Monday, 31 December 2012

Feature - Doccortex's Top Ten Films 2012

It's been a decent year for film watching in the Cortex household and I've broken my own previous record by consuming around fifty DVDs this year. It's a tough task to form a top ten, but I've basically gone for films that I'd like to see again whatever score I gave them at the time. Needless to say, obscurendure has been invaluable in selecting some quality obscure action, and most of these films have been reviewed in these very pages. So without further ado, here's this year's rundown...

10. Sex, Party and Lies (Alfonso Albacete/David Menkes)

Call it what you want; grimy or sexy grit this tale of hedonistic Spanish youth only scored 2/10, (full review coming soon - evlkeith) which with hindsight may have been a bit harsh. Anna de Armas and Miriam Giovanelli were the pick of the performances.

9. I Spit on Your Grave (Steven R. Monroe)

Harsh, uncompromising and difficult to watch, however the second half revenge scenes made the whole thing worthwhile. Sarah Butler was amazing.

8. In My Father's Den (Brad McGann)

Slowburning, low key, crime busting jigsaw in the backwaters of New Zealand. Matthew Macfadyen is aggressive, smouldering and smokes a lot.

7. Into the Abyss (Werner Herzog)

Werner produces a death row documentary which almost takes place in real time. Makes you think and dodge eggs in equal measure.

6. Attack the Block (Joe Cornish)

A surprising hit at Cortex HQ with a bunch of irritating homies proving their worth against alien invaders. Oscar nominated El Hadji Diouf produced his usual exemplary performance as an evil drug lord.

5. Waitress (Adrienne Shelly)

Romantic Comedy meets baking in this surprise piece of quality light-hearted rubbish, in a good way of course. Keri Russell is a treat.

4. Y Tu Mamá También (Alfonso Cuarón)

Sexy grit with loveable characters and a punch-line, and possibly the most useful phrase to know when visiting anywhere in the Spanish speaking world. Gael García Bernal was quite good and got his own razor blade advert on the back of our review: he owes us an interview.

3. Sin Nombre (Cary Joji Fukunaga)

Grit gets the widescreen cinematic treatment in this epic tale of struggle and survival. Tenoch Huerta Mejia is outstanding as a tough yet mysterious gang leader.

2. The Damned United (Tom Hooper)

Gritty, northern footballing drama with lots of swearing and Brian Clough. What's not to like? Jim Broadbent steals the show with his aggressive northern chairman.

1. Ghostworld (Terry Zwigoff)

Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson are a pair of sarcastic teen stalkers in this veritable quirkfest. A worthy tribute to Daniel Clowes' graphic novel and Steve Buscemi's best performance outside of The Wedding Singer.


Feature - Quiz Answers

A week ago I set a little quiz to get everyone in a Christmas mood. Five films were hidden in a set of images. Each film had five pictures to represent it. The five pictures all came from a Google search of the film title but none were from the actual film they represent. 

So here are the answers. See how many you got right!

Film 1?

Probably the most obvious one. It's Opera by Dario Argento.

Film 2?

The big clue to this one is the third photo. Make an acronym and what do you get? The Raid.

Film 3?

Tricky one. The final image is from Warriors of the Wasteland. And the fourth picture is the only other good clue. It's Wasteland.

Film 4?

I thought that this one was gettable. The final picture gives the clue that it could have something to do with Xavier Gens. The first two pictures are to do with crossing divides and the fourth picture seals it. The Divide. No idea what that pile of sick has got to do with it.

And the virtually impossible Film 5?

For a minute there I couldn't remember myself. Anyone who got that this was Only the Strong deserves a pack of sweets.


Feature - New Year Honours List 2012

Another year, another New Year Honours List. Last year we bestowed the award on Werner Herzog and The Saw Lady. But it is stunningly difficult to get on to this list and only the finest purveyors of obscure cinema treats make it.

To show how hard this is, only one person has made it this year. To find out who, click on the link below:

New Year Honours List 2012


Sunday, 30 December 2012

News: Coming Soon

Everyone loves zombies: small children, window cleaners, pensioners, even nuns. With this is mind, I have decided to embark on a voyage into the land of the dead. 

Over the next year I will be watching and reviewing one zombie film every week. The films will come from all over the world and will be in a variety of styles, representing the full range of leg-dragging action. I will be watching (re-watching, is more likely) classic zombie films mostly, but there will be a sprinkling of new films. Sorry, but I won't be watching Osombie.

All of this maggot-ridden flesh won't get in the way of our usual reviews and features. Everything else will carry on as normal, the Year of the Dead reviews will be on top of your usual dose of obscurities.

We'll be kicking off soon with Night of the Living Dead, the Godfather of the modern zombie film. This all seems like a good idea at the moment, but we'll see by the end of the year...


Thursday, 27 December 2012

Review - Man of la Mancha (1972 - Dir. Arthur Hiller)

I did a double take when the name of the director came up: Arthur Hitler. Ah... no, Arthur Hiller. Easy mistake to make.

This is the fourth in our season of beloved musicals. It also suffers massively from the main reason why I hate musicals. When a character starts to sing, everyone else miraculously knows all the words. Not only that, they can sing it with three part harmonies. And perform a funny little dance routine. Satan has yet to come up with a greater sin. Man of la Mancha falls foul of this many times. A bunch of grizzled prisoners suddenly gain the singing ability of Mick Ball and the dance moves of Len Goodman. Preposterous. 

Man of la Mancha is a musical version of Don Quixote. It starts off with an allegedly true story from the life of the author Cervantes. He gets banged away in a prison for being a poet (fair enough) with the heavy threat of the Spanish Inquisition looming over him. The other prisoners can't stand his poetic ways either so they put him on trial. He tries to convince them of his worth by getting them to act out the story of Don Quixote with him. And have a bit of a sing too. Great defense. If I'm ever up in court, I'm going to have a go at that. I'll get the judge to pretend to be Scar and sing along to songs from The Lion King. The lawyers can dance and pretend to be giraffes or something. Guaranteed acquittal. 

Everything was going so well(ish) for the first twenty minutes. It looks gorgeous and made me think of what could have been if Terry Gilliam had made his version. Peter O'Toole was growing on me, playing both Cervantes and Don Quixote, even though his make up is one of the creepiest things since Bobby in The Divide. There's even a smidgen of Carry On humour as the buxom Sophia Loren walks in carrying a brace of jugs. But then the songs start. Very few of them are memorable and most sound as if the actors are making them up on the spot. The middle hour or so is dire. It was worse than being tortured by the Spanish Inquisition. Severe boredom doesn't do it justice.  

At this point I was deciding between a rating of 1 or 0. But it managed to turn it around. The ending is actually pretty engaging and dare I say touching at points. The aforementioned couple of memorable songs are repeated towards the end and I forgot the turgid hell-hole of the middle section. Almost.

Man of la Mancha is a huge test of endurance but there is some entertainment value, especially for hardcore musical fans. To sum up, it's obscure. Well, I hadn't heard of it before. It makes its 132 mins running time feel like 132 years, but it has got some filmic worth. For only the second time in history a film gains the coveted Werner Herzog obscurendure award. 

(Amazingly enough this award is in no way endorsed by the genius Werner Herzog.)

If you like this you could also try:
Lost in La Mancha, Don Quixote (1957).