• The Farmer's Wife

    The Farmer's Wife


    A regularly maligned romantic comedy from Hitchcock. The critiques are clear: there's abuse of power in the dynamic, it is unaware of the realities of class divide and it presents a crude portrait of either submissive or combative femininity (they sneer or they serve), alongside a similarly poor depiction of masculinity.

    However, there is such a silliness to it. A mobile camera paired with deft editing touches -- this is very well cut -- gives the film a lightness that…

  • Downhill



    Interesting in that it includes the classic Hitchcockian wrong man trope. This tale of false accusation is proof that those tales are better when they focus on this trope as opposed to using it merely as an in sighting incident.

    Though peppered with expressionistic nods and some fine camera work, this is rather turgid. Reductively, it’s a tale of what happens when daddy’s money stops flowing — which isn’t overly interesting. Blandly archetypal characters and a wandering narrative certainly don’t…

  • 78/52



    With Campion behind us, the next Stacks season is here: Psycho Movies.

    The documentary on the shower scene in Psycho is at its best when it is about the shower scene in Psycho. Unsurprisingly.

    The back third is mostly this detailed breakdown of the entire scene, the title alluding to the 78 camera setups and 52 cuts that are explored with specificity. Though not quite, as the title is crunchier and geekier than the film is willing to be --…

  • The Making of 'Psycho'

    The Making of 'Psycho'


    With Campion behind us, the next Stacks season is here: Psycho Movies. That’s right:

    Psycho (1960)
    Psycho II (1983)
    Psycho III (1986)
    Bates Motel [not the TV show] (1987)
    Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990)
    Psycho (1998)

    One episode on the original, one episode covering the sequels and one episode on the remake.

    Psycho is one of the most famous films of all time. Part of this is due to iconic moments and sensationalism but there are many films with these ingredients…

  • The Piano

    The Piano


    The first female directed film to win a Palme D’or. This sensuous, challenging and divisive film has always had legacy to reckon with. Its accolade made it more than a film, it made it a statement and a fixture in cinematic history.

    The Piano, before The Power of the Dog, was the only Jane Campion film that was widely seen (and still only in enthusiast circles). She is celebrated but her works are tragically under seen; she is more spoken…

  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding

    My Big Fat Greek Wedding


    Disarmingly charming. For all its concessions to formula, there’s something really fresh about this.

    It stems from a one woman show and you can feel truth underneath it. The arcs of characters don’t feel like rom com arcs, they feel like human relationships. The cultural observations feel known and earned. There’s also a glow up scene down by the female lead because she want to feel better about herself, more confident, as opposed to doing it for another character.


  • No One Will Save You

    No One Will Save You


    There's been a memo, an agreement, perhaps some kind of very limited new Hays-esque Code that only applies to horror. It seems that the arbiters of the genre, presumably eldritch gods rather than generic suits, have made a proclamation that all modern horror films must be about grief and trauma. It's the law now.

    It seems this memo hit late into the production of this film, and at that point no one could save them. A well executed, if somewhat…

  • Bottoms



    A broader, more crowd pleasing and more openly entertaining follow up to the excellent Shiva Baby. This film is part another teen movie, part something delightfully different and part post-modern teen movie pastiche. It isn’t all three that cohesively and, to be honest, I’m not sure it ever could be.

    There’s a glorious hyper reality to this, underpinned by a lot of actors having evident fun on screen. Some of this manifests in empty riffing but there are some great,…

  • Birth



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

    For those that don't know, Birth is a film about a ten year old boy who enters the life of a rich family, specifically the life of one woman (played by Nicole Kidman). The ten year old boy claims to be the husband of Kidman's Anna, a husband that died ten years ago. Importantly, he doesn't say 'I am the [or even 'a'] reincarnation of him', he says he is him. Though issues of faith do percolate in the background…

  • Birth


    Update: full (glowing) review here

    This needs another viewing. It’s hard to grapple with the film that is taking over from the film you think it’s going to be. In these cases it’s tempting to see this divergence as a negative, to let a fixed view define what a film can be to you, to see deviation as a flaw. This is not my beautiful film, how did I get here?!

    However, a film is only what it is. This…

  • Eve's Bayou

    Eve's Bayou


    An enthralling southern gothic. This is a lived in and textured film, where a child’s eye — and memory — collides with the complexity of adult emotion.

    This is a film of foreground smothering background. Things rise up, seem evident, innocent or maybe even evil. Root causes are mystified and our young lead deals with symptoms alone. Eve’s Bayou is about abuse and neglect, covering this well through hiding its cards behind its back, through purposeful omission due to the…

  • Good Manners

    Good Manners


    There’s a lot of excellent stuff in Good Manners. It begins as confident, character first story telling and an evolving relationship story. There’s a backdrop of mystery, a sinister under layer creeping up, but it is primarily a (lightly quirky) realist drama about class, sexuality and pregnancy.

    From here, the film mutates and — compellingly — never quite stabilises. It doesn’t find a stable place where it can sink in its teeth and really chew on something substantial, but it…