First watches: Discoveries in film | November 2022

Classic 80’s gore, a Mexican daydream, a never-ending murder mystery, and the precursor to Koyaanisqatsi.

4 min readDec 1, 2022


The Fly (1986)

Body horror… with a heart! This is a desperate, grim adventure.

I’m a lover of practical effects — which is why I devour 80’s gore. Even the grotesque puppetry (for kids!) in Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal is enough to creep out sensitive movie-goers.

It’s an art, mind. Not every flick can incorporate horrifying biological mishaps in a convincing way. Often, less is more (ala The Thing) —provided we see enough to kickstart our imaginations, what’s offscreen lives in our heads long after the end credits.

Cronenberg is masterful. The Fly serves up body horror… with a heart! The makeup and Goldblum’s progressive decay is fantastic, not least because we spend time getting to know him first, and his romantic bond with Geena Davis — who later has her empathy tested to the extreme. This is a desperate, grim adventure.

Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths (2022)

Absurd, surreal, wistful. It somehow excels in showing how it feels… to feel.

I wasn’t blown away by 2014’s Birdman and, though its effects were astonishingly visceral, 2015’s The Revenant was a bit too long and morbid for me. Here, Alejandro González Iñárritu strikes a fascinating balance of intrigue and poignancy.

Without going full J.J. Abrams, Brado presents an array of mystery boxes without promising answers. Strap in and go with the flow — the rewards are plentiful. This is absurd, surreal, wistful, and it somehow excels in showing how it feels… to feel.

Seamlessly, Bardo merges its main characters’ stream of “consciousness” with the content of his documentary films. Contains countless beautiful transitions and many canny motifs. Truly a juggernaut of ideas. I’ll rewatch.

See How They Run (2022)

A very silly, understated farce. Just my cup of tea. And with such a fun score from Pemberton.

It’s the kind of movie that gets better the more you think about it. This has the flavour of a Wes Anderson flick, but it’s nowhere near as pretentious as the likes of The French Dispatch (it’s closer to the quirky thrills of The Grand Budapest Hotel).

Something tells me someone made director Tom George sit through London’s rendition of The Mousetrap more than once; the longest-running theatrical play in the world. Perhaps as a direct result, he takes aim at whodunnit tropes and goes meta — tongue firmly in his cheek. If you’re into classic crime literature (anything Agatha Christie), you’ll appreciate a great many nods and winks.

A very silly, understated farce. Just my cup of tea. It’s rare to find a film so keen on having harmless, inoffensive fun. And with such a goofy score from Pemberton who has a reliably impressive ability to accompany a vibrant range of material.

Man With A Movie Camera (1929)

Its cunning use of juxtaposition provides a stirring sensory experience.

1929 — the birth of emotive filmmaking. Man With A Movie Camera doesn’t feature a script or a narrative of any sort. Regardless, its cunning use of juxtaposition provides a stirring sensory experience. It’s so fun and thrilling — with a banging score too (I watched the Mubi version, with music from Alloy Orchestra).

At the opening titles, we’re told: “This experimental work aims at creating a truly international absolute language of cinema based on its complete separation from the language of theatre and literature”. A stunning achievement.

Can you imagine the sweat and tears that went into physically cutting and splicing this onslaught together? It must have been utterly brain-bending at the time. I thought Koyanisquaatsi was original — little did I know how much inspiration it took from Dziga Vertov.

Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths (2022)

Honorable mentions:

  • The Way He Looks (2014) — an unbearably cute gay flick from Brazil, telling the story of a blind guy’s first love.
  • Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022)—SJWs wallowing in manufactured outrage and perceived slights with a horror movie backdrop.
  • Save Ralph (2022) — a short film on animal testing with Taika Waititi that uses stop motion to skewer the Beauty industry.

Follow me on Letterboxd to read quickfire reviews for every film I watch.