you can read the preview piece I've written for Little White Lies.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Watched - no 26 - The Interrupters (Steve James, 2011)

Steve James, the director responsible for the highly acclaimed Hoop Dreams in 1994, has delivered one of the year's finest documentaries with The Interrupters. Due for release on DVD courtesy of the always interesting, and increasingly vital, Dogwoof label, James' latest non-fiction film follows Chicago's violence interrupters programme over the course of one year, beginning in summer and ending the following spring. Largely culled from ex-gang members, erstwhile drug dealers and former prison inmates the violence interrupters intervene, as you'd imagine, in situations between the city's warring gang members and troubled, vulnerable citizens with one goal in mind - to stop the moments of high tension spilling over into outright violence. With the city's police force and government officials seemingly making little headway in reducing the crime, murder and assault figures, and the media portrayals of the city as a war zone becoming ever more trenchant, the violence interrupters face, on paper at least, a nigh on impossible task in cleaning up their streets and changing the reputation of the city's poverty stricken areas.

James's non-interventionist technique (he is never seen nor heard) allows for the violence interrupters and the people they come into contact with to remain as the central focus of the film, developing as it does into a portrait of inner city life that stands as a richly detailed microcosm of world-wide urban problems. Poverty, lack of education, diminishing life prospects, crumbling social structures and territorial pride dominate the everyday lives of The Interrupters' subjects. Ameena Matthews, daughter of one of the city's most infamous gang leaders, and one time gang member herself, Cobe Williams, whose relative youth provides an important link to the city's youths,and Eddie Bocanegra, who killed a rival gang member during his life as a one time prolific car thief, are just three of the interrupters followed as they try to keep tensions between the gangs and the locals at bay. These alternately fearsomely straight talking, rueful, experienced and reformed characters are the eyes and ears of the audience on these sadly embattled streets. Moments of tenderness, humour and humanity counter-balance the grimly depressing surrounding environment, senseless violence and inter-family divides.

What could have been a worthy, 'educational' documentary is, in the hands of James, a thoughtful, enlightening and ultimately hopeful insight into the ongoing attempts of largely neglected communities to bring an end, or at least a noticeable reduction, to the crime, drug abuse and sense of despair that threatens to engulf their neighbourhoods. Inspirational and unmissable.

Around the World in Eighty Movies - number 5

Country: Philippines
Title: Himpapawid (Manila Skies)
Director: Raymond Red
Cast: Raul Arellano, John Arcilla, Ronnie Lazaro, Soliman Cruz
Year: 2009
Running time: 98 minutes
Genre: Thriller
Notable for: Being inspired by a real life incident

One of the pioneers of contemporary, independent cinema in the Philippines, Raymond Red, whose 12 minute Anino (Shadows) claimed the Palme D'or for short films at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, has used his background in Fine Arts and photography to make a number of striking films. 2009's Himpapawid, known internationally as Manila Skies, is a powerful thriller, drawn from a real life plane hi-jacking case, that sees Red combining poetic, social and magical realism to portray the bureaucratic and economic struggles, not to mention the official corruption, widespread criminality and social isolation facing the average citizen trying to survive in the modern day bedlam that is Manila. Called a 'terrific film' by Paul Schrader, Manila Skies follows Raul (Raul Arellano), a simple man from the countryside drawn to the city in the hope of earning a living wage. His daily struggles, descent into criminal activity and final desperate attempt to get back home to his ailing ,aged father provides a visually startling, politically charged vision of a life dominated by poverty, class and familial bonds.

Red, one of the first Filipino's to be awarded a Rotterdam Hubert Bals Memorial grant, is lauded in his native country for his socially conscious film-making and Manila Skies, his first feature length film for over a decade, is a vital slice of contemporary world cinema.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Rogue Cinema review - November

My latest review for is now up. Click on the link below to be taken into the world of Lucky McKee's horror movie The Woman. Some have called it 'a masterpiece' and 'the horror movie of the year'. I'm not one of them, I say it's 'a run of the mill exploitation flick with delusions of grandeur'.

Monday 7 November 2011

The Big Picture - new issue - Growing Pains

I recently guest edited the new issue of The Big Picture magazine. If you follow the link below you can download the issue for free from -

Thursday 3 November 2011

To Die For... - Hardeep Singh Kohli

The Godfather is an incredible film. While this may seem like a predictable choice for my favourite film, I'm afraid I've never let that stand in the way of my passion! From the very opening scene the film sucks you in to a world you ought not to have any interest in. The sweep, the ambition of the narrative delivers at every turn. I suppose I relate to the travails of an immigrant family, albeit my family were less interested in murder. It's a testament to the excellence of film-making that a story, that on the face of it, shouldn't have a such a wide appeal manages to engage viewers in the inexorable storyline and brilliant characters. The success of the film is about the coming together of three key elements: a compelling and believable story; an excellent cast; and the directors ability to work both these into a flawless film. Is there a single criticism that can be made about the movie? I've watched it scores of times and I'm yet to find it.
Hardeep Singh Kohli

Hardeep Singh Kohli is a writer and radio and television presenter. He has previously been seen and heard in the Channel 4 show £50.00 Says You'll Watch This, Celebrity Masterchef and his one man show The Nearly Naked Chef. He is currently on a mission to sign up a 1000 potential stem cell donors -

Sunday 30 October 2011

watched - no 25 - Happy People: A Year in the Taiga (Dmitry Vasyukov, 2010)

Before tackling 3D with his critically acclaimed documentary The Cave of Forgotten Dreams and helming the forthcoming death row expose Into the Abyss, Werner Herzog executive produced and narrated Dimitry Vasyukov's Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, due to be released on DVD in the UK on the 28th of November. Vasyukov's simple yet hugely illuminating examination of a year in the life of a small Siberian village and its inhabitants, reachable only by helicopter, takes in the very Herzogian themes of man versus nature, isolation, the cycle of life and self-sufficient outsider communities. Focusing on the village's Sable trappers (a dwindling and increasingly economically fraught way of life), Herzog guides us through the seasons, beginning with Spring and ending in Winter, as the menfolk continue the centuries old tradition that takes them away from their friends and families for the duration of the hunting season.

The sheer physical vastness of the Taiga, stunningly captured in all of its seasonal glories, and the rustic lifestyle of the villagers dominates the film, slightly spoiled by the villagers voices being overlaid by irritating, drone-like American translators, to provide an insight into this largely unseen community. Living off the land and beholden to the seasonal changes, these hardy villagers survive with only the barest of modern accoutrements to assist them with their daily chores. Boats and traps are made by hand, the diet of the villagers largely consists of bread, potatoes and fish and, as is repeated by all of the hunters, a good hunting dog is essential to survival in such an inhospitable environment. Sharing similar thematic concerns as Herzog's own Grizzly Man and Encounters at the End of the World, Happy People is a fascinating glimpse into a world far removed from our own. It may not quite reach the operatic, abyss staring heights of many of Herzog's non-fiction films but nonetheless it leaves the viewer in awe of the landscape, its inhabitants and their deeply ingrained, symbiotic relationship.

Sunday 23 October 2011

Watched - no 24 - Shaolin (Benny Chan, 2011)

Prolific Hong Kong film-maker Benny Chan, the director of 22 movies since his début A Moment of Romance in 1990, delivers an updated take on Jet Li's first movie The Shaolin Temple (Chang Hsin-Yen, 1982) for his latest big screen venture. A two hour plus martial arts epic starring Andy Lau, Nicholas Tse and Jackie Chan, Shaolin, released in September on DVD, topped the Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore box offices and broke the box office record in Malaysia on its release earlier in the year. This tale of feuding warlords and Shaolin monks in 1920s China is ravishing to behold, with extraordinarily impressive choreographed fight sequences, and is the equal of any Hollywood Blockbuster in terms of the scale of the project but it all feels too mainstream and perfunctory to really grab the viewer by the throat in the same fashion as Takashi Miike's 13 Assassins (2010)

Lau's General Hou Jie, ruthless and growing ever more powerful, is the central character who, after being usurped by his own second in command, Cao Man (Nicholas Tse), seeing his young daughter killed and his wife leave him, undergoes a Damascene conversion and turns to the Shaolin monks he had previously threatened with death for salvation. Jackie Chan's cook is charged with taking the once fearsome General, thought by Man to be dead, under his wing for training into the ways of the Shaolin and Zen Buddhism. Much soul searching and repentance is endured by Jie before Man's discovery that his one time leader is still alive ushers in a fresh wave of violent confrontation that threatens the very existence of the temple and its inhabitants.

Shaolin is entertaining enough but the narrative is a familiar one - good versus evil, a fallen man finds redemption, power corrupts - as are the character types, including Chan's partly comic, slightly dishevelled cook. The swelling orchestral score is too overbearing and at times sickly sentimental and the whole thing is constructed to appeal to a mass mainstream audience. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, it just doesn't hit the spot for me as it all feels too predictable however extravagant and well directed, shot and acted the film is.

Around the World in Eighty Movies - number 4

Country: South Africa / Botswana
Title: The Gods Must Be Crazy
Director: Jamie Uys
Cast: N!xau, Sandra Prinsloo, Marius Weyers, Louw Verwey
Year: 1980
Running time: 109 minutes
Genre: Comedy/Action
Notable for: Smashing box office records in South Africa

Never has the casual discarding of an empty Coca-Cola bottle caused as much strife as it does in Jamie Uys' The Gods Must Be Crazy. Thrown from a plane the Coke bottle lands in the Kalahari desert and is found by a tribe of Bushmen. At first they find many uses for the humble bottle before tribesman Xi, played by Namibian tribesman N!xau, after seeing the rise in jealousy, anger and violence the bottle's ownership brings forth, decides it's an evil item and sets off to return it to the Gods. Uys' comedic tale of noble savages, religious beliefs and contemporary, consumer driven Western culture was a huge hit throughout Africa and farther afield, with it eventually being distributed to over 45 countries through strong word of mouth.

Whilst some critical voices deemed its portrayal of the Bushmen to be culturally insensitive the majority of critics and audiences judged it to be a successful satire of modern Western civilisation as seen through the eyes of its hero Xi. As well as providing laughs The Gods Must Be Crazy also acts as an, admittedly shallow, historical document of Bush life before major social changes brought about forced relocations and the abandonment of the hunter/gatherer lifestyle for many of Southern Africa's indigenous peoples. Spawning three inferior sequels Uys' movie, a co-production between South Africa and Botswana, has a healthy cult following to this day and is a fine example of how to successfully tackle important cultural debates in a humorous, non-didactic fashion.

Thursday 20 October 2011

Watched - no 23 - Stake Land (Jim Mickle, 2010)

It won't have escaped the attention of even the most casual of cinema-goers, literature fans or TV audiences that Vampires and apocalyptic scenarios are both as popular now as they have ever been. With the likes of the Twilight series, True Blood, Let the Right One in, Melancholia, The Road, The Walking Dead and others sharing critical praise, box office success, high ratings and impressive sales figures audiences enamored of all things fang related or 'end of the world' have never had it so good. Whether the market is reaching saturation point or not new entries into these genres are released seemingly every other week and Jim Mickle's Stake Land, released this week on DVD, is the latest to see the light of day. Co-written by Mickle and Nick Damici, who also stars as the enigmatic vampire hunter Mister, Stake Land combines the genres mentioned within a road movie scenario to memorable effect in what could well be the horror movie of the year.

With society broken down due to a plague of vampirism and groups of survivors holed up in locked down, uninfected towns and outposts, Mister and his young protege Martin (Connor Paolo) roam the ravaged states of the US slaying the infected and accepting warmth and sustenance from the townsfolk they come across. Heading North to the fabled 'New Eden', an area rumoured to be heavily protected and free of vampires, Mister and Martin, in true road movie fashion, meet a variety of characters – from Kelly McGillis' Sister, a nun struggling to marry her religious beliefs with the chaos around her, Belle (Danielle Harris), a pregnant teenage drifter and Willie,a cynical ex-marine (Sean Nelson). Along with the nocturnal creatures, reminiscent of the Candarian Demons from Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series, danger comes in the form of a clan of right wing Christian fundamentalists, as happy to kill the uninfected as they are the infected as they spread their extremist ideology and brutal forms of territorial control.

Mickle and Damici's genre crossing movie is beautifully shot by DOP Ryan Samul in a variety of run down small towns, backwoods roads, abandoned and disused buildings and vast expanses of woodlands and wastelands. There's a real Tarkovskian feel to the devastated landscapes and architecture, all shot in suitably gloomy lighting, that raises Stake Land above the average genre movie and places it as being more akin to John Hillcoat's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's aforementioned The Road. If you took the plot of Zombieland, crossed it with the milieu of True Blood, removed all the humour and added a bleak social realist metaphor on the state of recession hit America, both in the era of The Grapes of Wrath, the present day and an imagined future, then Stake Land is what you'd come up with. Where other lesser movies of this ilk would rely on ADHD afflicted editing and a ramped up soundtrack, Mickle, who also took on editing and visual FX duty, and Jeff Grace, with his affecting, melancholic piano led score, take Stake Land close to the realms of the arthouse movie whilst still providing enough thrills, moments of tension and serious bloodletting to keep even the most ardent genre fan happy.

Superbly directed, played straight as an arrow by its impressive cast, atmospheric, almost unrelentingly downbeat and providing a genuinely inventive take on three genres that are as well worn as many of the characters clothes Stake Land delivers from start to finish. Terrific stuff.

Friday 14 October 2011

To Die For... The Insect Woman (Imamura Shohei)

My favourite film, The Insect Woman, by Imamura Shohei, isn't all that well known, but should be. It's about a lower class Japanese woman who struggles through life, has a child, and works as a maid for a posher woman. It's shocking - at one point the Japanese woman seems to suckle her dad. In another, we see a child scald herself with boiling soup. But there are two reasons why I love it. Firstly, its style. The Insect Woman is one of the most beautiful films ever made. It's shot very widescreen, and the compositions are breathtaking. The scalding scene is done in two amazing shots, one far away from the kid, one from above the stove, with the child out of focus below. The second reason I like it is because of what it says about people. The first shot is an insect scuttling across the land. Then we cut to the woman doing the same. For the rest of the film she scuttles, feral, determined not to give up. To use an insect as a metaphor for a woman is unflattering in a way, but Imamura loves her for her unstoppability, her survival instinct, her glorious forward propulsion. The film moves me to tears and thrills me with its pictorial beauty. - Mark Cousins
Mark Cousins is a director, presenter and film critic. His credits include the TV series Scene by Scene and Moviedrome. His latest venture, The Story of Film: An Odyssey, a 15 part exploration of the history of film, is currently being shown on More4 on Saturday nights.

Thursday 13 October 2011

To Die For... - monthly guest written feature

'To Die For...'

Each month I'll be asking a special guest one simple question - which film could you not live without? In a couple of hundred words they'll have the chance to give us an insight into just why their chosen film is so special to them. Will it be a film from their childhood? A modern classic? An arthouse oddity? A knockabout comedy? Whatever the choices may be they will all offer a glimpse into the relationship between film and viewer, personal tastes and cherished cinematic memories and act as a pure celebration of the wonderful, endlessly fascinating world of film.

The first guest writer will be Mark Cousins, the man responsible for the series that is currently the TV highlight of any film lover's week - The Story of Film. Look out for his upcoming piece on Shohei Imamura's The Insect Woman. A real treat to get the feature up and running.

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Around the World in Eighty Movies - number 3

Country: America
Title: Five
Director: Arch Oboler
Cast: William Phipps, Susan Douglas Rubes, James Anderson, Charles Lampkin, Earl Lee
Year: 1951
Running time: 93 minutes
Genre: Science Fiction
Notable for: Being the earliest example of post-apocalyptic cinema

As well as writing, directing and producing the first full colour 3D movie, Bwana Devil (1952), Arch Oboler, who worked on radio, stage, TV and the big screen, performed the same duties on the post-apocalyptic Five. Shot in Glendale, California and in and around Oboler's Frank Lloyd Wright designed house in Malibu, California during the early days of the Cold War, Five is the bleak story of a handful of survivors left after worldwide atomic warfare. Whereas many of the 50s Science Fiction films that came out of the US were flag waving, barely concealed anti-Communist tracts masquerading as alien invasion adventures Five was a downbeat, philosophical and humanistic film more in keeping with the modern post-apocalyptic vision of John Hillcoat's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road (2009).

Pre-figuring The Night of the Living Dead's random survivors holed up together scenario so memorably used by George A. Romero by 17 years, Oboler's screenplay covers racial and gender politics, communal living, the madness of mutually assured destruction and the existential angst of living in a 'dead' world. Even after the population of the planet is reduced to four men and one woman, violence, bigotry, sexual tension and political ideology still rule the roost in Oboler's stark portrayal of the remnants of society. Visions of the apocalypse and its aftermath are a staple of contemporary cinema, from the action oriented Mad Max (79,81,85) series via Steve De Jarnatt's under appreciated Miracle Mile (1988) to Roland Emmerich's Hollywood blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow (2004) and Lars Von Trier's recent Melancholia (2011), but Five, with its eschewing of effects laden action, oppressive atmosphere and savage critique of the folly of war and social attitudes is as potent as any of them. Hundreds of films and dozens of directors could, rightly, have represented America in this series but Oboler's low key vision of the end of the world, not as championed, critically fawned over or technically ground-breaking as the films of Griffith, Welles, Cassavetes or Scorsese deserves its spot on the list for tackling its subject matter in such an uncondescending, fearless fashion.

Five can be viewed for free in full here -

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Watched - no 22 - Panic Button (Chris Crow, 2011)

A cautionary tale of the dark side of social networking is explored in this timely independent British horror/thriller from director/co-writer Chris Chow and producer/co-writer John Shackleton. As the lines between the private and the public are increasingly eroded and more of us increasingly share information online that in the past would have been kept secret or known to only a handful of family and friends Panic Button takes elements from real world cases of online abuse, data theft and privacy issues and blends them into a violent, satirical revenge movie. Bringing to mind James Wan's Saw (2004), Marc Evans' My Little Eye (2002) and to a lesser degree Jonathan Liebesman's The Killing Room (2009) Crow's movie, made for the relatively small figure of £300,000, is an intriguing if flawed exercise in tension, humiliation and uncomfortable, socially reflective attitudes.

Four young Brits, including single mother Jo, played by erstwhile Eastenders star Scarlett Alice Johnson, are whisked away aboard a private jet by social networking site for a prize winning, all expenses paid weekend in New York. With their mobile phones relinquished, and the cockpit locked, the guests are introduced to the mysterious 'Alligator' via inbuilt PC screens, who promises them further prizes for playing the 'in flight entertainment'. As you would imagine the 'entertainment' isn't exactly what the prize winners are expecting as a series of increasingly personal questions and embarrassing revelations causes tensions to rise and the veracity of the trip, and those behind it, to be called into question. Events go from uncomfortable to sinister to outright perilous as the characters are faced with a situation where the potential consequences of failure affect not only themselves but their loved ones and online 'friends' as well.

There's a fine line between catching the zeitgeist and exploiting the times and Panic Button flits between the two, not always successfully, in an entertaining and in parts brutally sadistic fashion. The suspension of disbelief required in many genre movies is definitely needed as one particular plot device should be so blindingly obvious to even the most frazzled of characters that you can't help but question their intelligence. Crow and the cast and crew do a good job in ratcheting up the tension and the climax, though convoluted, is bleak in the extreme. Panic Button makes good use of a tight budget, pulls no punches in it's representation of graphic violence and, though it may be heavy handed, makes some interesting points about anonymity and responsibility.

The Big Picture - new article

My latest article for The Big Picture is an On Location feature focusing on Martin Scorsese's four hour documentary My Voyage to Italy. Recently released on DVD for the first time this fabulous journey through Scorsese's favourite Italian films is a must see for film lovers everywhere. Follow the link at the end of this piece, have a read and then order a copy of the DVD for your collection.

Sunday 2 October 2011

Watched - no 21 - Shiver (Isidro Ortiz, 2008)

Isidro Ortiz's Shiver (a translation of Eskalofrio), is the latest in a growing number of Spanish horror/fantasy films to have followed in the wake of Guillermo del Toro's 2006 masterpiece Pan's Labyrinth. With the releases of the del Toro produced El Orfanato/The Orphanage (Juan Antonio Bayona, 2007), Elio Quiroga's La Hora Fria/The Dark Hour (2006), Nacho Vigalondo's superb Los Cronocrimines/Timecrimes (2007) and the [Rec] series (which sees Paco Plaza's [Rec]3: Genesis released next year), an intriguing, if not always succesful, collection of movies is taking shape. Ortiz's film, made in 2008 and released on DVD on the 17th of October, which blends vampiric themes and rural horror with straight up thriller elements is a moderately successful entry into this group; competently directed and performed if not original or genuinely scary enough to make it a must see.

Shiver stars Junio Valverde, who had a small role in del Toro's El Espinazo del Diablo/The Devil's Backbone in 2001, as Santi, a troubled teenager suffering from photophobia - an abnormal reaction to light - labelled a freak and a vampire by his bullying peers, resigned to his outsiderdom and living in Barcelona with his caring but weary mother Julia (Mar Sodupe). On doctor's orders, mother and son relocate to a tiny sun deprived village in rural Spain to allow Santi to live a more 'normal' life. What follows is a deft but familar tale as a series of murders and animal killings make the relations between the wary villagers and new arrivals tense to the point of outright hatred as accusatory fingers are pointed in the direction of the 'vampire' Santi. Suffice to say that everything is far from what it first appears, as the surrounding woods begin to loom ever larger in matters and the house Santi and Julia move into begins to turn up unexpected secrets. There's a diverting but not fully rounded mix of themes and genre traits in Shiver, some nicely done - the struggles of existing outside of regular society, explored in a number of characters - and some little more than puffer sub-plots - Santi's tentative relationship with local girl Angela (Blanca Suarez) being the one that sticks in the mind. The fact that four screenwriters are credited points to why Shiver appears at times to be two or three different movies fighting for space.

Aesthetically Shiver has a fittingly bleached out, oppressive atmosphere (though if I never see another night-vision sequence it'll be too soon) and the score works well in ratcheting up the tension when required. Though the film follows a fairly predictable path it's an enjoyable enough experience getting to the endpoint even if the climax itself is a bit of a shoulder shrugging moment. Ortiz has the look and feel of genre movies down well and with stronger material could well go on to direct something that really catches the attention.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Around the World in Eighty Movies - number 2

Country: Italy
Title: La Mashera Del Demonio (The Mask of Satan, aka Black Sunday)
Director: Mario Bava
Cast: Barbara Steele, John Richardson, Ivo Garrini, Arturo Dominici
Year: 1960
Running time: 87 minutes
Genre: Horror
Notable for: Being banned in the UK until 1968

1960 saw a trio of horror films released that broke new ground in the genre, generated varying levels of controversy and have since gone on to be regarded as classics - Michael Powell's Peeping Tom, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and Italian director Mario Bava's The Mask of Satan. Whilst Powell and Hitchcock's movies were contemporary in both theme and style, Bava's official directorial début took classic themes - vampirism/witchcraft/resurrection - and updated them for the modern era with healthy doses of onscreen violence. Containing scream queen Barbara Steele's breakthrough role as the vampire-witch Asa Vajda, The Mask of Satan was banned in the UK until 1968 and often censored in house before screenings in the US due to its gruesome scenes. Bava, who began working as a cinematographer, including a stint working for Roberto Rossellini, had unofficially directed or completed direction on seven previous films, but it was The Mask of Satan and its critical and box office success that brought him international recognition.

Undeniably atmospheric and shot through with memorable imagery, The Mask of Satan may appear tame to modern audiences used to torture porn but it made Bava the Godfather of Italian horror movies and paved the way for his son Lamberto and fellow countrymen Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci's later careers in the horror and Giallo genres. Italian film-making is rightly lauded for giving the world neo-realism, but their contribution to horror cinema is not to be underestimated.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

The Big Picture - new article

Over at The Big Picture magazine we have an ongoing section called Screengem - which features iconic objects from film history. My latest addition to the series is the bucket of pig's blood as seen in Brian De Palma's 1976 adaptation of Stephen King's début novel Carrie. All horror movie fans will know this scene like the back of their hands and it's rightly enshrined as one of the most iconic sequences in the history of the horror genre. Follow the link at the end of this article and celebrate this bloody marvellous moment.

Sunday 18 September 2011

Watched - no 20 - Everywhere & Nowhere (Menhaj Huda, 2011)

The trials and tribulations of a young British-Asian, Ash (James Floyd), involving familial tensions, traditional versus contemporary lifestyles, uncertain futures and peer pressure take centre stage in Menhaj Huda's London set coming-of-age drama. Huda, responsible for directing Kidulthood (2006), as well as racking up various television directorial credits on Holby Blue, The Bill and Eastenders amongst others, both writes and directs this familiar tale of urban angst, generational divides and clashing cultural mores. With his humourless and over-bearing brother Ahmed (Ally Khan) dictating that Ash should follow him into the family retail business the young second generation British-Asian is desperate to break free of his pre-determined future and follow his dreams of becoming a successful DJ. With the likes of Kidulthood, Adulthood (Noel Clarke, 2008) and Bullet Boy (Saul Dibb, 2004), as well as the 'gritty' urban movie spoof Anuvahood (Adam Deacon, Daniel Toland), cornering the market in 'edgy' youth oriented movies Huda was taking a gamble in churning out another film in this sub-genre, and it's a gamble that hasn't paid off.

There's nothing in Everywhere & Nowhere that we haven't seen many times before, the characters are stereotypical in the extreme and the screenplay packed full of tired clichés that leaves the whole thing sadly lacking in dramatic tension due to the staleness of the plot. Huda throws a variety of well worn themes into the mix - hypocritical family members, friends going off the rails, love across a cultural divide, Islamophobia and Anglophobia and Ash's struggle for independence from his family and the friends he is growing weary of. That these themes aren't explored in any great detail gives the whole narrative an 'issues 101' feel, where a deeper exploration of one of the themes or something vaguely unfamiliar in general could have been a whole lot more satisfying. The cast give it their all and Huda's direction is solid enough, but Everywhere & Nowhere has the feel of a late night television drama instead of a big screen experience. British cinema is riding the crest of a wave at the moment with the likes of Steve McQueen's upcoming Shame (2011), Andrea Arnold's take on Wuthering Heights (2011) and Tomas Alfredson's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011) all garnering critical acclaim as well as smaller scale or genre offerings such as Ben Wheatley's Kill List (2011) capturing audiences imaginations. Unfortunately for Huda the paucity of originality on show either behind the camera or in front of it when compared to those other releases exposes his need to pass on the writing duties and broaden his repertoire in terms of thematic concerns if he's going to have a chance of any long term recognition.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Around the World in Eighty Movies - number 1

Country: Australia
Title: The Story of the Kelly Gang
Director: Charles Tait
Cast: Frank Mills, Nicholas Brierley, Elizabeth Tait, John Tait
Year: 1906
Running time: 60 Minutes (approx)
Genre: Crime / Drama
Notable for: Being the first feature length film

You would be forgiven for thinking that the first feature length film would have come from the US, France or Britain given their status as the three leading countries in the development of the moving image and the fledgling film industry. Surprising as it may sound though, that honour goes to Charles Tait's Australian shot bio-pic of Ned Kelly, The Story of the Kelly Gang, released in 1906 and originally running at just over an hour in length. Made just 26 years after Kelly was hanged The Story of the Kelly Gang was written and directed by Charles Tait, whose showbusiness family were the owners of the Athenaeum Hall, a Melbourne concert venue. Filmed in and around the city Tait's film, which ushered in a wave of 'bushranging' movies, was long thought to have been destroyed or lost until some remaining sections came to light in the late 70s and early 80s. Digitally restored by the Australian National Film and Sound Archive the remaining pieces of Tait's film, around 14 minutes in total, have been released on DVD and can be seen on YouTube -

Technically rudimentary they may be, with close ups, camera movement and editing not yet fully developed as stylistic techniques due to the still basic nature of the equipment available, but these remaining scenes from The Story of the Kelly Gang are vital fragments of moving image and the impact of Tait's work on the development of cinema cannot be understated and it remained in constant circulation for ten years after its initial premier in Melbourne on Boxing Day 1906.

The first of many subsequent big and small screen takes on the famous outlaw and his fellow accomplices The Story of the Kelly Gang is Australia's entry into the Around the World in 80 Movies series, showing as it does the beginnings of what we know as feature length film-making today.

Friday 9 September 2011

Around the World in Eighty Movies

Coming soon - A new feature where I'll take a trip around the planet in 80 movies. Recognised classics, cult oddities, fictional visions and powerful documentaries from all genres and all eras will be covered. This is not intended as a project to represent individual national cinemas - Italian neo-realism, the French new wave, German expressionism - but more of a smorgasbord selection designed to give people a taste of the wonderful world of cinema. The individual films discussed will hopefully form an all encompassing whole that will make audiences look anew at films they love and broaden the interest in some lesser known entries. Classic scenes, controversial political discourse, technological advances, the uses of genre conventions, censor baiting directors, memorable location work and career making performances from the iconic and the long forgotten will be addressed in a whirlwind cinematic tour around this place we call home.

In the next couple of weeks the first entry into my 80 movies collection will make its appearance, and what better way to begin than with the first feature length movie - Charles Tait's The Story of the Kelly Gang, from 1906, the Australian entry

Sunday 4 September 2011

Watched - no 19 - The Panic in Needle Park (Jerry Schatzberg, 1971)

Jerry Schatzberg's The Panic in Needle Park, newly released in a widescreen version, is one of countless gems to come out of America in the 70s, the decade that for me was Hollywood's real 'Golden Age'. This fruitful period gave us The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Conversation, Chinatown, Deliverance and Badlands to name but a handful. Schatzberg's realist junkie drama, which deserves to be mentioned alongside those other films, features a performance of such eye catching intensity from a young Al Pacino that it landed him the plum role of Michael Corleone in Coppola's The Godfather. Banned in the UK on its initial release due to the stark portrayal of narcotics abuse, including the first scenes of actual drug injections to be seen in a mainstream movie, The Panic in Needle Park is a tough, unsanitised and fittingly bleak representation of a wretched way of life.

Pacino stars as Bobby, a charismatic small time hustler and hopeless addict alongside Kitty Winn as Helen, the unsettled and impressionable country girl who falls for Bobby's dubious charms. This is no ordinary love story though, with Heroin an added ingredient making for a decidedly unstable and increasingly abusive menage-a-trois. Shot in a verite fashion by Schatzberg and cinematographer Adam Holender in and around 'Needle Park', the nickname at the time for the area covering Verdi and Sherman Square in New York's Upper West Side, the movie unfolds as a series of loosely constructed narrative vignettes charting the lovers' disintegrating relationship. With no soundtrack to manipulate audience emotions, or to distract from the unrelentingly squalid events shown onscreen, Schatzberg's artistic decisions are fully justified as the resolutely unvarnished images speak for themselves. Pacino, a riveting, roller-coaster mixture of nervous energy, wisecracks, melancholy, violent outbursts and increasing desperation is the undoubted star of the piece, though Winn's depiction of Helen's slide into addiction, prostitution and betrayal is well worthy of a mention. The other 'star' of the movie is New York itself, captured as it is in the faux-documentary style that the cinema- verite style evokes. New York in the 70s may have been an artistically creative hotbed but as Schatzberg's movie clearly shows it was also a run down, economically ravaged concrete jungle; over-populated, garbage strewn and inhospitable.

As Bobby and Helen collapse into mutually dependent self-destruction Schatzberg allows for no easy resolution or liberal conscience salving respite. The final images of The Panic in Needle Park, in which the fresh out of jail Bobby hooks up with Helen, whose informing put him there, leaves the viewer in no doubt that the pair are about to climb right back on board the train that will lead to more misery, more abusive bust ups and eventually death for either or both of them. Where Trainspotting brought humour to drug addiction and Pulp Fiction brought an air of stylised glamour, The Panic in Needle Park brings realism, and what a grimy, unpalatable vision it is. Recommended.

Friday 2 September 2011

Rogue Cinema review - September

This month's review for Rogue Cinema is of the low-fi,
independently financed documentary The Death of Andy Kaufman.
Follow the link at the bottom of the post to check it out.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Watched - no 18 - Buried Alive (Frank Darabont, 1990)

Before Frank Darabont became something of a household name after directing The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and The Green Mile (1999) he began his feature length directorial career with this 1990 TV movie. One of a large number of movies to revolve around the ghastly fate of being interred whilst still very much alive, which notably include the Roger Corman adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's The Premature Burial (1962), George Sluizer's chilling Spoorloos (1998) and Rodrigo Cortes' thriller Buried (2010), Buried Alive is due for release on DVD for the first time on the 17th of October. Tim Matheson stars as regular Joe Clint with Jennifer Jason Leigh as his unhappy and unfaithful wife Joanna, a city girl who has grown increasingly desperate to get away from their quiet small town existence and live a life of pampered luxury with her lover, local doctor and scenery chewing sleaze-bag Cortland (William Atherton). Coerced into poisoning Clint by Cortland, with a large life insurance policy payout as added bait, Joanna's botched deed leaves Clint in a state of paralysis with his vital signs undetectable...and you can guess the rest.

Buried Alive is deadly dull, never once appearing as anything other than the cheap TV movie that it is, and not even the usually entertaining presence of Jason Leigh can disguise the fact. The chills are run of the mill, the acting broad and the entertainment value sparse. The low budget, exposition heavy dialogue, signposted plot-line and B-movie cast (Jason Leigh apart) make for an inauspicious début for the man who would go on to direct the much loved prison set Stephen King adaptations as well as The Mist(2007), another, hugely underrated, King adaptation. With his recent firing from the highly popular TV series The Walking Dead, which he developed from the comic book series of the same name, the headstrong Darabont has seemingly once again managed to alienate himself from the money men. His steadfast refusal to alter the downbeat ending of The Mist led to limited studio funds being made available for the film's marketing and advertising budget, condemning the movie to a limited theatrical run on far fewer screens than it deserved. Buried Alive on the other hand has done well to garner a DVD release as only the die-hard or easily pleased horror fan will be able to take much from this paltry sub-Hitchcockian, Allen Poe influenced misfire.

Monday 22 August 2011

Competition week 5

The final DVD giveaway courtesy of the good folk at Dogwoof is Shannon Walsh's H2Oil. This 4 star (Total Film) documentary described by Empire as 'hard hitting eco-activism' takes a look at Canada's tar sands and how they are fast becoming the debating ground in the battle of oil profit versus ecological awareness. To win the DVD simply email me at no later than midnight on Friday the 26th of August.

Sunday 7 August 2011

Watched - no 17 - Kaboom (Gregg Araki, 2010) - trailer

After confusing critics, fans and detractors with his polar opposite, oeuvre redefining films Mysterious Skin, a mature exploration of abuse and its consequences, and Smiley Face, a cheesy stoner comedy, Gregg Araki is back on more familiar ground with his latest movie, Kaboom. Familiar ground to Araki, however, is a strange, messy and provocative place. Having established himself as a cult director of anarchic, sexually outré, youth obsessed movies such as Totally Fucked Up, Nowhere and The Doom Generation, defined by their day-glo colour schemes, outrageous set pieces, pop culture heavy scripts and nihilistic edge, Araki now presents us with a movie perfectly summed up in one review as 'Twin Peaks 90210'.

Araki's riotous tale centres around sexually confused student, Smith (Thomas Dekker) and his offbeat collection of campus friends, including his Adonis like room-mate Thor (Chris Zylka), promiscuous London (Juno Temple) and wisecracking Stella (Haley Bennett). When bizarre and sinister incidents begin to occur around him Smith is plunged into a paranoid world that threatens not just his existence but that of civilisation as a whole. Taking in a mysterious death cult, attackers in animal masks, comedic exchanges, a typically guitar heavy soundtrack and an increasingly acid-fried plot-line, plus copious amounts of nudity, Zeitgeisty dialogue and oblique, at times almost nonsensical sequences Kaboom will annoy as many as it excites. I'm in the latter camp and fell for it hook, line and sinker. Araki has conjured up an effervescent, genre defying slice of entertainment that is neither multiplex or arthouse fodder, straying as it does between crypto-philosophical musings, science fiction themed sub-plots and porno-lite sex scenes all within a cheesy, teen- soap style visual palette.

There's no doubting that Kaboom is wafer thin, peopled as it almost exclusively with impossibly beautiful characters, hipster fashions and an apparent disregard for a tightly constructed narrative, but that's exactly why it works. Araki is no fool, and love him or hate him, he's an assured director who has chosen to put Kaboom together in this fashion. It's a blackly comic reflection of the ADHD infused entertainment culture we live in - a contemporary society of plastic, tech heavy gadgets, sound-bites, violence, promiscuity and generation gaps as much as it is its own insular tale of conspiracy, youth, sexual awakening and a fast approaching Apocalypse.

Friday 5 August 2011

Competition week 4

After a two week break for a tools down holiday the competition to win a DVD courtesy of Dogwoof Productions is back. Up for grabs this week is Peter Meller's Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands. Described by The Guardian as 'stunning' and by The Financial Times as 'scary, nightmarish and oddly beautiful' Petropolis will be a great addition to your DVD collection, and of special interest to anyone with an interest in ecological matters and documentary films.
To be in with a chance of winning the DVD just email me, putting Petropolis competition in the subject header and I will enter you into the draw. Closing date for entries is Friday the 12th of August. - Petropolis trailer

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Rogue Cinema review - August

Here's the link to this month's review for It's on the British hostage thriller Desperate Measures. Low budget, independent British movies veer between hidden gems, run of the mill B-movies and embarrassing failures, have a read of the review to see which end of the scale Desperate Measures sits.

Tuesday 2 August 2011

The Big Picture - new issue

Here's a link to the latest issue of The Big Picture magazine.
This issue's theme is 'food' and my article is on Bubba Gump's Shrimp Company from Forrest Gump. Best read with snacks to hand! The next issue, which I'll be guest editing, is due in a couple of months and has the theme of 'coming-of-age' in the movies but for now enjoy this feast of film and food.

Thursday 28 July 2011

Electric Sheep article

Review of 'Stalker' for Electric Sheep -

With all of the late Andrei Tarkovsky's films recently released in DVD and Blu Ray box sets Electric Sheep have spent the last month looking at the individual films that make up his lasting legacy. My contribution to this celebration is a review of his masterpiece Stalker. It's difficult to do justice to Tarkovsky's films as they really need to be experienced, pondered over and watched again. If you haven't seen Stalker you really should, as soon as possible. Every now and again a film comes along that changes the very nature of cinema and how audiences subsequently look at the real world, this is one of them.