Antitrust (US, 2001)

Great premise: Bill Gates is force for evil and open source should rule OK. And wrap up the message in a thriller format then you’ve a winner except this isn’t very thrilling. Phillipe’s lightweight (better in Crash) and the direction’s lacklustre. Robbins is suitably charming-evil but he does get his comeuppance to tad easily (handcuffs!?). (DVD)

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Dumplings (Hong Kong, 2004)

I’m not sure why I didn’t like this more. Great premise delivered in a suitably understated way (well, mostly). Somehow didn’t convince me.  (DVD)

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House of Sand and Fog (US, 2003)

Interesting premise but loses itself in a overblown (I know it is a melodrama but…). Good performances; maybe it’d’ve been more convincing if we had more of Connelly’s back story. (OAR)

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3 Iron (Korea, 2004)

This director (Ki-duk Kim) is brilliantly because he does strange things (the protagonists don’t speak in this film!) and makes it work brilliantly. (DVD)

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Memories of Murder (Korea, 2003)

Brilliant deconstruction of the cop genre (two contrasting cops (town & country) investigating a serial killing) that mixes black comedy, slapstick humour and beautiful compositions. (DVD)

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Cradle Will Rock (US, 1999)

American politics can be despairing (unless you’re a right wing ideologue) but films like this show there is hope. The right wing idea of the Land of the Free is a joke (it’s a myth for capitalists to exploit) and Robbins’ film brilliantly evokes the tensions engendered during the Great Depression by yoking an all-star cast to an all-big name historical characters narrative.

Socialist, also, in its ensemble way of telling the story. Genius. (DVD, 2)

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Very Bad Things (US, 1998)

Brilliant and subversive movie. Christian Slater reprising a Heathers-type role; he slowly unhinges brilliantly. And the way the narrative incorporates the Cameron Diaz character into the madness is brilliant. An attack on America(n mores). DVD, 2

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Sky Blue (Korea, 2003)

Nicely set up with the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ but developed it too little. Visuals were good but we’re used to that with anime; something more needed. (DVD)

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Election (Hong Kong, 2005)

Marketed as Hong Kong’s Godfather. Well it does focus on the politics… A cracking film which casts the police in an interesting role (they can’t get to the yakuza really but they can influence what’s happening). Great use of locations and a stunning end. (DVD)

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Shoeshine (Italy, 1946)

Preceded Bicycle Thieves and follows the same tragic pattern – well it had to didn’t it in post-war Italy given the fact this is a neo realist film. Brilliantly done, particularly in the performances and cinematography (much of it shot in a prison). Maybe a tad too melodramatic (well there’s a contradiction in terms) at the end but still wonderful. (DVD)

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