Films of the month


#Faust June

Winner of the Golden Lion at last year’s Viennale, Alexander Sokurov’s retelling of the Faust legend finally arrives on these shores. But it’s not just the film’s hero who’s suffering from hubris, says Tony Rayns

#Goodbye First Love May

Girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl meets older man… The new film by Mia Hansen-Løve confirms the promise of Father of My Children with a frank – and very French – look at the pangs of young love, says Philip Kemp

#Into the Abyss April

Into the Abyss is not just a compelling documentary about a convicted murderer on Death Row, but a further chapter in Werner Herzog’s obsessive exploration of the American way of life – and death. By Tony Rayns

#Young Adult March

After their earlier collaboration on the crowd-pleasing Juno, Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman have reteamed for an altogether more bracing follow-up, Young Adult, which overturns every romcom cliché. By Lisa Mullen

#The Descendants February

Alexander Payne’s follow-up to About Schmidt and Sideways is a characteristic mix of funny and painful, with Hawaii lawyer George Clooney struggling with family baggage as his wife lies in a coma. By Philip Kemp

#Mysteries of Lisbon January

Raúl Ruiz, who died in August, has left behind a magisterial four-hour saga set in 19th-century Portugal that serves as a fittingly elegant summation of his life’s work. Jonathan Romney explores the Mysteries of Lisbon


#This Our Still Life December

Evoking his family’s life in their Pyrenean hideaway, This Our Still Life is a mesmerising blend of lyrical intensity and freewheeling impressions from unclassifiable British filmmaker Andrew Kötting. By Iain Sinclair

#The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 November

Having discovered a goldmine of original footage of the Black Power movement in the archives of Swedish television, documentarist Göran Olsson has crafted it into a remarkable document of the times, says Mark Sinker

#Post Mortem October

A neurotic Chilean mortuary assistant in the year of Pinochet’s coup is the focus of Post Mortem, a character study that’s every bit as distinctive and chilling as Pablo Larraín’s last film Tony Manero. By Jonathan Romney

#The Interrupters September

The new film from Hoop Dreams director Steve James chronicles a daring initiative to tackle violence on the streets of Chicago. It’s as compelling as The Wire, says Michael Brooke – and it’s all true

#Treacle, Jr. August

Only the third film Jamie Thraves has managed to get made in over a decade, Treacle, Jr. confirms him as a British filmmaker with a distinctive comic touch and a sympathy for oddball outsiders, says Trevor Johnston

#Incendies July

French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve views the internecine conflicts of the Middle East through the prism of a family tragedy of Greek proportions. By Roger Clarke

#13 Assassins June

The prolific Japanese director Miike Takashi is never afraid to shock audiences. But the shock with 13 Assassins is that he has delivered a classical samurai movie worthy of Kurosawa. By Christoph Huber

#Sweetgrass May

The sheep-herders’ life romanticised in Brokeback Mountain is the focus of the immersive new documentary Sweetgrass, which captures both the harshness and the grandeur of a vanishing world. By Kieron Corless

#Submarine April

Unlike so many other British TV comedians who have made the transition to film directing, Richard Ayoade reveals a distinctive cinematic talent with his debut, the skewed teen romance Submarine. By Isabel Stevens

#Archipelago March

Following Unrelated with another tale of a tightly wound English family on holiday – this time in the Scilly Isles – Archipelago confirms Joanna Hogg as one of our subtlest and most probing filmmakers. By Jonathan Romney

#The Portuguese Nun February

The Bressonian style and metaphysical concerns of Eugène Green may be an acquired taste, but they achieve their most perfect expression in his new film The Portuguese Nun. Peter Matthews finds himself ripe for conversion

#Monsters January

Blending road-movie and sci-fi, the fantastic and the everyday, Monsters is an astonishingly assured feature debut for its young British writer, director and special-effects designer Gareth Edwards, says Nick Roddick


#We Are What We Are December

Following a family of flesh eaters as they struggle to make ends meet in modern Mexico, Jorge Michel Grau’s debut We Are What We Are spices its horror with a bracing dash of social comment, says Paul Julian Smith

#The Kids Are All Right November

Lisa Cholodenko’s film puts the complications of the ‘alternative family’ under the microscope with a rare mixture of wit, intelligence, laidback naturalism and sexual frankness, says Sophie Mayer

#Perestroika October

A journey into both the snowy wastes of Siberia and the fractured mind of its grieving narrator, Sarah Turner’s hypnotic Perestroika is an immersive excursion into “extreme psychogeography”, says Chris Darke

#The Illusionist September

An unproduced 1950s script by Jacques Tati proves the perfect match for Sylvain Chomet’s exquisitely melancholic animation style in The Illusionist, his follow-up to Belleville Rendez-vous. By Anton Bitel

#Gainsbourg August

French comic-strip artist Joann Sfar injects a bold poetic dimension into the musical biopic with his inspired account of the life of singer, songwriter and hellraiser Serge Gainsbourg. By Ginette Vincendeau

#White Material July

Claire Denis’ new film blends her ensemble-driven style with an unashamed star vehicle for Isabelle Huppert, as a plantation owner adrift in a civil war in an unnamed African country. By Adrian Martin

#Four Lions June

Bomb-making pratfalls and meathead jihadis abound as controversy-courting satirist Chris Morris tackles Islamic fundamentalism in his debut feature Four Lions, but tragedy lurks beneath the farce, says Ben Walters

#24 City May

An unclassifiable hybrid of documentary and fiction, Jia Zhangke’s 24 City finds a telling microcosm of the transformation of China in the story of a factory relocated to make way for a shopping mall. By Tony Rayns

#Double Take April

More than just a homage, Johan Grimonprez’s extraordinary montage uses Hitch’s mischievous TV appearances as the launch pad for a brilliant riff on Cold War politics and the idea of the double. By Jonathan Romney

#Breathless March

An astonishing debut for writer-director Yang Ik-june, who also stars, Breathless confronts the violence in Korean society via the story of a brutal debt collector who strikes up a friendship with a schoolgirl. By Tony Rayns

#Still Walking February

Trevor Johnston is wowed by a supremely subtle portrayal of the tensions within a Japanese family that puts director Kore-eda Hirokazu in the same league as his country’s masters of domestic drama, Ozu and Naruse

#Nowhere Boy January

Sam Taylor-Wood's debut ultimately says less about the young John Lennon’s evolution as a musician, and more about the two women who loomed large in his teenage years. By Trevor Johnston


#A Serious Man December

While true to the Coens’ absurdist spirit, A Serious Man - unusually for them - features a realistic, empathetic character in a realistic setting, the suburban Midwest in the 1960s. It's a fascinating mix, says Michael Atkinson

#An Education November

Nick Hornby’s adaptation of journalist Lynn Barber’s memoir of teenage seduction shows his trademark understated wit. But it’s the nuanced touch of director Lone Scherfig that really makes it special, says Kate Stables

#The Beaches of Agnès October

Eighty-one this year, Agnès Varda looks back on a life that took her from the French New Wave to hippie-era Los Angeles and beyond, in a self-portrait that’s as rich and full as any autobiography, says Jonathan Romney

#Afterschool September

Focused on a loner who can only relate to ‘real life’ through DIY video footage, Antonio Campos’ cool, brave directing debut is a high-school movie for the alienated YouTube generation, says Lisa Mullen

#Frozen River August

A bleak tale of people-smuggling in the icy terrain of the US/Canadian border, Courtney Hunt’s Oscar-nominated Frozen River exemplifies US indies’ new concern with the lives of the poor, argues Ryan Gilbey

#I’m Gonna Explode [July]

[This review is not currently online]

#sleep furiously June

As an honest and moving portrait of a year in the life of a small rural community in mid Wales, Gideon Koppel’s charming and naturalistic film beats its inspiration Dylan Thomas hands down, says John Banville

#Tony Manero May

A disturbing portrait of a Travolta-obsessed sociopath in Pinochet’s Chile, Pablo Larraín’s film is less about the dreams of the disco era than about the realities of life under dictatorship, says Jonathan Romney

#Wonderful Town April

An engrossing and poetic debut from Thai director Aditya Assarat, Wonderful Town coolly sets the progress of a doomed love affair against the backdrop of a community devastated by the 2004 tsunami. By Tony Rayns

#The International March

With blistering action set pieces and a downbeat hero in the shape of Clive Owen, Tom Tykwer’s new espionage thriller ,The International plays like a deglamorised, back-to-basics Bond. By Samuel Wigley

#Better Things February

Duane Hopkins’ first feature is an inventive, unclichéd example of British realism which shines a light into rarely explored social territory and the unexamined lives of its characters. By Jonathan Romney

#The Man from London January

Béla Tarr’s latest film may initially appear to be his most conventional work to date, but the Hungarian director hasn't softened his uncompromising worldview. By Michael Brooke

» Back to top

Last Updated: 10 May 2012