The Card Counter (2021)

Focus Features

Over the course of his long and illustrious career, though peppered with at least a handful of controversial works, Paul Schrader has continually revisited – be it as a director or only in screenwriting capacities – the theme of a tormented man on a mission. From Blue Collar to Hardcore and even recently to First Reformed, and even his collaborations with Martin Scorsese (Taxi DriverThe Last Temptation of Christ and Raging Bull) many of his movies fit together thematically. 

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The Ingenious Unsettling Ambiguity of John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN

Some movies scare you in the moment. Some startle you. Some disturb with graphic imagery. Truth be told, a good majority of movies that actively set out to do such things and succeed, suffer from diminishing returns in this regard because once we adjust to what they are trying to achieve, attune ourselves accordingly and allow our brains to turn down their sensitivity, they lose their magic touch. We can anticipate when the jump scares are coming and over time graphic violence or gory imagery makes less and less of an impact.  

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The Wes Craven Retrospective: Invitation to Hell (1984)

1984 was quite a busy year for Wes Craven who managed to release three films at that time: A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes 2 and Invitation to Hell, the latter of which was a made-for-TV project he did not have a hand in writing. Similarly to how I felt about his 1978 outing Summer of Fear, a movie-of-the-week thriller with Linda Blair, I was immediately asking the very fundamental question of why Wes Craven – busy as he was – would ever decide to re-enter the world of television.

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Last Night in Soho (2021)

Film4

Over the course of his entire career, Edgar Wright has been interested in exploring ideas surrounding nostalgia, clinging onto the past and dealing with changing life circumstances, all hidden within hyper-stylized genre experiments functioning as nostalgic love letters to movies Wright grew up watching. Admittedly, this idea of wrapping nostalgia around nostalgia is what gave Shaun of the DeadHot Fuzz and – quite frankly – nearly all of his movies their particular charm and convinced the audiences not only to let themselves be taken onto these wild adventures, but also perhaps tickled their own nostalgic glands. After all, we all know someone who failed to grow up, maybe we can’t part ways with our favourite pub, or maybe we all know what it’s like to come back to our hometown after many years to see how the place changed and how we no longer fit in there despite our memories telling us we should be able to. 

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The French Dispatch (2021)

Searchlight Pictures

Ever since Moonrise Kingdom Wes Anderson’s films have been progressively and iteratively becoming fully ensconced in layers of his characteristic idiosyncratic style. Perhaps a case could be made that he’s been on this trajectory ever since he picked up a camera and that it was too difficult to fish it out from his early movies, such as Bottle Rocket or Rushmore, because this trajectory was never linear. It was exponential. As time went on and Anderson grew more confident behind the camera, his movies have slowly but surely transcended into a universe of their own, a universe of uber-quirky comedy underpinned by a visual aesthetic attempting to blur the line between live-action filmmaking and stop-motion animation, of which Anderson is also particularly fond (see Fantastic Mr Fox and Isle of Dogs).  

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The Uncut Gems Podcast – Episode 40 (Rob Zombie’s Halloween and Halloween II)

Quelle surprise, eh? Halloween is upon us and – guess what – we talked about Halloween movies on the podcast. Well, suffice it to say that I don’t think it will have been the last time this happened because this franchise has at least one or two more entries that are interesting (or controversial) enough to fit within the parameters of the show, but for this particular occasion we rolled out the big guns.

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