sat 24/07/2021

Film Reviews

Off the Rails review - go for the scenery, not the script

Matt Wolf

Mamma Mia! hovers unhelpfully over every frame of Off the Rails, a road movie of sorts in which three women make a music-fueled pilgrimage to Mallorca to honour the wishes of a fourth friend, who has died before time of cancer.

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Old review - time flies in tropical island mystery

Adam Sweeting

You can rely on M Night Shyamalan to deliver supernatural shocks and freakish events, but the alternative-reality nature of his projects demands suspension of disbelief. It’s great when it works (The Sixth Sense or Split), but a bit of a bummer when it doesn’t.

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Riders of Justice review - revenge, coincidence and the meaning of life

Markie Robson-Scott

All events are products of a series of preceding events. Or is life just a chain of coincidences? And if so, what’s the point in anything?

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Two of Us review - a lesbian love story with a difference

Markie Robson-Scott

“Do you have a problem with old dykes?” demands Nina (the superbly ferocious Barbara Sukowa) of a bland, nervous young estate agent, halfway through this wonderfully original first feature from director Filippo Meneghetti. No, he stammers.

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Summer of Soul review - glorious documentary combines music and black American history

Saskia Baron

It’s entirely appropriate that in 2021, when debates about racism fill our minds and music festivals are still curtailed that Summer of Soul, filmed in 1969 but forgotten for decades, should win Sundance and hit our screens.

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Tove review - tasteful portrait of the Moomins creator

Saskia Baron

Even for this reviewer, who was brought up on Tove Jansson’s quirky children’s books (and is the owner of some 50 different Moomin coffee cups), it’s a stretch to recommend dropping everything to go and see Tove in the cinema. There’s nothing wrong with the film as far as it goes, but unfortunately it doesn’t go quite far enough.

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Mosley: It's Complicated review - flattering portrait of a clever and ruthless power-broker

Adam Sweeting

Director and co-writer Michael Shevloff’s film about Max Mosley, who died in May this year, is a curious beast, perhaps reflecting the difficulties of pinning down such a complex character.

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French Exit review - Michelle Pfeiffer faces mortality

Matt Wolf

Michelle Pfeiffer all but purrs her way through French Exit, as befits a splendid actress who cut a memorable Catwoman onscreen nearly thirty years ago.

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The Tomorrow War, Amazon Prime - futuristic blockbuster outstays its welcome

Adam Sweeting

Originally designed as a Yuletide widescreen blockbuster, The Tomorrow War belatedly emerges on Amazon’s streaming service, which at least means you can hit the pause button during its immense 140-minute running time whenever you need a leak or a refill.

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Hairspray, London Coliseum review - brighter and more welcome than ever

Gary Naylor

A revival of a multi-award winning musical, with a big star or two, may look like a safe choice to re-open London’s largest theatre, the Coliseum, but there was a tingle of jeopardy in the air, exemplified when the show catches you by surprise, the curtain rising when (surely) people remain in the bar?

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Blu-ray: Flowers of Shanghai

Daniel Baksi

Rounding out a decade of personal success – beginning with his Cannes Jury Prize-winning The Puppetmaster (1993), followed by a best director award for Good Men, Good Women (1995) – the Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien travelled to the Japanese harbour city of Hirado as part of his research for Flowers of Shanghai (1998).

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In the Heights review - to life, Lin-Manuel Miranda-style

Matt Wolf

The general uptick of late in film versions of stage musical hits continues apace with In the Heights, which, to my mind anyway, is far more emotionally satisfying and visually robust onscreen than it was on Broadway, where it won the 2008 Tony for Best Musical.

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The Reason I Jump review - compelling and controversial

Joseph Walsh

Back in 2017, a non-speaking autistic teen, Naoki Higashida wrote and published The Reason I Jump. He hoped it would offer some insight into the minds of people with autism. The book was subsequently translated by Keiko Yoshida and her husband, Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell. 

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The Father review - gripping dementia drama

Tom Baily

Florian Zeller: the name might not be familiar in the world of cinema. But watch this space.

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Nobody review - Bob Odenkirk reinvents himself as all-action dynamo

Adam Sweeting

Fans of Bob Odenkirk’s work in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul will be delighted to see him taking centre stage in Ilya Naishuller’s thriller, but perhaps bamboozled at the spectacle of Odenkirk taking the plunge into the blood-splattered territory previously the preserve of John Wick and Liam Neeson’s Bryan Taken Mills.

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Shiva Baby review - sex, lies and rugelach

Markie Robson-Scott

Comedian Rachel Sennott stars as Danielle, a conflicted, bisexual twenty-something college student who's taking money she doesn't really need from a sugar daddy who isn't who she thinks he is. Emma Seligman’s debut feature, which began as a short in her film studies degree at New York University, is full of energy in its exploration of the dynamics of sex, power and career, with lox and bagels on the side.

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