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  • The Spacewalker

    The Spacewalker

    ★★★

    Russia's answer to Apollo 13. Given the relatively modest budget, this film based on the true story of the flight of Voskhod 2 is certainly well-made. It's clearly structured, well-paced and visually effective too, if a little slick. Plot-wise, it should be hard to go too far wrong, given the fascinating source material - a mission to become the first men to conduct a spacewalk, set against the backdrop of the space race with the US, under mounting political pressure…

  • The Curse of the Cat People

    The Curse of the Cat People

    ★★★½

    A follow up to the original Cat People that was demanded by the studio and which Lewton reluctantly agreed to produce. The title is a real misnomer, as it has very little to do with the first film, save for a few of the same cast members and the odd reference. It also makes it sound like a typical horror, and in fact, it's anything but. Audiences at the time, going along expecting a horror flick would probably have been…

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  • The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel

    The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel

    ★★★

    It starts out with a gunfight - British commandos behind enemy lines on an assassination run - but that's about the extent of the action in this rather stiff biopic. The Desert Fox focuses on the last two years of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's life. Popular history records Rommel as one of the only 'good' Nazis; an outstanding tank commander (Wüstenfuchs, or 'Desert Fox', came from his time in the North African Campaign) and a die-hard proponent of chivalrous rules…

  • Alone in the Dark

    Alone in the Dark

    ★★★½

    This early 80s slasher distinguishes itself mainly through its casting (some big hitters in Donald Pleasence, Jack Palance and Martin Landau) and director Jack Sholder's ambition to do things differently to your run-of-the-mill blood-letting. What starts out as something like social satire ratchets up to full-bore home invasion territory.

    At Dr. Leo Bains's rehab centre for the criminally insane, four patients (or 'voyagers', to use Bains's pointedly pretentious terminology) led by former soldier and POW, Frank Hawkes, deduce that replacement…

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  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

    The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

    ★★★★½

    A silent classic I'm very late to the party for, which came with a big reputation, and which completely lived up to expectations. The OG of German Expressionism lays on a sumptuous spread of fantastically stylized set design, dynamic interplay of light and shadows (which, like the environment, are, in the Expressionist vernacular, an externalization of inner turmoil) and possibly the first proper late-game twist in cinema history. As with Nosferatu, it's impossible at this remove to imagine the impact…

  • Arrival

    Arrival

    ★★★★½

    A quietly moving, intelligent sci-fi from Hollywood? Who woulda thunk. There's precisely one explosion and absolutely no gung-ho Earth vs Extraterrestrial heroics in Denis Villeneuve's exploration of communication, semantics, time and memory. Instead, it's a slow burn revelation that comes together beautifully in its last act, recalling and re-contextualizing Louise's opening words, "I'm not sure I believe in beginnings and endings." The full meaning of the film's title only becomes clear at the end, as you realize it has a…