• Winter Light

    Winter Light

    ★★★★★

    13th Ingmar Bergman (after Cries and Whispers, The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Persona, To Joy, Scenes from a Marriage, Face to Face, Fanny & Alexander, Hour of the Wolf, Autumn Sonata, The Magic Flute and Karin's Face)

    Part 2 of March 2024

    A maddeningly sad film. You get the sense that Tomas never lived a life of his own. He became a priest because his father wanted him to. He sleepwalked into adulthood buttressed by the answers Christianity gave him, his psyche sheltered…

  • The Paradine Case

    The Paradine Case

    ★★½

    36th Alfred Hitchcock film

    Part 1 of March 2024

    Torpid awfulness dragged towards mediocrity by its supporting cast. Two of the three Charles's of Classical Hollywood give lovely turns, especially Laughton as a grotesque judge straight out of And Then There Were None. Joan Tetzel gets a superfluous but lively role as Coburn's brainbox daughter (shades of Patricia Hitchcock in Strangers on a Train) and Ethel Barrymore's performance wrings pathos from what easily could have been dottiness.

    But the centre…

  • The Taste of Things

    The Taste of Things

    ★★★★★

    1st Tran Anh Hung

    Invigorating. I came out of this with my love of life restored and my faith in mastering craft as a noble pursuit reaffirmed. Pure sensuality, perfectly controlled, both an appreciation of food as symphonic sensual provocation and a passionate relationship between equals. The chemistry between Binoche and Magimel makes profound sense when you realise they were a couple for five years. Their chemistry is one of deep understanding, two souls moving as one in their cooking…

  • Kind Hearts and Coronets

    Kind Hearts and Coronets

    ★★★★★

    1st Robert Hamer (followed by ‘The Haunted Mirror' from Dead of Night, Father Brown and School for Scoundrels)

    Delicious is the operative word for Kind Hearts and Coronets. A delicious satire of English morality and its obsession with nobility. A deliciously prepared series of perfectly executed murders. A delicious warning against excessively narrating one’s life. A delicious narration by Dennis Price in his only leading role. A delicious Alec Guinness playing seven roles, including a surprisingly convincing suffragette. And delicious above all,…

  • Kongi's Harvest

    Kongi's Harvest

    ★★½

    1st Ossie Davis

    Part 16 of February 2024

    100 Words or Less review

    Some people are here because of hip-hop. I got here because a friend mentioned it's the only film that Soyinka starred in. It makes him one of an elite club of Nobel laureates, alongside Harold Pinter. Apparently Soyinka hated the changes made to his screenplay to the point of denouncing it and I don't blame him. Despite its historical importance as a piece of Golden Age Nigerian…

  • The Captive

    The Captive

    ★★★★

    12th Chantal Akerman (after A Couch in New York, Golden Eighties, Letters Home, No Home Movie, One Day Pina Asked, D'Est, Night and Day, News from Home; Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, Je, Tu, Il, Elle and The Meetings of Anna)

    Part 15 of February 2024

    The first tailing scene of La Captive is important for two reasons. First is its nods to Hitchcock’s Vertigo, complete with shot/reverse shot of the gazing man and the rear of his…

  • Monster

    Monster

    ★★★★½

    4th Hirokazu Kore-eda (after Still Walking, After Life and Our Little Sister)

    Part 14 of February 2024

    Tests William of Occam’s razor and finds it blunted by a lack of perspective. Kore-eda’s film has some generic similarities with Anatomy of a Fall but instead argues for a clear truth instead of Triet’s ambiguous bafflement at the concept. There’s something of Exotica here, too, in how repeated exposure to events is meant to inspire compassion in an audience, though the scale of…

  • The Woman in Black

    The Woman in Black

    ★★

    11/52 of Podcast Macabre 2024-Sweet 16

    1st James Watkins

    Not content with adapting one of the most generic Gothic novels (shout-out to Mrs. Ellis for making us read baby's first ghost story in Year 9, I appreciate you), Watkins proceeds to unnecessarily zhuzh it up with the most generic narrative beats possible. For all the book's failings, and there are many, it at least provides a suitably lowkey and relentlessly downbeat ending. There's no real way for Arthur to overcome…

  • The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun

    The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun

    ★★★½

    4th Djibril Diop Mambéty (after Badou Boy, Touki Bouki and Hyenas)

    Part 13 of February 2024

    A charming ray of sunshine that foregrounds its heroine’s physical disability but never makes it an opportunity for treacly sentimentality. Sili speaks her mind and is taken totally seriously in a fantasy of ideal social relations, a world filled with compassion and the other real worry is jealous boys having their paper route muscled in on. Mambety’s characteristic sense of lively fun (bright colour,…

  • Hobson's Choice

    Hobson's Choice

    ★★★★

    6th David Lean (after Bridge on the River Kwai, Brief Encounter, Lawrence of Arabia, Great Expectations and Blithe Spirit)

    The best parts of Hobson's Choice are whenever Maggie and Will are together. What begins as a mercenary business deal to get Maggie out of her father's tyrannical clutches turns into something incredibly heartwarming. Yes, it's rather traditional. Maggie's arc is devoted to building up her dopey husband into a confident, educated man, but it's evident that they adore each other for…

  • All of Us Strangers

    All of Us Strangers

    ★★★★

    1st Andrew Haigh

    A film of impressive ambition and tender emotion hamstrung occasionally by its tendency to be terribly on the nose in its thematics. Foy and Bell in particular excel playing the hardest roles. They have to appear completely normal, completely unexceptional figures from the past with all their socially-ingrained faults and both do so magnificently. Bell is particularly affecting as a man with untapped regions of warmth and love yet never allowed to express them. Doing so in…

  • That Hagen Girl

    That Hagen Girl

    ★★½

    1st Peter Godfrey

    A film that firmly believes in the idea that a woman's worst enemies are other women. Mary is the object of idle spite by the idle rich, bored women whose only joy is gossip. Illegitimacy and murky parenting is all the tinder they need to spread that small-town gossip on thick. That Hagen Girl is not smart or empathetic like All That Heaven Allows, the high watermark of backbiting small town bitchiness; Sirk's film has some sad…