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  • Letter from an Unknown Woman

    Letter from an Unknown Woman

    ★★★★½

    There's a justice in Max Ophüls being the director to make the definitive Stefan Zweig adaptation (not counting The Grand Budapest Hotel). For one thing, they're both two names that instantly spring to mind when I hear the word "Mitteleuropean", and for another they both have an attitude towards affairs of the heart that borders on froth but often ends up tipping into something more substantial.

    Letter from an Unknown Woman is written in Zweig's signature style: a story within…

  • Green Book

    Green Book

    ★★

    It baffles me that people who complain about Driving Miss Daisy continue to do so now that Green Book exists. This film has lowered the bar for Best Picture winners to such an extent that Forrest Gump no longer holds the honour of being the least intelligent film ever to snag the honour, and that is saying something.

    I try to avoid Oscar discussions in my reviews, but it is worth pointing out how many Academy boxes Green Book ticks.…

  • The Ox-Bow Incident

    The Ox-Bow Incident

    ★★★★½

    To describe The Ox-Bow Incident as bruising is entirely inadequate. This is a film - a Western, no less - that just about burns itself to a cinder with righteous anger, yet still has more than enough emotion to spare. The way it deals with themes of lynching and mob justice feels impossibly ahead of its time, so much so that I was surprised to discover that it received positive reviews upon release when it seems like so many other…

  • When Harry Met Sally...

    When Harry Met Sally...

    ★★★★½

    The auteur of When Harry Met Sally is Nora Ephron, and I know that without having seen any other of her films. Rob Reiner has always been a director willing to let the writer's vision take precedence, whether that be Christopher Guest's,* William Goldman's, Aaron Sorkin's or, indeed, Ephron's.

    Furthermore, When Harry Met Sally is the kind of film that fails without a top-quality screenplay. In any great comedy, so much of what we learn about the characters comes from…

  • True Romance

    True Romance

    ★★★½

    I have a feeling I'm overrating True Romance, but then again it still managed to exceed my expectations. It's not an intelligent film, but its sheer abandon, as well as its humour, render it delightful in its way.

    The fact that it was written by Quentin Tarantino but directed by Tony Scott is probably what initially scared me (I'd only seen the mediocre Top Gun from Scott, and Natural Born Killers had taught me that a Tarantino script is nothing…

  • About Schmidt

    About Schmidt

    ★★★

    My rating for About Schmidt is meant to represent just how much of a mixed bag I found it. I find myself agreeing neither with the positive reviews I've read nor with the negative ones, if only because the film contains so much that's bad alongisde all the good.

    Jack Nicholson plays recently retired Omaha life insurance salesman Warren Schmidt, who one day decides to sponsor a Tanzanian child named Ndugu. In letters to Ndugu he spills out his dissatisfaction…

  • Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring

    ★★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    I'm quite at a loss as to where to begin with this film. What does it say? Nothing necessarily. What happens in it? Not a lot. Then what exactly is it about Kim Ki-duk's Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring that makes it such a masterpiece?

    It is set on a lake surrounded by a forest. On the lake floats a raft, on the raft sits a house, and in the house live a Buddhist monk and his pupil, who…

  • Insignificance

    Insignificance

    ★★★½

    I'm sad to report that, after three years, I've come to the end of my Nicolas Roeg journey. I have very little to be sad about, really, because I've discovered one of my all-time favourite directors - especially rewarding in this case because of Roeg's reputation for polarising audiences.

    Regarding Insignificance in particular, it's a film whose function as a showcase for the director's style and concerns is highly unlikely. It's more or less a chamber piece, albeit one of…

  • The Leopard

    The Leopard

    ★★★★★

    Discussing this with my dad afterwards, we were in agreement that this kind of filmmaking is beyond Hollywood's grasp: so languid, so subtle, not dealing in epic set pieces (though the film's only conventionally epic passage is easily one of its best) and preferring to include several scenes that are content to do nothing more than simply observe how things once were, while making the audience aware of how the characters themselves believed they would stay this way forever. Visconti's…

  • Alice in the Cities

    Alice in the Cities

    ★★★★

    Wim Wenders' Alice in the Cities, routinely praised as one of the director's best films, is a road film that spans three countries, tracing the developing relationship between Philip Winter, a journalist, and Alice van Dam, a nine-year-old child, as they search for the girl's family.

    The deliberately paced story introduces us to Philip as a laconic loner, refusing to comply with his paper's wishes for him to write a story about the American landscape and taking a bunch of…

  • The Fountain

    The Fountain

    ★★½

    Unfettered directorial ambition has resulted in some of the greatest films of all time; the likes of Lawrence of Arabia, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Godfather Part II and Fitzcarraldo spring to mind. The same unfettered directorial ambition has also resulted in underwhelming works like Heaven's Gate and Sorcerer. Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain falls squarely into the latter camp.

    It tells a sprawling story of two people across time. In what appears to be present-day America, Dr Tom Creo is…

  • Holiday

    Holiday

    ★★★★

    George Cukor never made a screwball comedy. The closest he probably came was Adam's Rib, but for the most part that film is of the familiar Cukor strain of genteel yet sensitive to female characters. With this in mind, Holiday comes close to epitomising the director's style and concerns.

    This 1938 film stars Cary Grant as Johnny Case, a young working man who has fallen in love with Julia Seton, who hails from one of New York's wealthiest and most…