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Showing posts from January, 2023

Death Race 2000

  I try to keep reasonably up to date with my film reviews on here, but I’m afraid this one comes a bit late - Death Race 2000 was released in 1975. I remember kids at school talking about it when it came out (though I hope they hadn’t seen it, since it’s X-Certificate stuff and these were nine-year-olds) - so when it showed up on Amazon Prime I thought it was high time I found out what all the playground fuss had been about. Death Race… came from Roger Corman’s stable of exploitation movies, and was shamelessly designed to cash in on the pre-publicity for Rollerball , another, rather more expensive, lethal-future-sport film. Based on a short story by I. B. Melchior, it plays like a sex-and-gore fuelled episode of  Wacky Races , but I suspect modern viewers are more likely to compare it to The Hunger Games . Like The Hunger Games , it takes place in a future fascist USA where the authorities control the populace bread-and-circuses style by staging gladiatorial contests. In Death Race

The Peripheral

I watched the Amazon Prime series The Peripheral just before Christmas, but only just found time to write about it, and already it seems have dropped off people’s radar. New shows, books, and films seem to be talked about for around a week now, if they’re lucky, before attention shifts to the next new thing. The way the internet has accelerated the speed of cultural discourse is presumably something William Gibson saw coming: from his cyberpunk novels of the mid-1980s to more recent works like Pattern Recognition, he’s always displayed a keen eye for cultural/technological trends. (Although the great opening line of Neuromancer - ‘The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel,’ must be a bit lost on readers brought up in an age of digital tellies.) The Peripheral is based on a Gibson novel, of course, and it’s interesting to see what has survived the adaptation process and what has been ditched. Brother and sister Flynne and Burton Fisher (Chloë Grace

White Noise

We watched this on New Year’s Day, and it turned out to be a good start to the film-watching year - or maybe a bad one, as it will be a hard act to follow: I doubt I’ll see a better film in 2023. Based on the Don DeLillo novel, it’s a strange, protean thing, shifting from campus satire to disaster movie to neo(n)-noir revenge drama before ending in a mass supermarket dance routine like something out of True Stories . To writer/director Noah Baumbach’s credit, it’s both very funny and very serious - the White Noise of the title is the fear of mortality, I think, which haunts Adam Driver’s hapless and slightly seedy college professor Jack Gladney (the leading expert in ‘Hitler Studies’.) ‘What if death is nothing but a sound?’ he muses at one point. ‘You hear it for ever. Sound all around.’ The comedy - like most comedy, maybe - springs from the absurdity of trying to live everyday life in death’s enormous shadow. But a lot of Gladney’s everyday life would be absurd anyway. At home his