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…