Carol (2015)

“Just when you think it can’t get any worse, you run out of cigarettes.” ‘Carol’, directed by Todd Haynes in 2015, is an American drama set in New York in the 1950s. An aspiring photographer called Therese, played by Rooney Mara, becomes romantically involved with an older woman, Carol, played by Cate Blanchett, who is…

Cría Cuervos (1976)

“My mother died before I was born.” ‘Cría Cuervos’, directed by Carlos Saura in 1976, is a Spanish domestic drama with touches of abstract fantasy. Ana, an eight year old played by Ana Torrent (previously seen in Víctor Erice’s ‘The Spirit of the Beehive’ and later to be seen as an adult in Alejandro Amenábar’s…

Cadaveri Eccellenti (1976)

“The truth is not always revolutionary.” ‘Cadaveri Eccellenti’, directed by Francesco Rosi in 1976, is an Italian conspiracy thriller set in the world of politics and the judiciary. Someone is murdering judges and a seasoned police detective, Rogas, played by Lino Ventura, is assigned to the case. He uncovers a conspiracy that leads to the…

Open Your Eyes (1997)

“Do you believe in God?” ‘Open Your Eyes’, directed by Alejandro Amenábar in 1997, is a Spanish fantasy thriller that was later remade in America by Cameron Crowe as ‘Vanilla Sky’. It’s a puzzle box movie. A wealthy playboy, César, played by Eduardo Noriega falls in love with Sofía, the girlfriend of his best friend,…

The White Ribbon (2009)

“I gave God a chance to kill me. He didn’t do it, so he’s pleased with me.” ‘The White Ribbon’, written and directed by Michael Haneke in 2009 is an historical movie set in a small German village in the months leading up to the First World War. A series of mysterious accidents and crimes…

West Side Story (1957)

“When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way! From you first cigarette your last dying days.” ‘West Side Story’, directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins in 1957, is an adaptation of a Broadway musical loosely based on ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Two gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, vie for control of the…

The Seventh Victim (1943)

“No, that room made her happy in some strange way I couldn’t understand. She lived in a world of her own fancy. She didn’t always tell the truth. In fact, I’m afraid she didn’t know what the truth was.” ‘The Seventh Victim’, directed by Mark Robson in 1943, is a psychological horror set in contemporary…

Gladiator (2000)

“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius; father to a murdered son; husband to a murdered wife; and I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.” ‘Gladiator’, directed by Ridley Scott in…

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

“Nothing in the world can be compared to the human face. It is a land one can never tire of exploring. There is no greater experience in a studio than to witness the expression of a sensitive face under the mysterious power of inspiration. To see it animated from inside, and turning into poetry.” ‘The…

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1965)

“…and the drowned” ‘Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors’, directed by Sergei Parajanov in 1965, is a Ukrainian movie that follows the life of a farmer in a small Hutsul village. Ivan, played by Ivan Mykolaichuk falls for a girl called Marichka who is a member of a rival family. Marichka dies in a tragic accident and…

Edward II (1991)

“The sight of London to my exiled eyes is as Elysium to a new-come soul.” ‘Edward II’, directed by Derek Jarman in 1991, is an historical movie based on the play by Christopher Marlowe. As with Jarman’s earlier ‘Caravaggio’, ‘Edward II’ mixes period detail and events with modern, anachronistic dress, fashions and dialogue. The king…

Gimme Shelter (1970)

“They told me, if I could sit on the stage so nobody climbed over me, I could drink beer till the show was over.” ‘Gimme Shelter’, directed by Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin in 1970, is a documentary following the Rolling Stones as the prepared for and performed at the infamous Altamont Free…

Le Dernier Combat (1983)

“Bonjour” ‘Le Dernier Combat’, directed by Luc Besson in 1983, is a French post-apocalyptic action movie set in a world in which everyone is mute. The main character, played by Pierre Jolivet and described in the cast list as ‘The Man’, travels through a blasted wasteland. He encounters a group of scavengers and steals a…

Chimes at Midnight (1965)

“Banish plump Jack, and banish all the world.” ‘Chimes at Midnight’, directed by Orson Welles in 1965, is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s two Henry IV plays, focusing on the life and misadventures of Sir John Falstaff. Falstaff, played Welles, spends his days in a London tavern getting drunk, sleeping with prostitutes and developing money making…

Archangel (1990)

“And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night.” ‘Archangel’, directed by Guy Maddin in 1990, is a low budget Canadian film set during the aftermath of the First World War in Russia. In 1919, a Canadian soldier, Boles, mourning the…

A Tale of Winter (1992)

‘A Tale of Winter’, directed by Éric Rohmer in 1992, is the second of the French directors’ quartet of season themed films that include ‘A Tale of Springtime’ and ‘Autumn Tale’. As with those, this movie focuses on the tangled love life of a woman. Félicie meets a chef called Charles whilst on holiday and,…

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)

“A minute ago she wanted to go home but since you ignored her, she got depressed and had some gazpacho.” ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown’, directed by Pedro Almodóvar in 1988, is a Spanish black comedy. Pepa, played by Carmen Maura has been dumped by Ivan, but unknown to him she is…

El Topo (1970)

“Too much perfection is a mistake.” ‘El Topo’, directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky in 1970, is an hallucinogenic Western starring the  director as a black-clad gunslinger, El Topo who travels through the deserts of Mexico with his son. It’s a quest narrative. El Topo is tasked by a woman he rescues from a besieged village to…

Yeelen (1987)

“But last night I saw a bright light cross the sky and stop before me. It said, “Djigui, the threat hovering over the Bambaras will strike the country, but spare your family.” That restored my hope. In the same dream, I was also told this: “Your descendants will undergo a great change. They’ll be slaves,…

Jason Bourne (2016)

“I remember. I remember everything.” ‘Jason Bourne’ is the fifth movie in a series of action thrillers, and the third to be directed by Paul Greengrass. It features Matt Damon as the titular ex-CIA assassin who, ten years after he exposed the corrupt operation that lead to his estrangement from the US intelligence service, finds…

Killer of Sheep (1978)

“Man, I ain’t poor. Look, I give away things to the Salvation Army; you can’t give away nothin’ to Salvation Army if you poor. I mean, we may not have a damn thing sometimes – you wanna see somebody that’s poor? Now, you go around and look at Walters. Now, he be sittin’ over a…

The Haunting (1963)

“An evil old house, the kind some people call haunted, is like an undiscovered country waiting to be explored. Hill House had stood for 90 years and might stand for 90 more. Silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there… walked alone.” ‘The Haunting’, directed by Robert Wise…

The Blue Angel (1930)

“Beware of blonde women, they’re special, every one. At first you may be unaware, but something is definitely there. A little hanky-panky can be fun, but from their clutches you’d better run.” ‘The Blue Angel’, directed by Josef von Sternberg in 1930, is a German tragicomedy starring Emil Jannings and Marlene Dietrich. Jannings plays an…

A Man Escaped (1956)

“Un condamné à mort s’est échappé” ‘A Man Escaped’, directed by Robert Bresson in 1956, is a prison escape drama set during the Nazi occupation of France during the Second World War. Fontaine, a member of the French resistance played by François Leterrier, is arrested and, after attempting to escape from the car taking him…

Caché (2005)

“Are you less lonely because you can sit in the garden? Do you feel less lonely in the metro than at home? Well then! Anyway, I have my family friend… with remote control. Whenever they annoy me, I just shut them up.” ‘Caché’, directed by Michael Haneke in 2005 is a puzzle-box of a suspense…

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

“I didn’t bring your breakfast, because you didn’t eat your din-din!” ‘What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?’, directed in 1962 by Robert Aldrich, is an American psychological thriller. It follows two sisters from their youth to their old age. One, Baby Jane Hudson, played by Bette Davis, is a psychotically jealous ex-child star who never…

The Red and the White (1967)

“For a while I was famous for my ‘long takes’, these sequence shots that last several minutes. At that time it was really special. Within these sequence shots there were close-ups and long shots – everything. Film-making is really over that now. With the influence of commercials and music, editing has become snappier. Unavoidably in…

Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)

“I could have made mashed potatoes, but we’re having that tomorrow.” ‘Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles’, a Belgian movie directed by Chantal Akerman in 1975, is a long study of three days in the life of a single mother. Over its three and a half hours, it follows the title character as…

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991)

“First of all, I call this whole movie the Idiodyssey. None of my tools, none of my tricks, none of my ways of doing things works for this ending. I have tried so many times that I know I can’t do it. It might be a big victory to know that I can’t do it….