A Touch of Zen (1971)

‘A Touch of Zen’, directed by King Hu in 1971, is a Hong Kong and Taiwanese wuxia movie. Gu, a mild-mannered rural portrait painter in medieval China, is drawn into a plot of political intrigue and spiritual superheroes. This is a strange, rambling film with wild shifts in tone that, for someone not steeped in…

A Canterbury Tale (1944)

“Well, there are more ways than one of getting close to your ancestors. Follow the old road, and as you walk, think of them and of the old England. They climbed Chillingbourne Hill, just as you. They sweated and paused for breath just as you did today. And when you see the bluebells in the…

Sleeper (1973)

“This was Josef Stalin. He was a communist, I was not too crazy about him, had a bad moustache, lot of bad habits. This is Bela Lugosi. He was, he was the mayor of New York City for a while, you can see what it did to him there, you know. This is, uhm, this…

Pusher (1996)

“For instance, there was this Turkish guy once. He fucked up and owed Milo some money. So I went over to his place. I’d been there many times before, asking for the money in a polite way, without any luck. Finally, I took a knife, stabbed it in his kneecap and teared the shit up….

Nanook of the North (1922)

“The film is not technically sophisticated; how could it be, with one camera, no lights, freezing cold, and everyone equally at the mercy of nature? But it has an authenticity that prevails over any complaints that some of the sequences were staged. If you stage a walrus hunt, it still involves hunting a walrus, and…

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…

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

“It is so difficult to make a neat job of killing people with whom one is not on friendly terms.” ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’, directed by Robert Hamer in 1949, is a British black comedy made by the Ealing Studios. Dennis Price plays Louis D’Ascoyne Mazzini, the son of an aristocratic mother who has been…

La Belle et la Bête (1947)

“God of the forest. Let me go back to him. It is my only wish. My only desire.” ‘La Belle et la Bête’, directed by Jean Cocteau in 1947, is a French fantasy movie. An adaptation of an C18 fairy tale telling the story of a young woman, Belle, who rejects a suitor but, owing…

Partie de campagne (1936)

“Henriette at the oars while her useless husband languishes in the boat’s prow. It’s the opposite of the way in which Henri once rowed her to this secluded spot to seduce her, and as he watches her row away, partially obscured by the leafy foliage overhanging the river, this last little comic touch becomes almost…

8 ½ (1963)

“I thought my ideas were so clear. I wanted to make an honest film. No lies whatsoever. I thought I had something so simple to say. Something useful to everybody. A film that could help bury forever all those dead things we carry within ourselves. Instead, I’m the one without the courage to bury anything…

La La Land (2016)

“What do you mean you don’t like jazz?” ‘La La Land’, directed by Damien Chazelle in 2016, is an American romantic comedy musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Stone plays Mia, an aspiring actress who, over the course of a year, forms a relationship with Sebastian, played by Gosling, a Jazz pianist whose ambition…

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

“How fascinating. You make love without fading out?” ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo’, directed by Woody Allen in 1985, is an American fantasy comedy set in New Jersey during the Great Depression. Mia Farrow plays Cecilia, a waitress who is in an unhappy marriage and takes refuge in the local cinema in the evenings. She…