wed 26/04/2017

Film Reviews

Unforgettable review - forgettable film

demetrios Matheou

Within seconds – literally seconds – of Unforgettable it becomes apparent that this is the kind of film that in the late Eighties and Nineties used to be referred to as “straight to video”, a label that covered a plethora of trashy, sexist, by-the-numbers psycho and erotic thrillers that beat a hasty route to Blockbuster.

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Clash review - 'a nation in crisis'

adam Sweeting

An Egyptian/French co-production directed by Egyptian film-maker Mohamed Diab, Clash is a fevered, chaotic attempt to portray some of the tangled undercurrents that fuelled Egypt’s “Arab Spring” and its subsequent unravelling.

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Their Finest review - undone by feeble female characterisation

Saskia Baron

Yet another excuse to snuggle down with some cosy wartime nostalgia, Their Finest is purportedly a tribute to women’s undervalued role in the British film industry. Unfortunately it comes over more blah than Blitz.

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The Handmaiden review - 'opulently lurid'

nick Hasted

Park Chan-wook is a Korean decadent and moralist who’d have plenty to say to Aubrey Beardsley.

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The Sense of an Ending review – an enigmatic journey through the past

adam Sweeting

Julian Barnes’s 2011 novel The Sense of an Ending teased the brains of many a reader with its split time frame and ambiguous conclusion. It was the sort of thing that the interiorised world of fiction can do surpassingly well, and Barnes had handled it skilfully enough to carry off the Man Booker Prize.

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The Hatton Garden Job review - 'extraordinarily dull'

jasper Rees

There have been plenty of films glamourising diamond geezers who live on the wrong side of the law. Some of them don’t even star Danny Dyer. In the history of British film, rhyming slang plus dodgy morals equals box office. Perhaps there is even a special source of European funding ring-fenced for low-budget films about cockney gangsters. The true story of the old lags who pulled off the biggest...

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Aftermath, review - 'Schwarzenegger acts!'

nick Hasted

Arnie acts! Like “Garbo laughs,” there are some things you learn never to expect, and a credible, committed Arnold Schwarzenegger playing a grief-stricken construction worker is high among them. His role as a melancholy father dealing with his daughter’s impending transformation into a murderous zombie in Maggie (2015) was the first indication of a new direction.

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I Am Not Your Negro, review - 'powerful portrait of James Baldwin'

Saskia Baron

The Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro is a chronicle of the pioneering writer and Civil Rights activist James Baldwin. Its director Raoul Peck mirrors the intellectual challenge that Baldwin set his audience: the film demands that you pay close attention and listen to a complex argument backed up visually with diverse social and cultural references.

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A Quiet Passion, review - 'Cynthia Nixon is an indrawn Emily Dickinson'

matt Wolf

Is there something about the recessive life of Emily Dickinson that defies dramatisation? I'm beginning to think so after A Quiet Passion. The Terence Davies film may attempt a more authentic take on the unrelievedly bleak, and also great, 19th-century American poet than the stage vehicle about her, The Belle of...

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Neruda, review - 'poetry and politics'

tom Birchenough

Chilean director Pablo Larrain has described Neruda as a “false biopic”, and it’s a film that surprises on many levels in its presentation of Pablo Neruda, the great poet who is his country’s best-known cultural figure. It captivates for the scope of its invention, its ludic combination of reality and artifice, poetry...

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City of Tiny Lights, review - 'Riz Ahmed sleuths in self-aware London noir'

David Kettle

The harsh metallic rasp of a cigarette lighter; a glamorous, vulnerable prostitute in distress; a noble lone crime-fighter standing dejected in the rain. All the familiar tropes of noir are present and correct – in fact, almost self-consciously ticked off – in this entertaining thriller from Pete Travis (Dredd, Endgame). But they’re in a jarringly unfamiliar context: this is...

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Mad To Be Normal, review - 'David Tennant is electric as RD Laing'

markie Robson-Scott

“What if I’ve made a terrible mistake?” Angie (a flirty, engaging Elizabeth Moss) is about to give birth to psychiatrist RD Laing’s baby, and you have to agree that it’s not the wisest plan.

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Free Fire review - 'entertaining massacre with superb cast'

nick Hasted

Ben Wheatley’s sixth film in a prolific, unpredictable career is a shoot-‘em-up in the most literal sense. Setting a superb international cast led by Brie Larson and Cillian Murphy down in a big, grim warehouse, he lets them blast bits off each other for 70 of Free Fire’s 90 minutes.

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Graduation review - 'Cannes winner is a bleak Romanian masterpiece'

tom Birchenough

A decade ago Romanian director Cristian Mungiu took the Palme d’Or at Cannes for 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, a gruelling abortion drama set in the dying days of the Ceauşescu dictatorship. The cold intensity of that film made it a key work in the remarkable movement that came to be known as the Romanian New Wave, which directed a pitiless eye at the reality of the country as it struggled...

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Ghost in the Shell review - 'a mind-bending futuristic dystopia'

adam Sweeting

The Japanese Ghost in the Shell phenomenon is celebrating its 25th birthday, and already has a long history in manga cartoons and animated movies.

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Aquarius review - 'the unease of contemporary Brazil'

tom Birchenough

Politics certainly caught up with Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Aquarius. The Brazilian director and his cast appeared at their Cannes competition premiere last year with placards protesting that democracy in their native land was in peril: it was the day after Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff had been suspended. Cut forward a few months, and the film’s autumn release coincided with the announcement...

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