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Take 3: Thomas Puhr’s Favourite Films of 2021

Some of The Big Picture’s regular contributors share their choices for the best films of 2021. Part 4. Benedetta (dir. Paul Verhoeven)We should collectively thank the movie gods that Paul Verhoeven is still at it; with Benedetta, he brings more style, audacity, and wit to the screen than most directors half his age. As the titular […]

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Feature New Release Reviews

New Release: Wilderness

There’s that inevitable moment during any relationship in which you glimpse the real person underneath the idealized portrait you’ve created. It could be a small thing – a turn of phrase, a glance – which makes you realize they have a past, that you don’t (indeed, can’t) know everything about them. Justin John Doherty’s Wilderness […]

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New Release Reviews

New Release: Clementine

Still recovering from a recent breakup, Karen (Otmara Marrero) drives to her ex’s unoccupied, secluded lake house. She breaks in by hurling a rock through a window and makes herself at home. The next evening, a young woman named Lana (Sydney Sweeney) emerges from the forest, looking for her dog. She asks for a ride, […]

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New Release Reviews

New Release: X

The psychosexual thriller has survived many iterations, from the highbrow (Eyes Wide Shut, 1999), to the gloriously over-the-top (Dressed to Kill, 1980), to the painfully dated (Jade, 1995). Scott J. Ramsey’s X (2019) is something of a Frankenstein’s monster, borrowing a bit from Kubrick’s final masterpiece (masked orgies, recurring mirror imagery) and a lot from […]

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New Release Reviews

New Release: Memory: The Origins of Alien

Fans will find much to relish in Alexandre O. Philippe’s obsessive documentary, Memory: The Origins of Alien (2019). As its title suggests, the film explores how Ridley Scott’s 1979 horror masterpiece draws from the past (especially Egyptian and Greek mythology) and speculates about the future, yet continues to feel entirely of the moment. A number […]

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Lost Classic Reviews

Lost Classic: Tony Williams’ Next of Kin (1982)

After languishing in obscurity for decades, Tony Williams’ cult horror oddity, Next of Kin (1982), has finally been released on Blu-ray, thanks to Second Sight Films. While the disc comes loaded with excellent special features, including multiple audio commentaries and two of Williams’ shorts, the biggest draw, naturally, is the pristine quality of the film […]

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Feature Thousand Words

How this VHS cover for Night of the Living Dead made me reassess horror

Before I saw any of George A. Romero’s seminal Night of the Living Dead, it already terrified me. This preemptive fear was caused by a VHS cover that has remained burned in my memory ever since I first laid eyes upon it as a child. One of my favorite childhood activities was perusing the Styrofoam-filled […]

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Feature

Revisiting Gus Van Sant’s disturbing portrait of a high school shooting

Of the three films comprising Gus Van Sant’s so-called “Death Trilogy” (the others being 2002’s Gerry and 2005’s Last Days), Elephant (2003) remains the most affecting and prescient. Although a major success at Cannes, earning both the Palme d’Or and Best Director awards of that year, it is largely overlooked in comparison with the rest […]

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Feature Four Frames

Four Frames: how Raw is about the animal in all of us

In its opening scenes, Julia Ducournau’s Raw  establishes Justine (Garance Marillier) as a strict vegetarian; when she finds a piece of meat in her mashed potatoes at a buffet, she spits it out with repulsion. However, through a series of increasingly squirm-inducing moments, Ducournau traces her protagonist’s journey to the polar opposite of the gastronomic spectrum: […]