Author Archives: leerobertadams

American Ultra (2015) – Half baked…

American Ultra 1
“If ever there’s a movie that sinks its own ship while still tied to the dock, it’s American Ultra. For the promotion of Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock stipulated that no-one should be admitted to the theatre after the movie had started, to prevent ruining the surprise.

If Hitchcock was alive today, and he’d seen American Ultra, he would no doubt recommend exactly the opposite – to preserve any sense of suspense, one should aim to join the movie about five minutes in.

One of the most baffling decisions director Nima Nourizadeh makes in his sophomore effort is to start at the end, then employ a flashback moment which literally flashes every key plot point on the screen before the story starts proper.

In doing so, every drop of suspense is eradicated before the movie even starts, and we’re left with an action comedy thriller without any thrills. To make matters worse, screenwriter Max Landis, following up from the interesting found footage superhero movie Chronicle, also forgets to write any jokes…” Read the rest of the review here (opens in new tab.)

Pontypool (2008) – Shut up or die…


I’ve never found zombies scary, especially in the traditional slow-and-stupid incarnations. Sure, there’s a sense of repulsion, largely generated by our anxiety about what happens to our bodies after we’re dead – many people agonise between burial and cremation, so the idea of rising from the grave as brain-eating cannibals is pretty repugnant.

Then there is the sense of creeping nihilistic dread, particularly in the Romero movies. While zombies are usually pretty easy to avoid or kill individually, you know they will always reach critical mass, ready to tear apart the survivors just as internal conflicts tear the group apart figuratively. But still, as terrifying as zombies are on paper or the imagination, to me there’s always the nagging doubt that they’re pretty naff on film – one bullshit metaphor away from a last-minute, unimaginative Halloween costume.

Pontypool, a low-budget Canadian curio, largely avoids the traditional pitfalls of the zombie pic by barely showing any zombies at all. By withholding the usual limb ripping and gut munching, it engages something usually reserved for the supernatural horror genre – our imaginations.

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Amy (2015) – Brings a tragic star back to life…

Amy 2015 Pic 2

Amy is the best film I’ve almost walked out on at the cinema. Not because it is a bad movie, but because I knew how it was going to end.

I knew how it was going to end before it started, of course, having witnessed the tragedy of Amy Winehouse’s dramatic rise and fall from the rabid perspective of the media not so long ago.

What makes the opening hour of Asif Kapadia’s earnest and heartfelt documentary so unbearable is that it brings Winehouse back to life so vividly. She fills the screen as a smart, funny, vulnerable, brash, beautiful, sublimely talented young artist, and it dawns on you that you’ll have to watch her die again from a different perspective, with greater knowledge of her as a human being, rather than just the addled tabloid caricature she eventually became…” Click here to read the full review (opens in a new tab)

Daisies (Sedmikrásky) – 1966 – Still fresh and angry…

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“Surrealist and Avant Garde films aren’t always the most popular choice for the average movie goer. Until Leos Carax’s demented Holy Motors generated some outside-bet Oscar buzz a few years ago, I’d rather watch a compilation tape of hairy builders getting a back, sack and crack before dabbling with the avant garde.

My perspective has changed slightly since then, largely on the basis of Denis Lavant’s incredible (literally) balls-out multiple performances in that movie, and casting my mind back over the past year of obsessive film consumption, two of my favourite discoveries were of the avant garde variety, Dziga Vertov’s hypnotic portrait of a city in Man with a Movie Camera, and Věra Chytilová’s playful yet provocative Daisies…” Click here to read the full review (opens in a new tab)

Jurassic World (2015) – Another trip to the world’s deadliest tourist attraction…

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“Like its genetically modified star attraction, the Indominus Rex, Jurassic World is a strange hybrid of the franchise’s greatest hits, part sequel, part reboot and part homage to Steven Spielberg’s much-loved original. It capitalises on nostalgia and Chris Pratt’s likable presence, providing two hours of solid monster mayhem without ever getting beyond the pace of a spooked herd of Stegosaurus…” Click here to read the full article (Opens in separate tab)

Fight Club (1999) – Pop Anarchy & Designer Nihilism…

Fight Club pic 1

“Mildred: Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against?

Johnny: Whaddya got?

– The Wild One (1953)

Urinating on its own birthday candles this year, David Fincher’s argumentative, narcissistic, hypocritical Fight Club will be sixteen years old. It already feels like a period piece, a slice of premillennial angst full of smug slogans and speeches that can’t decide what it is fighting against.

It is the last “poor me” grumble of the 20th century from Generation X, almost exactly two years before Osama bin Laden weaponised some passenger jets and gave the Western world something to really worry about…” Click here to read the rest of this article (opens in a new tab.)

The Duke of Burgundy (2014) – A baroque S&M dreamworld…

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Like his characters in The Duke of Burgundy, writer-director Peter Strickland is a man with very specific tastes. Inspired by European exploitation flicks of the 60s and 70s, Strickland uses sleazy genre tropes as a jumping off point, creating his own peculiar world of heightened reality. Unlike Tarantino, who mashes all his influences together into a primary-coloured pop culture collage, Strickland’s vision is exactingly beautiful, highly strung, and very, very niche.

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Furious 7 (2015) – A Balls-out Requiem for the Petrolheads…


“When it comes to modes of transport, I’m a pedestrian. Pushing forty now, I’ve never taken a driving lesson, let alone driven a car. Some of my friends back in England used to get their kicks from revving their cars around town, occasionally parking up behind Burger King to pump music from dishwasher-sized subwoofers stashed in their boot. The whole scene left me cold – why not just walk, get pissed in the pub and put some tunes on the jukebox instead?

This is probably the reason why I – with my (abridged) encyclopaedic knowledge of film – have made it to the seventh installment of The Fast and the Furious franchise with complete ignorance of the previous six movies, and went into Furious 7 with no idea of what to expect…” click here to read the full article (opens in a seperate tab)


Cesta Ven (The Way Out) – 2014 – an eye-opening look at Romani life in ČR…

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“It has been a long time since a film altered my view of the world I live in. Petr Václav’s Cesta Ven did just that, exposing the reality of life for the Czech Republic’s Roma community.

I’ve always been aware that this is a country where the gap between the wealthy and the poor is far wider and more visible than back in the UK, but I’ve been insulated from the harsher truths by my cosy expat bubble. The film also made me realise that it would take a bizarre and unlikely set of circumstances for me to ever come close to the levels of poverty and hopelessness experienced by the characters in this eye-opening slice of social realism…” You can read the full review here (opens in new tab.)

The Water Diviner (2014) – Crowe’s first directing gig is a big, soppy, enjoyable mess…

TheWaterDivinerPic#22“Russell Crowe’s The Water Diviner is corny and ambitious, flirting with the epic while teetering on the brink of TV movie melodrama. Crowe directs his first film like a man worried that he might never get the chance again, painting a war drama, historical adventure and cross-culture romance with urgent, chunky brushstrokes. He also draws the most Russell Crowe-like performance since Gladiator from his leading man, Russell Crowe…” Read the full review here (opens in separate tab.)

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