Category Archives: Movies & Documentaries

Back to God’s Country

A Technicolor frontier adventure set in the wilds of the Arctic, Back to God’s Country exists at the intersection of three of the most comfortingly dad-movie genres; the pre-revisionist Western, the wilderness survival story and the Jack London-patented faithful dog story.  Source author James Oliver

Farewell my Concubine

In the West, Chinese or Peking Opera is known more for graduates Yuen Biao, Jackie Chan, Corey Yuen and Sammo Hung than any cultural footprint despite dating back to the 18th century. This makes the BFI release of Chen Kaige’s epic Farewell my Concubine one

The Bad Sister

A minor film with a major claim to fame, Hobart Henley’s The Bad Sister was intended as a vehicle for Conrad Nagel and Sidney Fox, the latter of whom plays the disreputable sibling of the title.  Today its fame rests on two supporting cast members;

Pink String and Sealing Wax

Ealing Studios are regarded as the bastion of post-war Cinema, the home of the finest comedies Britain has ever produced, but what is often overlooked is their innate Gothicism. With the artifice of its sets and the embers of Victorian London architecture, there is a

Couple in a Hole

Tom Geens’s Couple in a Hole begins with a gorgeous, slow shot of a forest at the height of summer, then it delivers its first jolt before the film is two minutes old.  Geens’s second film after 2009’s Menteur, Couple in a Hole is his first

The Sound Barrier

Despite being a hit on its 1952 release, The Sound Barrier is now one of the least-seen of David Lean’s films.  A shame, as it represents an artist in the middle of a fascinating transition.  Released just five years before The Bridge on the River

Ken Russell: Great Composers

The music documentary is enjoying a boom period with the likes of 20,000 Days on Earth & Searching for Sugar Man receiving both critical and commercial acclaim, there’s also the channel defining content from the award winning BBC Four. Staying with the British Broadcasting Corporation,

Ken Russell: The Great Passions

How many BBC arts documentaries of the 1960s do you think begin with the exhumation of a mummified corpse, lit by flickering torches and soundtracked by booming horror-movie music? Not many, I’ll wager, but then there weren’t many directors walking the corridors of Broadcasting House

Sheba, Baby

On the face of it, we shouldn’t need to watch blaxploitation any more.  As soon as Will Smith and Denzel Washington became viable Hollywood action movie stars, its USP of showing black actors in empowered, heroic roles was co-opted.  This, though, ignores the pleasures of

Shooting Stars (1928)

It’s not often that I’m prescriptive about the way you choose to watch a film, but if you do get the BFI’s new dual format edition of Anthony Asquith and A.V. Bramble’s pioneering British silent Shooting Stars, watch the extras first. The main bonus feature