Chris has written 33 reviews for films rated ★★★★ .

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Another Year

    Another Year


    A typically insightful and compassionate human drama from Mike Leigh, one where the mood gradually shifts from warmly humorous to wistfully elegiac in a way that deftly reflects the changing of the seasons. It covers four chapters during a single year in the lives of happy couple Tom and Gerri Hepple; drawing an understated yet still impactful contrast between their stable contentment and the disorderly existence of their friends, in particular the wayward Mary who believes that she can catch…

  • All or Nothing

    All or Nothing


    All or Nothing is a sorrowful portrait of the struggles faced by working class people on a day-to-day basis when barely making ends meet forces survival to become the main priority, necessitating that vital aspects of familial life like care and affection are to be neglected which causes deep-rooted despondency. Mike Leigh always provides an unflinching yet compassionate touch to this type of subject matter, but even for him this is a heartbreaking effort. Every character here suffers from varying…

  • Topsy-Turvy



    I can imagine that Topsy-Turvy seemed like an unanticipated and potentially risky deviation for Mike Leigh at the time. A large-scale, light-hearted period piece revolving around Victorian era collaborators Gilbert & Sullivan as they assemble their comic opera The Mikado appears to be completely at odds with the sobering nature of his works prior. So it's a true testament to Leigh's versatility that he was able to reconfigure his naturalistic, semi-improvised approach to comfortably fit the material. He constructs a comprehensive…

  • Certified Copy

    Certified Copy


    There is no doubt whatsoever that Kiarostami was a true virtuoso at obliterating the conventional expectations of narrative driven cinema. Certified Copy appears to push his reoccuring thematic elements of self-identity, perception, fragile relationships and fiction overlapping reality to their very limits within such a medium in a way that casts a disorientating spell over the entire picture.

    What initially looks like a prolonged interaction between two people who've just met undergoes a metamorphosis before our very eyes until it's…

  • The Wind Will Carry Us

    The Wind Will Carry Us


    Just imagine the kind of evocative and lyrical ruminations on life typically found in Kiarostami's works imbued with a picturesque tranquility that makes the whole thing flow as if it really is floating on air, then you're in the sort of space which The Wind Will Carry Us occupies. It's a relatively straightforward yet completely sincere story about a worker named Behzad assimilating to the culture and routine of the quaint village that he's been assigned to. We're never explicitly…

  • Cape Fear

    Cape Fear


    I did not expect this to be so chillingly gripping despite being familiar with the material. It's reminiscent of Psycho in its style, only with the sleaziness turned right up.

    Whereas Scorsese's remake leaned heavily into nightmarish absurdity (to the point where The Simpsons parody episode barely changed a beat), this original version lets events occur with such understated and unpredictable menace that it really gets under your skin. Max Cady is so much scarier here because he isn't some…

  • Paths of Glory

    Paths of Glory


    An effective demonstration of efficient storytelling. There's barely a moment of verbiage or incertitude throughout the entire running time, every scene appearing immensely focused when it comes to precision and intent. Kubrick's anti-war effort acutely explores the cruelty, dishonesty and general foolishness that are inherent in warfare; painting a damning portrait of those in positions of power who believe their egos hold more value than the lives of those fighting on the front line. Deceit is innate in a hierarchy…

  • The Wild Bunch

    The Wild Bunch


    I liked this a lot more on rewatch. It's an interesting deconstruction of the typical Western formula as the mythological aspects usually associated with the genre are toned down to focus more on the dirty realism of the era. I think Sam Peckinpah does a really good job of capturing the sheer brutality and strain of living at such a time; it's something that is deftly reflected in the narrative, the noble heroes of yesteryear have been replaced by gritty…

  • Hail, Caesar!

    Hail, Caesar!


    I completely misjudged this one originally by initially thinking it was too unfocused when it's really just densely packed.

    It's a mirthful lampooning of Hollywood in the early 1950s, the Coen brothers managing to deftly amalgamate the sharp satire of Barton Fink and the goofy absurdity of Burn After Reading to great effect. At once a farcical take on industry issues prevalent at the time (the transforming studio system, blacklisting, star scandals, etc.) and a zestful homage to genres that…