SOMERS TOWN

2008; directed by Shane Meadows; written by Paul Fraser; 68 mins

This is possibly my all-time favourite film about love. It’s a film about two boys discovering their first love at the same time with the same woman. It’s not about a sexual awakening, it’s about that confusion of what the Hell to do which undercuts the surety of what you want. In that sense, it’s one of those rare teen boy films that, I suspect, speaks to people whatever their gender. Continue reading

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AMERICAN HONEY

2016; written and directed by Andrea Arnold; 157 mins

Too long it has taken me to return to Andrea Arnold‘s work! The composer Glenn Branca, in the film Punk: Attitude*, once referred to Patti Smith as “the Queen of the Universe” and that’s kinda how I feel about Andrea Arnold! And, Julien Temple aside, I think she’s the nearest a film director has got to a genuine punk spirit. Not that she gives over an obvious punk look but her films do seem to be made with an anything goes, fuck-it frame of mind. Finding “beauty in not being beautiful” as John Lydon put it.** Continue reading

MOONLIGHT

2016; adapted and directed by Barry Jenkins; 106 mins

The first time I saw this was a strange one. I rushed into the cinema as the film started and what felt like just an hour later, I looked at my watch and realised the film had only 5 mins to go. It was, undoubtedly, an impressively made film with real conviction and a committed and excellent cast. But I came out strangely unmoved by it and couldn’t quite understand the overwhelming praise it was getting. My viewing of it had been compromised enough, in certain ways, though, that I knew I needed to see it again. Continue reading

GOD’S OWN COUNTRY

2017; written and directed by Francis Lee; 104 mins

British Brokeback Mountain has been the rather lazy comparison to what is, at face value, the most Daily-Mail-baiting movie of the year (last year, of course, was The Neon Demon). Well, happily, it’s way more than that, it’s a harsh, elemental British kitchen sink drama of the highest pedigree which features one of the finest love stories I’ve seen since I dunno when! Continue reading

NZIFF ’17/11: LOVELESS

2017; directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev; written by Oleg Negin and Andrey Zvyagintsev; 127 mins

I remember flying over Russia once and being struck by the fact that I couldn’t see the sea. For miles and miles, there was just uninhabited green and the idea of landing in it was more terrifying than ditching in the ocean. Russian cinema often has that feel, for me. Vast, empty, agoraphobic spaces filled with harsh, deep-voiced people. Loveless takes this trend to the nth degree and – much like Michael Haneke’s Amour turned out to be a strait-laced look at undying love – Zvyagintsev gives us an equally harrowing look at the drowning effects of it’s absence. Continue reading

NZIFF ’17/03: ETHEL & ERNEST

2016; adapted and directed by Roger Mainwood; 94 mins

Just before I went to see this movie, I took in a screening of Luc Besson’s latest sci-fi extravaganza, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and watched for the best part of two and a half hours as he tried super hard to shove a whole load of “wow” down my throat. I was bored. I tried but I was bored. After that long assault on my senses, this movie came and sat down and chatted with me for 90 minutes and I was riveted. Continue reading

HUD

1963; directed by Martin Ritt; adapted by Harriet Frank Jr. and Irving Ravetch; 107 mins

How times change. Apparently, the character of Hud Bannon became sort-of a counter culture icon in the 60s because he was seen as the free-wheelin’ rebel young people wanted, thumbing his nose at tradition and the ways of the Old West. If Hud, the movie, were made now, I think young people would see him for the bastard he’s portrayed as. Continue reading