Monday, 19 October 2015

New Release - We Are Still Here

Escaping to an old house on the outskirts of a sleepy village seems to be the best move for grieving couple Paul (Andrew Sensenig) and Anne (Barbara Crampton) Sacchetti after the untimely death of their teenage son in a car crash. Anne is certain that his presence is felt in their new home and an unannounced visit from their eerie neighbours, who regale the Sacchetti's with the history of its previous occupants, only serves to exacerbate these thoughts that something is not quite right with their house. Against Paul's better judgement, Anne invites the parents of her dead son's best friend to stay in the hope that his mother, May Lewis, who is a practicing spiritualist, can shed some light on the strange occurrences that are troubling the household.

Much like Ti West's excellent slow burn horrors The Innkeepers and The House of the Devil, We are Still Here tips its hat to seventies genre films that rely on mood and atmosphere to build up an almost overwhelming sense of dread. The house is as much a character as its inhabitants (both living and the dead), with the measured camerawork slowly exploring the dark recesses of the basement and the weathered exterior of the creaking house, which enhances the feeling of isolation and showcases the unsettling nuances of the fittingly creepy setting.

Comic relief arrives in the form of Jacob Lewis (portrayed here by the ever watchable Larry Fessenden), a jovial hippy who indulges in illegal substances and revels in the opportunity to hold a seance despite his wife May's concerns. Paul Sacchetti's seemingly humourless and deadpan persona is initially at odds with Jacob's lackadaisical approach to communicating with the dead but the family soon have far bigger worries to contend with as all hell breaks loose in their household.

Those expecting a crescendo of traditional ghostly scares may be slightly disappointed by the jarring change in direction We Are Still Here takes towards the latter part of the film; although the originality of the storyline is one of its strongest points, it is sure to divide audiences, as the denouement is at odds with the subtle scares that come before it.

This refreshing take on a somewhat oversaturated genre is a welcome hybrid of horror that should be approached with an open mind, and a spare change of underwear. We Are Still Here demonstrates director Ted Geoghegan's burning passion for the genre and might just be one of the best new horrors of 2015.


If you enjoy this you will like these:

The Innkeepers
The Changeling
The House of the Devil

Monday, 9 March 2015

Cinema Review - The Hundred-Foot Journey

Referring to the distance between a well-established Michelin starred restaurant on the outskirts of a French Village and a new Indian restaurant that opens its doors opposite, The Hundred-Foot Journey is actually a delightful depiction of cultures clashing as the proud proprietors of said establishments - Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren) and Mr Kadam (Om Puri) - vie for supremacy over the local villagers dining habits. Our cinematic journey begins at a much greater distance, introducing the Kadam family in their native India before political unrest forces the family to venture abroad in order to continue sharing their passion for spicy food in a more accommodating environment.

It is easy to see why Mr Kadam settles for the picaresque village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in Southern France, although a timely car accident certainly assists his decision when the family are left stranded and begin to sample the local delights. Lasse Hallstrom has an undeniable talent for depicting rural life on film, and the sumptuous settings of the French vistas act as both a beautiful background for his storytelling and a constant reminder of just how far from home the Kadam family have travelled.

The stunning camerawork isn't just used to emphasise the breathtaking scenery; a masterful tracking shot through the newly named Maison Mumbai as the family prepare for opening night showcases not only Hallstrom's playful nature but also that of his characters. Accompanied by an upbeat Indian song, this scene encompasses the vibrancy and vigour of a Bollywood feature, until the arrival of the seemingly abhorrent Madame Mallory puts heed to the proceedings.

It is not long before the eldest son of the Kadam family, Hassan (played by the charismatic Manish Dayal), begins to fall for Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), a rival chef from across the road, and both must face a number of tough decisions regarding their future careers and desires. Despite this potential romance it is the constant bickering between Madame Mallory and Mr Kadam that really sets the story alight, with Mallory's snappy retorts and Kadam's stubborn nature fanning the flames of warfare that eventually lead to various forms of sabotage.

Certain events in the final act seem forced and slightly rushed, which is at odds with the film's lengthy runtime and hints that Hallstrom takes too long to set the story. These are minor flaws and a captivated audience is likely to overlook such shortcomings but nevertheless, this prevents The Hundred-Foot Journey from ranking amongst Hallstrom's finest films, such as the wry comedy of What's Eating Gilbert Grape? or the emotionally devastating Hachi: A Dog's Tale. A director of Hallstrom's calibre still knows how to deliver the goods though, and this is an undeniable step up from his more recent outings Safe Haven and The Hypnotist.

A colourful, culinary blend of Bollywood spice and French high cuisine, The Hundred-Foot Journey is an affectionate and sincere depiction of two cultures setting aside their differences to combine their shared love of food. The charismatic cast and infectious Indian music are bound to charm audiences - even if there are instances where the film veers too far into whimsical territory - and there is no doubt that the food on show will leave you salivating regardless of the size of you popcorn bucket.


Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The Walking Dead Special: Post Apocalyptic and Virus Outbreak Films

Previously published for Front Room Cinema in 2012...

With The Walking Dead going from strength to strength in its fifth season, here are some film suggestions for fans of the show who are too impatient to wait for their weekly fix of the post-apocalyptic nightmare


Our heroes in The Walking Dead struggle to survive in the aftermath of a plague that has unleashed hordes of zombies upon them but the protagonists in Stakeland face a different kind of danger, a post apocalyptic world inhabited by a deadly breed of vampires. Jim Mickle has crafted a gritty and powerful road movie, despite being restricted by a low budget, that follows a group of survivors seeking respite from dangerous bloodsucking creatures. The foreboding soundtrack and sparse set locations enhance the feeling of dread, and the incredible acting emphasises the desparation of those lucky enough to still be alive. Stake Land was one of the standout horror movies of 2010 and fans of The Walking Dead would be foolish to pass this film by.

The Last Man on Earth

Many of you will be familiar with the story of I am Legend, the exceptional novel by Richard Matheson which has spawned three film incarnations but have you seen all three? The first film and closest to the source novel, 1964's The Last Man on Earth is arguably the best, with Vincent Price perfectly suited to the role of a desperate survivor clinging on to every last strand of hope against increasingly dangerous odds. Both The Omega Man and I am Legend make for fun viewing but move too far away from the source material to deliver the powerful impact Matheson was aiming for with his book.


This intelligent horror takes place in a single location; a compact radio station whose inhabitants soon become the target of those infected by a deadly virus. Claustrophobic and creepy, Pontypool is an impressive low budget picture that adds a new twist to the zombie genre whilst still retaining the element of terror as the protagonists escape routes become overrun by the plague-ridden population of Ontario.

The Road

Although this adapation of Cormac McCarthy's superb novel does not feature the living dead, the ravaged survivors of a global catastrophe face dangers equally as imposing. A frail man and his young boy head towards a warmer South in the hope of escaping the cruel and merciless gangs who have turned to cannabalism due to the lack of food, whilst the world around them crumbles. Haunting scenes in a dank basement will satisfy The Walking Dead fans as will the desolate landscapes that provide a fitting backdrop to this arresting post apocalyptic drama.

Mulberry Street

Another entry from Jim Mickle - the promising young director behind Stake Land - Mulberry Street depicts a similar struggle for survival, as an infection breaks out in Manhattan with blood-thirsty creatures that can only be described as part rat, part human, terrorising the streets and sewers. As ridiculous as the premise sounds, this is a taut low-budget horror that deserves to be seen by a wider audience.

28 Days Later

Many refer to 28 Days Later as the film that kick-started the surge in popularity of the post apocalyptic genre; not only did Danny Boyle unleash running zombies upon the world (much to the annoyance of Romero purists) but his haunting sequences of a desolate London can easily rival the chilling shots of a ravaged Atlanta in The Walking Dead. This is masterful film-making and 28 Days Later's unfliching portrayal of the hardships suffered by the survivors of a nationwide catastrophe manages to exceed The Walking Dead in terms of sheer horror and brutality despite the stories sharing an eerily similar beginning.


Too much downbeat horror and not enough entertainment? Then kick back with Zombieland which is arguably the most entertaining zombie comedy out there although Shaun of the Dead fans may disagree. Woody Harrelson is pitch perfect as the larger than life tough guy, Tallahassee, who partners up with shy student Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) to help find his family in Ohio. A refreshing take on a relatively crowded genre, Zombieland has a charm all of its own, and decapitating zombies has never been presented in such a fun way.

Day of the Dead

Romero's final part of the dead trilogy features a group of soldiers and scientists who have taken shelter in an underground bunker, and are trying to stave off the constant onslaught of zombies. Far gorier than his previous entries and less serious in its approach, Day of the Dead still packs a powerful punch. Fans of The Walking Dead should seek out the entire trilogy, but I imagine this is the one that may be enjoyed the most.

Right at your Door

Chris Gorak's name may be tarnished after the release of the unfairly maligned The Darkest Hour but his debut feature, Right at your Door, was a chilling low budget picture that focuses on the after effects of a dirty bomb in Los Angeles. It deals with the immediate after effects of the bomb and whilst the small scale of the disaster could possibly warrant this film's exclusion from a list of post-apocalyptic films, the desparation of an isolated survivor has rarely been so compelling

Further Recommended Post Apocalpytic/Virus Outbreak viewing:

Children of Men
Juan of the Dead
28 Weeks Later
Return of the Living Dead
The Road Warrior
The Andromeda Strain
Le Dernier Combat

Monday, 9 February 2015

DVD Review - Transit

Previously published for Front Room Cinema in 2012...

As the father of two troublesome teenage boys and husband to a wife near the end of her tether, Caviezel plays Nate, a man who is determined to spend some quality time with his family in order to put his past behind him. Only recently released from prison, Nate inadvertently becomes involved in the fallout from a heist when a gang of thieves hide their loot amongst his luggage which jeopardises the family's plans for a peaceful camping holiday. Much like in A History of Violence, the criminals don't begin to realise they have messed with the wrong guy until they are in far too deep and events soon get completely out of hand.

Primarily producers and distributors of horror films, After Dark Films churn out a wide selection of genre pictures every year, and with a choice of five or six movies there are always one or two gems lurking amongst the more tawdry pictures. Following on from Antonio Negret's flawed but entertaining horror Seconds Apart last year, also released by After Dark, Transit is a step in the right direction and it appears that the director is more comfortable shooting a film that is grounded in reality. Whilst I am yet to watch their other selections for this years batch of releases, I think it is a fairly safe bet that Transit will be one of After Darks better pictures and is a great ninety minute thrill ride that will leave you on the edge of your seat.

I have never understood why Caviezel doesn't get more starring roles, he constantly takes on challenging parts, always standing out as a solid actor, and it is his performance in Transit that provides the film with a very intriguing character. He faces a number of difficult choices as the film unfolds but stays alert, desperate to prevent this family holiday becoming unforgettable for all of the wrong reasons.

The entire family soon become involved in a heart-stopping game of cat and mouse with the criminals which stretches their loyalties to breaking point. Most of the action takes place in an around an isolated swamp which is intersected by the road the Sidwell family are travelling along, and this gives rise to some dangerous situations for both parties. When the two collide there are some violent scenes which showcase why After Dark have decided to branch out into thrillers, as there are instances which could be deemed horrific by those unaccustomed to gory scenes.

Unfortunately, there are a number of flaws with the movie; the criminals make a number of questionable decisions, and the plot does verge on the far-fetched towards the end but Negret delivers a palpable sense of tension that keeps you routing for the Sidwell family throughout. This is one B-movie that should not pass you by, it's ninety minutes of pure entertainment that manages to transcend its low budget thanks to the break-neck pace of the script and solid performances throughout.


Transit is available to buy in the UK through G2 Pictures

Friday, 6 February 2015

Looking Back Friday - City Lights

Previously published for Front Room Cinema in 2012...

In an era when sound was fast becoming the favoured method of Hollywood directors, Chaplin took a calculated risk with City Lights, deciding to persevere with another silent comedy despite the overwhelming public demand for 'talkies'. It had been three years since the success of The Circus and I am sure that no-one expected Chaplin's next film to better every film he had directed previously to become what is arguably his finest work. It pains me to think that this film was not even considered for an Oscar nomination when looking at the films that won awards in 1931, but such is the way with awards ceremonies that truly great films can sometimes be overlooked. Even though it had no recognition from the Academy, the fact that it was one of Chaplin's first films to be released on Blu-ray speaks volumes and indicates that it is universally adored by fans of Chaplin's most successful persona, the tramp.

When City Lights begins, the all encompassing tagline 'A comedy romance in pantomime' clearly states Chaplin's intentions and sums up the films mood impeccably well. These days, the genre of romantic comedy can conjure up images of dreadful movies overwrought with cliches and completely lacking in plot but back back in the golden era of cinema, the combination of romance and comedy often led to critical and commercial success for all parties involved. These were more innocent times when on screen romances were hinted at but rarely shown in much detail, and a single gesture or reaction was capable of portraying so much more than a hackneyed line of dialogue or an all too revealing promiscuous scene.

The simplistic but wonderfully realised story begins when a tramp is mistaken for a wealthy man by a beautiful blind flower girl. He struggles to help her raise money for an operation that could restore her eyesight and ends up falling for her in the process, all the time continuing to establish her preconception that he is a millionaire. She is completely oblivious that her potential benefactor is a tramp and also falls in love with him, longing for the day that she will be able to set her eyes upon him in one of the most heartfelt and touching romances ever to grace the silver screen.

Visual comedy is timeless and it is thanks to Chaplin's inherent comic genius that City Lights remains as hilarious today as it must have been on its initial release over eighty years ago, if not even more so. There are so many hilarious scenes that it is a genuine struggle to pick a favourite, although I don't think it gets much better than when the Tramp mistakes a person's bald head for a plate of food. Yes it sounds ridiculous, as is often the case with Chaplin's films, but his incredible ability as a slapstick actor enables him to find humour in the most unexpected places. Take for instance his scene in the boxing ring; the first time I watched the Tramp's attempt at boxing I was in stitches, and it never fails to bring a smile to my face. The scene features such wonderful choreography and inspired humour but more importantly it remains relative to the story, and the whole film has a seamless feeling to it which indicates that the comedy was created around the story rather than creating humorous scenes and joining them together to make a script. This my friends, is the work of a comedy genius.

So much has been written about the film's finale that it feels right to use the cliche 'nothing can be
said which hasn't been said before'. For the benefit of those who have not seen City Lights I will avoid discussing it in any depth, but my God what an iconic and memorable ending. When a film is full of humour we grow to love the characters so much more that when a dramatic event unfolds we become completely absorbed in their successes or failures, and I challenge anyone not to be moved by the ending of City Lights.

Those new to the world of black and white films and raring to explore the classics will be blown away by how incredibly gifted Chaplin was in his heyday and those who would rather stick to films with colour and sound should step outside their comfort zone and take a risk on what is one of my all time favourite films. The Artist has shown that people are willing to take a chance on silent films and I just hope that this leads to a resurgence in the popularity of some of the all time classics that can easily compete with the best of today's cinema.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Nick Cave on Film

Previously published for Front Room Cinema in 2012...

Most famous for his dark, sorrowful music style, Nick Cave is an accomplished musician who has
had countless hits with various incarnations of his band, most notably a haunting duet with Kylie Minogue 'Where the Wild Roses Grow' that bolstered what was already an impressive career. His music has been used in films as diverse as Dumb and Dumber, Scream, Hellboy, and even Harry Potter, but it is his skill as a scriptwriter and composer that has created an indelible impression on the film industry. His partnership with John Hillcoat is a match made in heaven; their fascination with brutal violence and morbid subject matter doesn't mean they leave humour at home, with a vicious streak of black comedy coarsing through Nick Cave's scripts that is effortlessly adapted to the screen by Hillcoat. Whilst his involvement in films has not been as prominent as his musical career, his track record so far indicates just how talented a man Nick Cave is:

Ghosts... of The Civil Dead - Writer, Actor and Music Department

Nick Cave's first stint as a writer led to the inception of this claustrophobic prison drama which also marked John Hillcoat's directorial debut. This forgotten gem has been overlooked and is difficult to get hold of but those who seek it out will come face to face with a stark and brutal vision of a maximum security jail where Nick Cave actually portrays one of the prisoners as well as providing the intense and chilling score. Most of the violence is off screen and there is little semblance of a plot but that doesn't stop Ghosts... of the Civil Dead from being a gripping viewing experience. It would be seventeen years later before Cave returned to lend his skills as a writer once more but boy was I glad when he did.

The Proposition - Writer, Music Department, and Composer

Once more Nick Cave wrote a captivating screenplay and teamed up with his ally John Hillcoat to shoot a cautionary revenge tale in the Australian outback. With an impressive cast featuring John Hurt, Guy Pearce and Ray Winstone to name a few, Hillcoat refused to shy away from the bloodshed and the end result garnered awards for a number of the cast as well as Cave for his writing and enigmatic score. When a lawmen forces a notorious outlaw to hunt down his older brother if he wants to prevent his younger brother from being executed, tough decisions are faced by all as the film spirals towards its inevitable bloody conclusion.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - Actor and Composer

This stunningly beautiful western knowingly references Malick throughout, with long sweeping shots of nature that are capable of mesmerising all but the most impatient of viewers, and an accompanying grandiose storyline that recounts an epic tale of betrayal. Nick Cave lends his bluesy ballads to the fray with an acting role as a saloon singer that he seemed born to play, along with his usual contributions to a fitting soundtrack that perfectly compliments the enchanting cinematography.

The Road - Music Department and Composer

Set in a world as sparse and depressing as some of Nick Cave's downbeat songs, The Road is a harrowing adaptation of a Cormac McCarthy novel that is an exhausting but fascinating watch. Cave's accompanying score is perfectly suited to a post apocalyptic future where few managed to survive and enhanced Hillcoat's vision of a decaying earth by adding a palpable sense of dread that has the power to leave the audience numb. The grim determination of a lone father and son has never been so fraught with danger, and the world around them slowly crumbles away whilst they struggle to remain alive. Once again, Cave's contribution to a Hillcoat film elevates it to a monumental piece of cinema that shakes the viewer to the core.

Lawless - Writer and Composer

Out in cinemas this week, Lawless is a thrilling depression-era western that charts the changing fortunes of three brothers and their illegal bootlegging business as a new law enforcement officer attempts to bring them down. Much like in The Proposition, the trio of brothers includes a young inexperienced teen taking his first steps to becoming a man (Shia LaBeouf), a tough but responsible decision maker (Tom Hardy) and a careless older brother who is prone to outbursts of violence (Jason Clarke). This combination of personalities leads to another fascinating tale, and veteran actors Gary Oldman and Guy Pearce breathe life into Cave's characters with striking performances that deserve to be seen on the big screen.

Monday, 26 January 2015

DVD Review - Sensation

First Published for Front Room Cinema in 2012...

Like the start of countless other films, it is the death of a family member that marks the beginning of a new life for Donal (Domhnall Gleeson), the unlucky in love Irish guy who seems to lack certain social skills when approaching the opposite sex, and he is soon thrust into a seedy world that would undoubtedly disappoint his deceased father. After inheriting the grounds of his father's farm, and a few animals to go with it, Donal is soon in talks with local businessmen and it is not long before he is carrying around a sizeable wad of money, and it is with this cash that his connection with a certain call-girl begins to blossom.

From the moment the film begins it is clear that there is an underlying vein of black humour which peppers the script with amusing scenes but these are few and far between, and as the serious nature of the story does not quite have the desired effect of moving the audience, Sensation fails to be more than a less impressive Irish version of Risky Business. Having said that, there are a number of characters whose reliance on Irish charm does make the film worth watching, and the metamorphosis of Donal's character from closet sexual deviant to a full blown pimp makes for an interesting if hackneyed character arc.

Tom Hall's direction shows promise but cannot hide the story's shortcomings, there are few redeeming features about Donal and his actions, and as such it is difficult to empathise with the main character. Likewise, his cocky companion Karl does bring some light entertainment with the choice conversations he has with females but other than this there are few signs of a human side that the audience could relate to. The Sensual call-girl Kim finds it easy to manipulate Donal and whereas we should be feeling disheartened by his treatment, the fact that he fails to listen to his inner doubts means that it is his foolish nature that is to blame for the troubles he encounters later on in the film and the audience are likely to be indifferent to the outcome.

The prospects of a great film are all there - with the first few scenes riveting me firmly to my seat - it is just a shame that the story tails off and fails to deliver on what is initially a very intriguing premise. At one point there is even some seemingly unnecessary animal cruelty which takes place off screen but is likely to upset even the most hardy of viewers and once again does no favours for the perpetrator in the eyes of the audience.

If Tom Hall's decision was to create a film full of (mostly) unlikeable characters that meander from one situation to the next then he has succeeded but writing this review a mere three days after my viewing and being unable to clearly remember the ending indicates that Sensation may struggle to find an appreciative audience. My attention was fixed firmly on the film throughout but as I did not, in fact could not, care for the majority of the characters it failed to leave a lasting impact on me and while those interested in Irish films or indeed films about call girls may enjoy Sensation more than me, I imagine it will largely be forgotten about in a few months time.


Sensation is available to buy now on DVD through element pictures

Sunday, 25 January 2015

DVD Review - The Prey

First Published for Front Room Cinema in 2012...

French crime thriller The Prey hits UK shores on DVD this month, here are Tom's thoughts on what turned out to be a surprisingly effective action flick.

When Franck Adrien (Albert Dupontel) is incarcerated in prison for masterminding a bank robbery, he is determined to see out his sentence without any trouble so that he can be reunited with his wife and young daughter, and seek out the money he stowed away before being caught. His cellmate, a suspected child molester, is targeted by a prison gang and when Adrien begrudgingly intervenes it sets in course a vicious downward spiral that could spell the end for him and his family
Albert Dupontel is perfectly cast as the wily criminal fighting not only for his life but for justice, and those familiar with French cinema may recognise him from his previous work in Irreversible and A Very Long Engagement. It is great to see Dupontel in a starring role and it is impressive how soon I was routing for his character, with his sympathetic persona and dedication to his family belying a dangerous past.

In recent years the French have given us some exceptional crime thrillers such as Tell no One, A Prophet and Mesrine, with The Prey being the latest release to follow in their footsteps. The action is fast and frenetic, with occasional jaw-dropping set pieces reminiscent of key scenes in each of the above films but with enough fresh ideas to make them stand out as unique and exciting. Avoiding the use of CGI, director Eric Valette makes sure that the stuntwork is grounded in reality whilst still pushing the envelope in terms of what is shown on screen.

Amongst all of the action there is an intriguing story which does verge upon being far-fetched at times (the number one culprit being serious injuries that are forgotten about very quickly) and although this doesn't detract from the film's entertainment value it does prevent it from reaching the level of brilliance shared by the aforementioned French thrillers which have heavily influenced The Prey. There are enough twists and turns to keep the audience on their toes throughout and it is clear that Eric Valette has come a long way since his flawed but intriguing feature film debut, Malefique, back in 2002 which was also partly set in a prison, but he has not yet honed his craft to perfection.

In a world where Hollywood churns out mindless thrillers on an almost weekly basis, it is inspiring to see a somewhat fresh take on what has become a tired genre. Those looking for their next adrenalin fix need look no further, The Prey may be flawed in paces but its breakneck speed and ferocity certainly make up for any holes in the story, with the solid acting contributing towards what is ultimately one hell of a fun ride. I only hope that with Valette's next directorial outing he can match his eye for outstanding action with a storyline that packs a more coherent punch.


The Prey is out to buy on DVD through Studio Canal

Friday, 23 January 2015

DVD Review - God Bless America

First Published for Front Room Cinema in 2012...

There are a few things in life that frustrate me far more than they really should. The popularity of reality TV shows and the fame hungry individuals who partake in them is one of these and inconsiderate people who talk on their phone during a cinema screening is another pet hate of mine. I would relish the chance to rid the world of these evils once and for all and for that reason God Bless America resonated with me on a level I never would have expected when going into the film.

From director Bobcat Goldthwait, this scathing attack on popular culture is an exceptional follow up to his underrated black comedy World's Greatest Dad which slipped under the radar two years ago and I am determined not to let this happen with his latest release. Joel Murray stars as Frank, a middle aged man not too far removed from Michael Douglas' character in Falling Down, who is understandably disheartened after being diagnosed with a terminal illness and becomes a vigilante killer in an attempt to restore some semblance of a purpose to his mundane existence.

Accompanied by Roxy, a like-minded young teenager played by the excellent Tara Lynne Barr in what I hope will be a breakout role, Frank sets out to right the wrongs he encounters and the duo form a friendship which brings death and violence to those foolish enough to demonstrate a lack of concern for humanity. Numerous comparisons can and have been made to films featuring an unlikely duo heading out on a rampage but God Bless America makes the brave move of introducing realistic characters with believable motives and remains funny throughout despite the often graphic depiction of violence.

There is a hilarious sequence in which Frank's migraine worsens as he watches a series of brilliantly executed over the top adverts which are not a world apart from Paul Verhoeven's satirical commercials in Robocop and Starship Troopers. It is this satirical edge that makes Goldthwait's film stand apart amongst its peers and provides the audience with food for thought as well as slick entertainment. The classic rock soundtrack featuring the likes of Alice Cooper and the Kinks is the perfect accompaniment to the comical violence alongside the inspired choice of Bjork's 'Oh so quiet' in one of the film's standout scenes.

God Bless America is a darkly comical film that pulls no punches in its attack on stupidity and mindless entertainment. Its ironic title clearly emphasises the director's views of his own country and whilst I have read criticisms of the film's overly political slant this does not detract from the entertainment value of what is a finely crafted comedy. Forget your superheroes; Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne may need their alter egos but Frank is just a middle aged man fighting for what he believes in, without a costume or any special powers, only with a desire for justice. God Bless America indeed.