In Part One of this most excellent of moviegoing adventures we dug deep into the dense celluloid strata of the past ten years in order to uncover a quintet of quirky gems from the years 2001 to 2005.

Thus far we’ve sung along to transsexuals, bravely fought in the battle of the sexes, had an audience with angels, travelled backwards through time and entered a young girl’s twisted dreamscape but, with half the journey still laid out before us, we have little time to tarry.

And so, without further ado, let us continue our journey with the remaining five films on the list …


Already a huge fan of Korean director Park Chan Wook thanks to the awesome triple whammy of “Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance”, “Lady Vengeance” and, of course, the jaw-dropping brilliance of “Oldboy” I was altogether delighted to discover “I’m A Cyborg, But That’s Okay!”, an enchantingly quirky love story that eschewed the darkness and violence of the aforementioned Vengeance trilogy in favour of a distinctly Jeunet-esque grasp of the surreal, the strange and the downright sweet.

Telling the admittedly rather bizarre tale of Cha Young-goon, a young girl who is admitted to a mental institution after believing herself to be a cyborg, the film wisely avoids too much emphasis on the darker aspects of the story choosing instead to revel in the weird and wonderful world of Young-goon that sees her regularly engaging in lengthy conversations with electrical appliances and licking batteries in order to recharge herself.

When she encounters Park Il-sun (played by Korean pop singer Rain), a fellow patient who not only has a penchant for wearing handmade rabbit masks but the steadfast belief that he can steal other people’s souls and attributes, the two of them forge an eventual bond and a blossoming romance.

Exhibiting the same visual flair, narrative quirks and mastery of the cinematic art that made Park Chan Wook’s previous films so exhilarating “I’m A Cyborg” sadly didn’t receive the attention it so rightly deserved underperforming at the box office and subsequently being pulled from most screens prior to Christmas 2006. Which is, in itself, a crying shame as despite often being a little too quirky to be accessible to a mainstream crowd the film contains more creativity, ideas, originality, heart, warmth, charm, style and visual finesse than a dozen Hollywood blockbusters and is, therefore, a film that any lover of quality foreign cinema should track down immediately.


Providing you can look past its admittedly naff, B-movie title Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo’s debut feature “Timecrimes” is easily the most impressive time travel feature to emerge in many a year.

What begins with a mysterious phone call turns into something far more confusing when our protagonist, Hector, encounters a naked girl and a mysterious masked figure that have a most unexpected effect on his timeline. Yet whilst the majority of time travel cinema doesn’t stand up to too much post-film analysis “Timecrimes” is so precisely fine-tuned, so intricately constructed and so tightly wound that subsequent viewings actually serve to improve the film and reveal hitherto unseen plot points and narrative quirks that will have science fiction fans in paradoxical paroxysms of delight.

As Hector’s story unfolds we are repeatedly sent backwards to earlier events as past scenes are re-referenced and previously unimportant elements click satisfyingly into place. It’s a film that can’t truly be summarised as to reveal too much would be to strip the film of much of its magic. Suffice to say genre fans will no doubt craft many a mental map of events, furiously attempting to track everything chronologically and put a finger on quite WHERE this tangled timeline truly begun.

As with “Primer” the budgetary limitations leave little room for flashy visuals yet again serve to highlight how well constructed the screenplay really is. Culminating in a finale that will make it hard to ever listen to Blondie’s “Picture This” in quite the same way “Timecrimes” is a true gem; a film that serves up a healthy dose of retrocausality alongside a perplexingly paradoxical puzzlebox of a time travelling teaser and one that is guaranteed to have your head spinning again and again … and quite possibly again.


Having long nurtured a lyrically passionate affair with the sublime Mother Tongue the very idea behind “Pontypool” was enough to get my vocabulary glands pumping. Despite conjuring up images of a gentle British comedy set in Wales Bruce McDonald’s film (adapted from Tony Burgess’ 1998 book “Pontypool Changes Everything”) is set solely inside a radio station in Pontypool, Ontario and follows DJ Grant Mazzy (the superb Stephen McHattie) and his morning team as they find themselves in the centre of a viral outbreak.

But where your typical apocalyptic virus is brought about by careless corporations, misguided experimentation and the occasional monkey the virus that plagues the village of Pontypool is spread through our very language itself. Opening with a fantastic monologue that may well have language lovers rewinding if only to revel in its glory a second time the film utilises its single location to stunning effect as any scenes of mass destruction, carnage and general mayhem are heard only across the airwaves and the audience are thus left to paint their own imagery.

Plaudits should also be generously handed out to McHattie whose performance as Mazzy is simply astounding and lends the film an electrifying central character round which to stage the action. And whilst said action lends itself as much to the stage as the silver screen the narrative is superbly handled, allowing plenty of breathing space for the characters, a suitably tense atmosphere and a hugely effective sense of claustrophobia.

Some viewers may find the conclusion lacks a certain plausibility and the deliberately ambiguous coda may well frustrate but for horror fans who like to keep their brains INSIDE their heads “Pontypool” is well worth tuning into.


2009 was definitely a year of two halves for director Ti West. After a one way journey into Post-Production Hell with “Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever” (the sequel to Eli Roth’s widely acclaimed 2002 debut) that saw his vision brutally re-edited and re-shot West had been refused solace in the comforting arms of Alan Smithee when the film’s producers had denied his request to remove his name from the credits and finally released the film direct to DVD after screening it as part of the 2009 Screamfest Horror Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Ironically enough West’s second film of the year, the fantastic, retro-tinged “The House of the Devil”, was also screened at said Festival and had the opposite effect; impressing audiences and critics, winning a handful of awards and generating fantastic word of mouth. Crafted with a lovingly obsessive attention to detail West’s film faithfully replicates the retro-stylings of classic Eighties horror cinema, not only employing 16mm film stock but authentic camera techniques, costume design, makeup, props and music.

Such slavish meticulousness to his craft results in a tribute film so effective that had the film been released as a “previously unreleased Eighties horror classic” I may very well have been entirely fooled. The potential drawback to such authenticity is that some audiences, especially those weaned on more glossy, modern fare, may fail to fully appreciate the film’s intentions and could very well find its slow burning narrative hard work.

This is, it should be said, a film in which a vast majority of the runtime is taken up by a girl in a house doing what amounts to very little. But the rest of us are sure to dig its Eighties vibe and, come the suitably blood spattered finale, realise that they really don’t make horror movies like this any more … only some people DO!


If American novelist John Cheever is to be believed then art is, by its very nature, “triumph over chaos”. And nowhere is this more apparent than in Banksy’s awe-inspiring documentary “Exit Through The Gift Shop”.

Despite appearing several times, albeit hooded, swathed in shadows and vocally manipulated, the prime focus here is not Banksy himself but one Thierry Guetta who acts as a surrogate Anakin Skywalker to Banksy’s Obi Wan. An overly excitable Frenchman living in LA, Guetta became fascinated with the world of street art and over the course of the documentary charts his many artistic adventures throughout the city.

But when he finally got round to meeting the notorious Banksy things took a turn for the bizarre as following a disastrous foray into filmmaking Guetta was rebranded “Mr Brainwash” and via a combination of fierce publicity, word of mouth and sheer blind luck became a roaring success in the art world. Or did he?

For what makes the film truly indispensable viewing is the nagging suspicion that Banksy is having the heartiest of postmodern laughs and has thus crafted one of the most cunning pranks since Jeremy Beadle last donned his traffic warden’s uniform! Yet even if this is truly the case the film is still a stunning achievement, serving as a provocative comment on the art world and its relative degree of phoniness, over-reliance on media and hype and general air of pretentiousness.

Real or imagined one thing is abundantly clear … Guetta is a terrible artist whose woefully inept, carefree, inexperienced, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to his craft is as childishly captivating as it is unfashionably kitsch. Banksy’s film, on the other hand, is never guilty of such heinous crimes and emerges as one of the year’s true classics. One final word of advice, though: be sure to watch the film wearing the pair of 2D glasses included with the DVD/Bluray as they’re sure to dramatically improve your viewing experience!

And with that said our  journey comes to an end, the auditorium darkens, the audience slowly file out and the cleaners arrive to begrudgingly pick the remnants of the popcorn out of the deep pile carpeting. And so it only leaves me to doff my cap once more, bid you adieu and, perhaps most importantly, wish you all the very best for 2011.

May the New Year bring with it an assortment of cinematic surprises to enliven the most depressing of box office smashes and who knows, we may all be back here once again in 2020 to do the whole thing all over again. But until then …


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