‘Blue Velvet’ Revisited

“Maybe I’m sick, but I want to see that again,” the film critic, Pauline Kael overheard after a screening of David Lynch’s 1986 film, Blue Velvet. In her review of the movie in The New Yorker, Pauline Kael traces a sense of this conscious revulsion throughout Blue Velvet, which, she writes, takes the “mystery and … Continue reading


Rian Johnson’s time traveling movie, Looper is about a fight in the future, for the past. In it, two Joes, the same man, have 30 years between them; Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) lives in 2044, Old Joe (Bruce Willis) in 2074. That Gordon-Levitt and Willis don’t really resemble each other – with or without the prosthetic … Continue reading

Woody Allen: A Documentary

Robert B. Weide’s cinema-release documentary of Woody Allen begins with the rudimentary question: How can we make a documentary about Woody Allen? The problem, we are told, is that there are so many Woody Allens; it would be impossible to edit him. But this cinema version of the longer PBS documentary, condensing over three hours … Continue reading


François, sitting at a table in a Parisian café, watches a beautiful girl sitting at another. As she hesitates over the menu, he wonders what she will order. He decides he will talk to her – if she orders apricot juice; not as exotic as guava or papaya, and not as commonplace as orange or … Continue reading


When eleven-year-old Zachary Cowan, armed with a stick – I’m sorry, carrying a stick (armed is a bit of a strong word, don’t you think?) – strikes his classmate Ethan Longstreet’s face one day in Brooklyn Bridge Park, the boys’ parents meet up to discuss the situation responsibly, as adults do. Naturally, Zachary’s parents, Nancy … Continue reading

The Purple Rose of Cairo

Hollywood greats like Casablanca, An American in Paris and An Affair to Remember have a lot to answer for. They have misled us to believe loving someone is letting them go, in love at first sight and that love can withstand even the greatest measures of distance and time. But real life and love isn’t … Continue reading


  September 2011 at the Cambridge Film Festival. In between sentences about his latest film, Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn wolfs down handfuls of popcorn. A director scoffing popcorn is a strange sight to behold. It’s a bit like a priest throwing back communion wine on his day off; an act so banal, you don’t expect … Continue reading

The Artist

1927. Life screens in silence. A cinema auditorium full of gleaming faces and clapping hands. A sombre shadow cast on a vacant film screen in an empty room. Film reels burn in an inferno of increasing self-pity. A man slumps over a flat mirror, peering at his reflection as though a stranger’s. Pours his drink … Continue reading

Into the Woods: Dreileben

In the darkness of the vast Thuringia forest in Dreileben, Germany, a killer flees from the hospital where he is detained. Dreileben, a trilogy of films with the surtitles, Beats Being Dead, Don’t Follow Me Around and One Minute of Darkness, uses Frank Molesch’s escape not so much as its starting point but rather as its locus, from which the … Continue reading

An American in Paris

Americans have long swooned for Paris. It is a love that has lasted, at the very least, for 60 years, since MGM married the two nations in Vincente Minnelli’s An American in Paris. Its re-release this autumn, courtesy of the British Film Institute, is a welcome reminder of why the Americans fell and continue falling in love … Continue reading