This Week on Demand: 25/05/2014



Editor’s Note: Reviews this week are by Ronan Doyle, Jose Gallegos, Jaime Burchardt, and Daniel Tucker

At the rate we’re going, we’ll struggle to cover Netflix’s new 2014 releases, let alone each new movie they add to the catalogue. Already this year we’ve had dozens of shiny new titles join the fray; while quality, make no mistake, has made no match for quantity, these more independently-inclined efforts make for a welcome accompaniment to any multiplex trips you might be making. Amidst it all, of course, film history is suffering, but with another first-of-the-month deluge right around the corner, we won’t be long waiting for that wrong to be righted…


Abandoned Mine

Abandoned Mine tells the story of five friends who feel that Halloween is best spent in a haunted mine. The friends are soon fighting for their lives as they discover that the ghostly tales about the mine might actually be true. Writer/director Jeff Chamberlain creates a lazy story that tries to trick you for two-thirds of the film, then he reveals the truth for the final third (spoiler alert: one of the teens is playing a prank, but another teen believes in the story and is possessed by a ghost). Moreover, the film is filled with poorly made sets, terrible sound effects, and a xenophobic depiction of an Indian (he talks endlessly about working in a call center). I would be more inclined to like the cheesiness of the movie, but it is insufferable to sit through. AVOID IT. ~JG


An American Ghost Story

Paul (Stephen Twardokus) is an unemployed writer who decides to make his big break by writing a story about his experiences while living in a haunted house. His obsession with this literary goal leads to the alienation of his girlfriend Stella (Liesel Kopp) and the antagonization of a ghost that can’t seem to walk through doors. Neither the story nor the direction (if you can call it that) is original, and the film occupies that space between student film clichés and big budget spooks (meaning the ghost makes extremely loud noises while being framed with a candle in the foreground). The only thing that would have saved this film is…never mind, this film is as hopeless as Paul’s literary career. AVOID IT. ~JG



Are All Men Pedophiles?

“And love does not see our age,” concludes Are All Men Pedophiles? “because 18 is just a number”. That this is an unsurprising endpoint for Jan-Willem Breure’s deeply inadvisable documentary says a great deal of the preceding material’s misguided nature; here is a film to give the pedophile-centric episode of Chris Morris’ audacious current affairs satire Brasseye a run for its money. Spouting sourceless statistics in a monotonous drawl that deems it necessary to repeat information regularly, Breure’s narration makes the case for… well, for what is anyone’s guess: so hopelessly inane is his filmmaking that it’s never entirely clear what the argument is, which is both a convenient defence for the more inauspicious implications and a disavowal of any interesting ground broken. Documentary filmmakers would do well to pay attention to this effort: few so acutely evidence what you absolutely ought not to do. AVOID IT. ~RD


Berlin Job










Big Bad Wolves (Read our full review)

Proudly bearing on its poster the endorsement of Quentin Tarantino, who proclaimed it his favourite film of 2013 as it made rounds on the festival circuit, Big Bad Wolves is an unsurprising choice for the genre aficionado. Indeed there’s every possibility its directors, Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, turned to Reservoir Dogs for inspiration: primarily set in the basement of a country home where the father of a murdered girl tortures her assumed killer, the movie’s limited space and oft-disarming violence recalls the audacious invention of Tarantino’s debut. What it doesn’t have is the script: Keshales and Papushado have a good yarn on their hands here, but it’s one ill-served by a screenplay content to force it into a mould far more generic than it deserves. The disinclination to engage with the many ethical issues at hand ensures Big Bad Wolves a fate as more fleeting fun than anything lasting. WORTH WATCHING. ~RD


Birth of the Living Dead (Read our full review)

Weighted against the all-encompassing scope of last week’s addition Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, a documentary like Birth of the Living Dead can’t but look a little paltry by comparison. Still, if Rob Kuhns’ breezy overview of the inception and influence of George Romero’s 1968 classic isn’t exactly essential viewing, it’s at least interesting enough in its breadth of topics to reward the original film’s fans. Few of them won’t already know well the socio-political subtext that Kuhns highlights as though he were the first to do so; to have Romero and a wealth of valuable contributors discuss it in depth, nonetheless, is invigorating. Lasting little more than an hour, it’s a definitive documentary by no means; enjoyable an affair as it is, it’s hard not to pine for a film that delves deeper into the iconic series as a whole. WORTH WATCHING. ~RD

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About Author

Ronan Doyle is an Irish freelance film critic, whose work has appeared on Indiewire, FilmLinc, Film Ireland, FRED Film Radio, and otherwhere. He recently contributed a chapter on Arab cinema to the book Celluloid Ceiling, and is currently entangled in an all-encompassing volume on the work of Woody Allen. When not watching movies, reading about movies, writing about movies, or thinking about movies, he can be found talking about movies on Twitter. He is fuelled by tea and has heard of sleep, but finds the idea frightfully silly.