• The Skin Game

    The Skin Game

    ★★★½

    35th Hitchcock Film

    Another Zig collab to help us both complete our Hitchcock lists, this is another from that fallow period of the early 30s where material and director often didn’t meet. This isn’t egregiously the case as with Number 17, but it’s still a weird fit for Hitchcock to be adapting a popular play about land wrangling and social dynamics, where the fight over a piece of land becomes exceptionally personal and nasty. As it turns out, he’s not…

  • The Yellow Rolls-Royce

    The Yellow Rolls-Royce

    ★★★

    2nd Anthony Asquith (after The Importance of Being Earnest)

    A film practically groaning under the weight of its own triviality, an opulent star-studded piece of nothing. The three stories around which The Yellow Rolls-Royce is based are all trifling affairs of love thwarted, and in the hands of someone more sure-footed (an Ophuls, say) then it could reach real heights of emotional profundity, but with Asquith and Rattigan's safe pair of hands it comes off as a piece of upper-class…

  • The Wild Child

    The Wild Child

    ★★★

    18th François Truffaut

    Some extra re-watching for next week's talk. Increasingly I feel very conflicted by this film, because while it seems to have a positive attitude towards autism and difference, I can't help feeling like it actually is deeply harmful. The nub of the problem is education. Truffaut largely seems to be a man in line with the virulent anti-Establishment feeling of Foucault and Deligny, seeing the entire institution of the school as a coercive force. But his criticism…

  • Carnegie Hall

    Carnegie Hall

    ★★★★

    6th Edgar G. Ulmer (after Detour, The Black Cat, Bluebeard and Daughter of Dr. Jekyll)

    A film that gets by, more than anything, on the incredible strength of the music offered. Which is why I watched it, figuring that it would be an excellent way to associate myself with the Western canon, especially Romantic music. And Carnegie Hall delivers that in spades, with some of the greatest names of the 20th century appearing as themselves. We get Artur Rubenstein, Stokowski,…

  • Pickles and Komian Club

    Pickles and Komian Club

    ★★★

    1st Sato Koichi

    The only documentary I've managed to catch from DA Film's Japanese documentary season so far, Pickles... is a charming little film but one that suffers from severe narrative drift. As the opening credits tell us, this was made by a group of community activists to memorialise the Komian Club, a pickle-producer whose restaurant area was used by the Yamagata Film Festival for many years as a meeting place. The loss of the location due to COVID was…

  • Casting the Runes

    Casting the Runes

    ★★★★

    7th Lawrence Gordon Clark (after The Stalls of Barchester, The Treasure of Abbot Thomas, Lost Hearts, A Warning to the Curious, The Ash Tree and The Signalman)

    Casting the Runes suffers from association, namely with Jacques Tourneur's remarkable 1957 film Night of the Demon, which is based on this story. Certainly, Gordon Clark suffers from his switch to ITV, which utilised much cheaper videotaping for interiors and breaks the story up into small sections to facilitate advert breaks. It feels…

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street

    A Nightmare on Elm Street

    ★★★½

    3rd Wes Craven (after Scream, Scream 2, before Scream 3, My Soul To Take, Scream 4, The Hills Have Eyes, Wes Craven's New Nightmare, The Hills Have Eyes Part II and The People Under the Stairs)

    Sorry guys, but I'm gonna be in the minority here. This does not hold up well at all, largely through Craven's constant issues with structuring screenplays. The first two acts are great at setting up the threat of Freddy, the mystery around his origins…

  • The Wedding March

    The Wedding March

    ★★★★½

    1st Erich Von Stroheim

    Von Stroheim may have been the absolute Nth degree in obnoxious cruelty but you need arrogance and gumption to make cinema that goes as hard as this. On the surface, this is ruthlessly anti-sentimental filmmaking, as sneeringly hard-hearted against the practical realities of love as you can possibly imagine. The class structures of Vienna are too entrenched to ever make a relationship between a commoner and one of the aristocracy work, and marriage is a social…

  • Number Seventeen

    Number Seventeen

    ★★★

    34th Alfred Hitchcock film

    Sometimes, an artist suffers a slump after a promising start. How the artist responds to that challenge is what ultimately defines them. Hitchcock’s career post-Blackmail and pre-The Man Who Knew Too Much was a series of misfires for various reasons; producer interference, poor choice of subject matter, indifference by Hitchcock himself. He did, however, manage to create one excellent film. This is not in. In truth, it’s one of Hitchcock’s most mediocre works. The fault can’t…

  • Memoria

    Memoria

    ★★★★★

    1st Apichatpong Weerasethakul

    Last night, I came home from the cinema and I dreamed. I dreamt of a strange state wherein five different versions of the same people encountered the same story and met the same ending, no matter how hard they tried to avoid their fate. I dreamt of a room wherein people were locked in and slowly decayed to a series of skeletons, their gradual atrophy rendered by a striking and disturbing series of step frame transitions. And…

  • A Tale of Winter

    A Tale of Winter

    ★★★½

    17th Eric Rohmer (after Pauline at the Beach, My Night at Maud’s, Full Moon in Paris, Perceval le Gallois, The Aviator’s Wife, My Boyfriend’s Girlfriend, The Green Ray, A Good Marriage, A Tale of Springtime, Four Adventures of Renette and Mirabelle, Love in the Afternoon, Rendezvous in Paris, The Marquise of O, The Kreutzer Sonata, Bérénice and La Collectioneuse)

    Watched with my housemate James, who it’s fair to say dislikes Rohmer and his use of form. Our watch, then, became…

  • Der Wechselbalg

    Der Wechselbalg

    ★★★★½

    1st Maria Steinmetz

    Credit to Savage, Louisiana's premium swamp witch. She may be cranky, but she has good taste. This is utterly adorable and incredibly sad all at once, a poignant little tale about love and loss after trauma. It's about how we make the best of terrible situations and how our compassion can be looked upon as selfish when we grieve. It's about faith, in simple terms, and the way that Steinmetz depicts the deeply-grained emotions of that state…