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Big Girls Don’t Cry

The Beguiled, dir. Sofia Coppola│With The Beguiled, Sofia Coppola chose a story well suited to her interest in female desire and the insensitivity of men. When a little girl finds Irish Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell) in dire straits in some luxurious South Virginia woods and takes him to her half-empty all-female seminary, the wounded… Read more »

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Just kidding

Redoubtable, dir. Michel Hazanavicius│That the great French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard hasn’t always been a very kind man isn’t news to anyone. His rebelliousness is in fact the very reason why he was such an important and controversial figure at a time when French –and European- cinema was in a state of limbo in… Read more »

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Words don’t come easy

Bright Sunshine In, dir. Claire Denis│When it was announced that Claire Denis’s next film was going to be a comedy, a mixture of excitement and uncertainty was felt among critics. The French director is mostly known for her sensual and often very dark cinema, and while humour does appear throughout her oeuvre, it isn’t really… Read more »

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Hunting the dream

Ismael’s Ghosts, dir. Arnaud Desplechin│ The ethereal quality of Arnaud Desplechin’s films makes it often quite difficult to write about them, and his 2017 Cannes Film Festival opener Ismael’s Ghosts isn’t an exception. Yet this elusiveness, together with a sense of often overwhelming ambition, make this particular film possibly the best picture we have of… Read more »

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Who is the victim

Elle, dir. Paul Verhoeven │While in the past Dutch-born director Paul Verhoeven pushed Hollywood boundaries with films such as Robocop, Starship Troupers or Basic Instinct, his first French-language movie Elle is by far his most troubling and uncomfortably funny piece of work. With just the right amount of perversion, violence, seduction, manipulation, and a drop… Read more »

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Love Poem

Paterson, dir. Jim Jarmusch│This year in Cannes, festival goers were lucky to see not one, but two films directed by American independent cinema darling Jim Jarmusch. While clearly a work of fiction, Paterson could be seen in many ways as a documentary on a par with Gimme Danger, the other film he presented, and which centres on Iggy Pop and his band the Stooges. Paterson too focuses on an artist,… Read more »

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If you can’t beat them, eat them

The Neon Demon, dir. Nicolas Winding Refn│We’ve all been subjected to the unimaginable question of would you rather give up food or sex– a no-win situation that strikes a similar chord of hesitancy to Sophie’s choice. However, we are rarely asked which we would rather be, a delectable dessert or a form of foreplay. Nicolas… Read more »

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Life is not a tragedy

My Life as a Courgette, dir. Claude Barras│ Céline Sciamma’s 2014 film Girlhood impressed with its depiction of a young girl’s coming-of-age in the Parisian banlieue. Refusing any sugar-coating of the social and more personal difficulties faced by its central character, Sciamma nonetheless demonstrated her belief in the possibility of a better life and the… Read more »

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A letter to the daughter

Julieta, dir. Pedro Almodovar│ Pedro Almodóvar has built his reputation on skilfully reappropriating the Sirkian melodrama to tell gripping & often borderline grotesque stories of women in modern day Spain. His 2011 Frankenstein-like incestuous love story The Skin I Live In used fantasy and horror to explore the intricacies of family relationships and the traumatised… Read more »