Born on the bayou! Our Deep Focus special on the gothic cinema of the American Deep South. Plus more dread and wonder in the best of the month’s new movies – Carol Morley’s The Falling, Roy Andersson’s A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, Lisandro Alonso’s Jauja and Ruben Östlund’s Force Majeure – and in Robert Siodmak’s Cry of the City, and a look back at the radical British cinema of the 1970s.
The Gothic tradition in the American South, exemplified in literature in the work of Carson McCullers, Flannery O’Connor and William Faulkner, has long provided a rich seam of content for cinema. Finding their spark in what Tennessee Williams called “an underlying dreadfulness in modern experience” and set amid the decaying grandeur and crumbling mansions of the ante-bellum South, these films are haunted by the ghosts of slavery, lost loves and dark family secrets, and feature exiles and eccentrics in a world characterised by macabre violence. By Nick Pinkerton.
A mysterious outbreak of mass fainting at a rural English girls’ school at the end of the 1960s is the enigma that lies at the heart of The Falling, Carol Morley’s beautiful, haunting exploration of adolescent female friendship and sexuality. y Sophie Mayer.
The morose, sardonic genius on show in Roy Andersson’s A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence plays like the melancholy inheritor of fellow Nordic miserablists August Strindberg, Edvard Munch and Søren Kierkegaard – but with much better jokes. By Jonathan Romney.
The brutal shock of a friend’s murder was the spark that inspired Jauja, Argentinian director Lisandro Alonso’s beguiling, hallucinatory study of grief and loss, which follows a father’s desperate search for his daughter in 19th-century Patagonia. By Mar Diestro-Dópido.
Plus: Living the dream
Jauja star Viggo Mortensen traces the personal history that drew him to Lisandro Alonso’s dreamlike fable and explains why the director is unique among modern filmmakers. By Mar Diestro-Dópido.
A split-second decision in the face of an advancing avalanche proves a critical test of character in Ruben Ostlund’s chilly, provocative drama Force majeure, which explores the cracks that lie beneath the surface in a seemingly happy family on a skiing holiday in the Alps. By Nick Roddick.
In lesser hands, Cry of the City, Robert Siodmak’s classic noir about a policeman hunting a cop-killer, might have been just another fast-paced chase movie, but as a director who always prioritised psychology over suspense, his gift for characterisation lifts the drama clear of its genre roots. By Imogen Sara Smith.
Where a previous generation of avant-garde directors in the 50s and early 60s had made works that still sought to serve a general audience in the cinema, radical independent filmmakers in the UK in the 1970s were at virtual war with the mainstream, exploring entirely new methods and modes of address. By William Fowler.
Films of the month
Far from the Madding Crowd Glassland The Invisible Life Jauja
plus reviews of
Amar Akbar & Tony
Argerich Au revoir l’été Bypass Chappie Cobain: Montage of Heck Dark Horse Dark Summer The Decent One The Divergent Series: Insurgent The Duff Everly Exit The Falling Focus Force majeure Gente de bien Good Kill The Good Lie The Gunman Harlock Space Pirate Hot Tub Time Machine 2 John Wick Kidnapping Freddy Heineken The Last 5 Years A Little Chaos A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence Run All Night The Salvation Samba The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Stonehearst Asylum The Town That Dreaded Sundown Unfinished Business White Shadow Wild Card