Is he having a laugh?

I’m in a playful mood, so let’s have a little game, shall we? Ok, here is movie number one – see if you can guess the title. It’s about a filmmaker who lives in a country where a serial killer goes around and kills famous filmmakers. Our protagonist is upset because the killer hasn’t sought him out and tried to kill him because isn’t he an excellent filmmaker, too? He doesn’t have a death wish, but being almost killed would be a badge of honor. Continue reading

Getting into the swing of things

I have walked 500 miles and much, much more, through virtual New Yorks, irradiated zones, Wehrmacht fortresses and zombie-infested streets. I’ve parkoured and teleported, I’ve driven, hovered and flown. Traversing spaces that only exist as zeroes and ones on digital media is one of the things that I love about video games, and it’s one of the things that modern gaming does so much better than the 8-bit pixelscapes I grew up with. It’s not even graphical fidelity, although that’s part of it; more than that, it’s that modern hardware allows for vastly more ambitious, three-dimensional environments, whether that’s the Hollywood realism of GTA V‘s parody of Los Angeles or the stylised aesthetics of Journey‘s deserts and snowy wastes.


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The Rear-View Mirror: Revanche (2008)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

There is that guy, Alex, a gopher and bag man for a pimp called Konecny, somewhere in Vienna. One of Konecny’s girls, Tamara, has a secret affair with Alex. They want to escape while Konecny wants to make a high-end call-girl out of Tamara. Alex has to act if they want to have a future together. He decides to rob a bank. What sounds like a movie of the week is actually the Austrian entry for Best Film of 2009 called Revanche, written and directed by Götz Spielmann. Spielmann has said in an interview that he doesn’t know what his movie is about. I respectfully disagree: he knows exactly what he is doing, and his characters are made of flesh and blood and don’t just hurtle from one plot development to the next. Continue reading

Your mission: to file out

Gosh, there is no really bad Mission: Impossible movie, and no really good one, is there? Let me count the ways: the first one, Mission: Impossible (1996), has the courage to kill most of its illustrous cast quite early on, and it has that famous scene wherein a helicopter is chasing a high speed train through a tunnel. That sequence is so preposterously over the top that the rest of the movie sort feels muted in comparison. And if you can make sense of the plot, then you are a better person than me. Continue reading

The Rear-View Mirror: Luther (2010)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

Look, I get it. Luther is no longer the same now, compare to its first season in 2010. We still get to see Idris Elba playing the lead, his loyal sidekick DS Justin Ripley, gruff DSU Martin Schenk, Benny Silver and many other cool names that turn up for a few episodes or a whole season, like Saskia Reeves, Rose Leslie, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Indira Varma or Sienna Guillory. But since Alice Morgan dropped out of DCI John Luther’s life (and Ruth Wilson out of the series), something is missing.

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Fringe Benefits 2018

Every few years I head to the Edinburgh Fringe for a week of theatre, comedy and impromptu games of Avoid The Leafleteers. This year we were once again ready to brave the professional performances, the amateur dramatics and the wind, drizzle and fog. As always, the range of shows to see was immense: from queasy comedy (or is it?) about toxic masculinity via Korean mashups of Shakespeare, folklore and calligraphy to immersive flights on Schroedinger Airlines, but also from accomplished acting and acrobatics to the decidedly more homespun and rough around the edges – but often no less engaging for that.

Edinburgh Fringe

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Some unhappy families are unluckier than others

Looks like A24, founded in 2012 and quickly becoming a major player in movie distribution, is pulling quality horror flicks out of a hat with disquieting regularity: they brought us The VVitch in 2015, It Comes At Night and The Killing of a Sacred Deer last year. Ok, for some, Sacred Deer is not exactly a horror movie, but like the others, it features a family in distress. And so does Hereditary. And if you find an unhappier, unluckier family than the Grahams anywhere in film or literature, you were looking maybe too hard. Continue reading