Review no 83: Syrian feature documentary ‘For Sama’

I watched For Sama (2019) on All 4, knowing only that it was an Oscar-nominated film about the Syrian conflict, dedicated to the baby daughter of the journalist and film maker Waad al-Kateab (and co-directed by Edward Watts). I expected it to be harrowing, but I was unprepared for how gripping and powerful the film […]

Review no 82: The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza): a film by Paolo Sorrentino (Italy)

EUROPE “To this question, as kids, my friends always gave the same answer. “Pussy.” Whereas I answered, “the smell of old people’s houses”. The question was: “What do you like most, really, in life?” I was destined for sensibility. I was destined to become a writer. I was destined to become Jep Gambardella.“ The Great […]

Review no 76: Loveless (Russian film)

EUROPE Loveless (2017) is a relentlessly bleak Russian film, directed and co-written by Andrei Zvyagintsev. It’s a bit like a Mike Leigh film, but imagine one devoid of humour or any base-level sense of human connection and goodness. Warring couple Zhelya and Boris are breaking up, with little consideration for their 12-year-old son, who they […]

Review no 72: Gloria: film by Sebastián Lelio (Chile)

AMERICAS AND THE CARIBBEAN Gloria was released in 2013, and is co-written and directed by Sebastián Lelio. The movie tells the story of a late middle-aged woman who embarks on a conflicted romance with an older man. She’s feeling lonely – her children are independent, although you have the sense that their lives are not […]

International Reads (and Views) for a Lockdown

Much of the world is locked down as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, and normal routines have been dramatically changed. I’m finding it hard to concentrate on things I usually love, which include watching films (preferably at the cinema) and reading voraciously. Here are a few thematic ideas for books and films that might […]