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New Release Reviews

New Release: Listen

Ana Rocha’s Listen (2020) begins quietly, with shots of clotheslines and tree branches swaying in the breeze: a rare moment of solace in an otherwise breathless family drama. Clocking in at under 80 minutes, the writer-director’s feature debut doesn’t waste any time immersing viewers in what must be one of the most gut-wrenching experiences a […]

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Feature

A family with a dinner table: Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s Still Walking

Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s Still Walking (Aruitemi aruitemo, 2008) starts with two women preparing a meal, the older woman giving advice to the younger one. This first long sequence sets the tone of the film and signals the filmmaker’s emphasis on everyday life, which is supported by the narrative and by other aesthetic means. Depicting twenty-four hours […]

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Feature

A family in crisis: Masahiro Kobayashi’s Lear on the Shore

A beach at the seaside is the main location in Masahiro Kobayashi’s Lear on the Shore (Umibe no Ria, 2017) and the key setting for a number of dramatic encounters. The former actor Chokitsu Kuwabatake (Tatsuya Nakadai), dressed in pyjamas and a long woollen coat and pulling a suitcase behind him, walks along the beach […]

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Feature

Frustrations of the Family Dynamic in Joanna Hogg’s Archipelago

Joanna Hogg’s second feature film follows in the footsteps of her first. Like Unrelated (2007), Archipelago (2010) is a brutally realist study of affluent people on holiday. However, instead of Italy, Hogg’s new fictional British family travels to the Isles of Scilly, returning to a much-beloved cottage for the final time before Edward (Tom Hiddleston) […]

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Double Bill Feature

Double Bill: Happiness & Life During Wartime

In Happiness (1998), the ever-smiling Trish (Cynthia Stevenson), in her neat kitchen, is strongly reminiscent of the female ideal as propagated in American films and commercials of the 1950s and 1960s. However, her affected demeanour und put-on optimism cannot hide the illusion behind the image of the idyllic home that is associated with the American […]

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Feature Thousand Words

Thousand Words: discover Odd Obsession, a Japanese tale of failure and desire

Odd Obsession is a film about ageing, manipulation and sexual games.

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Feature Four Frames

Four Frames: The Guest (Adam Wingard, 2014)

Adam Wingard uses close attention to sightlines and shot-reverse-shot editing to atomise and dislocate relations in a grief-stricken New Mexico family in their 2014 horror-thriller The Guest. The Petersons have lost their eldest son, Caleb, who has died in combat whilst fighting for the US army. The unexpected arrival of David (Dan Stevens), a charismatic […]

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Feature Four Frames

Four Frames: The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)

Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. As for family, well… Towards the end of Francis Ford Coppola’s tenebrous portrait of a family eating itself from the inside, an aghast Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) asks his adopted brother Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) why he wants to wipe everyone out when he’s already won, to […]

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Feature Thousand Words

Thousand Words: The Family in Film Noir

The family has always been a notable thematic absence from the shadowy, suspicious world of classical American film noir. To understand why this is the case is to understand the impact of the second world war upon Hollywood and the nation at large, but these are broader concerns than shall be addressed here. If film noir can be crystallised […]