Lucía (1968)

‘Lucía’, directed by Humberto Solás, is a Cuban drama from 1968. The film contains three stories: the first set in the 1860s, the second set in the 1930s and the third set in the then present day of the 1960s. Each focuses on a woman called Lucía, played by a different woman each time, and follows…

Wavelength (1967)

‘Wavelength’, directed by Michael Snow in 1967, is an experimental film, 45 minutes long and minimal. The film is one shot: the camera focuses on a room with windows and pictures on the wall opposite – too far away to see clearly. Over the course of the 45 minutes, the camera imperceptibly zooms in on…

The Sound of Music (1965)

“You brought music back into the house. I had forgotten.” ‘The Sound of Music’, directed by Robert Wise in 1965, is an American musical drama starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. Andrews plays Maria, a novice nun in Austria. Maria is a free-spirited and, at times, disobedient, so her superiors decide she should spend time…

Closely Observed Trains (1966)

“I’m Milos Hrma. I’ve tried to kill myself because I’m suffering from premature ejaculation. But that’s really not so. Even though I flop every time, I’m a real man.” ‘Closely Observed Trains’, directed by Jiří Menzel in 1966, is a Czechoslovak drama set in a small town during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in the…

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…

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…

I Am Curious (Yellow) (1967)

“Are there any interesting social cases here? People in sleazy flats? People with unpaid dental bills? Drug cases will do, too. I work for “Expressen” the paper with a sting. My paper is planning a conservative victory in the ’68 elections. We’re doing a series on the ten most sordid social welfare cases” ‘I Am…

The Longest Day (1962)

“You remember it. Remember every bit of it, ’cause we are on the eve of a day that people are going to talk about long after we are dead and gone.” ‘The Longest Day’, directed by Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki, Gerd Oswald and Darryl F. Zanuck in 1962, is an American war movie…

Kes (1969)

“Mere fodder for the mass media.” ‘Kes’, directed by Ken Loach in 1969, is a British drama starring David Bradley as Billy Casper, a school kid growing up in Barnsley. Casper is coming to the end of his time as a pupil and is expected to get a job once he has done with studies….

Point Blank (1967)

“Do you remember… when we met? The rain? You were a little drunk. So was I. You were funny when you were drunk. Strange. I don’t remember very much, but… suddenly… we were together. It was wonderful at first. I loved you. Then Mal happened. You talked a lot about Mal. Mal Reese. He was…

My Way Home (1965)

“There are few directors so akin to a choreographer. His cinema does not conform to narrative or psychological conventions, but opens other areas that are usually found in the screen musical. His films are elaborate ballets, emblematically tracing the movements in the fight for Hungarian independence and socialism. In these ritual dances of life and death…

The Servant (1963)

“He may be a servant but he’s still a human being.” ‘The Servant’, directed by Joseph Losey and written by Harold Pinter in 1963, is a British social psychodrama starring Dirk Bogarde and James Fox. Fox plays Tony, an affluent Londoner who returns from abroad to a rundown house. He employs a valet called Barrett,…

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…

Spartacus (1960)

“Your followers are deluded enough to trust you. I intend that you shall speak to them tomorrow for their own good, their peaceful and profitable future. From time to time thereafter, I may find it useful to bring you back to Rome to continue your duty to her, to calm the envious spirit and the…

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

“You take the trouble to construct a civilization, to build a society based on the principles of… of principle. You make government and art and realize that they are, must be, both the same. You bring things to the saddest of all points, to the point where there is something to lose. Then, all at…

Gertrud (1964)

“I seek your lips and you give me your cheek. And the door to your room has been locked to me for more than a month. I used to be welcome there. I often lie awake, thinking of you. I’ve thought you might be in love with someone else and I’ve wondered who it could…

La Dolce Vita (1960)

“You are the first woman on the first day of creation. You are mother, sister, lover, friend, angel, devil, earth, home.” ‘La Dolce Vita’, directed by Federico Fellini in 1960, is a long and rich film focusing on seven nights and mornings in the life of playboy journalist and wannabe novelist Marcello Rubini as he…

The Valley of the Bees (1967)

“Just like the comparisons to the classical art house cinema of Eisenstein, Bergman, Kirosawa and Bresson are easy to draw and even easier to see, to burden ‘The Valley of the Bees’ with such weighty labels is and political readings, in all honesty, rather unfair, since obviously more than capable of standing up and speaking…

Mouchette (1967)

“Bresson was one of a handful of directors whose very frames identified their author. Like Fellini, Hitchcock and Ozu, he had such a distinctive way of seeing that his films resembled no others. What you noticed was the extreme restraint of his actors (he preferred to call them “models”), and the way the action centred…

Breathless (1960)

“See? You said last night you couldn’t live without me, but you can. Romeo couldn’t live without Juliet, but you can.” ‘Breathess’, directed by Jean-Luc Godard in 1960, is a French crime thriller and one of the founding movies of the French New Wave. Jean-Paul Belmondo plays Michel Poiccard, a criminal in Marseille, obsessed with…

Shoot the Piano Player (1960)

“Once, when all my shorts were at the laundry, I put on silk panties that belonged to my sister. Ah! Some funny sensation it gave me! From that day on I understood why they all crave it, why they never have enough. Because we men, we have pants on. But girls, with their short dresses,…

Early Scorsese

First published on ‘We Are Cult’ on the 27th of March 2017 The BFI are releasing on DVD two early Martin Scorsese movies on the 27th of March: Who’s That Knocking at My Door from 1968 and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore from 1974. The two films are different, tonally, stylistically and in terms of…

Les Bicyclettes de Belsize (1968)

‘Les Bicyclettes de Belsize’, directed by Douglas Hickox in 1968, is a short British romantic vignette starring Judy Huxtable and Anthony May as a fashion model and a young man obsessed with her. May plays a cyclist who, after colliding with a billboard, becomes smitten with a girl. After a series of searches they finally…

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

“He chose you, honey! From all the women in the world to be the mother of his only living son!” ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, directed by Roman Polanski in 1968, is an American horror movie starring Mia Farrow as the titular Rosemary, the wife of an aspiring actor called Guy, played by John Cassavetes. Rosemary and Guy…

The London Nobody Knows (1969)

“No horseguards, no palaces, but Islington’s Chapel Market, pie shops, and Spitalfields tenements. Carnaby chicks and chaps, the 1967 we have been led to remember, are shockingly juxtaposed with feral meths drinkers, filthy shoeless kids, squalid Victoriana. Camden Town still resembles the world of Walter Sickert. There is romance and adventure, but mostly there is…

Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1967)

“Where is the beginning? But what beginning? God created heaven and earth. But one should be able to put it better. To say that the limits of language, of my language, are those of the world, of my world, and that in speaking, I limit the world, I end it. And when mysterious, logical death…

Vinyl (1965)

“The finished film is disturbing, contains unsimulated violent acts and is not very audience-friendly.” Either a strong disrecommendation or a strong recommendation, depending on your proclivities. And if none of that draws you, maybe the soundtrack including Martha and the Vandellas, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, and the The Isley Brothers will. Did Warhol pay to…

Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (1964)

“No, you’re not ugly. You’re not the fairest of them all, but you’re neither ugly nor stupid. You have plenty of time. You think you’re in love, but love is something different. You do not just fall in love with a face in the street.” ‘Les Parapluies de Cherbourg’, directed by Jacques Demy in 1964,…

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960)

“Mam called me barmy when I told her I fell of a gasometer for a bet. But I’m not barmy, I’m a fighting pit prop that wants a pint of beer, that’s me. But if any knowing bastard says that’s me I’ll tell them I’m a dynamite dealer waiting to blow the factory to kingdom…

Le Mépris (1963)

“I’ll tell you the story of Ramakrishna and his disciple. Ramakrishna was a Hindu wise man. And he had a disciple who had absolutely no faith in his teachings. So the disciple went off all by himself. Fifteen years later, he came back and said, “I have found the Way!” He told Ramakrishna, “Come, and…