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…