Review: T2 Trainspotting

Director: Danny Boyle (Steve Jobs, 127 Hours, 28 Days Later, The Beach, Trainspotting)
Novel: Irvine Welsh
Screenplay: John Hodge
Producers: Bernard Bellew, Danny Boyle, Christian Colson, Andrew Macdonald
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Steven Robertson, Ewen Bremner, John Kazek, Shirley Henderson
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 117 min.



My original posting of this review can be found at Afro Film Viewer


The 90’s seem so very far away now. Talking to some people I know, it’s ancient history. Time makes fools of us all, and trying to explain dial up internet, Ibiza Uncovered and Gazza’s goal at Euro ’96 to younger generation millennials will no doubt leave some us feeling foolish. The same could almost be said for Trainspotting. When first released in 1996, the film was a cultural phenomenon. For us Brits, it was as iconic to the 90’s as Britpop and bleached blonde hair. If you didn’t know that Irvine Welsh’s series of vignettes was a novel, you certainly knew it was a movie. Shallow Grave (1994) introduced us to Ewan McGregor and Danny Boyle, but it was Trainspotting that truly broke them out. From the thumping drum of Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life which launches the film, it’s uniquely comic yet bleak portrayal of junk addiction, to the simple yet brash mugshot poster, everything about the film screamed iconic.

20 years after Boyle introduced us to “perfect day” overdoses on skag, we are reintroduced to Mark Renton and his so-called friends in a film which isn’t really aiming for the same never say die exuberance that infiltrated our hearts. Why would it? Danny Boyle, one Britain’s more idiosyncratic directorial exports, is quick to let us know that two decades have really slapped these guys in the face. So much so, that even the consideration of playing Lust of Life pains the listener. Of course, this is not about the loudness of the track, but more the memories it digs up. We re-encounter Renton hit with physical health problems, but, like all his mates, he is haunted by his moment of betrayal which in turn left his friends in the gutter.

Instead of revelling in golden-hued nostalgia, T2 works best when its characters are reminded that their past is rife with sin. Trainspotting was drenched in a youthful nihilism which motivated every character, T2 has Renton and co look deep within themselves with a deep sense of regret. The film’s poignancy lies within what the characters have thrown away in the last twenty years. There’s no doe eye back slapping at the heady days of their youth. These people hurt each other and it shows. We like to think that such deep old wounds will heal over fine. They don’t. There’s always scar tissue.
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Review: Carol

Director: Todd Haynes (I’m Not There, Far from Heaven, Velvet Goldmine, Safe)
Novel: Patricia Highsmith
Screenplay: Phyllis Nagy
Producers: Elizabeth Karlsen, Tessa Ros, Christine Vachon, Stephen Woolley
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler, Jake Lacy, Sarah Paulson
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 118 min.


After watching Carol, I gave myself a day or two to let the film linger. It’s a film that likes to settle within the recesses of the mind. Its story is deceptively simple at the surface, yet the emotional connections run deep throughout. Much has already been said about the film main relationship between the elegant Carol (Cate Blanchett at her most graceful) and Therese (Rooney Mara captures doe eyed innocence in a bottle). However, director Todd Haynes’ command of the plot and its characters is so robust that I had felt involved with even the secondary characters. There’s a texture in the film that runs deeper than the luxurious fashions on display.

While conversing with a friend, she mentioned that her mother found such a connection to be lacking. I wonder if this is due to Carol’s sexual orientation. I don’t say this as a negative. Far from it. The beauty of Carol with its subtle glances and sly smiles is just how often it pushes its heterosexual characters to the side. This must be by design. To show that while many within the film may not understand the connections taking place, they are still not things to be judged. Carol isn’t a queer text about gay rights or equality per say, but it does seem to suggest that roses growing out of the concrete needn’t be plucked. A less pretentious (and clearer) interpretation would be to say that this is a struggle for these two individuals rather than a universal one.

Haynes’ depiction of this blossoming relationship and their yearning is dutiful and precise. Once the roots are planted, the branches get tangled with everyone. The ever dependable Kyle Chandler’s heart bleeds as Harge; the heterosexual husband who struggles to grasp this new reality through anger and his own needs. A brief moments from old flame Abby (a wonderfully understated Sarah Paulson) hints not only at understanding, but heartache. Smaller supporting roles also excel. Never sounding like soundboards of a previous era, or knowing totems of this one. Haynes has entertained with this era before for his beautiful melodrama pastiche Far from Heaven (2002), but this seems far from the more broadly drawn and colourful characters from his previous venture. For me, Carol often reminded me of the isolated characters who feature in the painting by Edward Hopper. It’s doubtful that Hopper is an influence, yet Haynes’ direction and blocking of characters along with cinematographer Edward Lachman’s framing, makes nearly every person we meet feel like Hopper’s figures. Almost consumed by the industrial world around them.

It’s no surprise that when the films action shifts from city to country, the characters seem to feel less suffocated by their surroundings and in turn, their societal trappings. Carol’s beauty lies in its small subtleties. Trying on new fragrances. A quiet drive with someone you admire. The small token gesture of a gift, or an admiration of talent. These moments can seem so typical of a romantic drama. However, the softness and slightly alien aspect of an all-female romance within such a bygone era and the shifts of tensions within the relationship dynamics makes Carol stand apart from more universal films of a similar nature. Looking back at the film’s final outcome, the final moments are both heartening and fretful. There’s elements of rejection we ignore due to what we observe on the screen. Even at that moment the film’s closure lays a shade of ambiguity that a more universal romance could perhaps ignore for surface pleasures. I found that the excellence of Carol lies in its ability to sow such seeds. It’s only after leaving the screen did the film’s deeper resonances strike me. For that I am thankful.

DVD Review: Vengeance Road (aka American Muscle)

Director: Ravi Dhar
Screenplay: John Fallon
Producers: Jeffrey Giles, Michael Lurie
Starring: Nick Principe, Robin Sydney, Todd Farmer
BBFC Certificate: 18
Running time: 74 min.


Vengeance Road (altered from its more confusing U.S title American Muscle) lost a lot of its luster the moment our anti-hero John Falcone bangs his first broad. We’re told (on the film’s marketing) that Falcone has spent ten years in jail has now has 24 hours to claim his revenge on those who wrong him. The thing is, the film never really bothers with the semantics so if it hadn’t been for me double checking the synopsis on the IMDb, I wouldn’t have had a clue that Mr. Falcone had a set time frame. The film seemingly cares little about details.

As Vengeance Road unfolds, we are handed a unsurprising revenge movie chock full of phoney cgi blood and bullet holes and grisly meat shouldered men who all look like Stone Cold and/or Bill Goldberg. These men are covered in a golden shower of mediocre fucking and fighting that do little to tease anything out of those darker recesses that lay dormant in many a viewer’s mind. To the films credit, it only clocks in a hasty 74 minutes, however, this time could be shorter if you’re unable to deal with the screenplays flat dialogue or how these should be wrestlers spew it into the air.

There’s very little else I can say about Vengeance Road. Those who are deathly into the neo-grindhouse may find more in this than myself. However I found little in this film to recommend. I found Vengeance Road, much like the film itself found it’s scantily clad females. Disposable.


DVD Review: The Rover

Director: David Michôd (Animal Kingdom)
Writers: David Michôd, Joel Edgerton
Producers: David Linde, David Michôd, Liz Watts
Starring: Guy Pearce, Chan Kien, Robert Pattinson, Tek Kong Lim, Scoot McNairy
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 103 min.




The Rover is a brutally grim apocalyptic thriller set 10 years after a “collapse” which ravaged Australia, possibly the world. As we enter this world, we see Australia as a sparse and deadened wasteland ravaged by the titular “event”. The collapse could possibly refer to an event that has occurred within Eric (Pearce); the protagonist of the feature. If the exterior event displays the degradation of the materials we currently take for granted, then the insular collapse inside Eric is a crumbling of character and spirit. Despite this, there is a defiance within which we don’t fully understand until the film’s final moments. The final act by Eric will frustrate, upset and maybe even hearten. However for a film goer like myself, writing this a day after viewing, it may also be difficult to forget.

The Rover is a lean cut of a film. There’s little in terms of plot to really grasp on to, and that works to its favour. Pearce’s Eric is drowning his demons in a bar before three thieves make off with his car. By chance, he captures the lead thief’s brother (Robert Patterson) and the two of them work towards finding the trio and the missing vehicle.

David Michôd’s second feature is much more of a mood piece than a solid set adventure. The film is far more interested in the brittleness of those who have lost everything, than a clear destination. An underlying tension pulses through much of the scenes. We find Pearce’s Eric already nearing the brink of being mentally shattered. The theft of his vehicle only pushes him further down the decline. The word hardened doesn’t give the man justice. Pearce again shows the type of intense performance that, we sometimes forget that he’s very good at (the last thing I saw him in was the forgettable Iron Man 3 )
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Blu-ray Review: Breaking the Waves

Director: Lars Von Trier (other_films_by_director)
Writers: Lars Von Trier, Peter Asmussen
Producers: Peter Aalbæk Jensen, Vibeke Windeløv
Starring: Emily Watson, Stellan Skarsgård, Katrin Cartlidge, Jean-Marc Barr, Udo Kier
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 159 min.


As polarizing as Lars von Trier can be, I feel to dismiss him as a film fan is somewhat ignorant. Films such as The Idiots (1998) provoke some of the most explicit reactions from critics and yet after watching, they are difficult to fully ignore. He is a filmmaker whose direction of his cast members has placed great strain (see Dancer in the Dark) and yet draws some of their most captivating performances due to his methods. His themes and obsessions are clear and present in nearly every film of his, and yet his use of form insures that none of his films ever look or feel the same. We are nearly always unsure what we will get from the man.

Breaking the Waves is Von Trier’s first entry of his golden heart trilogy. Each film deals with what Von Trier considers “Good women overwhelmed in a bad world”. Set in the Scottish Highlands in the early 1970’s, the film focuses on Bess; a naïve and religious woman who has decided to marry Jan; an atheist oil rigger. The marriage sparks tension between the village locals, but their happiness is clearly evident, especially in the carnal area. Their bliss is short lived however, as Jan becomes immobilized in a work accident.

Unable to perform sexually and mentally affected by the incident, Jan asks Bess to sleep with other men and inform him about the details. Bess, who believes she has a direct connection with God, reluctantly accepts as she believes that in doing this, Jan will get better.

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DVD Review: Jules et Jim

Director: François Truffaut (other_films_by_director)
Writers: François Truffaut, Jean Gruault
Producers: Marcel Berbert, François Truffaut
Starring: Jeanne Moreau, Oskar Werner, Henri Serre, Vanna Urbino, Serge Rezvani, Anny Nelsen
Country: France
Year: 1961
MPAA Rating: PG
Running time: 105 min.


Maybe it’s the triumphant opening score of the film, or the rhythmic way the film falls into its story, but there’s something very reassuring about watching Jules and Jim. It’s not the most joyous film in the world. Its second half is notably difficult at times due to the fun had in its opening segments. Yet there’s something so strangely freeing about the film’s cocksure attitude that I found it difficult to feel “down” about the film at any point. Even in its darkest moments.

Based on the semi-auto biographical 1953 novel by Henri-Pierre Roché, the film tells the tale of two bohemian friends, whose companionship becomes tentative when a free spirited and impulsive young woman enters their lives and hearts. Their simple meeting, set against the onset and aftermath of world war, becomes an emotional and complex relationship which slowly molds the rest of their lives.

The filmmakers of the French New Wave were teetering on a brave new world and dived right in with films such as this one. Truffaut’s ode to love toys with the language of cinema in a way that we rarely see any more. Now we know so much about the techniques, I find that we take such vibrant approaches to form for granted. The film’s beautiful use of freeze frames at one point enhance Jeanne Moreau’s beautiful Catherine from free spirit to one of a kind. Joyful moments captured in time, that don’t come off as cheesy or overdone. Editor Claudine Bouché’s turbulent, free flowing cuts from early on in the film subtly slow in pace and becomes more pensive and methodical, capturing the tone of the characters by holding on to the shots a few seconds longer.

Truffaut’s grip on the material at such a young age is at times spellbinding. Capturing the fleeting nature of youth, while he’s only got out of those shoes himself. He then has the trio succumb to ravages of The Great War in a way that we just wouldn’t observe in the same way now. The playfulness that the threesome try to retain, loses its sparkle in simple ways. A bike ride has a prolonged moment where Osker Warner’s Jules slides out of view, as Catherine’s attentions sway towards Henri Serre’s Jim. Despite the seemingly makeshift appearance the film sometimes takes, there’s a certain preciseness to proceedings which makes the film tick.

It is fascinating to observe Jules and Jim and consider the films and filmmakers that were clearly influenced by it. Films as diverse as Vanilla Sky(2001) and Francis Ha (2013), to substantial sections of Wes Anderson and Woody Allen’s oeuvre. Similarities in the likes of 500 Days of Summer (2009) are highly apparent while techniques and homages are found in the likes of Goodfellas (1990) and Pulp Fiction (1994) as acknowledged nods to the inspiring text. Yet there is still something scrumptious about the film’s reckless abandon. A feeling of a filmmaker pushing not only the cinematic language, but his themes to the highest levels. It’s not just about the swooping overhead shots, freeze frames and mixture of stock footage, but the very idea that the love these characters express moves beyond the limitations we often express them as. How such ideals become trampled by the harsh savagery of war. We’re primed for this from the start. Jules’ large hour glass becomes more than a fancy ornament, but a telling symbol of the relationship. The bohemian lifestyle enjoyed at the start fades into the background, as do, the more joyous expressions of love. “They’re burning books now” a character states in a deadpan tone, highlighting not only the upcoming second great war of their lifetime, but an impending sense dread over their own livelihoods. The articulation of such feelings is remarkably vivid.

There are one or two moments of datedness. While the role of Catherine may possibly feel problematic within an era in which gender issues are particularly pointed. Jules and Jim still manages to provide lucid moments of inspiration. Just a few moments Jeanne Moreau could have you racing across bridges. As with many of the Artificial Eye reissues, the standard of the transfer allows a new audience to view the film with a freshness a film like this deserves. An inspiring watch.

Review: The Guillotines

Director: Andrew Lau (The Duel, Infernal Affairs, Confession of Pain)
Writers: Aubrey Lam, Joyce Chan, Jojo Hui Yuet-Chun, Peter Tsi, Junli Guo, Koon-nam Lui
Producers: Peter Chan, Yuet-Jan Hui
Starring: Peter Chan, Andrew Lau, Jojo Hui, Qin Hong, Lorraine Ho
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 112 min.



It’s pretty clear that someone with a passing fancy to the Ming dynasty may get something out of Andrew Lau’s The Guillotines. A time with such a rich history is of course ripe for cinema adaptation. Unfortunately, while Lau makes grand use of the Chinese landscape with some pleasing landscape photography, the rest of The Guillotines elements lack any real sharpness to speak of.

When Wuxia features like Hero, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the like fitted themselves snuggly into the cracks of western pop culture, it was easy to see how. It wasn’t just the big eastern stars both in front and behind the frame that sold the movies, but the grace and handling of the action and melodrama within such films. Lau (Infernal Affairs) is a clearly a formidable director and The Guillotines sometimes hints at the type of vibrancy that he can deliver. A short sequence of hailstones smacking against the absolutely insane piece of machinery that is The Guillotines delivers an eye blink of the type of tone I was expecting from the piece. Such a moment is so fleeting however, people will wonder why such flittering aspect is so interesting. We could place it upon different strokes.

The Guillotines is, however, the type of film that allows for melodrama and maybe that’s why such fleeting aspects touched me. It’s a pity that the performances and story are too flat to push ahead and take more of that on board. The Guillotines never reaches out or rises above. Despite its hectic start (which doesn’t feature the best fight editing), the film remains on a flat plateau. Even its narrative mix of men on a mission and outsider welcomed back in feels bog standard in its execution. A sepia drenched flashback occurs later in the film which tries to suggest that we spent more time and had more fun than we actually did. It’s a bit of a shame.

The Guillotines has spent a bit of time on the development turn wheel and because of this, Lau, who already has an iconic crime thriller under his belt, feels like more of a hired gun. The film is competently crafted on its budget but holds little of interest in its action (less of it than you think) and narrative (you’ll call it before the characters will). Its final optimistic message strives to be heartfelt, but lies within a film that has none of the energy to maintain it. A pity.

Review: Knocked for Six (aka Save Your Legs) [2012]

Director: Boyd Hicklin
Writer: Brendan Cowell
Producers: Nick Batzias, Robyn Kershaw
Starring: Stephen Curry, Brendan Cowell, Damon Gameau
MPAA Rating: 94 mins
Running time: 94 mins



Cricket is not my forte. I leave all the talk of overs, innings and stumps to my father, who is far more versed in such things. However with a dad who knows the ins and outs of the sport, watching something like Knocked for Six (A.K.A Save Your Legs) doesn’t pose too much difficulty when getting to grips with the basic mechanics of the sport. Not that the film tries for complexity as it travels down the usual sports movie route of oddball underdogs who are pitted against more formidable opponents.

The film’s drippy protagonist; Ted (Curry), is the type of wet, nerdy loser that we’ve come to expect from such tales. Living in his flash mate’s basement, Ted is a part time cricket club president with aspirations of grandeur. His teammates and best friends; the flash Stavros’ (Gameau) and the boozy Rick (Cowell) are slowly starting to realize that they need to grow up, but Ted has other plans involving a tour to India with their D-Grade team of Vagabonds. Laughs are abound.

Despite the film’s Indian setting giving the film a wonderfully bold and colorful landscape to work in, Knocked for Six is pretty bland in its execution. Make no mistake. This is a film that means well and gives a ruddy good effort at the little team that could narrative, yet it’s bogged down by wayward characters, tired gags (Delhi Belly jokes? Really?), and little control of the films subplots. The film often looks like it wants to explore certain avenues of tension and humour, with the theme of arrested development being the main issue, but like its main character Knocked for Six plays it safe in all areas. The film doesn’t need go or the jugular in the same way as say The Hangover, but the mawkish way everything is tied up by the films conclusion is annoyingly unsatisfying.

One should not dismiss the film for trying. Here in England, when it comes to film, the national sporting pastime of football (soccer) has been pretty much regulated to cheap, violent hooliganism feature so the unorthodox blend of India and Australia and use of cricket is a refreshing point of view (I also write this before the onslaught of U.S cities being destroyed truly takes hold of summer). But the film never really takes hold of the material and we’re left with something pretty recycled. That said, spare a few moments for Pallavi Sharda who plays the film’s thankless love interest role. Her bright smile brings some slight moments of sunniness on a film that’s dull and overcast. Knocked for Six wants to aim for the crease but unfortunately find itself out for duck.

Blu-Ray Review: Fill the Void [2012]

Director: Rama Burshtein
Writer: Rama Burshtein
Producer: Assaf Amir
Starring: Hadas Yaron, Chaim Sharir, Ido Samuel, Irit Sheleg, Yiftach Klein, Hila Feldman
MPAA Rating: PG
Running time: 84 min.


I must admit I found myself slightly confused with the dealings that lie within Israeli academy winner Fill the Void. The films director states in the Q&A extras that this is a film of love. For me the film doesn’t appear to fall into the same constraints one would expect in some of our more tepid western romances. Fill the Void’s> central relationship is one that appears to be one more of convenience above all else. So often I questioned the validity of the declarations characters divulged to each other. The pressures involving family and envious colleagues (along with the filmmaking) weigh upon the young female lead in such a way, it’s difficult to correspond with the directors intentions.

This could be down to how the tale is viewed, if so then the film does hold a power of sorts. It certainly deals with it’s themes with an amount of complexity. Much of this is to do with the films setting of within Orthodox Judaism. Fill the Void is the first film of it’s kind to have the Orthodox community observed from the outside in. The rules we see have an alien quality to them due to their unfamiliarity. We witness the Godfather like power the Rabbi holds over the community. Members head to him for everything from financial aid to which oven to buy. Here the question is asked if a young man is allowed to marry the sister of his now decreased wife.
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Blu-Ray Review: Couscous (The Secret of the Grain) [2007]


Director: Abdellatif Kechiche (Blue is the Warmest Colour, Black Venus, Sweat)
Writers: Abdellatif Kechiche, Ghalia Lacroix
Producer: Benoît Pilot
Starring: Habib Boufares, Hafsia Herzi, Farida Benkhetache, Abdelhamid Aktouche, Bouraouïa Marzouk, Sabrina Ouazani, Olivier Loustau
MPAA Rating: NR
Running time: 151 min.
Country: France/Tunisia


You must excuse me for any hyperbole that may lie within this review. The jumped up raves of a reviewer can distract a reader and take their interest away with it. I must stress however that it has been a while since a film has shook me as hard as Couscous, a quietly captivating drama from the acclaimed director of Blue is the Warmest Colour. It was was a film I heard little about, despite it’s positive reception in 2008, so I arrived at the piece with little preconceptions, although I did bulk somewhat at the lengthy running time.

I hadn’t expected Couscous to be shattering experience, because the film is so subtle in it’s execution. This is a drama of marginal gains which finely drip feeds details to be succulently absorbed throughout as it gently glides towards a stirring climax. The film starts quite innocuously enough as we follow Slimane; a divorced, French-Arabic shipyard worker who decides to follow his dream of opening a couscous restaurant after becoming laid off. He is egged on by his girlfriend’s headstrong daughter, while guardedly criticised by his family and scrutinized by bureaucracy.

What could have easily been a languid and saccharine tale becomes a dense family drama in which director Abdellatif Kechiche dangles the narratives frayed edges with the same delight of a cat owner with yarn. Couscous pours it’s lens not only on the complicated family relationships (Much of film deals with the tense conflict between Slimane’s family and his current beau), but takes an upfront look on themes of immigration, class and infidelity. Kechiche deals with these topics not with a hammer but a wonderfully deft touch. Couscous strength stems from Kechiche’s ability to coax warmth from it’s central community. From the idle chatter from Slimane’s bedsit friends, to the heartening dinner conversations of the family, there is a delicate sense of humanity that contrasts itself against the gloominess of the Port town of Sѐte. We spend so much time with them, we become wrapped in their narratives.
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DVD Review: “Querelle”

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Writers: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Burkhard Driest
Producers: Michael McLernon, Dieter Schidor, Sam Waynberg
Starring: Brad Davis, Franco Nero, Jeanne Moreau, Laurent Malet, Hanno Poschi
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 108 min.



Those who are new to the prolific works of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, may fare better than to start with the German’s final film: Querelle based on the novel Querelle de Brest by Jean Genet. First released just after the AIDS virus was clinically observed in the eighties, Querelle, is a film about homosexuality that may have come across as bold at the time of its creation. However looking back at the film with fresher modern eyes has Querelle, looking a little jaded.

Davis plays Querelle, a sailor and thief whose swagger is only matched by his lack of morals. Arriving at a stop off in Brest, Querelle’s mere appearance causes issues with the locals of a Traven he frequents. Soon murder, robbery and sexual politics begin to invade the lives of those who surround themselves with the enigmatic young man.

Respect must be due to Fassbinder’s forthright approach to the film. Shot in 20 days, Querelle is an audacious piece which is drenched in expressionistic color, golden hues and grand set design. We know what we’re in for from the very beginning with Franco Nero, playing a lovelorn Captain, gazing down at glistening, sculpted bodies of his work force. The cast carry off their bravado, throwing caution to the wind if any of the heterosexual actors felt nervous about the material (Nero apparently had reservations), it doesn’t show.

While being radical in theme for the time, Querelle,has been somewhat ravaged by age. Since the film’s conception, the world has changed somewhat. While we still see aggressive rallying against homosexuality (e.g Russia), the transgressions as a whole feel quite tame. Save for one particular sequence, Querelle does little to shock and its allegorical pursuits no longer hold weight. Meanwhile the films liberal uses of sexual terms do little to distract from the philosophical ennui. All posturing aside, we never really get under the skin of Querelle , although some may gesture that’s the point.

Despite unfortunately reminding me of a mixture of The Blue Oyster Bar and the Saturday Night Fever, flashback in Airplane!, Querelle is still a particular sight to behold. The use of deep teal blues and searing oranges are a leap apart from the typical combinations (of the same colours) we see now and the melodramatic displays still have a certain amount of conviction. However while the film may stand out as Fassbinders final entry to the world of cinema, newer audiences may have to set their sights elsewhere to excite their sense of provocation.

An introduction to Querelle, and a brief retrospective of the film’s creation give insight to Fassbinder’s frantic production and help highlight and illustrate the themes.