fri 13/12/2019

Film Reviews

Jumanji: The Next Level review - raising their game

Demetrios Matheou

Two years ago Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle dusted off the Robin Williams vehicle from the Nineties with entertaining results, improving on the original with astute casting, a goofy script and special effects that didn’t take themselves too seriously.

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Sons of Denmark review - political thriller stirs cauldron of hot-button issues

Adam Sweeting

The first feature by Copenhagen-born director Ulaa Salim dives boldly into a cauldron of hot-button issues – terrorism, racism, nationalism and fascism. It’s set in 2025, in a Denmark suffering from bomb attacks and violently polarised politics. This climate has spawned the titular Sons of Denmark.

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The Cave review - heroic Syrian hospital workers

Graham Fuller

War crimes are war crimes, irrespective of the victims’ ages, gender, or ethnicities, and no one’s torture or murder is more abhorrent than anyone else’s.

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Lucy in the Sky review - Portman falls from orbit

Joseph Walsh

Best-known for his TV series Legion and Fargo, director Noah Hawley makes the leap to the big screen with an existential space drama based on true events, starring Natalie Portman.

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So Long, My Son review - an intimate Chinese epic

Nick Hasted

Two young boys play by the water. Soon, one is dead. This enigmatic tragedy is the core of a four-decade Chinese saga of grief, guilt and love, at once intimately personal and scarred by the state’s grinding turns.

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Honey Boy review - coming to terms with dad

Tom Baily

Blue periods can lead to golden streaks. Such is almost the case with Honey Boy, which Shia LaBeouf wrote during a court-ordered stay in a rehab clinic for the treatment of PTSD symptoms.

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Ordinary Love review - small but (almost) perfectly formed

Matt Wolf

Amidst the deluge of high-profile year-end releases, it would be a shame if the collective Oscar-bait noise drowned out Ordinary Love, as quietly extraordinary a film as has been seen in some time.

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Motherless Brooklyn review – tic tec

Demetrios Matheou

Edward Norton has wanted to adapt Motherless Brooklyn since Jonathan Lethem’s acclaimed novel was first published 20 years ago.

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The Nightingale review – revenge without redemption

Tom Baily

Writer-director Jennifer Kent knows that Australia’s colonial past shouldn’t be beautified, and she drives that fact home in every gloom-drenched shot of The Nightingale (her second feature after The Babadook from 2014).

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The Party's Just Beginning review - a formidable debut

Owen Richards

For an actor, there are few bigger risks than writing and directing your own film. Securing funding is pretty easy if you’re a household name, like Karen Gillan is, but that doesn’t mean your script is any good or your vision holds water. At their worst, these films can be vain and embarrassing affairs. At their best, you’re left wondering if there’s anything their star can’t do.

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Charlie's Angels review - feminism-lite action comedy

Graham Fuller

“Badass” – as applied to dynamic women – and “girl power” may be the kinds of exhausted clichés that are reductive in the #MeToo and Time’s Up era, but the new Charlie’s Angels movie revitalises the attitude they describe in a way that’s neither condescending nor retrogressive.

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Knives Out review - marvellous murder mystery

Demetrios Matheou

The world’s most successful mystery writer is found dead on the morning after his 85th birthday.

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The Amber Light review - tales, songs and drams

Tom Baily

A documentary about celebration, fellowship, and the comforting afterglow of cherished memories. What better way to spend a cold late-Autumn evening? Such is the effect of this charming, low-key investigation into the story of Scotch.

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Harriet review - potentially stirring biopic proves a slog

Matt Wolf

A defining chapter in American history is all but sold down river in Harriet, director Kasi Lemmons' tubthumpingly banal film about the extraordinary bravery and courage of the American freedom fighter, Harriet Tubman. Telling the same story more expansively chronicled several decades ago in a Cicely Tyson-led American mini-series, Harriet casts the diminutive yet mighty English actress Cynthia Erivo in the title role without seeming to know quite how to use her.

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Ophelia review - tragic no more

Owen Richards

Ophelia is one of Shakespeare’s most iconic yet underdeveloped dramatic roles. A sweet and naïve girl, she’s driven mad by Hamlet’s wavering affections and her father’s death. She was often the subject of paintings, yet rarely of novels until the 21st century.

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Greener Grass review - American suburbia goes haywire in surreal dark comedy

Markie Robson-Scott

The pink, turquoise and orange world of Greener Grass is a riot of derangement. Here is the suburban dream gone haywire, where, out of politeness, a woman gives her baby to her friend because she admires it. Every adult wears braces, hair bleeds when you get it cut and a boy turns into a golden retriever (his father is delighted – at last he’s willing to run for the ball).

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