Definitive mid-period Almodóvar (post-avant-garde tyro, preestablishment icon), this typically hysterical family melodrama pitches Carmen Maura's downtrodden amphetamine-addicted housewife, her two teenage dope-dealing hustler sons, her grizzled mother-in-law and her Nazi-obsessed husband together in an anonymous Madrid apartment block. Deadpan camp at its best.
Every film buff knows Elia Kazan's On The Waterfront and East Of Eden, but his two greatest films are terribly overlooked. In the case of America, America (1963), it's probably because he didn't cast a star. In the case of Wild River (1960), it's almost inexplicable. Montgomery Clift is a government official trying to persuade an old woman she must leave her home before it's flooded. Complex, tender, rich and true, this is a masterpiece, lost and found.
Sam Fuller once claimed that the point of any opening sequence was to give the viewer an erection. Here we have Barbara Stanwyck in black, on a white stallion at the head of her 40 hired men. As lawman Barry Sullivan exclaims succinctly: "Whoa!" Shot in 11 days, in Cinemascope, this is Fuller firing on all cylinders, taking the '50s pulp western and squeezing more juice out of it than any of his contemporaries.
William Burroughs' novel was long considered to be unfilmable, a theory that David Cronenberg proved with this '91 adaptation. Riffing through the book, sampling scenes from the author's life, with a generous helping of sci-fi horror and psycho-sexual neurosis, Naked Lunch plunges Peter Weller and Judy Davis into a beatnik junkie netherworld. Flawed Kafka on ketamine and arguably Cronenberg's most ambitious work to date.
Gus Van Sant's Palme d'Or-winning take on the Columbine massacre makes for understandably difficult viewing. Van Sant deliberately shoots the movie flat and spare, looping the story, Rashômon-style, through numerous viewpoints. The Groundhog Day tedium of school life and the blank-eyed stares of the killers are chilling.
Directed at mercilessly cool, wickedly tense pace by René Clément, the original 1960 French adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr Ripley pisses from on high all over the Anthony Minghella remake. As Ripley, the ambiguous sociophobe planning to steal dissolute playboy Maurice Ronet's life in a blazing Mediterranean, Alain Delon has never looked so much like a saint made of ice. Delon versus Matt Damon? Where's the contest?
Dai Sijie's beguiling, semi-autobiographical movie is set during China's Cultural Revolution, when two reactionary city students are sent to the mountains to be re-educated in the ways of Chairman Mao. But their forbidden love for Western art, music and literature is soon infecting the locals, including the tailor's beautiful daughter. Lightweight, but gorgeous to look at.
A patchy Italian crime thriller, the only fresh 'angle'being that the drug dealer working for the Mafia is a woman (she hides the goods in shoe boxes). Roberta Torre's direction lacks vim, but Donatella Finocchiaro is vividly compelling as the titular anti-heroine—alternately nervy and swaggering, torn between love and duty, craving affection but ultimately hard as nails.
DVD EXTRAS: Stills, cast and crew biographies, trailer, BBC 4 and Edinburgh Festival promos.
Norwegian psychological thriller which starts slowly but soon has its hooks in you so deep you daren't move. With shades of Harry, He's Here To Help, it involves a couple rediscovering an old friend, but after lust rears its head, death follows close behind. Harrowingly acted by the three leads, unknowns who remind you how clichéd the big names are.