• The Return of Martin Guerre

    The Return of Martin Guerre

    ★★★★

    A marvelously well acted period drama based on the fascinating case of imposture in 16th century France. Regardless of whether you know the story or not, it is an engrossing watch thanks to the formidable acting prowess on display from its uniformly brilliant cast. It may be quite conventional, but it is visually striking and the performances are just splendid.

  • The Vanishing

    The Vanishing

    ★★★★½

    I've never seen a plot of this kind unravel like it did in Spoorloos. The result of its unconventional storytelling is a powerful effect on its audience, a sinister and haunting climax that will stay with me for a long time. Formidably well executed and riveting thriller thanks mostly to immense direction by the assuredly skilled George Sluizer.

  • The Masque of the Red Death

    The Masque of the Red Death

    ★★★★

    The technicolour photographer is terrific, as are the vivid set and costume designs that Roeg's camera captures very well. Vincent Price's screen presence is welcome as the sadistic devil worshiping Prince Prospero. A surprisingly quite scary, fun and visually stunning adaptation of Poe's story.

  • Prick Up Your Ears

    Prick Up Your Ears

    ★★★½

    Oldman is great but Molina steals the show in this engrossing drama based on the life and tragic death of a famous British playright and his lover-cum-murderer. Molina's performance is at times humorous thanks to his flawless delivery of some genuinely brilliant comic lines and at other times disturbing and sympathetic in equal measure.

  • The Hunger

    The Hunger

    ★★½

    Tony Scott's horror is a frightfully dull affair, one that feels empty and unsatisfying. It is powered entirely by its aesthetics and sound design which are admittedly quite stylish and often result in some memorable and effective imagery.

  • The Piano Teacher

    The Piano Teacher

    ★★★★

    A probing study of repressed sexual desire, loneliness and trauma is bound to be disturbing and hard to watch but in the reigns of Michael Hanake even more so. The Piano Teacher is perverse, pitch black and utterly enthralling thanks largely to Isabelle Hupert's captivating lead performance.

  • Drive My Car

    Drive My Car

    ★★★★½

    The somewhat daunting length of this film should not put you off. I could have watched it for another three hours. It breezes by despite its deliberate pace because of the focus it has on character. So humane, so well acted, so emotionally resonant and impactful. A beautiful film about loss that explores its themes with earned feeling.

  • Millennium Actress

    Millennium Actress

    ★★★★★

    A kinetic, lavishly beautiful and emotionally enthralling story within a story film, one of Satoshi Kon's most successful and ambitious works at least of the ones I've seen to date. It is at once an achingly human love story and an exuberant fantasy saga. What makes this so great is the fact that it makes the most of its medium; you could not tell this kind of story nearly as well or as visually accomplished outside of animation.

  • Goodbye, Dragon Inn

    Goodbye, Dragon Inn

    ★★★★½

    cinéaste melancholia in gorgeous form. That closing shot is painterly and unforgettable, but the whole film is so profound in its stripped back and haunting exploration of the need for connection which is a theme prevalent in Tsai Ming-Liang's cinema. A rewarding test of patience, all the more powerful in an increasingly isolated world in which I seek films as a means to feel some contact with others more than ever.

  • Gates of Heaven

    Gates of Heaven

    ★★★★

    Basically the film that made it clear that you can make a documentary on any topic and it can be an engaging, meaningful experience. On the surface it is a focus on a quirky trend of giving people style burials to pets, but it really ends up delving into people's thoughts about life, death and the afterlife. It really is quite involving and touching. One of the better talking head documentaries I've seen.

  • Violent Cop

    Violent Cop

    ★★★★

    It is quite astonishing how in his directorial debut, Kitano is able to pace and set the tone of his storytelling so methodically that when the flashes of brutal violence come along, they are as startling and impactful as they could be. An effective and satisfying maverick cop action flick that feels like a cut above the rest thanks to Kitano's stylistic flair and inimitable screen presence in front of the camera as a nasty and unhinged brute with a badge.

  • Veronika Voss

    Veronika Voss

    ★★★★½

    Fassbinder's film is an oppressively bleak and satirical film, a much darker version of Sunset Boulevard focused on the miserable lift of a post-fame Third Reich era German film star addicted to opiates. Its formalist style and black and white photography is, likely intentionally, reminiscent of old school Hollywood melodrama and while it doesn't make for Fassbinder's best, its remarkably good nonetheless.