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  • The Duke of Burgundy

    The Duke of Burgundy

    ★★★½

    The Duke of Burgundy is a hard film to pin down, and that's as much a criticism of it as it is a compliment. Writer-director Peter Strickland builds it around the story of the unconventional relationship between lepidoptery lecturer Cynthia and student Evelyn; at first, we're caught off guard by their strange interactions, and it's only later that we actually come to realise that not only are they romantically involved but the nature of this involvement is much different from…

  • John Wick

    John Wick

    ★★★½

    As modern-day action thrillers go, John Wick is easily one of the better entries in the genre. Even if it's never a-hundred-per-cent satisfying, it still offers a pleasing amount in the way of memorable visuals and stunning fight scenes.

    The plot is fairly simple, and, as with most revenge films, largely irrelevant in the scheme of things. John Wick, mourning his dead wife, has his car stolen and dog killed by the son of the Russian crime boss he used…

  • Alexander Nevsky

    Alexander Nevsky

    ★★★

    Sergei Eisenstein was, primarily, a maker of Soviet propaganda, and that's especially important to bear in mind when watching his 1938 film Alexander Nevsky. The film tells of the 13th-century invasion of Kievan Rus' by the Teutonic Knights, and the Russians' defence of their homeland under Prince Alexander Nevsky, famous and revered for having won a victory against the Swedes some years prior. The metaphor is blatant, and as such the film serves as a parable - more than a…

  • The Shawshank Redemption

    The Shawshank Redemption

    ★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    The law of diminishing returns strikes again, but in a place I never expected it to. I was convinced The Shawshank Redemption would stand up to repeat viewings, even if it wasn't one of the greatest films ever made as many claim it to be. It stands up, but not to a satisfying extent. My feelings towards it are very mixed up, so I'm going to try and straighten them out.

    The film, as the vast majority of Letterboxd users…

  • Ghost World

    Ghost World

    ★★★★½

    I often feel inclined to give American teen films a tepid response because of how hard a time I have connecting with the experiences of people my age from across the pond. Ghost World, however, is different. It fully transcends any cultural boundary by way of being both fiendishly funny and uniquely melancholy, and the results hit my sweet spot in the strangest and best way.

    The central characters are Enid and Rebecca, two high school graduates in suburban America…

  • Out of the Past

    Out of the Past

    ★★★★½

    The most famous line of dialogue in The Godfather Part III is "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!" It's delivered by Michael Corleone, who has been assuming his life of crime is fully behind him. The line and its context perfectly sums up the driving theme of Jacques Tourneur's Out of the Past (also called Build My Gallows High here in the UK), which centres on Jeff Bailey, a petrol station owner whose shady…

  • Eternity and a Day

    Eternity and a Day

    ★★★★

    Eternity and a Day is the first Theo Angelopoulos film that’s left me feeling somewhat detached from it, which I find shocking given it’s reputation as one of the director’s best works. When I say it left me detached, I mean it in terms of what the film is trying to do rather than in terms of how it made me feel moment to moment. In the latter respect, the film is more than successful.

    The film takes place over…

  • Crash

    Crash

    ★★★½

    Crash was a film I studied, without having watched, for my extended essay on film-related controversies. The extensive backlash it received in the UK, spearheaded by the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard, was indicative of hostility in the right-wing press towards graphic sex in cinema. However, Crash being a David Cronenberg film, the sex is never for sex's sake.

    It's based on the novel by J. G. Ballard, who wrote my favourite book, Empire of the Sun; the latter…

  • Secrets & Lies

    Secrets & Lies

    ★★★★★

    For some reason I decided I needed this today. Secrets & Lies is the sort of film that Hollywood not only doesn't make but can't; it's an industry that just isn't equipped to explore ordinary people in a believable way. Leigh's dismissal of the sentiment that a major American studio would have brought only bolsters the success of his film's emotional impact, and if everything feels a bit too neat and tidy at the end, it's a small price to pay for the way it makes you feel. Plus, it's really the getting there that counts: Blethyn, Spall and Jean-Baptiste are phenomenal.

    Previous review

  • A Star Is Born

    A Star Is Born

    ★★★

    A Star Is Born, one of the most acclaimed films of last year, is certainly notable for several reasons. It's the first iteration of the story for over forty years, and provided Lady Gaga with her breakout role in films. However, whether or not it actually lives up to the hype is another story.

    Gaga plays Ally, a waitress and aspiring singer who is lucky enough to be discovered by rock star Jackson Maine while performing a rendition of "La…

  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

    Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

    ★★★½

    Edgar Wright's best quality as a filmmaker is his ability to bring a specific type of mundane, down-to-earth Britishness to bear on stories that smack of genre pulp. For that reason, Scott Pilgrim vs the World is towards the lower end of the quality spectrum in terms of his work, because as much as it benefits from his innately humorous visual flamboyance, it feels too impersonal.

    Of course, a large part of the problem may be that he's decided to…

  • Dances with Wolves

    Dances with Wolves

    ★★★★

    Was Goodfellas the better film? Undoubtedly. Does that mean it should have won the Oscar? No. No film deserves to win an Oscar, as it more often hampers the film's reputation than bolsters it, and discussing the Academy Awards is reductive and stupid as it gives no indication whatsoever of how good something is. Which is why so many Best Picture winners are miles better than their reputations suggest.

    Dances with Wolves is an epic Western that is big on…