America as Seen by a Frenchman

Two old friends pose with dummies at a theme park

In the late 1950s the French documentarian François Reichenbach took his camera to the USA for 18 months. America as Seen by a Frenchman (aka L’Amerique Insolite) is the result, a snapshot of a country caught at a moment in time, where the tension between homogenising mass consumption and the individual pursuit of happiness runs through almost every frame. Reichenbach starts out in California and then winds his way across the country, finally ending up in New York. The opening shot is eye-catching – two American sailors staring out from a ship as it pulls into San Francisco Bay and under the Golden Gate Bridge – and Reichenbach continues to deliver seductive imagery at … Read more

The Human Voice

Tilda Swinton with axe

If you’ve never seen a screen version of Jean Cocteau’s short one-hander The Human Voice before, this one, starring Tilda Swinton and directed by Pedro Almodóvar, is a good place to start. There are plenty of others. Shelby Satterthwaite appeared in a Canadian version in 2019, Rosamund Pike in an adaptation by Patrick Kennedy in 2018. There’s a Spanish language one starring Karina Gidi from 2016, a sung version from 1985 with the soprano Elisabeth Söderström as “the Woman”, even one starring Ingrid Bergman from 1966 directed by Ted Kotcheff (who also gave us Rambo in First Blood, the great Aussie shocker Wake in Fright, and ur-bozo comedy Weekend at Bernie’s). A South … Read more