Meeting in the Aisles

Films of the Decade – Part VII: No.5 – No.1

Posted in Features by le1gh on December 31, 2009

Part I is drinking your milkshake over here.

Part II is frying up a slice of fried gold here.

Part III is talking some jive like you’ve never heard here.

Part IV wants you to accept the mystery here.

Part V asks how can a train be lost? It’s on rails here.

And Part VI wishes it could quit you right here.

What, no Amelie? (too cutesy) No Elephant? (too obtuse) No Team America: World Police (too cowardly – Alec Baldwin a bigger global threat than Donald Rumsfeld?) There Will Be Blood sounds more like a threat than a suggestion for a missing selection. Still, as I mentioned way back at the beginning, the only way to do these lists is to choose the films that most affected you personally, not those that might affect your credentials professionally. And I hope there’s still plenty of films in here that share a special place in many other people’s hearts, and those that they might now discover as a result. Happy viewing. And see you in ten…

5)            BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2005)

Dir: Ang Lee  Scr: Diana Ossana & Larry McMurtry

Stars: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams

John Wayne would presumably be spinning in his grave, which is just another good reason to celebrate what, for me, was the decade’s greatest forbidden love story. Ang Lee’s fascination with repressed, self-denying passion achieved its creative peak adapting E. Annie Proulx’s acclaimed short story about two lovelorn gay cowboys (actually sheep-herders). Too fussy and tasteful for those who presumably wanted Heath Ledger to lube up Jake Gyllenhaal with tobacco spit in looming close-up, it’s easy to forget just how subversive Brokeback Mountain’s use of Western imagery is. This isn’t sweet, opera-loving Tom Hanks suffering from AIDS in Philadelphia; these are two virile, taciturn, horse-riding cowboys (OK, sheepherders), the ultimate signifiers of American masculinity, suddenly riding, well, you get the drift.

If Brokeback were only about sexually political point scoring, it would have soon faded from view. It resonates because, though dealing with homosexuality, its tragedy is a more universal, human one: the inability to live openly and express our truest desires. It’s that rarity where all creative elements coalesce and synergise: Gyllenhaal and especially the late Ledger’s clenched, soul-baring performances, Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry’s spare, sensitive screenplay, plaintive Gustavo Santoalla theme ‘The Wings’ and of course, Lee’s expressive imagery – Ledger’s Ennis silhouetted against 4th of July fireworks; and the final shot of a dead lover’s checked shirt literally placed gently back in the closet, the unforgiving Montana wilderness visible through the adjacent grubby trailer window; a tragic reminder of the harsh reality of modern America’s cultural landscape.

Brokeback Mountain Clip: Reunion Kiss

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L.I.E (2001)

Dir: Michael Cuesta  Scr: Cuesta, Gerald Cuesta & Stephen M. Ryder

Stars: Paul Dano, Brian Cox, Billy Kay

The title stands for Long Island Expressway, that snaking suburban conduit, but the other reading is equally apparent, as Paul Dano’s numbed teenager struggles with a recently killed mother, absent father and reconciling his confused sexuality by cruising and breaking and entering. After a botched robbery, he gets embroiled with an avuncular ex-Marine and pederast named Big John (Cox) – and that’s where Michael Cuesta’s provocative story, while never shying away from taboo material, veers into totally unexpected, empathic terrain. Featuring an unsettling, criminally unsung, career-best performance from Cox, this is American indie filmmaking at its most daring and surprising.

L.I.E Trailer:

4)            THE INCREDIBLES (2004)

Dir & Scr: Brad Bird

Voices: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson

This decade’s vogue for onscreen superheroes – given the dearth on offer in real-life – produced some quality entries: Spider-Man 2, X-Men 2, The Dark Knight (first sequels, shorn of all origin exposition, are usually superior). But the ‘superest’ of them all isn’t based on an existing comic-book series; it doesn’t even feature live-action or, voices aside, real people. And yet the billions of pixels that make up Brad Bird’s The Incredibles feel more alive than any superhero movie ever made. Bird is Pixar’s maverick, a volatile talent (The Iron Giant) to push the studio’s established ‘Brain Trust’, for ever-higher standards. Indeed, his two Pixar movies to date, this and Ratatouille, are all about celebrating excellence and not letting politically correct tokenism triumph. In that respect, Bird’s film more than lives up to its name.

Set in a retro-60s, Bond-esque world, it’s the story of a family of ‘supers’, once national heroes and now driven underground by public disapproval, seeking to recapture their youth, identity – and family connection. It’s how these two strands brilliantly play out in tandem (powers that reflect each person’s character – Elastigirl / Mum’s flexibility, shy teenage daughter Violet’s invisibility, etc) that gives the film its dramatic momentum, while the inventive slapstick, adrenalized action and witty humour, notably movie-hijacking fashionista Edna Mole (voiced by Bird himself), send entertainment levels rocketing. Genuinely cinematic (the clever mock-documentary opening), admirably adult and a celebration of all that can make us super humans, if not superhuman. With or without capes, dahling.

The Incredibles Clip: “No Capes!”

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Dir & Scr: Brian DePalma

Stars: Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Antonio Banderas, Peter Coyote

If a superhero alias is often about conjuring escape from one’s mundane daily life then Brian DePalma’s gleefully lurid exploitation thriller is the super-villain wish fulfilment movie by way of Alfred Hitchcock. Starring leggy, mischievous Rebecca Romijn(-nee Stamos) in a rare lead role that proves she should be offered more, what first seems like a DePalma goof-off, a chance for him to practise slinky steadicam moves in glamorous locations (see the opening Cannes Film Festival heist), slowly uncoils itself to reveal a densely-packed mosaic on split identity, thwarted desires and, of course, moviemaking itself. Classily trashy, deceptively sophisticated, playfully profound.

Femme Fatale Trailer:


Dir: Alfonso Cuarón  Scr: Alfonso Cuarón & Carlos Cuarón

Stars: Maribel Verdú, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna

Two horny pothead teenagers ditch their girlfriends, hit on a lonely, sexy older woman and head out on a road trip to a legendary, possibly fictional, beach. Imagine the mainstream Hollywood version: gross-out gags, surfing slapstick, misogyny and Ashton Kutcher. Now contrast that with everything Alfonso Cuarón’s stunning movie achieves. It’s a sex comedy that’s incredibly raunchy and outrageously funny. It’s a coming-of-age buddy movie that provides all the genre’s bickering pleasures of discovery but totally upends its central duo (screw “bromance” subtext, let’s get it on!). And it’s an incisive portrait of Mexico itself, cannily posited by the Cuarón brothers screenplay as an awkward teenager of a country undergoing its own growing pains, detailed in a series of omniscient, third-person narrated asides on a turbulent, class-riven, death-tinged society, to which the boys are naturally oblivious.

If the last description sounds dry and academic, it sells the film horribly short. I can’t remember a more authentic, tumultuous view of adolescence, throbbing with the dumb, hormone-fuelled bravado of youth (fabulously played by real-life best friends Luna and Bernal). Verdú’s amazing Luisa is no mere teenage fantasy, rather the duo’s necessary, wiser, sadder guide with her own troubled reasons for tagging along. Luminously lit by ace cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and with a sledgehammer of an ending that, as in all great films, in retrospect seems inevitable, Y Tu Mamás not only the crest of the New Mexican Wave that swept through turn-of-the-century world cinema, it’s simply a vibrant, vital modern classic.

Y Tu Mamá También Trailer:

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4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS (2007)

Dir & Scr: Cristian Mungiu

Stars: Anamaria Marinca, Laura Vasiliu, Vlad Ivanov

Cannes 2007’s unsung entry that swept all before it and put Romanian cinema firmly on the map, Cristian Mungiu’s 4…3…2 is one of the tensest ‘non-thrillers’ (i.e. no gunplay, chases or car crashes) ever made. Of course the act of procuring an abortion in the Ceausescu dictatorship was a kind of mission impossible in itself, and Mungiu’s unflinching camera follows two friends’ fraught attempts to do the covert deed. Extended takes inexorably increase the pressure, smartly reflecting last-gasp Iron Curtain paranoia, while Anamaria Marinca’s mesmeric presence is the pure gauge of a thousand flickering shifts in desperation, fear, even hope.

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days Trailer:

2)            MULHOLLAND DR. (2001)

Dir & Scr: David Lynch

Stars: Naomi Watts, Laura Elena Harring, Justin Theroux

More than Eraserhead, more than Blue Velvet, this is David Lynch’s enduring work of art; a summation of everything wild at heart and weird on top that ‘Jimmy Stewart from Mars’ has given to film. That it was salvaged from a failed TV pilot is even more remarkable, but then narrative coherence is of little interest to Lynch. As Dennis Hopper quoted Roy Orbison in Blue Velvet, “in dreams I walk with you” and Lynch is our guide through an oneiric phantasmagoria that comes as close as anyone ever has to conjuring up a true cinematic dreamscape. I can’t think of a film – notably the key, spine-chilling ‘Club Silencio’ scene, with Rebekah Del Rio’s Spanish-language version of Orbison’s ‘Crying’ – that’s enveloped my waking life more.

Posing as a film noir mystery, the subject – I believe – is Hollywood’s propensity to chew people, particularly women, up and spit them out, with Naomi Watts’ sunny starlet Betty mixing with Laura Elena Harring’s mysterious amnesiac; meanwhile, tyro film director Justin Theroux is being menaced by cryptic heavies and a malevolent, dumpster-dwelling bogeyman is causing people to drop dead. Studded with Lynch’s absurdist humour, it’s the second half, where the film folds in on itself and the nightmare really begins, that Lynch’s hothouse genius flourishes. The hypnotic, erotic foreboding, held together by Watts’ incandescent, shape-shifting performance, reaches its feverish crescendo – only to slip away, like the most fleeting of reveries. Thankfully, Mulholland Dr. is ours to keep, to decipher, to haunt forever. Sweet dreams.

Mulholland Dr. Trailer:

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Dir & Scr: Joss Whedon

Stars: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk

Hard to imagine two more diametrically-opposed films than sinister Mulholland Dr. and Joss Whedon’s amiable space Western, other than both prove the power of an obdurate auteur who can reshape his vision when TV cancels it. Refashioned from his messed-around Firefly series, Whedon served up the decade’s most enjoyable big screen sci-fi, brilliantly orientating newcomers (I hadn’t seen Firefly yet felt instantly up-to-speed), as well as serving a wry, self-reflexive commentary on his own show’s survival (“can’t stop the signal”) and springing some fatal (for the cast) plot twists. And why isn’t dashing Nathan Fillion yet Hollywood’s new Harrison Ford?

Serenity Trailer:


Dir: Michel Gondry  Scr: Charlie Kaufman

Stars: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst

Forgive the name-dropping but recently I was fortunate enough to visit Japan to interview master animator Hayao Miyazaki. The trip also included a chat with his long-time producer Toshio Suzuki, who recounted a holiday the two had taken to the Isle of Aran. Observing a beautiful moonlit landscape, Suzuki took a photo, much to Miyazaki’s annoyance, who told him angrily: “I’m trying to remember the scene; don’t disturb me!” He then added that a sheepish Miyazaki came back to him months later when trying to recall the scene for a drawing, saying “Didn’t you take a photo? Can I see it? I forgot parts…”

Memory is like that. A subjective guide to our pasts, the point where imagination and objective recall merge or even clash. Albert Camus’ famous epithet, that we are the sum of our choices, could easily be amended to read what we believe we are is the sum of our memories – a convenient get-out clause for those incidents we casually elide, embellish or flat out reassemble in our heads. It’s why I’ve always felt that Alzheimer’s is the cruellest of aging conditions, stealing one’s most intimate, precious treasures piece by piece. And it’s why Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman’s magnificent Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is, to me, the most dazzling, resonant, heartbreaking and wise film I’ve seen in the past ten years.

Kaufman, with his lineage of mind-bending modernist texts like Being John Malkovich and Adaptation (see this countdown’s No.17), usually takes the lion’s share of praise for the film’s ingenious narrative switches, rare for a ‘mere’ screenwriter. And while the brilliance of his conceit – disgruntled lovers can have memories of their exes surgically removed once the relationship has foundered – is unarguable, Gondry, with his defiantly lo-fi take on Kaufman’s sci-fi high-concept, playful, handmade visual trickery and spontaneous, fleet-footed touch, beautifully dovetails with the surreal material.

The results are not only enthralling (how does Gondry keep shuffling his streets, locations, characters?), they keep his actors – a never-better Carrey, an ebullient, excellent Winslet and crack supporting cast – upfront and central: their faces, their voices, their often desperate, foolhardy actions – you know, the things you remember. And so it’s apt that film, that definitive recording (embalming?) apparatus, is the medium to capture both the memories and their casually terrifying elimination, courtesy of Kaufman’s Lacuna, Inc.

A screwball tragedy for the new millennium, Eternal Sunshine reconfigures that most devalued of modern genres, the romantic comedy, where every new offering tries to come up with increasingly outrageous premises – She’s the wedding planner! He’s her stalker! One of them’s a ghost! – entirely misses the intimacy and investment required to make relationships work; and the honesty to examine why they go wrong. This beautifully bittersweet love letter to love itself understands that not only is it better to have lost in love than never to have loved at all, the recollections of the pain and joy of the whole damn thing are what ultimately sustain, even define us. Truly unforgettable.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Trailer:

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Dir & Scr: Johnathan Caouette

Stars: Johnathan Caouette, Renee Leblanc, Adolph Davis

An auto-biopic some twenty years in the making, Johnathan Caouette’s astounding chronicle Tarnation is an entire repository of filmed memories, from childhood Super 8 to the latest iMac-edited DV footage. Caouette, just 31 on the film’s release, doesn’t merely want to never forget his chequered upbringing and fragile relationship with mentally-ill mother Renee; he wants, no, needs to transform it into some kind of performance art – and by God, does he. Incessantly creative (answering machine messages, stills, Dolly Parton clips), savagely raw, it’s the vanguard and likely peak of noughties’ confessional DIY filmmaking; both Caouette’s evidence and means of survival.

Tarnation Trailer:


Films of the Decade – Part IV: No.20 – No.16

Posted in Features by le1gh on December 15, 2009

Part I can be found here.

Part II is twiddling its thumbs here.

And Part III is lurking about over here.

20) CODE UNKNOWN (2000)

Dir & Scr: Michael Haneke

Stars: Juliette Binoche, Thierry Neuvic, Luminita Gheorghiu

Given Michael Haneke’s deserved reputation as modern cinema’s stern professor, a withholding elder prone to doling out moral lessons and punishing the easily satisfied, presumably preferring Code Unknown to his later, designated masterpiece Hidden would be applauded in its perversity of judgment. Of course, in reality Haneke wouldn’t care less; either way, you the audience have to work like crazy to decipher his glacial sociological treatises. Anything less is a waste of time. His time, naturally, not yours.

Code Unknown is no less formally precise and unblinking, piercingly intelligent and utterly remorseless as Hidden. But for me, arguably, there are glimmers of hope, of laughter, of vibrant, spontaneous life here often excluded in Haneke’s minutely calibrated work and, thankfully, a less hectoring tone too. A multi-character (led by the wonderfully unadorned Binoche), multi-strand narrative that’s the polar opposite to the likes of Crash’s neat, tick-boxed, catch-all thesis, the subtitle “Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys” is about as upfront as Haneke ever gets. A series of extended sequences, often in smooth, unobtrusive lateral tracking shots, punctuated by violent cuts to black, it brilliantly exposes modern life’s disconnects, false assumptions and bitter ironies, never better illustrated than in its masterly opening shot. (see below).

Code Unknown Opening Scene:

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Dir & Scr: Fatih Akin

Stars: Baki Davrak, Patrycia Ziolkowska, Hanna Schygulla

Akin follows up his full throttle debut Head On with a more tempered, but equally enthralling look at the cultural politics of his own German-Turkish background. An interlinked, three-part, dual relationship story – the tragic, foretold deaths of a Turkish woman in Germany and German woman in Turkey – Akin uses his straightforward symmetry to constantly surprise and delve into a pair of fascinatingly unorthodox couplings and the impact felt on those around them. The original German title, “On the Other Side”, more clearly shows Akin’s sensitivity to how two different cultures switch, clash but ultimately, might reconcile through their common humanity.

The Edge of Heaven Trailer:

19) UP

Dir & Scr: Pete Docter  / Bob Peterson

Voices: Ed Asner, Jordan Nagai, Christopher Plummer

America’s greatest movie success story of this (any?) decade, Pixar Animation Studios seems to have it all: a challenging yet nurturing work environment whose “brain trust” of experts still defers to individual filmmakers; cutting-edge technology at the service of inventive, soulful stories; and that elusive ability to continually astound, engross and delight the proverbial kids of all ages.

Not that there aren’t certain formulas in play across Pixar’s output (buddy movies, frantic chase finales), but it’s their successes’ sheer nerve rather than complacency that amazes. Up’s premise – a flying house powered by helium balloons – screams multiplex bonanza. But would anyone else tether this high-concept to the tale of a grumpy old widower bound for Venezuela? Accompanied by a chubby Korean-American boy scout? Decisions like these separate Pixar from the pretenders (and justify the more crowd-pleasing talking dogs and airship pursuits); visually, too, not only is the digital animation ever more fluid, so is the storytelling. The ‘Carl & Ellie’ montage here combines Wall-E’s graceful, silent economy with the emotional wallop of Toy Story 2’s ‘Jessie’s song’ for a true heartbreaker. For anyone else, you’d think it must be downhill from here. For Pixar, you sense, the only way is Up.

Up Trailer:

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Dir: Sacha Gervasi

Stars: Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow, Robb Reiner, Slash

As in Up, here are more old fogeys still doggedly pursuing their dream, though these metalheads raise the roof with amps that go to 11 (and numerous other Spinal Tap-isms – what ya gonna do when your drummer’s called Robb Reiner?!) rather than balloons. Former Anvil roadie-turned-Spielberg screenwriter Sacha Gervasi’s affectionate documentary on his ageing rock idols impresses for how straight he plays things, allowing Lips and co’s own priceless unintentional comedy and puppyish sincerity to finally make it, entertain and, ultimately, genuinely move us. Ideally seen on a double bill with Tap and not embarrassed in such prestigious company.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil Trailer:


Dir & Scr: Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck

Stars: Ulrich Mühe, Martina Gedeck, Sebastian Koch

Some of the best German films this decade have confronted their country’s troubled past head on, from Hitler’s Downfall to Goodbye Lenin!’s just-reunified Berlin. In The Lives of Others, the Wall and Communism are still very much in place as writer-director Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck insinuates us into Stasi Officer Wiesler’s head(phones). A devoted implement of the state, Wiesler dispassionately eavesdrops on the GDR’s star playwright Georg Dreyman and his actress lover Christa-Maria Sieland to find incriminating evidence. Slowly, though, he’s captivated by the lives of these alluring, intriguing, disarmingly fragile others.

No mere simplistic morality play, HVD constructs a fiendishly intricate set of interlocking character studies and, alongside Coppola’s The Conversation, captures the definitive take on the illicit thrills and anguish of voyeurism. East Germany’s drab, neo-Orwellian bureaucracy is terrifying in its banality and mirroring its two male leads – both patriots, writers documenting their times, infatuated with the same tragic woman – adroitly shows how oppressive paranoia affects everyone it touches. Unashamedly endorsing art’s healing power and the basic act of ‘doing good’, the film personalises (and so dramatizes) the political through the superbly alert, internalized performance of the late great Ulrich Mühe’s Wiesler, one of modern cinema’s great anti-heroes.

The Lives of Others Clip: Wiesler’s Turning Point:

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Dir: Bernardo Bertolucci  Scr: Gilbert Adair

Stars: Michael Pitt, Eva Green, Louis Garrel

Paris, Spring 1968. Revolution’s in the air but for three giddy cinephile adolescents (French siblings and an American interloper) in Bernardo Bertolucci’s sensual, explicit celebration of cinema, sex and youth, the true cause is movies. [From my original BBC Collective review] “Aren’t the supposed sexual politics merely sex instead of actual political engagement? …the film’s point is how the threesome avoids direct confrontation with the real world by taking refuge in fantasy – until the revolution literally comes crashing through the window. Less a wake-up call to today’s apathetic youth, more a ravishing trip down memory lane, it’s dreamy stuff, nonetheless, and Bertolucci’s best in decades.”

The Dreamers Trailer:

17) A SERIOUS MAN (2009)

Dir & Scr: Joel & Ethan Coen

Stars: Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Fred Melamed

A prolific if variable decade from arguably today’s pre-eminent US filmmakers ends with their most personal – i.e. Jewish – and, for me, finest achievement since 1990’s Miller’s Crossing (and given interim brilliance like Hudsucker, Fargo, No Country etc, that’s some going). Featuring the late-60s Midwest suburbs of their youth, it’s another black comedy that mines outrageous mirth from the sort of cringe-making indignities that would sustain a dozen domestic dramas. Yet, as with the inner-ear / Jefferson Airplane shot near the beginning (you’ll know it when you see it), it feels that the Coens are really inside their characters’ pain this time and not just giggling down from on high. It’s serious laughter.

The image composition, editing, evocative use of sound and music are predictably immaculate, but what makes this film even more fascinatingly addictive is the use of Jewish mysticism as both question of genuine faith and Borscht Belt punchline. It’s a daring gambit but succeeds because of the refined absurdist humour and stellar deadpan performances from a cast of lesser-known stage veterans, chiefly Michael Stuhlbarg as their befuddled suburban Job. All-powerful and unknowable, the Coens are arcane and unyielding gods – but seriously, do we worship any other kind?

A Serious Man Clip: “I’ve Tried to be a Serious Man.”

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Dir: Spike Jonze  Scr: Charlie Kaufman

Stars: Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper

…or another desperately serious man trying to flourish in a cold world. After 1999’s insanely inspired Being John Malkovich, where else would Spike Jonze and screenwriting genius Charlie Kaufman go other than ponder Being Charlie Kaufman? With two great Nicolas Cage performances as tormented artist Charlie and (fictional) sweet-natured sell-out twin brother Donald navigating Hollywood’s straitjacket storytelling, it’s another bravura act of mischievous, self-reflexive, narrative knotting whose gear-changing third act somehow honours clichéd conventions whilst still subverting them. All this and note-perfect tragicomic turns from the sublime Streep and Chris Cooper, Adaptation only confirmed Kaufman (and Jonze) as true originals.

Adaptation Clip: The Beginning


Dir & Scr: Catherine Breillat

Stars: Anaïs Reboux, Roxane Mesquida, Arsinée Khanjian

Having endured 1999’s Romance, French provocatrice Catherine Breillat’s tediously explicit, near-pastiche of po-faced sexual theorising, her follow-up on the exploitation and youthfully deluded expectation of adolescent girls wasn’t exactly on the must-see list. But nothing could prepare for the icy, confrontational brilliance of À Ma Soeur! in which Breillat operates on teenage fantasy like a surgeon doing a heart transplant. Only Breillat takes hers out.

Two young siblings, chubby pre-teen Anaïs and fifteen-year-old nymph Elena, holiday with their parents. They bicker, taunt each other’s appearance, but they’re blood sisters and at night in their bedroom, Anaïs bears witness as a lothario Italian student tries to bed Elena. It’s a remarkable extended scene that shows up seedy male manipulation but has nothing on the film’s shocking climax (and dread-soaked approach), which gives previously stated desires a horrific twist. Breillat snakes the typically romanticized coming-of-age saga into something savage and primal; and though her tendentious body politics are not for everyone, the film’s corrosive ideas scar your reeling mind for days. One last thing: the film’s English-language title Fat Girl peddles the pseudo-rabble-rousing that Romance served up; yet its cheap label can’t disguise the potency of this penetrating, genuinely disturbing feminist masterwork.

À Ma Soeur! Trailer:

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Dir & Scr: Pawel Pawlikowski

Stars: Nathalie Press, Emily Blunt, Paddy Considine

Polish-born Pawlikowski’s last feature to date is a peculiarly timeless British coming-of-age fable that ambitiously aims at so much – class, sexuality, spirituality – and hits every target. Based on a Helen Cross novel, Pawlikowski and lenser Ryszard Lenczewski’s febrile images steep the Yorkshire Dales in a hazy glow that reflects, even triggers, the fevered, intense relationship between scrappy orphan Mona and privileged bohemian Tamsin. While viewers are seduced into this dangerous world of lyricism and lust (with tender yet erotic love scenes), Pawlikowski remains clear-eyed and tough on the deceptions we all cast, eliciting sensuous star-making performances from Press and Blunt.

My Summer of Love Clip: ‘Edith Piaf’