The Reflecting Skin (1990), an uncanny work of overwrought American Gothica which harvests horror from the yellow glow of Midwestern cornfields.
A Streetcar Named Desired (1951) to Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now (1979), Brando was capable of intense performances that bursts the bounds of the specific film and entered into the culture.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Ant-Man sees the ubiquitous Marvel Studios getting back to basics and back on form. Where the overall flavour of Marvel's Phase Two has arguably been one of expanded-universe brand management, Ant-Man feels like a return to the simplicity of the early Marvel films: not since Iron Man (2008) has a Marvel film surprised and entertained so directly and effectively. That Edgar Wright famously left the project due to 'creative differences' is the elephant in the room.
My Skinny Sister (2015) about a young teenager's eating disorder is a simple tale given added poignancy by powerful performances from the two leads. Katja (Amy Deasismont) is a promising young figure skater envied and admired by her younger sister Stella (Rebecka Josephson). Katja is beautiful, svelte and talented while 12-year-old Stella is pudgy and awkward. To complicate matters further, Stella has a crush on Katja's German trainer Jacob (Maxim Mehmet).
The Good Dinosaur (2015) is a crowning triumph, blending jaw-dropping photorealistic animation with a heart-wrenchingly beautiful tale of friendship against the odds. When Inside Out was released earlier in the year, many thought that it was a sure bet for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards (with some arguing that it might even have a shot at Best Picture). With the release of The Good Dinosaur, its positioning is now less assured.
Doctor Zhivago (1965) - a romance told in the grandest terms, where the tale of passion between two desperate lovers is almost as devastating as its history and its politics. The re-release of this classic of cinema, wonderfully timed for the encroaching nights of early winter, is a timely reminder of the recent past: when the 'epic' spanned decades and wasn't used to describe sandwiches.
Carol (2015), Cate Blanchett's eponymous character places a hand on the shoulder of Rooney Mara's Therese as they apparently bid goodbye to one another. The narrative subsequently tracks back to the pair's first meeting before following their relationship chronologically. When, just under two hours later, the action returns to that same moment in context, the electricity sparking from a tumult of passion, loss, restraint and resolve - conducted by that hand and shoulder - is almost overwhelming.
Bridge of Spies (2015) is 'inspired by true events', which allows legendary Hollywood director Steven Spielberg a welcome and well-used degree of artistic license. In an eerily quiet opening sequence a quarter worth far more than 25 cents appears, affixed to the underside of a park bench. Wading through the murky waters of a conflict where opposing sides fought to obtain an informational, rather than territorial, upper hand, misdirection and ambiguity is the name of the game.
Black Mass (2015) is constantly trying to escape the looming shadow of past gangster cinema triumphs. It all too readily falls into the comfortable tropes of the genre whilst failing to provide a comprehensive and engaging biopic of one of Boston's most notorious mob bosses. When it bowed at Venice earlier in the year much was made of Johnny Depp's performance as Boston crime lord James "Whitey" Bulger, with his slicked-back, thinning hair and piercing blue contact lenses.
Requiescant (1967) comes director Carlo Lizzani's Wake Up and Kill (1966), based on the true story of infamous jewel thief Luciano Lutring. Dripping in late-1960s Italian cool, Wake Up and Kill prefigures the grimy American crime cinema of the 1970s, feeling like a grubbier, less self-satisfied Á Bout de Soufflé (1960). With a flawed anti-hero aspiring to criminal infamy, Lizanni's film was surely an influence for a young Martin Scorsese.
Southpaw (2015) was released online of a muscle-bound Jake Gyllenhaal audiences became very excited. The anticipation was in part due to the Gyllenhaal's remarkable performance as the ghoulish Louis Bloom in Dan Gilroy's Nightcrawler (2014). The physical transformation from the wraith-like Bloom to Southpaw's central protagonist Billy promised much. In reality, what has been delivered is a tired, dreary contribution to the boxing movie genre.
Inside Out (2015), which premièred at Cannes earlier this year. Directors Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen have crafted a cerebral comedy, loaded with smart, witty humour and a great deal of meta-emotional intelligence. The story opens with the birth of Riley. At the same time, Joy (Amy Poehler) pops into being inside of Riley's head. Joy is a blue-haired Tinker Bell, bouncing around Riley's head full of a lust for life.
Blood Rage (1987), newly released on Blu-ray, is at once utterly dreadful and irresistibly brilliant. Arrow Video has gone all out with this release, offering three distinct versions - the theatrical release, renamed as Nightmare at Shadow Woods, the harder home video release and a new composite cut of the two - all of which have been remarkably cleaned up and remastered. The home video cut is superior, retaining the gratuitous gore while cutting the pace-killing extra scenes.
All My Good Countrymen (1969) is an expression of the inherent flaws of the Communist model.
True Romance (1993) - a film which inexplicably failed to find much of an audience during its initial release two decades back. The film's writer and future auteur-in-the-making Quentin Tarantino had tried to get his screenplay off the ground for some time, even pitching it as his own potential directorial debut, but to no avail.
Space Cowboys (2000), the chisel-jawed actor-director and fellow geriatric pals Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner realise their life's dream, blasting into space to rescue a falling satellite. Keeping their feet on terra firma and throwing down intergalactic knowledge rather than punches, the Star Men of filmmaker and astronomy enthusiast Alison E. Rose's intimate and yet expansive documentary have spent a lifetime gazing skyward in wonderment.
The Perfect Guy (2015) poorly imitates Fatal Attraction (1987) and Single White Female (1992), along with a hundred other examples of the genre that it has cherry-picked from. Sanaa Lathan is the suited and booted lobbyist Leah - although her character is so thin that what she does for a living is by-the-by. Leah has recently split from her boyfriend Dave (Morris Chestnut), who was unwilling to commit to marriage.
My Nazi Legacy (2015) opens with a potent challenge - to imagine what it would be like to grow up as the child of a mass murderer. This hard proposal is just the beginning of what is a harrowing, complex documentary that expertly explores the legacy of the Holocaust through the intertwining history of three men. Philippe Sands is a human rights lawyer, who when researching into the Nuremberg Trials discovered that a son of a Nazi governor was still alive.
Momentum (2015) opens, he proclaims: "We are to engineer an event to shape the destiny of our country." Platitudes and a handful of telephone calls aside, the power-hungry senator has little impact from the wood-panelled corridors of power thereafter. Instead it's his envoy and hatchet man, the dully named Mr. Washington (James Purefoy), who is sent to Cape Town to recover a disc which contains evidence of the plot.
The Hunger Games franchise, and its final instalment Mockingjay - Part 2 (2015) may be the most po-faced of the lot. With the series' two most reliable comic relief characters, Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) and Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci), only making brief cameos, there's little light to perforate the the dark here, but its relentless gritted teeth has always been The Hunger Games' greatest strength. It's also taken great care to make its characters' stakes and motivations clear throughout.
Love (2015) will be misconstrued by many as a transgressive cinematic experience but, in his own pioneering way, Noé is reaching for an honest and pure reflection of young, sexually-untethered love.
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