Chris has written 112 reviews for films during 2021.

  • A Face in the Crowd

    A Face in the Crowd

    ★★★½

    I suppose films like this will always retain some relevance as long as mainstream media rewards whoever shouts the loudest with publicity and regular people repeatedly fall for the same old trick if it's given a new coat of paint. The narrative uses Lonesome Rhodes to epitomise these ideas, his fiercely boisterous attitude and fervent delivery are basically designed to whip crowds into a frenzy whilst pulling the wool over the their eyes. He turns out to be just as…

  • The Keep

    The Keep

    ★★½

    By far the weirdest feature Michael Mann has ever made, this supernatural horror about a group of Nazi soldiers occupying a spooky hold that contains a demonic entity is totally mystifying at virtually every level. It's hard to follow or even comprehend what is actually happening since there isn't so much a plot as the mere suggestion of one, almost like reading a book which has every other page missing, with story beats and character motivations seemingly thrown together at…

  • Casablanca

    Casablanca

    ★★★★

    I think the main reason why Casablanca has retained its iconic status over the years is due to its dynamic script crafting a fine balance of romance, suspense and humour which provides it with a wide-ranging appeal. I'm fairly confident that anyone could find something to appreciate here, whether it's the World War II backdrop (especially evocative as the conflict was at its midpoint during filming), the morally enigmatic characters, the moody black-and-white visuals, or the lively dialogue that has…

  • Akira

    Akira

    ★★½

    Akira is as fiercely provocative as you'd expect for a film that intertwines themes of nuclear anxiety, political corruption, technological mania, militarisation and youth alienation concurrently throughout its dystopian narrative. The confrontational tone sets in right from the opening scene and rarely subsides, creating this angry energy as we're thrown headlong into a sprawling and nightmarish Neo-Tokyo filled with recalcitrant individuals fighting an overwhelming system; the strikingly detailed animation and vivid worldbuilding are very effective at making the cityscape feel…

  • Carol

    Carol

    ★★★½

    I still feel almost exactly the same way about Carol as I did the first time around, it's so beautifully crafted yet just lacking the emotional connection it is evidently striving for.

    It finds Todd Haynes revisiting his trademark theme in scrutinising how the core values held by previous generations pressured people to conform to a life deemed socially acceptable. It uses the central same-sex romance between two individuals at different stages (the titular Carol who knows clearly what she…

  • California Split

    California Split

    ★★★½

    Robert Altman applies his free-flowing style to navigating the invigorating highs and the joyless lows found in the world of gambling, focusing on the zestful friendship between two seemingly dissimilar people and using their various antics to explore how they're both ultimately afflicted by the same malaise in their search for satisfaction. It manages to effectively capture the fiery nature of these dingy locations populated by unsavoury individuals through the fluid dialogue and the intense interactions. Easily the best thing…

  • Far from Heaven

    Far from Heaven

    ★★★★

    Todd Haynes has a proficiency for evocatively capturing the feelings of repression that often pervade suburban life, particularly how concealing everything under an artificial normality eventually leads to abject disillusionment. If Safe revealed the soulless and discontent culture bred by Reaganomics, then Far from Heaven looks at how the promotion of family values and roles in the 1950s was little more than a sunny attempt to distract from the darker issues plaguing society. There's a tendency to look back at…

  • House of Hummingbird

    House of Hummingbird

    ★★★★

    House of Hummingbird approaches the struggles of teenhood with a gentle sensitivity that is both insightful and moving. Set in Seoul in 1994, we follow hesitant 14-year-old Eun-hee as she deals with her dysfunctional family, strict school system, budding sexuality, bereavement and personal illness within a developing society that appears largely indifferent to her problems; it results in her frequently trying to forge deeper connections with those who she hopes will understand her feelings and finding someone in kind teacher…

  • April Story

    April Story

    ★★★½

    Thoroughly charming would be the most appropriate way to describe this straightforward story about the reserved Uzuki as she moves from the countryside to university in Tokyo and adjusts to her surroundings. It manages to capture those awkward feelings of apprehension and anticipation that everyone experiences when they're on the cusp of adulthood, still uncertain who they really are and what direction they want to go; being somewhere unfamilar amplifies every emotion, so comfort has to be found in the…

  • Morvern Callar

    Morvern Callar

    ★★★★½

    Lynne Ramsay has a remarkable talent when it comes to pairing visuals with sound to vividly capture the damaged mindsets of her main character's and how they perceive the world around them. Morvern Callar is infused with moments where the evocative music choices wash over the striking compositions in a way that creates a hypontic, dreamlike atmosphere which manages to express more about internal emotions than words ever could.

    This lyrical, minimalist approach impeccably suits the unconventional exploration of the…

  • Safe

    Safe

    ★★★★½

    There's something almost Lynchian in how Safe portrays the pervasive sense of discomfort and paranoia that engulfs housewife Carol White's existence in 1987 California as she falls prey to an apparent phantom illness. Her perpetually renovated home in artificial suburbia and her desperate attempts to convey a personality that appears socially acceptable are unable to conceal the utter hollowness of her day-to-day life; it's a dark truth which sees her spiral into finding a new place where she can belong,…

  • Caché

    Caché

    ★★★★

    Perhaps the clearest example of Michael Haneke's impressive ability at creating a deeply unsettling atmosphere through a direct, almost mundane approach. The opening shot takes the form of a cryptic video recording (which becomes a creative plot device) watching a couple's home and sets the tone for what is to come, with the long takes and natural ambience producing an incessant suspicion of being under surveillance.

    This is a psychological thriller where the 'reveal' doesn't particularly matter since it's the…