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Joan Crawford and Henry Fonda

Daisy Kenyon

Let’s just get this out of the way. Daisy Kenyon isn’t a film noir, even though it features on many noir “best of” lists. It’s a romantic melodrama of a very peculiar sort – “High powered melodrama surefire for the femme market” is how Variety described it on its release in 1947, in their odd, truncated … Read more
Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin

Respect

It would easy to go all hatey on Respect, a biopic of the life of Aretha Franklin, but instead let’s take it for what it is – the authorised version, the Stations of the Cross of a towering talent who even old, sick and with her voice in ruins could yank a tear, if not … Read more
Angie Dickinson and Lee Marvin

Point Blank

Midway between Philip Marlowe and John Wick, Walker, the hero of 1967’s Point Blank is a stylish hero in a film so stylish and influential that its original impact can now only been guessed at, so relentlessly has it been plundered in the ensuing decades. Soderbergh is a fan, as is Tarantino, and so, of … Read more
Sam and his Schengen visa tattoo

The Man Who Sold His Skin

“Sometimes I think I”m Mephistopheles,” guyliner-wearing conceputal artist Jeffrey Godefroi (Koen De Bouw) tells Sam (Yahya Mahayni) near the beginning of The Man Who Sold His Skin. Sam is the Syrian refugee Godefroi is about to sign up to be a living art work, and Godefroi’s declaration is as clear a reference as you need … Read more
Alain Delon

Le Samouraï

Jean-Pierre Melville’s stylish 1967 hitman flick Le Samouraï has danced down the decades, leaving its mark on everything from William Friedkin’s The French Connection, to Walter Hill’s The Driver (and, by extension, Nicolas Winding Refn’s homage, Drive), Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog, Anton Corbijn’s The American and the Coens’ No Country for Old Men. Even John Wick … Read more
Dickie (far right) and family

The Many Saints of Newark

The pre-publicity for The Many Saints of Newark made much – all, actually – of the fact that this was the origin story of Tony Soprano, fictional mob boss and kingpin of the TV show The Sopranos. Take a quick look at the IMDb page and there, at the very top, the blurb says – … Read more
Alice and the professor meet

The Woman in the Window

Not to be confused with the 2021 movie of the same name, 1944’s The Woman in the Window is the second of three film noirs Fritz Lang made with Joan Bennett and the first of two he’d make with Edward G Robinson. It’s a queer beast – noir with a plot trick picked up from … Read more
Bill Murray as the editor of the Dispatch

The French Dispatch

A middle finger to the haters, The French Dispatch finds an unrepentant Wes Anderson doubling down on the whimsy and pastiche of films like The Grand Budapest Hotel or The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. There’s more. An artist’s statement, done early on in Owen Wilson’s laconic voiceover, vouchsafes that “All grand beauties withhold their … Read more
Jean Gabin and Simone Simon

La Bête Humaine

In Emile Zola’s story La Bête Humaine, the “human beast” is train driver Jacques Lantier, a man whose family line is full of fuck-ups, alcoholics and brutes. He keeps his passions in check, just about, by focusing rigidly on his job, and in particular on his locomotive, which he calls by the female name Lison. … Read more
Renate Reinsve

The Worst Person in the World

The Worst Person in the World is not about the worst person in the world, though it’s a good catchy title and so why not? Instead it’s about something that’s far less of an easy sell – how to live the good life. The latest in a 20-year run of collaborations between director Joachim Trier … Read more
Joan and Eddie on the run

You Only Live Once

Fritz Lang’s second Hollywood picture, You Only Live Once, was released in 1937, three years after the death of Bonnie and Clyde, and was the first movie to tell their story – sort of. A tale of bad luck and trouble rather than one of bad people doing bad things, it stars Henry Fonda and … Read more
Friedrich Mücke and Liv Lisa Fries

Staudamm

Unspectacular in an almost nonchalant way, Staudamm tells its story slowly and poetically, which is all the more remarkable when you consider its subject matter – a high school shooting. This one took place in a sleepy village in Bavaria and proceeded otherwise in classic US style – kid stalking the corridors letting off rounds … Read more

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