Akira (Japan, 1988)

The film that woke the west to anime. Still stunning visually with the ‘usual’ mix of philosophical ideas thrown into an action soup. I’m sure, as a westerner, I’m not really getting it. But what I get I like. Goes on a bit though. (DVD, 2) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0401792/

Sin City (US, 2005)

An extraordinary rendition of the graphic novel. Great – too – if you’re a fan of noir. Is it sexist? Depends on how you read it. Lots of sexily dressed-good looking women; but they are not victims. They do need a bloke to ‘save’ them though. Though the blokes are saps. Depends how you read it. (DVD, 2) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0401792/

Beau travail (France, 1999)

I wished I’d scene this in the cinema as the it clearly has a mesmeric quality best absorbed (or being absorbed) in the theatre. Fantastic use of sound. Haunting. (DVD) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0209933/

Laputa – Castle in the Sky (Japan, 1986)

I find some of Miyazaki’s movies a tad long but the longeurs don’t last long and so the visual treats and characterisation win the say. This has some fabulous chase scenes (a bit like Steamboy’s) in an alternative world 19th century Northern England. Pirates are wonderfully portrayed. (DVD) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092067/

Joan of Arc (France, 1999)

This one slipped under my radar and it’s not surprising audiences didn’t like it – the last 1/2 consists of the heroine being tortured and then burned (I’m not giving anything away am I? You’ve heard the story?). Actions sequences rarely thrill and while the presentation of Joan as a schizo-type borders on bonkers, Jovovich just pulls it off. Some great visuals and I love Hoffman’s turn as the Conscience – spot on on religion. (DVD) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0151137/

Broken Flowers (US, 2005)

I’ll happily admit I don’t get Jim Jarmusch (not there’s anything difficult going on). Great cast; interesting premise – so why was I bored? Dunno. (OAR) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0412019/

Wild Strawberries (Sweden, 1957 )

This could be Bergman’s masterwork. An old miserable geezer gets a road trip down memory lane and finds how he’s wasted his life. Miserable? Not really; life affirming ‘yes’ so watch it. Some creepy dream sequences – nicely surreal. (DVD, 3) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050986/

Wild Strawberries (Sweden, 1958)

This could be Bergman’s masterwork. An old miserable geezer gets a road trip down memory lane and finds how he’s wasted his life. Miserable? Not really; life affirming ‘yes’ so watch it. Some creepy dream sequences – nicely surreal. (DVD, 3)

Jarhead (US, 2005)

Subject of a typically confused Sight and Sound review: it’s different and too conventional. As a genre movie it’s bound to use conventions and it’s the differences that are interesting (like no one gets to shoot anybody – it’s Gulf War 1). Some extremely effective set pieces: the hell of the road out of Basra and the burning oil wells. Great cast and well directed. (DVD) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0418763/

Hostel (US, 2005)

Heralded as an evolution in horror: gorenography. However, it simply looks like a high production value exploitation movie. Nothing new there then: the drill we’ve seen before in Driller Killer. Has a few moments; interesting location (allegedly Solvakia). The key point being that it’s east (at variation on the American South as the location of the Other). Couldn’t make my mind up whether the it was Europe or the Americans who were being critiqued; maybe both or neither. (DVD)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0450278/