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…

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…

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. – –…

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 Princess Bride (1987)

“Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” ‘The Princess Bride’, directed by Rob Reiner in 1987, is an American fantasy comedy written by William Goldman and based on the screenwriter’s book. Robin Wright plays buttercup, the bride of the title. Five years before the story proper begins, Buttercup falls…

The Sacrifice (1986)

“I studied philosophy, history of religion, aesthetics. And ended up putting myself in chains. Of my own free will.” ‘The Sacrifice’, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1986, is a Swedish apocalyptic movie and the last by the Russian director.  Erland Josephson plays Alexander, a journalist and intellectual who lives in a remote part of Sweden…

My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)

First published on We Are Cult on the 21st of August 2017 The BFI are re-releasing My Beautiful Laundrette, a comedy drama from 1985, written by Hanif Kureishi and directed by Stephen Frears. Omar Ali, played by Gordon Warnecke, is a British-Pakistani twenty-year-old living in Battersea. His father, a former journalist and now an alcoholic…

Coffee and Cigarettes (1986, 1992, 2003)

“Well, Nikola Tesla invented fluorescent light. Without him we wouldn’t have alternating current, radio, television… x-ray technology… induction motors, particle beams, lasers; none of that would even exist if it weren’t for him.” ‘Coffee and Cigarettes’, directed by Jim Jarmusch between 1986 and 2003, is an American anthology film featuring eleven vignettes in which characters…

Lola (1981)

First published on ‘We Are Cult’ on the 11th of July 2017 Lola, directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder in 1981, takes place in 1957 in the small town of Coburg in Western Germany. The senior members of the town, including the head of police and the mayor, are all making money from the post-war reconstruction….

This is Spinal Tap (1984)

“We’re very lucky in the band in that we have two visionaries, David and Nigel, they’re like poets, like Shelley and Byron. They’re two distinct types of visionaries, it’s like fire and ice, basically. I feel my role in the band is to be somewhere in the middle of that, kind of like lukewarm water.”…

The Big Red One (1980)

“Saving that Kraut was the final joke of the whole goddamned war. I mean we had more in common with him than all our replacements who got killed whose names we never even knew. We’d all made it through we were alive. I’m gonna dedicate my book to those who shot but didn’t get shot,…

Full Moon in Paris (1984)

“He who has two women loses his soul. He who has two houses loses his mind,” ‘Full Moon in Paris’, directed by Éric Rohmer in 1984, is a French romantic drama starring Pascale Ogier as Louise, an affluent young woman who is dating and living with a tennis star called Rémi in the suburbs of…

The Right Stuff (1983)

“There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die. Their controls would freeze up, their planes would buffet wildly, and they would disintegrate. The demon lived at Mach 1 on the meter, seven hundred and fifty miles an hour, where the air could no longer move out of…

Children of a Lesser God (1986)

“Do you think there’s someplace where we can meet that’s not in silence and not in sound?” ‘Children of a Lesser God’, directed by Randa Haines in 1986, is an American romantic drama set in a school for the deaf in New England. James Leeds, played by William Hurt, is a new and charismatic teacher…

Dead Poets Society (1989)

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive…

Letter to Brezhnev (1985)

First published on ‘We Are Cult’ on the 23rd of April 2017 Letter to Brezhnev, directed by Chris Bernard in 1985, is a low-budget British movie set in Liverpool during a period in the city’s history when it was suffering from unemployment and Thatcherite ‘managed decline’. Alexandra Pigg and Margi Clarke play Elaine and Teresa, two…

Raging Bull (1980)

“Friends. They’re in a huddle. Big business meeting. By the pool, they sit around and talk. Big deals. They make sure she can hear. Big Man. Get the fuck outta here. Big shot. Get ’em all in a back room, smack ’em around, no more big shot, without his gun. They’re tough guys. They’re all…

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

“Before I go, I just want you two to know something, alright? The supercop story… was working. Okay? It was working, and you guys just messed it up. Okay? I’m trying to figure you guys out, but I haven’t yet. But it’s cool. You fuck up a perfectly good lie.” ‘Beverly Hills Cop’, directed by…

Broadcast News (1987)

“He will be attractive! He’ll be nice and helpful. He’ll get a job where he influences a great God-fearing nation. He’ll never do an evil thing! He’ll never deliberately hurt a living thing… he will just bit by little bit lower our standards where they are important. Just a tiny little bit. Just coax along…

The Killer (1989)

“He looks determined… without being ruthless. There’s something heroic about him. He doesn’t look like a killer. He comes across so calm… acts like he has a dream… eyes full of passion.” ‘The Killer’, directed by John Woo in 1989, is a Hong Kong action thriller. Chow Yun-fat plays Ah Jong,  an assassin recruited by…

She’s Gotta Have It (1986)

“It’s really about control, my body, my mind. Who was going to own it? Them? Or me? I’m not a one-man woman. Bottom line.” ‘She’s Gotta Have It’, directed by Spike Lee in 1986, is an American comedy drama set in the black community in Brooklyn, New York City. Tracy Camilla Johns plays Nola Darling,…

Hôtel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie (1988)

“Without a story structure to guide us, we become the accomplices of the director – his passengers. We go where he goes. Ophuls asks the same questions again and again, until we grow as angry as he does by the evasions of the answers. When he grows sarcastic (ridiculing one man who will not talk…

Diva (1981)

“Some get high on airplane glue… detergents… fancy gimmicks. My satori is this: Zen in the art of buttering bread!” ‘Diva’, directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix in 1981, is a French thriller and an early entry to the ‘cinéma du look’ movement. Jules, a postman played by Frédéric Andréi, is obsessed by the American opera singer…

Au revoir les enfants (1987)

“Goodbye, children. I’ll see you soon.” ‘Au revoir les enfants’, directed by Louis Malle in 1987, is a French drama set during the Nazi occupation. Julien, played by Gaspard Manesse, is a pupil at a Carmelite boarding school who puts on a front of being tough but throughout the film seems vulnerable, perplexed by the…

The King of Comedy (1983)

“What about things that I did for you that no money can buy, no money can buy? What about the time I gave you my spot! You came over there, I gave you my spot! You stood there and I let you get right next to Jerry. I waited for 8 hours for him and…

The Official Story (1985)

“Literature and History always meet.” ‘The Official Story’, directed by Luis Puenzo in 1985, is an Argentine domestic drama set during the country’s last military dictatorship. Norma Aleandro plays Alicia, a teacher and the wife of a government agent Roberto, played by Héctor Alterio. They live in a upper middle class bubble, insulated from the…

Medieval Movies

There is an debate that divides historical movies into two camps. The first attempts to depict history without mediation, in essence films that try to access a past before cinema began to shape it  through genre. The second embraces this mediation by presenting the past as a series of genre tropes and iconography, the past…

The Vanishing (1988)

“My daughter was bursting with pride. But I thought that her admiration wasn’t worth anything unless I could prove myself absolutely incapable of doing anything evil. And as black cannot exist without white, I logically conceived the most horrible deed that I could envision right at that moment. But I want you to know, for me killing is not the worst thing”

A Journey Through Early Almodóvar

This review of ‘The Almodóvar Collection’ DVD boxset first appeared on We Are Cult on the 21st of September 2016 The critical success of ‘Julieta’, released this summer, makes this boxset of newly restored versions of Pedro Almodóvar’s early movies all the more timely. The collection, available on DVD and Blu-Ray from StudioCanal, includes six…