Of Freaks and Men (Russia, 1998)

Bonkers film that’s immaculately done. The narrative focuses on the corruption and destruction of a bourgeois household (sounds good to me) but maybe this film does it in such a disturbing way that it repels the bourgeois in me; or maybe it’s not very good; or maybe it’s not to my er taste. (DVD) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0156849/

The Apartment (US, 1960)

As a ‘schnuck’ you can’t beat Jack Lemmon and he excels in this bitter-sweet comedy. Nicely satirical of the Organisation Man (isn’t MacMurray a bit too wooden?). Can’t understand its classic status though. (DVD, 3). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053604/

Junebug (US, 2005)

Marvellously observed clash of cultures with Amy Adams playing Ashley as a real force of life. Nicely avoids pat resolutions, there are weaknesses and strengths (apart from the brother!) all round. (DVD) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0418773/

Robots (US, 2005)

Fabulous visuals; witty. But… same-old Oedipal narrative and monstrous mother. (OAR) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0358082/

42nd Street (US, 1933)

Fascinating dramatisation of the New Deal so where you might expect jealousy we see cooperation. Unbelievable that Dick Powell would, a decade later, give one of the best hard boiled detective performances. The film’s worth watching if only for the amazing Busby Berkeley finale. (DVD, 2) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0024034/

Matewan (US, 1987)

Brilliant recreation of the miners’ strike in 1920s West Virginia. If, maybe, the bad guys veer toward caricature, Sayles brilliantly makes a ‘Red’ the hero. Sayles regulars (Cooper & McDonnell) give their usual fabulous performances (didn’t realise Will Oldham played the preacher kid). Must be seen. (DVD, 3) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093509/

At Five in the Afternoon (2003, Iran)

A film made in Afghanistan focusing on women has to be seen. However, a tad disappointed; found the repetition on shoes a bit tiresome. Possibly seeing it after Osama was the problem; but most films would pale in comparison with that. (DVD) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0363303/

Flightplan (US, 2005)

Quite clever thriller that only holds the attention because of Jodie Foster. (OAR) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0408790/

One from the Heart (US, 1982)

This movie destroyed Francis Coppola’s Zoetrope studios, where he hoped to make art movies to compete with Hollywood. Critics at the time (and presumably the audiences who stayed away) moaned that the story was slight. Who cares?! The visuals (highly stylised lighting) are fantastic, as is Tom Waits score. Stands up well! A must if you like musicals. (DVD, 5) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084445/

Pather Panchali (India, 1955)

Rightly regarded as a classic, directed by Satyajit Ray. Whilst the content is a realist ‘slice of village life’ the visual style mixes observation with telling rhetoric (such as focusing on the water covering the stolen bracelet). The cinematography is great as are the performances. It’s the first part of the ‘Apu’ trilogy, though this focuses on his sister Durga (the ‘actresses’ only film). The father’s pain on his return is as chilling as any horror movie. (DVD) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048473/