Alain Delon and Monica Vitti

Existential girl Monica Vitti meets material boy Alain Delon in L’Eclisse (The Eclipse), the last of Michelangelo Antonioni’s “Incommunicability” trilogy and by a stretch the easiest to watch. Whether this, L’Avventura and La Notte actually are thematically a trilogy at all is an argument best left for another day, but Antonioni didn’t see them that way – it was critics who lumped them together. What does definitely link all three is Monica Vitti – as a peripheral character who becomes much more important in L’Avventura, as chunky co-lead in La Notte but absolutely the main event here, from first shot to last. Antonioni starts the film with a brilliant scene set in a … Read more

She Will

Alice Krige and Kota Eberhardt

She Will – think of it as a rhyme for Free Will rather than the beginning of an unfinished sentence – a declaration of independence by a woman on behalf of all women, with a payback moment late on that’s received by a character played by Malcolm McDowell, perhaps on behalf of all men. Stated baldly the plot sounds exactly like the sort of thing you’d expect horror film network Shudder to find interesting (they have indeed picked it up) – an ageing grand dame actress recovering from a mastectomy heads to Scotland for some R&R at what she thinks is a solitary retreat. When she and her private nurse get there, they … Read more


Sandro and Claudia

When L’Avventura debuted at the Cannes film festival in 1960 the reception was so unfavourable that the director, Michelangelo Antonioni, and his star, Monica Vitti, ended up beating a hasty retreat from the cinema where it was being shown. Up to the point where they decided it wasn’t worth it any more they’d endured boos, jeers, laughs and shouts of “Cut!” in scenes which, the audience felt, just ran on too long. Everyone’s a critic. By the next day sentiment had started to shift. The film went on to win the Jury Prize – among those on the jury were the writers Henry Miller and Georges Simenon, so a tough crowd – and … Read more


A perp is roughed up by Lewis

Memory stars Liam Neeson as a guy with a very particular set of skills… oh, you’ve gone. No, come back. He’s a hitman and it’s a one last job affair and… It doesn’t sound very promising, does it? After all by this point (2022) Neeson has been in how many of these – since Taken reinvigorated his career in 2008 the list contains (at least) Taken 2 and Non-Stop and Taken 3 and Run All Night and The Commuter and Cold Pursuit, all pretty similar. A seemingly average guy at a very particular stage of life turns out to be the sort of man you don’t want to cross. Where Neeson went, an … Read more

Catch My Soul

Desdemona and Othello

What a strange beast Catch My Soul is. A rock musical released in 1974 to widespread indifference, if not jeers, it was directed by Patrick McGoohan, produced by Jack Good, starred Richie Havens and was an adaptation of the play Othello by William Shakespeare. There’s so much talent in here and yet… pfft. Thumbnail sketches of the above. McGoohan was the creator/co-writer/co-director/star of the 1960s cult TV series The Prisoner. Good had created “youth TV” in the UK, producing shows like Six-Five Special and Oh Boy!, before taking off for the US and reproducing the success with Shindig!. Havens was the charismatic singer-songwriter who had catapulted himself to fame after electrifying the Woodstock … Read more


Nela, Julija and Ante

Martin Scorsese must be asked to lend his name to films by unknowns all the time. Murina obviously impressed him – he’s on board as an executive producer. It also won the Caméra d’Or, the gong handed out at Cannes to the best film by a debut director. Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic is that director and her film is a brilliant, tightly wound study of a family falling apart. It would be ugly if it weren’t set on the coast of Croatia, an idyll where grouchy Ante (Leon Lucev), his pretty wife Nela (Danica Curcic) and their lithe, sporty daughter Julija (Gracija Filipovic) live a simple life, catching fish to eat to supplement their … Read more

World on a Wire

Entering the simulation

World on a Wire (Welt am Draht) is German auteur Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s only stab at sci-fi. An epic 3.5-hour behemoth, it was originally shown on TV in two parts, and starts as Fassbinder means it to go on, setting up questions about what we’re seeing in front of us. The opening shot is done on a lens so long it causes an atmospheric shimmer. The picture wobbles just a touch, as if we’re looking through a heat haze. When the people we’re seeing start speaking, their voices have the dead flat ambience of a dubbing studio. So much for atmosphere – we’re disconnected from these businessmen out on the street and entering … Read more

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Doctor Strange

The success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe must surprise even Marvel. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the 28th film in the series, the fifth of Phase Four, and with talk of folding both Deadpool and Blade into the franchise, the MCU isn’t going anywhere just yet. Have a squint at the Trivia section for this film’s entry on the IMDb – it expands to fill several multiverses. Fanboy fervour unbound. Sam Raimi is part of that success. Though his Spider-Man trilogy of 20 years ago isn’t part of the official MCU – and Blade had to an extent already shown the way – the success of three films in five … Read more


War planes swing low over the smallholding

Shame is Ingmar Bergman’s war movie. Except, being an Ingmar Bergman movie, it’s really about relationships, a marriage in trouble (probably Bergman’s own – number four was heading for the exit), and something else on top. Kriget (The War) was Bergman’s original title for it, but Skammen (literally, The Shame) is what Bergman settled on. So, not a generalised Shame but a specific instance of it. What that shame might be precisely is what Bergman will eventually reveal, but he starts out by painting a portrait of two former orchestral musicians (wife number four, Käbi Laretei was a concert pianist) who have given it all up to live the good life, growing and selling … Read more

Crimes of the Future

Caprice stands over a lying Tenser

David Cronenberg likes the title Crimes of the Future. He’s used it once before, for a film he made in 1970. He’s using it again here, 52 years later, but there’s no other connection between the two, at least on the surface. The 1970 is comedy sci-fi about a world without women, the 2022 recycling is good old-fashioned Cronenbergian body horror like he used to make. FYI, eXistenZ (1999), his last go at the genre he dominated in the 1980s and 90s, also had the working title Crimes of the Future. This Crimes of the Future’s origins go back to four years after eXistenZ, when Cronenberg was trying to put together a film … Read more