Latest Posts

Agathe and Tomas dance


Writer/director Ira Sachs’s fascination with asymmetric power relations and love of French film-maker Éric Rohmer come together in Passages, a very French, oblique and bohemian tale full of characters who have space to breathe and yet somehow manage to box themselves in. People stuck in passages. It’s a frustrating film full of great scenes, connected up with Rohermesque fannying about – people standing around not saying very much, moodily. But what a cast. Franz Rogowski as Tomas, a young film director who we first meet directing extras to come downstairs into a club in one of the final scenes of the movie he’s shooting. They will not do it his way. Or cannot … Read more
Tolik and Chizhov

Ku! Kin-dza-dza

Let’s hear it for animated sci-fi comedy from the Russia. Anyone? Ku! Kin-dza-dza is a strange film whichever way you slice it, starting with its title, and the fact that it’s a remake of a live-action movie from 1986, also made by Georgiy Daneliya (here directing alongside Tatyana Ilina), who decided in 2013 that he needed to take a second tour of the territory, what with the Iron Curtain having fallen in the interim. Out went a good chunk of the satire and the darkness, though the kookiness remains in his story of a snobbish cellist and his streetwise nephew who are accidentally transported from wintry Russia to an alien world where status … Read more
Eric, Maggie and Rachel

The Adults

The Adults will resonate with anyone who’s ever left home – to go to college, take a job, whatever – flown the parental nest, and then started returning periodically on visits that are more duty than pleasure. Eric, played by Michael Cera at a level of diffidence that’s very Michael Cera, is the guy back in town and trying to duck obligations to old friends and family by playing one off against the other. He’d love to come and see the new baby of one set of friends but he’s seeing his sisters that night. To the sisters he hands out the same bullshit excuse but flipped – he’s seeing the baby so … Read more
Mr Gondo with the ransom money, a cop looks on in the background

High and Low

Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low – one of a run of successful movies from him in the late 1950s and early 1960s – is something of a surprise. It sets off in one direction, with a moral dilemma, only to wind up in a different place entirely, as a police procedural the likes of which you can catch on TV any night of the week. This comes as a bit of a relief, because for its first third the tension is so exquisitely pitched it’s hard to look at the screen. It’s based on an Ed McBain thriller and tells the story of a businessman locked in the middle of a struggle for control … Read more
Jeremy Thomas and Mark Cousins en route to Cannes

The Storms of Jeremy Thomas

The Storms of Jeremy Thomas is a documentary for people who enjoy the sort of films that Jeremy Thomas gets involved with. The likes of The Sheltering Sky, Sexy Beast, Crash, High-Rise, 13 Assassins or The Dreamers. Smart, good-looking, slightly offbeat stuff, not arthouse exactly – his films are too starry for that. But not your Pixars, or Disneys, or Marvels or Foxes. Thomas is the producer or executive producer behind all of those movies, plus a long run of critical and box office successes going back to the 1970s. A “searingly bright” man of “great taste”, “totally playful” who can be “very serious”, says Debra Winger. “The dream producer… the enabler… so rock’n’roll,” … Read more
Antonio Banderas and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos face to face in a publicity shot

Femme Fatale

Brian De Palma’s films are a treat for people who watch a lot of movies, and Femme Fatale is no exception. Starting with an excerpt from Double Indemnity – the bit where Barbara Stanwyck is telling Fred MacMurray that she’s “rotten to the heart” – it then replays a similar scenario, with a tweak, in the modern (2002) era, with Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (as she was at the time) in the “femme fatale” role and Antonio Banderas as the guy trying to hang on to his testicles. Romijn-Stamos plays a very bad woman indeed, and in typically playful, relentlessly referential De Palma style the action starts at the Cannes film festival where her badass Laure is … Read more
Veronica on a bed

Lust Life Love

Not to be confused with a 2010 film by feminist pornographer Erika Lust with a very similar title, 2021’s Lust Life Love (NOT, I repeat NOT, Life Love Lust) has its own hold on raunch, being a grungey tale of a polyamorous New York woman whose hitherto free-and-easy glide through various sexual relationships in the sex clubs of New York hits a bump when romance rears its head. Veronica is a bisexual woman we first meet on the dark streets of nighttime New York as she heads to an assignation with a couple she has never met before. Wearing an animal print coat and stockings with seams up the back, she’s the image … Read more
Opening credits written on the school building

Because That Road Is Trodden

Because That Road Is Trodden is included as a bonus item on the BFI’s release of Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush. It’s a strange extra, not thematically linked, no personnel in common. Both were shot in the UK towards the end of the 1960s, this at Bryanston School, a fee-paying private school in Dorset, Mulberry Bush in working class Stevenage New Town. By British standards these places are not even geographically close. It’s a strange and short film, moody and woozy, about a day in the life of someone called only The Boy (Sebastian Tombs) from waking up in the morning onwards (though minute to minute this is not). It was … Read more
The sloth hides among the toys


“It all started,” Slotherhouse co-writer Brad Fowler said in an interview, “when a little old man in Florida asked, ‘What is the dumbest idea you can come up with?’ ” After about five minutes of “joking around”, Slotherhouse had emerged – a concept and a title in one fell swoop. Sloths. The least predatory creature in the jungle, an animal that spends most of its time apparently asleep. Furry. Small. Cute. Not an anaconda, or a shark or a tyrannosaur. How about taking sloths and using them to menace a sorority house where a Mean Girls vibe separates out queen bitch Brianna (Sydney Craven – a Wes Craven-adjacent name to conjure with) from all … Read more
Helmut Berger as Ludwig


As mad and excessive as the king it portrays, Luchino Visconti’s Ludwig – about the “mad” King Ludwig II (1845-1886) of Bavaria – is a vast, sprawling and endlessly sumptuous display of the excesses of a monarch who’s clearly off his chump. It got absolutely hammered by the US critics when it opened there in 1973 – Roger Ebert gave it one star and described it as “lethargic and persistently uninteresting”. The New York Times said it was “bereft of ideas”. And neither of them had seen the full-length four-hour version. At least 30 minutes had been lopped for its US distribution. Which is a pity, because the sheer unwieldy size of the … Read more
Barber in a dark alleyway


When not turning up in moneyspinning TV shows like The Wire or Game of Thrones, or the Maze Runner franchise or in smallish roles in big-money movies like Bohemian Rhapsody the actor Aidan Gillen can often be found in small-scale features, often as their anchor. Barber doesn’t quite fit into the same category as The Good Man, Mister John, Still or Rose Plays Julie (crackers all, marked out by brilliantly intense Gillen performances). But it is enjoyable, a wee Irish movie made for a small budget which seems to have all the hallmarks of the tryout pilot for a possible TV series. By which I mean more characters than strictly necessary for the … Read more
Slater (Robert Ryan) and Ingram (Harry Belafonte)

Odds Against Tomorrow

There are a lot of ways of approaching 1959’s Odds Against Tomorrow. It’s that sort of film. But let’s be boring and approach it from the usual angle and say it’s the first film noir with a black lead actor in it. It’s Harry Belafonte, whose HarBel company also produced it, and he plays one of three men involved in a bank job. Ed Begley plays the organising force, an ex cop called Burke hoping the job will plug the gap where his pension would have been if he hadn’t been been the fall guy in some police corruption scandal. Robert Ryan is Slater, the ex soldier whose anger issues are partly down … Read more

Popular Posts