enter the void

Popular Reviews

The Count and Princess Vera

100 Years of… Foolish Wives

When Foolish Wives debuted in 1922, its writer/director/star Erich von Stroheim was at the peak of his popularity, having exploited anti-German sentiment during the First World War by playing a despicable Hun doing despicable things in a series of films. “The man you love to hate,” was his moniker, one gained in 1918 in the film The Heart of Humanity, where he plays a ruthless German officer who throws a baby out of the window so he can better get on with raping a Red Cross nurse. That’ll do it. Foolish Wives works the same seam, though, the war over and the Russian revolution grabbing more headlines, von Stroheim is now playing a … Read more
Guy in a war zone

Free Guy

An update on the Truman Show idea, Free Guy follows a Non Player Character in a game – the ones who get shot at or driven into in shoot-em-ups and driver games – who starts to get an inkling of what he is. Ryan Reynolds plays the guy called Guy – he’s got a buddy called Buddy (played by Lil Rel Howery, en route to stardom) – in this immensely smart and fairly funny CG-heavy actioner full of great talent in front of and behind the camera. Not as funny as Deadpool, though it’s not aiming for quickfire quippery, there’s a thoughtful and meditative aspect to Free Guy and its ruminations on artificial intelligence … Read more
Gregg Sulkin and Helena Bonham Carter in Sixty Six

Sixty Six

Bernie, a London Jewish boy who sees his barmitzvah as the very peak of his young life, suddenly realises it’s taking place on the same day as the 1966 football (soccer) World Cup final. Will anyone come, especially once the home team start morphing from total no-hopers to potential giant-killers? Helena Bonham Carter, Peter Serafinowicz, Eddie Marsan and Catherine Tate are among the familiar British faces helping young Gregg Sulkin towards his big day in a likeable but small-scale comedy which pins its hopes on the footballing names Bobby Moore, Nobby Stiles et al to give it back-of-the-net appeal. This of course makes for very parochial comedy indeed, but director Paul Weiland, apparently basing … Read more
Young Tiny by the climbing frame

The Fury

The Fury (aka De Helleveeg in the original Dutch) gives Hannah Hoekstra something to do. Impressive in any number of films and TV shows, Hoekstra has at this point in her career (2016, she’s 29) played sexy young things with attitude and varying levels of coquettishness. And that’s just what she plays here, with a twist, and with a chance to show there’s more in her bag than we might have thought. She plays a young woman called Tiny, a working-class girl in a dead-end job in 1960s Netherlands whose life consists of her family trying to marry her off while in the interim she works for them as a skivvy. The local … Read more
John Steed and Dr King

The Avengers: Series 2, Episode 5 – Mission to Montreal

Mixing it up yet again, episode five of series two – Mission to Montreal – introduces yet another sidekick in a story set on board a cruise liner heading for Canada. Jon Rollason plays Dr Martin King and brings the number of Steed’s accomplices in this series to three (Honor Blackman and Julie Stevens being the other two). King is an echo of Ian Hendry’s Dr David Keel in that he’s a doctor, and also one only too happy to indulge in a bit of espionage and rough stuff if necessary – not exactly what you’d expect from a well paid follower of Hippocrates, but there you go. In fact he’s more than … Read more
Alicia and Bruno in the water

In the Quarry

Four people have a lazy day hanging out in the sun at a water-filled disused quarry in the Uruguayan film In the Quarry (En el pozo). Not all of them are going to make it to the end of this increasingly knuckle-whitening thriller, the feature debut of brothers Rafael and Bernardo Antonaccio, whose command of tension and film-making technique suggests they have a bright future ahead of them. In the words of Jean-Luc Godard all you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun. The girl in this case is Alicia (Paula Silva), a smalltown escapee who’s returned to hicksville to catch up with old friends and show off her … Read more
Grace with a gun

The Reckoning

Contagion, hysteria, conspiracy and the patriarchy – you can’t accuse British horror film The Reckoning of not being on the money, even though it was shot in Hungary in 2019 while the Sars-Cov2 virus was still getting its boots on. Patriarchy is its biggest concern, though, or one 17th-century woman’s plucky fight against it. Charlotte Kirk both co-wrote and stars as Grace, the hot widow whose looks earn her the unwelcome attention of the local squire (Steven Waddington), who’s already dispatched her husband with plague-spiked ale and now – out of bitter spite at being sexually rebuffed – has accused her of being a witch. Visually and tonally we’re in the realm of the … Read more
Gordon and his mother

Where’s Poppa

Running on the same fuel as the UK comedy Steptoe and Son (or the US version of it Sanford and Son), Where’s Poppa is the story of a would-be suave, would-be lothario constantly being thwarted by his aged parent. George Segal plays the New York guy keen to spread his wild oats. Ruth Gordon is the insufferable mother he shares an apartment with, a woman who’s gone senile, or is maybe just making out she’s senile the better to thwart any chance of happiness for her son. It’s a loose-cannon story tracking the efforts of Gordon (Segal) to introduce a new nurse, Louise (Trish Van Devere) into the household, his mother having chased … Read more
The Grabber in a mask

The Black Phone

The Black Phone is the movie Scott Derrickson went off to direct after leaving Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness due to “creative differences”. He’d directed the first Dr Strange, a massive financial success, so you’d have thought the Marvel guys would cut him a bit more slack than they ultimately were prepared to. Anyway, on to the next project, a strange (pun intended) genre-crash horror movie that’s not that frightening, nor does it seem intended to be. Someone is kidnapping kids. Even big tough kids are disappearing into the van of some weird guy who leaves behind telltale black balloons. The kids are never seen again. Enter our milquetoast hero, Finney … Read more
Sean, Carlos and Kunle


Emergency is a funny name for a comedy but then it’s a funny sort of film, one that combines warm performances, likeable characters and high anxiety in a way that threatens at every turn to neutralise itself but never quite does. High wire stuff. It’s the “big night out goes wrong” sort of comedy that Harold and Kumar or the two young women from Booksmart once took for a drive around the block but this time out it’s RJ Cyler and Donald Elise Watkins as two familiar black stereotypes. Cyler plays Sean, the streetwise slacker student convinced that “black” and “ghetto” are more or less synonyms. Smart, possibly smarter than his unlikely friend, … Read more
Sterling Hayde as Detective Sims

Crime Wave

A heist-gone-wrong movie that actually starts with a heist going wrong, 1953’s Crime Wave (aka The City Is Dark) is a B movie and so doesn’t have time to hang around. It’s got an absolutely classic setup – within a couple of minutes of opening a cop is dead, one of the bad guys is wounded with an urgent need of medical attention and the heisters are on the run with the cops on their tail. Meanwhile, across town another classic ingredient, the ex-con who’s trying to go straight but who will be dragged back towards crime, first by the wounded man arriving at his door, then by the bent doctor who arrives … Read more
Mary crawls out of the river

Carnival of Souls

Shot in three weeks by a guy on a break from his real job, 1962’s Carnival of Souls is a spooky thriller about a woman who somehow survives a fatal car accident then drifts around for the rest of the movie like a restless spirit in a too-concrete world. It’s been described as something like an extended episode of the Twilight Zone – something like the Black Mirror of its day – which is largely down to the spectral, evocative organ score by Gene Moore, as well as the gotcha reveal at the finish, which won’t gotcha anyone who’s consuming as much media product as 21st-century audiences do. Director Herk Harvey said he … Read more

Popular Posts