mystery

Human Capital

December 6, 2014
Valeria Bruni Tedeschi in 'Human Capital' (2013)

Although the Berlusconi era may have rendered Italy an economic ruin and a political laughing stock, it has given rise to an exceptional cinematic legacy. Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty (2013) was a masterful portrait of decadence and excess, set against the eternal elegance of Rome. Paolo Virzi’s Human Capital unfolds in the wealthy regions … More


Finding Vivian Maier

November 15, 2014
Vivian Maier, Self Portrait, Highland Park, 1960s

Previously unknown until a few years ago, street photographer, Vivian Maier (1926-2009), is almost in danger of over-exposure. Having never exhibited a picture during her lifetime, over the past few years Maier has been the subject of non-stop shows in many parts of the world. Last month her work was shown for the first time … More


A Walk Among the Tombstones

October 25, 2014
Liam Neeson in 'A Walk Among the Tombstones' (2014)

Lawrence Block is a crime writer whose style seems made for the movies. Flat descriptive passages are punctuated by bursts of terse, witty dialogue. After a few pages the film is already rolling in your head. Add Liam Neeson as Block’s ex-alco, ex-NYPD, private dick, Matthew Scudder, and the package seems close to perfect. All … More


Before I Go to Sleep

October 18, 2014
Nicole Kidman in 'Before I Go to Sleep' (2014)

Rowan Joffé’s Before I Go to Sleep will inevitably suffer in comparison with David Fincher’s Gone Girl, which is currently blitzing the box office. Both films are based on best-selling novels, but the former, by British writer, S.J.Watson, is a more literary affair than Gillian Flynn’s ‘he said, she said’ page-turner. If Virginia Woolf had … More


Gone Girl

October 4, 2014
Rosamund Pike & Ben Affleck in 'Gone Girl' (2014)

Having written a smash No. 1 bestseller, there are not many authors with the discipline – or know-how – to sit down and thrash out the screenplay. This makes Gillian Flynn a rare talent, as she has managed to take a brilliant novel and put it through all those necessary cuts and compressions required of … More


The Keeper of Lost Causes

August 2, 2014
Nikolaj Lie Kaas in The Keeper of Lost Causes (2013)

An art critic of my acquaintance once boasted he had never read a detective novel. This claim was intended to make him seem an intellectual, but it only showed the narrowness of his mind. When writers such as André Gide and Francois Mauriac wrote admiringly of the detective stories of Georges Simenon, we can see … More


Frank

June 21, 2014
Michael Fassbender & Domhnall Gleeson in 'Frank' (2014)

Frank is a movie that makes a fiction out of a difficult truth. The model for the lead character, who spends almost the entire movie walking around with a large papier-maché head lodged on his shoulders, was Frank Sidebottom, the creation of Chris Sievey (1955-2010), a wannabee rock star who found that wearing a different … More


Transcendence

May 3, 2014
Johnny Depp in Transcendence (2014)

With poor attendences in the United States and disastrous reviews, Wally Pfister’s Transcendence is set to be the biggest hi-tech, mega-budget, sci-fi flop since After Earth, last year’s misbegotten star vehicle for Will Smith and son. It’s not an entirely fair comparison because Transcendence is a much better film. Its failure is not due to … More


The Past

February 15, 2014
Bérénice Bejo as Marie in 'The Past', 2013

To the best of my knowledge there is not a single ten minute lesbian sex scene in the entire corpus of Iranian cinema. For films made in Iran even the simplest questions about sex, religion or morality can fall foul of the censors. The paradox is that these strictures have produced a body of work … More


Night Train to Lisbon

December 7, 2013
Jeremy Irons in 'Night Train To Lisbon'.

In Jack Cardiff’s Girl on a Motorcycle (1968), which marries pretension and sexploitation in a way that only the 1960s could conceive, Marianne Faithfull abandons her boring schoolteacher husband and roars off to Switzerland on a big Harley-Davidson for a romantic assignation with Alain Delon. Most girls might think this sounds like a perfectly logical … More