sat 29/02/2020

Film Reviews

Portrait of a Lady on Fire review – love unshackled

Graham Fuller

Portrait of a Lady on Fire is windblown, spare, taut, and sensual – a haunted seaside romantic drama, set in the 18th century, that makes most recent films and series dressed in period costumes seem like party-line effusions of empty style and social conservatism (Gentleman Jack excepted).

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Berlinale 2020: Never Rarely Sometimes Always review - raw and unflinching abortion drama hits home

Joseph Walsh

Back in 2017, writer-director Eliza Hittman won over audiences with her beautiful coming-of-age drama Beach Rats.

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Dark Waters review - an ominous drama with plenty of backbone, but not enough flesh

Jill Chuah Masters

Watching Dark Waters, the latest film from director Todd Haynes (Carol, Far from Heaven), I kept thinking — what’s the opposite of a love letter? The film is based on the work of Rob Bilott, a real-life lawyer who uncovered a corruption scandal so toxic that it was literally poisoning us.

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Push review – lifting the lid on the housing crisis

Sarah Kent

Italian journalist Roberto Saviano still lives in fear of his life 11 years after writing Gomorrah, which explores how criminal gangs use tax havens to launder money. “You make 100 million euros from trafficking cocaine or migrants,” he explains, “and you buy restaurants, hotels and houses legally, sell them to your offshore company then buy them back at a much higher price.” 

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Berlinale 2020: My Salinger Year review - 70th edition of the festival opens in style

Joseph Walsh

There’s an undeniable romance to mid-Nineties New York. Absent of the chirp of mobile phones, or the swirl of social media, it comes across as a more halcyon age, closer to the Forties than the Noughties.

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Midnight Family review - a thrilling documentary set in Mexico City

Markie Robson-Scott

“It’s cool to see a car crash or a gunshot wound, it’s exciting.” Emergency medical technician Juan Ochoa, 17, loves his work, which is just as well because he doesn’t always get paid.

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Little Joe - trouble in the greenhouse

Graham Fuller

Austrian filmmaker Jessica Hausner’s disquieting fifth feature, and her first English language one, Little Joe is a sci-fi drama that ponders the tangled choices faced by many modern women – Kubrickian though it is in its imma

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The Call of the Wild review - how big-hearted Buck became leader of the pack

Adam Sweeting

Jack London’s original novel was a brutal and Darwinian account of a dog's life in the Klondike during the gold rush at the end of the 19th century.

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Greed review - so-so satire of the über rich

Demetrios Matheou

Steve Coogan’s long partnership with director Michael Winterbottom is probably best known for The Trip and its spin-offs, involving Coogan’s comic culinary excursions alongside Rob Brydon.

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First Love review - Miike delivers thrills and spills

Owen Richards

He's one of Japan's foremost directors, and if you’ve witnessed one of his films before, you know what to expect from a Takashi Miike yakuza film. High-octane, boundary pushing fun from first frame to last. And that’s exactly what First Love is.

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Sonic the Hedgehog review - stuck in first gear

Nick Hasted

An early trailer for this adaptation of the ‘90s games franchise caused Cats­-like horror at its overly humanoid Hedgehog.

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Emma review – lustrous but far from definitive

Demetrios Matheou

The decade is kicking off with the revisiting of old classics. That’s not a bad pursuit, with new audiences in mind, though these days there’s a reasonable expectation of a shot in the arm, a  contemporary spin, a fresh perspective. Greta Gerwig certainly achieved that with Little Women, as did Armando Iannucci with The Personal History of David Copperfield.

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Dolittle review - a star is bored

Nick Hasted

“I knew I shouldn’t have let monkeys read the contract,” Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) mutters. The star should have read the script of his first post-Marvel vehicle more closely, too, before taking on the role which previously sank Rex Harrison’s career.

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Mr Jones review - a timely testament to journalism

Owen Richards

While the horrors of Hitler’s rule are well documented, Joseph Stalin’s crimes are less renowned, so much so that in a recent poll in Russia he was voted their greatest ever leader. This chilling fact made acclaimed director Agnieszka Holland feel compelled to remedy such a legacy.

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Parasite review - a class war with grand designs

Demetrios Matheou

With the Oscars approaching, one film building momentum in the fight for best picture – and whose victory would delight all but the most blinkered – is the Korean Bong Joon Ho’s deliriously dark and entertaining black comedy, Parasite

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Birds of Prey review - the DCU is back on track

Joseph Walsh

Back in 2016, David Ayer’s infantile Suicide Squad burst upon us in a wash of lurid greens and purples. Ayer’s film had a myriad of problems, not least the hyper-sexualisation of Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie. While controversy abounded, Robbie’s performance remained a highlight. A manic mix of Betty Boop and Fatal Attraction’s Alex Forrest, she stole the film. 

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Portrait of a Lady on Fire review – love unshackled

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