• Quo Vadis, Aida?

    Quo Vadis, Aida?

    ★★★★½

    Quo Vadis, Aida? depicts colossal human failure. The Srebrenica Massacre, an act of genocide, plays here as a sickening cacophony of institutional neglect. Aida is a character caught between all sides, stuck within a safety net and witnessing that net fail to be extended to others. She is an interpreter, so the film uses her to show multiple levels of events, from the top level decisions to the plight of ordinary people. She becomes a voice for everyone and must…

  • The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll

    The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll

    The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll is a solid retread of the familiar Jekyll and Hyde story. Here however Hyde is charming and Jekyll is an old, uncharismatic man. The film plays as a tragedy, with Jekyll stuck in despondency in his loveless marriage. As he becomes Hyde, he finds himself in a descent into degeneracy. He ends up waking beaten and muddied, lost in the pouring rain. With a tormented soul he is headed towards an inevitable tragic ending.…

  • Tumbbad

    Tumbbad

    ★★★½

    As a period horror film Tumbbad has a stunning attention to detail, revelling in exquisite, lush production design. It is moody and atmospheric, remaining haunting for its entire runtime. There's little dialogue, so the visuals do the talking and they are amazing. The practical effects are also pretty cool and suitably gory when they need to be. It's just a shame the CGI is poor. In terms of story Tumbbad is a multi-generational tale, tracking greed across time. It is…

  • Ghosts

    Ghosts

    ★★★★

    Ghosts is a short yet impactful film. It presents a sort of dystopia, using a power cut in Istanbul to create a netherworld of uncertainty and risk. The new economic world depicted is busy and gentrifying, creating a new city but not stable employment. Ghosts is an ensemble piece, centering on various stories, mostly about women, allowing for some feminist conversations. These stories intersect, and as everything slowly coils around the characters, they become trapped in their small world of…

  • Raya and the Last Dragon

    Raya and the Last Dragon

    Raya and the Last Dragon is a decent effort by Disney Animation, delivering something which is at times magical and moving. This isn't a film with musical numbers, instead it's an action movie. I do worry a little that all mainstream cinema is getting homogeneous these days. If this wasn't animated, it could fit in with a lot of bland franchise fare. It's full of quips, superheroism, and fight scenes. I wish the storytelling had more of an identity. I'm…

  • Pulp Fiction

    Pulp Fiction

    ★★★★★

    Postmodern. Independent. Crude. The three defining factors of Pulp Fiction. It is a masterpiece of utter pointlessness. It is constructed outside any convention or system, and so deeply committed to itself that it forms something genuinely unique. It approaches the lowbrow and the vulgar with love and never condescension. Pulp Fiction is truly special, just for its existence. Nothing else has achieved its perfect blend. There are many criticisms I have of Pulp Fiction, but they don't matter. It is…

  • The Fisherman's Diary

    The Fisherman's Diary

    The Fisherman's Diary is a deeply flawed film, though it has the noble intention of encouraging gender equality in education. The film follows a girl wanting to go to school but is caught in a patriarchal society that won't let her. Characters are prejudiced against education, preferring to work now and earn money quickly. In parts of the world this does seem a problem, education should not be a burden.

    However The Fisherman's Diary is so heavy-handed as to be…

  • Punishment Park

    Punishment Park

    ★★★★★

    Daring in the way that cinema should be, Punishment Park is a provocative piece that challenges us to face the system. In a way the film is simple, because it consists of talking and direct political statements. Yet anyone embedded in leftist politics will not find answers here. This whole film is an exercise in discussion and improvisation, leading perhaps to the conclusion that leftists are too splintered to successfully fight oppression effectively. There is no solidarity on issues of…

  • Don’t Cry, Pretty Girls!

    Don’t Cry, Pretty Girls!

    ★★★★

    A defining feature of the early work of Márta Mészáros is the modern feel they have, feeling part of Hungarian counterculture and the 1960s cutting edge. Don't Cry, Pretty Girls! is a film of music, both hip and folk derived. This is a work of youth culture and flashing lights. Everything is so constant, presented with a ferocious energy that makes for a lively picture. It is set on evenings after work, following the aimless wanderings of characters as they…

  • Strictly Ballroom

    Strictly Ballroom

    ★★★½

    Strictly Ballroom is all abouts its finale and the crowd-pleasing perfection it provides. It's a film designed to be clichéd and predictable, but it works because the final scenes deliver. Strictly Ballroom is a glittering, dazzling, musical work, existing in a hilariously exaggerated world that presents dance as cataclysmically important. It follows a man finding freedom by not conforming to the expectations of his parents, and discovering a romance along the way. It's not genius, but it's very charming. Strictly…

  • Blue Is the Warmest Color

    Blue Is the Warmest Color

    ★★★★½

    Cinema can only be judged in relation to the context in which you watch it. I first saw Blue is the Warmest Colour as a teenager and it deeply affected me. I also remember rewatching the second half at around 3am on some drunken night at university when everything had gone wrong, which admittedly was quite often at university. It's been over five years since then and I haven't seen it since. It's weird to look back at films that…

  • Fanatic

    Fanatic

    Fanatic is one of Hammer's most intense films, given it centres on imprisonment and abuse. The long psychological torment shown here is quite unsettling. Fanatic takes nods from notable American horror works of the era, most obviously hagsploitation films and a few shots and plot elements from Psycho. Sadly Fanatic fails to live up to those influences, with a very creaky plot. It's overdramatic to a point of comedy sometimes. A lot of the story of obvious, but the connecting…