Bones and All (2022)
Maren (Taylor Russell) is a young woman learning to survive as a cannibal on the margins of society. She's mostly alone until she meets Lee (Timothée Chalamet), an intense and disenfranchised drifter with the same cravings as her own. Learning to live in a dangerous world that cannot accept them, the pair embark on a liberating road odyssey together.
Why you should see it: Luca Guadagnino's cannibal romance-horror hybrid takes its source material – Camille DeAngelis' coming-of-age-horror-romance novel – in new and interesting directions. Chloë Sevigny, David Gordon Green and a menacing Mark Rylance round-out the cast. Bones and All made its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival.
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Stars at Noon (2022)
In Claire Denis' sweaty Nicaraguan thriller, a young American journalist (Margaret Qualley) stranded in present-day Nicaragua falls for an enigmatic Englishman (Joe Alwyn) who seems like her best chance of escape. She soon realises, however, that he may be in even greater danger than she is. As political dangers circle the pair, what began as a fun dalliance to pass the time, soon turns into dependency.
Why you should see it: Margaret Qualley delivers a riveting performance laden with an erratic, naturalistic energy.
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Days of Being Wild (1990)
Multiple storylines intersect in Wong Kar Wai’s tale of misspent youth and misaligned loves set against a sweltering 1960s Hong Kong summer. Starring Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Carina Lau and Andy Lau.
Why you should see it: William Chang’s art direction, Christopher Doyle’s photography and Wong’s command of his star-studded cast combine to deliver some of Hong Kong cinema’s most iconic set pieces. Don't miss it for Leslie Cheung’s central performance as the boyishly handsome but emotionally scarred Yuddy around whom Wong’s characters orbit.
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An Affair to Remember (1957)
International "ladies’ man" Nickie Ferrante (Cary Grant) and nightclub singer Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) are sailing on a passenger liner from Europe towards romantic partners awaiting their arrival in New York but just can’t seem to avoid each other on the ocean crossing. Will their mutual crush remain platonic?
Why you should see it: "A swoony, romantic melodrama, Grant and Kerr are terrific together... for those who love [‘weepies’], An Affair to Remember is the Mona Lisa." – Groucho Reviews.
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Sexy Beast (2000)
Retired career criminal Gal (Ray Winstone) is content to pass his days on the Costa del Sol in a sun-induced haze. He and wife DeeDee (Amanda Redman) have left behind the dreary cold of London for a life of tranquility, but are sent into a tailspin when word arrives that gangster Don Logan (Ben Kingsley) is coming to pay them a visit, with his version of an offer they cannot refuse.
Why you should see it: In his blistering directorial debut, Jonathan Glazer subverted audience expectations by hiring the man who portrayed Gandhi (Ben Kingsley) to play a foul-mouthed sociopath who uses every minute of his screen time to terrorise both the audience and his castmates. Kingsley was duly recognised with a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the 2002 Academy Awards.
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Stranger by the Lake (2013)
In the heat and lethargy of summer, Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) frequents a gay cruising spot on the shores of a lake. He befriends Henri (Patrick d'Assumçao), a middle-aged loner. Disinterested in each other sexually, the two men establish a platonic rapport. The arrival of aggressively pleasure-seeking Michel (Christophe Paou), however, dramatically alters the dynamic.
Why you should see it: Alain Guiraudie’s slow-burn erotic thriller was shot on location at the man-made lake of Sainte-Croix in Provence using only natural light; twilight and nightfall literally cloaks the characters and their motivations in a veil of darkness. Ambient sounds provide a 'soundtrack' to the film's sensory pleasures, creating a sustained mood of unease. Stranger by the Lake was awarded the Queer Palm and Best Director (Un Certain Regard) at the Cannes Film Festival.
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Crazed Fruit (1956)
Haruji (Masahiko Tsugawa) and his older brother Natsuhisa (Yûjirô Ishihara) are set for a summer of water-skiing, gambling and clubbing with a gang of Natsu’s friends staying at the villa of their worldly friend, Frank. Haru may be younger and inexperienced, but he isn’t too impressed by the chauvinist antics of Natsu and the others. While Natsu and his friends look for ways to appease their boredom and restlessness, Haru quietly pursues a friendship with the mysterious Eri (Mie Kitahara).
Why you should see it: Crazed Fruit is is one of the best known 'Sun Tribe' films: a subset of Japanese films made in the 50s and 60s that incorporated the subtext of postwar disaffected youth in racy narratives. Mie Kitahara's expressive performance as Eri challenged simplistic portrayals of young womanhood in an increasingly modern and westernised Japan. According to the Criterion Collection, Crazed Fruit is "an anarchic outcry against tradition and the older generation".
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Two classics by Ingmar Bergman
Summer with Monika (1953)
Impatient to escape her family and embrace adult life, Monika (Harriet Andersson) takes charge when she meets timid stockroom clerk, Harry (Lars Ekborg), who promptly takes Monika to see a Greta Garbo film at the local cinema. Soon they both leave their meagre-paying jobs to spend the Summer on Harry’s father’s boat, sailing among the islands dotted around Stockholm. The pair revel in their new-found freedom but their idyll unravels when they must inevitably return to the city.
Why you should see it: Bergman's enduring classic is a work of stunning maturity that remains one of his most important films. The visual primacy Bergman gives the natural world in the main section of the film and Harriet Andersson’s utterly unselfconscious naturalism set a new benchmark in cinema that inspired and influenced directors – including Wes Anderson, who affectionately referenced the film in Moonrise Kingdom (2012) – for decades to follow.
Smiles of a Summer Night (1955)
When Fredrik Egerman (Gunnar Björnstrand) inadvertently whispers his his former mistress Desiree’s name in a sleepy embrace with his much younger wife Anne, his indiscretion sets off a chain of events that culminate in a weekend country party orchestrated by the astute Desiree.
I found in Bergman’s film aspects of cinema I’d never experienced before – emotion, truth, pain, lust – all presented in the most elegant of wrappings.
Why you should see it: With this turn-of-the-twentieth-century-set romantic comedy, Ingmar Bergman found enthusiastic favour with international audiences – after directing some fifteen films that had received mostly local acclaim in Sweden and parts of Europe. It's lighter and less dramatic than key films in Bergmans filmography, including Summer with Monika, but still features the auteur's trademark existential angst.
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Plein Soleil (1960)
In René Clément’s absorbing thriller, Tom Ripley (Alain Delon) is recruited by wealthy and condescending gadabout Philippe’s (Maurice Ronnet) rich industrialist father to travel to Rome and Italy’s Amalfi Coast to convince his wayward son – enjoying a seemingly endless summer with his alluring fiancée, Marge Duval (Marie Laforêt) – to come home.
Why you should see it: René Clément's adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s psychological thriller is less well known but arguably more attuned to its literary source than the (likewise excellent) 1999 English language remake by director Anthony Minghella with Matt Damon in the role of Ripley. Plein Soleil confirmed Alain Delon as a major new star of European cinema. Highsmith approved of Delon's casting, remarking on the “inscrutable beauty” the actor gifted her character.
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A Bigger Splash (2016)
Rock legend Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton) is recuperating on the volcanic island of Pantelleria, in the strait of Sicily, with her filmmaker boyfriend Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts), when iconoclastic music producer – and old flame – Harry (Ralph Fiennes) unexpectedly flies in with his daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson). Harry’s compulsive, Bacchanalian behaviour tests the limits of Paul’s patience even as Paul himself becomes the object of the wily Penelope’s attention.
Why you should see it: Guadagnino’s slow-burn psychological thriller is a contemporary adaptation of Jacques Deray’s 1969 film, La Piscine (The Swimming Pool). Director of Photographer Yorick Le Saux captures the play of light on Sicily's ancient landscape and the sun-kissed bodies of the four main characters seductively circling each other to ravishing and almost palpable effect.