Black ‘47 (2018)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This is a very good revenge action / drama set during the Irish potato famine. It could easily be a Samurai movie, or Spaghetti Western, but the dark, muddy locations are a visual improvement on those genre’s usual settings. Several writers have made the connection to First Blood, which is indeed driven home by a scene in a “police station” and the music. The good thing is that Black ‘47 goes off in it’s own direction after that. Our anti-hero has much deeper motivation for his revenge than John Rambo. You will recognize several fine actors in this film, but I was most happy to see Hugo Weaving as the manhunter (pictured above). Don’t go into this expecting non-stop action. The pace is deliberate between the explosive scenes, but I was never bored. The balance of drama to action is just about perfect. Watch this instead of one of the zillion straight-to-Netflix shitshows, and I doubt you’ll regret it.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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Mom and Dad (2017)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

I’m picky about horror comedies, but this is a good one. Nicholas Cage does his thing as dad without slipping into Wicker Man level ridiculousness, and Selma Blair is the perfect choice as mom. The pace is pretty relentless, and the end ramps up the crazy even further. The filmmakers have done an admirable job at keeping the movie effective, and not as silly as it could have easily become in lesser hands.

Available on Blu-ray from Momentum.

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The Occupant (2020)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer (English – WATCH THE MOVIE IN SPANISH W/ SUBS)

Netflix delivers another entertaining Spanish thriller. The whole thing is improbable to the extreme, so forget about suspending your disbelief. It doesn’t matter because The Occupant looks great, the performances are spot on, and it has some wonderfully twisted moments. A word of warning though, some people HATED this movie. I’d say watch without expectations. Let the movie do it’s thing. If you generally appreciate the films I recommend on Anomalous Cinema, there’s a good chance you’ll like this as much as I did. Not feeling a little adventurous? Pick something else.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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‘71 (2014)

Streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

The Troubles are the setting of this very original action / drama. The balance of those genres is well handled, and everything is beautifully filmed. The film’s tension is enhanced by a powerful, bass-heavy, John Carpenter-meets-Godspeed soundtrack. This is pretty dark stuff, but well worth your time.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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Maps to the Stars (2014)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This is one of the least-typical films by David Cronenberg, but it’s a solid one for sure. Maps to the Stars is an entertaining dark comedy / satire of Hollywood that spins off in an unpredictable direction. I admire the originality here, and Mia Wasikowska is excellent. The only blemish is the use of some unnecessary CG. That is unfortunate but forgivable. Maybe you won’t even notice.

Blu-ray available from Universal.

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Peeping Tom (1960)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

The following was my first Patreon post, and will be in the upcoming Anomalous Cinema book. I was so happy to see that this film is streaming in 1080p HD, I just had to share it here too. Enjoy.

Mark is a sad, but somehow lovable, serial killer with a unique murder technique. You might not think that would be the plot of one of the very best films ever made, but it is.

The first time I saw this was on a terrible VHS tape. The colors were washed out and the movie was cropped from it’s original aspect ratio. I liked the story but wasn’t impressed. A couple of years later I got to see a restored 35 mm print, and the difference was unbelievable. The saturated colors alone made such a huge impression. Seeing it properly presented made it one of my all time favorite films.

I really want to avoid talking about specific format releases on Anomalous Cinema, but I will ignore that for this one movie. The reason is the Criterion Collection DVD. I bought a copy shortly after seeing the film print, and it’s really an amazing release. The extras include a long documentary on Leo Marks, who wrote the screenplay. What a revelation that was. Marks is one of the most interesting people I’ve ever learned about. We’re talking William S. Burroughs level interesting. I was so fascinated by Leo Marks I read his book “Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker’s War, 1941-1945” even though it has nothing to do with Peeping Tom or movies in general.

My experience with this one has been a gradual revelation. Peeping Tom remains a film that I’ve watched over and over, which is very rare for me.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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Tumbbad (2018)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

I’ve been wanting to feature an Indian movie for a long time, but nothing has struck me as good enough. I was going to direct you to check out Veerana: Vengeance of the Vampire / Purani Haveli: Mansion of Evil but that Mondo Macabro disc is selling for crazy collector prices now (maybe try a torrent search). Anyhow, Tumbbad was a real pleasure to find as it’s easily the best Indian film I’ve ever seen, of any genre. It’s super dark, and there’s very little of the silly humor that plagues most Bollywood films. Most important, it is genuinely creepy. Some of the CG isn’t quite up to current standards, but don’t let that keep you away. This is an excellent film with a damn good soundtrack to boot. Oh and by the way, smoking is injurious to your health.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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Nightcrawler (2014)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

Jake Gyllenhaal makes very strange career choices, and I absolutely respect that. In this one he plays a creep like you wouldn’t believe. Nightcrawler is a none-more-black satire that starts slow but builds into insanity, and 100% solid Anomalous Cinema.

Blu-ray available from Universal.

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Monos (2019)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

This is a beautifully photographed borderline-art film about teenage rebel fighters with an American hostage. It has several violent scenes, but is mostly a deliberately paced dark drama. The jungle locations are stunning, and seem so remote they’re from another planet. All the actors are excellent, but it was a pleasant surprise to see Julianne Nicholson (Law and Order / Boardwalk Empire) knock it out of the park as the hostage. This film also features a killer electronic soundtrack by Mica Levi who also did the music for Under the Skin. Monos is an almost perfect film that I strongly recommend to any patient film buff.

Available on Blu-ray from Universal.

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The Cassandra Crossing (1976)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

In the ’70s many star-studded thrillers were made (The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure, etc). None of them really impressed me all that much except this one. The Cassandra Complex is a crazy pebble, that rolls into a crazy snowball, that eventually becomes an avalanche of crazy. This is NOT a five star film. It should be terrible actually, but it’s not. What you get is a very entertaining mess, with seemingly every known working actor of the time thrown in. Get ready for a fun ride on the Crazy Train.

Blu-ray available (with bonus feature The Domino Principle) from Timeless Media.

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