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Kaleb screams


Infested is Attack the Block with added spiders… and that’s a good thing. A homage to John Carpenter, in other words. Confined space, conflicted characters, churning synths, an invisible foe… until it suddenly isn’t, it’s (mostly) all here. It’s the feature debut of French director Sébastien Vaniček and impressed Sam Raimi enough to get Vaniček a gig directing the next Evil Dead movie – a franchise back from the, er, dead. You can see why Raimi signed him up. Raimi-like, Vaniček wastes no time getting his story going, and then prioritises forward momentum. In disaster-movie style we meet a bunch of characters before following them into a situation full of jeopardy. Some will survive, … Read more
Lola bathed in red and orange light


Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s BRD Trilogy isn’t really meant to be a trilogy and is, in any case, in the wrong order. Take 1981’s Lola. Second of the “trilogy” to be released, it’s marked as BRD3 quite clearly in the opening titles. Veronika Voss, last of the three, was marked BRD2. Only the first one, The Marriage of Maria Braun, seems to be the right film in the right place. Here, BRD stands for Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany). As to the trilogy not really being a trio. It was never meant to be one, it’s just that Fassbinder died before he could make any more, in 1982. So who knows how many … Read more
Jess (Hayley Erin) is being hunted

New Life

If you’ve only seen the poster for New Life you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a sci-fi movie. It isn’t, but what it actually is remains fairly opaque until (checks timings) pretty much right on the halfway mark, when debut writer/director John Rosman finally shows his hand. It’s a good reveal and I’m not going to ruin it. Until the grand reveal New Life looks like it might be a Bourne movie on a budget, or possibly a very earthbound sci-fi movie, or maybe exactly what it appears to be, a chase thriller. It is brilliantly economical and turns its low budget to its advantage as it spins out a story of … Read more
Jack hiding in a crate

Jack Strong

Jack Strong – the name is only heard once in this movie of the same name. It’s the code name of Ryszard Kukliński, a real-life colonel in the Polish army who worked as a spy for the CIA in the period running up to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of communism. Much of the advertising for this film, which came out in 2014, centres on Patrick Wilson, who is barely in it, and also Dagmara Domińczyck (now a lot more famous on account of Succession). The two of them are married and so presumably came as a package, Polish-born Polish-speaking Domińczyck having suggested Wilson, I’m guessing. Fine though they … Read more
Siegfried checks his sword before setting out

100 Years of… Die Nibelungen: Siegfried

Long before techno or Kraftwerk there was Richard Wagner, and in 1924 director Fritz Lang and his writer wife Thea von Harbou decided to put a story the German headbanger had popularised onto the screen. Die Nibelungen: Siegfried is the first of a two-part phantasmagorical medieval epic “dedicated to the German People”, a Tolkien-before-Tolkien, Game-of-Thrones-before-Game-of-Thrones tale of hair, helmets and hunting horns. Plus invisibility, dragons, fair damsels, derring-do, treachery and death. George Lucas clearly watched this first film (at least) before making Star Wars and the debt owed visually by Game of Thrones is also obvious here and there. What’s remarkable is how technically accomplished it is given given the crudity of the … Read more
Jackie and Lou

Love Lies Bleeding

The spirit of Jim Thompson takes Thelma and Louise for a ride in Love Lies Bleeding, Rose Glass’s follow-up to her feature debut, Saint Maud. That was a tortured, angst-ridden tale about the overlap between mental illness and religious belief – with a helluva twist. This is a dark and gruesome story tale about sex, death and bodybuilding with such a small sprinkling of comedy that you might not notice it. But also a twist you won’t see coming. The above-the-line star is Kristen Stewart, in another of her Joan Jett-style feather-cut-n-jeans roles as the bozo black sheep of a crime family who we meet literally arm deep in turds as she unblocks … Read more
Mr and Mrs Dodsworth embrace


Dodsworth is a reminder what a great actor Walter Huston was. The father of John, grandfather of Danny, great-grandfather of Jack trumps them all with a superbly relaxed and natural performance as an America car magnate being given the runaround by his silly wife. Ruth Chatterton in the thankless role as wife Fran is pretty good too. It’s a tale of solid, reliable, self-made Americans being led astray by workshy, corrupt old-money Europeans and it opens with scenes of Sam Dodsworth (Huston), an American motor manufacturing magnate much loved by his workforce selling up his business and departing for Europe with his wife for the holiday of a lifetime. Sam doesn’t really understand … Read more
The girl examines her stumps

The Girl without Hands aka La Jeune Fille sans Mains

A miller down on his luck meets a man in the woods. The man is the Devil, though the miller doesn’t know it, and after a bit of smalltalk he’s soon offered the miller a deal. Give me what you have behind your mill and I’ll make you rich, offers the Devil. Behind the mill, thinks the man, that’s an apple tree. An apple tree for a crock of gold sounds fair enough to me, he reasons. Obviously never having read any fairy tales, he agrees to the bargain. It turns out that the miller’s daughter was also behind the mill and the miller has now signed her over to the Devil himself. … Read more
Elizabeth Taylor

A Place in the Sun

Based on the appropriately named novel An American Tragedy, A Place in the Sun is a noirish and properly tragic melodrama hailed as a nigh-on perfect movie when it came out in 1951. Since then its stock has fallen somewhat, though the first two thirds still work beautifully, thanks in no small part to the performance of Shelley Winters, though Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor’s scenes together also exert a mesmeric pull. Its tragic hero is George (Clift), the poor relation of the wealthy manufacturing family the Eastmans, who, having tapped his uncle for a job, catches the eye of Alice (Winters), a demure sweetie who works alongside him on his uncle’s production … Read more
Lizzy at work in her studio

Showing Up

After the success of 2019’s First Cow, you might have expected Kelly Reichardt’s 2022 follow-up, Showing Up, to be a bigger hit than it was. Critics liked it; audiences not so much. It seems that Reichardt most hits the target with paying punters when she delivers westerns. See also Meek’s Cutoff. But all her films are engaging, and she’s always up to something, often in the background, as she is with Showing Up, which is the story of an artist who struggles through the distractions of everyday life to produce her work. But what Reichardt is she actually up to, that’s the question. Is this a slice of life? Or the story of … Read more
Fabio Testi and Romy Schneider

That Most Important Thing: Love aka L’important c’est d’aimer

Mad, anguished romantic drama on an exaggerated scale from Andrzej Żuławski, warming up with That Most Important Thing: Love (a clumsy translation of L’important c’est d’aimer) for his maddest romance of them all, Possession, which would follow six years later, in 1981. In the meantime audiences were more than happy with a tortured tale of twisted troilism – the actress, her husband and the hot photographer who comes between the two of them. Unusually, for a film from the 1970s, it takes the side of fidelity, more or less, of higher ideals over a quick bunk-up. In a bohemian, but not particularly boho-chic Paris, actress Nadine Chevalier (Romy Schneider) is all too aware … Read more
Liam has a swim

The Lesson

If Saltburn left you craving more class envy and death in a grand country house then pile your plate high with The Lesson. You also get another helping of Richard E Grant at his most brutally awful. At his best, in other words. Like Saltburn it’s the story of an outsider invited to spend some time with a very la-di-dah family. Liam (Daryl McCormack) is a very smart would-be writer taken on to act as the tutor (the film’s original title) to the son of the nation’s favourite novelist, JM Sinclair (Grant). The job: get son Bertie (Stephen McMillan), a shoegazey heap of attitude and entitlement, into Oxford. Also in residence, as Liam … Read more

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