enter the void

Popular Reviews

Heroine Nausicaä and companion fox squirrel

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Hayao Miyazaki’s career as an animator in charge of his own destiny starts here, with Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, two hours of typical Miyazaki, from 1984, which more or less set the benchmark for what was to come. There had been one full feature before, 1979’s The Castle of Cagliostro, but that was part of an ongoing series dedicated to Lupin III, supposedly the grandson of the French master thief Arsène Lupin. In Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, we are introduced to Nausicaä, a pure Miyazaki character, a tough, brave, kind, thoughtful and resourceful young woman separated from her parents and adrift in a world that’s a mash-up … Read more
Rocker Jack Kite and Johanna share a Walkman

How to Build a Girl

How to Build a Girl is the slightly – but not very – fictionalised story of Caitlin Moran, the British writer from the Midlands who published her first novel aged 15, was writing for the music paper Melody Maker aged 16 (gigs by night, home-schooling by day) and had her own column in the Times newspaper aged 18. She’s still writing for them. In the same way that journalism is not literature, this film is not a masterpiece of considered thought. Exactly as it should be, it’s a slightly chaotic, borderline marvellous yet reasonably forgettable dramedy charting Caitlin’s rise, fall and rise again in classic “had it, lost it, got it back” arc, … Read more
Shukichi and Tomi at the spa

Tokyo Story

1953’s Tokyo Story is based on a film its director, Yasujirô Ozu, hadn’t actually seen. But his writer, Kôgo Noda, had. And so the 1937 movie Make Way for Tomorrow was adapted into what is regularly described as one of the best movies ever made – 2012’s Directors Poll by Sight and Sound magazine put Tokyo Story in the number one slot. Both are punishing weepies, both “could make a stone cry” (as Orson Welles said about Make Way for Tomorrow), but Ozu’s film is also an exercise in an equally punishing minimalism. There are no movements from Ozu’s static camera. Actually, there is one, and that’s quite telling. On top of that … Read more
Interloper Friedrich with Baroness Sophie

The Damned aka Götterdämmerung

Luchino Visconti’s The Damned aka Götterdämmerung is like several seasons of the TV show Dallas run together. It’s big, melodramatic and camp. There’s even a “Bobby Ewing back from the shower” moment. It’s the first of Visconti’s German trilogy – Death in Venice and Ludwig would follow in 1971 and 1973 – but is in many respects a return to the territory of 1963’s The Leopard, being the story of a great old family’s tussle with political forces beyond its control. In The Leopard it was the arrival of democracy in 19th-century Italy upending certainties. In The Damned, aka Götterdämmerung, it’s the Nazis. We’re in Germany, it’s the 1930s, Hitler is newly in … Read more
Nicolas Cage as Evan Lake

Dark aka Dying of the Light Director’s Cut

Dark is writer/director Paul Schrader’s cut of Dying of the Light, the 2014 spy thriller that was taken from him, re-edited, de-kinked and reworked into something more akin to what the studio wanted – a Bourne movie. Schrader was not happy about it at the time and you might remember him, his stars Nicolas Cage and Anton Yelchin and executive producer Nicolas Winding Refn all posing for pictures in matching T shirts bearing the “non-disparagement” clause in their contracts, which prevented them from saying anything bad about the movie. Point made, point taken. Originally Refn had been meant to direct the film, with Harrison Ford starring and Channing Tatum in the Yelchin role. But … Read more
Claes Bang and Vicky Krieps

The Last Vermeer

The Last Vermeer is the true story of Han Van Meegeren, art forger extraordinaire, who knocked out old masters by the likes of Frans Hals, Pieter de Hooch and Johannes Vermeer, among others, during the Second World War and even managed to sell a “Vermeer” to Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring for a fortune. Van Meegeren was initially brought to trial in the Netherlands after the War for having sold Göring what was supposed to be a real Vermeer, as a collaborator who had facilitated the expropriation of the cultural property of the Netherlands. But when he eventually admitted that the picture was fake, those charges were dropped. However, because of the skewed logic of … Read more
Constance Rousseau as teenage Pamela

All Is Forgiven

All Is Forgiven (Tout est pardonné) was the first feature Mia Hansen-Løve made, in 2007, when she was about 25/26. It’s an interesting debut and sets the tone for a career built on small, carefully crafted human-relationship dramas going for the slow burn rather than the big melodramatic bang. The Nordic name is a bit of a bum steer. Hansen-Löve is French, was born in Paris, and works in the distinctly French cinematic tradition, itself a continuation of the French literary tradition – Hugo, Balzac, Flaubert, Zola etc. Which is another way of saying that her films are about recognisable people having a bad time. Here it’s never really certain whether it’s the … Read more
James Coburn and Joan Delaney

The President’s Analyst

With Elon Musk currently trailing his Neuralink “brain machine interface” idea as the future of inter-personal communications, how about The President’s Analyst, a 1967 movie that got there first? It’s called the Cerebrum Communicator – a brain implant that will render phone calls unnecessary – and comes at the familiar point in this spytastic spoof when the evil megalomaniac mastermind is laying out his plan for total world domination (or something) to Dr Schaefer, whose role as the US president’s analyst has got him caught up in a pantomime of escalating espionage mayhem. Before we all get too carried away with an idea that arrives from nowhere and is soon despatched there too, it’s … Read more
The Houses of Parliament

Power, Profit and Populism: The Battle for Hard Brexit

At the Raindance film festival, London, UK, 27 October–6 November 2021 The UK voted to leave the EU in 2016. Power, Profit and Populism: The Battle for Hard Brexit tells the story of how the answer to a seemingly straightforwardly worded referendum question was hijacked by invisible forces. “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” was the question, and the campaign to persuade the electorate to vote to leave was largely fought on the basis that the country would be able to “take back control” of various competencies, like its borders, its fishing and farming, while retaining access to the EU’s single market.   … Read more
Catherine Clinch as Cáit

The Quiet Girl

Oh dear. There were tears before bedtime watching The Quiet Girl (An Cailín Ciúin), an Irish-language film set in the 1980s and all about a girl whose parents send her off to live with a distant cousin on a remote farm. Mother (Kate Nic Chonaonaigh) is overburdened with kids. Dad (Michael Patric) is a feckless womanising boozer, and young Cáit (Catherine Clinch), not fitting in too well at school, has become a handful. And so, without being consulted, Cáit is shipped off for the school summer holidays in what might be a dry run for something more permanent. It looks like the set-up for one of those misery memoirs à la Angela’s Ashes, … Read more
Black Widow and Yelena on a bike

Black Widow

“Three’s a trend,” as the saying goes, and with the success of Black Widow, after Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman, it looks like the jinx on female superhero movies (Supergirl, Elektra, Catwoman) can finally be declared broken. It was about time that Black Widow got her own standalone movie in any case, the character having been a bit neglected by the Marvel Cinematic Universe in one Avengers film after another, to the point where it was looking like there was a sexism/patriarchy thing going on. Smartly heading that sort of criticism off at the pass, that’s the plot too, pretty much, with Black Widow swinging into action to neutralise a drug that turns … Read more
Analeigh Tipton and Miles Teller in Two Night Stand

Two Night Stand

Two Night Stand takes the boy wins girl/boy loses girl formula, gives it a millennial spin and then lets its stars, Miles Teller and Analeigh Tipton charm the pants off us as they rip the pants off each other. Genuinely fresh and cute, refreshingly forthright and even sexy – most sex comedies, let’s face it, aren’t – its simple two hander story sees Tipton’s sofa-surfing slacker having rebound sex with stoner Teller, then attempting to sneak away from his place in the early hours, only to find they’re snowed in together. Which is embarrassing considering the “fuck you, too” farewells they’ve just been bidding each other. And that’s it: a boy, a girl, … Read more

Popular Posts