How to Have Sex (2023)
Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide
Three teenage girls live it up during a debauched clubbing holiday on the Greek island of Malia in this debut feature from British director Molly Manning Walker. How to Have Sex conjures all of the heaving, tawdry abandon of a raucous summer break: the sun cream, the sticky shots, the vomiting. But after a sexual encounter on the beach one night for Tara (Mia McKenna-Bruce), Manning Walker’s film evolves into a more ambiguous character study: a reflection on the question of consent. How to Have Sex was picked for Cannes this year and now arrives in cinemas having picked up 13 nominations for British Independent Film Awards yesterday.
The Royal Hotel (2023)
Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide
Australian director Kitty Green won much admiration for her 2019 office-bound #MeToo drama The Assistant and now returns with another disquieting study of sexist microaggressions – this time out in the outback. Julia Garner and Jessica Henwick play two American travellers who run out of cash during a trip down under, so take rather unpromising work behind the bar at a remote pub run by Hugo Weaving’s alcoholic landlord. In this unreconstructed backwater, the locals are lairy and lascivious, but Green’s film never evolves into a full-bore Wake in Fright nightmare as you might expect. It’s more interested in the drip-drip-drip of chauvinist slights and over-steps.
A watershed in British film, Horace Ové’s debut feature captures Black struggle and resistance in 1970s west London. Young Herbert Norville, who’d later turn up in films for Alan Clarke, Stanley Kubrick and Mike Leigh, plays a British-born teenager growing up within Ladbroke Grove’s West Indian community. His Trinidadian father wishes he’d be truer to his roots, his brother is a radical, and Tony feels the generational pressure of assimilating into a country where racism and prejudiced police brutality are facts of life. Digitally restored and re-released, sadly now in the wake of Ové’s death in September, it has stayed fresh and urgent.
Pandora’s Box (1929)
Where’s it on? Blu-ray
Louise Brooks vamped her way into immortality playing Lulu, the short-bobbed siren who leaves a destructive trail of desire and seduction through 1920s Germany – culminating with a Christmas-time encounter with Jack the Ripper. One of the highwater-marks of Weimar era German cinema, Pandora’s Box is steeped in all the shadows and sordid atmospherics that we expect from that period. Even nearly 100 years later, its daring eroticism feels startling. Eureka’s limited edition set, from a new restoration, is the first time G.W. Pabst’s classic has appeared on Blu-ray in the UK.
A Kiss Before Dying (1956)
Where’s it on? Talking Pictures TV, Saturday, 22:05
Remade in 1991 with Matt Dillon and Sean Young, A Kiss Before Dying needs rescuing from semi-obscurity. Try taking your eyes off the screen as Robert Wagner plays a Tom Ripley-ish college student who makes insidious moves against his pregnant girlfriend, worried her out-of-wedlock pregnancy will cause her stinking rich dad to disinherit her from his mining fortune. It’s based on a 1953 novel by Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives author Ira Levin and shares all of those stories’ compulsive appeal. This scheming thriller is directed by Gerd Oswald, though its vivid construction in colour CinemaScope is worthy of Nicholas Ray.
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