Chris has written 37 reviews for films rated ★★★★ .

  • Out of Sight

    Out of Sight

    ★★★★

    So smoothly confident that it's difficult to resist, this spirited take on Elmore Leonard's crime caper finds an ideal balance between playful thrills and flirtatious wit. Much of that is down to Steven Soderbergh's kinetic approach injecting a rhythmic quality to the craft which really suits the material; the brisk pacing keeps everything ticking along in manner that gives the elaborate storyline an alluring sense of momentum and the jazzy score underlines each scene nicely. This style also manages to…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • You Were Never Really Here

    You Were Never Really Here

    ★★★★

    Slightly hindered by the material feeling imitative (the influence of Taxi Driver is inescapable), but the individual pieces are so strong that they're able to form a gripping whole. The distinctive approach taken by Lynne Ramsay merges moments of horrific brutality with moments of ethereal introspection, infusing the narrative with a dread-inducing unpredictability that never subsides. The shocking twists, abrupt editing and eerily pulsating score from Jonny Greenwood all coordinate to enhance this ominous atmosphere. Also of note is Joaquin…

  • Brewster McCloud

    Brewster McCloud

    ★★★★

    A thoroughly offbeat and boldly unruly effort from Robert Altman; part dark comedy about an aviation obsessed killer supervised by a guardian angel, part zany procedural featuring a collection of witless lawmen and part ornithology lecture from a man who seems to be turning into a bird himself. Everything is glued together by the wacky sense of humour (which takes hold immediately with the opening credits literally restarting) and the sharp political satire that reflects the anxious condition of the…

  • Another Year

    Another Year

    ★★★★

    A typically insightful and compassionate human drama from Mike Leigh, one where the mood gradually shifts from warmly humorous to wistfully elegiac in a way that deftly reflects the changing of the seasons. It covers four chapters during a single year in the lives of happy couple Tom and Gerri Hepple; drawing an understated yet still impactful contrast between their stable contentment and the disorderly existence of their friends, in particular the wayward Mary who believes that she can catch…

  • All or Nothing

    All or Nothing

    ★★★★

    All or Nothing is a sorrowful portrait of the struggles faced by working class people on a day-to-day basis when barely making ends meet forces survival to become the main priority, necessitating that vital aspects of familial life like care and affection are to be neglected which causes deep-rooted despondency. Mike Leigh always provides an unflinching yet compassionate touch to this type of subject matter, but even for him this is a heartbreaking effort. Every character here suffers from varying…

  • Topsy-Turvy

    Topsy-Turvy

    ★★★★

    I can imagine that Topsy-Turvy seemed like an unanticipated and potentially risky deviation for Mike Leigh at the time. A large-scale, light-hearted period piece revolving around Victorian era collaborators Gilbert & Sullivan as they assemble their comic opera The Mikado appears to be completely at odds with the sobering nature of his works prior. So it's a true testament to Leigh's versatility that he was able to reconfigure his naturalistic, semi-improvised approach to comfortably fit the material. He constructs a comprehensive…

  • Certified Copy

    Certified Copy

    ★★★★

    There is no doubt whatsoever that Kiarostami was a true virtuoso at obliterating the conventional expectations of narrative driven cinema. Certified Copy appears to push his reoccuring thematic elements of self-identity, perception, fragile relationships and fiction overlapping reality to their very limits within such a medium in a way that casts a disorientating spell over the entire picture.

    What initially looks like a prolonged interaction between two people who've just met undergoes a metamorphosis before our very eyes until it's…

  • The Wind Will Carry Us

    The Wind Will Carry Us

    ★★★★

    Just imagine the kind of evocative and lyrical ruminations on life typically found in Kiarostami's works imbued with a picturesque tranquility that makes the whole thing flow as if it really is floating on air, then you're in the sort of space which The Wind Will Carry Us occupies. It's a relatively straightforward yet completely sincere story about a worker named Behzad assimilating to the culture and routine of the quaint village that he's been assigned to. We're never explicitly…