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cult | John McDonald


Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

January 21, 2012
Film still, 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy', 2011

One can tell from John Le Carré’s espionage novels that he is fastidious about the smallest things. Our understanding of a character is built up piece by piece, until he or she begins to feel like an old acquaintance. The fact that these figures are usually snuffed out by the end of the book reveals … More


December 17, 2011
Film Still, Melancholia

Many would agree that Lars Von Trier is the perfect director to make a film about the end of the world. Anybody who has sat through Dogville (2003) might feel they have already experienced a cinematic catastrophe courtesy of the sadistic Dane. Neither is Von Trier a stranger to disaster in his private life, having … More

A Ghost of a Chance

November 26, 2011
Film Still, A Ghost of a Chance

With some films box office success owes as much to timing as to the intrinsic qualities of actors, directors or cinematographers. I don’t mean genre pictures made for the Christmas market, but those rare films that capture the spirit of the times. Frank Capra’s movies did this in the 1930s and 40s, with their parables … More


November 5, 2011

“I was a nightmare, but I’m not gonna go there again..” sings Rowland S. Howard in the plaintive song that gives this documentary its title. We never quite see the nightmarish side, but Howard was a long-term heroine user and few addicts are known for their charm and savoir faire. He was an addict ergo … More

Norwegian Wood

October 29, 2011
Film still, Norwegian Wood

Norwegian Wood will do nothing to dispell the popular preconception that Japanese films are obsessed with sex and death. It is a long, slow, intense story about a young student, Watanabe (Ken’ichi Matsuyama), and his relationship with a disturbed girl, Naoko (Rinko Kikuchi – the schoolgirl from Babel). It is a tale saturated in melancholy, … More

Red State

October 15, 2011
Film still, Red State, 2011

After watching Red State, the first impulse is to sit back and ask: “What was that all about?” While this is a film that appears to have a message, it’s not an easy one to decipher. Perhaps the only thing that comes through clearly is that the United States is a terrible place beset with … More