Favorite films

  • Remember the Night
  • Children of Paradise
  • The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
  • Ghost World

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  • The Heat's On

    ★½

  • Wagon Master

    ★★★★★

  • My Little Chickadee

    ★★

  • To Be and to Have

    ★★★★½

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  • The Heat's On

    The Heat's On

    ★½

    Mae West’s last studio-era film, featuring the depressing spectacle of the now-sanitised star being upstaged by a glove puppet of a baby playing the trumpet. That number, which climaxes with Hazel Scott playing two pianos at once, is good fun, but the rest of the movie is mostly just mean-spirited backstage chicanery. Subplots inspired by West's real-life indecency trial, and the blacklisting of performers (an issue that would tear Hollywood itself to pieces within five years) are at once historically interesting and extremely stupid in execution.

  • Wagon Master

    Wagon Master

    ★★★★★

    An incomparable Ford Western on the theme of tolerance, with ineffably cool horse trader Travis Blue (Ben Johnson) guiding god-fearing folk and dissolute show people – the two sides of the director’s personality – to the Promised Land. It all seems so effortless, just a thousand perfect details in word and image: the dialogue spare and true, Ford’s camera going to a square dance and focusing first on the wooden planks straining in the dust. And as in My Darling Clementine (and arguably The Searchers), he gives the most sentimental moment to his villain.

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  • Ghost World

    Ghost World

    ★★★★★

    You can take your Juno, your Scott Pilgrim, even your Heathers, and chuck them in a skip, because Ghost World just does it all so much better. Well, all of it that's worth doing. I'm beginning to think this melancholy, bitingly hilarious crystallisation of teen ennui might be the only film I'll ever really need.

  • Sideways

    Sideways

    ★★★★★

    Wine is probably the most boring subject on Earth, so how come Payne’s film about a lonely, bitter best man (Paul Giamatti) taking the soon-to-be-groom (Thomas Haden Church) on a week-long tour of vineyards is so bloody good? Perhaps because of Giamatti’s astonishing characterisation, which imbues an arrogant, self-destructive, self-hating pseud with a completely disarming humanity. Or perhaps because it’s not really about wine at all, but love and friendship and the choices that people make that end up deciding…