• Hail the Conquering Hero

    Hail the Conquering Hero

    ★★★★

    A blistering satire of wartime jingoism, provincial politicians and blind hero-worshipping that's so immaculately assembled you can hardly believe Preston Sturges had the time to pump out so many essentially perfect films at such an alarming rate during his brief but fertile tenure at Paramount. Eddie Bracken reunites with the director for another energetic farce in the same anarchic vein as The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, this time the chaos snowballing from a little white lie about his war service,…

  • Michael

    Michael

    ★★★★

    'I can now die in peace, as I have seen true love.'

    The brilliance of Michael is that the gay subtext is so obvious it's really impossible to miss and the film has gone on to be recognised as a landmark of early LGBT cinema, something that could have only been made in the fertile progressivism of Weimar Germany, though there's absolutely no concrete evidence of such a relationship in the film because of Dreyer's masterfully subtle interior storytelling, much…

  • Crossfire

    Crossfire

    ★★★½

    'We're too used to fighting, but we just don't know what to fight. You can feel the tension in the air. A whole lot of fight, and hate, that doesn't know where to go.'

    Crossfire is a talky, discursive message film made within the conventions of a noir thriller, but it has the distinction of being one of the first Hollywood films to boldly and very directly address the issue of antisemitism in post-war America, something it does without pulling…

  • Minnie and Moskowitz

    Minnie and Moskowitz

    ★★★★

    Cassavetes' unexpected sidestep into the Preston Sturges-esque romantic comedy genre is a refreshingly upbeat riposte to the grim and painfully honest revelations of Husbands the year prior, though the characters in Minnie and Moskowitz are no less real in their neurotic imperfections and very human, basic need for love, compassion and companionship. It's also distinctly Cassavetes with its raw visual style, impulsive editing and spontaneous, startlingly urgent observation of the minutiae of emotion, the director seemingly wanting to eliminate any…

  • Red Heat

    Red Heat

    ★★★

    'You are a stupid!'

    You'd expect a buddy cop action movie directed by Walter Hill during his prime eighties period, starring Arnie and Jim Belushi to be
    pretty damn good, but the main problem with Red Heat is that it's too tonally unsure of itself—sporadically funny but not consistently enough to be a comedy and intermittently filled with violent action sequences but not enough to keep the pace from sagging. All in all despite Hill's excellent direction and polished visuals,…

  • The Last Sunset

    The Last Sunset

    ★★★½

    'To me, it always seems like it's the women who keep on living. Men kill or get killed and women bury them. We're professional survivors.'

    A tragedy laced Freudian western with deliciously overheated Sirkian melodrama that's made all the more captivating by ​director Robert Aldrich's penchant for offbeat lyricism and dark psychological subtext. Interestingly, Aldrich didn't hold The Last Sunset in very high regard within his own filmography, citing tensions with writer Dalton Trumbo and star Kirk Douglas for making…

  • The Hot Rock

    The Hot Rock

    ★★★½

    'Afghanistan Banana Stand.'

    The Hot Rock doesn't exactly fit into the early seventies New Hollywood collective of gritty and violent crime dramas, British director Peter Yates aiming to counter that with something a bit more upbeat and less intense, which probably explains why it's been so overlooked and forgotten about. That's a shame because whilst certainly not the best heist movie around, it's terrifically directed—Yates was no stranger to the caper genre at this point, with the likes of Robbery

  • The Great McGinty

    The Great McGinty

    ★★★½

    'You got to crawl before you can creep, right?'

    Preston Sturges famously sold the script for The Great McGinty to Paramount for $10 on the condition that he could direct it—now that's one hell of a way to get your foot in the door of Hollywood. A riotous political satire, this immediately launched Sturges into the forefront of American comedy, already displaying a supreme talent for spunky, high energy dialogue, economical editing and scrappy social consciousness in this rags to…

  • Good Bye Lenin!

    Good Bye Lenin!

    ★★★½

    A very personal drama masquerading as a comedic political satire, Good Bye Lenin! uses the fall of the Berlin Wall as the backdrop to tell a moving tale of one family torn between two opposing ideologies and of nostalgia for a way of life now confined only within recent memory.

    Writer-director Wolfgang Becker hasn't done much else of note since, which is a shame because this is such a wonderfully observant, wryly funny film with a lot of heart that…

  • The Prowler

    The Prowler

    ★★★½

    A deliriously bawdy noir thriller with a skin-crawlingly creepy performance from Van Heflin as a beat cop turned obsessive lover, The Prowler is a daring, boundary pushing film written by the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo and directed by the soon-to-also-be blacklisted Joseph Losey before his permanent exile from Hollywood. Perhaps portraying something considered so institutionally good as a cop as a lecherous sex pervert was considered a bit strong at the time, but such abuses of power and trust have occurred…

  • Bright Future

    Bright Future

    ★★★½

    'I can see the future in my dreams. I've always been that way, I don't know why, but for a while now, I've hardly dreamt at all.'

    Having made his mark in the J-horror craze with the likes of Cure and Pulse, Kiyoshi Kurosawa then made an unexpected but welcome ​transition into far more atypical water as a versatile master of genre-traversing fluidity, each new film seeming to adopt an uneasy position between a standard framework and the director's own…

  • Bamboozled

    Bamboozled

    ★★★½

    An overwhelmingly heavy-handed and brash satire, although given the socio-political urgency of his work, Spike Lee is a director who has made a name for himself by being confrontational and certainly not someone you expect subtlety or nuance from. Putting race in the film, television and entertainment industries under the microscope, Bamboozled is an ugly film about an ugly subject matter that forces audiences to think about what they're seeing and to critically re-examine the unpleasant history of racial prejudice,…