Autumn Tale (1998)

“You really fooled me. I was ready for anything but this. You see, in a way, I’m relieved: Something was fishy, but I couldn’t figure it out. But I’m disappointed, too. Very much so. I was already more than interested in you. I don’t want to shock you, but I wanted to love you, and…

Il Gattopardo (1963)

“We were the leopards, the lions, those who take our place will be jackals and sheep, and the whole lot of us – leopards, lions, jackals and sheep – will continue to think ourselves the salt of the earth.” ‘Il Gattopardo’ (translated as ‘The Leopard’), directed by Luchino Visconti in 1963, is an adaptation of…

Mamma Roma (1962)

“How you end up is your own fault.” ‘Mamma Roma’, directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini in 1962, tells the story of an ex-prostitute (who the film is named after), played by Anna Magnani, and her son. Mamma Roma tries to find work for her son in Rome but after finding out what she used to…

The Way (2010)

“Brain cancer. Surgery left a terrible scar. I wear this yarmulke to cover it up. They didn’t get it all… you know, the cancer. Said it’ll probably come back. Who knows about these kind of things? Only God… Anyway, they say that miracles happen out here on the Camino de Santiago.” ‘The Way’, directed by…

Sanjuro (1962)

“You’re too sharp. That’s your trouble. You’re like a drawn sword. Sharp, naked without a sheath. You cut well. But good swords are kept in their sheaths.” ‘Sanjuro’, directed by Akira Kurosawa in 1962, is a spiritual sequel to the director’s 1961 movie ‘Yojimbo’. Toshiro Mifune plays a charismatic ronin who comes to the aid…

Alice (1988)

“Alice thought to herself: Now you will see a film made for children, perhaps. But, I nearly forgot, you must close your eyes, otherwise you won’t see anything.” ‘Alice’, directed by Jan Švankmajer in 1988, is a Czech adaptation of Lewis Carrol’s novel. It loosely takes scenes from the book and uses Švankmajer’s characteristic stop-frame…

House (1977)

“She eats unmarried young girls. It is the only time she can wear her wedding gown.” ‘House’, directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi in 1977, is a Japanese horror-comedy-musical-teen movie that rivals ‘The Wicker Man’ for its genre bending, ‘Funeral Parade of Roses’ for its manipulation of  visual conventions and ‘Donkey Skin’ for its sheer, unabashed oneiric…

Harry, He’s Here to Help (2000)

“You have to overreact.” ‘Harry, He’s Here to Help’, directed by Dominik Moll in 2000, is a French psychological thriller. The title character, played by Sergi López, runs into an old school acquaintance, Michel, played by Laurent Lucas, and his family. Michel is traveling to his house in the country which he is doing up…

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

“There are countless ingredients that make up the human body and mind, like all the components that make up me as an individual with my own personality. Sure I have a face and voice to distinguish myself from others, but my thoughts and memories are unique only to me, and I carry a sense of…

The Hourglass Sanatorium (1973)

“You know as well as I that from the point of view of your home, from the perspective of your own country, your father is dead. This cannot be entirely remedied. That death throws a certain shadow on his existence here.” ‘The Hourglass Sanatorium’, directed by Wojciech Jerzy Has in 1973, is a Polish fantasy…

Short Cuts (1993)

“I hate L.A. All they do is snort coke and talk.” ‘Short Cuts’, directed by Robert Altman in 1993, is a comedy drama formed from nine interlacing short stories. It’s set in modern day Los Angeles and Altman focuses our attention on the grotesque nature of the inhabitants, the tragedies that befall normal people and…

Wild Strawberries (1957)

“If I have been feeling worried or sad during the day, I have a habit of recalling scenes from childhood to calm me. So it was this evening.” ‘Wild Strawberries’, written and directed by Ingmar Bergman in 1957, feels like a film ahead of its time – for example: I struggled to place a date…

Tokyo Story (1953)

“Kyoko: Isn’t life disappointing? Noriko [smiles]: Yes, it is.” ‘Tokyo Story’, directed by Yasujirō Ozu in 1953, tells the simple story of an elderly couple who travel across Japan to visit their children only to find them too busy to entertain them. After a while they travel back but the grandmother is taken ill and…

Mid-August Lunch (2008)

“Elegantly played and emotionally lively, Mid-August Lunch is might be small but it is perfectly formed, deftly revealing over the course of its seventy minute running time, the obsessions of the Italian male; mama, food and hypochondria.” ‘Mid-August Lunch’, directed by Gianni Di Gregorio (who also starred) in 2008, is a short but sweet movie…

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

“You are all my children, and you’re lost because you follow blind leaders. No more false gods. I’m here now.” Bloated Would I recommend it? Yes – better than ‘Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice’. Watch in a double bill with all the other X-Men movies…

Ran (1985)

“You spilled an ocean of blood. You showed no mercy, no pity. We too are children of this age… weaned on strife and chaos. We are your sons, yet you count on our fidelity. In my eyes, that makes you a fool. A senile old fool!” ‘Ran’, directed by Akira Kurosawa in 1985, is an…

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

“Bring out the perverts!” ‘The Bird with the Crystal Plumage’, directed by Dario Argento in 1970, is the director’s first movie. It’s a whodunit along the lines of ‘Psycho’ in which an American writer, Sam Dalmas, witnesses an attempted murder and then helps the police chase a serial killer at the risk of his and…

Holy Motors (2012)

“I have a plan to go mad.” ‘Holy Motors’, directed by Leos Carax in 2012, is a fantasy about a man, played by Carax regular Denis Lavant, who, throughout the movie, adopts various appearances and roles. The film follows a day in his life as he moves from one weird assignment to the next pretending…

Cabaret (1972)

“Aren’t you ever going to stop deluding yourself? Handling Max? Behaving like some ludicrous little underage femme fatale? You’re… you’re about as fatale as an after dinner mint!” ‘Cabaret’, directed by Bob Fosse in 1972, is a musical set in Berlin in the 1930s. It’s the story of Brian, a British academic, played by Michael…

The Fireman’s Ball (1967)

“The movie is just plain funny. And as a parable it is timeless, with relevance at many times in many lands. Remarkable, how often when I learn of a bureaucratic brainstorm I think of the fireman moving the farmer’s chair closer to the flames.” ‘The Fireman’s Ball’, directed by Miloš Forman in 1967, is a…

The Sting (1973)

“You see that fella in the red sweater over there? His name’s Donnie McCoy. Works a few of the protection rackets for Cunnaro when he’s waiting for something better to happen. Donnie and I have known each other since we were six. Take a good look at that face, Floyd. Because if he ever finds…

Spirits of the Dead (1969)

“Be silent in that solitude, Which is not loneliness—for then The spirits of the dead who stood In life before thee are again In death around thee—and their will Shall overshadow thee: be still.” ‘Spirits of the Dead’, directed by Roger Vadim, Louis Malle and Federico Fellini in 1969, is a portmanteau horror movie made…

An American in Paris (1951)

“Back home everyone said I didn’t have any talent. They might be saying the same thing over here but it sounds better in French.” ‘An American in Paris’, directed by Vincente Minnelli in 1951, is my first foray into Hollywood musicals. It tells the story of three friends in Paris, two ex-pat Americans, Jerry and…

Audition (1999)

“This wire can cut through meat and bone easily.” ‘Audition’, directed by Takashi Miike in 1999, is part of a cycle of Japanese horror movies, but one that is less supernatural and, until the final scenes, more subtle than some of its counterparts. It tells the story of a widower, Shigeharu Aoyama, who is persuaded…

Fellini’s Casanova (1976)

“A man who never speaks ill of women does not love them. For to understand them and to love them one must suffer at their hands. Then and only then can you find happiness at the lips of your beloved.” ‘Fellini’s Casanova’, directed by Federico Fellini in 1976, is a film from late in the…

Detour (1945)

“Ever done any hitchhiking? It’s not much fun, believe me. Oh yeah, I know all about how it’s an education, and how you get to meet a lot of people, and all that. But me, from now on I’ll take my education in college, or in PS-62, or I’ll send $1.98 in stamps for ten…

Donkey Skin (1970)

“Once upon a time there was a king so great, so loved by his people and so respected by neighbouring kingdoms that he was the happiest of monarchs. And his happiness was even greater for having chosen a beautiful and virtuous wife. The couple lived in perfect harmony. They had a daughter of such grace…

Hitchcock/Truffaut (2015)

“In many of the films now being made, there is very little cinema: they are mostly what I call ‘photographs of people talking.’ When we tell a story in cinema we should resort to dialogue only when it’s impossible to do otherwise. I always try to tell a story in the cinematic way, through a…

All About My Mother (1999)

“Well, as I was saying, it costs a lot to be authentic, ma’am. And one can’t be stingy with these things because you are more authentic the more you resemble what you’ve dreamed of being.” ‘All About My Mother’, directed by Pedro Almodóvar in 1999, is a melodrama set in Madrid and Barcelona. The central…

Marketa Lazarová (1967)

“I think the point about ‘Marketa Lazarová’ is that when you first see it you’re confused, and by that I mean you know that the whole story of what you’re looking at is obscured, but it’s still there, but you have to look hard.” ‘Marketa Lazarová’, directed by František Vláčil in 1967, is a long,…