Damn good biopic based on the true story of an English man jailed in Thailand who betters himself by boxing in prison. This film is as gritty as they come, and absolutely not for the timid viewer. The violence and human degradation is almost constant. A Prayer… feels a little long, but every scene seems to be necessary, so maybe don’t watch in one sitting. The fight sequences kept the pace up even though I am 100% not a sports enthusiast. The acting and cinematography are top notch as well. How in the hell did the director get these performances out of legit Thai criminals? I need to see a making-of. Much like the book “In the Belly of the Beast,” this movie made me value my freedom like you wouldn’t believe.
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.
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.
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 Evilbut 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.
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.
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.
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.
I saw an early screening of Alexandre Aja’s High Tension at the Philadelphia film fest and really enjoyed it. I hoped that he’d become the next great horror director. That didn’t really happen. However Aja has managed to make several entertaining genre films over the years. Crawl is not as intense as his 2006 reboot of The Hills Have Eyes, but I liked it. It’s a solid, well-constructed, horror thriller with some genuinely chilling moments. Expect no more and you won’t be disappointed.
The original One-Armed Swordsman was played by Wang Yu. This total reboot stars David Chiang, and it’s a blast. Here the Shaw Brothers go for more straight-forward action, not Five Elements Ninjas-type insanity. Don’t let that discourage you, this is a very entertaining martial arts film. Even the dramatic scenes kept my attention. Recommended, fast-paced action that is not for the whole family (what with the arm chopping and all).