Anton Bitel

Anton Bitel
Tomatometer-approved critic
Biography:
Dr Anton Bitel was born in Australia in 1970, and has lived in the UK since 1989. Now a father of twins, occasional academic and full-time caffeine junkie, he compensates for a general sense of disgruntlement by moping about in darkened cinemas watching other people's joys and sorrows. He seeks elusive thrills from all genres (even romantic comedy), but tends to prefer anything extreme, odd, miserable or tawdry. He is at home with horror, 'arthouse', the avant garde and Oriental cinema. Anton currently freelances for Film4, musicOMH (where he is a staff writer), Eye for Film, Film International and Little White Lies, and was for three years one of the principal contributors to the now semi-defunct Movie Gazette.
Favorites:
Eraserhead Brazil Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter...and Spring Apocalypse Now The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) M. Houlot's Holiday Ichi the Killer Last Year in Marienbad Batman (1966) Synecdoche, New York
Location: Oxford, UK

movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year Review
63% Horror Express (1974) Horror Express looks back not entirely nostalgically at British imperialist values from the turn of the century... It's a fun ride while it lasts, even if few of its images are likely to remain imprinted on your retina. - Little White Lies EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 12, 2019
100% Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl (2016) as we watch Adele's story unfold as a life in crisis, in decline and in withdrawal, we come to understand, obliquely, how Dora may have ended up where and how she is. The future is already inscribed in the past. - VODzilla.co EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
No Score Yet My Friend 'A' (Yûzai) (2018) Sombre and sad, yet offering glimpses of hope, it follows the walking dead casualties of trauma (be it bullying, abuse or murder) as they try, however vainly, to live full lives again. - Projected Figures EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet Yurigokoro (2017) a sweet romance soon digresses to Misako's disturbingly sensational narrative (full of casual cruelty, lesbian self-harm and cold-blooded murder), with Ryosuke's own life gradually spiralling into an unhinged sort of melodrama. - Projected Figures EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet The Bra (2018) This absurdist scenario plays out with such breezy wit and wide-eyed charm that it overcomes any potential for creepy sleaze - and the rigorous lack of dialogue engenders a titty Tati for cinematic trainspotters. - Sight and Sound EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet Mordsaga (1977) a self-consciously Chabrolian peek through the curtains into the vacuity of Reykjavik's suburban bourgeoisie, leading inevitably to the murder of the title... - Sight and Sound EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet Viata nu iarta (1960) The film's grimly realised conclusion is that even buried history has a tendency to repeat itself, and that power struggles offer little room for heroism. - Sight and Sound EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet The Case of Barnabás Kos (Prípad Barnabá Kos) (1964) ...the absurdly one-note results satirise the entire Soviet structure by showing what happens when all the power is suddenly given to a very small, barely functioning cog in the (political) machine. - Sight and Sound EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet Four White Shirts (Cetri balti krekli) (1967) Kalniņ appears to predict the ban on his own film by depicting in it a songwriter who shares the director's surname and whose figurative lyrics get him in trouble with the prudish, pop-hating authorities, terrified of anything modern or equivocal. - Sight and Sound EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet Cursed Seat (Proigrannoe mesto) (2018) ...expect thrills that are trashy, fun and knowing, all exposing today's selfie-and-sex-obsessed youth at their best and worst. Horror fans would be mad to miss it - but just be careful where you sit in the cinema. - Eye for Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet Lonesome Collectors (Noches de Julio) (2018) Julio is figured as a romantic for the internet age - and Axel Muñoz's feature debut takes a turn towards quirky romance as Julio discovers that there is someone else (Florencia Ríos) out there just like him - Eye for Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet Werewolf (Wilkolak) (2018) Anchoring this metaphor are the literal (and brilliantly wrangled) dogs, similarly hungry, similarly locked into destructive behavioural patterns, and similarly in need of transformative taming if they are ever to be reintegrated into normal life - SciFiNow EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet Why Don't You Just Die! (Papa, sdokhni) (2018) You can feel the guiding hand of Quentin Tarantino & Sion Sono (especially his not dissimilarly titled Why Don't You Play In Hell?, 2013) all over this film's mosaic narrative structure, its anything-goes approach to genre & its grotesque brutality - SciFiNow EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet Fire Lily (Tuliliilia) (2018) Mixing elements of horror films The Entity (1982) and Rosemary's Baby (1968), but playing out as a feminist mystery, this is an ambiguous, enigmatic fable, pregnant with possibilities for its elusive interpretation. - Eye for Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet Foam at the Mouth (2017) an intense character study of three vulnerable people caught at a crossroads in their lives as they become infected with deceit, recrimination and unhinged rage - Eye for Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet The Wild Fields (Dyke pole) (2018) serves openly as an allegory of Russia's cross-border land grabs in Ukraine, and as a call to arms for locals in their resistance to invasion. - Eye for Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
61% Slam (1998) the tension between these two positions engenders a critical dialectic along the Lucky Country's well-guarded borders of race, class and gender. - Eye for Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet Happiness Is A Warm Gun (Glück ist ein warmes Gewehr) (2018) It is a transgressive mess, meandering incoherently from the topics of pig herds, anti-Semitism, letter-writing, workers' revolution, and infanticide, and finishing at a point as seemingly arbitrary as its beginning. - Eye for Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet As I Fall (Når jeg faller) (2018) This dynamic, and Joachim's seemingly endless drift between remission and relapse, ensure that the film resists easy sentimentalism or wish fulfilment by constantly frustrating the happy ending towards which it fitfully gropes. - Eye for Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet Deep Rivers (Glubokie reki) (2018) first-time writer/director Vladimir Bitokov offers a domestic saga which, while full of incident, is necessarily more a portrait than a narrative, as it follows a family with nowhere to go. - Eye for Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
37% Glass (2019) The filmmaking is a little pedestrian, and one scene - in which Ana puts on a cheery face as she dances for her delighted former pupils - goes on far too long, but this is a compelling and not very well known story... - Eye for Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet Lorik (2018) This is undoubtedly a family film, offering fairy tale magical realism for the young (and young at heart) and political satire for everyone else. - Eye for Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet Yung (2018) like Kids (1995) relocated to Berlin, or Trainspotting (1996) retold from Diane Coulston's point of view, or Christiane F. (1981) updated to the digital age. - Eye for Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet Between Covers (Hölma All) (2018) a slow-burning existential noir which explores the deep-seated irrationality of man, while suggesting that the best hope for improvement might rest in literature. - Eye for Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet Orgies of Edo (1969) Many viewers can probably resist Ishii's deviant blend of kinbaku, paraphilia, monstrosity & surrealism - but those who cannot are in for a heady treat that casts them, like the Lord's only surviving heir, as falling somewhere between human & beast - Little White Lies EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet Insect (Hmyz) (2018) as a work that seems to be suggesting at once that all the world is a stage, and that on it our most primitive urges are our true directors, Insect is as good a summation of vankmajer's absurd, anarchic, oneiric obsessions as we are likely to get. - Eye for Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet The Cannibal Club (2018) Guto Parente's darkly funny class satire offsets oppression with revolution, and keeps showing the blood, vomit and cum that bespatter and sully these characters' immaculate-seeming lifestyles. - Sight and Sound EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet Abrakadabra (2018) the Onettis' extraordinary evocation of an era of Italian thriller filmmaking (including Luciano's wonderful score) that now seems like a dream is one to savour. - Sight and Sound EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
No Score Yet Parallel (2018) both heady multi-dimensional sci-fi and a self-conscious discourse on originality and alteration. "I'm not stealing sketches," Leena insists to Devin, "I'm appropriating art." Here, the difference is everything, and integrity is always up for grabs. - Sight and Sound EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
76% Utøya: July 22 (Utøya 22. Juli) (2018) On this real yet allegorical island, the personal and the political clash, and a nation's innocence is destroyed. - Projected Figures EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 5, 2019
79% Dogman (2019) reveals the limited room for power play amongst those living - in various kinds of cages - on the outer edge of Italian society. - Projected Figures EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 5, 2019
No Score Yet Concealed (2017) as this hybrid film, all at once fish-out-of-water thriller & domestic tragedy, constantly switches between these 2 modes, it generates ambiguity, even mystery from its own mismatched, dysfunctional plotting - with everything hidden in plain sight. - Projected Figures EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 5, 2019
5% 211 (2018) The only real surprise here is that Mike repeatedly misses the opportunity to declare, "I'm too old for this shit." Watching 211, you'll sure feel that way... - Projected Figures EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 5, 2019
85% The Third Murder (Sandome no satsujin) (2018) Misumi may be on trial, but Kore-eda also interrogates the workings - often arbitrarily formulated, even prejudiced - of the Japanese justice system, & its slippery relationship to the higher notions of fairness & truth which it is supposed to serve. - Projected Figures EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 5, 2019
21% Terminal (2018) Beautifully designed and lit, yet ultimately as hollow as the old ventilation shaft at the station's centre, Terminal has nowhere really to go once its events have been set in motion and its trajectory has become clear - Projected Figures EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 5, 2019
100% Survivors Guide to Prison (2018) this new documentary promises to be a kind of self-help manual for the criminal classes, but in fact offers a synoptic analysis of everything that is malfunctioning in America's machinery of criminal justice - Projected Figures EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 4, 2019
94% Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring (2003) Kim invites us, like the mountain-top Buddha, to see a wider panorama wherein human transgressions, though neither overlooked nor indeed excused, form part of a bigger picture. - Projected Figures EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 4, 2019
86% My Friend Dahmer (2017) It is only our foreknowledge of what Jeffrey will become that allows us to register all the early warning signs, right down to Joyce's edict.., heavily ironised for the viewer by the weight of future history: "New house rule: we eat our mistakes." - Projected Figures EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 4, 2019
No Score Yet Cat Sticks (2019) It's a humane, if depressing, depiction of addiction's toll - and shows a side of India you just do not see very often at the cinema. Like the brand of matches after which it is named, Cat Sticks casts a little light into this demimonde of darkness. - Eye for Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 29, 2019
77% La sindrome di Stendhal (The Stendhal Syndrome) (1996) charts an artful exploration of a rape victim's twisted trauma. - VODzilla.co EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 26, 2019
90% Opera (1987) Opera is always heading backwards to move forwards, and ends, bizarrely, with its heroine crawling in joyous derangement amidst the primordial plants and critters of the natural world, in an ultimate act of atavism. - Little White Lies EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 21, 2019
44% Waterworld (1995) That Costner's antihero should be so fundamentally dislikable is entirely acceptable - after all, the Mariner's arc makes him an eternal outsider... - but that he should also be deadly dull is less so - Little White Lies EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 21, 2019
No Score Yet The Interior (2015) Absurdist yet unnerving, The Interior is an elliptical tale of existential horror in which one man's withdrawal from civilisation is also a retreat from reality, and a struggle with the relentless encroachment of mortality. - VODzilla.co EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 12, 2019
34% King of Thieves (2019) this 'one last job' serves equally as a metaphor for a Britain rapidly losing its greatness. - Projected Figures EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 12, 2019
93% Bumblebee (2018) At times very funny, Bumblebee is still at heart a big ol' B-movie, but less bumbling and bombastic than its post-dated predecessors. - Sight and Sound EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 27, 2018
83% Who's Watching Oliver (2018) a strange beast, by turns repellent, comical and sentimental. Its breezy jazz soundtrack sets an uneasily wrong note, while its performances are good enough to get us on side with the unspeakable, the atrocious and the unhinged... - Projected Figures EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 24, 2018
No Score Yet Alice In The Underworld (2011) Much as its characters are adorned with mannered couture from a time long past, Terashima's film dresses itself in self-consciously archaic cinematic forms. - Projected Figures EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 24, 2018
No Score Yet Fritt vilt II (Cold Prey 2) (2008) Mat Stenberg's sequel..., as a slasher, is merely serviceable, but comes with its own particularities of local colour to distinguish it from the competition (already dwindling by the Noughties). - VODzilla.co EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 24, 2018
88% Happy New Year, Colin Burstead (2018) ...offers an ongoing dialectic on family, power and history that has no real beginning or end - which is to say that this production, though modest, remains highly ambitious, and as timeless as it is also very much of its moment. - Projected Figures EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 18, 2018
33% When a Stranger Calls (1979) To appreciate just how different it is from the other entries in this then still nascent subgenre [the slasher], we need to move on from its opening to its more critically neglected middle section. - Little White Lies EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 17, 2018