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  • 12 Angry Men 1957

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 01 Jan, 2015

    You can stuff your Birth of a Nations and Citizen Kanes, the second someone is silly enough to grant me influence over eager young film students' education, I'm showing them this. Cos what Sidney Lumet does here, other than making anyone who's ever been proud of doing a fine job of something on their first effort look like a blithering fool by comparison, is spin something theatrical and novelistic (i.e. inherently un-cinematic, by most standards) into a film that pretty…

  • Werckmeister Harmonies 2000

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 09 Dec, 2014

    Part of Next Projection's series "Apocalyptic Poetry: The Films of Béla Tarr"

    Since the passenger train connecting the icebound estates of the southern lowlands, which extend from the banks of the Tisza almost as far as the foot of the Carpathians, had, despite the garbled explanations of a haplessly stumbling guard and the promises of the stationmaster rushing nervously on and off the platform, failed to arrive (‘Well, squire, it seems to have disappeared into thin air again . .…

  • Last Words 1968

    ★★★ Watched 25 Oct, 2014

    You'll forgive the inherent auteurism when I say this sees an early emergence of Herzog's notion of the "ecstatic truth": the way he seems to prod the eccentrics that espouse nonsense to his camera constitutes both a bizarre divergence from the verisimilitude of the documentary format and, somehow, in the way they speak rather than the words they say, the reality of their lives. It's very strange, and strangely confident in itself too. And blimey does it look good.

  • Hercules 1962

    ★★★ Watched 02 Oct, 2014

    We're off to a strong start with Werner's first: any auteurist will have a field day here with the early emergence of that inimitable ironic gaze of Herzog's. This one treads a delicately-balanced line between sly humour and surprisingly disturbing sentiment. Above all, it's the work of someone with a distinctly cinematic eye: see the interplay of sound and silence, the force of the cuts (there's some fascinating montage), the inextricably visual nature of the sharp little thesis it puts forward.

  • New York Stories 1989

    ★★★ Rewatched 04 Sep, 2014

    (only watched Oedipus Wrecks, sssshhhh)

  • Mindscape 2013

    ★★ Watched 15 Jun, 2014

    When the memory-detective protagonist of Anna informs his eponymous charge, the sixteen year-old daughter of a wealthy family who’s suddenly refused to eat, that the movie’s chief technological conceit “doesn’t work like that”, it’s telling that he never offers an explanation as to how it does work. Don’t let the plot hole brigade fool you: all the average viewer asks of a film is that it follow some interior logic of its own; in resolutely refusing to set one out,…

  • Rigor Mortis 2013

    ★★★ Watched 15 Jun, 2014

    “We will use crow’s blood instead of chicken blood” is one of the less weird lines casually uttered in the course of Rigor Mortis, a movie as mad as any we’re likely to see this year. There is a suicide scene that becomes a mental montage of otherworldly imagery; there is a glut of glutinous rice and there may be a vampire hunter; there is a rotting body being kept fresh in a bath; there is a building that could…

  • A Coffee in Berlin 2012

    ★★★★ Rewatched 16 Jun, 2014

    As if itself inviting the assured Allen comparisons that equally abounded in considerations of its close cousin Frances Ha, A Coffee in Berlin concludes with a montage of city sights that’s straight out of Manhattan. But it’s not only to acknowledge inspirations that debut director Jan Ole Gerster gives the German capital the same treatment Woody reserved for New York: it’s telling that his equivalent occurs at the end of the film, and if Allen’s movie was staked on a…

  • I'll Follow You Down 2013

    ★★ Watched 14 Jun, 2014

    Gillian Anderson deserves an Oscar for the restraint she shows in not turning to the camera and winking into the lens as she tells her on-screen husband in I’ll Follow You Down to call her when he lands. As she and their son fade into a soft-focus background blur, the score soaring with emotions it urges you to feel, you will earn no points for knowing he won’t. Richie Mehta’s new movie is predictable in a way no time-travel story…

  • Jersey Boys 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 16 Jun, 2014

    “That’s a nice colour for you,” smiles Frankie Valli at his wife-to-be, “you should always wear that.” If you tune your ear just right, you can hear the Eastwood detractors’ pencils sharpening. With Jersey Boys, his thirty-third feature film as director, he has made a Clint Eastwood movie, and it’s a fool that takes that for a bad thing. In that unmistakeable piano-tinkling and the underlit aesthetic that thrives in the shadows, there is the authorial mark of a master…

  • Trust Me 2013

    ★★½ Watched 12 Jun, 2014

    His hand extended out enticingly from the Trust Me poster, no matter the battered state of his face, few could fault you for obliging Clark Gregg. He’s one of those affable independent filmmakers who’s smartly taken the MCU blockbuster bosom as a springboard; here he’s used his Coulson cachet to follow-up his directorial debut, 2008’s Chuck Palahniuk adaptation Choke, with another satirically-streaked pseudo-comedy satire. But if the conceit of sex addiction felt slightly beyond Gregg’s grasp, the machinations of the…

  • Poarta Alba

    ★★★ Added

    It’s the great pleasure of the festival experience to see the unfiltered idealism of movies that may never make it beyond the circuit hand-in-hand with the ironclad assurance of yesteryear’s classics. And just as Structure of Crystal offered an old-school corrective to the (minor) misgivings of Quod Erat Demonstrandum, so too was prison camp drama Poarta Albă showed up by the similar and superior The Boxer and Death. The point, of course, isn’t to diminish the worth of contemporary efforts—it’s…