• Wajib

    Wajib

    ★★★½

    A highly enjoyable and perceptive, if somewhat narratively schematic Palestinian road movie, one that aims for crowd-pleasing laughs but also an exploration of intergenerational conflict and the wider socio-political difficulties of what it means to be an Arab in Israel-ironic that in Nazareth, one of the world's oldest cities, it's so easy to hit a raw nerve.

    The story of a father and son airing their grievances, differences and deep-seated tensions, only to come together on account of their unbreakable…

  • Divorce Iranian Style

    Divorce Iranian Style

    ★★★½

    Humour and compassion is all that filmmakers Kim Longinotto and Ziba Mir-Hosseini can offer here because Iran, as we all know, operates under one of the strictest patriarchies in the world, something that is not likely to change during any of our lifetimes, so rather than wallow in pity and outrage, the film spins three separate stories of female oppression into hilarious triumphs of subversion, capturing the fiery spirit and irrepressible designs on independence that these women have in the…

  • Born Reckless

    Born Reckless

    ★★½

    This creaky pre-code gangster flick is credited to Ford but 'staged' by Andrew Bennison, whatever that means and it certainly doesn't seem like Ford had much input or interest here—the script is sloppy and uninteresting, a rare misfire for regular collaborator Dudley Nichols who wrote some of Ford's greatest works.

    Warner would have the greatest success in this genre, with the likes of Robinson, Cagney and Bogart in their employ, creating some serious sparks on screen with these incredible actors—all…

  • Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

    Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

    ★★★★★

    Given this was just named the greatest film of all time by the latest Sight & Sound poll, the swathes of pre-existing literature written about Akerman's experimental masterpiece will only grow more multitudinous as new generations of eager film fans flock to say their piece and this is very much in the conversation right now, with some terrific articles that are far more illuminating than I could ever hope to be, but it's really impossible to watch this and not want

  • South

    South

    ★★★★

    Fascinating not just for its pioneering of the documentary form and vital historical record of the legendary Endurance expedition, but also in the way it pivots from treacherous survival tale to light-hearted, BBC-worthy wildlife documentary and then back again, director Frank Hurley able to a find new subject for his camera once the human drama hits a dry spell.

    Simply being able to look at and absorb these stunning images from well over a hundred years ago—and in such extraordinary…

  • The Quiet Girl

    The Quiet Girl

    ★★★★

    First time director Colm Bairéad treads extremely carefully to avoid the usual pitfalls of the coming-of-age drama, eschewing excessive sentiment or incident at every turn and you could argue that he's too cautious, denying the opportunity for shading in character details a bit more, but this is such a simple story that it doesn't require contrivance or gimmicky filmmaking techniques—in fact the subtlety and patience of this soulful work of compassion quietly fills up deep wells of poignancy, delivering an…

  • Upstream

    Upstream

    ★★★

    Long considered lost until a print was found in 2009, this most recent addition to Ford's extensive oeuvre isn't some rediscovered masterpiece but it is a light and highly enjoyable programmer that uses its hour long runtime to tell a succinct and satisfying story.

    Ford was already invested in the style of Murnau at this stage and though mostly a naturalistic film that takes place indoors, flashes of the German expressionist's influence can be seen—heavy chiaroscuro, odd camera angles and…

  • The Blood on Satan's Claw

    The Blood on Satan's Claw

    ★★★

    Quite rightly considered an essential entry in the folk horror sub-genre, alongside other pioneering classics like The Wicker Man and Witchfinder General, though there's a crudeness to the direction and a degree of camp which somewhat undermines the otherwise impressively eerie atmosphere and the episodic narrative suffers from its origins as an anthology, lacking a clear through-line and scattering attention over too many characters, without a clearly defined protagonist to drive the storytelling.

    It's the weakest of the these three…

  • The Shamrock Handicap

    The Shamrock Handicap

    ★★★

    When Ford does his Irish blarney you just have to roll with the punches—quite literally because there's bound to be at least one brawl, and plenty of sentimentality to go with it, both of which feature in this rather conventional little silent romance, though Ford makes the most of a hackneyed script by injecting some of his signature visual poetry into the proceedings—the way he frames his characters in the middle of the frame surrounded on sides by beautiful scenery…

  • A Time for Dying

    A Time for Dying

    ★★★½

    A fascinating film on a number of levels, on the one hand this an ostensibly cheap and non-descript B-western with shoddy looking sets, flat production values and atrocious performances from lead actors who'd barely acted at all—the sort of thing poverty row studios were churning out by the dozen every month, but on the other hand it's a sublimely cynical swansong from an underappreciated genre autuer, a premonition of seventies revisionism and a fitting send-off for star and producer Audie…

  • Air Mail

    Air Mail

    ★★★½

    Examining the reciprocal relationship between Ford and Hawks' work is fascinating—the hangout movie vibes of Donovan's Reef could be said to be a riff on Hatari! just as this pre-code gem from Ford very much sets the template for the inarguably similar Only Angels Have Wings, though whereas Hawks' masterwork focuses acutely on the human interest without skipping on the spectacle, Air Mail boasts impressive visuals and stunning camerawork from Karl Freund but treats its characters as secondary to the…

  • Beggars of Life

    Beggars of Life

    ★★★★

    A marvellous work of the late silent era that's propelled by a near constant state of motion by Wellman, injecting action and incident into this surprisingly grim road movie that quietly tackles some important social issues whilst simultaneously proving hugely entertaining.

    This easily features Louise Brooks' best Hollywood performance—her iconic bobbed hair, uninhibited and free-wheeling screen presence is as captivating here as it would be in her subsequent European work, though Wallace Beery all but steals the show when he…