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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
Bartolomea and Benedetta

Benedetta

How funny is Benedetta meant to be? Is it a serious film examining the mindset of religious people of a different time, or a nunsploitation flick straining every sinew to get its stars out of their clothes and comically at it? It’s an adaptation of Judith C Brown’s book, Immodest Acts: The Life of a … Read more
Makeda and Pharaoh

100 Years of… The Loves of Pharaoh

Why this film from 1922 is called The Loves of Pharaoh in English is a bit of a mystery. It’s Das Weib des Pharao – Pharaoh’s Woman (or Wife) – in German and in every other language it was translated into (per the IMDb), the lady in question has been faithfully rendered as wife/woman/love singular. … Read more
An ecstatic Alex

The Novice

Lauren Hadaway’s directorial debut, The Novice, is a bit like two other films – Black Swan (she admits the influence) and Whiplash (which she worked on as sound editor). Both are stories where extreme physical dedication borders on madness and coaching is a form of abuse. The Novice has its feet in both of those … Read more

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