thu 20/02/2020

Film Reviews

Enemies of the People

Emma Simmonds

Two members of Thet Sambath’s immediate family were murdered during the Khmer Rouge’s time in power in Cambodia. His father was killed when he objected to the organisation's seizure of his property, while his mother was then forced into marriage with a Khmer Rouge militia. She died soon after following complications in childbirth. His older brother, who had witnessed the brutal murder of his father, was also later executed. Enemies of the People, a documentary made with Rob Lemkin,...

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Somewhere

Tom Birchenough

Sofia Coppola proved, with Lost in Translation from seven years ago, that there’s hardly a better location for showing the nuances of emotional dysfunction than the anonymity of an international hotel.

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Secretariat

Graham Fuller

Americans apparently revere their great racehorses, especially if they carry their weight in socio-political resonance - or its absence. Thus, the $58 million-grossing Secretariat, about the powerful red chestnut with the inordinately huge heart whose bid to win the 1973 US Triple Crown supposedly diverted attention from Watergate and Vietnam, arrived comparatively quickly after Seabiscuit, the 2003 Best Picture Oscar nominee and second film about the undersized knobbly-...

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John Waters, Shoreditch House Literary Salon

joe Muggs

I've been to a fair few spoken-word events in my time, and as a rule the more upmarket they are, the worse they tend to get. The bigger the celebrity or cult cachet of an author, the more likely they are to attract a crowd that turn up mainly to be seen basking in their reflected literary glory – pulling theatrical "concentration faces" during the reading then shooting to the bar to network wildly as if the writer were mere sideshow.

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Easier With Practice

alexandra Coghlan

Easier with Practice is a film about phone sex based on a short story that appeared in GQ magazine. It’s enough to make any right-thinking filmgoer not in the Will Ferrell/Chuck Palahniuk/American Pie core demographic head for another screen – any other screen.

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Lemmy

Adam Sweeting

As Ozzy Osbourne puts it, “He’s just Lemmy. You just take him or you fucking don’t, and he doesn’t give a flying shit whether you do or not.” It’s this irreducible Lemmyness of Lemmy which lies at the core of the gnarled heavy metaller’s mystique. Beyond fashion, as ageless as a rock’n’roll Flying Dutchman and with a constitution seemingly forged from buffalo hide and wrought iron, Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister is surrounded by his own private myth-bubble wherever he goes.

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Miral

Veronica Lee

With a script co-written by the Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal, based on her 2004 book of the same title, Miral follows the interconnected lives of four women caught up in the Arab-Israeli conflict. It’s a sprawling, epic affair, directed by the New York painter turned film-maker Julian Schnabel.

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Of Gods and Men

Jasper Rees

It has been one of the most surprising hits this year in French cinemas - a mostly male film which poses deep and pertinent questions about religion or, more specifically, religions. Its ultimate theme is the price of Christian devotion. Of Gods and Men is set in, of all the uncinematic locations, a still, often silent Cistercian monastery in North Africa, from which it derives its muted aesthetic tone and extremely careful pace.

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London Boulevard

alexandra Coghlan

They say that crime doesn’t pay, yet the criminal underworld has certainly been good to William Monahan. His slick screenplay for 2006’s Boston-Irish gangster flick The Departed won him an Oscar, and now London Boulevard – a mean-streets-of-south-London, Lock, Stock knock-off, casual knifing of a film – sees him make the upgrade to the coveted writer-director credit.

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Machete

Neil Smith

It is not uncommon for opportunistic film-makers to put together a flashy promo in the hope it will attract enough investors to turn it into a full-length feature. When Robert Rodriguez made the Machete trailer for 2007 double-bill Grindhouse, though – an all-action spoof featuring striking bit-part actor Danny Trejo as its titular knife-wielding protagonist – he had no intention of taking this parodic in-joke any further.

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Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Nick Hasted

Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Cannes d’Or-winning fifth film replaces Hollywood’s blaring emphasis with a story of gentle transitions. Supernatural and natural, human and animal and life and death blur as Uncle Boonmee expires in the haunted forests of north-east Thailand. It expresses the director’s Buddhist belief in the transmigration of souls, and of cinema as a man-made equivalent, creating lives and memories that will outlive us.

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Robinson in Ruins

Nick Hasted

“How many derelict gasworks can you shoot?” director Patrick Keiller asked almost in despair, at an early screening of his third psychogeographic amble through Britain. Not too many more may be the answer, as Robinson in Ruins significantly misses the mark set by its predecessors, the wonderful London (1994) and Robinson in Space (1997).

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Chico and Rita

sue Steward

On-screen kissing rarely works; even the sexiest, most practised Hollywood couples usually can’t manage it. But when the eponymous Chico and Rita turn to each other against smoochy strains of “Besame Mucho” and their lips touch for the first time, it looks - and feels - like the real thing. Even though the couple were conceived with pencil on paper and born into a digital world, their kiss actually feels erotic.

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Adrift

Markie Robson-Scott

Adrift (A Deriva), Brazilian director Heitor Dhalia’s third feature film, is a sensuous coming-of-age story as well as an ode to the Brazilian beach landscape of Buzios and the band of gorgeous bikini-clad teenagers who run wild in it. Although Dhalia says the film is not strictly autobiographical, he concedes that it partly mirrors his own childhood beach holidays near Recife and his parents’ divorce when he was 10.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Jasper Rees

Harry Potter has devoured entire childhoods, swallowed adolescences whole. Not to mention swathes of many a middle age. There are those of us who have read all 2,765,421 words (I checked) of the seven-part saga out loud to their children.

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A Day in the Life: Four Portraits of Post-War Britain

Markie Robson-Scott

An English teacher in a brand-new Hertfordshire secondary school is about to lose his rag. “You said ‘relaxed, like,’” he storms at a boy. “Why like? Like what? Why do you use that expression? What does it mean?” This is 1962. It’s a scene from Our School, sponsored by the National Union of Teachers, one of four documentaries made between 1953 and 1964 by John Krish in the BFI’s Boom Britain: Documenting the Nation’s Life on Film, a project that celebrates the neglected...

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