Notes From the Margins…
Posts for Cinema Category

Beauty and the beast: Miss Bala and Mexico’s drug war

  • February 26, 2012
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I’ve just watched Mexican director Gerardo Naranjo’s superb thriller Miss Bala: the bullet queen (2011).   It’s the searing and utterly tragic tale of Laura Guerrero, a young woman from a poor family in Baja California, who enters a beauty pageant only to find herself sucked into a terrifying vortex of violence and corruption, when she inadvertently becomes involved with the ruthless narcotrafficante Lino.

Within two days her life is completely destroyed and  she becomes a hapless counter in the brutal struggle between the local narcos and the Mexican police and agents from...

Of Gods and Men

  • June 19, 2011
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I’ve finally got round to watching Of Gods and Men, Xavier Beauvois’s magnificent film about the seven French Trappist monks kidnapped and murdered during the Algerian Civil War in 1994.

At the time the murders were attributed by the Algerian government to the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) a shadowy and particularly bloody Islamist organization which killed...

Julian Schnabel Says the Unsayable

  • May 31, 2011
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I’ve just watched Julian Schnabel’s ambitious epic about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict  Miral.  It’s not a great movie, and certainly doesn’t bear comparison with Schnabel’s brilliant cinematic rendition of  The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, but I felt that the dismissive and damning reviews that it received were unfair.  It’s true that some of the acting...

Monsters at the Border

  • April 11, 2011
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There can be more to science fiction films than Dolby whooshes and hyperactive CGI special effects.   Gareth Edwards’s  low-budget sci-fi flic Monsters is a terrific example of what can be done with  a lot of imagination and intelligence and very little money.   Shot on an incredible pre-production budget of $15,000 which eventually rose...

The Trouble with Carlos

The Trouble with Carlos

  • April 06, 2011
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I’ve just watched Olivier Assayas’ monumental study of Illich Sanchez Ramirez a.k.a Carlos ‘the Jackal’.   It’s an engrossing, compelling and original work, which meticulously portrays  Carlos and his world  over more than five hours through a patient accumulation of scenes rather than a thrilleresque cliffhanger narrative.

This is no mean feat, given the fact that...

About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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