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Strawberry and Mikey on a fairground ride

Red Rocket

Red Rocket is the latest news bulletin from Scuzzville USA by Sean Baker, who gave us bitching transexual sex workers in Tangerine (the one “shot on an iPhone”) and the travails of motel-dwelling poor white trash in The Florida Project. Both of those flirted with poverty porn and so does Red Rocket, more literally this … Read more
Charlie plays the piano

Shoot the Piano Player

How do you follow a classic like The 400 Blows? With another one, if you’re François Truffaut. Shoot the Piano Player (aka Shoot the Pianist, or Tirez sur le pianiste in the original French) debuted in 1960, one year after 400 Blows had made Truffaut’s name as a director. Just in case there was any … Read more
Two lovers silhouetted against a red moon

Labyrinth of Cinema

At a certain point words won’t do. So it is with Labyrinth of Cinema, a wild kaleidoscopic three hours designed as a farewell by an old man to an art and craft he has loved, and to the world he’s been living in for around 80 years. The man is called Nobuhiko Ôbayashi and he’d … Read more
Ida Lupino and Robert Ryan

On Dangerous Ground

One of the most cultish of Hollywood directors, Nicholas Ray, made his directorial debut in 1949. 1951’s On Dangerous Ground was his seventh film in two years (eighth, if you count Roseanna McCoy, where he replaced director Irving Reiss). If this maverick made films in hurry, he matched that with films that also moved at … Read more
Cosmo meets the mob

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

The world is at Peak Ben Gazzarra and Peak John Cassavetes in The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, a neo-noir from 1976 full of techniques – handheld camera, sparse (if any) lighting, crash editing, semi-improv – that seemed weird at the time but have since been absorbed into mainstream film-making. Cassavetes had worked on the early … Read more
Inside the tunnel

The Tunnel

In the opening moments of The Tunnel, an onscreen notice informs us that there are over 1,100 tunnels in Norway, and that, in the event of an emergency situation in any one of them, it’s really just a case of every person for themselves. There have been eight major fires in recent years, we’re further … Read more
Adolphe Menjou and Dick Powell (centre of pic)

The Tall Target

A director on his way up meets a star on his way down in The Tall Target, a 1951 B movie about a plot to assassinate president-elect Abraham Lincoln in 1861, the year the American Civil War broke out. Anthony Mann directs, one year on from his breakthrough into the big time with the western … Read more
Kenneth Chamberlain peers through his spyhole

The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain

The title is a bit of a giveaway but The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain does not end well for Kenneth Chamberlain, a 70-year-old former Marine with heart problems and mental health issues who, shortly after 5am one November morning in 2011 accidentally set off his medical alert pendant while he slept. Within two hours he … Read more
The Count and Princess Vera

100 Years of… Foolish Wives

When Foolish Wives debuted in 1922, its writer/director/star Erich von Stroheim was at the peak of his popularity, having exploited anti-German sentiment during the First World War by playing a despicable Hun doing despicable things in a series of films. “The man you love to hate,” was his moniker, one gained in 1918 in the … Read more
Richard at the courtside

King Richard

Not taking many chances, but not making any mistakes either, King Richard is a grown-up Hollywood movie made in the classic style – no tricks, no experiments – with a solid Will Smith at its centre, as Richard Williams, the driven father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams. The Williams sisters have exec-producer credits … Read more
The town clerk and the mayor


Broadcast in 1972, the same year it was agreed that the UK would join the European Common Market, Clochemerle caused a stir when it was first shown. That’s because this charming show was all about a urinal. This pissoir (the word is never used) is erected in a small French village by the progressive mayor … Read more
Cuddles and Tolly

Underworld USA

Shock, horror, probe. Sam Fuller’s Underworld USA is further proof that the former crime journalist and pulp novelist’s knack for attention-grabbing material survived the transition from the page to the screen. Fuller was a newspaper copyboy aged 12, a crime reporter aged 17, a novelist aged 23 and a screenwriter aged 26. A man in … Read more

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