Old Joy (2006)



In her films,  Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women, Meek’s Cutoff, Wendy and Lucy) immerses you in the life of a handful of people over a day or two. In Certain Women, it was four women in rural America, in Meek’s Cutoff it was settler women in the 1840s Oregon desert. In Old Joy we follow old friends Kurt (Will Oldham) and Mark (Daniel London) as they reunite for an overnight camping trip in search of some hot springs. Continue reading

Frantz (2016)



Some films seep into your bones and only slowly fade away. I wasn’t expecting this François Ozon film to have such poignancy. On the surface it seems conventional, not withstanding its artful and at first unnoticed shifts from black-and-white to colour. In a German village in 1919, families are freshly wounded from the recent war and anti-French emotions run high. Bereaved Anna (Paula Beer), whose fiance Frantz died on the front line, regularly visits his grave. One day she finds fresh flowers there and discovers that a French man, Adrien (Pierre Niney), is also marking his grief at the grave. Continue reading

Personal Shopper (2016)


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It’s hard to love a film that’s deliberately ambiguous but there is something about this odd, French, mixed-genre movie by Olivier Assayas that mesmerises. Maureen (Kristen Stewart) is in a kind of frantic and masochistic limbo in Paris. Her twin brother Lewis has died from a congenital heart condition they both share and she is waiting for him to show her a sign that the afterlife exists.  Continue reading

The Innocents (2016)



It is Poland in 1945 and, at an isolated convent, a novice escapes and treks across country in the snow to find a doctor. A Red Cross nurse, Mathilde (Lou de Laâge), follows reluctantly and finds a nun in labour. As she stays and then returns to help, she discovers that the sisters hold a secret that has left none of them unscathed and will, in turn, profoundly affect Mathilde.  Continue reading

Chappie (2015)



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South African director Neill Blomkamp’s 2009 film District 9 was an unexpected delight. Ostensibly a sci-fi about prawn-like aliens who have been accepted into the Johannesburg population, it is instead an endearing and sobering look at the plight of refugees. Chappie is his third feature film, after Elysium in 2013, and I was expecting the same wry observation of white South Africa. Instead I got a story that seemed to replicate District 9‘s edgy style but without the same substance. Continue reading