• Spencer

    Spencer

    ★★

    Written by Steven Knight, who also wrote the psychological drama Locke starring Tom Hardy, Spencer features far too many elements that feel simply preposterous. It delivers a fictionalised account, set over three days during Christmas 1991, which observes Princess Diana (Kristen Stewart) heading to Sandringham Estate in Norfolk to spend the festive period with the Royal Family. It commences on shaky territory, as well as being excruciatingly dull, but it's Kristen Stewart's transformation that chiefly saves it from being essentially valueless. Like numerous films…

  • Le Plaisir

    Le Plaisir

    ★★★★

    Le Plaisir is a French comedy-drama anthology directed by Max Ophüls that features three tales harvested from the work of French writer Guy de Maupassant. It's heightened by an ensemble cast and Ophuls' typical graceful manner of filming; his direction is exquisite not just for the environments and atmospheres he creates but also for the intricate camera work that underlines the stories. It's a charming and occasionally moving film with a Renoir-like lyricism in its middle passage and revolves around the…

  • Providence

    Providence

    ★★★★

    Editing is one of the fundamental essences of French film director Alain Resnais' work and the key to his cinematic style. Providence, his first English-language film, can be seen as a culmination of his art in several ways. Once again, he's exploring existence and humanity through the lens of memory, this time through the mind of Clive Langham, an ailing and dying old writer played by John Gielgud. As Langham suffers through an arduous night, Resnais builds a dramatic story heavily…

  • Berlin: Symphony of a Great City

    Berlin: Symphony of a Great City

    ★★★★

    German film director and cinematographer Walther Ruttmann's Berlin: Symphony of a Great City positions Germany's capital and largest city as its central protagonist. In many ways, it served as a reaction to the heavily stylised German Expressionist movement that unfolded to influence German cinema significantly during the 1920s. It dwells within the chasms of the documentary and experimental and materialises subdivided into five distinct acts, each dealing with a specific part of the day. While it's not the first example of the…

  • Nouvelle Vague

    Nouvelle Vague

    ★★★

    Behind all the chaos, and it fair to call it that, Jean-Luc Godard's Nouvelle Vague undoubtedly possesses a certain charm even though it principally leaves much to be desired. On the plus side, the French New Wave pioneer demonstrates a remarkable talent for creating images that trigger recollection, and once in a while, there's even an intriguing insight. But, unfortunately, he also assumes his unusual late period stance in storytelling, which sees him almost entirely quoting from poetry and literature instead of…

  • In Praise of Love

    In Praise of Love

    ★★★½

    Shot by Julien Hirsch and Christophe Pollock, Jean-Luc Godard's written and directed In Praise of Love is split into two passages and ostensibly tells the tale of a filmmaker named Edgar, portrayed by Bruno Putzulu. It's beautifully shot and carries a strong sense of world-weariness, and it vainly comes hard-wired with an analysis of what it indicates to create art when the likelihood of that art becomes partly meaningless. The early section is in black and white and pursues Edgar's venture to…

  • Passing

    Passing

    ★★★★

    Passing is a visually stunning, poignant and tragic drama that's the directorial debut from Rebecca Hall, who also wrote the screenplay based on the 1929 novel by Nella Larsen. It indicates enormous promise for Hall and features some significant attention to period detail, right down to the film's audio. Undisputedly though, it's the black and white photography that's the film's headlining accomplishment. Cinematographer Edu Grau shoots in the 1.33:1 ratio to give an incredible vision of the era that's stunning to…

  • Il Grido

    Il Grido

    ★★★½

    Based on a story by Michelangelo Antonioni, Il Grido concerns industrial mechanic Aldo (Steve Cochran), and the occurrences in his life after his seven-year affair with a married woman comes to an end. Directed by Antonioni and released in 1957, there's a developmental nature to the film that finds the Italian filmmaker still shaking off the impact of neo-realism. It's a relatively sad tale that shows Antonioni having one foot in the past and the other suggesting where his future would take…

  • The Intruder

    The Intruder

    ★★★★

    The Intruder is a deliberately oblique drama that's constructed virtually entirely as a sequence of questions. It delivers a gloriously poetic yet repeatedly baffling experience about an older man's final days before, during and after a black market heart transplant that's inspired by the memoir of the same name by French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy. Directed by Claire Denis, the simple beauty of the film is in its majestic images, the intriguingly lyrical setup and the emotional weight it effortlessly carries. It…

  • Where Is My Friend's House?

    Where Is My Friend's House?

    ★★★★½

    Iranian drama Where Is the Friend's Home? is the first in a trilogy of films directed and written by Abbas Kiarostami set in the rural village of Koker, Iran, which also includes And Life Goes On and Through The Olive Trees. All three are based in the same small mud-brick village and surround the same characters, and this first instalment follows Ahmed (Babek Ahmadpour), a boy striving to do what is right amidst the stress and anxiety of performing well in school. It's proposed in…

  • La Haine

    La Haine

    ★★★★★

    Launching with a scream and genuine footage of Parisian riots that show a protester's front line confrontation with riot police, La Haine deservedly secured Mathieu Kassovitz the Best Director prize at the 48th Cannes Film Festival. Written, co-edited and directed by Kassovitz, who was previously known as an actor, the film remains pertinent in portraying frictions between the police and frustrated youth that are too often held down because of their race or class. It excellently meshes the motionless together with the…

  • Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

    Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

    ★★★★

    Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is a prequel to the highly celebrated David Lynch television series Twin Peaks. It briefly reflects on the examination of the killing of Teresa Banks (Pamela Gidley) before chronicling the final week in the life of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). The resulting murder of Palmer and the investigation by FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) came to be the primary focus of the series. Palmer was the essence of seasons one and two, and here she…