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Danila with a gun

Brother 2

The gang’s all back together for the sequel to Brother – Brother 2, unsurprisingly. That includes the writer/director Aleksey Balabanov, star Sergey Bodrov, key members of the support cast, notably Viktor Sukhorukov as the titular brother, plus cinematographer Sergey Astakhov, editor Marina Lipartiya, composer Vyacheslav Butusov and even the chunky knit sweater that Bodrov wore … Read more
Nitram and a burning car

Nitram

Nitram is a tough sell: a film about the Port Arthur shooting in 1996 – 35 dead, 23 wounded at the hand of a lone gunman called Martin Bryant – it was controversial in Australia, where the shooting occurred, and unsurprisingly several politicians were particularly vocal in campaigning against it. The fact that Australian’s gun … Read more
Elinore and Avatar

Wizards

A 1977 movie featuring Mark Hamill about the cosmic struggle between the forces of good and evil? Wizards is of course the answer, maverick animator Ralph Bakshi’s freak-flavoured adventure, which only incidentally features Hamill, though he makes for a useful gobbet of trivia if you’re a quiz compiler. Actually, the parallels with Star Wars are … Read more
Sergey Bodrov

Brother

Brother (Brat, in the original) is unusual because it’s not only a film made in the teeth of Russia’s economic collapse in the 1990s following the “shock treatment” prescribed by neoliberal economists from other countries, but it reflects the day-to-day reality of that treatment. Without anyone actually sharpening a political axe for the whole of … Read more
Chloé with Paul, or possibly Louis

Double Lover

Made in 2017 but with its heart firmly in 1947, François Ozon’s Double Lover (L’amant double in the original French) takes a pretty young woman, Chloé (Marine Vacth), and subjects her to a brutal gaslighting at the hands of a male psychiatrist. Two male psychiatrists, in fact, twin brothers (both played by Jérémie Renier) so … Read more
Luc and Alice take a shower

Criminal Lovers

Criminal Lovers. Is that lovers who are criminals? Or people who love criminals? There’s no such ambiguity in the original French title of François Ozon’s 1999 shocker. Les amants criminels makes clear these are lovers who are criminals. No ambiguity at all, in a film shot through with it from start to finish. In what … Read more
Spider-Man complete with arachnid arms

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Spider-Man spun? Spider-Man: No Way Home is another gargantuan Marvel movie full of action, great power/great responsibility moments and the sort of emotion you’d expect in stories about a highly strung teenage superhero. Jon Watts is back as the director, and the writers are again Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers – all three have been … Read more
Forrest Stanley and Marion Davies in a clinch

100 Years of… When Knighthood Was in Flower

When Knighthood Was in Flower answers the question posed by Citizen Kane – just how much of a chump was media magnate William Randolph Hearst over actress Marion Davies? Here is how much – a massive movie conceived on the grandest scale, produced by a company Hearst set up expressly to make Davies a star, … Read more
Encanto's heroine, Mirabel

Encanto

If you liked Moana then you are the target for Encanto, a song-filled animated story of young female derring-do, set against the background of an ancient civilisation and with a sprinkling of magic to help things along. Polynesia did the decorative thing for Moana, it’s Mesoamerica in Encanto, but if actual knowledge brings you in … Read more
Lotus Flower finds the half drowned sailor

100 Years of… The Toll of the Sea

There are two good ancillary reasons for watching The Toll of the Sea, on top of the fact that it’s a touching, almost heartbreaking drama of a sort it’s almost impossible to imagine being made today. The first is that it stars Anna May Wong, Hollywood’s first Chinese American star, here only 17 years old … Read more
Adam Driver and Lady Gaga

House of Gucci

House of Gucci, Ridley Scott, this looks like a good fit. A fashion house relying on its image to shift product and a director who started out in advertising and still has an eye for an arresting visual. And so it proves to be, mostly… though by the end you might be staring at the … Read more
Fanny and Alexander

Fanny and Alexander

Fanny and Alexander won four Academy Awards at the Oscars in 1984 and was the first foreign movie to have done so. No foreign movie has ever won more and Ingmar Bergman’s film has only been matched twice in the years since – by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Parasite (2019). At the time … Read more

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