Poetic noir from Criterion

Temple (Miriam Hopkins) suddenly finds herself in a world stripped of security in Stephen Roberts’ The Story of Temple Drake (1933)

Although separated by fifteen years, the Depression and World War Two, Stephen Roberts’ The Story of Temple Drake (1933) and Frank Borzage’s Moonrise (1948) have quite a bit in common, stylistically and thematically; each centres on an outsider character brought low by guilt, who ultimately finds redemption through self-knowledge, and each uses richly Expressionistic black-and-white photography to create a feverishly claustrophobic atmosphere to trap its protagonist in a seemingly hopeless situation.

Camp Losey

Liz Taylor as wealthy widow Sissy Goforth clinging to life in Joseph Losey's Boom (1968)

In the middle of a career striving for artistic seriousness, Joseph Losey took a diversion into camp with three movies in the late 1960s. Gorgeously photographed and rife with scenery-chewing, one s a dud, one a great Gothic psychodrama and the third … well, it’s simply unclassifiable.

Trawling the Internet

Rats take on human form and infiltrate society in Krsto Papic’s The Rat Savior (1976)

With a little time and patience, it’s possible to dig up obscure and interesting movies on the Internet – some public domain, others no doubt illegitimate, some in pretty poor shape, others looking just fine. Here’s a collection of ones I recently discovered and generally enjoyed.

Smart Sci-Fi

The space elevator carries passengers and cargo to the transport ship Aniara in Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja's Aniara (2018)

Quiet, contemplative character-based science fiction movies feel like a refreshing oasis in a desert of big, loud, empty franchise blockbusters. James Gray’s Ad Astra (2019), Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja’s Ad Astra (2018), Sion Sono’s The Whispering Star (2015) and Alex Rivera’s Sleep Dealer (2008) provide satisfaction on many levels.

Three Fantastic Journeys by Karel Zeman:
Criterion Blu-ray review

The Count's men head out to ransack a recently sunken ship in Karel Zeman's Invention For Destruction (1958)

A new three-disk Blu-ray from Criterion showcases three fantasies by the great Czech animator Karel Zeman, whose unique, inventive style creates a child-like sense of wonder in even the most jaded viewer. The superb restorations provided by the Karel Zeman Museum in Prague are supplemented with some terrific extras, including an excellent feature-length documentary about Zeman’s career and four of his early short films.