Star Trek Beyond (2016)

“Captain’s Log, Stardate 2263.2. Today is our 966th day in deep space – A little under three years into our five year mission. The more time we spend out here, the harder it is to tell where one day ends and the next one begins. It can be a challenge to feel grounded, when even…

‘Le Sang des Bêtes’ (1948) and ‘Judex’ (1963)

‘Le Sang des Bêtes’ and ‘Judex’, are two French movies directed by Georges Franju in 1948 and 1963 respectively. The former is a short documentary depicting the men working in abattoirs in post-war France, whilst the latter is an adventure movie based on a silent film from 1916. ‘Le Sang des Bêtes’ is a brutal,…

Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)

“I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you. Course there’s lots of cars on the road like yours. They all get to look the same. They perform about the same.” ‘Two-Lane Blacktop’, directed by Monte Hellman in 1971, is an American road movie in which two cars race from Arizona to East Tennessee. It’s a raw,…

The Battle of Algiers (1966)

“It’s hard to start a revolution. Even harder to continue it. And hardest of all to win it. But, it’s only afterwards, when we have won, that the true difficulties begin. In short, Ali, there’s still much to do.” ‘The Battle of Algiers’, directed by Gillo Pontecorvo in 1966, is a neorealist war movie set…

Good Bye Lenin! (2003)

“My mother outlived the GDR by three days. I believe it was a good thing she never learned the truth. She died happy. She wanted us to scatter her ashes to the winds. That’s prohibited in Germany, both East and West. But we didn’t care.” ‘Good Bye, Lenin!’, directed by Wolfgang Becker in 2003, is…

Testament of Orpheus (1960)

“It is the unique power of cinema to allow a great many people to dream the same dream together and to present illusion to us as if it were strict reality. It is, in short, an admirable vehicle for poetry. My film is nothing other than a striptease act, gradually peeling away my body to…

Black Orpheus (1959)

“Play a song for me, please. Come on.” ‘Black Orpheus’, directed by Marcel Camus in 1959, is a retelling of the Greek myth set during the Rio de Janeiro favela. Orfeu, played by Breno Mello, falls in love with a visitor to the city, Eurydice, played by Marpessa Dawn. She is threatened by both Orfeu’s…

All That Jazz (1979)

“No, nothing I ever do is good enough. Not beautiful enough, it’s not funny enough, it’s not deep enough, it’s not anything enough. Now, when I see a rose, that’s perfect. I mean, that’s perfect. I want to look up to God and say, ‘How the hell did you do that? And why the hell…

The BFG (2016)

“Because I hears your lonely heart, in all the secret whisperings of the world.” ‘The BFG’, directed by Steven Spielberg in 2016 and based on a novel by Roald Dahl, is a fantasy adventure story for children. It starts in London, part-modern, part-Victorian and part-1980s. Sophie, an orphan played by Ruby Barnhill is snatched in…

Network (1976)

“Good evening. Today is Wednesday, September the 24th, and this is my last broadcast. Yesterday I announced on this program that I was going to commit public suicide, admittedly an act of madness. Well, I’ll tell you what happened: I just ran out of bullshit. Am I still on the air? I really don’t know…

Mother Joan of the Angels (1961)

“I don’t know the world, so what can I say about it?” ‘Mother Joan of the Angels’, directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz in 1961, is a Polish psychological drama set in the seventeenth century. A priest visits a convent of nuns who are suffering from a generalised case of demonic possession. Once there he investigates, is…

Ghostbusters (2016)

“Proton guns are all well and good, but sometimes you need the Swiss Army.” ‘Ghostbusters’, directed by Paul Feig in 2016, is a comedy fantasy remake of a highly regarded 1980s movie of the same name. It features a trio of scientists and an MTA worker who is an expert in New York folklore as…

The Lion King (1994)

“Let me get this straight. You know her. She knows you. But she wants to eat him. And everybody’s okay with this?” ‘The Lion King’, directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff in 1994, is an animated musical from Walt Disney Pictures. The story is a relocation of Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ to the savannah of an…

Los Olvidados (1950)

“I hope they’ll kill every one of them before they are born.” ‘Los Olvidados’, directed by Luis Buñuel in 1950, is a Mexican drama that draws on the neorealist cinema of Europe but augments it with Buñuel’s characteristic surreal touches. It focuses on a gang of poor children in Mexico City. The leader of the…

Conspirators of Pleasure (1996)

“Tactile wooden spoons, pot lids, rolling pins and boards are alchemistic tools and our bodies are the crucible for the Magnum Opus of tactilism.” ‘Conspirators of Pleasure’, directed by Jan Švankmajer in 1996, is a darkly surreal comedy that focuses on the paraphilic fetishism of a group of suburban Czechs. It’s a movie with very…

Blow-up (1966)

“She isn’t my wife, really. We just have some kids. No, no kids, not even kids. Sometimes, though, it feels as if we had kids. She isn’t beautiful, she’s… easy to live with. No, she isn’t. That’s why I don’t live with her.” ‘Blow-up’, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni in 1966, is an Italian-British thriller set…

City of Women (1980)

“‘A house without a woman’, they say in my parts, ‘is like the Sea without a Siren’. Don’t you agree with me?” ‘City of Women’, directed by Federico Fellini in 1980, is a satirical comedy and a grand, lavish fantasy that features the ongoing adventures of Marcello Mastroianni in the colourful world of the director…

A Story of Children and Film (2013)

“I was determined not even to make a film about cinema, but this one came out of daydreaming, out of not filming. Seamus Heaney says inspiration is a ball kicked in from nowhere, and it felt like ‘A Story of Children and Film’ was just that.” ‘A Story of Children and Film’, a documentary directed…

The Blood of a Poet (1930)

“Most of Aesop’s fables have many different levels and meanings. There are those who make myths of them by choosing some feature that fits in well with the fable. But for most of the fables this is only the first and most superficial aspect. There are others that are more vital, more essential and profound,…

The Headless Woman (2008)

“When I write characters, I never think of their psychology because I know nothing about psychology. I prefer to think of the characters as children who are pretending to be adults.” ‘The Headless Woman’, directed by Lucrecia Martel in 2008, is a psychological thriller with hints of fantasy and satire. María Onetto plays Verónica, an…

L’Atalante (1934)

“He made jokes all the time. Spending a day with him was wonderful and gruelling, even a few weeks before his death. He was such a vivacious person.” ‘L’Atalante’, directed by Jean Vigo in 1934, is a simple love story focussing on a couple of newlyweds, Jean and Juliette, who make their home on a…

Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974)

“There is a homosexual pancreas in the closet.” ‘Celine and Julie Go Boating’, directed by Jacques Rivette in 1974, is a labyrinthine, experimental farce set in Paris. It tells the story of two women who meet by accident in the city, become inseparable friends and then become involved in a weird, time-traveling murder mystery ghost…

Roman Holiday (1953)

“She’s fair game, Joe. It’s always open season on princesses.” ‘Roman Holiday’, directed by William Wyler in 1953, is a romantic comedy set in Rome and starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. Hepburn plays a European princess (clearly based on Great Britain’s Elizabeth) who feels the stress of being constantly in a schedule and under…

Zéro de Conduite (1933) and Jean Vigo’s short movies

“However paradoxical it may seem, the film studio’s ideal would be to produce only one film which would go on making money forever.” ‘Zéro de Conduite’, directed by Jean Vigo in 1933, is a short movie about a student rebellion in a boarding school. It’s an anarchic film that, after a sedate beginning, moves into…

Jacquot de Nantes (1991)

“Come, Jacquot, it’s the end” ‘Jacquot de Nantes’, directed by Agnès Varda in 1991, is a biopic of filmmaker Jacques Demy that uses contemporary documentary footage and scenes from his movies to illustrate a dramatic presentation of his childhood during and after the Second World War. It’s a multi-layered film that says a great deal…

The Searchers (1956)

“No Lars. It just so happens we be Texicans. Texican is nothing but a human man way out on a limb. This year and next, and maybe for a hundred more. But I don’t think it’ll be forever. Someday this country’s gonna be a fine, good place to be. Maybe it needs our bones in…

Alexander Nevsky (1938)

“Go tell all in foreign lands that Russia lives! Those who come to us in peace will be welcome as a guest. But those who come to us sword in hand will die by the sword! On that Russia stands and forever will we stand!” ‘Alexander Nevsky’, directed by Sergei Eisenstein in 1938, is an…

Aparajito (1956)

“The Land of Bengal. Where is the greenest land of all – where the tender grass your feet must fall? Where the grain sways on sunny afternoons and the blushing lotus blooms? It is our very own Bengal, the greenest land of all. Where do thrush and robin sing? Where do fork-tailed drongos swing and…

Computer Chess (2013)

“No, it’s actually very complex once you start to think about it as a programming problem. Just the number of possible games explodes exponentially with each move, it’s close to 10 to the 120th power. And to try and compute all those games might take even longer than humanity would be around to do so.”…

Onibaba (1964)

“I’m not a demon! I’m a human being!” ‘Onibaba’, directed by Kaneto Shindo in 1964, is a Japanese morality tale with a disconcertingly hard erotic and horrific edge. It tells the story of a woman and her mother-in-law who murder soldiers in order to sell their armour. One night a samurai in a demon mask…