Dogs Don’t Wear Pants

Krista Kosonen in dominatrix gear

Grief rather than lust is what drives Dogs Don’t Wear Pants, the well-told story of a Finnish man who starts visiting a dominatrix after his wife dies. Director and co-writer J-P Valkeapää’s drama (with the odd comedic touch) is delivered in three big chunks. Chunk one is brief and details the life of Juha (Pekka Strang), a doctor with a beautiful wife and young daughter whose world changes entirely when the wife drowns while they’re holidaying by a tranquil lake. Chunk two: a frozen-by-grief Juha accidentally strays into the chamber of a working dominatrix while taking his daughter to have her tongue pierced, and then starts visiting the dominatrix regularly. Chunk three, also … Read more

Vampires vs. the Bronx

(l-r) Gerald Jones III, Jaden Michael and Gregory Diaz IV

Cockneys vs Zombies given a wipe-down and relocated to the US, maybe? But Vampires vs. the Bronx isn’t a reworking of the 2012 British film even though it’s also about the denizens of a run-down part of a world city taking on a mythical horror foe. Are the vampires even the foe, or is it gentrification? This film gets caught up in its cape over that one but survives largely on likability (it’s certainly not scary) and that’s down to the casting of the three youngsters at the centre of it – Jaden Michael, Gerald Jones III and Gregory Diaz IV as three 14-year-olds, softies in a hard world, though one of them … Read more


Emilia Jones, George MacKay

After His House and A Dim Valley, Nuclear is the third film with an uneasy supernatural element that I’ve seen in the last three days. All three use the otherworldly element to put a spin on a familiar genre – two/three genres in the case of Nuclear. The first is a family drama. Mother (as the imdb calls her, and played by Sienna Guillory) gets a formidable kicking as the film opens, from her son (Brother, as per the imdb, played by Oliver Coopersmith), is rescued by her daughter Emma (Emilia Jones) and driven off into the middle of nowhere, mum to recuperate, Emma to marshal her forces before moving on to who … Read more


Johnny Flynn

Stardust, echoing the title of his most consequential album, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, charts the journey of David Bowie from washout – the big 1969 hit Space Oddity not having led on to greatness – to the moment he became the David Bowie of legend. Gabriel Range’s film pegs that moment as being when Bowie first stepped on stage in 1972 with his new band, the Spiders from Mars, though fans will rightly point out that the decisive shift actually came with the previous album, Hunky Dory, in particular the song Queen Bitch, a moment of arch Ziggy-ness inspired by Lou Reed. But, fanboy grumbles to one side, let’s talk … Read more

A Dim Valley

Rosalie Lowe, Rachel McKeon, Feathers Wise

A Dim Valley is a quiet but bizarre drama that sets off in one direction only to blindside. All seems familiar at the outset. Three guys out on a botany field trip in Kentucky – two students and the prof. The students are the jockish one Albert (Whitmer Thomas) and Ian (Zach Weintraub) who may not be gay but is certainly checking Albert out when he’s wandering around in a towel. The prof is played by Robert Longstreet, whose air of boozy, world-weary sagacity is reminiscent of Roger Allam – all hail. Albert and Ian tolerate each other. Together they tolerate the prof. He tolerates them. Relations are cordial but nothing more. Out … Read more

Here Are the Young Men

Kearney, Rez, Matthew and Jen

Three Irish gobshites have a last summer of fun before maturity claims them in Eoin Macken’s Here Are the Young Men, a tantalising mix of the familiar and the fantastical. It’s nearly 50 years since Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show. Made in 1971 but nostalgic for 20 years earlier, it wrote the blueprint for these “last summer” films. It’s the way Macken follows that blueprint and then veers madly away from it that gives this Here Are the Young Men its flavour. Matthew (Dean-Charles Chapman), Kearney (Finn Cole) and Rez (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) are three laddish lads in 1990s Dublin, lairy, sweary, drinky, druggy, out to have a good time now that school … Read more

Not to Be Unpleasant, But We Need to Have a Serious Talk

Aris sits alone

The Greek Weird Wave was at its height in 2011 when Giorgos Georgopoulos released his last fictional movie, Tungsten (there’s been a documentary in the interim), one of the films included on almost all the “ten best” lists next to the likes of Yorgos Lanthimos’s Dogtooth (2009) or Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Attenberg (2010). Now he’s back with another, admittedly very late, contender, a bone-dry, pitch-black, straight-faced comedy about a man with a fatal sexually transmitted disease seeking out the women he’s slept with over the past few years to tell them they are in all likelihood going to die. Not him, though, it’s only fatal for women. A comedy, you say? Well, the … Read more

Woolf Women

The five skateboarders in a group shot

Five young women head to Turkey with their skateboards in this documentary taking a tour of the Generation Z zeitgeist. Before we go any further, they refer to each other as “girls”, which I know is not everyone’s favourite term for young women, ladies, females – none of them sound quite right. Lass, chick, dame? Something else that doesn’t sound right is the sound coming out of the mouth of German professional downhill skater (and co-director) Jennifer “Jungle” Schauerte, who we see in opening footage hurtling down a road at a hell of a speed, the helmetcam catching the dizzying, exhilarating descent before she slams into a crash barrier and starts screaming. She’s … Read more

The Woman with Leopard Shoes

The feet and shoes of the woman with leopard shoes

Of all the films I’ve seen at the Raindance festival this year, The Woman with Leopard Shoes is the best so far. It was put together under Covid-19 strictures and yet here it is, an excellently conceived, constructed and executed high-concept thriller delivered by a debut director, with a star who’s also in his first role of any sort. In an opening scene of near-storyboard starkness that’s emblematic of the whole film, a hooded man is hired by an unseen woman to break in to a house, steal a box and deliver it to her. When he gets to the house, the breaking in and box bit go very smoothly but then, before … Read more

The Man Who Knew Too Much

Colin Wallace

James Stewart? Doris Day? Alfred Hitchcock? No. Instead meet Colin Wallace, a retired real-life spook who got heavily involved in the UK government’s undercover operations in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, blew the whistle when his paymasters started asking him to start smearing democratically elected politicians, then wound up in jail on a ten-year stretch on a confected charge of manslaughter. Strangely, or perhaps it’s not strange at all, it’s a tale from recent history with an urgent contemporary relevance. Michael Oswald’s documentaries to date have all sought to pull back the veil on the hidden workings of the world. Finance was the focus in 97% Owned, Princes of the Yen and The … Read more