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Claudia Jennings: The Cult Icon Who Fell to Earth

Claudia Jennings: The Cult Icon Who Fell to Earth

For Claudia, The Man Who Fell to Earth was a dream come true. She was working with a veteran, respected director on a major film. This is what she had been waiting for… While her role was unbilled and her screen time was very limited, her impact on the movie was much greater than her brief appearance would indicate.

“The tragedy of her death was quite shattering, but in a strange way perfection for the scene [in 1976’s The Man Who Fell to Earth] upon reflection.”

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I Saw the Devil (2010, South Korea)

I Saw the Devil (2010)

The South Korean film industry has enjoyed a twenty year renaissance especially in the thriller/horror/gore genres. The release of Oldboy (2003) put South Korean cinema back on the map, after seeing its once glorious traditions wane for many years. I Saw the Devil is the penultimate representative of this new style of Korean cinema, with acting, cinematography, direction and production values equal to any of the world’s leading movie centers.

“Don’t act so weak… this is just the beginning. Remember… your nightmare’s only getting worse!”

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Swiss Army Man (2016, USA / Sweden)

Swiss Army Man (2016)

In Swiss Army Man, first-time directors Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan (the Daniels) genuinely present you with things you’re unlikely to have seen before – and that, in the current cinematic climate, is a feat in itself.

One can certainly see why Swiss Army Man was a movie that was inevitably going to polarise opinions. In a time when moviegoers are subjected to a constant barrage of remakes, reboots or sequels, I for one am not going to turn my nose up at any movie which places almost all of its bets on being singular and unique.

“We all need some body to lean on.”

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Donnie Darko (2001, 2016, USA) 15th Anniversary (4K Restoration)

Donnie Darko (2001) 15th Anniversary

I emerge from the darkness of a doorway, blinking into the daylight of a Soho street. I look up at the sliver of wintry sky between the tops of the buildings, hoping that a random wormhole into a time portal might somehow open up.

Admittedly, this is almost a daily occurrence with me, but [at the time of writing] it is particularly significant as it is October 2nd [2016], and I have just come out of a special 15th anniversary screening of Donnie Darko, Richard Kelly’s much beloved and oft debated cult movie.

“What would you do if you knew the future?”

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The Wailing (2016, South Korea)

The Wailing (2016)

The Wailing offers images that appear in many a horror films: disembowelled livestock; creepy candlelit shrines plastered with odd photographs; curtains of blindingly heavy rain; a foul-mouthed, possessed child; blackened, rabid zombies lunging at stunned victims and blood-splattered murder scenes.

It’s unlikely however, that any horror aficionado has seen all these tropes thrown with such bravado into the same melting pot, producing such a rich and unsettling brew.

“You awoke something recently that you weren’t supposed to. You disturbed it.”

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A Cure for Wellness (2016, USA / Germany)

A Cure for Wellness (2016)

What a delightful coincidence that the young actress in Gore Verbinski’s latest feature A Cure for Wellness should be named Mia Goth. Never has an appellation been more appropriate.

A Cure for Wellness proves to be an audacious, intoxicating, feverish piece of cinema – administering copious doses of Freudian symbolism and classic Gothicism. If you’re not a fan of things Gothic, or if you suffer from ichthyophobia, this may not be the film for you…

“Do you know what the cure for the human condition is? Disease. Because that’s the only way one could hope for a cure.”

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The Eyes of My Mother (2016, USA)

The Eyes of My Mother (2016)

In The Eyes of My Mother director and writer Nicolas Pesce offers a disturbing examination of serious emotional dysfunction and disorientation.

We meet a little girl named Francisca (Olivia Bond) who lives on an isolated farm with her mother and father. She is unfazed by death from this early age because her mother, formerly a surgeon in Portugal, is educating her in a dispassionate and thorough understanding of human anatomy.

“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. And whether or not it is clear to you, the universe is unfolding as it should.”

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Train to Busan (2016, South Korea)

Train to Busan (2016)

I usually have a bit of a problem with zombie movies – I find them dull. Yes, I know zombie fans will be throwing their Walking Dead box sets at my head (and those are some hefty tomes) but I find that, although they may be a popular horror monster, zombies are forced to rely heavily on the cheap, gross-out factor in order to distract from the fact that they have scanty horror mileage, no rich mythos to draw on and offer little scope for variation, tension or development. I am left to suppose that zombie fans are in it for the fashion statement. I am however, an Asian horror enthusiast.

“Life-or-death survival begins.”

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The White King (2016, UK / Hungary)

The White King (2016)

In The White King, directors Alex Helfrecht and Jorg Tittel cleverly introduce the viewer to the world in which their tale is set by means of a beautiful animated exposition during the beginning credits. We then enter the film with some background knowledge of what we are dealing with – a harsh, rural, dystopian society, created by a mythical ‘hero’…

The White King is adapted from a series of short stories by the Romanian novelist György Dragomán.

“We make sacrifices today, for a greater tomorrow.”

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Shin Godzilla (2016, Japan)

Shin Godzilla (2016) Theatrical Poster

Once I heard the news that the new Japanese Godzilla film was going to be playing in my city, I was overjoyed. Ever since I was a child, I have always loved Godzilla. I went into Shin Godzilla very excited to see how my favorite giant monster was going to be reimagined.

Shin Godzilla (also Godzilla Resurgence) is the latest installment and 31st film in the Godzilla franchise. Produced by Toho, this film is a reboot in which Godzilla’s origin story is retold in modern Japan. The film was written and directed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi.

“A god incarnate. A city doomed.”

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The Sky Has Fallen (2009, 2015, USA)

The Sky Has Fallen (2009, 2015)

Doug Roos’ independently produced, feature-length, post-apocalyptic horror film was promoted primarily on it’s practical special effects, make-up and lack of computer-generated imagery (CGI). In this respect The Sky Has Fallen does not disappoint. Shot in Missouri and clearly influenced by Ryuhei Kitamura’s Yakuza/Zombie splatter-fest Versus (2000), The Sky Has Fallen combines elements from various horror subgenres and, whereas most would fail, Roos’ somehow manages to make everything work cohesively with only a few missteps.

“All practical FX. No CGI.”

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