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David Hughes

David Hughes

David Hughes is a film critic and the author of several critically acclaimed film books, including ‘The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made’, ‘The Complete Kubrick’, ‘The Complete Lynch’ and ‘Tales from Development Hell’. He wrote the screenplay for the award-winning Netflix feature Where the Road Runs Out – the first film shot in Equatorial Guinea – and has made multiple making-of documentaries about popular films, from Alien to Gladiator.

Articles (15)

The best TV shows of 2024 (so far) you need to stream

The best TV shows of 2024 (so far) you need to stream

Last year we bid farewell to Succession, Barry and Top Boy, fell hard for Beef, Colin From Accounts and Blue Lights. The next 12 months should help us move on – the potential impact of 2023’s writers’ strike notwithstanding – as early hits like World War II epic Masters of the Air and Mr and Mrs Smith, Prime Video’s intoxicating mix of witty marital drama and zippy espionage caper, are already proving. Ahead are hotly-anticipated new runs of Bridgerton and Squid Game on Netflix, a third season of Industry, a sci-fi prequel in Dune: Prophecy, HBO’s barbed political satire The Regime, Park Chan-wook spy thriller The Sympathizer, and The Franchise, the latest from telly genius Armando Iannucci – among many other potentially binge-worthy offerings. But there’s only so many hours in the day and you can’t spend all of them on the sofa. Here’s our guide to the shows most worthy of your time.RECOMMENDED: 🔥 The best TV and streaming shows of 2023🎥 The best movies of 2024 (so far)📺 The 100 greatest ever TV shows you need to binge

The 100 best TV shows of all time you have to watch

The 100 best TV shows of all time you have to watch

Television used to be considered one of the lowest forms of entertainment. It was derided as ‘the idiot box’ and ‘the boob tube’. Edward R Murrow referred to it as ‘the opiate of the masses’, and the phrase ‘I don’t even own a TV’ was considered a major bragging right. And for a long time, it was hard to say that television’s poor reputation was undeserved.  A lot has changed. Television is now the dominant medium in basically all of entertainment, to the degree that the only thing separating movies and TV is the screen you’re watching on. Now, if you don’t own a television – or a laptop or a tablet or a phone – you’re basically left out of the cultural conversation completely. The shift in perception is widely credited to the arrival of The Sopranos, which completely reinvented the notion of what a TV show could do. But that doesn’t mean everything that came before is primordial slurry. While this list of the greatest TV shows ever is dominated by 21st century programs, there are many shows that deserve credit for laying the groundwork for this current golden age. Chiseling them down to a neat top 100 is difficult, so we elected to leave off talk shows, variety shows and sketch comedy, focusing on scripted, episodic dramas, comedies and miniseries.  So don’t touch that dial – these are the greatest TV shows of all-time. Recommended: 📺 The best TV and streaming shows of 2023 (so far)🔥The 100 greatest movies of all-time🎬The most bingeable series on Netflix

The best movies of 2024 (so far)

The best movies of 2024 (so far)

It’s still early days, but 2024 is already shaping up to be a gala year at the multiplex. Last year was a cracker – thanks to Oppenheimer, Barbie, Past Lives et al – but the next 12 months promise plenty, with Denis Villeneuve delivering a long-awaited Dune sequel, George Miller back at the bullet farm with Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, a resurrection of the Alien franchise, and a tonne of other big-screen fare to get excited about. So far, we’ve been spoiled rotten, with the achingly lovelorn All of Us Strangers, Yorgos Lanthimos’s riotous Poor Things, and Dev Patel’s eye-wateringly violent debut Monkey Man just a few of the good reasons to get to the cinema. So, the criterion for entry: some of these movies came out in the US at the back end of 2023 – Oscars qualification required it – but we’re basing this list on UK release dates to include the best worldwide releases from between January and December. We’ll be updating it with worthy new releases as we go, so keep this one bookmarked. RECOMMENDED: 📺 The best TV shows of 2024 (so far) you need to stream🎥 The 100 greatest movies ever made🔥 The best movies of 2023

The best horror movies and shows of 2024 (so far) for a truly scary watch

The best horror movies and shows of 2024 (so far) for a truly scary watch

Last year, a genre usually filled with shambling zombies and sentient mounds of carnivorous goo birthed leftfield successes like M3GAN and Skinamarink, low-budget horror hits that elbowed their way to viral status, even amid the giddy fluorescence of Barbie and prestige awardsiness of Oppenheimer.  By contrast, this year’s slate of scares probably won’t catch too many people sleeping. 2024 is loaded with genre prequels, sequels and spin-offs, from MaXXXine, the third instalment of Ti West’s cult-fave franchise, to the alien-invasion terror of A Quiet Place: Day One, to the extremely-long-awaited Beetlejuice 2. But given that horror is historically a genre of small expectations and big surprises, there’s bound to be something that pops up to frighten the bejeepers out of us when we least expect it. Here’s the best of what’s freaked us out so far.  🎃 The 100 best horror films ever made 😱 The scariest movies based on a true story 💀 The best horror movies of 2023

The 54 best movies set in Paris

The 54 best movies set in Paris

Almost since movies began, the camera has loved the City of Lights. No wonder: Paris is as picturesque a city that exists, a kind of urban dreamland where iconic landmarks are situated around every corner and romance practically radiates from the pavement. And as much as the movies have obsessed over the French capital, Paris has been obsessed with the movies. After all, it’s where the first-ever commercial film screening took place, at the Grand Café in 1895. From the earliest Lumière brothers productions to Mission: Impossible, the city has formed the backdrop for some of the most striking films ever made. Here are 54 of the absolute best. Recommended: 🇫🇷 The 100 best French movies of all-time, ranked💂‍♀️ The 32 best London movies🗽 The 101 best New York movies

The best movies of 2023

The best movies of 2023

Oh, we are so back. It took a few years, but 2023 felt like the year that Hollywood finally found its footing post-pandemic – which is ironic, considering Hollywood also shut down for large parts of the year. Before all the strikes hit, though, there were indications that the movie industry was coming back to life. There was the #Barbenheimer phenomenon, of course, which helped power the domestic box office to its strongest overall numbers since 2019. But in terms of pure moviemaking, the year was particularly strong. Martin Scorsese dropped another masterpiece, while Across the Spider-Verse made comic-book movies fresh again (at least until Madam Web, anyway). Past Lives made audiences swoon, while small-time charmers like Theater Camp, Scrapper and Rye Lane reasserted the vitality of indie filmmaking. And don’t forget the one about the dancing killer doll! Overall, it was a great year for movies – even the Oscars were enjoyable. But what movies were the greatest? Here are our picks. RECOMMENDED: 🫶 The best movies of 2024 (so far)📺 The best TV and streaming shows of 2023🎥 The 100 greatest movies ever made

9 tips for saving money at the movies

9 tips for saving money at the movies

A top seat at one of the West End’s flagship cinemas can now set you back an eye-watering, wallet-lightening £40. And that's before you've even picked up some popcorn. But don’t despair – while tix to the flix can be overwhelming costly, especially if you’re seeing the latest 3D blockbuster, there are plenty of ways to catch the latest movies without having to take out a loan. All it takes is a little bit of planning, some imagination and you’ll open yourself up to heaps of movie magic. So, without further ado, here are some handy hacks to help you see movies for less. Recommended: The latest films in cinemas now 1. Go early in the week Swerve the weekend rush and head to the cinema in the first half of the week. With the exception of bank holidays, Monday seats at Crouch End’s charming ArtHouse, the lovely Lexi Cinema, Stoke Newington’s ace Rio and Shoreditch’s Rich Mix cost £7, and just £6 at the Barbican. And local fave the Walthamstow Empire has £4.25 seats on Tuesdays. Oh, and sign up to MASSIVE Cinema who regularly offer £3 tickets on Mondays with a MASSIVE Pass. 2. Sign up for a sneak preview Studios love to get an early reaction to their upcoming releases with special preview screenings. If you fancy seeing things first and for free – annoying your friends in the process – sign up with ShowFilmFirst or agencies like Stretch and elevenfiftyfive. Tickets are free, though you may be asked to share your opinion after the movie. Yep, everyone’s a critic.  Peckhamplex. Pict

The hair-raising stories behind the biggest explosions in movies

The hair-raising stories behind the biggest explosions in movies

CGI-allergic Christopher Nolan may have been unable to detonate an atomic bomb for his upcoming biopic of Robert Oppenheimer – at least, as far as we know. But even though he blew up a real Boeing 747 for Tenet and a hospital in The Dark Knight, those set-pieces wouldn’t even make our ranking of the movies’ all-time biggest explosions. We break down with a little help from the demolition men behind them. RECOMMENDED:The 18 greatest stunts in cinema (as picked by the greatest stunt people)The 101 best action films ever made

Mamoru Hosoda interview: ‘I’m fed up with the internet being shown as this dystopian place’

Mamoru Hosoda interview: ‘I’m fed up with the internet being shown as this dystopian place’

In the two decades since he was let go as director of Studio Ghibli’s Howl’s Moving Castle – a department all the tougher to take given his fondness Hayao Miyazaki’s films – Mamoru Hosoda has emerged as the natural successor to his childhood hero, earning an Oscar nomination for 2018’s Mirai and an unprecedented 14-minute standing ovation when his latest, Belle, debuted in Cannes. It’s a breathtaking film, combining traditional cel and computer animation to tell the story of Suzu, an ordinary 17-year-old student whose online avatar becomes a global singing sensation in an online world called ‘U’. It isn’t the first time Hosoda has embraced the digital world in his work; his first film was 1999’s Digimon, a kind of digital Pokémon story. Miyazaki’s influence was evident in more recent films, including The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006) and 2012’s Wolf Children, but by the time the beguiling Mirai received its Oscar nomination in 2018, Hosoda had stepped out of his hero’s shadow and was drawing worldwide recognition as an animator and an artist.  What was more satisfying, the Oscar nomination for Mirai or the 14-minute standing ovation for Belle at Cannes? ‘I was concerned for people’s hands! Fourteen minutes is a long time to be clapping. Obviously, I was really happy about that because it shows what the audience think of the film, and maybe the prize-winning films at the festival only got a four-minute ovation. But then again, who doesn’t want to be nominated for an Oscar

Lord Buckethead: my part in his downfall

Lord Buckethead: my part in his downfall

Anyone with even a passing interest in British politics will know that it has always been a strange beast – especially recently. But even on a stage so routinely peopled by windbags, chancers and the kind of English eccentrics who willingly defer to ‘nanny’ in all key decisions, the electoral presence of a figure dressed in Darth Vader-like garb is going to cut a swathe on the hustings. So it was on election night 2019 when Lord Buckethead, the villain in a low-budget sci-fi from, stood against Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the west London constituency of Uxbridge. And beneath the mask? Well… me. Photograph: Earl Owensby StudiosGremloids’ official poster How did a film journalist come to run for office as Lord Buckethead? The story starts with a poundshop Star Wars spoof called Gremloids (aka ‘Hyperspace’), directed by American filmmaker Todd Durham and released in 1984. I came across it eight years later while writing press releases for cult VHS distributor VIPCO. In a typically madcap PR stunt, VIPCO boss Mike Lee dressed up as the film’s villain, Lord Buckethead, painted the film’s title on his helmet, and ran against the then-Prime Minister John Major in the general election as candidate for the hastily-formed ‘Gremloids Party’. (Nothing in the electoral guidelines says you can’t use your candidacy as a marketing tool. In fact, the government pays for everyone in your constituency to receive a leaflet about your candidacy, and for £500 a pretty cheap way to advertise

The 50 coolest filmmakers in the world right now

The 50 coolest filmmakers in the world right now

What makes a filmmaker cool? In the heyday of the studio system it might have been about creative autonomy, an office on the lot and the studio barman knowing how to mix your Martini. In the heady, revolutionary days of the ’60s and ’70s, a devil-may-care attitude, radical new stories to tell, and ideally a beard of some description might have marked you out as the hipster’s auteur of choice. Times have changed, though. The moviemaking world has fewer boundaries, more entry points and finally, slowly but surely, more hunger to share stories by women and people of colour.  There’s a long way to go but we wanted to celebrate a time of gradual change by singling out the filmmakers who are genuinely moving the dial. The ones swinging for the fences in their choice of material and the way they’re bringing it to the screen. They’re not all new names – you’ll find some old stalwarts on here – but they all have in common a restless urge to do something different, exciting, bold. They come from across the planet and reflect all genres, and every kind of movie and moviemaking style. To take it a step further, we’ve asked a few of them – Rian Johnson, Barry Jenkins and Lynne Ramsay, among others – to share what makes them tick as movie lovers: the scenes that make them laugh hardest, the cinemas they stan for, the cities that inspire them, and the movies that have left them cowering in the back row. Even the posters that they had up on their bedroom walls growing up. Turns out that a lo

Classics Corner: ‘Performance’

Classics Corner: ‘Performance’

If any film defines London at the end of the 1960s, it has to be ‘Performance’. Shot 50 years ago, it was reluctantly released two years later by a studio furious at what its maverick filmmakers had delivered. Warner Bros. wanted ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ with Mick Jagger; what they got was a twisted, hallucinogenic, drug- and sex-fuelled fantasy with a cut-up narrative in which a gangster on the run (James Fox) and a jaded rock star (Jagger) spiral into a surreal mix of free love, fluid identity, madness and violence. Co-directors Donald Cammell and the great Nicolas Roeg, who died last month, wanted to make a film about the heady times they were living in. ‘Into that mix went the political, social and psychological mood sweeping across the world,’ explains producer Sandy Lieberson, ‘and in particular for us in London.’ Fifty years on, the Notting Hill slum where it was filmed now has mansions worth millions, but ‘Performance’ retains its power to shock. Its clothes, music and attitudes are a pure distillation of the spirit of ’68 – the year of the Paris riots, Vietnam War protests, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. Seismic changes were also brought about by LSD, the Pill and the (partial) decriminalisation of homosexuality – but thanks to its experimental shooting, sound and editing styles it still feels revolutionary, and as hard to pin down as ever. That hasn’t stopped author Jay Glennie and producer Lieberson – who, before Kubrick came abo

Listings and reviews (40)

If Only I Could Hibernate

If Only I Could Hibernate

5 out of 5 stars

The number of films originating from Mongolia makes every​ single one feel special, as much for their glimpses of life in the East Asian republic as any story they might tell. A large subset is concerned with the nation’s most famous export, Genghis Khan. If Only I Could Hibernate follows teenager Ulzii (Battsooj Uurtsaikh), his widowed, alcholic mother (Ganchimeg Sandagdorj) and his three younger siblings as they scratch out a living in their yurt, incongruously located in the industrialised and rapidly modernising capital, Ulaanbaatar. Ulzii has a precocious talent for physics, nurtured by his kindly teacher (Batzorig Sukhbaatar). It’s a gift that might lead to a full scholarship to a good school – and a ticket out of poverty. But his reality is harsher than the Mongolian winter, where temperatures dip as low as minus 30. Instead of studying, his time is taken up with odd jobs, selling his shoes to pay for coal, collecting cardboard to feed the fire and reluctantly calling on the kindness of neighbours to help the family through. Ulzii’s pride – he is horrified when he discovers his sister selling homemade bracelets at the market – is matched only by a determination to pull his family out of poverty without following his friends into a life of crime. Bleak yet hopeful, this an astonishingly assured debut It only takes one filmmaker to put a country on the movie map, and first-timer Zoljargal Purevdash has real talent. Her 2020 short Stairs became a festival favourite, and i

Memory

Memory

4 out of 5 stars

It’s not exactly a ‘meet-cute’. Sylvia (Jessica Chastain) is a social worker and recovering alcoholic, 13 years sober. Taking a rare break from juggling work, over-protectively raising her teenage daughter and AA meetings to attend a high-school reunion, she is understandably creeped out when a man (Peter Sarsgaard) not only follows her home, but camps outside her New York apartment, all night, in the pouring rain. His name is Saul. As his friend Isaac (Josh Charles) explains, he’s suffering from a form of dementia that means he can remember the distant past, but has trouble making new memories. Sylvia, who remembers the past all too well, stuns Saul with a terrible accusation: that he and his friends, five years her senior, raped her at school when she was aged just 12. But is she right? Or is her memory playing tricks on her, of a different but no less destructive kind? And if Saul is innocent, as seems to be the case, can these two broken people find solace in each other’s company? With his previous films, most recently Sundown (2021), Mexican writer-director Michel Franco displayed a talent for deceptively low-key, incisively observed stories about everyday people, mostly functioning dysfunctionals, whose lives are upended by sudden, unexpected events. It’s a testament to his skill as a storyteller that Memory survives a calamitously mishandled plot point to slowly reveal itself to be his best work since 2012’s After Lucia, the first of three of his films to win awards in

Baghead

Baghead

4 out of 5 stars

What do cinema audiences want from a horror film? If recent box office is anything to go by, they want to be frightened without cheap ‘jump scare’ tactics. A tantalising and ideally fresh premise, optionally couched in a set of rules it doesn’t break. Psychological terror over the gory excesses of noughties ‘torture porn’. Atmospheric visuals, eerie soundscapes and a cast that takes the premise, however fantastical, absolutely seriously. Above all, they want to not have their intelligence insulted by having the on-screen avatars for their catharsis do, you know, dumb shit. If all that’s true, Baghead may just bag itself a franchise. Screenwriters Christina Pamies and Bryce McGuire (Night Swim) do a commendable job of expanding Alberto Corredor’s award-winning 2017 short, which asked the question ‘What would you give to have two more minutes with a dead loved one?’ For in the basement of a derelict German pub, inherited by cash-strapped twentysomething Iris (The Witcher’s Freya Allan) on the death of her estranged father (Peter Mullan), dwells a bag-headed creature with the power to transform into a dead loved one for a two-minute chat. But like the demonic spirits in Talk to Me, blow the time limit and there’ll be hell to pay.  Against the advice of bestie Katie (Bridgerton’s Ruby Barker) – and dodging the question of whether or not a tortured supernatural creature should be exploited for cash – Iris grants a grieving widower an audience with the creature. Of course, it all g

A Forgotten Man

A Forgotten Man

3 out of 5 stars

Hitler is dead. Germany has surrendered. But while the war in Europe may be over, for Heinrich Zwygart (Michael Neuenschwander), the Swiss ambassador to Berlin since 1937, peacetime presents a new set of challenges. Switzerland’s famously declared neutrality will not, he knows, hold up to post-war scrutiny; his countrymen made fortunes backing the Nazi war effort, and turned away refugees with Jewish in their passports. ‘Do you know what they say in Berlin?’ he asks, as he contemplates his compromised past and uncertain future. ‘Six days a week, the Swiss work for Hitler, and on the seventh, they pray for Allied victory.’ Either way, he notes wryly, Switzerland was determined to end the war on the winning side. Zwygart is particularly haunted by the real-life fate of Maurice Bavaud, the Swiss student who was executed for attempting to kill Hitler in 1938, and on whose behalf the ambassador, acting on orders from his government, refused to use his diplomatic powers to intervene. Zwygart burned the evidence of this shameful episode before leaving Berlin, but his future son-in-law (Yann Philipona) is digging into the story, and other examples of Swiss collaboration with the Nazis, drawing Zwygart’s family into the mess. Meanwhile, his elderly father, a former soldier, has swallowed the party line that it was the Swiss Army’s deterrent value, not bank loans and arms deals, that kept Switzerland safe. Inspired by Thomas Hürlimann’s 1991 play ‘Der Gesandte’ (‘The Envoy’), itself dr

Smoking Causes Coughing

Smoking Causes Coughing

4 out of 5 stars

Best known for a film about a sentient, homicidal tyre (Rubber) and a talking fringed jacket (Deerskin), French writer-director Quentin Dupieux has been busy ploughing a filmographical furrow as idiosyncratic and instantly recognisable as that of, say, Wes Anderson. Tune into his uniquely surreal frequency – wackadoodle ideas delivered with utterly deadpan sincerity – and there is much to enjoy. Those who fail to may find it insufferable. His latest is a kind of horror anthology, which directly references Tales from the Crypt, comprising three tales (although one of them is so short, it’s really more like two tales). The first is about two couples who rent a vacation home, where one of the women (Anaïs Demoustier) finds a 1930s ‘thinking helmet’, enabling a rare sense of peace that leads to a reappraisal of her marriage and her friends – with horrific consequences. Is it a pointed parable about the effects of disengaging from our hectic lives just long enough to re-evaluate them? Or just classic Dupieux daftness? Another is about a young man unfazed by the malfunctioning machine which has ground him to bits. Is it a satirical take on young people’s indifference to the crushing gears of oppression they face? Or simply, you know, Dupieux being Dupieux? Most bizarre of all is the framing device, for which adjectives like ‘zany’, ‘eccentric’ and ‘whimsical’ fall far short. Essentially, the stories are told at a lakeside team-building retreat for ‘Tobacco Force’. Five costumed sup

Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis)

Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis)

4 out of 5 stars

If record sleeves are the poor man’s art collection, as Noel Gallagher is fond of saying, the work of Hipgnosis is like MoMA, the Guggenheim and the Tate Modern rolled into one.  The two-man art collective – Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell and the late Storm Thorgerson – was behind many of the most famous album covers of the 1970s, from Pink Floyd’s prismatic ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ – arguably the single most iconic album cover of all time – to Led Zeppelin’s naked-moppets-on-the-Giant’s-Causeway ‘Houses of the Holy’, plus classic images for other British pop and rock legend like AC/DC, Black Sabbath, 10cc, Peter Gabriel and Wings. There’s a great deal of overlap with Roddy Bogawa’s 2011 documentary Taken by Storm: The Art of Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis, made while Thorgerson was still alive, and – as the title suggests – heroing his contribution to the partnership. (Humility was not Thorgerson’s strong point; his friendship with Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters ended because Thorgerson claimed credit for Waters’ pig-flying-over-Battersea-Power-Station idea.) Yet it’s hard to imagine the Hipgnosis story being told by a more qualified admirer than photographer-turned-filmmaker Anton Corbijn (Control), whose monochromatic photography was key to establishing the image of 1980s music acts such as U2, The Smiths and Depeche Mode. Underpinned by a new interview with Powell, Corbijn traces Hipgnosis back to their first collaboration, the psychedelic sleeve for Pink Floyd’s second album, 1968’s ‘

Reality

Reality

5 out of 5 stars

If someone transcribed a conversation you had with your plumber about a leak in one of your pipes, and Tina Satter made a film based on that conversation, chances are the results would be so gripping you’d have to check your seat for a damp patch when you left the cinema.   Satter is the award-winning playwright and theatre director who staged a play called ‘Is This a Room?’ in 2020. It was a word-for-word recreation of the June 2017 interrogation of US whistleblower Reality Winner, who received the longest prison sentence ever imposed for leaking government secrets – about potential Russian interference in the 2016 election – to the media. With no formal film training, Satter has crafted a claustrophobic thriller packed with such nail-biting tension there should be an emergency manicurist waiting outside each cinema. Sydney Sweeney, Emmy-nominated for The White Lotus and Euphoria, is riveting as the eponymous 25-year-old NSA translator, who returns from a yoga session to find FBI agents waiting at her home. Two interrogators (Josh Hamilton and Marchánt Davis) question Winner in an empty spare room (hence the stage play’s title), determined to expose her as the government operative who found something on the NSA’s secure intranet and mailed it to independent media outlet The Intercept. Did she do it? And if so, why? It’s so nail-biting, there should be an emergency manicurist waiting outside every cinema Knowing the outcome does little to dissipate the relentlessly ratcheted

The Five Devils

The Five Devils

4 out of 5 stars

With all the sequels, ‘requels’, remakes and ‘pre-makes’ around, you’d be forgiven for thinking Hollywood is running out of ideas. European filmmakers, however, seem to be bursting with them. Whatever else you can say about a film in which a ten-year-old girl, gifted with the ability to recreate the exact scent of people in her life, discovers that she can time travel by sniffing the jar containing the olfactory essence of her father’s sister, ‘How many times have we heard that story?’ is not one of them. The girl in question is Vicky (newcomer Sally Dramé), whose mother Joanne (Adèle Exarchopoulos) is suffocating in a souring marriage with Senegalese fireman Jimmy (Moustapha Mbengue). The situation is further strained by the arrival of Jimmy’s sister Julia (Swala Emati) after some unspecified scandal, possibly involving a psychotic break, a lesbian romance, or both. Do their secrets and lies have something to do with their former classmate Nadine (Benedetta’s Daphné Patakia), whose face and upper body bear the unmistakable scars of a fire? Vicky intends to find out – and thanks to her scent-induced superpower, she is able to venture back in time (perhaps only within her own lifetime, like Quantum Leap’s Sam Beckett) to discover the secrets of her parents’ past, as though the video camera in Aftersun was a literal time-travel device, rather than a figurative one. Exarchopoulos’s performance is so sophisticated, the rest of the cast struggles to keep up The Five Devils is the

How to Blow Up a Pipeline

How to Blow Up a Pipeline

4 out of 5 stars

This is not the film anyone who has read the book on which How to Blow Up a Pipeline is based – and everyone should, it’s dynamite – will be expecting, no more than Swedish writer Andreas Malm’s provocatively-titled eco-manifesto was a how-to handbook for building bombs. The book was inspired by the author’s own history of activism (letting down the tyres of polluting SUVs in Malmo) and fascinated by Lanchester’s Paradox: if climate change is such an existential threat, why is destruction of property anathema to activists? It cited the examples of the Suffragettes, American Civil Rights, the Anti-Apartheid movement, and even Indian independence to deflate the fallacy that historic changes in social justice were accomplished by non-violent means alone. Destruction of property – the fossil fuel industry’s critical infrastructure – was not only an option in the war against climate change, Malm argued, but the only option. Incremental change would damn the world to catastrophe. It seems tailor-made for a documentary, but director Daniel Goldhaber boldly channels the book’s themes into a kind of robbery-less heist thriller with the highest imaginable stakes – just as his outstanding debut, 2018’s Cam, used the horror genre to explore wider issues, such as the primacy of online identities over our authentic selves. The bomb-setting scenes are as nail-biting as cinema’s best bomb disposals In How to Blow Up a Pipeline, a diverse young cast, including American Honey star Sasha Lane,

Lynch/Oz

Lynch/Oz

4 out of 5 stars

‘There’s not a day goes by that I don’t think about The Wizard of Oz,’ filmmaker David Lynch said in 2007. Given the volume of references to the film (rather than its literary source) in his body of work, from Blue Velvet’s troubled Dorothy to Glenda the Good Witch’s appearance in Wild at Heart, it isn’t surprising. Now, film essayist Alexandre O Philippe, whose documentaries include 78/52 (about Hitchcock’s Psycho), Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist and Memory: The Origins of Alien, has invited six filmmakers and one film critic to contribute film essays exploring the influence of the 1939 American classic on Lynch’s work. Justin Benson (The Endless) argues, with tongue not entirely planted in cheek, that every film owes a debt to The Wizard of Oz – amusingly presenting Apocalypse Now as Exhibit A – before narrowing focus to Lynch’s oeuvre, whereupon Philippe wittily juxtaposes scenes from Wild at Heart with shots of Dorothy looking shocked. David Lowery (The Green Knight) makes a case for Lynch as a populist surrealist before discussing the sinister stories behind the making of The Wizard of Oz, and how the film represented (like Blue Velvet) the dark truth about the American dream, with the Emerald City as fabled ‘shining city on a hill’. It’s unmissable for fans of David Lynch and/or Wizard of Oz aficionados Karyn Kusama (Destroyer) traces Lynch’s obsession with curtains and wind back to The Wizard of Oz, and argues convincingly that Mulholland Drive is a k

Last Flight Home

Last Flight Home

3 out of 5 stars

Writer-director Ondi Timoner made 2018’s brilliant Mapplethorpe, about the controversial photographer, and the devastating Coming Clean about the opioid crisis. Now, she turns the camera on herself, her family, and primarily her father, Eli, as he determines to end his life by taking advantage of California’s newly-minted End of Life Option Act, which legalises medically-induced suicide if certain criteria are respected. Fifty years ago, Eli was America’s answer to Freddie Laker, founding low-cost airline Air Florida (motto: ‘fly a little kindness’), whose routes reached as far as Great Britain during its heyday. Then, at the age of 53, Eli’s neck was cracked by a masseur, leaving him paralysed, just as the airline was collapsing into bankruptcy. Forty years later, he tells his family – including his wife of 50-plus years – that he’s tired of living and wants to end his life. Employing an unvarnished verité style, Ondi captures the final two weeks of her father’s life, recounting his triumphs, failures and regret. Friends, family and Rabbi (his daughter Rachel) convene at his bedside, in person or via Zoom, to bid their farewells and, in the case of his grandson, ask for life advice. Eli’s reply – ‘Respect the people you don’t know and love the people you do know’– is typical of the warmth and kindness he projects throughout. It leaves the impression of a eulogy rather than a clear-eyed documentary Therein, however, lies the film’s main problem. Understandably, Ondi comes to

Utama

Utama

4 out of 5 stars

The impact of climate change on those it hits first, and hardest, is gently yet starkly illustrated in the story of Virginio and his wife Sisa, played by real-life Quechua couple Calcina and Quispe. The pair are non-professional actors whom first-time director Alejandro Loayza Grisi discovered while scouting for locations in the Bolivian highlands, some 12,000 feet above sea level. There, Virginio occupies himself with the lonely job of shepherding llamas across the remote altiplano. Far from the political upheavals, coups d’états and the US-backed interventionism that have blighted the landlocked South American country for decades, the epically widescreen film opens with a shot of a vast, arid landscape that could be something out of Dune, if not for the occasional shock of hot pink from the llamas’ identifying ear tags. It’s best enjoyed on a screen so big you’ll move your head reading the subtitles. Here, we meet Virginio and Sisa, a year into a debilitating drought which threatens to rob them not only of their livelihood, but of their very existence. Many of the locals have already left the parched, cracked landscape, where the wells have run dry and the river is little more than a memory, to make a new life in the city. Virginio, however, is determined to stay, despite the pleas of his grandson Clever (Santos Choque), whose arrival, smartphone in hand, reminds us that this is the present day. ‘If we leave, our land will be left alone in silence,’ someone says as the vill

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Why ‘I Could Never Go Vegan’ wants to change the way we all eat

Why ‘I Could Never Go Vegan’ wants to change the way we all eat

There are plenty of films that act as polemics for the vegan-curious – and if you’ve watched one, you’re probably already on the path. None, however, have hit upon the ingenious format of UK filmmaker Thomas Pickering’s new doc I Could Never Go Vegan. One by one, the film addresses the excuses even the most environmentally-conscious and animal-loving omnivores make for resisting the lure of the plant-based lifestyle.  Backed by exec-producer and committed vegan Alicia Silverstone, this persuasive doc busts meat-eating myths and challenges the arguments against a plant-based lifestyle. Here’s five things we learned from the film. 1. You need to eat more fibre – a lot more In fact, vegans have a higher intake of nutrients like vitamins and fibre than omnivores and carnivores. Given that only one in ten people in the UK get enough fibre – something only found in plant-based food – a plant diet is optimal for bowel health, as the doc puts it, ‘just having a good poo’. Photograph: DARTMOUTH FILMS 2. You don’t need meat to get built Although people often claim that plant-based diets don’t give humans enough protein, some of the largest mammals on Earth – elephants, rhinos, great apes, etc. – are veggies. We actually don’t need that much protein – about one gram per kilogram of bodyweight per day – and every single plant food contains protein. 3. You – personally – can save a 100 animals this year You don’t have to care about animals to go vegan, but if you do, you’ll be saving th

‘Fight Club’ is 20 today – but does it still pack a heavyweight punch?

‘Fight Club’ is 20 today – but does it still pack a heavyweight punch?

Twenty years ago today, David Fincher’s ‘Fight Club’ landed on an unsuspecting America like a Sugar Ray uppercut. Since then, its status as a modern masterpiece is all but unchallenged. But, asks film writer David Hughes, is its assault on society’s smug complacency still as potent as it once was? ‘The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club’ Well, we don’t care much for rules. With David Fincher’s maverick masterpiece turning 20 today, we’re here to talk about ‘Fight Club’. It was released at the tail end of 1999, arguably the best year for film – at least, since 1939 – with ‘The Matrix’, ‘The Sixth Sense’, ‘The Blair Witch Project’, ‘American Beauty’, ‘Being John Malkovich’ and ‘Magnolia’ among the game-changers. ‘This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time’ ‘Fight Club’ was one of the last films of the twentieth century, but felt like the first film of the twenty-first – a radical, subversive, controversial life lesson in which Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) and his pal (Ed Norton) start a bare-knuckle boxing club in a bid to reclaim their manhood from a milquetoast life of Ikea furniture, lattes and self-improvement. Their idea catches on, and before you can say ‘I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise’, fight clubs start springing up all over America, spearheading a kind of revolution designed to shake the masses from their designer-label delirium (or ‘buying shit you don’t need to impress people you don’t like’, as Jim Uhls’s screenplay succinct