Mary and Max  (2009)    75/100

Rating :   75/100                                                                  92 Min           12A

This is a wonderful animation based on a real life pen pal relationship between Australian youngster Mary (she is about eight years old when she first writes to a random person in New York) and forty-four-year-old asperger’s syndrome sufferer Max (the random person). An unlikely bond forms between them; as Mary’s bullying at school and the neglect of her parents strikes a chord with Max’s chronic isolation and difficulty with relating to the world. Their relationship continues over the years and becomes one of the most defining aspects of each of their lives.

It’s beautifully told – the artwork manages to be unique, somewhat warped, and yet stops just short enough of being grotesque to pull off endearing. And the voice work from Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Max and both Bethany Whitmore and Toni Collette as Mary is just perfect. Be warned though, the film is sad from the beginning right through to the end.

Whiteout  (2009)    0/100

Rating :   0/100             COMPLETE INCINERATION            101 Min        15

This is one of those rare films that has left The Red Dragon genuinely quite sad at the couple of hours of life wasted watching it. Normally, even if a film is bad, I may not necessarily regret having given it a go, but here there really is nothing good to say about the film whatsoever, it’s just a solid block of endless shit. Kate Beckinsale stars as the law official at an Antarctic outpost who must solve the mystery of bodies turning up in the snow, despite being so poor with her firearm she might as well be wielding a banana, all occurring a couple of days before she was due to leave for civilisation again. It’s primary sin is that the story is catatonically dull, but it soon degenerates from boring to gratingly daft, with Beckinsale at all times looking more like she’s just left a beauty parlour than been braving extreme arctic conditions. Whiteout itself deserves to be blotted out of history.

Rec 2  (2009)    67/100

Rating :   67/100                                                                       85 Min        18

The 2009 sequel to 07’s wonderful Spanish handheld horror film ‘Rec’ (which was given an American makeover in 2008 with ‘Quarantine’, which was also very good). The original featured a documentary crew embedding themselves in a Barcelona fire station and tagging along with the response to an emergency call. Little did they know they would be entombed within a building whose inhabitants were all turning into flesh eating zombies….

Rec 2 picks up exactly where the first one ended, with the camera inside a vehicle taking a military Swat Team to the cordoned off infested building. They haven’t been fully briefed on exactly what they can expect to be confronted by, so the film does suffer a little from the inevitable, ‘What the fuck? What the fucking fuck? You mean they’re freaking zombies?! Like brain eating freaking fracking zombies?!’, ‘Yup’, ‘Fucking shit man!! Wait, what’s tha…Aaaaaargh!’, ‘Well now that was pointless explaining to you, wasn’t it.’

The story behind what’s going on is expanded upon a little, and the unholy nature of the zombification process, or rather the prospect that there may be a cure or reversal, genuinely makes some of the brutality a little difficult to watch. Not as taught as the original, but still pretty good and justifying the making of a third released in 2012, and the announcement of a fourth and concluding chapter, expected toward the end of this year. The original writing/directing team of Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza returned to helm the sequel, this time joined by Manu Díez for the screenplay instead of Luiso Berdejo.