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  • The Broken Circle Breakdown 2012

    ★★★★½ Watched 19 Jun, 2014

    Wow; it's been a while since a film has really put me through the wringer like The Broken Circle Breakdown. Felix Van Groeningen's fractured melodrama charts the relationship of Didier and Elise (Johan Heldenbergh and Veerle Baetens), two opposites attracting in Ghent, Belgium. They fall in love and have a daughter, who falls ill with cancer.

    By chopping his narrative into non-linear shards, Van Groeningen instantly recalls Blue Valentine, and the scenes of early romance between the pair are joyous…

  • Short Term 12 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 18 Jun, 2014

    Sometimes a film really resonates with a mood and Short Term 12 really did that. I've had a really tough few weeks with various personal things and I've been quite pragmatic and held it together. Until I sat down and watched this film.

    I don't know what I was really expecting; perhaps something along the lines of Kings of Summer or The Way, Way Back. Instead I got the genuinely moving story of Grace (Brie Larson), a young woman who…

  • Antiviral 2012

    ★★★ Watched 18 Jun, 2014 2

    I had an idea for a story a while back where the rich could pay to have their diseases transmitted to the poor via nanotechnology (or handwavium or whatever). It was supposed to be some comment on an unequal society or some such. Clearly, I hadn't gone far enough.

    Brandon Cronenberg's Antiviral works on the premise that society has become so venal, shallow and obsessed with celebrity that the wealthy will pay to become afflicted with the very ailments their…

  • Gangs of New York 2002

    ★★★½ Watched 16 Jun, 2014

    New York is a city that has been heavily mythologised throughout the 20th century. Martin Scorcese has played his own small part in that, and has left a legacy of films about the city that will be viewed for generations to come.

    With Gangs of New York he turned his attention to a vision of the Big Apple that will be far more unfamiliar to the viewer. Based on a book of the same name byIt is about the foundations…

  • Waking Life 2001

    ★★★★ Watched 14 Jun, 2014

    How do we know we're really alive?
    Do we possess such a thing as a soul, or are we products of rapidly firing neurons? Are our lives mapped out for us, or are we truly possessed of free will?

    These are some of the questions asked by Richard Linklater in this wildly innovative 'rotoshopped' animated odyssey. Wiley Wiggins plays an unnamed character who meets a series of characters who regale him with their views of the universe. Scientists, philosophers, theologians,…

  • Miller's Crossing 1990

    ★★★★½ Watched 12 Jun, 2014

    What's the rumpus?

    The Coen brothers third film is a langorous trip through the tropes of the American gangster film, and firmly established them as the great appropriators of cinematic history, before Tarantino was ever on the scene.

    Fully aware of the influence that Dashiell Hammett had on the likes of Kurosawa's Yojimbo and Leone's A Fistful of Dollars, Joel and Ethan take literary inspiration from Hammett and visual cues from Kurosawa and Leone in a gloriously cyclical mode of…

  • Swimming Pool 2003

    ★★★★ Rewatched 08 Jun, 2014

    Beguiling psychosexual thriller from Francois Ozon that guards its secrets jealously right to the end.

    Charlotte Rampling is Sarah, a successful crime writer who is given the keys to her publisher Charles Dance's house in France to clear her head and replenish her creative batteries. Not merely suffering a case of literary ennui, Sarah seems to be in the grip of anhedonia. She doesn't appear to be able to take pleasure in anything at all. She wolfs her food down,…

  • Pacific Rim 2013

    ★★★ Watched 06 Jun, 2014

    Recently, I've made a bit of an effort to ditch a lot of the snobbery I've had in the last few years for the big old blockbuster. I've realised there are only two types of films: good and bad. Or three if they're mediocre. There is more than one way to skin a car after all, and endless ways to explore a theme.

    So, say the theme is togetherness:
    Lukas Moodyson in Tillsammans uses the setting of a hippy commune…

  • X-Men: First Class 2011

    ★★★½ Watched 31 May, 2014

    If you're going to reboot a franchise an origin story seems like the way to go, and team behind X-Men: First Class have crafted a brisk and engaging film that touches on the tried-and-tested beats of that type of franchise opener, while being acutely aware of the depth of its star power and letting the talented cast have a whale of a time.

    The great thing about these types of origin story, and it is used again in both this…

  • Oz: The Great and Powerful 2013

    ★★ Watched 02 Jun, 2014

    In which we witness what happens when a singular and inventive talent gets assimilated Borg-style into the Hollywood blockbuster machine. We all know what Sam Raimi was capable of with youthful brio, a leading man with a chin of granite and, crucially, no money whatsoever.

    Oz: The Great and Powerful is a high-budget piece of nonsense that is virtually indistinguishable from a thousand others, and it really nips my tits. Not just because it's Raimi, but because we've seen it…

  • Under the Sand 2000

    ★★★½ Watched 25 May, 2014

    Greatly admired by the likes of Ingmar Bergman and nominated for three awards at the 2002 Césars, Under the Sand is surprisingly little seen despite the subsequent reputation that François Ozon has established.

    Charlotte Rampling plays Marie, a lecturer in English literature at a Paris university. One day at a beach her husband of twenty-five years goes swimming in the sea and never returns. As the time passes and the body isn’t recovered she finds it increasingly difficult to acknowledge…

  • Three Colors: Red 1994

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 25 May, 2014

    I think this is my favourite of the trilogy, perhaps partly because it ties up everything so beautifully, but mainly because there is more warmth on display here in the character of Valentine. There is a detachment detectable in Blue, due of course to its central them of liberte so Juliette Binoche's Julie is determined to plow a lone furrow.

    Red is concerned with the tentative relationship between student and model Valentine (the very name is resonant with the redness…