2003; directed by Richard Linklater; written by Mike White; 108 mins

Here’s a rarity. An early 2000s Hollywood kids’ movie about well-to-do moppets learning to rock out that isn’t complete shite! Brought to you by a director who was (and remains) at the very apex of American indy filmmaking, coming off the back of his two most experimental films: Tape, a three-hander, shot on DV and set entirely in one room and Waking Life, a fully rotoscoped, free-form ramble through the lives and thoughts of slackers and intellectuals. Don’t forget, however, this was the man who made Dazed and Confused! If anyone was gonna make a movie about the virtues of rock – it was him! Continue reading



1970; directed by Elio Petri; written by Elio Petri and Ugo Pirro; 115 mins

A study in Fascism from a Communist director and a then-Communist star, Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto) is a dark, perverse forgotten gem. A satirical look at one man’s sadomasochistic desire to be humiliated, be it in the bedroom or in the full glare of his empire. Continue reading


1995; directed by Martin Scorsese; adapted by Nicholas Pileggi and Martin Scorsese; 170 mins

It’s a strange beast, Casino. If someone asked you what you actually liked about the story and the characters, you’d be hard pressed to give an answer. “Mobsters. They’re quite interesting (in a morbid sort of way)”. Otherwise, you have a hard-nosed, unfun, career gambler, an uber-psycho gangster and the junkie Vegas hustler hanging on their coat tails. It’s a much harder film to like than GoodFellas but it’s so damn riveting! Continue reading


2015; directed by Agnieszka Smoczyńska; written by Robert Bolesto; 92 mins

Polish cannibal mermaid musical. If nothing about those four words is exciting to you then piss off and don’t come back. As is almost inevitable these days, this film came nowhere near cinemas in NZ (well, near me anyway) so I bought the Criterion DVD instead. So glad I finally did because, alongside films such as Embrace of the Serpent and the works of Roy Andersson, this shows that there are still brilliant, intelligent and – crucially – original movies out there. Continue reading


1926; directed by Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton; written by Al Boasberg, Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton, Charles Henry Smith and Paul Girard Smith; 75 mins

Having never seen any Buster Keaton before now but seen Tony Zhou’s wonderful YouTube video essay from his Every Frame a Painting channel, I decided to take the plunge with what is now Keaton’s most highly regarded work. Essentially, the most epic comedy routine of all time, this is an action-packed chase movie with massive set piece gags playing off against the stony face of Keaton’s baffled train driver. Continue reading


1949; directed by Carol Reed; adapted by Graham Greene; 100 mins

Harry Lime is dead. This is a shock for friend and dimestore novelist, Holly Martins, who’s just turned up in Vienna specifically to catch up with him. What a way to start one of the greatest movies of all time! Your main character, played by your biggest star, isn’t going to be dead, he’s already there! This is just the start of a noir thriller that, almost 70 years on, still holds up as a stylish, rip-roaring crime classic! Continue reading


2010; directed by Olivier Assayas; adapted by Olivier Assayas, Dan Franck and Daniel Leconte; 339 mins

“The man who hijacked the world”

In a recent interview, the filmmaker and critic Alex Cox complained that critics have become “hucksters”, touting and selling films to audiences rather than being honest about a film. I agree with him up to a point but I do think that there is a slight element of whore-ishness that enters into it when you really love a film but you know it’s a tough sell. This is definitely the case with Carlos, which is one of my absolute favourite films but bear in mind that whilst – Yes! – I am selling this movie to you, I honestly love it to bits and I want to share it because it’s such an exciting movie! Continue reading