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Léo, Marie and her father

Staying Vertical

Structured like a dream, or a nightmare, Staying Vertical (Rester Vertical in the original French) is populated with character types – the writer, the young man, the grandfather, the doctor, the farmer, the farmer’s daughter. And it has wolves in it too, which feature almost as a threat or an element from a fairytale until … Read more
Ares is readied for a fight

Ares

There’s a Marvel character called Ares, and a DC one, strangely enough. A Greek god also goes by the same name, as does the hero of Ares (Arès, originally), a dystopian French actioner mainly remarkable for how unremarkable it is. Reda Arèsilla (Ola Rapace), to give him his full name, lives in Paris in 2035, … Read more
Lorelei and Wayland

Lorelei

People at a decisive moment of their lives is what Lorelei is about. Or, more specifically people who should be at a decisive moment of their lives but whose circumstances are so proscribed that they’re incapable of seeing an opportunity offered, even when one does come along. Wayland is fresh out of jail after 15 … Read more
Kate Lyn Sheil

She Dies Tomorrow

Great title, She Dies Tomorrow, full of “duh duh duuuh” foreboding. It’s directed and written by Amy Seimetz and stars Katy Lyn Sheil as a woman dealing with the aftermath of an emotional break-up. She does this initially by playing Mozart’s Requiem a lot and crushing dry leaves between her fingers, as if to feel … Read more
Jim and Richard get wasted

The Dark End of the Street

This tantalising drama is the second film by writer/director Kevin Tran, and the second one to be called The Dark End of the Street – his first was a short and is the basis for this extended version, also, at 69 minutes, quite short. Robert Altman is at least partly the inspiration for a string … Read more
Josh Hartnett, Bérénice Marlohe and Keir Dullea

Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods. What the hell was that? At around an hour in, Lech Majewski’s film starts to look like it’s developing a plot. But until then it’s been a series of scenes/scenarios/situations that don’t seem to be very connected at all. In one we meet John (Josh Hartnett), a would-be writer trying to … Read more
Jesse Eisenberg in white face make-up

Resistance

Heartfelt rather than gut-wrenching, Resistance is an origin story. Not of a superhero, which is what origin stories usually concern themselves with. But of the world’s most famous mime, Marcel Marceau, who died in 2007 aged 84. This seems, at first glance, amazing in itself. After all, who’s interested in that? But it turns out … Read more
Cosmonaut Veshnyakov on the floor

Sputnik

Sputnik is a movie from 2020 set in the Soviet era. As well as having a fantastic story thick with allegorical possibilities, it also feels like a movie from the Soviet era –  as if it were riveted together from half inch steel plate. There are touches of pure Hollywood too, not least in the … Read more
Burnham portrayed on a cross

Bo Burnham: Inside

The ceaselessly inventive new Netflix show, Bo Burnham: Inside is a comedy special making the most of the reduced fields of operations available during the pandemic. Burnham’s on his own. No audience. No crew. Just him and all the tech he can muster. If he didn’t inform us repeatedly, we wouldn’t guess. This is a … Read more
John looks into the hole

John and the Hole

John and the Hole is a story written by Nicolás Giacobone, so there’s a weird element along with the everyday. He also wrote Birdman, which interspersed familiar scenes of an actor in crisis preparing for a show with moments where he’d be transformed into the superhero he’d played years before. In Biutiful, the 2010 movie … Read more
Lieberman and Popsíchal in a dugout

Tobruk

If you love the colour beige or taupe, can’t get enough fawn, dun and khaki, you’ll have an extra affection for Tobruk, the 2008 Czech movie written and directed by Václav Marhoul. It’s his second, after the Philip Marlowe-spoofing Smart Philip (Mazany Filip) of 2003, and has little in common with the 1967 film of … Read more
Aaron Golden as Caesar

Mondo Hollywoodland

An alien from the fifth dimension lands in Hollywood (with a camera, handily) and takes a fact-finding tour with a skanky seller of psychedelic mushrooms. Mondo Hollywood is the result, a weird survey of the territory that makes half-hearted claims towards being a documentary. Bizarre points to note before the tour gets underway: it’s exec-produced … Read more

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