LOS OLVIDADOS

1950; directed by Luis Buñuel; written by Luis Alcoriza and Luis Buñuel; 77 mins

The eye-slicing bit from Un chien andalou really put the shits up me when I accidentally saw it at the age of 12, so consequently, I shied away from watching Luis Buñuel films. Still! This one turned up for free so I figured I’d give him a go. Turns out this is one of his least surreal films – not without its bizarre moments but pretty close to the era’s definition of a docudrama. Continue reading

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CHILDREN OF PARADISE

1945; directed by Marcel Carné; written by Jacques Prévert; 186 mins

Made under extraordinary and dangerous conditions during the Nazi Occupation in WWII, this is one of those movies often trotted out as a film beloved by critics and filmmakers. Knowing nothing of the director’s work, I thought it time to give this one a whirl. Happily, it’s an absolutely wonderful film. An immersive epic about love and romance and all the people in-between. It’s a classical costume drama that still, after more than 70 years, has a lot to say about the traps we all fall into in love and the traps society pushes us into, because, this being a very French film, it deals with class distinctions in a very acute and intelligent way. Continue reading

ARMY OF SHADOWS

1969; adapted and directed by Jean-Pierre Melville; 145 mins

Funnily enough, I was talking to a bloke today about buying DVDs on a whim, not knowing what the film or TV series within was like and finding a real unexpected treat. This is one of those treats. I bought this not having seen any of Jean-Pierre Melville‘s work, just grabbing the Criterion DVD* out of curiosity. It is one of my all-time favourite films. Continue reading

THE WAILING

2016; written and directed by Na Hong-jin; 156 mins

[Mild spoilers]

Ho-ly Jesus – this is good! Na Hong-jin’s previous films, The Chaser and The Yellow Sea, were quite something. He was compared to Michael Mann which was a justified appraisal from the off. His films were flawed but pretty damn near that mark. It was obvious, though, that Na had a great film in him and this is it! Us fans have had to wait six years but The Wailing was well worth the wait! Continue reading

THE LURE

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

INTO THE INFERNO

2016; written, narrated and directed by Werner Herzog; 104 mins

Almost a response to Herzog’s other recent documentary, Lo & Behold, a film which, while cautionary, was about the wonder of human connection, ability and imagination. This one ultimately cleaves very much closer to his maxim from 2005’s Grizzly Man; “I believe that the common denominator in the universe is not harmony but chaos, hostility and murder”. Into the Inferno reminds you that under our feet is a mighty ocean, about 1000℃, of Dante-like proportions that cares not for “retarded reptiles and vapid humans”.

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AFERIM!

2015; directed by Radu Jude; written by Radu Jude and Florin Lazarescu; 101 mins

Billed as a Romanian western (fair enough) but also as a comedy. Hmm. There are comedic elements to it, certainly but it is comedy of the blackest hue! A brutal depiction of brutal characters in a brutal world. Perhaps, in Radu Jude, we finally have the director who can tackle Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian on film. It won’t make any money but it will be a masterpiece. Continue reading