sun 05/04/2020

Film Reviews

Potiche

Emma Simmonds

A potiche is a decorative vase but in this demeaning context it refers to a “trophy wife”. In this winsome French farce, from the reliably dynamic François Ozon, the “trophy” in question is the spousal equivalent of the World Cup: Catherine Deneuve.

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Life in a Day

alexandra Coghlan

A teenage boy howls casually at the full moon; elephants in a river take a midnight dip, glossy with water and moonlight; a drunk on a park bench can’t hold back the laughter as he listens to an iPod. What were you doing on 24 July, 2010? It’s a question that executive producer Ridley Scott and director Kevin MacDonald, with the mighty aid of YouTube, asked people across the globe.

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Kaboom

Emma Simmonds

The playfully titled, deliriously deadpan Kaboom doesn’t so much explode onto the screen as briefly sparkle then fail to ignite. Superficially it’s an intriguing confusion of murder mystery, Generation Sex romp and slacker comedy, and is relentlessly prone to flights of Gregg Araki’s trademark psychedelic fancy. As shag-happy as a teenage boy, with its drugs, witches, cults and cast of nubiles it sounds like fun, right? Unfortunately, for the most part, it’s a bit of a drag.

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Point Blank

Adam Sweeting

You could reduce the theme of Fred Cavayé's Point Blank to "man races to save kidnapped wife", but that wouldn't give you the full flavour of the movie's remorseless pace or devilishly wrought internal mechanism, or the quality of its performances.

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Kung Fu Panda 2

Nick Hasted

The appeal of fat, foolish, good-hearted panda Po (Jack Black) as a cartoon action hero is predictably diluted in this sequel. A fully trained and socially accepted martial arts master by the original’s end, he offers Kung Fu Panda 2 less pathos and originality. It compensates with spectacular 3D set pieces, cute and ferocious animals and gentle humour finely tuned to children’s tastes.

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Senna

Adam Sweeting

Notwithstanding legends of earlier generations such as Fangio or Jim Clark, it's Ayrton Senna whose name commands the most mystique in the annals of Formula One motor racing. Nor is his reputation limited merely to so-called "petrolheads". Away from the track, he became a kind of deity in his native Brazil, both for his racing feats and his charitable endeavours now continued by the Instituto Ayrton Senna.

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Mammuth

Emma Simmonds

In Mammuth the immense Gérard Depardieu hits the road, on both a practical quest and spiritual journey, his enormous form testing the metal of a motorcycle. He is flanked on his travels by the glorious French countryside, wind whipping through his golden mane. It’s an image of unlikely but undeniable beauty.

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X-Men: First Class

Adam Sweeting

If there's one thing Hollywood hates more than people bootlegging its latest blockbusters on mobile phones, it's letting a lucrative franchise go to waste. Thus, after the initial three X-Men films and 2009's Wolverine spin-off, you are invited to roll up for the prequel, skippered by Brit director Matthew Vaughn, of Layer Cake and Kick-Ass fame.

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Rio Breaks

Peter Culshaw

There have been stunning films about surfing, like Riding Giants, and also at least one masterpiece about the slums of Rio - City of God. This documentary combines both. It focuses on the lives of two teenage boys, Fabio and Naama, and their dream of escaping the violence of Rio’s slums by carving out a career as surf pros.

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Apocalypse Now

Graham Fuller

More phantasmagorically beautiful than it ever had any right to be given its subject, Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now begins as a nightmare, or a delirium, with thup-thup-thupping helicopters ghosting in and out of the frame in front of the jungle and wisps of yellow smoke rising in the foreground. Cymbals, noodling guitar and a tambourine played by The Doors on the track preface the voice of Jim Morrison, who exhaustedly croons the opening lines of “The End”.

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Life, Above All

Jasper Rees

There was a time not long ago when British films and television dramas were shot in the Czech Republic and Hungary, where the studios were cheap and the landscape looked roughly analogous to our own. In recent years what feels like the entire film industry has migrated south, principally to South Africa, also for budgetary reasons (although the light is ideal).

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The Hangover Part II

Adam Sweeting

Warner Brothers are anticipating that The Hangover Part II will gross $100 million over the coming Memorial Day weekend, which would put it comfortably on course to trounce the $470 million earned worldwide by its 2009 predecessor. It might even deserve it.

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Le Quattro Volte

Demetrios Matheou

Last night Robert De Niro’s Cannes jury awarded the Palme d’Or to Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, described by one critic there as “a hymn to the glory of creation”. At last year’s festival another film fitted the same description, only it achieved its ends in a leaner, far quieter fashion; and unlike Malick’s film, Le Quattro Volte can be seen not only as dabbling with the profound, but as being delightfully and accessibly tongue-in-cheek.

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Win Win

Matt Wolf

Surely, any film called Win Win and starring Paul Giamatti is being deeply ironic? After all, you don't expect the hangdog star of Sideways and Barney's Version to do the feel-good Hollywood thing, and it seems of a piece with Giamatti's baleful, ever-defeated demeanour that a scene of him jogging along should end with the actor coming to a panting halt.

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Julia's Eyes

Emma Simmonds

Feminism it certainly isn’t, though it is bizarrely refreshing to observe that the heroine fleeing a maniac in a state of comely undress is in her mid-forties. It might be baby steps rather than huge strides of progress but nevertheless, The Orphanage’s Belén Rueda once again makes a cheeringly mature and cerebral, yet still hauntingly beautiful scream siren. It’s a shame that Julia’s Eyes as a whole lacks her class and consistency.

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Pirates of the Caribbean - On Stranger Tides

Jasper Rees

Once more unto the beach, dear friends. Pirates of the Caribbean is back for a fourth raid of the world’s wallet. This time it’s in 3D. As in Dumb, Dumberer and Depp. Film scholars may also wish to note that Pirates 4 was actually shot 6000 miles away in Hawaii. Among those places closer to Barbados are Zimbabwe, Syria, Greenland and Antarctica.

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