Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter… and Spring

“Didn’t you know beforehand how the world of men is? Sometimes we have to let go of the things we like. What you like, others will also like.” Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter… and Spring, directed by Kim Ki-duk in 2003, is a South Korean drama set on a floating Buddhist monastery in the middle of…

The Captive (2000)

“I prefer the truth even if it hurts. Yet all you give me are half-truths when you know I’ll find out anyway. ” ‘The Captive’, directed by Chantal Akerman in 2000, is a French psychodrama starring Stanislas Merhar and Sylvie Testud as a pair of lovers with an abusive and toxic relationship. Testud plays Ariane,…

Fat Girl (2001)

“She was in the woods. She says he didn’t rape her.” ‘Fat Girl’, directed by  Catherine Breillat in 2001, is a French drama the focuses on a pair of sisters: Anaïs, played by Anaïs Reboux and Elena, played by Roxane Mesquida. The pair are on holiday with their parents in a seaside resort when Elena,…

The Consequences of Love (2004)

“In the world there’s a certain kind of cult, with men and women of all social classes, of all ages and of all religions. It is the insomniacs cult. I’m part of it. For ten years. Those who don’t belong to the cult sometimes tend to say: “If you can’t sleep, you can read, watch…

The Son’s Room (2001)

“A sense of common danger” ‘The Son’s Room’, directed by Nanni Moretti in 2001, is an Italian tragic comedy. Moretti plays  Giovanni, a therapist in Ancona who spends his days listening to the problems of other people and his home life dealing with minor issues with his teenage son. One weekend he is due to…

Five (2003)

‘Five’, directed by Abbas Kiarostami in 2003, is an Iranian conceptual movie.  The film contains no dialogue, no characters and no plot. Kiarostami sets a DV camera at five locations, each by the sea, and films for fifteen minutes. The camera is static so the only movement is of the landscape, animals and occasional humans…

Songs from the Second Floor (2000)

“May those who sit down be loved.” ‘Songs from the Second Floor’, directed by Roy Andersson in 2000, is a Swedish comedy focusing on the ever increasingly surreal lives of modern city dwellers. The film is formed by a series of vignettes showing middle aged men in a number of bizarre situations, or normal situations…

Lourdes (2009)

‘Lourdes’, directed by Jessica Hausner in 2009, is a French drama set at the famous site of Catholic pilgrimage. Sylvie Testud plays Christine, a woman with severe multiple sclerosis who is unable to move below the neck. She, along with other afflicted people, is taken on the pilgrimage and cared for by nuns. The film…

Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)

“I have to make it clear that not even for a moment is there doubt that it is not a technical but a philosophical question. So that the tonal system in question, through researches, has led us inevitably to a test of faith, in which we ask: on what do we base our belief that…

Syndromes and a Century (2006)

“Instead of depicting life and death dramas of patients in jeopardy, Weerasethakul focuses on herbal cures, reincarnation, the quirky private lives of monks, orchids, romance, holistic healing techniques, and the tranquil beauty of the natural world.” ‘Syndromes and a Century’, directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul in 2006, is a Thai movie that, like the director’s earlier…

Gommorah (2008)

“Everyone I know is either dead or in jail. I want to become a boss. I want to have supermarkets, stores, factories, I want to have women. I want three cars, I want respect when I go into a store, I want to have warehouses all over the world. And then I want to die….

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…

Russian Ark (2002)

First published in the British Fantasy Journal. 16 (107-12). “I open my eyes and I see nothing. I only remember there was an accident. Everyone ran for safety as best they could. I just can’t remember what happened to me.” Russian Ark, directed by Alexander Sokurov in 2002, is a ghost story, albeit an elliptical…

Time of the Wolf (2003)

“For a director famous for his challenges to and provocations of his audience, this film, which of all Haneke’s work has received the most lukewarm if not negative critical response, is also the easiest for an audience to take — once you’ve looked past its forbidding apocalyptic scenario — for there’s a strong humanist premise…

The Lives of Others (2006)

“I have to show you something: “Prison Conditions for Subversive Artists: Based on Character Profile”. Pretty scientific, eh? And look at this: “Dissertation Supervisor, A. Grubitz”. That’s great, isn’t it? I only gave him a B. They shouldn’t think getting a doctorate with me is easy. But his is first-class. Did you know that there…

Downfall (2004)

“All these horrors I’ve heard of during the Nuremberg process, these six million Jews, other thinking people or people of another race, who perished. That shocked me deeply. But I hadn’t made the connection with my past. I assured myself with the thought of not being personally guilty. And that I didn’t know anything about…

Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain (2001)

“So, my little Amélie, you don’t have bones of glass. You can take life’s knocks. If you let this chance pass, eventually, your heart will become as dry and brittle as my skeleton. So, go get him, for Pete’s sake!” ‘Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain’, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet in 2001, is a French romantic…

No Man’s Land (2001)

“Neutrality does not exist in the face of murder. Doing nothing to stop it is, in fact, choosing. It is not being neutral.” ‘No Man’s Land’, directed by Danis Tanović in 2001, is a Bosnian war movie set during the Balkan civil wars of the 1990s. Two soldier from opposing sides are injured between the…

La Vie en rose (2007)

“Americans want beauties, not me. I’m not the Parisian bombshell they expected. Can you see me as a chorus girl? Where’s my feather up the ass? They think I’m sad, they’re dumb. I don’t connect to them.” ‘La Vie en rose’, directed by Olivier Dahan in 2007, is a French biopic of singer Édith Piaf….

The Beaches of Agnès (2008)

“I think it deals with this question, ‘what is cinema?’ through how I found specific cinematic ways of telling what I was telling. I could have told you the same things that are in the film by just talking to you for six hours. But instead I found shapes. Like in the scene when I…

Exils (2004)

“Even in key moments – when Zano gets sexually jealous over Naima’s brief encounter in a flamenco bar, or the climactic Sufi ritual – it feels like we’re eyeing events from a distance. Shame, because Duris and Azabal are lively performers, showing off their sizzle in a scene where fruit-picking becomes foreplay.” ‘Exils’, directed by…

Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets (2000)

“Nabil Ayouch’s film immerses us in the lives of these grubby street kids, limiting the adult roles to just three characters. It’s at its best when showing us the fractured innocence that these children share – they may only be eight, but they’ve already developed an understanding of the harsh realities of the world that’s…

Mulholland Drive (2001)

“No hay banda! There is no band! Il n’est pas de orquestra! This is all… a tape-recording. No hay banda! And yet we hear a band. If we want to hear a clarinette… listen. Un trombon “à coulisse”. Un trombon “con sordina”. Sient le son du trombon in sourdine. Hear le son… and mute it……

Uzak (2002)

“’Her şey senden çok uzak göründüğünde umutsuzluğa düşme, kendine dön, çünkü sen kendine en yakın şeysin! Kendinle enerji biriktir! Sonra uzak şeylerin bile ötesine erişmek için kendini güçlü hissedeceksin!’” ‘Uzak’, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan in 2002, is a Turkish film about an unemployed man, Yusuf, played by Mehmet Emin Toprak, who moves in with…

Paradise Now (2005)

“I was born in a refugee camp. I was allowed to leave the west Bank only once. I was 6 at the time and needed surgery. Life here is like life imprisonment. The crimes of the occupation are countless. The worst crime of all is to exploit the people’s weaknesses and turn them into collaborators….

Volver (2006)

“Don’t say that, Raimunda, or I’ll start crying. And ghosts don’t cry.” ‘Volver’, directed by Pedro Almodóvar in 2006, is a Spanish drama film set in Madrid and in the countryside around the city. Penélope Cruz plays Raimunda who, with her daughter Paula and sister Soledad, become embroiled in a story of apparent ghosts, faked…

The Class (2008)

“I didn’t asked you what you liked in the class, I want to know what did you learned from it.” ‘The Class’, directed by Laurent Cantet in 2008, is a French drama set entirely within a modern middle school in a district of Paris famous for its immigrant communities. Based on a book by teacher…

The Gleaners and I (2000)

“I have two hands. One has a camera — the other one is acting, in a way. I love the idea that with these handheld cameras — these new numeric things — very light, but, on the other hand, very “macrophoto.” You know what is macro? You can approach things very near. I can, with…

Good Morning, Night (2003)

“We are soldiers. Show some revolutionary spirit!” ‘Good Morning, Night’, directed by Marco Bellocchio in 2003, is an Italian film set in 1976. It tells the real story of the kidnapping of Aldo Moro, the former prime minister of Italy and leader of the Christian democracy party in Italy. The film is told from the…