Adolfo Arrieta – Flammes (1978)

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Synopsis: A girl’s obsession with firemen causes her to start a fire at her own home in order to trap a fireman in her room. The film features the last onscreen performance by Dionys Mascolo (writer, political activist, known for his voiceover in India Song and for his love affair with Marguerite Duras) and one of the earliest appearances of Pascal Greggory. Continue reading

Ben Hopkins – The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz (2000)

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A sadly neglected gem of British Cinema, this stunningly inventive film takes in German Expressionism, the pop promo, the docudrama and film noir. And that’s just for starters. The story of a mysterious man who creates chaos and anarchy in his wake, this has buckets of sly humour and a pleasingly dark edge. With brilliant performances from Thomas Fisher and Ian McNeice, this is an astounding reminder that UK cinema is much more than gangsters and girls in corsets. Continue reading

Lucian Pintilie – Un été inoubliable AKA An Unforgettable Summer (1994)

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In 1925 Romania, young Marie-Therese Von Debretsy refuses the flirtatious advances of her husband’s commanding officer. As a result, the cosmopolitan family is reassigned to a brutally bleak and dangerous outpost on the Bulgarian/Romanian frontier whereboth their relationship and humanity are severely tested. Continue reading

Xavier Dolan – Juste la fin du monde AKA It’s Only the End of the World (2016)

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Louis (Gaspard Ulliel) is a successful writer returning home after an absence of twelve years. The purpose of his visit is to announce his imminent death, though this being context-light we’re not granted much insight into the nature of the illness, why Louis left home, why elder brother Antoine (Vincent Cassel) is perpetually angry or anything much that would have helped us care about these people one way or another. Instead, we have Suzanne (Lea Seydoux ), his stoner sister, Antoine’s mousy and inarticulate, slightly spaced-out wife Catherine (Marion Cotillard) and Louis’ mother (Nathalie Baye), with blue eye shadow and a smoker’s laugh. Continue reading

Michael Dudok de Wit – La tortue rouge AKA The Red Turtle (2016)

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As the lights dimmed a hand-drawn Totoro flashed up on screen. The friendly furry beast adorns Studio Ghibli’s familiar logo. Normally it has a sky-blue wash behind it. But in honour of Dutch animator Michael Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle, the studio’s first non-Japanese production, here it was bathed in red.

“If one day Studio Ghibli decides to produce an animator from outside the studio, it will be him,” was Miyazaki’s pronouncement after watching Dudok de Wit’s Oscar-winning animated short Father and Daughter. The eight-minute film has a lot of Ghibli-isms: it’s about loss; it tackles its melancholy subject with deceptively simple drawings; above all, it pays close attention to nature. Miyazaki, the lover of clouds, no doubt saw the many different and luminous ways Dudok de Wit sketched the sky using just sepia tones and recognised a kindred spirit. Continue reading