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Courtesy of: AP

Tenet is just around the corner (although the corner keeps getting further away), fuelling cineaste hopes that this year won’t be a total cinematic write-off. And yet, the hype just doesn’t seem to be there. Maybe it’s because we’re understandably cautious of returning to the cinema. But it’s prompted some to go through Christopher Nolan’s back catalogue and ask if there’s more to it than that.

Perhaps the simplest way to describe Nolan’s films is to call them puzzle boxes. The appeal of their story is to find out what the story is; he introduces high concepts and lets them unfold and explain themselves across the running time. For example, no actual dream espionage happens in dream espionage thriller Inception until the film’s third act. Similarly, central character Cobb has a secret (and key character motivation) that’s teased out until the very end. Nolan prefers clever exposition and world-building to character development. …


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Courtesy of: Warner Bros. Pictures

Once upon a time, so my head canon goes, a drunk philosophy fresher told Christopher Nolan that time is a construct and Nolan has never looked back. The majority of his films are characterised by their focus on temporality, drawing on themes of trauma and subjectivity in order to deconstruct linear notions of time. …


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Courtesy of: Sony Pictures Releasing International

We have always seen glimpses of Pedro Almodóvar in his films. Most notably in Law of Desire (1987) and Bad Education (2004), he has used stories of filmmakers in a self-reflective way to construct deeply fractured, challenging, and eclectic experiences. His most recent work Pain and Glory (2019), on the other hand — especially with its final twist that ensures the continuity of its film-within-a-film to its overarching narrative — is something far more inward-looking and self-contained.

His earlier movies narrated by screenwriter or director figures — Law of Desire, Bad Education, and Broken Embraces (2009) — are defined by what Andrew Chan describes as ‘an overflow of narrative’. They feature a freeing and postmodern attitude towards the film text, often blending the creative works of their protagonists with the films themselves. This allows the viewer the isolated pleasure of a typical linear storyline while also allowing for a space of digression and self-referentiality. …


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Courtesy of: United Artists

In a conversation between Fran Kubelik and C.C. Baxter, the two very broken people at the centre of Billy Wilder’s classic comedy drama The Apartment , Fran (Shirley MacClaine) sums up the dichotomy of the world: “Some people take,” she explains to Jack Lemmon’s Baxter, “and some people get took. And they know they’re getting took and there’s nothing they can do about it.”

Fran and Baxter are two such people. A lonely accountant at a bustling insurance firm, Baxter’s workplace predicament is uniquely challenging. He’s been press-ganged into allowing a number of his company’s senior managers to use his dingy apartment for their extramarital trysts. In exchange, a promotion for him could be on the horizon. It’s a sleazy system that Baxter nevertheless tolerates. …


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Courtesy of: Netflix

Four African American veterans return to Vietnam to hunt for gold and the lost remains of their fallen leader, Stormin’ Norman. From the beginning it is clear that this is no return to glory, but a story of unfinished business.

The film jumps through time creating a dichotomy between what the Bloods were fighting for and what they’ve been left with. A very affecting scene sees them listening to Viet Cong propaganda, sympathetic to the injustice towards Black GIs. Any sense of patriotism or American glory normally found in war films is conspicuously absent. …


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Courtesy of: Paramount Pictures

Has there ever been a film that so greatly influenced and changed the course of a single genre as Psycho ?

With one swish of a shower curtain and a chorus of shrieking violins, Alfred Hitchcock’s bold and bloody take on the horror genre sent shockwaves through the film industry, and its impact on horror cinema is felt just as strongly today. …


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Courtesy of: Magnolia Pictures

Towards the end of Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank (2014), Jon ( Domhnall Gleeson) glances at Frank Sidebottom’s band one last time before turning his back for good. They represented his feverish dream of belonging to something extraordinary, but the truth, which had been constantly knocking on his shoulder, could no longer be ignored: he has never — and will never — fit into this beautiful group of misfits. The unpronounceable The Soronprfbs will continue their quest without dwelling on the loss of yet another keyboard player. …


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Courtesy of: Planfilm

There is a common narrative surrounding Orson Welles that he was too ambitious for the studio system of his day; the final edits of his movies were rarely under his control after his first film, and his ability to secure budgets was notoriously insecure. Yet, amongst this chaos, the man behind Citizen Kane (1941) produced a range of innovative films that almost always nudged at the boundaries of cinematic convention. Indeed, his relentless sense of roguishness and subversion make him one of the most entertaining and approachable directors in the canon.

Unlike other auteurs of classic Hollywood such as his friend and collaborator John Huston, Welles saw cinema as a playground in which he could forge and investigate his own identity, and this makes some of his works surprisingly experimental and contemporary. Kane is of course the most recognisable, and for good reason (though his first film was almost an insanely ambitious adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness). In it, burgeoning filmmaking techniques and the grandeur of the studio system converge in what is still the pre-eminent debut film: a true symbol of the young director as artist and pioneer. …


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Courtesy of: Universal Pictures

It doesn’t take a psychologist to realise that now might not be the best time for everyone’s mental health. Global pandemics tend not to be the most calming of situations, and the recent state of lockdown that was enforced here in the UK and in many other countries hasn’t helped to soothe anyone’s thoughts.

As many have been quick to point out though, there are a variety of options to distract you right now — the main antidote being the huge number of streaming platforms and on demand film services that are available. You’ve probably seen a thousand articles in the last few weeks about the best films to get you through quarantine, the best heartwarming watches, the most wholesome rom-coms etc. …


The Assistant

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Courtesy of: Protagonist Pictures

It is still dark when Jane (Julia Garner) gets in a taxi outside her modest flat. She dozes when she can on the ride into New York and arrives at an unlit office. Before her colleagues arrive, the lights are switched on and printed schedules placed on desks. When asked about her weekend, she replies, ‘I was here.’

The overwhelming feeling evoked by The Assistant is outrage. There is a clear thematic connection between her unseen boss and Harvey Weinstein, and the film’s dramatic impetus arises from Jane’s dawning realisation of the abusive system she facilitates through the minute management of his schedule, wife, travels, and endless parade of hopeful actresses. Even without this relevance, however, the film is a brutal look at workplace exploitation. …

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