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  • Osaka Elegy

    Osaka Elegy

    ★★★

    An, erm, melodramatic sex comedy from Kenji Mizoguchi, as Isuzu Yamada becomes her boss's mistress to solve her family's financial problems. It's muddled and often too distant, but also amusingly cynical in its late-Wilder-ish way, while three great scenes towards the end draw you into its character's plight – leading to a killer final image.

  • Women of the Night

    Women of the Night

    ★★★★

    Mizoguchi's proto-feminist film of desperate woman turning to streetwalking amidst the rubble of wartime Japan has just two modes – miserable and hysterical – and at first seems to be dealing in caricature, but it's really a movie about masks and the subversion of the self, armed with a provocative central performance from Kinuyo Tanka, and a powerful, confrontational climax in a burned-out lot, where the characters' and the nation's malaise become one.

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  • Ghost World

    Ghost World

    ★★★★★

    You can take your Juno, your Scott Pilgrim, even your Heathers, and chuck them in a skip, because Ghost World just does it all so much better. Well, all of it that's worth doing. I'm beginning to think this melancholy, bitingly hilarious crystallisation of teen ennui might be the only film I'll ever really need.

  • Sideways

    Sideways

    ★★★★★

    Wine is probably the most boring subject on Earth, so how come Payne’s film about a lonely, bitter best man (Paul Giamatti) taking the soon-to-be-groom (Thomas Haden Church) on a week-long tour of vineyards is so bloody good? Perhaps because of Giamatti’s astonishing characterisation, which imbues an arrogant, self-destructive, self-hating pseud with a completely disarming humanity. Or perhaps because it’s not really about wine at all, but love and friendship and the choices that people make that end up deciding…