thu 26/11/2020

Film Reviews

Summer of 85 review - a tender, tragic coming-of-age

Tom Birchenough

Intriguingly, Summer of 85 could have been François Ozon’s very first film.

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Cordelia review – Antonia Campbell-Hughes and Johnny Flynn star in an off-kilter tale of trauma

Joseph Walsh

There's something deeply uncanny about Adrian Shergold's Cordelia. When the film's poster was released on social media, many mistook it for a kinky period drama with the power dynamics reversed. It definitely isn't a costume drama, but there's some kink.

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Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins review - a fitting tribute to a political hellraiser

Saskia Baron

It’s a brave film distributor who releases a documentary about an American journalist in the UK at the best of times, let alone in the middle of a pandemic, so first salute goes to Eve Gabereau at Modern Films for giving Raise Hell a proper launch.

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Bruce Springsteen's Letter to You, Apple TV+ review - his new album is a matter of life and death

Adam Sweeting

Towards the end of this new documentary, an account of how he recorded his new album Letter to You at his home studio in New Jersey, Bruce Springsteen delivers a eulogy to the E Street Band.

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LFF 2020: Nomadland review - Francis McDormand gives a career-defining performance

Joseph Walsh

Chloé Zhao’s The Rider was a film of rare honesty and beauty. Who would have thought she’d be able to top the power of that majestic docudrama? But with Nomadland she has.

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Ronnie's review – fascinating story of the fabled Soho jazz club

Sebastian Scotney

Ronnie Scott was a remarkable man: “Jazz Musician, Club Proprietor, Raconteur and Wit, he was the leader of our generation,” reads the memorial to him at Golders Green Crematorium. Oliver Murray’s documentary film Ronnie’s is an affectionate and portrait of him and of the jazz club he founded.

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The Other Lamb review - a surreal portrait of an abusive cult

Markie Robson-Scott

“Thank you, Shepherd, for allowing us to be your wives. Come down upon me and fill me with yourself.” Collective ecstasy – and a lot of wool – is the order of the day in this cult led by Michael, aka Shepherd (Michiel Huisman; Game of Thrones; The Haunting of Hill House), a handsome, bearded chap who looks soft and likeable but has a sadistic Jesus complex.

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LFF 2020: Never Gonna Snow Again review - mystic masseur with God-like gifts

Adam Sweeting

The 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl was brilliantly explored in last years’s HBO series, but here, prolific Polish director Malgorzata Szumowska finds an alternative purpose for the disaster. As a child Zhenia, the Ukrainian protagonist of Never Gonna Snow Again, fell under the shadow of the doomed reactor, as we see in bleak, colour-drained flashbacks.

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LFF 2020: Another Round review – a glass half empty

Demetrios Matheou

In 2012, two great Danes, director Thomas Vinterberg and actor Mads Mikkelsen, teamed up for the powerhouse drama The Hunt, about a teacher victimised by his community when wrongly accused of abusing a pupil.

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Being A Human Person review - enter the surreal world of Roy Andersson

Joseph Walsh

It’s fair to say that the idiosyncratic, surrealist films of Roy Andersson are not everyone’s cup of tea. Whether you find his films impregnable or incisive, it’s impossible to argue with the artistic imprint the Swedish auteur has had on European cinema. Now at the age of 77, he has made his last film, About Endlessness.

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LFF 2020: Supernova review – Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth shine as couple on the road

Joseph Walsh

Unsurprisingly, theres a lot of pleasure to be had watching Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth as a mature couple pootling around the UK in their humble camper van. They bicker about the satnav voice, argue the merits of the shipping forecast, and both give such convincing performances that you’d think they’d been together for decades.

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Time review - a stunning portait of enduring love

Owen Richards

Sometimes in fictional cinema, a character can seem so strong, so righteous, that you begin to doubt the reality of the piece. How can anyone be that good when faced with such hardship? Perhaps these thoughts make us feel better about ourselves, and what we do with our lives. But we can make no excuses with Time, a documentary about a woman so remarkable that it could only be true.

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LFF 2020: One Night in Miami review - Kemp Powers's play makes the leap to the big screen

Adam Sweeting

Set on February 25 1964, Kemp Powers’s 2013 play One Night in Miami put newly-crowned World Heavyweight Champion Cassius Clay in a motel room with soul singer Sam Cooke, superstar NFL footballer Jim Brown and spokesman for the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X.

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The Lie review - icily intriguing until it isn't

Matt Wolf

Moral reckonings don't come much more serious than the one that propels The Lie, in which a family must deal with a murder perpetrated by their daughter. Will Jay (a weary-looking Peter Sarsgaard) and Rebecca (the wonderful Mireille Enos) hand 15-year-old Kayla (Joey King) over to the authorities?

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LFF 2020: Mangrove review – rousing, resonant blast from the past

Demetrios Matheou

Hats off to the BFI London Film Festival for producing an edition – slimmed down but lip-smacking – in this most terrible, uncertain of years. And it couldn’t have opened with a better film than this blisteringly powerful, viscerally topical drama by Steve McQueen.

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Kajillionaire review - quirks, strangeness and charm from Miranda July

Markie Robson-Scott

Old Dolio, the oddly named central character played, wonderfully, by Evan Rachel Wood in Miranda July’s third feature film, learned to forge signatures before she could write. “In fact that’s how she learned to write,” says her father Robert (the great Richard Jenkins) proudly.

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