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Favorite films

  • Wings of Desire
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Vertigo
  • Contempt

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  • Solar Beats

    ★★★½

  • The Woman Who Powders Herself

    ★★★½

  • The Exterminating Angels

    ★★½

  • Belle Toujours

    ★★★★

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  • Andrei Rublev

    Andrei Rublev

    ★★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Tarkovsky works God’s camera floating across bleak landscapes to rest on faces exhausted by struggle and fear and exhuming the pitiless misery of 15th century Russian life. The film is a kind of tableau vivant in eight extended chapters bookended by a prologue and epilogue. They depict a composite of lives struggling under the yoke of freezing winters, extreme hunger and violent oppression; lives that can only find fleeting pleasure and comfort in sin; lives where only madness can perceive…

  • Contempt

    Contempt

    ★★★★★

    George Delerue’s tragic score stabbing over the blood red title. The dolorous reading of the credits as if a speech at a funeral. The long held shot of a young woman idling towards us, her head in a book, tracked by a camera unit. As they approach, our gaze is directed not at the woman but to Raoul Coutard, the cameraman, who pivots his Cinemascope lens around and down to judge us while the voiceover intones a quote from Andre…

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  • Solar Beats

    Solar Beats

    ★★★½

    Superimpositions create a kind of heat haze or watery wave over images of varying source and form to conjure shimmering abstractions and tantalising ambiguities. The mood is more elusive and less assertive than in other films I’ve seen by Patrick Bokanowski, and yet it retains his ability to envelop my attention in a ravishing dreamscape, in part thanks to Michele Bokanowski’s excellent music.

  • The Woman Who Powders Herself

    The Woman Who Powders Herself

    ★★★½

    A gorgeously horrifying murk of shadow and silhouette flickering spasmodically between painting and puppetry beneath a dissonantly textured electronic score by Michele Bokanowski, the director’s wife. Where L’Ange reminded me most of the Quays, this earlier short is closer to Lynch in its insistence on unease.

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  • Fallen Leaves

    Fallen Leaves

    ★★★★½

    Economy: not a wasted word.

    Love: a story of misery, grounded in compassion, but mostly a story of love.

    Alcoholic reasoning: depressed because he drinks, drinks because he’s depressed.

    The consolations of music: Tchaikovsky’s tragic sixth acting as the main characters’ love theme; Karaoke Schubert!; and melancholic pop. 

    Colours: never have they been so rich and so sad.

    Oppression: Russia’s attacks on the Ukraine breathing down the necks of the Finns, while unemployment and poverty strangle them.

    Deadpan delights: Jarmusch’s The…

  • Tenet

    Tenet

    ★★½

    When I was a teenager I used to delight in playing my LPs backwards and listening out for all those Satanic messages. I bet if you played Tenet backwards you’d hear the devil mutter something palindromic like “what the fuck the what”

    Now I’m not one to say this film made no sense at all, in fact when the music shut up for long enough that I was able to hear what the characters were actually saying there were literally…