• The Doctor's Horrible Experiment

    The Doctor's Horrible Experiment

    ★★★½

    Jekyll and Hyde in a Parisian climate. There is more emphasis on the sexual elements of the story, and being Renoir lots on class (several are quite happy when not to expose Cordelier for shielding Opale when the latter's victims are lower class, they are outraged when he attacks someone posh). Jean-Louis Barrault gives a performance for the ages. It would be difficult to watch this and simply conclude that 'everyone has their reasons', its quite a dark thing.

  • Feel Like Going Home

    Feel Like Going Home

    ★★½

    A film which leans quite heavily on Alan Lomax's 'The Land Where the Blues Began' which is quite fortunate, as I'd read it quite recently. Film contains brilliant footage - archival shots of the great blues masters, sequences of Ali Farke Toure in Mali. But I am not quite sure that it is more than the sum of its parts, or even what the sum of its parts is meant to be...

  • Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese

    Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese

    ★★★★

    This is an astonishing attempt to capture mystery and majesty of a unique tour and an experience. Dylan maintains an air of mystery about himself and his purposes, insisting that there are no easy answers to 'who am I?' or 'what am I doing?' whilst maintaining a relentless commentary on America. All the live material is red hot, the souped up versions of 'A Hard Rains A Gonna Fall' and 'The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol' are remarkable.

    The old adage 'that you had to be there' probably does apply, but this film is the only viable remaining alternative.

  • Donovan's Reef

    Donovan's Reef

    ★★★

    A film whose charms have not worn well, and whose concerns with community are probably now drowned by our concerns about its representations of gender and race.

  • No Direction Home: Bob Dylan

    No Direction Home: Bob Dylan

    Remarkable portrait of modern culture (modern literature)'s great shape changers. Re-watching it I am struck by many things:

    1) First time round I was struck by how nakedly the young Dylan's shameless manipulations and lies are shamelessly exposed, and how Scorsese seems silently appalled by his behavior;
    2) Second time how genuinely shocked Dylan is by the response of much of the folk audience's response to him going electric;
    3) Conversely how well the music of Dylan's folk period stands…

  • Long Day's Journey Into Night

    Long Day's Journey Into Night

    ★★★

    Stunning to look - those greens and reds really light up the screen. Undeniably capturing the logic of a dream. But there is something about the way the film revisits some of the staples of film noir - returning to your home town to investigate the death of a friend, the pursuit of a mysterious, possibly, fatale femme - that a bit obvious. And some of this film's scenes make obvious an unlikely word, for at times this seems like a strange mash up of Tournier, Tarkovsky, and Cocteau.

  • Lovers Rock

    Lovers Rock

    ★★★★½

    Lover's Rock is an immersive piece of total cinema, so I confess that to think that the use of music, especially Janice Kay's 'Silly Games' is up there with anything I've seen or heard is probably a bit of an academic thought. And then they turn off the sound system and the dancers sing a full length acapella version and the hairs on the back of my neck stood-up and you realize that there is nothing else out there which…

  • Godfathers and Sons

    Godfathers and Sons

    ★★★

    A documentary where the modern material - performances and interviews - are overshadowed by the archival footage of great blues musicians. Chess records holds a unique place in the history of popular music in the twentieth century, and so the film well rewards the hour and a half or so it takes to watch it.

  • A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

    A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

    ★★½

    There is a cat at the heart of this film, which rescues it somewhat. But its ratio of so-called 'style' to content is helplessly out of kilter, and I'm feed up of films with a music video aesthetic. Sure it looks beautiful, but so do the adverts in fashion magazines.

  • Oasis

    Oasis

    ★★★★

    A film about people who you might have an instinct to look away from, or who you try at all costs to avoid engaging in conversation. In outline the plot borders on the sentimental - man with learning difficulties embarks on relationship with women with severe cerebral palsy - but the execution is bracing, and the attention is firmly on the rough edges of Korean society, the usual focus of Lee Chang-dong's films. The performances are extraordinary.
    I don't think…

  • Dishonored

    Dishonored

    ★★★½

    Surely Dietrich owns the screen here as completely as any actor has before or since? As with all the von Sternberg/Dietrich films there are issues with the dialogue and the plot (and in this case with the co-star). But how could anybody expect to shine in the presence of someone like Marlene, in this clothes and with this lighting?

  • The Lobster

    The Lobster

    ★★★½

    Everyone's response to Covid has been different: for some inexplicable reason mine has involved watching very few films. The exception for this has been re-watching some old classics (Astaire and Rogers, 30's Hitchcock, Marx brothers, the original 3 Star Wars films etc) with the rest of the family, and I've not really needed to add any of these to Letterboxd.
    But then I finally caught-up with this: the spirit of Bunuel in a post-modern world. You'll never find a partner…