Russian Ark (2002)

First published in the British Fantasy Journal. 16 (107-12). “I open my eyes and I see nothing. I only remember there was an accident. Everyone ran for safety as best they could. I just can’t remember what happened to me.” Russian Ark, directed by Alexander Sokurov in 2002, is a ghost story, albeit an elliptical…

The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

“There’s nothing so different about them. After all, crime in only a left-handed form of human endeavor.”” ‘The Asphalt Jungle’, directed by John Huston in 1950, is an American film noir starring Sterling Hayden, Sam Jaffe and Jean Hagen. Jaffe plays Erwin “Doc” Riedenschneider, a newly released prisoner who builds a gang to steal jewellery….

Time of the Wolf (2003)

“For a director famous for his challenges to and provocations of his audience, this film, which of all Haneke’s work has received the most lukewarm if not negative critical response, is also the easiest for an audience to take — once you’ve looked past its forbidding apocalyptic scenario — for there’s a strong humanist premise…

The Phantom Carriage (1921)

“There is an old, old carriage… It is no ordinary driver who holds the reigns, for he’s in the service of a strict master named Death.” ‘The Phantom Carriage’, directed by Victor Sjöström in 1921, is a Swedish silent horror movie starring the director as David Holm, a drunkard who when knocked unconscious on New…

The Lady Vanishes (1938)

“Never mind, dear. Now if I were you I’d try to get a little sleep. It’ll make you feel quite well again! There’s a most intriguing acrostic in the Needlewoman. I’m going to try to finish it before you wake up.” ‘The Lady Vanishes’, directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1938, is a British thriller starring…

A Summer’s Tale (1996)

“Some days I’d like to be stupid and ugly. I only meet guys who want to paw me. Never anyone I can just talk to. I think it’s a shame… that nine times out of ten, when a guy talks to a girl… he’s got another thought in mind.” ‘A Summer’s Tale’, directed by Éric…

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

“I was continuing to shrink, to become… what? The infinitesimal? What was I? Still a human being? Or was I the man of the future? If there were other bursts of radiation, other clouds drifting across seas and continents, would other beings follow me into this vast new world? So close – the infinitesimal and…

American Sniper (2014)

“There are three types of people in this world: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. Some people prefer to believe that evil doesn’t exist in the world, and if it ever darkened their doorstep, they wouldn’t know how to protect themselves. Those are the sheep.” ‘American Sniper’, directed by Clint Eastwood in 2014, is an American biopic…

Five Easy Pieces (1970)

“I don’t know if you’d be particularly interested in hearing anything about me. My life, I mean… Most of it doesn’t add up to much that I could relate as a way of life that you’d approve of… I’d like to be able to tell you why, but I don’t really… I mean, I move…

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

“That’s just what this country needs: a cock in a frock on a rock. ” ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’, directed by Stephan Elliott in 1994, is an Australian road movie and part of a cycle of films that included ‘Strictly Ballroom’ and ‘Muriel’s Wedding’ that made Australian cinema distinctive in the…

A Canterbury Tale (1944)

“Well, there are more ways than one of getting close to your ancestors. Follow the old road, and as you walk, think of them and of the old England. They climbed Chillingbourne Hill, just as you. They sweated and paused for breath just as you did today. And when you see the bluebells in the…

Film (1965)

‘Shh’ ‘Film’, directed by Alan Schneider and written by Samuel Beckett in 1965, is an American short movie, the only film written by the Irish avant-garde playwright. A man, played appropriately silently by Buster Keaton, is followed by a pursuing camera from the streets of New York into an apartment block. His face for the…