sat 04/07/2020

Film Reviews

Tomorrow, When the War Began

Veronica Lee

Tomorrow, When the War Began, Australia's highest-grossing movie of 2010, was written and directed by Stuart Beattie. It was adapted from John Marsden’s novel of the same name, the first in his seven-book Tomorrow series for teenagers, published 1993-1999. They tell the story of Ellie Linton and a group of her high-school friends who have to try to save their country from an invading militia after their hometown of Wirrawee has been taken over, their families taken prisoner...

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Armadillo

Adam Sweeting

If war is such hell, why do we keep doing it? This may be one of the questions you'll be asking yourself after sitting through the taut and gruelling 100 minutes of Armadillo, Janus Metz's remarkable account of a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan with soldiers of Denmark's Guard Hussars.

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Essential Killing

Jasper Rees

There are certain film-makers who like to give themselves a headache. Buried confined its only character to a coffin. Phone Booth stuck Colin Farrell in – what else? – a phone booth. Essential Killing imposes another kind of confinement on its main character: it maroons him in silence.

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Passenger Side

Emma Simmonds

Matthew Bissonnette’s third feature Passenger Side is a mellow, honey-hued road movie which sees two discordant brothers combing the streets of Los Angeles with an initially mysterious purpose. A likeable diversion, for the most part it’s a nicely played two-hander depicting the rekindling of a sibling bond.

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Source Code

Adam Sweeting

With his debut film, Moon, Duncan Jones demonstrated that a sci-fi movie doesn't have to depend for its success on fleets of warring spacecraft or flesh-eating alien monstrosities. He's done it again with Source Code, a cool and clever thriller in which futuristic anxiety and mind-bending scientific theory are firmly anchored in almost mundane reality.

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Oranges and Sunshine

Veronica Lee

This film tells an extraordinary - scarcely believable - story. Throughout the 20th century, the UK sent tens of thousands of children from care homes and orphanages to the colonies, later the Commonwealth. Parents were routinely told their children had been adopted by British families, while the children were told in many cases that their parents were dead.

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Country Strong

Neil Smith

Hollywood stars are well known for bragging they do all their own stunts, often at the expense of the genuine daredevils who risk their lives on their behalf. With the advent of CGI and motion-capture technology, though, it is becoming increasingly difficult to make such an idle boast. What’s an icon to do to prove their mettle? The answer, it would seem, is to do all their own singing, even when they are patently ill-equipped to do so.

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Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Jasper Rees

The first thing that must be said is the paintings, captured by Herzog and his crew, are breathtaking beyond description. Among the animals depicted with remarkable clarity are mammoths, horses, bison, rhinoceros, ibex, lions and the only known instance of a panther in paleolithic art. There is even a giant creepy crawly clambering up one wall. And the cave itself is a mini-miracle of preserved evidence.

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The Eagle

Adam Sweeting

A chorus of "Hooray! No CGI!" has greeted Kevin Macdonald's new film version of Rosemary Sutcliff's popular novel, The Eagle of the Ninth. Not for him a Gladiator-style digital Rome, or Troy-like computer-generated navies stretching away into infinity.

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Wake Wood

Anne Billson

In Wake Wood, Aidan Gillen and Eva Birthistle play a married couple who lose their nine-year-old daughter in horrific circumstances. In mainstream cinema, this would lead to the earnest soul-searching and Oscar-bait performances of films like In the Bedroom, The Door in the Floor or Rabbit Hole.

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You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

Graham Fuller

As he did with his Spanish idyll Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Woody Allen supplies his fourth London film, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, with an anonymous male American narrator whose air of irritatingly breezy omniscience distances us from the proceedings, limiting the empathy we may feel for the four protagonists.

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Route Irish

Veronica Lee

Route Irish isn’t the St Patrick's Day parade along Fifth Avenue in New York, but the “most dangerous road in the world”, from Baghdad airport to the relative safety of the heavily fortified Green Zone.

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The Lincoln Lawyer

Adam Sweeting

Former Los Angeles Times crime reporter Michael Connelly struck gold with his books about LAPD detective Harry Bosch, before pulling a deft gear-change with the creation of criminal defence attorney Mickey Haller in The Lincoln Lawyer.

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Submarine

Emma Simmonds

Comedian Richard Ayoade’s kinetic, charismatic and accomplished directorial debut follows an introspective adolescent with his feet clamped firmly on dry land but with his head all at sea. In Submarine, our protagonist haplessly negotiates the quagmire of first love, whilst simultaneously dealing with his parents’ romantic disillusionment.

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Ballast

Jasper Rees

The opening images have mighty symbolic heft. A boy dashing across a blasted wintry field compels a flock of birds to take to the air, hundreds if not thousands of them blackening sky and screen, squawking and flapping in cacophonous unison. Cut to a freight train, truck after truck, thundering under clouds across the barren land. Cut to two plastic deer parked outside a wooden prefab.

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Benda Bilili!

howard Male

On first hearing about Staff Benda Bilili - a Congolese band partly made up of paraplegics – I felt a little uneasy at the prospect of reviewing them. The last thing that one wants as a (hopefully) trusted critic is to feel compromised by an obligation to either give a positive review, or feel guilty about lessening their chances of bettering their circumstances with a bad review. Yes, rather embarrassingly, the vanity and solipsism of your reviewer has no limits.

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