sat 04/02/2023

Film Reviews

La Mif review - Swiss docu-drama focuses on troubled teens

Saskia Baron

La Mif is French slang for family  - it’s the cool kids practice of reversing key words known as ‘verlan’ (itself l’envers backwards) to create their own language.

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Here Before review - family values under supernatural pressure

Adam Sweeting

You generally find that a movie with Andrea Riseborough in it is worth a look, and so it proves here.

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The Real Charlie Chaplin review - not as revealing as its title suggests

Adam Sweeting

Even today, Charlie Chaplin still earns glowing accolades from critics for his work during the formative years of cinema, though a contemporary viewing public saturated in CGI and superheroes might struggle to see the allure of his oeuvre as the “Little Tramp”.

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Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy review - a trio of tales from Japan

Saskia Baron

With some films it’s all about the editing, a brisk parade of striking images accompanied by a kinetic score.  And then there are films like Hamaguchi Ryusuke’s Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy and the Oscar-nominated Drive My Car, where the camera stays still and watches the performers watching each other talk.

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Marry Me review - Jennifer Lopez vehicle delivers

Veronica Lee

Lots of drama follows well-worn paths; just as we expect that in a tragedy that Chekhov's gun (or variants of it) will deliver the denouement, so we know that in a romcom the two leads will end up together. So – no spoilers, but you know the drill – Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson's characters overcome all sorts of obstacles that could thwart their romance.

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Death on the Nile review - Kenneth Branagh flounders again as Poirot

Veronica Lee

Death on the Nile, Kenneth Branagh's second visit to Agatha Christie's oeuvre, was supposed to be released in November 2020 but Covid, a studio sale and some embarrassing revelations about one of its cast members put paid to that. Was it worth the wait? Not really.

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Flee review - award-winning documentary portrays the refugee experience

Saskia Baron

It’s good timing for the release of Flee in UK cinemas. The Danish movie has just made Oscar history by being nominated in three categories – Animated Feature, Documentary, and International Feature and is bound to win in at least one of them. 

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The Souvenir Part II review – the problem with posh realism

Graham Fuller

The Souvenir Part II apparently concludes Joanna Hogg’s fly-on-the-wall drama about a woman film student's emotional evolution as the victim of both her older boyfriend's abuse and the disdain of her male instructors. It’s a psychologically perceptive drama full of acute observations, yet it’s disconcerting in its social complacency.

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The Night Doctor review - down and out in Paris

Markie Robson-Scott

Elie Wajeman’s moodily lit film noir is, among other things, a great advertisement for the French healthcare system. Doctors in Paris do home visits! Even at night, and even for minor troubles such as a painful leg or stomach upset. It costs slightly more than going to the surgery, but t’inquiète pas, you’ll be reimbursed. Just don't lose your insurance card.

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Lingui: The Sacred Bonds review - female love finds a way

Nick Hasted

“Lingui” is the Chadian word for “sacred bonds, the common thread”, a social ideal put to the test here by an illegal abortion.

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Parallel Mothers review - letting the dead speak

Nick Hasted

Almodóvar has rarely returned to the petrified Spain of his youth, flinging off Franco’s oppression by ignoring it in his early films of freewheeling provocation, where anarchic, hot freedom was all of the law. In this sober tale of secrets and lies, though, his nation’s past is literally dug up.

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The Eyes of Tammy Faye review - Jessica Chastain pulls out all the stops

Markie Robson-Scott

US televangelists Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker’s rise and spectacular fall from grace in the Seventies and Eighties has already been covered in a documentary film of the same name, released in 2000 with a voice-over by RuPaul.

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Belfast review - coming of age amid the terror of the Troubles

Adam Sweeting

For all his achievements as actor and director, Kenneth Branagh isn’t immediately thought of as a screenwriter, despite his multiple Shakespeare adaptations. That may all change with Belfast, because Branagh’s deeply personal account (he’s both writer and director) of a Northern Irish childhood in the early days of the Troubles has a little touch of magic about it.

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Long Promised Road review - another attempt to probe the fragile genius of Brian Wilson

Adam Sweeting

There has been no shortage of documentaries about king Beach Boy Brian Wilson, not to mention the 2014 bio-drama Love & Mercy, so the purpose of this new effort by director Brent Wilson (no relation) isn’t altogether clear.

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Nightmare Alley review - a dazzling trip through a heart of darkness

Adam Sweeting

Director Guillermo del Toro has described Nightmare Alley as “a straight, really dark story”, lacking the supernatural elements in his previous films such as Crimson Peak and The Shape of Water. Nonetheless, Nightmare Alley still feels like a spectral visitation from a weird and menacing dimension.

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Memory Box review - exquisitely made drama set in Lebanon

Saskia Baron

Memory Box is that rare thing, a glimpse into a lost world from its traumatised inhabitants. Made by the Lebanese artist-filmmakers, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige (a husband and wife team), it’s an intergenerational drama split between Beirut during the Eighties (the height of the Lebanese Civil War) and present day Canada. 

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