American Mary

American Mary (2012)

American Mary first published by Film4 (for a different review, see here) Synopsis: Canadian twins Jen and Sylvia Soska write and direct this tale of surgery and revenge, starring Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps). Review: “Surgeons don’t have the luxury of being sorry”. So Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) is told by Dr Grant (David Lougren) after her mobile…


Dirt (2024)

Among the many verbal riffs in David Finkelstein’s latest animated experiment Dirt is a disquisition on bats, and on their use of echolocation to map out spaces in the dark with their ‘sound pictures’ – and indeed a recurring visual motif in the film is a pair of batwings monstrously decorated with large ears. This,…


Alive (2002)

Alive first published by Film4 Summary: In Ryuhei Kitamura’s dystopian prison sci-fi, it is not just the humans who are trapped inside and looking to get out.  Review: If Ryuhei Kitamura exploded into the world of cult cinema with his low-budget feature debut Versus (2000), a moviegeek’s wet dream of yakuza gunplay, samurai set-pieces and zombie gore,…


Alexandra (Aleksandra) 2007)

Alexandra (Aleksadra) first published by Film4 Summary: In Aleksandr Sokurov’s intimate epic, an aging Russian woman mourns her own mortality while visiting her soldier grandson in occupied Chechnya. Review: “The mirror’s dirty,” complains Alexandra (Galina Vishnevskaya) to her grandson Denis (Vasili Shevtsov). “Where do you do your washing?” Dirt and washing play like leitmotifs throughout Aleksandr Sokurov‘s…

Akasen Chitai

Akasen Chitai (aka Streets of Shame) (1956)

Akasen Chitai (aka Streets of Shame) first published by Film4, 9 June 2008 Summary: Kenji Mizoguchi’s final film examines the state of prostitution in Japan at a time of shifting mores. Review: “For all the high moral purpose – they tell us this film was made as propaganda in the campaign to ban legal prostitution in Japan…

Ai Weiwei Never Sorry

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012)

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry first published by Film4, 24 July, 2012 Summary: Alison Klayman’s all-access documentary profiles China’s most famous artist provocateur. Review: At the beginning of Alison Klayman’s excellent documentary we learn that there are some 40 cats living at Ai Weiwei‘s Beijing studio, but that only one of them has learnt to let itself out….

The Burning Season

The Burning Season (2023)

Opening in medias res to the sound of a woman gasping for breath, the prologue to Sean Garrity’s The Burning Season is what might be called a primal scene. “You can’t tell anyone about this, ok? Ever. Promise me.” says a panting, upset girl (Natalie Jane) to a similarly aged boy (Christian Meer). ῾”I promise,”…

Stray Dogs

Stray Dogs (Sag-haye velgard) (2004)

Stray Dogs (Sag-haye velgard) first published by musicOMH “Do you understand?”, the wild-eyed little girl keeps asking the stray dog that she has taken for a pet, as she tries to explain the intricacies of her present predicament, the theological concept of hell, and the need to pray for divine intervention. It is not clear…


Ahlaam (2006)

Ahlaam first published by Film4 Summary: Mohamed Al-Daradji‘s feature debut shows the tragic madhouse of pre- and post-war Iraq from the ground up. Review: With Lions for Lambs (2007), Redacted (2007) and Battle for Haditha (2007) all coming out in rapid succession, Western cinema is at last beginning to examine the Coalition’s post-9/11 ventures in the Middle…

Jar City

Jar City (Mýrin) (2006)

Jar City (Mýrin) first published by Film4 Summary: In Baltasar Kormákur’s Icelandic chiller, a police inspector investigates both a murder and his nation’s inherited history. Review: The label film noir may conjure images of New York’s mean streets or Paris’ shadowy avenues, but in fact, as Erik Skjoldbærg’s Norway-set Insomnia proved in 1997, the genre can also…