• Licorice Pizza

    Licorice Pizza

    ★★★★

    Familiar setting, defamiliarised by Anderson's ability to rid scenarios of all the usual clichés and get straight to the heart of what's true. Perhaps it shouldn't be, but it's honestly kind of thrilling to watch a film in which nothing comes pre-interpreted, in which I had no idea what to make of scenes as they were happening. Classic PTA approach to a relationship: on one hand, a totally unrelatable film centred on some wonderfully idiosyncratic characters and their super specific…

  • The Worst Person in the World

    The Worst Person in the World

    ★★★★★

    I fell in love with Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person in the World pretty much from the get-go. In its lively prologue of false starts, our loveable, hopeless protagonist Julie (the radiant Renate Reinsve), an Oslo millennial in her late 20s, storms through prospective professions – surgeon, psychologist, photographer – before taking a “temp” job at a local bookstore. She also cycles through boyfriends, eventually setting her sights on older cartoonist Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie), the celebrated creator of a…

  • The Souvenir: Part II

    The Souvenir: Part II

    ★★★★★

    2019’s The Souvenir – Joanna Hogg’s captivating, if not wholly satisfying, semi-autobiographical work about her time at film school – did not end with anything as heavy-handed as the words spoken by Zendaya at the end of this year’s Dune Part One: “this is just the beginning.” But The Souvenir has turned out to be every inch as much a two-parter as Denis Villeneuve’s epic; Part II is the rare sequel that illuminates and enriches its predecessor, responding to the…

  • The Tragedy of Macbeth

    The Tragedy of Macbeth

    ★★★

    A few years ago, I was lucky enough to see the immersive theatre production Sleep No More in New York. During this film-noir-influenced adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, audience members are free to roam the floors of the vast “McKittrick Hotel” and follow characters on their intersecting pathways that unfold in real time; over the course of the three-hour evening, the play repeats three times so as to allow the audience to see more of the action. Catching glimpses of…

  • Bergman Island

    Bergman Island

    ★★★★★

    Bergman Island is not, as its title suggests, about Ingmar Bergman, nor really is it an homage to Bergman – though it does take place on Fårö, the island where the Swedish master lived and shot several of his most celebrated works. It’s here that filmmaker couple Chris (Vicky Krieps) and Tony (Tim Roth) come in search of inspiration – he being a celebrated genre director, she a little less successful and sure of herself. What is initially a very…

  • Drive My Car

    Drive My Car

    ★★★★★

    It’s been a brilliant year for writer-director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, whose anthology film Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, also released this year, could easily have broke my too ten in another year. Based on short stories by Haruki Murakami, Drive My Car stars the excellent Hidetoshi Nishijima as middle-aged theatre director Yusuke. Still coming to terms with a one-two punch of betrayal and tragedy, he travels to Hiroshima to rehearse a multilingual production of Chekov’s Uncle Vanya. The relationships he forms…

  • West Side Story

    West Side Story

    ★★★★

    To be completely honest, West Side Story was my least anticipated film of the year. Why bother adapting a musical that already has a classic film version? Why now? As it turns out, my if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it mentality had foolishly overlooked one crucial component: director Stephen Spielberg. The story and setting remain the same – lovers Tony (Ansel Elgort) and Maria (Rachel Zegler) are still hopelessly fighting to be together against a backdrop of racially-charged gang warfare on the streets of ’50s…

  • Great Freedom

    Great Freedom

    ★★★★

    Here’s a fact that constitutes a shocking indictment of the supposedly liberal democracies of post-war Europe: many of the gay men “freed” from concentration camps were immediately thrown back into prisons in West Germany. In fact, the Nazi-era form of Paragraph 175, which criminalized male homosexual acts, was only amended in 1969, and was not fully repealed until 1994. This startling injustice provides the context for Sebastian Meise’s Great Freedom, in which concentration camp survivor Hans (Franz Rogowski) endures prison…

  • C'mon C'mon

    C'mon C'mon

    ★★★★

    C’mon C’mon is kicked off by a phone call: radio journalist Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix) decides to ring his sister Viv (Gaby Hoffmann) on the one-year anniversary of their mother’s death; the pair have barely talked since. Viv mentions that she hasn’t yet found someone to look after her nine-year-old son Jesse (Woody Norman) while she’s away dealing with some difficult family business, and soon enough Johnny finds himself in Los Angeles looking after a precocious and unusual kid he barely…

  • Flee

    Flee

    ★★★★

    In Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s animated documentary Flee, the filmmaker interviews his teenage friend Amin Nawabi (a pseudonym); the pair had met when Amin had recently arrived to Denmark as a refugee from Afghanistan. Now an academic living in Copenhagen with his boyfriend, Amin tentatively opens up for the first time about his early life. Wading through decades worth of painful memories, he relates how a happy childhood in 1980s Kabul was upended by civil war, forcing the family to flee…

  • The Last Duel

    The Last Duel

    ★★★

    Conflicted on some of the narrative choices here, but can at least say that the titular duel is massively stressful affair — and some of Scott's best filmmaking in ages. Most of all, though, adored Alex Lawther, playing a man who happens to be the king but is first and foremost an absolute little freak.

  • Censor

    Censor

    ★★

    Some promising ideas floating around here, but it’s missing the fleshed-out character work in the middle needed for the ending to emotionally land. There’s an essay to be written about how this mirrors and contradicts De Palma’s Blow Out — though that film also throws into relief how humourless this one is compared to the slashers it pastiches.