tue 07/07/2020

Film Reviews

Thor

Jasper Rees

As genres go, it’s a broad church: the tale of the alien who visits our world (our world obviously being contemporary America) encompasses everything from The Man Who Fell to Earth to Galaxy Quest. The story tends to riff on the same tension: how our planet shapes up in the eyes of intergalactic visitors. It can be done for laughs, for thrills, even for tears (see, if you are indeed an alien and haven't already, ET).

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Farewell

Demetrios Matheou

Midway through Farewell, a civilian who is aiding a KGB spy is told by his nervous wife, “I married an engineer. Not James Bond.” In other films, this might be a cheap line, a postmodern quip; here it is spoken in earnest, and reflects the many nuances of a wonderfully retro spy drama.

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Upside Down – The Creation Records Story

Kieron Tyler

“I thought I was creating metaphysical history by running Creation,” says the label’s Alan McGee in Upside Down. Seconds later the meat-and-potatoes rock of Oasis blasts from the soundtrack. The drug-assisted disconnect between such lofty aspiration and the grounded music of Oasis was never going to be bridged. Even by the man billed as “the president of pop”.

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Sweetgrass

Graham Fuller

The monumental documentary Sweetgrass captures the back-breaking final sheep drives by the herders of the Raisland-Allestad Ranch, Montana, into the vertiginous heights of the Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains, which lie north of the Yellowstone National Park in the Rockies. These herders’ purpose was to bring the huge flock to pasture on public land, a 19th-century tradition that became economically unviable in the 2000s.

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Arthur

Veronica Lee

Back in 2004, Russell Brand performed Russell Brand's Better Now at the Edinburgh Fringe, one of the best shows I have ever seen. In it he described his recovery from addictions to alcohol and drugs and how he had lost his job as an MTV presenter after one too many, er, misjudgments - coming into work dressed as Osama Bin Laden the day after 9/11, for instance.

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Pina 3D/ Giselle 3D

ismene Brown

Pina Bausch decided: “Words can’t do more than just evoke things - that’s where dance comes in.” Well, up to a point, Lord Copper. Only if they’re bad words and good dance - bad writhing instead of, say, Shakespeare’s words isn’t much of a swap.

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Upside Down: The Creation Records Story

Kieron Tyler

“I thought I was creating metaphysical history by running Creation” says the label’s Alan McGee in Upside Down. Seconds later the meat-and-potatoes rock of Oasis blasts from the soundtrack. The drug-assisted disconnect between such lofty aspiration and the grounded music of Oasis was never going to be bridged. Even by the man billed as “the president of pop”.

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How I Ended This Summer

Tom Birchenough

If ever there’s a film where the landscape itself seems to become a main character, it’s Alexei Popogrebsky’s How I Ended This Summer. Action, such as it is, unfolds in the remotest Arctic regions of Russia’s Far East, where the personal conflict between the film’s two protagonists develops as they come to understand the nature of their different conflicts with the looming mountains and rough seascapes by which they are isolated.

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Adèle Blanc-Sec

Anne Billson

BD, pronounced bédé, is short for "bande déssinée", the French equivalent of the comic strip or graphic novel, which has long been accorded a popular affection and cultural standing well beyond that of its anglophone equivalent. Luc Besson says he was weaned on BD, which comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with his films. The only surprise is that it has taken him so long to direct an adaptation of one.

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Meek's Cutoff

Emma Simmonds

Kelly Reichardt’s quietly radical vision of the Wild West is a slender, provocatively ambiguous work and the antithesis to the genre’s muscular action-packed epics. It’s a western which aligns us with those who don bonnets rather than Stetsons, and which favours quiet pluck over showy heroics. With a narrative shorn almost entirely of incident, its existential, quasi-religious minimalism recalls Waiting for Godot.

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Cold Weather

Veronica Lee

To describe this movie as slow-burn would be like saying snails live in the fast lane. The latest work from indie auteur Aaron Katz (Dance Party USA and Quiet City) who wrote, directed and edited, is 97 minutes long, but nothing happens for its first third and then when things do start happening - as the lead characters investigate the disappearance of a friend - the film abruptly ends. It may be layered with all manner of subtexts but they pretty much passed me by.

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Your Highness

Jasper Rees

In the end, the media-industrial complex which takes responsibility for entertaining the planet doesn’t put your needs and mine near the top of the pile. But I think we know this already. Why am I even saying it? Saying it again. Bears make their toilet in the woods, pontiffs wave from balconies and highly remunerated people in Hollywood with popcorn for brains chair meetings the usual product of which are brazenly cheap concepts like Your Highness.

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Little White Lies

Emma Simmonds

The secrets and lies, delusions and foibles of a group of thirty-, forty- and fiftysomething friends are laid bare in French director Guillaume Canet’s third feature, following his breakthrough international hit Tell No One (2006). This alternately genial and scathing comic drama explores the dynamics of friendship and the fragility of romantic relations.

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Red Riding Hood

Matt Wolf

Once upon a time, Gary Oldman acted in the plays or films of Caryl Churchill, Mike Leigh and Alan Bennett, bringing a deliberately disorienting intensity to whatever the role. But here he is in Red Riding Hood snarling commands like “You will die now, beast!” in a film in which considerable members of the cast – spoiler ahead! – go down for the count.

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Before the Revolution

Graham Fuller

Bernardo Bertolucci was a 23-year-old Marxist intellectual and prizewinning poet with a partner, Adriana Asti, seven years his senior, when he made his lustrous semi-autobiographical second feature, Before the Revolution, in his native Parma in 1963-64.

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2001: A Space Odyssey with live score, Philharmonia, de Ridder, Royal Festival Hall

David Nice

Imagine a special two-hour-plus resurrection of that wannabe extravaganza Stars in Their Eyes.

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