BFC 2016 Movies Review: Part 2

A roundup of the BFC screenings for 2016

14 mins

Quite a heady mix of movies in this post, including vampires, boxing, war and druggy movies. The Lobster being in a whole wibbly-wobbly world of odd.

THX 1138 which although shot on a really tight budget, just goes to show what pure talent and no cash can do.

Spring and Summer are always difficult times for The BFC. The weather is getting better and the last thing you really want to do is sit in a darkened room. However the members of BFC soldiered on and ignored the the sun cream and opted for a decent bottle of red and perhaps the odd cheese course.

In part 2 expect  some old favourites including Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch and multi Oscar winning Raging Bull. Requiem for a Dream requires patience in a urban rags to even more rags tale, and Ben Wheatley wonderful High Rise assaults the senses in his J G Ballard adaptation.

George Lucas surprised us with his Sci Fi THX 1138, which although shot on a really tight budget, just goes to show what pure talent and no cash can do. Star Wars ruined him, but what do I know.  

Quick its starting...shhh.


Screening List:

Raging Bull (1980)

High Rise (2016)  

THX 1138 (1971)

Cronos (1993)

Cube (1997)

Catch22 (1970)

Requiem for a Dream (2000)

The Wild Bunch (1969)

The Lobster (2015)


Raging Bull (1980) directed by Martin Scorsese

Starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Cathy Moriarty 

Nominated by Darren Street

Biopic about Jake La Motta, the charismatic 1940’s middleweight boxing champion,  stand-up comic and wife beater. Shot in black and white with spectacular fight sequences accompanied by a terrific soundtrack, and stunning cinematography by Michael Chapman. It what I would call a “deg” movie much like Mean Streets that came before and Goodfellas that followed. DeNiro is standout as La Motta, Cathy Moriarty even better in her first screen outing.

However, Raging Bull left me very dark and irritable as Scorsese intended. The finest boxing movie ever made... possibly, but more of a documentary of masculinity and self worth.

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High Rise (2016) directed by Ben Wheatley

Starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller

Nominated by Nik Stanbridge

This screen adaptation of JG Ballard's book of the same name starrring Tom Hiddleston as Robert Laing, a young single and successful doctor, who takes the plunge to live out of London in a new modern brutalistic multi story tower block. Indeed an Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons), architected tower no less, well known to be the epitome of fine living where the upper echelons of society live. When the block succumbs to power outages and supermarket shortages, the cracks in the social fabric start to show, initially on the lower class lower floors, spreading ever upwards.

As the chaos reigns, the scenes become more and more eccentric to the point of Terry Gilliam‘esque bizarre. Great supporting of cast Sienna Miller, James Purefoy and Luke Evans are the icing on the top of this modern dsytopian melodrama.

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THX 1138 (1971) directed by George Lucas

Starring Robert Duvall, Donald Pleasence, Maggie McOmie

Nominated by Darren Street

Before George Lucas found merchandising, he used to make good films. THX 1138 is his directorial debut 25th century totalitarian cult classic, that smarter than Logan’s Run and way cooler than Soylent Green released 2 year later.

THX 1138 (Robert Duvall) works at a factory making android police officers. THX 1138 is his assigned number, his humanity is stripped any from him. He must take his drugs to keep him sedated. He is not allowed sexual intercourse with females and is encouraged to confess his sins to a machine priest, that plays looped messages of forgiveness. THX stops talking his drugs and falls in love with LUH (Maggie McOmie).

THX 1138 is an unsettling picture which presents us with a brutal, cold Orwellian hermetic world, devoid of character. Quintessential science fiction expertly executed. 

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Cronos (1993) directed by Guillermo del Toro

Starring Frederico Luppi, Ron Perlman, Claudio Brook

Nominated by Darren Street

Elderly antique dealer Jesús (Frederico Luppi) discovers a strange and beautifully ornate scarab beetle shaped device, hidden in a statue he obtained from the estate of a 16th-century alchemist. While he is inspecting the device he inadvertently activates it, releasing six spidery clockwork legs with razor sharp tips. This attaches to his arm gripping him tightly, injecting an elixir that grants Jesús increased vitality and vigour.

Del Toro weaves a classic gothic horror tale to great effect, in his directorial debut. Del Toro both wrote and directed Cronos for a reported 2 million dollars. Cronos feels like a much “older” film and is not a gore fest but rather creepy and unsettling and akin to vintage Hammer horror output of the late sixites. 

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Cube (1997) directed by Vincenzo Natali

Starring Nicole de Boer, Nicky Guadagni, David Hewlett

Nominated by Darren Street

Five people awake in a strange cube shaped room. There are six doors, one on each side of the cube. These doors lead to more differently coloured cubes. Some of the cubes are booby trapped. They realise that they are in a huge cubic maze, which they need to escape.

This films seems to divide opinion, the wooden acting, the prime serial number thing (which incidentally doesn’t add up), and the flaky set which looks like a glammed up greenhouse. But Cube has a lot going for it. The concept is wonderfully ambiguous. You never know what it is or for. Why it was built or if the occupants are being watched like rats, or ignored like ants.

Whatever you think Cube offers serious chills for your buck.  

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Catch 22 (1970) directed by Mike Nichols

Starring Alan Arkin, Art Garfunkel, Jon Voight

Nominated by Darren Street

Capt Yossarian (Arkin) doesn’t want to fly any more. Its way too dangerous. He is a bombardier stationed in Pianosa,  an island off the Italian coast during the second world war. He wants to be grounded, but there is a catch. A catch 22, which can’t be defeated. It certainly doesn’t stop Yossarian from trying.

Based on the Joseph Heller book of the same name, this is a hilarious look at the ridiculous futility of war and human cost. For all its dour subject matter, the screenplay is light and very funny. The cinematographer (David Watkin) dramatic widescreen shots, of the fleet taking off for a bombing run, spectacular and glorious.

It features an ensemble cast including Jon Voigt as entrepreneurial Lt Mindbender, selling army supplies to the enemy, and Bob Balaban who keeps crashing aircraft. Catch 22 is thoughtful and crazy at the same time.

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Requiem for a Dream (2000) directed by Darren Aronofsky

Starring Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly

Nominated by Darren Street

Requiem for a Dream is about drug addition. Unlike Enter the Void, we only see the effects and devastation of it, rather than the kaleidoscope of sensations from the Gasper Noe film. It’s a descending nightmare of immediate gratification and pleasure, closely followed with the constant struggle to get cash to score another hit.

The players each experience their collapse into chaos with horrendous consequences, Marion (Connelly) sells herself to her psychiatrist for drugs, Harry (Leto) funds his habit through petit theft and his mother Sara (Burstyn), becomes an addict essentially by mistake trying to lose weight.

Requiem for a Dream is ugly and pitiful. Aronofsky using his camera with a fearless ferocity and without any compassion or mercy. Unlike other drug addition movies like Trainspotting, when these characters finally hit the bottom you feel nothing for them. These characters are left hollow and it’s a struggle to associate with them.

Requiem for a Dream should be mandatory viewing for all those who think taking drugs is recreational. Powerful and brutal, I can't recommend this picture enough.

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The Wild Bunch (1969) directed by Sam Peckinpah

Starring William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oats

Nominated by Darren Street

I think this is my all time favourite western. It captures the spirit that the west was once wild. It tells the story of an aging group of tired outlaws trying to come to terms with the changing world around them. Its set before the first world war and their old way of living by the gun are changing.

Peckinpah brings us a raw and bold story of men holding on to their past. It’s crude and harsh storytelling, but honestly reflects the country these men where born into. The shootout scene at the start nets the gang a bag of iron washers and not gold. When they rob the bank they cannot keep their loot. Their world is crumbling and they don’t understand the rules of the new one.

The picture is beautifully shot by Lucien Ballard. The editing (Lou Lombardo) is superb and the action painfully realistic. I can think of bloodier westerns and more realistic westerns but non better than The Wild Bunch. A true cinematic epic.

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The Lobster (2015) directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

Starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Léa Seydoux

Emergency Summer Screening: Nominated by Darren Street

David (Farrell) attends a hotel after he finds out his wife has left him. The terse Hotel Manager (Olivia Coleman) tells him that he has forty days to find another partner, else he will be turned into an animal. David has decided he wants to be a Lobster if he doesn’t find love. Masturbation is banned, however being “stimulated” by the hotel maid is mandatory.

A faction exists “the loners” that have rebelled against the establishment. David can extend his stay at the hotel by capturing and returning “loners”. David finds a woman who is also nearsighted (like him) and they decide to escape the hotel.

The Lobster loses its way in the second half, the script becoming even more fragmented, and you get the feeling Lanthimos has not made best use of his great cast. Ultimately for me, the quirky first half descended into a bit of a blubbering mess with fewer and fewer deadpan laughs. We look forward to the next project.

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Next... Part 3: BFC 2016 Movies Review 

Last updated on: 24 Jan 2017 10:36 AM

THX-1138 1971 Cronos 1993 Cube 1997 Catch 22 1970 Requiem for a Dream 2000 The Wild Bunch 1969 The Lobster 2015 High Rise 2016 Raging Bull 1980