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Encanto's heroine, Mirabel

Encanto

If you liked Moana then you are the target for Encanto, a song-filled animated story of young female derring-do, set against the background of an ancient civilisation and with a sprinkling of magic to help things along. Polynesia did the decorative thing for Moana, it’s Mesoamerica in Encanto, but if actual knowledge brings you in … Read more

Lotus Flower finds the half drowned sailor

100 Years of… The Toll of the Sea

There are two good ancillary reasons for watching The Toll of the Sea, on top of the fact that it’s a touching, almost heartbreaking drama of a sort it’s almost impossible to imagine being made today. The first is that it stars Anna May Wong, Hollywood’s first Chinese American star, here only 17 years old … Read more

Adam Driver and Lady Gaga

House of Gucci

House of Gucci, Ridley Scott, this looks like a good fit. A fashion house relying on its image to shift product and a director who started out in advertising and still has an eye for an arresting visual. And so it proves to be, mostly… though by the end you might be staring at the … Read more

Fanny and Alexander

Fanny and Alexander

Fanny and Alexander won four Academy Awards at the Oscars in 1984 and was the first foreign movie to have done so. No foreign movie has ever won more and Ingmar Bergman’s film has only been matched twice in the years since – by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Parasite (2019). At the time … Read more

Stan and Zeena

Nightmare Alley

2021’s Nightmare Alley isn’t based on the 1947 film noir of the same name, so we’re told by various venerable authorities. Tell that to the judge. Even if it genuinely is a bona fide and honest reworking of the same source material, William Lindsay Gresham’s smash 1946 novel, even a quick look at the 1947 … Read more

Zeena and Stanton in a carnival truck

Nightmare Alley

1947’s Nightmare Alley is lavish, melodramatic, contains a hint of the supernatural and is a touch too long – you can see why Guillermo Del Toro wanted to remake it. It’s also a great role for a matinee idol trying to shrug off a pretty-boy tag (Tyrone Power even more so than Bradley Cooper in … Read more

Roxanne and Cyrano

Cyrano

If the tricky bit in musicals is the moment when people transition into song, what about the quasi-musical? Cyrano demonstrates that the problem isn’t doubled but squared – every time Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett or Kelvin Harrison Jr burst into song, it’s a genuine shock. The fact that the actual songs are a bit hit … Read more

Laura with Shelby Carpenter

Laura

A complex psychological thriller masquerading as a film noir, 1944’s Laura is about three men who are bewitched by a woman so ethereally, transcendentally beguiling that it is entirely appropriate that, when director Otto Preminger takes the curtain up, Laura (Gene Tierney) is already dead. What follows is a basic whodunit pulled in various unusual … Read more

Tim Blake Nelson as Old Henry

Old Henry

Suddenly everyone wants a very particular set of skills. Old Henry is the latest in a line of movies where the hero turns out to be capable of things he initially appears not to be capable of at all. Before Bob Odenkirk did it in Nobody. Before Keanu Reeves in John Wick. Before Liam Neeson … Read more

Dana Andrews, Sally Forrest, Thomas Mitchell and Ida Lupino sitting at a bar

While the City Sleeps

While the City Sleeps is one of the great noir titles. Which is not the same as saying it’s one of the great noir movies. In fact it’s barely noir at all. Though it does start off looking like it might be. A lurid murder before the opening credits, then titles that come blaring at … Read more

Mother and daughter cower

Settlers

Settlers is a sci-fi film so far away from what people usually term sci-fi that it barely qualifies. In fact it opens looking like a western – big craggy mountains in a dusty landscape – and then plays out like a wildlife documentary. The sort of wildlife documentary where a new male lion arrives on … Read more

Charlie Yeung and Takeshi Kaneshiro

Fallen Angels

Fallen Angels was originally meant be the third part of Wong Kar-Wai’s previous film, 1994’s Chungking Express, but Wong realised he’d told his story already in the two separate but interlinked stories he already had in the can. No third part necessary. And so here it is, all on its ownsome, an expanded reworked standalone, … Read more

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