Cinema

May Film: Born to Win (1971)

  Born to Win 88 minutes | 1 December 1971 | United States ‘Born to Win is the grimly ironic title of this jet-black comedy about heroin addicts. George Segal plays Jay Jay, an ex-hairdresser who struggles to support his expensive drug habit. To avoid arrest, Jay Jay turns ‘narc’, informing on his fellow junkies. Eventually Jay Jay’s sense of self-hatred…

February Film: Zouzou (1934)

  Zouzou 85 minutes | 21 December 1934 | France ‘As children, Zouzou and Jean are paired in a traveling circus as twins: she’s dark, he’s light. After they’ve grown, he treats her as if she were his sister, but she’s in love with him. In Paris, he’s a music hall electrician, she’s a laundress who delivers clean underwear to…

Capsule Movie Review: What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

What We Do in the Shadows Vampire Mockumentary | 85 Minutes | 2014 | New Zealand * Vampires on film are best taken seriously. As archetypes, strange and sad figures who permeate given spaces while proving difficult to grasp, they model for us fear, loneliness, and alienation, and are uniquely suited to expressive visual contrasts of light and dark. The great vampire films, Nosferatu (1922),…

October Film: At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1964)

  At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (‘À Meia Noite Levarei Sua Alma’) 84 minutes | 9 November 1964 | Brazil ‘Early Brazilian horror film directed by and starring José Mojica Marins, who introduces his alter ego Zé do Caixão (Coffin Joe). A gravedigger prowls the city in search of a female to bear him a son.’ Director: José Mojica Marins Producers: Arildo Iruam,…

September Film: Bowery Blitzkrieg (1941)

  Bowery Blitzkrieg 62 minutes | 1 August 1941 | United States ‘While a cop steers a kid street-fighter away from being a public nuisance, a petty hoodlum leads a studious kid into a life of crime.’ Director: Wallace Fox Producer: Sam Katzman Writers: Brendan Wood (original story), Donn Mullahy (original story), Sam Robins (screenplay), Carl Foreman (uncredited) Starring: Leo Gorcey as Muggs McGinnis, Bobby…

Buster Keaton and His Pork Pie Hat

Following the rise of the top hat, bowler or derby, Panama, fedora, and flat cap across the nineteenth century, by the first decades of the twentieth century a man could scarcely open his front door, much less appear before a discerning public, without some suitable form of headwear. In the realm of silent comedy, Charlie Chaplin tramped about in a tight…

Capsule Movie Review: Rams (2015)

Rams (Hrútar) Tragicomedy| 92 Minutes | 2015 | Iceland * * * * * Ageing, unmarried, and unkempt, brothers Gummi (Sigurður Sigurjónsson) and Kiddi (Theodór Júlíusson) work side by side as sheep farmers in a cold and desolate valley in Iceland’s northeast. Each the master of their own flock, they have not spoken for forty years owing to a dispute over their father’s…

June Film: Port of New York (1949)

  Port of New York 82 minutes | 28 November 1949 | United States ‘A film noir shot in semidocumentary style. Two narcotics agents go after a gang of murderous drug dealers who use ships docking at the New York harbor to smuggle in their contraband.’ Director: László Benedek Producer: Aubrey Schenk Screenplay: Eugene Ling Story: Arthur A. Ross, Bert Murray Starring: Scott Brady…

Capsule Movie Review: Big (1988)

Big Fantasy Comedy | 104 Minutes | 1988 | United States * * * The last of a cluster of movies, all released within the space of a year between the autumn of 1987 and the summer of 1988, to depict youths turning into or swapping forms with adult men – the others were Like Father Like Son (1987), Vice Versa (1988), 18 Again! (1988), and…