• The Puffy Chair

    The Puffy Chair

    I wonder if I'll ever be ready to make nice with the 2000s? The second part of Director's Lottery's Mark Duplass episode is this ghastly relic of the decade he co-directed with his brother Jay. It's a deeply personal affair - his character's parents are played by his own parents, it's shot around his and his friends' homes - and yet the Duplass brothers seem to be using that freedom and support to say nothing whatsoever. It's just another comedy…

  • Blue

    Blue

    ★★★★

    How can we sleep when our beds are burning

  • Buoyed by the Irrelevance of Their Own Insignificance

    Buoyed by the Irrelevance of Their Own Insignificance

    ★★★½

    You can always count on Andrew Kötting to give you something you've not seen before, and Buoyed by the Irrelevance of Their Own Insignificance is as outré but thankfully less long than its title. It begins with a ribald anecdote from the director's grandmother Gladys on the soundtrack over a monochrome sea that qualifies as one of the most strikingly beautiful things Kötting has ever shot. Then you realise a man in an impassive animal mask is bobbing around helplessly…

  • Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest

    Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest

    ★★★

    This week on Pop Screen: it turns out we can, in fact, kick it.

    Stray observations:

    - One of the real strengths of Michael Rapaport's documentary is how much time it devotes to the milieu Tribe came out of, not least in its cataloguing of the awesome number of African-American musical legends who also came from their native St. Albans: Fats Waller, James Brown, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, John Coltrane...

    - One of the things I remembered most from my…

  • Tickle Monster

    Tickle Monster

    ★★★★

    Horror movies are all about tension and release, and before he directed His House Remi Weekes found a delightfully literal way of achieving that in this three-minute short. It doesn't overstay its welcome, but it still manages to have a lot of fake-outs before a great - and cut just at the right moment! - final jump.

  • Creep

    Creep

    We're expanding Director's Lottery in the new year, and we've still got our Best of 2021 show to do, so let's see off the show's original format with the Mark Duplass episode, quite the most difficult watch I've had in all my days at The Geek Show. This found-footage horror, written by and starring Duplass, is built on a solid idea - what if the average mumblecore protagonist was deliberately repellent? - but it still requires a sweeter tooth for…

  • Six by Sondheim

    Six by Sondheim

    ★★★★

    52 films by women 2021: 86/52.

    What else could I have watched on Saturday?

    James Lapine's documentary about Stephen Sondheim is as affectionate as you'd expect from someone making a movie about their long-term friend and collaborator, but also as tart, intelligent and unsentimental as you'd expect from Sondheim. It's a perfect balance. The usual problem of documentaries about artists - just because you can do something doesn't mean you can talk about it - doesn't apply to Sondheim, because…

  • I May Destroy You

    I May Destroy You

    ★★★★½

    52 films by women 2021: 85/52.

    I've got a new article in Horrified about I May Destroy You, which might strike you as an odd fit: isn't this one of the recent jewels of prestige television? Shouldn't this article be about Shudder's Creepshow or something? Well, no, actually - there is a recurrent strain of horror, fantasy and science fiction imagery and techniques throughout I May Destroy You, and this article is about what that means, and why so few…

  • I'm Not There

    I'm Not There

    ★★★★

    We haven't covered Bob Dylan on Pop Screen yet, so this week's episode is a chance to rectify that. The reason I hadn't done a Bob Dylan episode, though, is that the sheer amount of Dylanological expertise his fans demand from anyone talking about Dylan on the internet is massively intimidating. I'm not an ignoramus, but I'm far from an expert, so why on Earth did I decide to break our Bob omerta with this, a film which can only…

  • Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands

    Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands

    ★★★½

    No non-American director should be held responsible for their Hollywood work (unless it's good), so I merely note for my own amusement that Brazil's favourite comedy comes from Bruno Baretto, the future director of Richard Ayoade's favourite comedy, View from the Top. I can't say I found Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands funny, exactly - though the usual caveat applies when watching a subtitled comedy, namely that the translation may be more at fault than the script. But it…

  • Spencer

    Spencer

    ★★★½

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    There's been a flood of royal imagery on British screens over the last fifteen years, all of which in some way is traceable to the aftermath of Princess Diana's death. It's not just because the film that started it all, Stephen Frears's The Queen, is explicitly about that - it's because the discourse following Diana's death, about whether the Queen was mourning and whether she should do it publicly, broke open the taboo on imagining and discussing the monarchy's private…

  • A Trip to the Moon

    A Trip to the Moon

    ★★★★★

    I've been a bit blasé about Méliès recently, which is close to a rhyme but nowhere near fair. Perhaps it's the sheer cultural ubiquity of this film's central image, but I've been more wowed by silent fantasies from the less-heralded likes of Segundo de Chomón and Percy Stow. Rewatching his most celebrated film made me realise how ridiculous that was. No amount of homages in music videos, TV commercials or cartoons can diminish the extraordinary power of this, the first…