Chris has written 104 reviews for films during 2021.

  • April Story

    April Story

    ★★★½

    Thoroughly charming would be the most appropriate way to describe this straightforward story about the reserved Uzuki as she moves from the countryside to university in Tokyo and adjusts to her surroundings. It manages to capture those awkward feelings of apprehension and anticipation that everyone experiences when they're on the cusp of adulthood, still uncertain who they really are and what direction they want to go; being somewhere unfamilar amplifies every emotion, so comfort has to be found in the…

  • Morvern Callar

    Morvern Callar

    ★★★★½

    Lynne Ramsay has a remarkable talent when it comes to pairing visuals with sound to vividly capture the damaged mindsets of her main character's and how they perceive the world around them. Morvern Callar is infused with moments where the evocative music choices wash over the striking compositions in a way that creates a hypontic, dreamlike atmosphere which manages to express more about internal emotions than words ever could.

    This lyrical, minimalist approach impeccably suits the unconventional exploration of the…

  • Safe

    Safe

    ★★★★½

    There's something almost Lynchian in how Safe portrays the pervasive sense of discomfort and paranoia that engulfs housewife Carol White's existence in 1987 California as she falls prey to an apparent phantom illness. Her perpetually renovated home in artificial suburbia and her desperate attempts to convey a personality that appears socially acceptable are unable to conceal the utter hollowness of her day-to-day life; it's a dark truth which sees her spiral into finding a new place where she can belong,…

  • Caché

    Caché

    ★★★★

    Perhaps the clearest example of Michael Haneke's impressive ability at creating a deeply unsettling atmosphere through a direct, almost mundane approach. The opening shot takes the form of a cryptic video recording (which becomes a creative plot device) watching a couple's home and sets the tone for what is to come, with the long takes and natural ambience producing an incessant suspicion of being under surveillance.

    This is a psychological thriller where the 'reveal' doesn't particularly matter since it's the…

  • Piercing

    Piercing

    ★★★

    Thought I'd give another Ryu Murakami adaptation a go and this was just as bizarre as expected. I mean when the starting premise is a man fantasising about stabbing his own child then you should assume more disturbing situations are forthcoming.

    There is an effective contrast of tones here though as a sly playfulness lingers below the emotionless exterior which gives the material a distinct flavour, forming a twisted role-play infused with Giallo inspired thrills and pitch-black comedy. Both Christopher…

  • Audition

    Audition

    ★★★½

    Echoing what everyone else has said, it's definitely best to go into this as blind as possible. The contrast in mood between the initial plot set-up and the climactic section is pretty striking.

    The jaunty first act works as an enjoyable send-up of the typical romcom formula (two wounded people brought together through a zany circumstance), whilst still providing some interesting takes on misogyny. Particularly noteworthy is the way it looks how men in positions of power are so used…

  • Cruella

    Cruella

    ★½

    Decidedly lousy, but compared to the absolute dreck that most of these Disney remakes have been (to call both The Lion King and Aladdin a waste of time would be an understatement) that's a marginal improvement. Cruella at least feels like someone had an idea; it's a crap idea but one all the same.

    Here is the fundamental problem with this film, the entire enjoyment of Cruella de Vil as a character (at least in the animated original and Dodie…

  • Beast

    Beast

    ★★★

    Beast is an appropriate title given how this quietly sinister effort explores the animalistic aspects of human nature that we try to suppress, the malicious side of small communities seeking to maintain a twisted order and the feeling of being hunted in your own neighbourhood as the central mystery brings to mind the real-life Beast of Jersey.

    Although this type of story about an emotionally damaged person becoming entranced by an enigmatic outsider with a shady past is nothing unfamiliar,…

  • You Were Never Really Here

    You Were Never Really Here

    ★★★★

    Slightly hindered by the material feeling imitative (the influence of Taxi Driver is inescapable), but the individual pieces are so strong that they're able to form a gripping whole. The distinctive approach taken by Lynne Ramsay merges moments of horrific brutality with moments of ethereal introspection, infusing the narrative with a dread-inducing unpredictability that never subsides. The shocking twists, abrupt editing and eerily pulsating score from Jonny Greenwood all coordinate to enhance this ominous atmosphere. Also of note is Joaquin…

  • The Florida Project

    The Florida Project

    ★★★★½

    Childhood imagination and innocence superbly juxtaposed with the harsh realities faced on a daily basis when trying to survive the cyclic nature of poverty. Sean Baker uses the dilapidated environments to vividly capture how a child can often find wonder in bleak places without failing to convey the true darkness that they symbolise. The barren fields, abandoned houses and gaudy purple motel all become settings for endless adventure through the eyes of 6-year-old Moonee but they're emblematic of how those…

  • Sorry to Bother You

    Sorry to Bother You

    ★★★

    Idiosyncratic to put it mildly, seemingly existing in a heightened reality where it pushes its satirical concepts into wildly bizarre territory. I strongly agree with a lot of what this has to say about the disease that is late-stage capitalism, particularly how it is deliberately designed to turn workers into wage slaves as they either do exactly what the company says or risk losing everything and how the fundamental structure of the system makes it virtually impossible to combat unless…

  • Brewster McCloud

    Brewster McCloud

    ★★★★

    A thoroughly offbeat and boldly unruly effort from Robert Altman; part dark comedy about an aviation obsessed killer supervised by a guardian angel, part zany procedural featuring a collection of witless lawmen and part ornithology lecture from a man who seems to be turning into a bird himself. Everything is glued together by the wacky sense of humour (which takes hold immediately with the opening credits literally restarting) and the sharp political satire that reflects the anxious condition of the…