Close-Up (1990)

“This is a film that made itself” ‘Close-Up’, directed by  Abbas Kiarostami in 1990, is an Iranian drama based on the real life story of a man who posed as the notable Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf (the man who made ‘Gabbeh’) and was arrested and charged with fraud. Kiarostami follows the story by using the…

Man of Marble (1976)

‘Man of Marble’, directed by Andrzej Wajda in 1976, is a Polish drama. Jerzy Radziwiłowicz plays  Mateusz Birkut, a bricklayer working on Nowa Huta, a socialist realist settlement near Kraków. When he breaks a record laying 30,000 bricks in one shift, Birkut becomes a socialist legend but rapidly loses faith in the system when he…

Elektra, My Love (1975)

‘Elektra, My Love’, directed by Miklós Jancsó in 1975, is a not a film on the list, but as Jancsó is rapidly turning into one of my favourite directors I had to watch it. The film follows the style of ‘Red Psalm’ from 1971, the action taking place entirely on the Puszta grasslands near Kunszentmiklós…

Tampopo (1985)

“The old man bit some shinachiku root and chewed it awhile. Then he took some noodles. Still chewing noodles, he took some more shinachiku. Then he sipped some soup. Three times. He sat up, sighed, picked up one slice of pork-as if making a major decision in life-and lightly tapped it on the side of…

A Passage to India (1984)

“You shouldn’t walk alone, Mrs. Moore. There are bad characters about, and leopards may come down from the Marabar Hills – snakes also!” ‘A Passage to India’, directed by David Lean in 1984, is a British period drama set during the 1920s in colonial India. Victor Banerjee plays Aziz Ahmed, a doctor who is keen…

Live Flesh (1997)

“Sancho: You’re aiming at your superior! David: No, I’m aiming at a lunatic and a drunk!” ‘Live Flesh’, directed by Pedro Almodóvar in 1997, is a Spanish adaptation of Ruth Rendell’s 1986 psychological thriller. In Madrid in 1970, a prostitute gives birth to a boy whilst on a bus. In 1990, the boy is now…

My Man Godfrey (1936)

“Tommy, there’s a very peculiar mental process called thinking – you wouldn’t know much about that – but when I was living here I did a lot of it.” ‘My Man Godfrey’, directed by Gregory La Cava in 1936, is an American screwball comedy starring William Powell and Carole Lombard. Powell plays a down-an-out called…

Best Films – 2017

2017 has been (another) year of political upheaval and personal wobbles. Life and work have meant that, towards the end of the year, I have stopped blogging once a day, but shifted to two or three times a week. Despite this, I continue to discover films that chime with me personally, emotionally and academically. Some…

Great Expectations (1946)

“Now, Pip: put the case that this legal advisor has often seen children tried at the criminal bar. Put the case that he has known them to be habitually imprisoned, whipped, neglected, cast out, neglected, cast out, qualified in all ways for the hangman, and growing up to be hanged. Put the case that here…

Brighton Rock (1947)

“You asked me to make a record of me voice. Well, here it is. What you want me to say is ‘I love you.’ Here’s the truth. I hate you, you little slut. You make me sick.” ‘Brighton Rock’, directed by John Boulting in 1947, is a British adaptation of Graham Greene’s crime thriller. Richard…

Giant (1956)

“Everybody thought I had a duster. Y’all thought ol’ Spindletop Burke and Burnett was all the oil there was, didn’t ya? Well, I’m here to tell you that it ain’t, boy! It’s here, and there ain’t a dang thing you gonna do about it! My well came in big, so big, Bick and there’s more…

The Wedding Banquet (1993)

“Wai-Tung Gao: I don’t know, we should have moved you out. Simon: I’ll survive. Wai-Tung Gao: Not if Wei Wei keeps cooking.” ‘The Wedding Banquet’, directed by Ang Lee in 1993, is a Taiwanese/American romantic comedy charting the lives of two gay men in New York, Wai-Tung Gao and Simon. Wai-Tung’s parents live in Taiwan…

Laura (1944)

“She was quick to seize upon anything that would improve her mind or her appearance. Laura had innate breeding, but she deferred to my judgment and taste. I selected a more attractive hairdress for her. I taught her what clothes were more becoming to her. Through me, she met everyone: The famous and the infamous….

Camille (1936)

“If you don’t stop being so easy-going with your money, you’ll land in the gutter before you’re through or back on that farm where you came from, milking cows and cleaning out hen houses. “ ‘Camille’, directed by George Cukor in 1936, is an American adaptation of ‘La Dame aux Camélias’ by Alexandre Dumas, fils….

Lone Star (1996)

“To run a successful civilization, you have got to have your lines of demarcation: between right ‘n’ wrong, between this’n ‘n’ that’n. Your daddy understood that. He was uh what-you-call-it… the referee of this damn menudo we got down here. He understood how most folks don’t want their salt and sugar in the same jar.”…

Vampyr (1932)

“What was going on? What terrifying secret was unfolding? Allan Gray felt certain of one thing: A soul in mortal distress was crying out for help, and a voice within urged him to heed that call. “ ‘Vampyr’, directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer in 1932, is a German and French horror movie made by the…

Red River (1948)

“Cherry was right. You’re soft, you should have let ’em kill me, ’cause I’m gonna kill you. I’ll catch up with ya. I don’t know when, but I’ll catch up. Every time you turn around, expect to see me, ’cause one time you’ll turn around and I’ll be there. I’m gonna kill ya, Matt. “…

12 Angry Men (1957)

“It’s always difficult to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like this. And wherever you run into it, prejudice always obscures the truth. I don’t really know what the truth is. I don’t suppose anybody will ever really know. Nine of us now seem to feel that the defendant is innocent, but we’re just…

Fires Were Started (1943)

“I see a thousand strange sights in the streets of London I see the clock on Bow Church burning in daytime I see a one-legged man crossing the fire on crutches I see three negroes and a woman with white face-powder reading music at half-past three in the morning I see an ambulance girl with…

Dodsworth (1936)

“Remember, I, I did make a home for you once, and I’ll do it again, only you’ve got to let me have my fling now! Because you’re simply rushing at old age, Sam, and I’m not ready for that yet.” ‘Dodsworth’, directed by William Wyler in 1936, is an American drama starring Walter Huston and…

Gigi (1958)

“Oh yes, Auntie, I understand. We don’t marry, is that it?” ‘Gigi’, directed by Vincente Minnelli in 1958, is an American musical comedy adapted from the novel ‘Collete’, starring Maurice Chevalier, Leslie Caron and Louis Jourdan. Jourdan plays Gaston, a Parisian playboy who is bored and spends his days socialising with women, but in particular…

The Long Goodbye (1973)

“”Possession” is what you get in here now. Possession of noses, possession of gonads, possession of life. It’s a weird world. Listen, some day, some day, all the pigs are gonna be in here, and the people are gonna be out there.” ‘The Long Goodbye’, directed by Robert Altman in 1973, is an American neo-noir…

The Accidental Tourist (1988)

“A business traveler should bring only what fits in a carry-on bag. Checking your luggage is asking for trouble. – – Add several travel size packets of detergent so you won’t fall into the hands of unfamiliar laundries. There are very few necessities in this world which do not come from travel-size packets. – –…

Fat Girl (2001)

“She was in the woods. She says he didn’t rape her.” ‘Fat Girl’, directed by  Catherine Breillat in 2001, is a French drama the focuses on a pair of sisters: Anaïs, played by Anaïs Reboux and Elena, played by Roxane Mesquida. The pair are on holiday with their parents in a seaside resort when Elena,…

The Consequences of Love (2004)

“In the world there’s a certain kind of cult, with men and women of all social classes, of all ages and of all religions. It is the insomniacs cult. I’m part of it. For ten years. Those who don’t belong to the cult sometimes tend to say: “If you can’t sleep, you can read, watch…

Le Harve (2011)

“L’argent circule au crepuscule.” ‘Le Harve’, directed by Aki Kaurismäki in 2011, is a Finnish comedy drama set in the French coastal port. André Wilms plays Marcel Marx, a former writer who has turned to shining shoes for money. He lives with his wife who looks after him and keeps his money safe. When she…

La Notte (1961)

“When I awake this morning, you were still asleep. As I awoke I heard you gentle breathing. I saw you closed eyes beneath wisps of stray hair and I was deeply moved. I wanted to cry out, to wake you, but you slept so deeply, so soundly. In the half-light you skin gloved with life…

Silence (2016)

“I do because you are just like me. You see Jesus in Gethsemane and believe your trial is the same as His. Those five in the pit are suffering too, just like Jesus, but they don’t have your pride. They would never compare themselves to Jesus. Do you have the right to make them suffer?…

Down By Law (1986)

“I scream. You scream. We all scream. For ice cream.” ‘Down By Law’, directed by Jim Jarmusch in 1986, is an American independent comedy drama. Tom Waits, John Lurie, and Roberto Benigni play three men who are incarcerated in a New Orleans prison. Waits is a DJ who gets caught up in a crime, Lurie…

The Flowers of St Francis (1950)

“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” ‘The Flowers of St Francis’, directed by Roberto Rossellini in 1950, is an Italian historical drama charting incidents in the career of Francis of Assisi. The structure of the film is nine ‘chapters’, each telling a parable from the ministry of…