Category Archives: Tom Nixon

Top Ten Films of 2009 by Tom Nixon


10. In The Loop

You may not believe that, and I may not believe that, but by God it’s a useful hypocrisy. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Review of Revanche (2008)


Tick-tocking from one to the other of its contrasting protagonists like a pendulum of doom, Revanche broods and seethes along towards its seemingly inevitable titular climax, telegraphing a surprisingly simple and conventional revenge arc before becoming a fascinating rumination on self-doubt, the ways in which guilt can manifest, the crippling emasculation of having another man (a middle-class, married man at that) stick a bullet in your girl (main protagonist Alex spends half his scenes cathartically chopping up phallic pieces of wood), or in the killer’s case firing wayward (we learn later that he is infertile). Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Review of In the Loop (2009)


The only sitcom over the last decade I liked more than Armando Iannucci’s The Thick of It was Arrested Development, which says a lot about how high my expectations were for this feature-length version. It’s not a The Thick of It movie, exactly, as there are only a handful of recurring characters and most have different names, plus the setting is rather more sprawling, concerned as it is with the lead-up to the war (in Iraq, no doubt, though that’s never made specific) on both sides of the Atlantic. But it’s made out of the same stuff; a razor-sharp satire revolving around a host of fast-talking higher-ups as they spin their political webs, whilst worming their way out of problems created by their own ineptitude and egomania. A breakneck, modernized, large-scale Yes Minister, for those of you up to speed on your classic British sitcoms. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Review of The Hurt Locker (2009)


Maybe the most deserving of 2009’s critical darlings, Kathyrn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker is gathering steam as we hurtle towards Oscar season. The wonder is that it’s a film set in the Iraq war that not only dodges sentiment and never, ever feels like it’s pandering, but revolves around a man addicted to war and thrives on breathless set pieces, knife-point tension and exhilarating action. It’s to be expected from Bigelow (Point Break) of course, a director known for her rip-roaring genre pictures about groups of men under extreme pressure, but its release to huge acclaim couldn’t be more welcome in this era of limp-wristed proselytizing from In the Valley of Elah and chums. Icing on the cake then, that this one also ends up doubling as a Wrestleresque existential character study. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Review of District 9 (2009)


Destined to become a bit of a cult classic, District 9 is one of the year’s stronger genre pictures; a reworking of Alien Nation which tackles themes of intolerance, immigration, police brutality, the “greater good,” the media’s limitations, physical metamorphosis, and the pros and cons of technology, all whilst retaining a strong sense of its place in the sci-fi canon. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Review of Gomorrah (2009)


It makes Goodfellas look dishonest and The Godfather ridiculous; Gomorrah delves deep into the Camorra-run Scampia slums and finds at their core an all-consuming abyss. This is a cold, cold cinema, a sprawling machine of tiny disposable parts which have no awareness of – interest in – anything existing beyond. There’s nothing elegiac about the deadened tone, nor is the process of stripping down itself romanticized a la No Country For Old Men. This is a gangster movie which hates other gangster movies for conjuring glorious, sweeping dramas out of a cesspool. It says a lot that the film feels as modern as anything. Continue reading

Movie Review – Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)


The most interesting thing about Fantastic Mr. Fox, disappointingly, is that Wes Anderson decided to do a Roald Dahl adaptation in the first place. The idea of projecting Dahl’s escapist fantasies of grotesquery through the lens of Anderson’s too-close-for-comfort tragicomic ensemble dramas is an exciting one, especially as both like to mine the messy sprawl of family bonds for their respective brands of idiosyncrasy and both meticulously order their cluttered, off-beat scenarios in ways that instill personality above and beyond the characters. Ultimately though the film is less an intriguing blend than a fun little side project, more Anderson than Dahl and puzzlingly less mature for that; concerned as it is with being a cute little exercise in style, the film neglects Dahl’s relative darkness and its attempts at thorniness feel half-hearted and trivial. Continue reading

DVD of the Week – Review of Anvil: The Story of Anvil (2009)



If heavy metal’s outsider philosophy primarily involves confronting and romanticizing reality no matter how harsh it may be, then Anvil may not just be among the foremost legends of the Canadian underground scene but, with their unquenchable enthusiasm and never-say-die attitude in the face of constant disappointment, also embody an entire genre and the sub-culture worshiping at its altar. Continue reading

Movie Review – The Invention of Lying (2009)



Struggling screenwriter Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) lives in a world where lies don’t exist. That’s not to say that people want to tell lies but are incapable (such as Jim Carrey in Liar Liar, an obvious reference point), mind, but that people are unable to conceive of the very concept of lying, or indeed tact. In this world, if you’re a little plump around the mid-section, everyone is gonna let you know about it. Fascinatingly, what’s left is a brave new world completely lacking in emotion except for vague dis/satisfaction, where art doesn’t exist outside of the audio documentaries known as ‘films’ read out by the screenwriter onscreen, and partners are chosen via perceived genetic compatability. It’s a world which could potentially throb with thorny implications and house some absolutely blazing satire, but that potential is never realized in what must be Gervais’ laziest project to date. Continue reading

Movie Review – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)



Moments before David Yates’ masterful Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix started to turn nasty, there was an innocuous moment of fond fire-lit banter which broke the heart, a touch of natural adolescence made tragic and haunting by its placement in this world where the kids must be adults, when even adults won’t do. There are two coming-of-age films in Yates’ follow-up Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince; one which hopes to carry on this magical interweaving of dark and light, and the other, dominant film, which would rather spend its time indulging in gratuitous charm and whimsy. Continue reading