Another year, another new film from Woody Allen. We’ve come to expect a laidback filmmaking style from the old master over the past decade, a development that his detractors tend to credit to late period laziness. Last year, however, he made Blue Jasmine and showed signs of the scathing cynicism that has been largely missing recently. The fact that he followed that film with another romantic European jaunt is unsurprising, but Magic in the Moonlight is actually much more satisfying than it first appears to be.
As a child, I was fascinated by Frank Sidebottom – I just couldn’t get past that weird giant head (as a really weird aside, I used to confuse him with people who had plastic surgery as my mum would refer to Frank’s “plastic head”). However, as I’ve got older I’ve grown to love his offbeat parody songs (Panic on the Streets of Timperley is a highlight) and particularly the bizarre 90s talk show, Potted Shed. I was pretty interested in Frank when I first saw the trailer, as the idea of Michael Fassbender playing Frank Sidebottom seemed unbelievable, but the film looked like it was going somewhere else.
Spanish-language film Painless, set in Catalonia, explores the political past of Spain through the fictional story of children institutionalised in the early 1930s, who are all linked by their complete insensibility to feeling physical pain.
When a film starts with a huge erect horse penis flailing around and close-ups of an engorged pulsating horse’s vagina, you kind of get an idea of you might expect in the following 90 or so minutes.
This curiously uninvolving movie is beautifully shot. It is a lusty, medieval tale of three different but stupid men all wanting to get their end away with an equally dim woman. This is probably why the film doesn’t bite at all on any emotional level – the actions and passions of the characters are so dull you really couldn’t care less about any of them.
This new comedy is a rom-com where the rom is very much on the back foot – in fact the romance is basically no more than an excuse to lampoon the genre clichés. Director David Wain and his co-writer Michael Showalter have set their dial resolutely to silly, but the story is actually no more ridiculous than any other film of the genre. This is first and foremost a parody which is coruscatingly spot-on.
This time, it’s the Wachowski’s debut feature Bound getting the Arrow Video Blu-ray treatment. Largely ignored on its release, but has since become a cult classic, Bound is an excellent slice of 90s neo-noir.