Favorite films

  • King Kong
  • The Young Girls of Rochefort
  • Local Hero
  • Murmur of the Heart

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  • Enchanted April

    ★★

  • All or Nothing

    ★★★

  • Cha Cha Real Smooth

    ★★★

  • Home

    ★★★

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  • A Brighter Summer Day

    A Brighter Summer Day

    ★★★★★

    This film’s power is hard to describe to those who have not seen it. Unfolding at its own pace for nearly four hours, introducing us to a large cast of characters, never wasting a moment, it’s as close as cinema can get to a great novel. An epic tale of growing up, family and first love, it is often warm, funny and thrilling, but hanging over it is a sense of inevitable, impending doom, as events move towards a devastating final act. My choice for greatest film of the 1990s and one of the best movies about youth ever made. 

    1991 ranked
    These Kids Today...

  • Bad Lucky Goat

    Bad Lucky Goat

    ★★★½

    Today’s ‘Film of the Day’ on Mubi is a minor gem, a vibrant and offbeat account of several hours in the lives of two squabbling teen siblings as they desperately try to fix the problems caused by their accidental killing of a goat. It’s always a delight to discover a movie that focuses on such a unique and distinctive culture - the dialogue is in Providencia Creole, the first film shot in that dialect - and there is plenty of local colour, engaging music and charming performances by the two kids. Hints of the supernatural, too, and a genuinely surprising ending. Well worth seeking out.

    2017

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  • Father's Little Dividend

    Father's Little Dividend

    ★★½

    The 1950 'Father of the Bride' is a sparkling comedy that still holds up beautifully. This sequel sticks close to the formula and retains the A-list cast, but fails to recapture the magic. A passable time-waster, but thoroughly unnecessary. I did like the idea of crusty Spencer Tracy, already an old man in his fifties, thinking himself too young to be a grandfather. For the most part he just goes through the motions here, but he is still Spencer Tracy and keeps things watchable.

    1951 ranked
    Vincente Minnelli ranked
    Spencer Tracy ranked
    Elizabeth Taylor ranked

  • Enchanted April

    Enchanted April

    ★★

    Something of a sleeper hit in its day- successful enough to score a few Oscar nods and to set director Newell up for monster hit ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’  a couple of years later - but I found this too quaint for its own good. There is little attempt at character development beyond the inclusion of occasional awkward voiceovers. Plowright has a smattering of good lines, which she delivers with aplomb, but the other actors have little to work with, and main protagonist Lawrence is saddled with a character whose earnestness and optimism become grating. 

    1992 ranked

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  • Drive My Car

    Drive My Car

    ★★★★

    It’s testament to this film’s enthralling power that, the first time I glanced at my watch during the screening, well over two hours had passed. Based on a Murakami short story - I haven’t read it, but some of the prose is unmistakably his - this is a rich and rewarding experience, superbly acted, epic in scope, deep in themes without being inaccessible. My attention wandered, briefly, in the last half hour or so but this is a major achievement.

    2021

  • Elvis

    Elvis

    ★★½

    Easier to sit through than I feared, this is an energetic but exhausting, chaotic account of the King’s rise and fall. If you know Baz Luhrmann then you know what to expect. The widespread calls for Oscar-attention for Butler are overselling his achievement, I believe. He’s charismatic, nails the swagger and works that pelvis, but Luhrmann’s frenetic style - headache-inducing editing and brief dialogue scenes - give him little room to explore the character. After two and a half hours,…