Sleazecore rocker Rob Zombie pays homage to the golden 1970s heyday of psycho-slasher flicks with his wilfully trashy but memorably nightmarish debut feature, which makes up for a slow start with its final descent into a shock-rocking Hellzone of backwoods mutants, Satanic serial killers, hardcore violence and unimaginable torture. Mixing grainy film stock and period detail, Zombie takes inspiration from Driller Killer, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Evil Dead and other midnight-movie classics.
Macaulay Culkin (contractually refusing to kiss any men—fact) blows hard but fails to convince as camp '90s New York club cyclone Michael Alig. Seth Green's equally berserk, but when Alig brags of murdering his buddy/dealer, everyone assumes he's kidding. Much gay disco muzak, and cameos from Marilyn Manson and Chloe Sevigny, but this is no Last Days Of Disco or even 54.
You'll never eat frogs' legs again. This darkly witty 2D animation feature is full of cute moments and haunting images, if perhaps not the life-altering classic it's been hailed as in some quarters. The rotund Madame Souza buys her shy grandson Champion a bicycle, and years later, after much strictly regimented training, he's competing with the best. Then, in a fit of surrealism, he's kidnapped by shadowy men in black. Granny and faithful canine Bruno defy all logic to cross oceans and metropolises to rescue him.
Director Claire Denis rediscovers her personal vision after the debacle that was Trouble Every Day. With echoes of Godard's Weekend, it's an erotic tone poem in which a woman stuck in a rainy Paris traffic jam picks up a man for a mutually satisfying one-night stand. That's the entire plot, but the auteur's intensity makes every moment telling and tactile.
King Lear re-enacted in modern-day Liverpool as crime boss Richard Harris, broken by the senseless murder of wife Lynn Redgrave, splits his empire between his two black-hearted daughters. The dialogue's got a touch of the Guy Ritchies and the violence is silly, but Harris—cunning, lean, leonine—commands the screen.
Non-stop Yakuza-v-zombie action shouldn't be this boring. Director Ryuhei Kitamura knows how to stage a flesh-munching, sword-flashing set piece, but simply stringing a bunch of them together doesn't make a movie. Something to watch when you're in a stoned stupor, perhaps.
Brian Cox delivers a towering performance as a paedophile ex-Marine in director Michael Cuesta's finely judged and exquisitely filmed drama from 2001. Co-starring screen novice Paul Franklin Dano as the teenager lured into Cox's orbit, L.I.E. refuses to make simplistic moral judgements in its exploration of this topical yet taboo subject.
Set in and around a half-built rubble-strewn suburb of nowhere Vienna, pounded by summer sunstroke, and featuring brutal scenes of rape and battery, Dog Days is a bracing blast of arthouse nihilism from Austrian auteur Ulrich Seidl. And like a bleak psychotropic Short Cuts, the success of this multi-character piece depends on how the viewer responds to Seidl's remarkable yet savagely pessimistic world view.