Favorite films

  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • Brief Encounter
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • The Red Shoes

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  • Natural Born Killers

    ★★★

  • Red Rocket

    ★★★★

  • Atonement

    ★★★★

  • Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain

    ★★★★

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  • The Battle of Algiers

    The Battle of Algiers

    ★★★★★

    Steven Spielberg had to have been an admirer of The Battle of Algiers; his own Schindler's List would strongly recall its scenes of ghettoised Arabs rounded up at gunpoint by their less-than-benevolent French captors. Filmed on location, it has a sense of realism Hollywood could only have dreamt of achieving at the time, not to mention a steadfast refusal either to condemn or condone the actions of the FLN or the paratroopers sent in to destroy them. Hardly a glamorous look at guerrilla warfare.

  • Taxi Driver

    Taxi Driver

    ★★★★★

    A masterwork of seventies cinema. Paul Schrader's decision to set the story of uneducated, alcoholic loner Travis Bickle against the backdrop of a US presidential election is inspired. Candidate Palantine promises reform after “we, the people, suffered in Vietnam”, though Bickle, a discharged Marine, is the embodiment of that suffering, and the post-civil rights movement which left racial tension in urban areas unaddressed. It was clear from this moment on that politics would not save America.

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  • Natural Born Killers

    Natural Born Killers

    If the message of Natural Born Killers is ultimately rather glib – that the media in general, and television in particular, are responsible for elevating mass murderers, thus perpetuating the problem – how much of the responsibility can be laid at Quentin Tarantino's door is unclear; he is merely credited with the story, not the screenplay. As cartoonish as it sometimes is (see Tommy Lee Jones's cackling prison warden), Stone's ostentatious visual style grabs you by the lapel and never lets go.

  • Red Rocket

    Red Rocket

    Mikey Davies is an L.A. porn star who returns to his home town in a dilapidated part of Texas, where little has changed in the twenty-odd years since he lived there, bar the Make America Great Again billboards. With only $22 to his name, he plans to get rich quick by grooming a 17-year-old to be the next great adult film actress. Simon Rex is excellent as the monstrous and pathetic Mikey, but what really makes Red Rocket worth seeing is how well it captures the grubbiness of American poverty.

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  • Son of Saul

    Son of Saul

    ★★★★★

    Shot in tight close-ups using shallow focus, with traditional widescreen aspect ratio sliced down to a much more compact 4:3, Son of Saul is unsparing of the horrors of Auschwitz without indulging in salacious detail. Glimpses of the recently murdered are always at the corners of frames, the minutiae of concentration camp life – the disposal of ashes, the scrubbing of floors – rendered unremarkable. Among the few Holocaust films to deal not only with the ordeal of the Jews, but with their faith.

  • O.J.: Made in America

    O.J.: Made in America

    ★★★★★

    Had O.J.: Made in America been a two-hour documentary, it might well have stood as one of the best films of 2016. At almost four times that length, director Ezra Edelman has created an exhaustive – and exhausting – work that is, frankly, indispensable. Edelman delves into Simpson's unprecedented story – a black athlete distancing himself from the rhetoric of solidarity espoused by the likes of Muhammad Ali, only to exploit the very real grievances of poor black America in order to evade justice.