A Double Bill of Double Bills

The first in a series of double double bills over the next few days as I cram as many films as possible into my viewing time before the World Cup begins. First up, two topics that are obviously a natural fit for each other; witchcraft and Matthew McConaughey


Häxan - Witchcraft Through the Ages (Benjamin Christensen,1922) is a famous Danish silent movie, which promised to be the definitive word on all things witch related. Part history lesson, part salacious docudrama, this is an interesting, if slightly uneven, affair. Some arresting imagery here and there, and undoubtedly ahead of its time, but also a bit over-long and repetitive at times. Amusingly, after striving to show the plight of women wrongly accused as witches throughout history, often because they were promiscuous, it finishes abruptly with a title card reading 'SLUT'. Which is apparently Danish for The End, but that's not as funny.

Blood on Satan's Claw (Piers Haggard, 1970) was originally conceived as three separate stories and that is reflected in a rather uneven British folk horror, which veers between moments of silliness and chilliness in a tale of demonic possession and witchcraft. Still, there's a couple of good shocks, some comedy eyebrows and it all culminates with a good old flaming torch and pitchfork-wielding angry mob scene. It's also fun to note that whilst the angry mob obviously disagree fervently with the witchcraft shenanigans on display, they're quite happy to watch quietly until at least a couple of the possessed girls have got their baps out. Incidentally, the occult elements of this may remind you of the recent HBO series True Detective, starring one Matthew McConaughey. See? See how I linked to the next double bill? That's segue gold right there, folks.


So I'm not going to bother with True Detective, which was okay, even if it lost its way a bit towards the end. Instead we have a then and now pairing...

Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater, 1993) was the film which gave McConaughey his big break. Along with many other soon-to-be-famous faces (including Ben Affleck, Renee Zellweger, Milla Jovovich) and never-got-famous faces (the rest), he plays an alarmingly scrawny teenager milling around aimlessly being, well, teenagers. The obvious comparison is American Graffiti, only relocated to the 1970s and with added dope. American Reeferiti, if you will - eh? AMIRITE? Despite its strong cult following, I couldn't really muster up much enthusiasm for it, but it does have a great 70s rock soundtrack.

The Lincoln Lawyer (Brad Furman, 2011) was one of the stepping stones in McConaughey's unstoppable charge back to the Hollywood A-List and is an entertaining, albeit slightly daft courtroom thriller. I did quite like the NYPD Blue-esque camera vibe, which twists and turns like the plot in agreeably implausible fashion. The strong cast (Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, Bryan Cranston, William H. Macy) gives it a bit of heft, with McConaughey toplining with ease - I wouldn't be surprised to see him gain award recognition if he keeps up this level of performance. What? Oh. Must have missed that.

Okay, onwards and upwards. Next double bill due soon!

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