World Cinema

Capsule Movie Review: What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

What We Do in the Shadows Vampire Mockumentary | 85 Minutes | 2014 | New Zealand * Vampires on film are best taken seriously. As archetypes, strange and sad figures who permeate given spaces while proving difficult to grasp, they model for us fear, loneliness, and alienation, and are uniquely suited to expressive visual contrasts of light and dark. The great vampire films, Nosferatu (1922),…

Capsule Movie Review: Rams (2015)

Rams (Hrútar) Tragicomedy| 92 Minutes | 2015 | Iceland * * * * * Ageing, unmarried, and unkempt, brothers Gummi (Sigurður Sigurjónsson) and Kiddi (Theodór Júlíusson) work side by side as sheep farmers in a cold and desolate valley in Iceland’s northeast. Each the master of their own flock, they have not spoken for forty years owing to a dispute over their father’s…

February Film: Under the Red Robe Analysis

A dowdy swashbuckler even at the time of its release in 1937, Under the Red Robe remains a curiosity today as the final film by Victor Sjöström, the father of Swedish cinema. Born in Silbodal in western Sweden, an infant Sjöström moved with his parents to Brooklyn, returning to Sweden at the age of seven and spending the remainder of…

February Film: Under the Red Robe (1937)

  Under the Red Robe 81 minutes | 8 November 1937 | United Kingdom/United States ‘The massacre of Saint Bartholemew in 1572 had swilled the gutters of Paris with Huguenot blood. 50 years later, diehards in the South were still a thorn in the side of Cardinal Richelieu. It was a period of plot and counter-plot, of reckless gallantry and ruthless…

Capsule Movie Review: Virgin Mountain (2015)

Virgin Mountain (Fúsi) Dramatic Comedy | 93 Minutes | 2015 | Iceland * * * * Fúsi (Gunnar Jónsson) is forty-three years old and a virgin, still living at home with his mother. He spends his days working as a baggage handler at Keflavik airport, his evenings wargaming with his friend Mörður (Sigurjón Kjartansson), as together they painstakingly recreate the Battle of…

Capsule Movie Review: The Assassin (2015)

The Assassin (刺客聶隱娘) Martial Arts | 105 Minutes | 2015 | Taiwan/China * * * * * In 9th century China, the weakened Tang Dynasty struggles to retain control over its militarised province of Weibo. Nie Yinniang (Shu Qi) has been trained by the nun Jiaxin (Fang-Yi Sheu) to assassinate corrupt government officials, but though she possesses all of the art, she cannot…

December Film: Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka Analysis

After the embarrassing failure of the adolescent poem Hanz Kuchelgarten, Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka was the first collection of short stories published by Nikolai Gogol, in two volumes between 1831 and 1832. The collection was an immediate success. While Gogol had already been taken up by the leading literary figures of the day, including Anton Delvig and Vasily Zhukovsky, had made…

December Film: Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka (1961)

  Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka («Вечера на хуторе близ Диканьки») 66 minutes | 8 December 1961 | Soviet Union Based on the story ‘Christmas Eve’ by Nikolai Gogol, this eccentric and fantastical fairy tale takes place near the village of Dikanka on the night before Christmas. Amid carol singing, drunken revelry, and amorous hijinks, the blacksmith Vakula persuades the Devil to fly him to…

November Film: The Little Match Girl (1928) Analysis

The Little Match Girl (‘La Petite Marchande d’allumettes‘), based on the short story of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen, was the eighth of nine silent films directed by Jean Renoir. Released in June 1928 – still in the early phase of Renoir’s career, a decade before his French masterpieces Grand Illusion (1937), The Human Beast (1938), and The Rules of the…