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  • Martha

    Martha

    Fassbinder adapts a Gothic noir by Cornell Woolrich and pushes it to the limits of camp absurdity. The story of a neurotic librarian (Margit Carstensen) who becomes trapped in a marriage with a sadistic bully (Karlheinz Böhm) functions as another study in the dynamics of power and control inherent in relationships, a companion piece to The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. Böhm re-discovers the inner psychopath he explored in Peeping Tom in the role of the grimly repressed Helmut…

  • Melancholia

    Melancholia

    Lars von Trier's exploration of cosmic melancholia is divided into two parts, sharing the points of view of sisters Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg). The first half is occupied with Justine's wedding, a grand affair that goes wrong, sabotaged by her self-destructive emotional fragility; the second a grandiose meditation on depression, in which a rogue planet, "Melancholia", is on course to collide with the planet Earth. Together, it feels like a desperate patchwork: although the first half is…

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  • 99 Homes

    99 Homes

    99 Homes contains a powerful polemic against the depredations of a particular sector of finance capitalism, the real estate market in the wake of the crash. It reveals the ways in which ordinary homeowners are caught up in the housing bubble and how they come to lose their homes, and how the government is swindled through clever accounting loopholes, and how unscrupulous speculators take advantage of both to make a fast buck. However, it fails completely to dramatise these issues…

  • The Trial

    The Trial

    Truffaut's dismissive comment that The Trial was Welles doing "a Kafka" still seems about right, although this film has enjoyed a re-evaluation over recent years. Despite its undoubted style and visual beauty, it feels like Welles is true to the letter and not to the spirit of Kafka. What's missing is anxiety: instead of the sense of being trapped in a pitiless nightmare with its own rules and logic, Welles gives us a dark carnival, which never quite manages to…