Nothing has moved me this year as much as a scene from Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow. Otis ‘Cookie’ Figowitz (John Magaro), a shy, shuffling, wild creature of a man finds himself standing in a single room cabin in a forest in nineteenth century Oregon. The woods are as hushed and sacred as a cathedral. You can feel a sharp shiver of cold in the air, and the leaves are gilded with autumnal sunlight. His host, a Chinese immigrant named King-Lu (Orion Lee) chops wood outside in the surrounding glade. We catch glimpses of him through the glassless windows, and we…


On 27 December 2016 Carrie Fisher passed away, having suffered from cardiac arrest on a flight from London to Los Angeles four days previously. Fisher remains practically synonymous with her role as Princess Leia Organa in Star Wars (1977, hereafter referred to as A New Hope to distinguish it from the franchise), its two sequels The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), and two instalments in the sequel trilogy, The Force Awakens (2015) and The Last Jedi (2017). “Her portrayal of the sardonic and self- rescuing princess redefined the archetype,” claims a book published by Disney…


David Lowery’s 2017 film A Ghost Story adopts conventions of the haunted house film and blends them with the aesthetics of what might be broadly referred to as “arthouse cinema”, fusing the fantastical with the existential. Its title signals its alignment with the horror genre, and in doing so draws attention to its fundamental stylistic diversion from other ghost stories. Boot claims that “Ghosts…have always been a staple of horror,” yet on its release it was identified by film journalists as “post-horror…a new breed of horror [that] is creeping into the multiplex, replacing jump-scares with existential dread” (p.5, Rose, 2017)…

Laura Venning

Film writer, English Heritage assistant, Jane Campion champion. @laura_venning on Twitter.

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