Dragged across Concrete

Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn

Dragged across Concrete is a bit of a masterpiece, an urgent, drily funny, brutal, dirty and often ugly film full of horrible people, whom we nevertheless root for because writer/director S Craig Zahler focuses on the relationships rather than the genre aspects of this admittedly big genre beast of a movie. Zahler – he’s called that by everyone, apparently (his mum too?) – has done this before. In 2015’s Bone Tomahawk he re-worked the western, switching out of what you might call Revisionist Indian mode (they’re all noble, sinned against etc) into something far less PC and much more gruesome. If you’ve seen it, I’ll just say “that scene where…” and leave it … Read more

Swan Song

Pat stops the traffic

Swan Song is a gay movie set in a post-gay world, a lament for the loss of the sense of community that the transition from “in” to “out” has brought with it, but also a celebration of “how far we’ve come”. Somehow, successfully, magically, it keeps these two elements in play. How gay? There’s Judy Garland on the soundtrack, and Dusty Springfield, and Shirley Bassey. There’s Jennifer Coolidge in the cast and… get this… Linda Evans (of Dynasty fame). And what a role for Udo Kier, on screen for all of it, as an aged gay (gay, not queer) man of the old school – flamboyant, arch, bitchy, a former hair-and-beauty salon owner now … Read more

The Painted Bird

Joska asleep on a cart while a woman hoes

A screen adaptation of Polish-born Jerzy Kosiński’s novel The Painted Bird probably should have been made before 2019. “Of all the remarkable fiction that emerged from World War II, nothing stands higher than Jerzy Kosiński’s The Painted Bird,” wrote Jonathan Yardley in The Miami Herald in a typical rave when the book first appeared in 1965. When it turned out that the book wasn’t based on Kosiński’s own personal experiences, as he had claimed, and that he’d pulled off a remarkable literary hoax, sentiment reversed sharply. Decades later there were claims that other books by Kosiński – like Being There (which was turned into a 1979 film starring Peter Sellers) – were largely … Read more

About Endlessness

The hovering couple inspired by Chagall's Over the Town

In one of the first scenes in About Endlessness, a waiter brings a diner a bottle of wine, opens it, sniffs the cork to check the wine is OK, then walks over to the right hand side of the diner to fill his glass. Holding the bottle near the bottom, the way a practised waiter does, he pours the wine precisely into the glass, then keeps pouring, pouring, pouring, until the wine overflows and starts pooling over the table. The diner, who’s been stuck behind his newspaper, suddenly notices. If you’re not familiar with the work of Swedish director Roy Andersson, this is a typical entry into his world. About Endlessness doesn’t mark … Read more

Bacurau

Procession at the funeral of Teresa's grandmother

Two opinions of Bacurau from Amazon’s Top Reviews of this film. “One of the worst movies we have ever seen,” said Scout in a one star thumbs-down. “We were both regretful that we paid to give away time that we cannot get back watching a movie that was this painfully stupid.” On the other hand Cameron Brady, giving Bacurau five stars, said, “This movie is simply fantastic. It touches on subjects of socioeconomic disparity, racism, colorism, etc. but keeps a certain humor and charming weirdness as well.” I can sympathise with both points of view. If what you want is a good strong story told in an efficient way, Bacurau is a load … Read more

Keyhole

keyhole 2

“That penis is getting dusty” – a line of dialogue in wonky auteur Guy Maddin’s latest film, another arthouse exploration of arthouse themes delivered in high contrast monochrome, from a camera on a bungee and via an editor with attention deficit disorder. There are a couple of famous names too, just to lure in the unwary, or more likely to open the wallets of the various art foundations that funded this mad collision of references. Isabella Rossellini, longtime Maddin collaborator and utterer of the great line in his film The Saddest Music in the World – “If you’re sad and you like beer, I’m your lady” – she’s here. So too, as you … Read more