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2 items from 2014

Review: "Christmas Evil" (1980) (Aka "You Better Watch Out!") Dual Format Release From Vinegar Syndrome

17 December 2014 9:33 PM, PST | | See recent CinemaRetro news »

By Rod Barnett

I was completely gob-smacked by this one, folks. From the title and description of this 1980 release, I was expecting a smarmy slasher film that used the holiday season for a cheap backdrop and even cheaper jokes. What I got instead was a very well-made character study reminiscent of Polanski's Repulsion. Although not as good as that classic, it stands proudly beside it as a fascinating picture of a slow descent into madness and murder. If anything, Harry Standling is a more sympathetic main character as we are shown in a brief prologue the genesis of both his fixation on Christmas and the reason for his awkwardness with people. At an impressionable age the young Harry crept downstairs on Christmas Eve to see Santa sexually gratifying his mother. That this Santa was actually his father didn't register and the traumatized boy never really got over the sight of »

- (Cinema Retro)

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Film Review: ‘Bloody Beans’

7 January 2014 7:19 PM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Taking a surprisingly effective experimental stance, Narimane Mari obliquely comments on Algeria’s War of Independence in the quasi-hallucinatory reverie “Bloody Beans.” Though it wears its metaphors too heavily at times, the pic uses a group of children tired of eating a staple diet of red beans to reflect on the high cost of colonialization and the absurdity of killing. Indebted in part to “Lord of the Flies” in its presentation of near-feral kids, the film has a performance-piece feel while still being cinematic, making it an attractive offering for cutting-edge fests.

The English-lingo title has undergone changes, first appearing as “Red Beans” (the literal translation) in Turin and “Bloody Beans” at Dubai and Cph:Dox. Even the helmer’s name has variants: Dubai’s catalogue lists her as Narimane Mari Benamer. More troubling is that Cph:Dox (where “Beans” won the main prize) and Dubai programmed the film as a docu »

- Jay Weissberg

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