I’ve seen 69 films this year and have written about 4 of them. Can I catch up?

4: Season Of The Witch (cinema – for shame)

So back to Nic Cage. Maybe he got all of his being nuts out of his system in last years Bad Lieutenant. I don’t know, its on the list to be seen. But all I know is the Nicholas Cage I expected to turn up in a medieval tale of sorcery and swordplay did not turn up. Season Of The Witch is supposed to be a bonkers romp through mittle-Europe rife with superstition with, at its heart, a reliably batshit actor and his gruff sidekick. Poor old Ron Perlmann essays a perfect gruff sidekick to a Nic Cage who is all armour and no personality.

Oh, by the way, Season Of The Witch is another great example of a film named after a song where the song does not appear.

Its a film with two prologues. The second, a flick through fifteen years of crusading with Ron and Nic seems a lot more fun than the film we get. And in the first we see a witch getting hung and drownded in that over the top way they did back in the 12th Century. And then we see said witch/demon come back to life, torture a priest and fly off cackling. And in doing so we discover:
a) that witches / demons are real in this world of this film.
b) the is she a witch / isn’t she a witch plot of the rest of the film is completely spoiled.

Worth watching if: You hate suspense / you like Ron Perlmann / you love sequences where people painstakingly and perhaps tediously cross rope-bridges which are about to collapse over bottomless gorges.

Lesson learned today is: telling the audience that witches are real completely spoils the suspense. A lesson that the much superior film 5: Black Death (DVD) had clearly gasped in advance of Season Of The Witch. It has a very similar plot to Season Of The Witch, we are placed the heart of a Black Death ridden England and everyone is dying. Except for one small village where everyone seems unaffected. Do they have a cure? Is it witchcraft? A question not answered until near the end of the film, which cleverly plays out like a very satisfying version of the Wicker Man set in the twelfth century. With Edward Woodward here being played by Sean Bean in armour. But lets be fair Sean Bean probably wears dirty armour around town, to Marks & Spencers and the pub and even when voicing O2 commercials. Maybe he got stuck in it in Lord Of The Rings. Abyway Christopher Smith the director clearly knows a bit about casting (like when he wanted to cast a cheeky chap who is actually a dick in Severance he went straight to Danny Dyer). If I had known he had directed it I would have seen it in the cinema, as I loved his previous film Triangle.

But all that aside, all you really want to know is how dirty these films are. Because Europe back in the day was a muddy, dirty place. And both films try to get their period right by slinging lots of mud around. But only Black Death understands the true depth of dirt in the period, and equivalent fear of being clean. I did think from the trailers that Black Death would be a cheap knock-off medieval zombie movie (like that other medieval zombie film, what was it called?). It turned out to be a pretty smart psychological thriller, with loads of dirt. And Sean Bean in armour. Where he lives.

Worth watching if: You like dirt / you like pagans / you like clever low budget films / you want to see a reinvention of the Wicker Man without Nic Cage in