mon 27/02/2017

Film Reviews

Oscars 2017: Moonlight and La La Land go toe to toe

matt Wolf

If only the recent American election had been similarly rectified. That was surely the thought on many people’s lips as the 89th Academy Awards ended in confusion with the news that the evening’s expected winner, La La Land, had in fact lost to Moonlight – an upset immediately amplified by easily the biggest cock-up in Oscar history. 

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It’s Only the End of the World

tom Birchenough

French-Canadian director Xavier Dolan leaves the time and place of It’s Only the End of the World (Juste la fin du monde) deliberately unclear: “Somewhere, a while ago already” is the only clue offered by its opening titles. An adaptation of the 1990 play by the French dramatist Jean-Luc Lagarce, its unspoken subject is AIDS (from which Lagarce himself died in 1995), with its story of a lead character, Louis, returning to his family after a long absence to reveal that he is dying....

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Patriots Day

jasper Rees

Patriots Day is a patriots’ film. It dramatises the grievous day on which American values were threatened on American soil like no other time since 9/11. Two bombs were detonated at the Boston marathon in April 2013: two bystanders were killed, 16 lost limbs while two policemen would go on to lose their lives. The two ...

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Lost in France

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Pulling together a music documentary strikes me as a simple enough concept. Gather your talking heads in front of a nice enough backdrop, splice with archive footage in some semblance of a narrative order and there you go. There’s no need to, say, hire a minibus and attempt to recreate a near-mythological gig from 20 years ago.

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Hidden Figures

matt Wolf

Sometimes a film can transcend its formulaic confines. That's triumphantly the case with Hidden Figures, a largely prosaically told reworking of the outsider-versus-the-system paradigm that gains piquancy from the story it has to tell and the vibrant personages at its centre. The chronicle of three black female mathematicians who against all sorts of odds transformed America's space movement in...

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Moonlight

tom Birchenough

As its title foretells, Moonlight is a luminous film. It shines light on experiences that may be completely different from our own, drawing us in with utter empathy. Director Barry Jenkins shows his lead character finding his way out of darkness, through pain, to attain a tentative revelation of self-acceptance. Yet this is no direct or glaring light: Jenkins shows himself a master of nuance, working with a script that is light on words but speaks...

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The Great Wall

jasper Rees

The Great Wall is David Icke’s worst nightmare. David Icke (if you weren’t there in the 1980s) was a BBC snooker presenter. After ingesting a brain-rotting anti-elixir, he transmogrified into a doolally conspiracy theorist in a turquoise shell suit. He had a showpiece theory about lizards. Lizards – “tall, blood-drinking, shape-shifting reptilian humanoids,” he specified – were hiding in underground bases and were “a force behind a worldwide conspiracy against humanity”.

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The Founder

adam Sweeting

Last year we had Jennifer Lawrence as the queen of the QVC shopping channel in Joy. For 2017, here’s Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, a struggling travelling salesman who went on to become the driving force behind the McDonald's fast-food empire. I’m looking forward to seeing George Clooney as Colonel Sanders.

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Casablanca

graham Fuller

You must remember this. It’s December 1941, the month of Pearl Harbour. Richard Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), an American, probably a Communist, who fought Franco in Spain and ran guns to Ethiopia when Mussolini invaded, has given up the fight against fascism and become the proprietor of Rick’s Café Américain, a casino-nightclub in Casablanca, in unoccupied French Morocco.

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LoveTrue

David Kettle

What’s love all about anyway? That’s the almost certainly unanswerable question that Israeli-American director Alma Har’el sets out to tackle in her strange, feverish, at times downright hallucinatory documentary LoveTrue. The problem is, by the end of its alternately entertaining and disconcerting 80 minutes, you’ll almost certainly be none the wiser. And you may even have forgotten...

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Fences

adam Sweeting

Fences is one of the best-known works by playwright August Wilson, part of his Century Cycle of plays exploring 100 years of black American history, and it won him a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award in 1987. Wilson died in 2005, but further gongs greeted the play’s 2010 Broadway revival, including Tonys for its stars Denzel Washington and Viola Davis.

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Taxi Driver

graham Fuller

Travis Bickle’s Manhattan is long gone, and except for those nostalgic for its grindhouses and their exploitation fare, few surely regret its passing. It’s been years since any modern-day Travis could cruise in a yellow taxi along the erstwhile “Deuce” - the squalid stretch of porn emporia and strip clubs on West 42nd Street - turn north up Eighth Avenue to the high forties and accurately observe, “All the animals come out at night - whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers,...

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Toni Erdmann

matt Wolf

There aren't many films that at (nearly) three hours in length leave you wanting more. But such is the hypnotic grip cast by Maren Ade's Oscar-nominated Toni Erdmann that its final image seems as much the prelude to something as a closing note on what has come before.

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Loving

markie Robson-Scott

Loving is not just a love story, it’s also the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a couple from Virginia who got married in 1958. Richard was white, Mildred was not, and because interracial marriage was banned in Virginia, they were both arrested under the anti-miscegenation laws.

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Gold

adam Sweeting

Matthew McConaughey has already had a go at hunting for gold (on film, at any rate) in 2008's Fool's Gold, where he and Kate Hudson were on the trail of a sunken Spanish galleon full of treasure. Critics were unsympathetic ("excruciatingly lame" was a fairly typical response).

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Christine

tom Birchenough

If Christine may occasionally be an uncomfortable film to watch, it’s impossible not to be gripped by Rebecca Hall’s sheer, virtuoso turn in the title role of Antonio Campos’ third feature: it sears itself on the memory with a pitiless rigour that won’t be easily forgetten.

Hall plays Christine Chubbuck, the Florida...

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