Category Archives: Little White Lies

How ‘The Lost World’ taught me that films can be cruel

Twenty years on from its summer ’97 release, any reverence for The Lost World: Jurassic Park is largely restricted to people holding up for it as the best of the franchise’s sequels. Which is perhaps fair and certainly understandable, especially given that directors Joe Johnston and Colin Trevorrow, the series’ most recent torch bearers, have not managed to deliver a set-piece as thrilling as anything from Steven Spielberg’s predecessors.

Speaking as someone who has seen the film many times over the last 20 years, I can’t make the case for The Lost World being an overlooked classic. But it remains a fascinating film; essentially dino-based riff on Howard Hawks’ 1962 safari movie Hatari!, it abandons the wonderment of Spielberg’s original in favour of a more macabre and cynical worldview. Growing up, it had an unexpectedly profound effect on me…

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Detour (Christopher Smith, 2016)

There are two possible effects that come from lifting the title of a respected movie classic: on the one hand, it can be perceived as an audacious, assuring wink to savvy viewers that you’re aware, as a filmmaker, of your movie’s debt to hallowed classics of the medium; on the other hand, it can serve to accentuate how much more desirable revisiting older, better films would be, than to sit through a pretty bad new one.

If we’re being generous with regard to Christopher Smith’s neo-noir runaround, Detour, it almost fits into both of the above. Edgar G Ulmer’s not-so-neo-noir of the same name, from 1945, is without doubt the superior movie, but it doesn’t really have all that much in common with this film’s story, which owes a bigger debt to such ’90s throwbacks as Tony Scott’s roistering crime caper, True Romance

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The Secret Scripture (Jim Sheridan, 2016)

The most striking moment in Jim Sheridan’s The Secret Scripture occurs in the very first scene, as a soft Irish voice repeatedly states, “My name is Rose McNulty. I did not kill my child.”

Older and younger incarnations of Rose are played by Vanessa Redgrave and Rooney Mara respectively. The former dictates an account of her misfortunes to a psychologist, Dr Grene (Eric Bana), as documented in the graffitied bible she’s kept hidden during her plus 40-year stay in a psychiatric hospital. She’s been there since the waning days of World War Two, admitted under accusations of both infanticide and nymphomania. Convinced the son she had snatched away from her is still alive, the older Rose argues her case…

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Gimme Danger (Jim Jarmusch, 2016)

Jim Jarmusch directing a film about The Stooges is one of those perfect matches of artist and subject. Though the resultant documentary, Gimme Danger, is, at the very least, good, there’s the persistent sense throughout that something’s missing…

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Gary Numan: Android in La La Land (Rob Alexander/Steve Read, 2016)

With so many music documentaries around that focus on great artists with a tendency towards egomania, it’s refreshing to find one that’s about a musician – and a highly influential one at that – who seems entirely uninterested in self-mythologising. Android in La La Land profiles electro pop pioneer Gary Numan, who was derided and revered in the press in equal measure as he went about selling millions of albums in the late 1970s and early ’80s, before it all came crashing down…

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The Library Suicides (Euros Lyn, 2016)

After a string of high-profile TV gigs on the likes of Daredevil, Broadchurch and Happy ValleyThe Library Suicides sees director Euros Lyn return to the feature filmmaking fold with a twisty psychological thriller. Adapted from the Welsh-language bestseller Y Llyfrgell by Fflur Dafydd, what sets the film apart in the current British cinema landscape is its retaining of the Welsh language, a unique setting for its cat-and-mouse games, and a committed dual performance from Catrin Stewart…

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Kids in Love (Chris Foggin, 2016)

When it comes to coming-of-age films, the matter of which ones become cultural touchstones is quite often down to luck. It’s a hard nut to crack, but generally speaking the most enduring tales of the pitfalls of young adulthood are those with a strong emotional core, an ensemble of fully fleshed-out, interesting characters and realistic scenarios that don’t feel feather-light or superficial…

Full review for Little White Lies