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Cinema, short fiction, politics. Brain like a moose. Blog:

Sometimes in cinema — if not often, once in a blue moon — masterpieces cleverly disguise themselves as lighthearted entertainment. They’re easy to consume, make you laugh, scare you, leave you completely entertained, but are also masterfully crafted stories that reach deep into human nature and explore its depths.

A lot of great art is like this. Shakespeare’s plays were considered bawdy. Don Quixote was the pulp fiction novel (or a clever satire of one) of its time. The movies of many great filmmakers, like Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock, have this quality in spades.

An American Werewolf in London

Thief is the kind of film that falls short of greatness, but has unique qualities that make it a standout in its genre. The first notable entry in Michael Mann’s filmography, it has three big things going for it: amazing photography, great direction, and a protagonist rendered brilliantly and memorably on screen by James Caan.

It might be Caan’s most committed performance, and it feels like one he put parts of himself into. In interviews Caan speaks almost fondly of Frank, the titular thief in question, sympathising with his situation and his attitude to survival. …

The first A Quiet Place film, in 2018, felt like a fresh premise, generating natural suspense with its “be quiet or be eaten by weird monsters that come charging out of the woods” scenario.

The sequel shows that sometimes such premises, as good as they are first time out, are best left as single-serving stories. In A Quiet Place Part II what felt original before feels like an inconvenient and annoying conceit, expanding a story beyond what feels like its natural fit.

Part of the attraction and novelty of the first film was the more visual form of storytelling it…

In my opinion, it’s a very amateurish piece. The subject was atrociously bad, and it was badly developed, but still, it allowed me to get some exposure.

— Stanley Kubrick on Killer’s Kiss

Like the other films he made before this one (three shorts and one feature), Kubrick considered Killer’s Kiss (1955) well below the standards he held himself to. He was not proud of it artistically. And sure, it lacks the incredible depth and artistic coherency we now associate with Kubrick films. …

Ben Wheatley returns to A Field In England (2013) territory with a horror tale that takes place in the British woods. The story is propelled by dark, preternatural forces, with a hallucinogenic air. It could almost be called A Woods In England, though its story takes place in the modern world.

By “modern world” I mean right now in the present, in the middle of a fictional pandemic that appears to be a slightly dramatically exaggerated version of the real one from what we hear of it, though they don’t call it by name. People wear masks, quarantine, and practice…

Psycho II is a killer sequel, expanding a universe that already felt complete and self-contained. Hitchcock films aren’t supposed to have sequels, not least by other directors… but that’s what they did, and it’s great. A character study of Norman Bates, it surprises in how well it picks up and runs with a story told in theatres more than twenty years before.

Part of what makes it such a good sequel is a surprising degree of continuity with the original. Anthony Perkins returns, and the film is directed by Richard Franklin — an under-appreciated Australian director who made the excellent…

Without trying to sound dramatic, movies like Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead might pose something of an existential threat to cinema as we know it.

There is plenty of room in cinema for mediocrity. Brainless fun, too — almost endless room, actually. Films that are poorly acted and poorly written are inevitable. Bloated, drawn-out narratives that run an hour past their rightful runtime? It happens!

Cinema can take any of these things and survive just fine. Thrive, in fact. We need bad movies, to give something for the good ones to contrast against. There should be an element of…

Photo by Swag Photography on Unsplash

A man, maybe sixty or sixty-five years old, approached me on the street as I was hurrying back home. I had stopped to tie my shoes.

‘I do not want money, I do not want money.’ He began, as if trying to reassure me. He had a blanket draped over his shoulders.

He apparently wanted me to take him somewhere and buy him food. …

Photo by Petr Stradal on Unsplash

A basic technique of riding a motorbike is “looking ahead,” past whatever is immediately in front of you. To keep your mind focused ahead of your present surroundings a few ticks.

If you look to the road immediately in front of you while steering you will likely mess up the steer, lose your balance, and crash. It’s better to look as far down the road as you can, towards a more distant target.

In this way your body leans and steers without thinking too much about things. …

An early 90s creature feature with a great cast and a fantastically wild plot. Massive predatory worms of an unknown biological nature, or monsters that move like worms underneath the surface of the ground, have started to attack the desert town of Perfection. Their origin is unknown, and there’s not much time to argue the point. The monsters are blind, but fast-moving and extremely sensitive to sound vibrations. The only sure course of action is to climb on top of rocks, or up an electricity pylon, and wait them out somewhere safely above the surface.

Unfortunately, these are patient monsters…

James Lanternman

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