La Comédie Française: 7 French Comedies That Deserve to Be Better Known

The French like their comedies, and their tastes don’t just extend to Molière – as evidenced by a long line I once saw in Paris outside a movie theatre advertising a Marx Brothers picture. Yet many Gallic laugh-fests are rarely seen outside the continent, owing in part to the use of subtitles, as well as…

By Simon Butler
Jimi: all is by my side

Jimi: All is by My Side

On paper it sounds like a great idea – a Jimi Hendrix biopic starring Andre Benjamin, one of the members of hip-hop group, OutKast. And having avoided any of the talk around the film, it was one I’d been looking forward to for some time. Unfortunately, Benjamin’s generally convincing performance isn’t enough to save Jimi: All…

By James Curnow
Night on Earth

The Chapter Film: In Honour of the Portmanteau

Mise en scene. Montage. Auteur. The French really like writing and theorising about movies, and thus have bequeathed many terms unto the film lexicon. And I am just pretentious enough to toss them around without regard for whosoever may be rolling their eyes. But there’s one French term to which I have never taken. Portmanteau.…

By Jonathan Eig
An Honest Liar

An Honest Liar: Understanding James ‘The Amazing’ Randi

Things are not always as they appear in An Honest Liar, a film in which misdirection and a carefully constructed series of narrative revelations result in the film’s structure emulating its subject matter. This wonderful documentary, directed by Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein, provides an insightful look into the fascinating life of famed magician and…

By James Curnow
Life Itself Roger Ebert

Life Itself: A Roger Ebert Primer

Steve James’ Life Itself, a documentary about the life of internationally recognised Pulitzer Prize winning film-critic, Roger Ebert, was always going be subject to high expectations – especially given his unfettered access to Ebert in the months leading up to his passing. The good news is that, generally speaking, James manages to live up to…

By James Curnow
Iranian Mehran Tamadon

Mehran Tamadon’s Iranian: An Atheist and Four Mullahs

What would happen if an Iranian atheist invited four mullahs to come and stay with him for a weekend and discuss the prospect of a secular coexistence? This is the unlikely situation presented in Iranian, the latest documentary from Paris-based Iranian filmmaker, Mehran Tamadon. Fascinating, frustrating, confronting, and occasionally amusing, Tamadon’s film is a powerful…

By James Curnow

Backwater: A Japanese Pubescent Nightmare

Given the stagnant state of its numerous characters, Shinji Aoyama’s Backwater is certainly appropriately named, although the film is so loaded with references to various forms of effluence that at one point I had to double check that the film wasn’t called ‘Backwash’. That’s not necessarily a criticism, but it is a warning… this is…

By James Curnow