Martin Luther King and the art of protest, from Alabama in 1965 to modern-day Kiev and Cairo. Plus the whims and wiles of Eros in It Follows, The Duke of Burgundy, Love Is Strange and Amour fou; Michael Mann’s Blackhat, Gerard Johnson’s Hyena, and our annual obituaries roll-call of key film figures lost to us in 2014.
In keeping its focus on one of the key chapters of the Civil Rights Movement – the Selma-Montgomery marches and the push for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – Ava DuVernay’sSelma avoids the pitfalls of the biopic and succeeds in portraying Martin Luther King with a rare intimacy. By Miriam Bale.
+ Long walk to freedom
Selma might be the first major cinema release to feature Martin Luther King, Jr as a central character, but the wider Civil Rights Movement has long proved a draw for filmmakers. By Ashley Clark.
Sergei Loznitsa’s Maidan, exploring the anti-government protests in Kiev’s central square in the winter of 2013-14, is the latest in a worldwide upsurge in films documenting dissent in all its forms, capturing the hope, anger and creativity that characterise life on the barricades. By Nick Bradshaw.
In Amour fou the Austrian director Jessica Hausner has made, not for the first time, a quiet, decorous-seeming film that revolves around a silent, passive woman. But the passivity and formality conceal a deeply unconventional spirit. By Catherine Wheatley.
A recurring nightmare from director David Robert Mitchell’s childhood inspired the menace that threatens the teen victims in his ethereal horror film It Follows, which triumphs in its stubborn refusal to be constrained by genre expectations. By Michael Blyth.
In his second feature, Hyena, an ultra-brutal story about a corrupt policeman, Gerard Johnson has tried to avoid the clichés of the modern London crime film, instead harking back to John Cassavetes, Abel Ferrara and, above all, Jean-Pierre Melville. By Trevor Johnston.
Ira Sachs borrows heavily from his own life experiences for Love Is Strange, merging the influences of Ozu and Woody Allen to paint a gentle character study of a gay couple whose lives are thrown into turmoil when they decide to get married after almost 40 years together. By Keith Uhlich.
+ Tales from the golden age
Although cinema has traditionally sidelined narratives about older LGBT people, there has been a notable increase in such stories lately, reflecting a range of recent cultural shifts. By Ben Walters.
The Duke of Burgundy, which tells the tale of a pair of lesbian sadomasochistic entomologists, is the latest film from the mischievous mind of director Peter Strickland, a characteristically idiosyncratic drama that manages the unlikely feat of marrying the sexploitation ethos of Jess Franco with the cosy domesticity of Terry and June. By Demetrios Matheou.