Goto: Isle of Love (1969)

Goto, l'île d'amour / Goto, Island of Love
1969 | FranceWalerian Borowczyk★★★★★
Comprised of a series of beautifully framed tableaux, audacious Polish director Walerian Borowczyk's gorgeously crafted Goto: Isle of Love is a dream-like allegorical masterpiece, packed to the brim with oodles and oodles of deliciously provocative political satire.


"Walerian Borowczyk's second feature was just as original as his first. Almost entirely live action this time, it is situated on the archipelago of Goto, which has been cut off from the rest of human civilisation by a massive earthquake and has consequently developed its own arcane rules. Melancholic dictator Goto III (Pierre Brasseur) is married to the beautiful Glossia (Ligia Branice), who in turn is lusted after by the petty thief Gozo (Guy Saint-Jean) as he works his way up the hierarchy. Its thinly veiled critique of totalitarianism saw it banned in both Communist Poland and Fascist Spain (to Borowczyk's delight), but the film is most notable for its uniquely original atmosphere, in which bizarre props and sets (designed by Borowczyk himself) are given as much weight as the human actors. Its grave beauty is underscored to perfection by one of Handel's organ concertos." Arrow Academy

See also: 

Top of the Lake (2013)

2013 | Australia / New ZealandJane Campion★★★
Jane Campion's New Zealand-set Top of the Lake is a well-crafted and generally diverting but seldom credible-feeling six-part mystery-thriller, driven by Elisabeth Moss's sensitive, soft-spoken performance and Adam Arkapaw's oft breath-taking photography.


"A 12 year old girl walks chest deep into the freezing waters of a South Island lake in New Zealand. She is five months pregnant and won’t say who the father is. Then she disappears. Robin Griffin is a gutsy but inexperienced detective called in to investigate. But as Robin becomes more and more obsessed with the search for Tui, she slowly begins to realise that finding Tui is tantamount to finding herself - a self she has kept well hidden. Set against one of the most amazing and untouched landscapes left on the planet, Top of the Lake is a powerful and haunting story about our search for happiness where the dream of paradise attracts its dark twin, the fall." 2entertain

Prisoners (2014)

2014 | USADenis Villeneuve★★★★
Starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, Canadian director Denis Villeneuve's labyrinthinely plotted first American film Prisoners is a gripping, well-crafted thriller, packed with full-blooded performances, raw emotion, and moral ambiguity.


"How far would you go to protect your child? Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) is facing every parent’s worst nightmare. His six-year-old daughter, Anna, is missing, together with her young friend, Joy, and as minutes turn to hours, panic sets in. The only lead is a dilapidated RV that had earlier been parked on their street. Heading the investigation, Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) arrests its driver, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), but a lack of evidence forces the only suspect’s release. Knowing his child’s life is at stake, the frantic Dover decides he has no choice but to take matters into his own hands. The desperate father will do whatever it takes to find the girls, but in doing so, he may lose himself, begging the question: When do you cross the line between seeking justice and becoming a vigilante?" Warner Bros / Alcon Entertainment

Scabbard Samurai (2011)

2011 | JapanMatsumoto Hitoshi★★
Matsumoto Hitoshi's kooky but strangely sentimental Scabbard Samurai is a well-crafted period comedy, buoyed by imaginative comic set-pieces and charismatic performances, but fatally hamstrung by its dubious moral message and Shimizu Yasuaki's misconceived, horribly intrusive score.


"Nomi Kanjuro (Takaaki Nomi) is a masterless samurai on the run after throwing away his sword for good. He has with him his headstrong 9-year-old daughter Tae (Sea Kumada). A bounty is soon placed on Nomi Kanjuro and 3 assassins go after the score. When Nomi Kanjuro is eventually captured and placed in front of the local feudal lord (Jun Kunimura) he is given a choice. A boy prince has been grieving ever since the death of his mother. Nobody has been able to make the boy smile. Nomi can attempt to make the boy smile within 30 days or he must commit seppuku (suicide)." TMDb

The Beiderbecke Affair (1985)

1985 | UK | Alan Plater★★★★★

Starring the wonderful pairing of James Bolam and Barbara Flynn, Alan Plater's hugely entertaining The Beiderbecke Affair is a rambling six-part comic thriller – a follow-up of sorts to the equally enjoyable Get Lost! (1981) – packed with jazz, political satire, charismatic performances, and incomparable dialogue.

"Trevor Chaplin teaches woodwork and likes to listen to jazz. Jill Swinburne teaches English and wants to help save the planet. Trevor tries to buy some jazz records but this leads to meeting a 'dazzlingly beautiful platinum blond', a suspicious detective sergeant and a strange pair of men running a junior football team. Big Al and Little Norm agree to help Trevor and Jill with their school supplies problems. Jill decides to stand as a local councillor. A tale of 'Black Economies', council corruption and many strange characters all set to a background of Bix Beiderbecke." IMDb

See also:
The Beiderbecke Trilogy (1984-88)
Stotty's Five-Star Favourites

All Small Bodies (2017)

Alle kleinen Körper
2017 | Germany | Jennifer Reeder | ★★

Jennifer Reeder's unengaging All Small Bodies is a short post-apocalyptic fairy tale, buoyed by interesting editing and intriguing plotting, but fatally hamstrung by stilted performances, bland photography, and a distracting score.


"All Small Bodies' is a feminist, sci-fi take on the Grimm tale of Hansel and Gretel. It occurs in the distant future among the ruins of a planetary catastrophe, revealing the abuses of history and technology. In the wake of the chaotic aftermath, there are several resilient survivors including two young girls named Z and Bub. The film follows these curious adolescents who have long been lost and alone in the haunted, other-worldly woods, as they awaken their extrasensory abilities and reclaim their autonomy from a menacing dark presence." Festival Scope

Chika, the Dog from the Ghetto (2016)

Chika, die Hündin im Ghetto
2016 | Germany | Sandra Schießl | ★★★

Based on the children's book by Bat-Sheva Dagan, Chika, the Dog from the Ghetto, a lovingly crafted mixed-media animated short film from Sandra Schießl, provides a mildly engaging child's-eye view of life in the Radom Ghetto at the end of the Second World War.


"Chika the dog and the five-year old Mikasch live in a Jewish ghetto in an unnamed Polish city. The little dog helps Mikasch to develop as a child despite the persecution of the Jews by the Germans." Festival Scope