Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” (2018)

I HAD THE unusual but not unpleasant experience of watching Isle of Dogs, the latest effort from hipster favourite Wes Anderson, while eating a breakfast of croissants, cappuccino and orange juice in a cinema in Amsterdam, a city that caters rather well to the director’s pronounced Europhilia even if, among the lopsided canal-side houses, symmetry […]

Alison Klayman’s “Take Your Pills” (2018)

MY CHAOTIC DAYS at university came before what you might call the Stimulant Revolution, or the saturation of competitive institutions of higher learning with drugs like Ritalin and Concerta and Adderall, although admittedly the anti-narcolepsy drug Modafinil was beginning to do the rounds. Call my contemporaries a group of squares from the past, to quote […]

Josh Koury and Myles Kane’s “Voyeur” (2017)

INTERMITTENTLY BUT FREQUENTLY, usually during those moments of evening mental vacancy, you seem to stumble upon something truly bizarre while browsing the sprawling Netflix library for something to watch. Thus I found myself sitting through Voyeur, a compelling and sinister and singular documentary by Myles Kane and Josh Koury, in which Gerald Foos, a lifelong […]

Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” (2017)

IT DOESN’T REQUIRE a particularly incisive mind to figure out that Mexican director Guillermo del Toro is interested in––or perhaps better to say obsessed––with monsters, nor does it stretch the brain too far to establish that it is depicting monsters sympathetically with which he is principally preoccupied. In his first feature film, the 1993 horror-drama […]

Joe Wright’s “Darkest Hour” (2017)

YOU DO SOMETIMES wonder if there’s anyone more frequently cited than Winston Churchill, whose talent and taste for an uplifting maxim or a pithy put-down has been elevated to the world of legend. He is, for instance, supposed to have said that ‘continuous effort, not strength of intelligence, is the key to unlocking and using […]

Denis Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner 2049” (2017)

THE PROLIFIC SCIENCE-fiction novelist Philip K. Dick, on whose short story the original Blade Runner was based, phrased the question of what it means to be human by asking, “Do androids dream of electric sheep?” In Dick’s novel, Rick Deckard hates his pet, an electric sheep, precisely because he knows that it, like the androids […]

Sir Kenneth Branagh’s “Murder on the Orient Express” (2017)

IT’S ALL TOO easy to dismiss Agatha Christie as a literary mediocrity whose career was built on the creation of mindless whodunnits destined only to fill any unfilled ninety-minute slots on the BBC’s television schedule. But that’s to overlook Christie’s astute treatment of women, her deep understanding of interpersonal dynamics and the sheer prowess of […]

“The Death of Stalin” (2017)

IT WAS THE German-Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt who explored the evils and absurdities of autocracy when she wrote Origins of Totalitarianism in 1951. But those who know nothing of Arendt or her work will at least recognise the phrase “banality of evil”, which was the subtitle of Arendt’s second book, Eichmann in Jerusalem. Arendt […]

“Icarus”

YOU WILL REMEMBER that in the mythology of Ancient Greece, Icarus was the son of Daedalus, the master craftsman commissioned by King Minos of Crete to build a Labyrinth for the monstrous, man-eating Minotaur. But Daedalus himself was imprisoned in the Labyrinth after he gave Ariadne, Minos’s daughter, a clew or ball of string to […]

“A Ghost Story”

IF YOU’VE FOUND yourself in the London Underground any time recently––no doubt crushed against three other people on a Tube that smells of sweat and makes you wish you hadn’t left your cattle prod at home––you may have noticed the distinctive posters for A Ghost Story pasted on the station walls, and the effusive praise […]