Category: Movies


CAROL directed by Todd Haynes (USA, 2015)

carol_film_posterI borrowed this film from my local lending library in Cesena, Italy. This excellent ‘mediateca’,  somewhat anachronistically, continues to maintain a healthy stock of old and new DVDs.

In a card inside the case of more recent acquisitions you are invited to write what you think of the movie: “Lascia un commento, potresti convincere qulache indeciso” (Leave a comment – it may convince others who are undecided).

For Carol, there is just one review which (translated from Italian) states that it is “the story of an upper class woman who destroys the life of her husband and, not content with this, also ruins the life of a poor young working woman. All this in the name of a presumed sexual liberation. A film of homosexual propaganda”.

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The offending review of ‘Carol’.

This blinkered and spiteful reading of Todd Haynes’ elegant and intelligent movie illustrates that, despite some encouraging advances in LGBT rights, this is no time for complacency. Continue reading

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SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE directed by Steven Soderberg (USA, 1989)

sex & lies“All life is sex. All sex is competition”. James Spader’s line comes from a cameo appearance the US sitcom The Office but could easily stand as a tagline for his captivating lead performance as Graham Dalton in Sex, Lies And Videotape.

This independent movie had a huge impact when it was first released and watching it again , almost three decades on, I was struck about how it still holds up for its bravery, integrity and originality.

The themes of sexuality, fidelity and gender politics remain as relevant now as they did in 1989. Indeed, these issues are arguably even more significant in the wake of the plethora of #metoo related stories and Trump’s brazen capacity for lying. Digital technology would now replace videotape but everything else about the story rings true.

The film deals with the notoriously delicate topic of sex with a liberating degree of frankness and maturity. This is all the more remarkable given that Soderberg was only 26 when he wrote and directed it. He’s made some decent movies since but the audacity and boldness of youth still makes his debut his best work.

Significantly, there are no explicit sex scenes. Soderbach’s stated aim was that of challenging mainstream audiences with ideas rather than with nudity. Continue reading

SON OF SAUL directed by Lázió Nemes (Hungary. 2015)
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How much of the horror of the holocaust can you stand to watch?

Newsreel footage can turn us all into passive voyeurs to humankind’s capacity for evil. On the other hand, however noble the intentions, turning history into cinema can reduce Nazi atrocities into entertainment.

Lázió Nemes’ remarkable debut avoids both pitfalls. You are never in any doubt about the barbarism at the heart of the story but the camera never dwells on the details. Continue reading

DEADPOOL 2 directed by David Leitch (USA, 2018)

deadpoolThe seemingly unstoppable tide of superhero spin-offs and spoofs continues apace and, not coincidentally, is inversely proportional to the feelings of powerlessness we humble spectators face in our daily lives.

The R-Rated X-Men movie Deadpool 2 takes for granted that its target audience are well-versed in big screen incarnations of Marvel /DC stories. Continue reading

EX LIBRIS: THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY a film by Frederick Wiseman (USA, 2017)ex_libris_e28093_the_new_york_public_library

Zadie Smith expressed it well when in ‘North-west London Blues, when she wrote that: “Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy something to stay”.

Appropriately enough, this essay was published in the New York Review of Books for what applies to the London suburbs applies equally to the bustling metropolis of NYC.

This is more than clear from Frederick Wiseman’s painstakingly epic documentary film which presents many of the Big Apple’s library branches and buildings as beacons of anti-capitalist hope. Although not overtly political, it’s hard to miss the fact that these resources represent the polar opposite of everything Trump and his minions stand for. Continue reading

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