thu 02/07/2020

Film Reviews

Memory: The Origins of Alien review - a study of the sci-fi horror classic

Saskia Baron

Forty years after Alien made a star out of Sigourney Weaver, comes a documentary that goes into forensic detail about the movie’s original writer and monstrous imagery but barely mentions its lead actor despite the fact that her portrayal of Ripley broke all the stereotypes of women in sci-fi.

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The Souvenir review – Joanna Hogg's most emotionally wrenching film yet

Graham Fuller

Joanna Hogg’s melancholy autobiographical drama The Souvenir cuts too close to the bone.

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The Informer review - tough but tin-eared B-movie

Nick Hasted

If it wasn’t for bad luck, Pete Koslow (Joel Kinnaman) wouldn’t have any luck at all. Being an Iraq special forces veteran jailed for protecting his wife in a bar fight seems wretched karma enough.

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Hail Satan? review - the detail of the devil

Joseph Walsh

As Penny Lane’s documentary shows, America and Satanism have a long history.

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A Faithful Man review - an atypical romance

Owen Richards

There were some early warning signs that A Faithful Man might be another box-ticking French romcom. The poster of two women kissing one man, his bemused look in the middle. The lethargic narration referencing childhood and the mysteries of the female mind. Here we go again.

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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark review - mild-mannered nightmares

Nick Hasted

Guillermo del Toro considered directing this adaptation of Alvin Schwartz’s bestselling campfire tales, and his sensibility can still be discerned in its kind sort of fantasy and concern with outsiders.

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Pain and Glory review - masterful meditation on age and art

Nick Hasted

The Almodovar who made his name as an all-out provocateur in the Eighties considers that wild art’s becalmed far side, in this quietly wonderful meditation on where it’s left him.

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Transit review - existential nightmares for a German refugee

Saskia Baron

If you’re looking for escapism from anxieties about Brexit, the worldwide refugee crisis and rising authoritarianism, Christian Petzold’s Transit is not going to provide comfort.

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Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood review – Tarantino’s mellowest film yet

Demetrios Matheou

Quentin Tarantino’s made a big deal of this being his ninth film, while heralding his retirement after number 10 with the sort of nostalgic fandom he’s always ladled over his favourite directors and stars.

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JT Leroy review - pseudonym, avatar, literary hoax

Markie Robson-Scott

Based on Savannah Knoop’s memoir Girl Boy Girl: How I became JT LeRoy, Justin Kelly’s film skims the surface of the sensational literary hoax of the early 2000s, that far-off time before avatars, gender fluidity and fake online identity were part of everyday life.

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Playmobil The Movie review - resolutely kids' stuff

Nick Hasted

Modern children’s films wink knowingly over kids’ heads at their paying parents, as with the Lego movies’ rapid-fire pop-culture salvos. Lino DiSalvo (Disney’s Head of Animation for Frozen) could have sulked upon receiving the apparent short straw of rival Playmobil’s toys for his directorial debut. Instead, he finds modest charm in a simpler childhood world.  

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Blinded by the Light review – flawed but feelgood

Demetrios Matheou

Filmmakers have an obsession with the music world that is beginning to seem unhealthy. In quick succession we’ve had two Abba musicals, biopics of Freddie Mercury and Elton John, A Star is Born with Lady Gaga and the Beatles fantasy Yesterday, most of which feel pretty B-side. 

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Gaza review - portraits of love and futility

Tom Baily

First-time collaborators Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell have tried to divert from the standard media narrative by looking at Gaza from the viewpoint of its inhabitants.

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Holiday review - harrowing Danish drama about misogyny

Graham Fuller

The English-language drama Holiday, Danish filmmaker Isabella Eklöf’s feature debut, is an anthropological study of the corrosive effects of absolute male power and calcified misogyny.

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Animals review - who decides when the party's over?

Adam Sweeting

This is a scathing and heartfelt coming of age drama, though not of the adolescent kind. Tyler and Laura are soulmates and flatmates, two single women blazing a riotous trail of booze, sex and drugs through the bars and basements of Dublin.

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Photograph review - a fresh take on old love stories

Joseph Walsh

“Movies are all the same,” says one character in Photograph, the latest film from India independent director, Ritesh Batra. It’s true, the plot feels familiar, but if stories are all the same, it’s how you play with the form that makes a film a success or not.

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