October 25, 2014

Death in Australia

Wolf Creek 2 (Greg McLean, 2013). A too-familiar story: the horror sequel as a sadistic and cartoonish rerun of the bleak but inventive first (see also: Texas Chainsaw Massacre vs sequels and remakes). John Jarratt’s backpacker-hunting Ocker Mick Taylor has come down with a bad case of the wisecracking Freddy Kruegers, although I did like the farmhouse interlude and the sheer absurdity of the citizenship quiz (now with some unintentionally sinister Rolf Harris …), as though Mick the killer is just the ordinary Australian xenophobe writ large. Based, still, on the horrifying crimes of Ivan Milat. 

October 23, 2014

All plots tend to move Deathward

A Band Called Death (Mark Covino and Jeff Howlett, 2013). Nothing is allowed to remain obscure any longer. There is no question that the story of Death, a black teenage hard rock band of three brothers from Detroit that released one single and got nowhere in the 1970s, only to be discovered by record collectors and bloggers in the late 2000s, is incredible, whether or not you like the spiritual dimension, or the prophecies of David Hackney (which I do, by the way). As usual, we could do without the gate-keeping talking heads in approval mode – Henry Rollins is surely the Bono of documentaries about punk and post-punk – and reunions are rarely a great idea, but whatever. It’s touching. File with Into the Void and Last Days Here as a band appreciation doco that isn’t really about the music. 

October 19, 2014

Long walk

The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011). The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Michael Apted, 2010).

October 13, 2014

Mud, fire, forest

Come and See (Elem Klimov, 1985). As though war was – and always is – a kind of collective frenzy or contagious madness. Or horrific revelry (the Nazis, in their attack, seem possessed and delirious). Yet this strange and half-hallucinated war film is at its most horrifying when photographs drag us into real history, real time, towards confrontations you could never expect. 

October 5, 2014

Roads, hotels

They Live By Night (Nicholas Ray, 1949). She’s far too good for him. Doomed innocence, impressive aerial car shots and memorably vile criminals (that one-eyed lush) but more a romance than the noir that film history – and the title – suggested. 

October 4, 2014


The card for the Santa Teresa cybercafé was a deep red, so red that it was hard to read what was printed on it. On the back, in a lighter red, was a map that showed exactly where the café was located. He asked the receptionist to translate the name of the place. The clerk laughed and said it was called Fire, Walk With Me.
“It sounds like the title of a David Lynch film,” said Fate.
The clerk shrugged and said that all of Mexico was a collage of diverse and wide-ranging homages.
“Every single thing in this country is an homage to everything in the world, even the things that haven’t happened yet,” he said.
After he told Fate how to get to the cybercafé, they talked for a while about Lynch’s films. The clerk had seen all of them. Fate had seen only three or four. According to the clerk, Lynch’s greatest achievement was the TV series Twin Peaks. Fate liked The Elephant Man best, maybe because he’d often felt like the elephant man himself, wanting to be like other people but at the same time knowing he was different. When the clerk asked him whether he’d heard that Michael Jackson had bought or tried to buy the skeleton of the elephant man, Fate shrugged and said that Michael Jackson was sick. I don’t think so, said the clerk, watching something presumably important that was happening on the TV just then.
“In my opinion,” he said with his eyes fixed on the TV Fate couldn’t see, “Michael knows things the rest of us don’t.”
“We all know things we think nobody else knows,” said Fate.
Then he said good night, put the cybercafé card in his pocket, and went back to his room.

from 2666 by Roberto Bolano