Twin Peaks Just Gave Us The Weirdest And Most Astonishing Hour Of TV Ever!

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It’s official! Showtime are the coolest network on television. They gave David Lynch a load of dollars and said, ‘go ahead and make whatever you want’ and he did. We’re eight episodes in to Twin Peaks now and it has promised to be just as ground-breaking as the original series back in 1991. We’ve had: talking electrical blob trees, charred tramps with floating heads, stab-happy dwarf hitmen and a haunted box amongst other demented things. There has been a narrative drive but the pace is so unapologetically glacial and ambitious that it has almost been impossible to follow. The show has been incredibly experimental and an absolute delight for Lynch fans so far.

However, with the latest episode David Lynch has broken the test tube. Just when you thought that this season couldn’t possibly get any weirder, Lynch brings us something which has never been done on film or TV before. It’s essentially a 50 minute acid trip designed to utterly assault your senses and it succeeds in the most mesmerising way. The episode starts off normal enough (normal for this show anyway) with evil Coop and his crony talking in the car on a Lost Highway-inspired night drive. Things go wrong though and evil Coop gets shot which results in the weird stuff happening. Lights flash in typical Lynchian fashion and ghostly tramps covered in black tar appear and tear apart Coop’s body for what feels like an eternity.

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We’re then left to contemplate this horrifying image whilst Nine Inch Nails play a full song at the Double R Club. It’s an interval which would feel distractingly out of place in any other show, but we’ve become so accustomed to the unpredictability of Twin Peaks now that the scene somehow works entirely and feels somewhat ordinary compared to what happens next. Bad Coop jolts up and all hell breaks loose.

Suddenly we flash back to New Mexico in the 50’s and move painstakingly slowly into an atomic bomb. Once the camera enters the cloud we’re treated to what can only be described as pure cinema. It’s something which cannot be described with words akin to the final moments of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and segments of Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void. Bizarre images and a frightening score combine to create a hypnotic and alarming experience which feels like you’re taking a dreamlike journey into hell. It’s a scene which has to be seen to be believed and is reminiscent of the earliest short films by Lynch which used paintings and drawings as animation.

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Once we’re done with having a seizure, we move onto a slower and more soothing Eraserhead-type scene which sees the giant and a strange woman wondering slowly around a ball room of some sorts. It’s visually arresting and the black and white monochrome is startlingly beautiful. The giant floats into the air and a golden ball with Laura Palmer’s face rises out of his chest and melts into a projector screen which displays the world. It makes little sense, but I think we’re witnessing the birth of BOB in the atomic bomb and the birth of Laura’s soul in the red room. Perhaps Laura was created to lure BOB into the red room?

Moving forward a few years a pair of young sweethearts take a stroll home, an ugly bug hatches out of an egg and the blackened tramps are back terrorising people. In the previous episode, Jerry Horne stood outside looking terrified and shouted ‘I think I’m high!’ which is probably what most viewers felt like during this episode. You can theorise about what it all means, but it’s much better to just go along with the ride and feel what you’re watching. It’s pure art and it’s astonishing. People thought that we had reached the peak golden age of TV but David Lynch has proved just how powerful television can be and how it can be used as a medium for art. Drama conventions were torn apart in 1991 and Mr. Lynch has reinvented TV again in 2017. Damn fine.

Train to Busan (2016)

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Director: Sang-ho Yeon

Stars: Yoo Gong, Soo-an Kim, Yu-mi Jeong

Zombies on a train

Zombie films have been hitting our screens since the dawn of time. Well, it certainly feels like they have anyway. Popularised by George A Romero’s terrific Dead trilogy, zombie films have since been rearing their heads like hordes of the undead themselves. Whilst they can be a lot of fun, more often than not, they can also be cliché ridden and trashy. We have had some quite enjoyable zombie films recently such as, Cockneys Vs Zombies and The Horde but we haven’t really had a properly great zombie movie since 2004’s Shaun of the Dead. Train to Busan changes that.

I saw Train to Busan on a whim. I’m travelling in Singapore and had a few free days so I thought that I’d check what’s on the cinemas here. Train to Busan caught my eye but I had never heard of it, however I saw that it was Korean and that it had zombies in it, so I was sold! To my surprise, I came out of the cinema having just viewed easily the best zombie film in a decade. Korean films have hardly ever let me down and Busan is no exception.

As there’s very little coverage of this film on the Internet, I’d better give a rough plot outline. It basically follows a selfish father who is cold and neglectful towards his cute young daughter. For her birthday, she wants to travel to Busan to see her mother so he reluctantly takes her on the train to Busan (creative title) however, a rather inconvenient zombie outbreak occurs as they board the train. The rest of the film is a claustrophobic and thrilling fight for survival as the survivors desperately try everything in their measure to get to Busan on a undead-infested train.

What makes this film so great is the characters. Most horror films (particularly ones with zombies in) sprinkle a load of disposable characters in who all die in a predictable order. We don’t often particularly care when they die, in fact we’re more likely to relish the gory death shown in all its bloody gory. In contrast, Train to Busan focuses in on a line of memorable characters who we actually care about and want to see survive. They’re developed in such a way that when someone cruelly perishes, we feel a great sense of loss and emotion. This is where the film’s strength lies. What’s also interesting is that they’re not all stereotypes either. The protagonist isn’t your typical hero, he’s a character who is grossly selfish and unlikable at the start, but he subtlety develops into someone you begin to care about and admire.


The film starts off as a good little zombie thriller. There’s a sense of realism to the whole situation as we’re made to watch the panic unfold on the train in an effective way. There’s also a nice comic touch to the whole thing with some witty dialogue so it never takes itself too seriously. It also somehow never gets boring even though the film is essentially two hours set on a train, which is no easy task. There’s always tension and a sense of peril. You get the feeling that anything could happen to these characters at any given moment. Once the film reaches the mid-way point though it stops being good and starts becoming great.

Things get going fairly quickly so the characters develop through the action, making the film all the more gripping as it goes on. It’s an unpredictable ride with lots of thrilling set-pieces to keep you on edge. The final half hour is essentially non-stop action and it becomes exhausting to watch without ever feeling too ridiculous. What really impressed me though was the emotional charge in the second half. There are a few scenes which had me welling up with tears, which I wasn’t expecting. I just got so absorbed in the characters and their intense situation. The use of music and editing is also hugely effective in pulling at your heartstrings.


There’s really very little which Train to Busan does wrong. If I were to nitpick, I’d say that I would’ve liked more gore. Zombie films always give a good excuse to give us an array of fun, gory effects but this film is surprisingly restrained. There’s a lot of hand-to-hand combat and nothing else creative. However, this does sort of add to the realism of the situation as you’re not going to find many axes or chainsaws on a train. It’s still not as bloodless as World War Z.

I can’t urge you enough to watch Train to Busan, especially if you’re a fan of Korean cinema. It doesn’t just offer plenty of nail-biting thrills and impressive special effects, It offers emotion and splendid characters whom you can properly invest in. It’s a powerful film which wears its heart on its sleeve and contains more character development in two hours than The Walking Dead has in six seasons. Once the film was over I became overcome with emotion. I felt like I could just break down and cry at what I had just watched. This is so much more than a zombie flick, at its heart it’s a devastating drama about family and the importance of human kindness. I loved it.

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Boogie Nights (1997)

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Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Stars: Mark Whalberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, Heather Graham

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Paul Thomas Anderson is renowned for making weighty films filled with masterful directing, writing and acting. There Will Be Blood (my first taste of PTA) almost immediately became one of my top five favourites, resembling one of Stanley Kubrick’s very best. I gave Magnolia a watch more recently and the whole thing astounded me with its emotional depth and richness. I’d been saving up Boogie Nights as many consider it Paul’s greatest film. At a mere 26 years old, he created a critically-acclaimed masterpiece that blew his debut (which is still a pretty good film) out of the water. I couldn’t wait to give Boogie Nights a watch and it didn’t disappoint.

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I know it’s not a popular opinion, but I still think There Will Be Blood and Magnolia are far better than Boogie Nights. However, that just shows how talented our Paul is as a filmmaker because Boogie Nights is a seriously terrific achievement right from the opening sombre music. We’re then hit immediately by a blasting 70’s pop track and a sweeping camera which takes us into the mind of Madonna when she was working on Confessions on a Dancefloor. A beautiful retro disco with all the main characters being introduced with perfect camera timing, I don’t know how Paul managed to do it but it’s a fantastic piece of camerawork and it almost feels as though he’s showing off a bit.

The film is a rags to riches tale, with more than a touch of irony to it, of a young and naïve dishwasher who’s whisked away by Burt Reynolds to become the biggest porn star there’s ever been! The first half is the more entertaining and funny half. It’s full of infectious energy and memorable characters who jump off the screen. For a film about the porn industry, there’s surprisingly little smut aside from an extended sequence where Mark Whalberg films his first sex scene with Julianne Moore. It’s extremely lively and full of fab scenes such as another impressive Steadicam move around a pool party and a fun montage showing Dirk Diggler’s rise to pornographic stardom.

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The darker, second half is the more interesting one for me. We’re suddenly plunged into the 80’s and watch as everyone’s lives go spiralling towards hell. The once friendly Dirk has turned into an egotistical cocaine-addict and Burt Reynolds has become a desperate director pimping his surrogate daughter out to strangers on the street. It’s a sad chapter which adds weight and morality to the tale. The film could’ve been a terrific comedy in the vein of the Wolf of Wall Street, but the second half offers a lovely bleak balance and shows us that pornography is not an industry to aspire to get into. The seemingly fulfilled characters become much deeper and more tragic figures.

There are some lovely scenes. One sequence which I really loved was a montage where all the characters are at their lowest. The music suited the scene so well and it felt very unsettling and intense. I also liked the moment where we’re given a glimpse into Julianne Moore’s life as she discusses getting custody of her child with her ex-husband. The film stops being fun and starts to become a much more serious beast set in a real world more closer to our own. Boogie Nights handles its many characters so expertly, kind of in the same way Magnolia did, although to a slightly lesser extent.

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Just when you think the film can’t throw up any more brilliance, the best scene pops up towards the end. It involves Dirk’s pathetic gang trying to orchestrate a drug deal at Alfred Molina’s house. Everything about this scene is pretty much perfect from the acting to the music to the tense, unpredictable atmosphere. Even the firecrackers are a masterstroke! It erupts into a Quentin Tarantino styled shootout and the unpredictability of it all makes for a thrilling watch. In fact, the entire film is filled with so many terrific scenes that it makes for a very high rewatchability factor.

My only complaint would be that, like Dirk’s manhood, it’s quite overlong. I think I would’ve preferred more of a focus on the 80’s segment rather than the 70’s. However, Boogie Nights is still a really great film. The thing that stands out the most is the masterful directing by the young Paul Thomas Anderson. Some argue that it’s a Martin Scorsese rip-off but I’d argue that his style is even better than Martin Scorsese. It’s a fantastic ride which leaves you with a lot to ponder about. So get your glad rags on and hit the dancefloor kids!

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Ranking David Lynch’s Films

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Just last week I managed to tick off the final Lynchy feature film I had left to see, Lost Highway. I was saving it and saving it until I finally gave in so that I can finally say that I have seen every feature film from my favourite ever filmmaker, David Lynch. The man is a god! He understands that film can be as artistic and powerful as any other piece of art. No other director creates worlds like David Lynch. You know that if you stick on one of his films that you’ll be transported into another place for a few hours and it’s quite an extraordinary feeling. The very best David Lynch films are more like an experience than an average film so it’s important not to think about what’s going, but to feel it instead. Even his short films like The Alphabet and The Grandmother offer more ingenuity than the majority of Hollywood’s churnings.

I would normally be feeling mournful at the fact that there’s no more David Lynch output to look forward to, however that simply isn’t true! Laura Palmer promised that she’d see us again in 25 years and here we are with David directing a Twin Peaks revival. With the renaissance TV is going through at the moment with brilliance such as, Breaking Bad and Fargo, there’s every chance that David could blow every series that’s gone out of the window! But for now, here are my rankings of David’s ten film canon complete with my weirdness rating and overall film rating.

10) Dune

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Let’s begin with the elephant (man) in the room. Dune was a self-confessed disaster which even the most hardcore David Lynch fan finds impossible to excuse. There are a few sci-fi weirdos who love it, but I’m not one of them. Everything about this film is just plain bad, from the clunky dialogue to the inexplicable plot. David had absolutely no control over this beast and was lost amidst a gigantic behind-the-scenes crew and controlling production company. David wanted to create a strange three hour plus epic, but those pesky studio execs grabbed hold of it and butchered the film to its very bare bones. The scene which sums the film up is the part where David Lynch himself plays a muddied miner whose trying to harvest all the good spice he can until a giant sandworm (which he couldn’t possibly control) gobbles him up. So as David didn’t really have any power over Dune at all, let’s just pretend it didn’t happen okay?

Best bit: Probably the line, “Bring in that floating fat man!”
Weirdness rating: 6/10
Movie rating: 3/10

9) The Straight Story

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David Lynch surprised the world when he released a genuinely sweet film for all the family to enjoy. Younger viewers might get a little restless at its snail pacing, but for those who appreciate great acting and warmth will find a lot to like. It follows the (mostly) true story of Alvin Straight, a man who rode for miles on his lawnmower to meet his estranged brother. Honestly, it really is that simple! Not a lot happens but somehow it isn’t boring at all. Perhaps it’s because of how involving it feels. You feel as though you’re going through the long and strenuous journey with Alvin, and the end scene really is beautiful and moving. However, us Lynch fanatics see it as one of his lesser films due to the lack of dancing dwarves and general dreamlike weirdness.

Best bit: The cockles-warming end scene.
Weirdness rating: 1/10
Movie rating: 8/10

8) Wild At Heart

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This Palme D’or-winning road trip boasts plenty of Lynchy weirdness, including a squealing peg-legged Grace Zabriskie and an appearance from the fairy godmother herself (played by Laura Palmer). In fact, Wild at Heart features some of the most memorable characters and performances David has ever mustered. Diane Ladd (Laura Dern’s real Mum!) possibly steals the show as Lula’s nightmarish, psychotic mother. Her wildly hammy performance quite rightly garnered an Oscar nomination as she gives Bette Davis a run for her money! Equally impressive is Willem Dafoe as the terrifying Bobby Peru. Willem has never been easy on the eye but Lynch turns him into the stuff of true nightmares. The only thing that stops Wild at Heart propelling to the top is Barry Gifford’s linear and less interesting plot. It’s still a fantastic journey full of fun, frights and lunacy!

Best bit: When Diane Ladd turns to reveal her entire face smothered in lipstick.
Weirdness rating: 7/10
Movie rating: 8/10

7) The Elephant Man

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The other ‘normal’ David Lynch film (along with The Straight Story) which catapulted him into the big time. After the super low-budget Eraserhead found its way into the hearts of Midnight Movie fans, Mel Brooks gave David the chance to direct the true story of Joseph Merrick. The story goes that Lynch accepted the job as soon as he heard the title of the film! Considering how young and inexperienced he was at the time, The Elephant Man is a truly miraculous piece of work and a timeless film by anyone’s standards. It’s impossible not to feel moved and involved in Joseph’s tragic life as he’s taken into care by a kindly Anthony Hopkins. Seeing him transform from a terrified mute into a compassionate and confident character is a pretty life-affirming experience. It also features one of the most powerful and upsetting endings of all time. Despite the scenes which bookend the film, The Elephant Man features virtually no signature strangeness which is why it falls slightly shorter for me. However, it’s still a fantastic piece of work.

Best bit: The soul-crushing ending
Weirdness rating: 1/10
Movie rating: 9/10

6) Lost Highway

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Another Barry Gifford collaboration, although it’s clear who’s in the driving seat here! After a terrific title sequence over David Bowie’s haunting I’m Deranged song our polarising non-linear narrative begins. The first Fred Maddison story features some of the best stuff David has ever done as we’re transported into a frightfully eerie dream world in which a saxophone player and his missus are plagued by mysterious videotapes. The suffocating atmosphere disappears slightly when a perplexing second story begins involving a young mechanic called Pete Dayton. Lost Highway is a gripping and thought provoking psycho-sexual-horror-neo-noir which offers no easy answers. It also features one of the David’s scariest creations in the Mystery Man who’s probably the key to entire mystery but who doesn’t fit into the story at all (seemingly). It perhaps doesn’t feature his strongest protagonists’, but it is unfairly overlooked when discussing David. It’s also masterfully directed.

Best bit: Fred’s first meeting with the Mystery Man is probably the moment which sticks out the most. After his dream!
Weirdness rating: 8/10
Movie rating: 9/10

5) Eraserhead

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This is where it all began! A five year labour of love where a cash-strapped young Dave even lived on the set for a short while to save money. Those five years resulted in 90 minutes of pure genius. It’s quite possibly the weirdest film ever made and transports the viewer into a strange and terrifying land where a funny-haired young man copes with the struggles of caring for a mutant baby. No, it’s weirder than it sounds! It’s exactly like watching a dream and every scene is filled with an inexplicable sense of dread. Eraserhead is the quintessential Lynch film with a polarising narrative, strange characters and dreamlike sequences which end up everywhere and nowhere. Whilst there is no real explanation to it all, David has claimed that he’s still yet to read an interpretation which matches his.

Best bit: The Lady in the Radiator’s haunting singing solo
Weirdness rating: 10/10
Movie rating: 10/10

4) INLAND EMPIRE

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Another film where David gave himself complete control to let his dangerous creative juices flow. Unsurprisingly, it’s also tied with Eraserhead as one of the very weirdest films of all time (IMO). It’s the ultimate test to see how much of Lynch fan you really are. Most people despise INLAND EMPIRE with pure venom due to its hefty 180 minute runtime and incomprehensible plot which is clear as mud. I’ll never forget when I first watched it though (one of my first David Lynch films) and feeling utterly transported. I watched it alone, in the middle of the night with no distractions (the only way to watch a David Lynch film) and I felt as though I was actually having a nightmare. It didn’t feel like I was watching screen, it felt as though I was asleep and having a nightmare I couldn’t escape. Once the film is over you feel as though you’ve spent you’re whole life watching it, yet you can only bits and pieces which is exactly like waking from a dream. At the centre of it all is a stunning performance from Laura Dern, a woman transported into total madness. INLAND EMPIRE is by far David Lynch’s scariest film, and also his most magical.

Best bit: When the prostitutes dance to the locomotion
Weirdness rating: 10/10
Movie rating: 10/10

3) Blue Velvet

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The velvet of blue is often cited as the best film in the Lynchian canon (along with my number one) and it’s easy to see why. Whilst the film has its moments of bizarreness, for the most part it’s an audience-friendly mystery thriller although it’s far from conventional. Kyle Maclachlan is a Dale Cooper in training as he becomes obsessed with finding out where a severed ear came from. The first thirty minutes are like a straightforward albeit gripping, mystery film. Things get dark and subversive when Kyle hides in Isabella Rossellini’s closet and watches her get horrifically raped by Dennis Hopper. Somehow Dennis Hopper didn’t get Oscar nominated for his electrifying performance as Frank Booth. Every scene with Frank is filled with intensity and jet-black comedy. Luckily, David Lynch got himself nominated again as best director to make up for things! Blue Velvet is a masterpiece by anyone’s standards and features scene after scene of classic Lynchian moments.

Best bit: Ben’s strange lip-synch to In Dreams
Weirdness rating: 7/10
Movie rating: 10/10

2) Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

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Ooh would you look at me being controversial! It was booed at Cannes and reviled by fans of the series yet somehow it’s crept its way up to second place in my list. I love the original Twin Peaks series but the darker elements have always interested me more than the comedic side and with Fire Walk with Me, David goes full into full horror mode as we explore Laura Palmer’s final week of life. She was an enigma in the series, but here she’s thrown into the spotlight and becomes one of the most compelling characters David Lynch has ever created. After a bizarre opening in which we’re transported into a parallel Twin Peaks universe with Fat Trout trailer parks and reappearing David Bowie’s we suddenly focus on Laura’s final days. Sheryl Lee’s performance is outstanding and the moments of horror are frighteningly intense. The final sequence where Laura is killed is particularly horrifying and ultimately moving. Fire Walk with Me is, in my opinion, one of David’s most harrowing films.

Best bit: The powerful final scene which manages to be tragic and uplifting at the same time.
Weirdness rating: 8/10
Movie rating: 10/10

1) Mulholland Dr

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Ah yes, Mulholland Drive is possibly my favourite film of all time. It wasn’t always that way though! When I first saw it I gave it a 9/10 and wasn’t totally spellbound, but then I read all the explanations and realised just how rich and detailed every single scene was. Mulholland is all the magic of the movies rolled into one. It’s set in Hollywood and features the archetypal Hollywood noir plot of an amnesiac, a mysterious key and a bag of cash. It’s so much more than that though. In fact, Mulholland Drive is so layered and ingenious that it hurts your head just thinking about it. On the surface it’s just a series of random and meaningless scenes which shouldn’t work, but it just does. There’s an intense signature dreamlike atmosphere which dominates every scene right up until the final thirty minutes where the rug is pulled from our feet and the film spirals into total lunacy. Mulholland Drive is an extraordinary achievement which will never be topped.

Best scene: The entire sequence in the Club Silencio is the probably the best thing David Lynch has ever created.
Weirdness rating: 9/10
Movie rating: 10/10

Well there’s my ranking of my favourite filmmaker. Agree or disagree? Let me know below please!

Eyes Wide Shut (1999) [The Yellow Kubrick Road]

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Director: Stanley Kubrick

Stars: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sydney Pollack

Will leave your eyes firmly wide open!

Over ten years later Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut is released to the world. I was only four years old at the time, but I could imagine the hype. The final film of arguably the greatest film director to have ever lived. The final cut of Eyes Wide Shut was delivered to Warner Brothers four days prior to Stanley’s mysterious death. Stanley called the film his “greatest contribution to the art of cinema” but it was greeted with hostility and it’s easy to see why. Eyes Wide Shut is arguably his most impenetrable film. The average cinemagoer can appreciate the horror of The Shining and the comedy of Dr. Strangelove without digging deeper into them. However, Eyes Wide Shut is very difficult to enjoy without unlocking those hidden meanings and symbols.

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It’s possibly his most enigmatic and mysterious film, arguably even more so than 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining. The eye-popping finale to 2001 has more or less been unlocked, but the secrets that lie within Eyes Wide Shut still remain closed and debated upon just like The Shining still is today. However, whilst The Shining is universally lauded as a masterpiece, Eyes Wide Shut is still yet to receive the recognition it deserves. I remember when I first saw the film one night, on my own and finding it incredibly slow but intriguing. I also remember finding a lot of it very frightening.

Last night I gave it a re-watch with my sister and mother by my side. My sister switched off about twenty minutes in and started playing on her phone, whilst my mother said once it finished “Well, I’m not surprised he died after making that shite!” which of course makes no sense, but you don’t know my Mum. I definitely found a new appreciation for it though. There’s so much going on in the film that it’s impossible to take it all in on your first viewing. You’ll probably end up disliking it, but give it a few days and you’ll find yourself pondering over it. You may even find yourself becoming haunted by it like Dr. Bill’s guilty conscience.

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At its core, Eyes Wide Shut is a Lynchian mystery set in a dreamy New York City. Most know all the bizarre plot twists and turns now, but the less you know the better. Like most Stanley films, Eyes Wide Shut is more of an experience that can’t be put into words. It’s not the type of film you can dip in and out of, you have to watch it all the way through and give it your full attention. Watching Tom cruise walking down the street shouldn’t be interesting, but something about it keeps you inexplicably transfixed to the screen. Similarly, the seemingly never ending monologues carry a hypnotic grip on your senses, such as Nicole’s dreamy drug-fuelled confession which kick starts the entire story.

The film holds the record for the longest continual film shoot at four hundred days so the directing is of course beyond masterful. Every single shot is carefully considered and the trademark tracking shots are as dizzying as ever. The mise-en-scene in each scene is also extremely important to consider. There are so many things hidden in the background, such as the recurring multi-coloured Christmas trees which disappear once Tom Cruise enters the mysterious cult. Could this relate to the ‘end of the rainbow’ as stated earlier in the film? It’s little details like this which make Eyes Wide Shut endlessly fascinating to analyse. Only until you analyse the film can you appreciate the painstaking details and intelligent intricacies.

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Stanley’s final film is often claimed to be a limp ending to a phenomenal filmography, however I’d strongly disagree. Any true Stanley lover will recognise the obscure genius of Eyes Wide Shut. Conspiracy theorists will thrive off the illuminati and Satanist symbolism, but I think there’s more to it than that. It’s a wonderfully mysterious film with a brooding dreamlike atmosphere. I also have to mention the brilliantly creepy (yet incredibly simple) piano score which has to be the scariest use of a few notes since the Jaws theme tune. Whilst the film isn’t quite up to the impossibly high standards of 2001, A Clockwork Orange and The Shining, it isn’t miles off. Maybe after some repeated views I might hold it in even higher regards.

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Travel down the Kubrick road by clicking here

The Babadook (2014)

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Director: Jennifer Kent

Stars: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall

If it’s in a word, or it’s in a look, if you’re after great horror, you’re in luck!

“The best horror movie in years” tends to be the key phrase to use when describing a genuinely good horror film. However, I think modern horror tends to get a bad reputation due to the amount rubbish produced. We’ve had endless Paranormal Activity films which seem to make big money and the appalling Human Centipede movies seem to make big noise, but these films aren’t especially ‘good’. Unfortunately though, they tend to overshadow the fantastic horror films we have been getting recently such as: You’re Next, The Sacrament and Cheap Thrills to name a few. The Babadook can now pop itself onto that list. In fact, I’d say that it’s easily the best and scariest supernatural horror film since the underrated Sinister.

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The Babadook still seems to get quite a lot of criticism for some reason though. To be fair, the trailers do make it look like some sort of run-of-the-mill jumpy ghost story, so perhaps audiences were disappointed when they got a film full of rich characterisation, domestic drama and psychological depth. I wasn’t. The Babadook certainly isn’t your typical supernatural horror film though. We’re not even given a glimpse of the Babadook himself until about 50 minutes into the film, but this doesn’t matter because the central themes and characters are so strong.

There seems to be some debate as to whether this is a supernatural or psychological horror film. Some think that it leaves it up for the viewer to decide, but I thought that director Jennifer Kent was making it quite obvious that this was a film about a woman going mad. It’s very much in the same vein of The Shining and Repulsion as our hero slowly descends into a total schizophrenic onslaught of terror. As a result, we’re given a much deeper and character-driven film about grief, motherhood and madness.

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The heart of the film is the relationship between a mother and son. Both actors are pretty extraordinary, especially the mother played by Elsie Davis who gives an incredibly strong and shattering performance. Many have described the boy as the most annoying child to ever appear in a film, which is a pretty bold statement and one which I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with! The decision to make the boy as painfully annoying as chewing a wasp is an extremely conscious one though as we’re put directly into the shoes of the mother. Amelia finds her son extremely hard to love as she subconsciously blames him for the death of her husband. By the end of the film we end up feeling as crazy as Amelia!

The first hour is actually a very sad one as we see Amelia become slowly isolated from people as her life becomes increasingly more hectic. No one seems to understand her grief and no one wants to know her because of Samuel (the impossibly annoying son). Therefore her descent into madness is a wonderfully realistic one. It’s also quite frightening. I’m not one to get scared in horror films, I can watch The Exorcist on my own and feel no fright what so ever, however there were some scenes in The Babadook which made my hair stand on end. The last half hour basically just tries its best to scare the trouser off you and it succeeds! Jennifer Kent is extremely masterful in creating tension and scares. I can’t think of one jump scare in the entire film which is so unusual and commendable. Instead, we’re left terrified from nightmarish imagery and sounds. I dare anyone note to get chilled to the core when the Babadook is hovering over the bed chanting ‘baba-dook-dook-DOOOK!’

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The Babadook is so much more than just a ‘scary’ film though. It carries so much depth if you’re willing to read into it more. It has a genuinely interesting and engaging character at the centre of it and is willing to throw the audience right into the middle of her mental breakdown. It’s also really well-made, especially considering the teeny weeny budget. The production design is pretty outstanding and the infamous Mister Babadook book itself is beautifully made. This is a film which horror fans should welcome to their bosom. It’s genuinely scary, masterfully directed and has a super screenplay to match. What more could you want? It’s also a great advert for contraception if your partner is starting to get broody.

nine-out-of-ten

Fat Girl (A Ma Soeur!) (2001)

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Director: Catherine Breillat

Stars: Anaïs Reboux, Roxane Mesquida, Libero De Rienzo

Fat is fabulous!

Sex-obsessed director, Catherine Breillat has only gone and done another film about sex! Well, actually Fat Girl is over a decade old now so she’s done a few more sex-related films which I’m yet to see. In fact, Fat Girl is my very first taste of Catherine Breillat and I’ll definitely be tucking in for more if they’re all as tasty as this one. For those who don’t know, Fat Girl tells the story of a chubby 12 year-old gal and her sexy fifteen year-old sister who may as well be called Lolita.

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The film is pretty short and simplistic but it definitely leaves a lasting impression. I suspect that most people would find it boring because the scenes are extremely long and drawn out. The longest bit must be the extended foreplay scene in which Lolita and her fancy man are on the verge of doing the dirty deed. Not one moment of the film bored me though. I found myself sucked into its atmosphere of stark realism and drawn to the engaging characters.

I was also really impressed with the young actors. Anaïs Reboux who plays the fat girl in question was particularly enthralling. It’s important to bear in mind that she was only twelve years-old at the time of filming and it’s a fairly challenging role to play which deals with adolescence, sexuality and sibling rivalry. There’s a lovely tender moment between the two siblings where they lay on the bed and joke together. It feels very genuine and just goes to show how brilliant the two actresses are and how realised their characters are.

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The film builds up to an awkward car journey which ends in a genuinely unexpected and shocking way. Many people have condemned the ending for being shocking for the sake of it; however I don’t think that’s true. If you pay attention to the first 70 minutes you’ll spot a lot of foreshadowing and find that it actually has a lot of meaning which is important to the overall story. I think it’s just the sudden change in tone which people find jarring and off-putting. I’m all for unpredictability though.

Quite a lot of people also complain that the film is basically child pornography masquerading as art. The BBFC even cut the DVD release of the film “relating to potential harm, to address the specific danger that video enables the scene to be used to stimulate and validate abusive action.” I’d disagree. The scene in question isn’t gratuitous (I watched the uncut Australian version) and in my unprofessional opinion isn’t harmful or erotic to the rational human mind. It’s also very important to the themes of the story.

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Prudes should also note that the sexy sister was actually eighteen years-old at the time of filming and that the erect penis is actually prosthetic! It is a graphic film, but it is also a film all about sex and sex does tend be to be graphic. I’m not sure why people get so disgusted about graphic sex scenes in films. We all have sex in real life so why is watching it on a screen so repulsive? Anywho, Fat Girl is not a porn film. It is an interesting story about sexual awakening. It’s beautifully acted and directed, and also has a wonderfully immersive atmosphere. I’d particularly recommend it to fans of the new French extremity and European art films.

sevem out-of-ten