Freelance writer specialising in film and culture. I've contributed to The Quietus, The Skinny, BFI & CineVue. I'm a OFCS member and in 2013 was nominated for a Richard Attenborough Award.
In his critically acclaimed debut, Neighbouring Sounds, Brazilian director Kleber Mendonça Filho presented audiences with a multifaceted portrait of a middle-class community in Recife. His follow-up, Aquarius, shares the same location, but centers on the struggle of one woman, Clara (Sonia Braga), a 65-year-old music critic fighting to save her home from the clutches of a property developer. The focus might have narrowed, but both films share the same obsession with class and memory, with Filho once again using intelligent sound design to allude to the world outside the frame – one teeming with anxiety and political anger.
Inspired by All This Panic, Jenny Gage’s spellbinding documentary following seven teenage girls growing up in Brooklyn, we look back at some of cinema's great female coming-of-age films
Coming-of-age stories have been a cinematic staple for decades, reconstituting the thematic characteristics of the novelistic Bildungsroman and projecting them on to the big screen. Sadly, the majority of these films have come from male directors, all too often culminating in little more than irrelevant nostalgia pieces, or revisionist investigations into the masculinity-in-crisis debate. Thankfully, however, the last decade has witnessed a surge of female voices entering the fray. Here are five coming-of-age films, by female directors, that dared to break the mould.
“You'll have no control over your mind or body anymore,” a midwife (Hartley) says while explaining to the pregnant Ruth (Lowe) that a high-pitched noise could cause milk to fire out of her nipples like a water canon. Little does she know that mum-to-be has already murdered someone at the behest of the malevolent foetus gestating inside her.
An enthralling journey of shifting perspectives of the world, Cameraperson dismantles the myth of the objective documentary, forcing the audience to interrogate the very idea of ‘looking’ and what it means to carry the burden of accumulated memories.
Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Jackie Kennedy may be the bookies' favourite for the Best Actress Oscar, but Pablo Larraín’s Jackie is far from your conventional Hollywood biopic. Weaving together fragmented memories of the days following the assassination of John F Kennedy, Larraín shows how the death of a president gave birth to a legend.
The number of gun-related deaths in the United States has become impossible to ignore. No more so than in Chicago, where the homicide count has now surpassed the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq. This damming statistic provides the context for Spike Lee's latest joint, a savage satire of the gang and gun violence that plagues America's Second City.
Layering the mythic and the prosaic with the intimate and the broad, The Son of Joseph is a quiet masterpiece from one of cinema’s most distinctive voices.
Like a sonnet that grows more profound with each reading, the cyclical rhythms of Paterson take the monotony of working-class life and transpose it into art. This isn’t to say Jarmusch is blind to the harsh realities of life, and the film is peppered with subtle allusions to the outside world
I wrote a capsule review of Kleber Mendonça Filho's 'Aquarius' for The Skinny's 10 best films from the London Film Festival; "a bold and electrifying film that's grand in scope, but intimate in its execution."
A typically powerful polemic from Loach that speaks directly to the audience's heart
When did it become unfashionable to discuss class and social inequality? Earlier this year, certain parts of the British media were quick to voice their shock and disappointment when the Cannes Film Festival awarded Ken Loach with his second Palme d’Or for I, Daniel Blake, a humane drama that acts as a brutal indictment of the British welfare state. Instead of celebrating the film's pertinent message they bemoaned its moralistic approach. This cynicism is disheartening, but hardly surprising at a time when working class voices are noticeably absent from our screens.
A look back at the best on offer at this year's Odessa International Film Festival, from Ken Loach's I, Daniel Blake to the festival’s Golden Duke winner Illegitimate from Romania.
What does 'being a man' mean in 2016? That's the question asked by Athina Rachel Tsangari's Chevalier, an absurd buddy-comedy that reduces the masculinity-in-crisis debate into an extravagant pissing contest.
"Ain’t no bitches going to bust no ghost.” This remark could have come straight from the comments section of the ‘most disliked trailer in YouTube History’ aka the promo for Paul Feig’s all-female Ghostbusters reboot. But it’s actually a line delivered by Melissa McCarthy’s character as she reads the online reactions to her work as a paranormal investigator. It’s perhaps no coincidence that the antagonist of Ghostbusters is an angry white male, highlighting an awareness of the challenges this gender-appropriated remake of Ivan Reitman’s cherished 80s classic faced from inception.
Once upon a time, fairy tales were sinister allegories of dogma-like wisdom preaching lessons in morality. Sadly, today they’re best remembered in a more anaesthetised form as animated family films. With Tale of Tales, Italian director Matteo Garrone looks to re-appropriate the genre, creating a triptych of lurid fables of blood curdling violence that would never make it past the Disney censors.
Puiu is a honed observer of human behaviour and understands how the constant threat of violence in a post-communist state unaccustomed to the competitiveness of a market economy can work as a dramatic catalyst. However, he ratchets up the anxiety further by giving little explanation for the violence Ovidiu encounters. Stuff and Dough is a slender and restrained film, yet this austerity masks a finely tuned script about the difficulties of navigating between corruption and survival when individual aspiration is put above all else.