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The wife and the spy go shopping

Wife of a Spy

There’s a real lack of urgency in many of the films of Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Sometimes it works in his favour, sometimes against. Against, I’m feeling, with Wife of a Spy. Though there are plot bombs dropped towards the end, and fascinating ideas bubbling away in there to, this high-tone mix of lush period drama and … Read more
Max von Sydow, Patrick Stewart, Kyle MacLachlan and Jürgen Prochnow

Dune

Dune. Not Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 behemoth, that pleasure still awaits. But David Lynch’s 1984 version, the only film in his career that he wished he hadn’t made and will not talk about in interviews, except to say he shouldn’t have made it. And not the theatrical version either, but the “extended” one worked up for … Read more
A high priestess

On the Silver Globe

Ready for one of the strangest sci-fi movies ever made? On the Silver Globe (Na srebrnym globie in the original Polish) is as powerful as it is incomprehensible, as if David Lynch’s Dune had been put in a bag and tossed around with Game of Thrones, Tolkien, Tarkovsky and Mad Max. The story behind it … Read more
Claude behind a wire screen

Le Trou

How about this for authenticity – Le Trou opens not with music or credits but with a camera pan across to a man working on a car. Noticing the camera, the man gets up and says, (translated) “Hello. My friend Jacques Becker has recreated a true story in all its detail. My story. It took place … Read more
Beanpole at home

Beanpole

Beanpole (Dylda) is an obsessively observed, massively ambitious Russian film set in the aftermath of the siege of Leningrad which tells its story of lives brutalised by war from the point of view of two young women. It won Kantemir Balagov the best director gong at Cannes in the Un Certain Regard category. That’s the … Read more
Hanussen on stage

Hanussen

Magic and the Nazis. Hanussen, the bizarre and true story of Eric Jan Hanussen, is ideal big screen material, you’d have thought, since the Austrian stage hypnotist and soothsayer was a charismatic performer who held Germans in his thrall in the dying days of the Weimar Republic and into the Nazi era. The parallels with … Read more
Madison on the floor

Malignant

One word titles suggesting ugginess are a bit of a specialty for James Wan – Saw, Insidious and now Malignant, a never frightening but entirely entertaining tour of the all-you-can-eat horror buffet. The writer/producer/director piles on a whole load of stuff, then a bit more, and then more still. If nothing else, you have to … Read more
Rocker Jack Kite and Johanna share a Walkman

How to Build a Girl

How to Build a Girl is the slightly – but not very – fictionalised story of Caitlin Moran, the British writer from the Midlands who published her first novel aged 15, was writing for the music paper Melody Maker aged 16 (gigs by night, home-schooling by day) and had her own column in the Times … Read more
Peter Lorre with M chalked on his back

M

The point of Fritz Lang’s 1931 film M – Eine Stadt Sucht einen Mörder is slightly lost when its truncated title, simply M, is used. This is a story not about a murderer (which is what the M stands for) but about the mob, when the rule of law is rejected in favour of a … Read more
Marion in hair band and Nelly

Petite Maman

Céline Sciamma’s Petite Maman takes such a massive turn at a certain point in its brief 1hr 12 minutes running time that it could only be spoilerish to mention it. Let’s just say she might have been watching Netflix’s German TV series Dark and leave it at that. As to the rest of it, it’s … Read more
Scilla Gabel as Elfie

Mill of the Stone Women

1960’s Mill of the Stone Women was the first Italian horror film to be shot in colour – Technicolor, no less – and is a landmark film which opened the door to the lurid looks and titillating scenarios of the giallo genre. Also known as Drops of Blood (or Il mulino delle donne di pietra, in … Read more
Raya and Victor put on headphones

Golden Voices

Films about the immigrant experience are hardly unusual at the moment, but Golden Voices manages to get fresh juice from a well squeezed formula. Perhaps surprisingly it’s a comedy, from Israel, largely in Russian. That’s a venn diagram right there. It’s also incredibly charming, does not go for easy laughs and has two fantastic performances … Read more

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