Jonathan Romney

  • Jonathan Romney


    1 Climates (Nuri Bilge Ceylan) A tender, painful, scabrously witty account of separation, especially discomforting as it stars the director and his wife. High-definition photography provides a pitiless scrutiny of faces and landscapes alike.

    2 Les Signes (Eugène Green) At thirty minutes, this vignette about a missing fisherman is a marvel of suggestive concision: a parable of perception that’s as close as cinema comes to a Mallarmé sonnet.

    3 The Family Friend (Paolo Sorrentino) Part farce, part Jacobean drama, this tale of provincial Italian lowlife is a fireworks display of formal


    IN PARK CHAN-WOOK’S 2002 feature Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, a young woman tells her boyfriend the story of a man who believes he has two heads. Suffering from headaches, he shoots one of the heads. The boyfriend pauses to contemplate the tale, then asks, “The left or the right?”

    Although this is only a throwaway moment, it is a prime example of the blacker-than-black narrative logic of South Korean filmmaker Park. The story evokes absurdity, futility, inevitability: Park’s characters are, as it were, always destined to shoot themselves in the head, and although it will always be the right head—the

  • Lodge Kerrigan

    WITH SIX YEARS between his second and third features, Lodge Kerrigan has at last come in from the cold, with a chilly, discomforting work that looks very much like a field report from the wilderness. Kerrigan, an independent filmmaker who lives in New York, made his debut in 1994 with Clean, Shaven, a lean, roughly textured portrait of a paranoid schizophrenic. His follow-up, Claire Dolan, was a study of isolated souls making fleeting contact in a cityscape of reflecting surfaces; the film’s glacially stylized quality was no doubt partly responsible for it being severely underrated when it

  • Tracey Emin, Top Spot, 2004, still from a color digital video, 61 minutes. From left to right: Elizabeth Crawford, Laura Curnick, Katie Foster Barnes, Helen Laker, Frances Williams, Keiri Noddings.

    Jonathan Romney on Tracey Emin’s Top Spot

    TRACEY EMIN’S DEBUT feature film, Top Spot, is named after a nightclub in her hometown, a sexual utopia for local girls where, as she recalls in voice-over, “We’d snog and kiss, be fingered, titted up.” But “top spot,” she tells us, also refers to sexual intercourse in which the tip of the penis touches the cervix: “I mean,” comments Emin, sounding altogether outraged, “who would ever call a teenage disco ‘Top Spot’?”

    The artist now has a further reason to feel aggrieved. Top Spot was scheduled for UK theatrical release in December but was given an 18 certificate by the British Board of Film

  • Jonathan Romney


    1. Innocence (Lucile Hadzihalilovic) The debut discovery of the year—an eerie, hermetic world inhabited by prepubescent girls, with echoes of Buñuel, Balthus, Borowczyk, and Angela Carter, yet totally, audaciously original.

    2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry) Who would have thought that Alain Resnais would be reincarnated in the byzantine convolutions of a Franco-American essay in romantic slapstick?

    3. Goodbye Dragon Inn (Tsai Ming-liang) A beautiful, tender, farcical farewell to cinema from a Taiwanese melancholic with a peerless eye for elegant perspectives