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Virgine and Bill walking

Stillwater

There are two stories being told in Stillwater, one well, the other other not so well. Unfortunately for all concerned, it’s the one that’s told not so well that the film insists it’s all about, from its title all the way through to its concluding scenes. At 2 hours 19 minutes you’d have thought that … Read more
Jean-Louis Trintignant as Silence

The Great Silence

One of the great puzzles about Sergio Corbucci’s 1968 spaghetti western The Great Silence (Il Grande Silenzio) is how shakily it starts. In one gruesomely unsteady shot after another, using lenses that are way too long, cinematographer Silvano Ippoliti appears to be putting on a demonstration of the genre’s technical shortcomings. Distant figures swing wildly … Read more
Aileen and W Eugene Smith

Minamata

From its title right through to its last gasp, Minamata, a drama based on real events, insists that it isn’t about the photographer W Eugene Smith. But it is. Smith was a photographer who’d distinguished himself in the Second World War and then returned to lay down many of the ground rules of photojournalism at … Read more
Jeon Do-yeon

Beasts Clawing at Straws

Beasts Clawing at Straws also goes by the English-language title of Beasts That Cling to the Straw but Rats in a Sack would also be a useful way of translating its original Korean title. It’s a story about different sets of people, all connected by a Louis Vuitton holdall full of cash, which we first … Read more
Watanabe on the swing in the snow

Ikiru

Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru is now old enough – it was released in 1952 – for people to be able to consider it rationally. Almost from the moment it hit the screens it was treated as Kurosawa’s “triumph”, one of the best films ever made, regularly turning up on Sight and Sound magazine’s influential once-a-decade poll … Read more
Pico, Debbie, Frankie, Suzy, Winky and Terry

Summer Days, Summer Nights

Summer Days, Summer Nights originally went by the title Summertime, as in the song by DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, which is interesting because that’s exactly the vibe it has – beautiful young people all just hanging and chilling and cooling about, enjoying the heat, soaking up the rays and basking in the … Read more
Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard

Annette

The formidably talented maverick Leos Carax hasn’t made a feature in nine years, nothing since 2012’s batshit Holy Motors, so that’s one thing to thank the new movie Annette for. Whether Annette actually is a Carax movie at all is the question though. How so, you ask. Because Annette is written by Ron (he of … Read more
Lucy and George

The Magnificent Ambersons

The film that never was, a magnificent mess, Orson Welles’s masterpiece, better even than Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons is all these things and more, or perhaps less, since no one apart from a handful of people in 1942 has ever seen the finished version. Instead there’s just the version we have, which is minus … Read more
Anthony Bourdain eating

Roadrunner: a Film about Anthony Bourdain

As a film about a person never at ease with himself, Roadrunner: A Film about Anthony Bourdain sketches a compelling if depressing picture of a man who at first didn’t have it all and was unhappy, and then did have it all and was still unhappy. Bourdain died in 2018 and had been famous since … Read more
Enid covered in blood

Censor

Censor twists the horror movie into something it usually isn’t – a political satire. It’s set in the 1980s, when a media-confected moral panic about “video nasties” forced the UK government into regulating what had been until then the entirley unregulated market in home videos, kept supplied by thousands of tiny one-man operations run out … Read more
Monty Woolley, Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan

The Man Who Came to Dinner

The Man Who Came to Dinner claims to star Bette Davis, but this is not true. The real star – the person around whom the story revolves, who drives the plot and takes up most of the screen time – is Monty Woolley, as the eponymous “man”. He’s the hoity-toity metropolitan-elite writer who arrives in … Read more
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

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