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Rod has written 123 reviews for films during 2015.

  • Anomalisa

    Anomalisa

    ★★★★★

    Wow, just WOW! Charlie Kaufman's new profound statement on the human condition is inspired, thoughtful and honest. It says so much in so many ways, using pure economy and simplicity, but not without his expected absurdist flourishes to give it his unique sense of identity.

    A certain cinematic choice involving Tom Noonan's voice is at first disarming, but then a stroke of genius becomes apparent once you realize why, with the film saying so much about the modern state of…

  • Slow West

    Slow West

    ★★★

    A passable debut, mainly due to gorgeous cinematography, score and a few clever bursts of Coenesque humour peppered throughout. The sparse and underdeveloped narrative and central relationship are lacking. Many seem quick to label this as a 'poetic' film, but I would say that is quite a stretch. It would need a much stronger script for me to be impressed with it I think. I really dug the moment at the end where the camera went back and paid its respects to all the dead, and I also liked the visual gag of salt literally being poured on the protagonist's wound in the final act.

  • The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting

    The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting

    ★★★★½

    What if we could enter into the life of a painting and examine the context of the scene that has been so carefully captured for us on canvas? What is behind Mona Lisa's smile? Raul Ruiz offers us this opportunity to ponder on such matters with this esoteric and cerebral mystery based on a series of paintings by a nineteenth century French artist who came into a bit of trouble with the law over them at the time.

    Guided into…

  • The Beyond

    The Beyond

    ★★½

    Lurking inside somewhere is potentially good horror film, but so many underdeveloped elements make for an incredibly irritating experience. I want much more out of my cinema than Lucio Fulci offers up here, and even as a supposed 'cult' film, it should have naggingly endless re-watch value, so I guess this one time deal is not a cult I am meant to be a part of.

  • The Gift

    The Gift

    ★★★★

    Joel Edgerton's Directorial debut is a tense little psychological thriller with significant thematic resonance. One of this year's real surprises!

  • Obsession

    Obsession

    ★★★★½

    What do you get when Brian De Palma and Paul Schrader walk out of a Vertigo screening and decide to make a film modeled on it? The most wonderfully blatant homage ever committed to celluloid! I loved it!

  • Crimson Peak

    Crimson Peak

    ★★★

    I am trying to work out exactly what went wrong here for Del Toro, because someone like Argento gets praised for similar stylish, atmospheric but equally vacuous works - is it that we just expect more from Del Toro? Pan's Labyrinth was so well executed and delivered on its weighty themes on multiple levels, but with Crimson Peak I am still trying to work out what it is actually trying to say. Ghosts merely act as a warning that our…

  • Dope

    Dope

    ★★★½

    An exuberant and self-aware film that is completely enjoyable up to a point, but then just revels in its own mess. The pop culture referencing is a blast, but will no doubt date the film before long.

  • Girl with Hyacinths

    Girl with Hyacinths

    ★★★★½

    Rightly likened to Citizen Kane in narrative structure and touted by Ingmar Bergman as a masterpiece, this Swedish noir sees a beautiful young lady commit suicide in the opening scene, provoking the unraveling of the mystery that was her and what brought her to such an end. Featuring a wonderfully written script with some of the most frank dialogue and themes of its era, a solid cast of players and some choice shadowy monochrome cinematography, this is a mysterious melodrama…

  • La Promesse

    La Promesse

    ★★★★½

    More top shelf fare from my favourite Belgian brothers with some of their most compelling characters yet! Jérémie Renier as the young lead Igor delivers a rich and nuanced performance (as he would also 9 years later in Lénfant), but as always - Olivier Gourmet (Roger) is indescribably magnetic and proves once again why the Dardenne's use him liberally throughout their filmography. The material is dark and depressing as is their way, but not without that glimmer of hope to keep the viewer afloat.

  • Sicario

    Sicario

    ★★★★★

    "Your American ears won't understand and you will doubt everything that we do. But in the end, you will understand."

    Surely the darkest and most pessimistic studio film to be released in recent memory! Gosh, I was like a stunned mullet by the time the credits rolled, and left contemplating how thematically challenging this film had the balls to be, something that just does not happen in a modern mainstream vehicle. I understand complaints against the Mexican cop/family sub-plot as…

  • Mother Joan of the Angels

    Mother Joan of the Angels

    ★★★★½

    I was fortunate enough to discover this Polish film that pre-dates Ken Russell's The Devils by a decade, yet examines a period of time directly after the events of said film with a few name changes. Compared to the hysterical and stylized mania of Russell's film, Jerzy Kawalerowicz delivers a more subtle and meditative, but no less compelling piece in the vein of Bergman, with an astute focus on a newly appointed Father Suryn and his attempt to exorcise the…