Voted Sight and Sound magazine's top film of 2015 and winner of the Best Director prize at Cannes, Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s stunning film follows a lethal assassin as she’s sent back to her homeland to kill the powerful governor of Weibo, a man to whom she was once betrothed. But once there, Yinniang’s emotions lead her to defy her orders, only to discover a new, unexpected source of strength.
Boasting some of the most stunning, sumptuously composed cinematography ever committed to digital film, The Assassin offers a bold and highly original take on the wuxia (martial arts fantasy) genre; one which focuses on the meditative, zen-infused moments between battles rather than the act of combat itself. Despite this emphasis, the drama is punctuated by cleverly kinetic fight sequences, which Hou and cinematographer Mark Lee Ping Bing audaciously frame in exquisite wide shots rather than the quick-cut montages traditional to the genre. The result is a film that opens up wuxia fiction to a wholly new direction, while also illustrating that Hou’s singular approach to pacing and tone can translate across genres.
Action and Adventure
Action and Adventure 2018 108 mins
The Salem witch trials are given a digital overhaul in this ferocious female action film.
The Bourne Identity
Crime 2002 118 mins Director: Doug Liman
The spy thriller that overturned the genre stars Matt Damon as the amnesiac searching for his true identity.
The Bourne Ultimatum
Thriller 2007 115 mins Director: Paul Greengrass
Director Paul Greengrass returns for the third Bourne film, famed for its incredibly tense opening sequence in London Waterloo station.
The Bourne Supremacy
Crime 2004 108 mins Director: Paul Greengrass
Britain’s Paul Greengrass takes the helms for the spy sequel, shaping the series with his penchant for documentary-style realism.
Action and Adventure 2017 100 mins Director: Lance Daly
During the Great Famine, an Irish Ranger returns from war to discover even greater devastation at home.
The Jungle Book
Children's 1942 106 mins Director: Zoltan Korda
A Technicolor marvel and early adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s celebrated novel, following a young boy raised in the jungle by animals.
Sight & Sound's Best Films
The Duke of Burgundy
Drama 2014 104 mins Director: Peter Strickland
Peter Strickland’s visually and aurally intoxicating tale of sadomasochistic power-play is a daringly erotic sensory feast.
Goodbye to Language
Drama 2014 70 mins Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard’s typically innovative and playful meditation on technology, love and language was acclaimed one of the best films of 2014.
Drama 2015 82 mins Director: Lucile Hadzihalilovic
The long-awaited second feature from Lucile Hadžihalilović (Innocence) is a gorgeously surreal coming-of-age tale laced with bizarre body-horror.
No Home Movie
Documentary 2015 118 mins Director: Chantal Akerman
Chantal Akerman’s rigorously observational portrait of her late mother takes on a whole new significance in the wake of the director’s own premature passing.
Drama 2014 98 mins Director: Christian Petzold
Nina Hoss is superb as concentration camp survivor who assumes a new identity, in Christian Petzold’s intricate post-WWII thriller.
Cemetery of Splendour
Drama 2015 120 mins Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s imaginative, sensuous and enigmatic film about soldiers suffering from a mysterious sleeping sickness.
Featuring Chang Chen
Action and Adventure 2013 109 mins Director: Wong Kar-wai
Wong Kar-Wai’s lavish martial arts biopic tells the story of Ip Man, the legendary trainer who became Bruce Lee’s mentor.
Advert 1961 31 mins Director: Graham Watts
Advertising magazine marking the opening of the Ideal Home exhibition in Olympia. Jimmy and Maggie Hanley present the featured products.
On the Basis of Sex
Biopic 2018 120 mins Director: Mimi Leder
Defiant dramatisation of the early career of future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as she faces adversity and numerous obstacles as a struggling attorney and new mother.
Comedy 2017 95 mins Director: Toby MacDonald
Charmingly idiosyncratic comedy reworking of Cyrano de Bergerac, with Alex Lawther as a boarder who helps the school hero woo a French teacher's daughter despite being besotted with her himself.
Drama 2018 95 mins Director: Georgia Parris
Modern dance is an evocative narrative tool in Georgia Parris’ debut, which investigates a young woman’s identity and the complex relationship she has with her mother and sister.
Drama 2018 115 mins Director: Joel Edgerton
Joel Edgerton directs this piercing drama about a young man enrolled in a gay conversion therapy program, based on the heartbreaking memoir by Garrard Conley.
If Beale Street Could Talk
Drama 2018 119 mins Director: Barry Jenkins
Barry Jenkins follows his Oscar®-winning Moonlight with an audacious, distinctive and assured adaptation of James Baldwin’s account of love, injustice and racism in America.