Australia

Australia (2008)

Australia first published by Film4 Summary: Following his ‘Red Curtain Trilogy’, poly-hyphenate Baz Luhrmann turns to national epic, in an optimistic tale of adventure, romance, war and racial reconciliation Down Under.    Review: Way back in 1915 when D.W. Griffiths made his Civil War and Reconstruction epic The Birth of a Nation, he may have been expanding…

The Beast

The Beast (La Bête) (2023)

The Beast (La Bête) seen for the BFI London Film Festival 2023 The Beast (La Bête) opens as it intends to go on, with a head-on shot of its protagonist Gabrielle (Léa Seydoux), whose face will remain a constant map modulating the film’s otherwise unstable narrative coordinates. Here, in a moment of pure metacinema, Gabrielle…

Pearl

Pearl (2022)

Pearl has its UK première at the Glasgow Film Festival 2023 The opening of writer/director Ti West’s previous feature X (2022) showed the corpse-strewn tableau of an old, battered farm, first in what appeared to be 1.375:1 aspect ratio, and then, as the camera passed through the barn’s square doorway which had been occluding the…

La Antena

La Antena (The Aerial) (2007)

La Antena (The Aerial) first published by EyeforFilm, 7th March, 2008 “Once upon a time there was a city without a voice. Somebody had taken away the voices of all its inhabitants. Many, many years went by and nobody seemed bothered by the silence.” In La Antena (The Aerial), writer/director Esteban Sapir realises his mute…

Johnny Guitar

Johnny Guitar (1954)

Johnny Guitar first published by Little White Lies, as entry 136 in my Cinema Psychotronicum column A stranger wanders into a divided community. This is the plot of George Stevens’ iconic oater Shane (1953), as its eponymous gunfighter drifts into a local dispute and sides with the wholesome, homespun underdogs, before moving on, injured, into…

Babel

Babel (2006)

Babel first published by EyeforFilm Forming the last in a loose trilogy of films made by director Alejandro González Iñárritu and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga, Babel follows their signature formula, offering multiple narratives that ripple and sprawl out of a single violent incident. And while it may lack the energetic freshness of their earlier Amores Perros (2000), and…

Monk

The Monk (La Moine) (2011)

The Monk (La Moine) first published by movieScope “Satan has only the power we give him.”  So says ‘model of rectitude’ Ambrosio (Vincent Cassel) in the opening scene of Dominik (Harry He’s Here To Help; Lemming) Moll’s The Monk (La Moine), when faced by his polar opposite, a licentious Debauchee (Sergi López) who has just…

Twentieth

The Twentieth Century (2019)

Writer/director Matthew Rankin’s The Twentieth Century both is and is not a biopic of Canadian statesman William Lyon Mackenzie King. King was a towering figure in the first half of the twentieth century. The leader of Canada’s Liberal Party from 1919 to 1948, he would become Canada’s longest-serving Prime Minister over three consecutive terms –…

Aftermath

The Aftermath (2019)

The Aftermath first published by Sight & Sound, April 2019 Review: James Kent’s The Aftermath occupies a real time and place, while annexing them for more metaphorical purposes. For it is set in a snowy Hamburg, five months after the Allied Victory in 1945, yet when Rachael (Keira Knightley) comes there from England to join…

Baby

The Baby (1973)

The Baby first published by Little White Lies, as entry 66 in my Cinema Psychotronicum column “I don’t mind telling you, Mrs Wadsworth, that I made a special effort to get this assignment,” says Ann Gentry (Anjanette Comer) near the beginning of The Baby. “It was impossible not to be interested.” Rubbernecking viewers who have…

Villainess

The Villainess (Ak-nyeo) (2017)

The Villainess first published by SciFiNow “So melodramatic,” says trained killer Kim-sun (Jo Eun-ji) as two of her colleagues, Sook-hee (Kim Ok-bin) and Min-joo (Son Min-ji), spend a little too long on their farewells to each other. It is a familiar criticism levelled by western viewers at the sentimental sensibilities so often found in Korean cinema…