• Nowhere

    Nowhere

    ★★★★★

    1st Gregg Araki

    The first half is like watching fish through glass. It's all exotic colours and shapes, a world completely removed from the one you live in. It's all outdated slang and shoegaze music, images that stand like fossils to an era out of living memory; I was only one when this came out. But there's a weird fascination that comes from that Right Of The Moment feeling, gazing at what the late 90s thought itself to be. And…

  • The Territory

    The Territory

    ★★★★★

    4th Raúl Ruiz (after Three Lives and Only One Death, The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting and Time Regained)

    I have a friend named Gilbert. Hearing the two children talking about their "bits of Gilbert" while eating his leg was a head-trip to say the least.

    Ruiz's dream-like world of maps to nowhere, freeways that have no cars and forests without any fauna is catnip to me. I love the way in which he is able to take the raw…

  • The Wedding Ring

    The Wedding Ring

    ★★★★

    1st Christian de Chalonge

    So I can't quite explain it, but this feels like a potential entry into the Autismcore canon, though certainly on the fringes. There's something in Jean-Claude Carrière's veterinarian that seems to resonate with me. Maybe it's his strange stare and the incredibly mannered speech, but there's something deeper, both in his singleminded obsession with his trade and his strange relationship with the institution of matrimony. At the marriage agency, he seems far more interested in what…

  • The Silences of the Palace

    The Silences of the Palace

    ★★★★½

    1st Moufida Tlatli

    To use a hackneyed phrase, "this doesn't get nearly the credit it deserves", but here it's completely true. Indeed, I first found this on a list from Sight and Sound, "100 Overlooked Films by Women", never having heard about it any other context.* But this is a beautiful and thoughtful meditation on colonialism and feminism in 1930s and 50s Tunisia. Set almost entirely in the confines of the titular palace, it navigates the complex memories of Alia,…

  • Ukraine in Flames

    Ukraine in Flames

    ★★★

    2nd Yuliya Solntseva (after Enchanted Desna), 4th Alexander Dovzhenko (after Earth, Arsenal and Ivan)

    An arresting experience to say the very least, a strange mixture of rousing patriotism and incredibly disturbing. Solntseva and Dovzhenko choose to integrate footage of dead bodies, victims of the Nazi invasion, into their hymn to Ukrainian courage during World War 2, clearly as a rhetorical device to underscore the hardships experienced by the average Soviet citizen. Yet little to nothing of Dovzhenko's eye for lyrical,…

  • Baby Doll

    Baby Doll

    ★★★★

    1st Tessa Hughes-Freeland

    The world in three minutes. As compactly constructed as you can get, Hughes-Freeland divorces the dancer’s voices from their bodies as they discuss their experience as go-go dancers in New York during the 1980s. While not a subtle film, as some have pointed out on here, it’s a very smart film in the way it unpacks both attitudes towards sex workers and the way audiences understand their bodies. Hughes-Freeland seems to show us the women at work…

  • The Living Dead

    The Living Dead

    ★★★½

    1st Richard Oswald

    This is a film of two parts, one exceptional, one lacklustre, and it's a shame that the final third falls in that latter camp. Adapted from a smattering of Poe stories and a Robert Louis Stevenson text, Oswald manages to set up a remarkably creepy atmosphere as our newspaper man chases a deranged murderer through a series of horrific tableaus over a single night. The standout of these is the waxworks fight, where a flick of a…

  • Limite

    Limite

    ★★★½

    1st Mário Peixoto

    Limite is a film absolutely intoxicated by the potential of the camera. Not in the Eisensteinian notion of images smashing into each other or the Vertovian idea of "Life Caught Unawares", but something closer to the works of Jean Epstein, where the fluid camera and the closeup can strike at what it means to be a person. Peixoto's constantly roaming, constantly circling camera, has a giddiness of sensation to it that is breathtaking to think about in…

  • The Battle at Elderbush Gulch

    The Battle at Elderbush Gulch

    ★★½

    7th DW Griffith

    A good litmus test for a Griffith film. Synch Ride of the Valkyries up to the last five minutes. If it gives you a really uncomfortable feeling at the centre of your gut, then it's a good Griffith finale. Griffith is brilliant at constructing action and cross-cutting storylines together, especially in twenty-five minutes. Indeed, this feels like a dry run for Birth of a Nation right down to the terrible racism, though here directed at the Native…

  • The Castle

    The Castle

    ★★★★

    1st Rob Sitch

    Having done some reading, I can attest that my discomfort in the apparently patronising stereotypes of white working-class Aussie life are meant to be warmly ribbing. While I found the courtroom scene (ironically "it's the vibe" is probably now a frequently used defence outside a courtroom) to be a cringing car-crash of a moment, that's largely to do with my deep discomfort with watching people fail, especially people I've grown fond of. And you can't help but…

  • Mannequin in Red

    Mannequin in Red

    ★★★½

    3rd Arne Mattsson (after The Lady in Black and A Guest is Coming)

    Finally, a Mattsson that has some guts to it. Colour photography really adds to the experience and Mattsson uses it to great effect. An obvious temporal comparison is Sirk’s lush melodramas but I wonder if Bava was taking notes, because that expressive quality of cinematography for a murder mystery set in a fashion house is almost a dry run for Blood and Black Lace. It’s not nearly…

  • Contamination

    Contamination

    ★★★

    2nd Luigi Cozzi (after The Black Cat)

    Supermarket Own Brand Alien made with cartel money and shot on location in New York. Truly the late 70s/early 80s was a wild time for Italian filmmaking. Contamination is a stodgy rip-off but not without some enjoyable little elements in its own way, especially with the superb gore effects. You can tell they used real animal organs for their work, it really adds a touch of verisimilitude to the proceedings. Lots of blood…