Western

In her first film for more than ten years Valeska Grisebach (who, she says, has been busy bringing up a daughter, screenwriting and teaching) casts a compassionate eye on men and masculinities: specifically, a group of German construction workers in Bulgaria, and the men in the remote village which is meant to be benefitting from their hydro-electric project. I don’t usually find myself attracted to films that focus on men and their problems, but I really liked this one. Please click on image for more ...

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The Silent Child

This moving, compassionate Oscar-winning short film – written and directed by former Hollyoaks stars Rachel Shenton and Chris Overton, stars Maisie Sly (from Swindon, a local girl!) as four-year-old Libby, who is profoundly deaf (as is Maisie Sly herself), as she begins to communicate in British Sign Language with a social worker (played by writer Rachel Shenton) who has come to the family home to help prepare Libby for going to mainstream school. Libby’s parents however … (Please click on image to read more)

Isle of Dogs

Amazing Mr Anderson! His stop-motion futuristic story about dogs exiled and left to die on a huge rubbish dump off the coast of Japan celebrates loyalty, friendship, courage and general dogginess – all the qualities that since time immemorial have made dogs our very best friends. Please click on image to read more ...

Lady Bird

Although billed as the portrait of a mother-daughter relationship, I’d say this smart, funny, slightly weird (in a good way) film is more about a young woman coming of age than specifically about her relationship with her mother, although naturally that forms a part of the story. Please click on the image to read more ...

The Shape of Water

Oh I loved this wonderful absorbing love story about a mute cleaning woman and a creature - a river god, no less! - whom she rescues from captivity, torture and death. Please click on image for full review ...

Abu Adnan (Adnan’s Father)

Please look out for this award-winning short film about a Syrian father and son who have found refuge in Denmark . It is written and directed by my niece, Ismay's cousin, Sylvia Le Fanu! (I feel that merits an exclamation mark.) Please click on the image to read more ...

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Glory (Slava)

Oddly, the only two films that Ismay and I have been to see recently are both deeply tragic (or rather one is, and the other pretends to be), and yet are also comic (or rather one is genuinely if painfully comic, while the other has a few comic moments).  In one, the gripping but unsettling Bulgarian film Glory, the tragedy and comedy are integrally entwined. The other film is Three Billboards. Here is what we think of them (click on image for full reviews):

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Annette Bening is always a joy to watch (see my post on 20th Century Women) and in the scene here when she and Jamie Bell disco-dance together one afternoon, in her cluttered lodgings, she is really flying; Jamie Bell is pretty watchable too. Click on image for full review.

The Florida Project

It's not often you see a film that affirms and celebrates a tender, loving relationship between a mother and small daughter; Brooklynn Prince and Bria Vinaite are brilliant as, respectively, six-year-old Moonee and her pink-and-green haired young mum Halley, living together in a cheap motel, purple-painted The Magic Castle, outside the walls of Disneyworld in Florida.  Click on image for full review ...

Loving Vincent

Oil paintings shimmer with Van Goghian light and movement in a visually entrancing  re-telling of the Van Gogh story. Click on image for full review ...

I Am Not a Witch

In this beautiful, strange and compelling debut feature film by Rungano Nyoni (born in Zambia and raised in Wales), a small girl in rural Zambia, played with a luminous, enchanting grace by Maggie Mulubwa, stands accused of being a witch.  Click on image for full review ...

The Party

Kristin Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall, Patricia Clarkson, Bruno Ganz, Cherry Jones, Emily Mortimer and Cillian Murphy make up the talented ensemble cast in this short, sharp, up-to-the-minute, hilarious satire on the chattering classes written and directed by the wonderful Sally Potter. Click on image for full review ...

A Ghost Story

Rooney Mara stars as a young widow and Casey Affleck stars as her recently deceased husband who for most of the film is hidden beneath a large sheet in a ghost story that is at once ludicrous and weirdly haunting. Click on image for full review ...

The Big Sick

American/Pakistani stand-up comedian Kumail Nanjiani plays himself, and Zoe Kazan his girlfriend-soon-to-be-in-a-coma Emily Gordon, in this very funny but overlong romcom/ medical drama based on Nanjiani and Gordon's true story, as scripted by themselves.  Click on image for full review ...

The Beguiled

A starry cast appear to enjoy themselves hugely in this stagey Gothic tale of sex, mutilation and murder in the Deep South. Please click on image for full review ...

Kedi

You don’t have to be a cat-lover to enjoy this charming documentary on the street cats of Istanbul; you just have to be interested in people. Please click on image for full review ...

The Handmaiden

In The Handmaiden, South Korean director Park Chan-wook brilliantly transposes Sarah Waters' novel Fingersmith, a story of sex, money and triple-betrayal set in Victorian England, to Korea in the 1930s suffering under Japanese rule. Please click on image for full review ...

45 Years

Adapted from a short story by David Constantine, this slow and creepy drama, set in the bleak Norfolk countryside, stars Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as wife and husband Kate and Geoff, whose 45-year marriage is undermined by a secret from the distant past. Please click on image for full review ...

20th Century Women

Annette Benning plays Dorothea, the single mother of a 15-year-old boy, worried about how to bring him up to be a decent man, and looking to others for help, in this 1970s-set sweet and funny film about women, men and sexuality. Please click on image for full review ...

Moonlight

Moonlight and the sea play powerful parts in this tender story about growing up poor, black and gay in Miami in the 1990s; three actors – Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes – brilliantly portray the boy (known as Little), the teenager (Chiron) and the grown man (Black). Please click on image for full review ...

Hidden Figures

Taraji P Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae star as Katherine Goble (later Johnson), Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, three African-American women employed as 'computers' (mathematicians) at NASA in the early 1960s who proved themselves essential to the Space Race and the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, in this heart-warming and inspirational film. Please click on image for full review ...

Toni Erdmann

Sandra Huller as Ines, a smart but lonely thirty-something corporate strategist working in Romania, and Winfried, her one-time hippy now retired-teacher father, star in this weird but brilliant German tragi-comedy. Please click on image for full review ...

Personal Shopper

Kristen Stewart plays Maureen, working in Paris as personal shopper to supermodel Kyra, while trying to contact her recently dead twin brother, in this mish-mash of ghost story, thriller, and fashion shoot. Please click on image for full review ...