M (1931), Fritz Lang

As disturbing as it is thrilling, Fritz Lang’s 1931 M – with its tale of a child murderer causing panic in Germany – sets some groundbreaking rules for serial killer movies to come and asks difficult questions about society’s responsibility towards mentally unstable individuals.

m-2Fritz Lang’s 1931 masterpiece M not only subverts every storytelling rule that there is, but most importantly, it documents a crucial era in German history. In its prescience, the film depicts a society at war with itself, few years before it engaged in real battle with its neighbouring, powerful nations. The police state seems already in full force, even before the Nazis took control of the country and made sure every citizen spied on each other. By antagonizing such a society with a truly despicable – albeit a pitiable one – individual, the film plays a magnificent and ambiguous game. Continue reading

The Shining (1980), Stanley Kubrick

As its director’s own remarkable oeuvre touches the worst excesses of mankind through youth callousness, apes and their killing instincts and cynical warfare games, Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 The Shining suggests the worst horrors actually inhabits man’s own deep and hidden recesses.

the-shining-2From the outset The Shining was surrounded by controversy as its director not only rejected the script written by the author of the source material, but also changed the tale’s central thesis. As the film diverges quite a lot from Stephen King’s novel, one feels for him for the butchering of his story. The celebrated writer – whose several tales have been adapted to the cinema – let everyone know he disliked the movie. However, the fact remains that Kubrick’s film is a classic masterwork of horror cinema – even, of cinema, full stop – whereas King’s novel, although a great book, is nonetheless flawed as literature. Continue reading

Birdman (2014), Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu

Deliriously funny and poignant, Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu’s 2014 Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), gradually treats us with small doses of wisdom drugs as it reaches a crescendo of lucid madness, before administering a treatment for life’s meaninglessness.

birdman-2How does a man, on the threshold of madness, between his long gone, careless youth and his dreaded autumn years, solve a grave existential crisis caused by his own poor choices? Obviously, he turns against himself, as Birdman‘s Riggan Thomson does. But as he knows to be the only one capable of extracting himself from the black hole of self-contempt, our (literally!) hero also understands that redemption as the cure for his malaise can only work with the involvement of the people who hurt, and have been hurt by, Riggan. Thus, he embarks on an involuntarily last hurrah journey… Continue reading