Carlo Mirabella-Davis’s arresting debut explores the true horrors of the body

“I think she was looking for order in a life she felt increasingly powerless in.” Writer-director Carlo Mirabella-Davis speaking about his grandmother who, in the 1950s, was confined to a mental institution and subjected to electroshock therapy, insulin shock therapy, and a non-consensual lobotomy for being an “obsessive hand washer”. But he could very easily be talking about the central character in his arresting and psychosomatic debut feature Swallow.


David Robert Mitchell’s third feature is way too high on its own supply to fully realise its own fascinating subtext

Since the first media murmurs, I was eagerly anticipating Under the Silver Lake. A lot of people were. It’s no surprise really: a young, still somewhat unproven director in David Robert Mitchell, coming fresh from an instant cult horror in It Follows, and venturing into the well-trodden realms of neo-noir and Hollywood mythology with his new project. If It Follows was an instant cult favourite, Under the Silver Lake looked to contain all the ingredients of another cult classic before it was even released.

Much of that comes from its subject matter. The promotional materials and early festival hype drew…


Almost 35 years since it stunned Cannes, Wim Wenders’s slice of Americana remains a beguiling and enduring work, and the perfect antidote to the Trump era…

A ghost comes walking out of the desert. This is Travis Henderson, one of the most enigmatic and mysterious characters in all of Western cinema with his dishevelled, vacant visage. Played perfectly by the legendary character actor Harry Dean Stanton in a soul-searching performance, the image of Travis has become iconic since its inception. Think of John Wayne’s Ethan Edwards of The Searchers but in a red cap and a rambler’s old suit. He’s pure and alien; he’s like an old television stuck on a static channel.

Coming in to Paris, Texas almost 35 years after its shock Palme d’Or…


“Poor Seth. It’s all so horrible, isn’t it? The nightmare of childhood.”

When Seth Dove remembers his childhood he’ll remember the abstract shapes of the dishevelled and collapsing farmhouses that stood like great American Gothic monoliths in endless fields of gold corn. He’ll remember the joy of terrorising his unsuspecting neighbour with exploding toads and breaking into her house — a house adorned with animal bones, whaling instruments, and other such gothic trappings. He’ll remember the eventful summer, the boundless, mythic summer spent on the farm that has been burned into his memory.

The setting is crucial to Phillip Ridley’s…


Give John Frankenheimer’s chilling masterpiece the second life it deserves

While much of American cinema chose to angle their camera eye positively towards the sixties, depicting the acid-wave utopianism of the cultural decade as the new American frontier — with films such as Easy Rider and Two-Lane Blacktop glamorising the spiritual road-trip that began with Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters — revolutionary and timely filmmaker John Frankenheimer chose to focus on the more cynical side of the “hippy era”. With what is now known as his “paranoia trilogy”, Frankenheimer picked at the dark side of the swinging sixties like a scab. In The Manchurian Candidate…


Sleepwalking into the heart of darkness

How do you adapt a bestselling novel? Do you slave away at your desktop, eyes flitting back and forth from screen to source material to screen, faithfully typing out the author’s fluent and idiosyncratic prose into a taut, formalised, and dialogue-heavy screenplay? Or perhaps you are more attuned to the post-it notes method, sporadically leafing through a heavily thumbed book littered with little yellow and pink pieces of sticky paper equally adorned with random notes and musings? Perhaps these post-it notes extend their tendrils from the source text to the walls and ceilings of your office until you are literally…


Lynne Ramsay returns with another dreamlike and disturbed character study

This review contains spoilers…

Joe is more beast than man. Falling into a weight category somewhere between a grizzly bear and a juiced-up Travis Bickle, he dominates the screen, skulking the neon streets of Cincinnati with a heavy, inhuman hunch. One particular scene of shocking and dramatic violence — where gun-for-hire Joe clears out a depraved paedophile den with his favourite tool, a hammer — is shown via grainy, monochrome CCTV footage, more akin to night-vision cameras stationed in the habitat of a rarely sighted nocturnal predator. It is just one of director Lynne Ramsay’s unusual and inspired stylistic choices…


Spike Jonze’s misunderstood film still remains an ambiguous and elusive wonder

The opening moments of 2009’s Where the Wild Things Are — Spike Jonze’s misunderstood feature-length expansion of Maurice Sendak’s three hundred and thirty-eight-word children’s classic — perfectly encapsulates its spirit. They are at once exhilarating and nostalgic. Jonze’s camera crashes down the stairs with two ferocious beasts locked in a fierce chase, barely able to contain them within its slim frame. One of the beasts is a lonely, yet imaginative, nine-year-old called Max — played brilliantly by namesake Max Records. The other is his only true friend: his dog. As Max eventually catches his prey in his pincer-like claws, the…


Acid tab cinema goes way out West

“The mole digs tunnels under the earth, looking for the sun. Sometimes, he gets to the surface. When he sees the sun, he is blinded.” So intones Alejandro Jodorowsky over the opening credits of his wild acid western, El Topo (1970: the beginning of something new). “El Topo” translates to “The Mole”, a central, unifying image, that takes on a double meaning here. El Topo, played by Jodorowsky himself, is a creature that thrives in the darkness. It is a modern myth; the heroic fantasy fed through the counterculture kaleidoscope. The title itself is a metaphor for the underground cinema…


Is the 1946 classic Jean Cocteau’s greatest magic trick?

There is something inherently supernatural about cinema. It is a unique art form, and it has a particular magical and transcendent power that is unmatched by any other forms, be it literature, painting, sculpture, or poetry. In fact, in its embryonic stage, cinema was just that: a magic trick. Cinema as we know it today evolved from an illusion performed at circuses and funfairs, known as the Magic Lantern, that projected pictures on sheets of glass using a lens and a bright light source. …

Max Fedyk

I watch films and sometimes I write about them.

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