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Honor Swinton Byrne as Julie

The Souvenir: Part II

The Souvenir: Part II makes sense of Part I, which seems like an obvious thing to say. But some sequels genuinely are sequels (The Godfather: Part II), fleshing out and adding to the original. Others are merely retellings of a story that’s already been told (The Matrix Reloaded). Joanna Hogg’s film fits into a third … Read more
Tobias

Paul Is Dead

Paul Is Dead. Depending on your age, most likely, the title of Henk Handloegten’s debut feature might suggest an entire landscape, maybe tickle a vague memory somewhere or pull up a complete blank. The Paul in question is Paul McCartney and the phrase refers to the bizarre conspiracy theory suggesting that at some point in … Read more
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

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