fri 14/08/2020

Film Reviews

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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Norwegian Wood

alexandra Coghlan

Published in 1987, Norwegian Wood was the novel that turned Haruki Murakami from writer to celebrity in his native Japan. With over 12 million copies sold internationally and a cult of devoted readers waiting fretfully, the notoriously unfilmable book finally makes its screen debut under the direction of Tran Anh Hung. Described by the author simply as “a love story”, this most conventional of Murakami’s narratives picks through the emotional detritus of a teenage suicide, exposing...

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Legacy - Black Ops

Adam Sweeting

This debut feature by writer/director Thomas Ikimi was shot in 22 days on an infinitesimal budget, and while it's easy to point out some obvious flaws, it's far more constructive to look at what Ikimi has achieved. Chiefly, he wrote a script intriguing enough to lure Idris Elba on board, and he not only agreed to play the central role of Malcolm Gray, but additionally gave the project a hefty professional shove.

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Hall Pass

Jasper Rees

It is regularly cited as quite the grossest moment in the Top 1000 gross moments in gross-out comedy. Flooping out of Ben Stiller, dangling off his earlobe, whence Cameron Diaz takes a pinch to stiffen her hair flick: the world-famously icky spunk-gel sight gag. The Farrelly Brothers have never been ones to duck a gross-out challenge, and in Hall Pass they may have just knocked their own There’s Something About Mary off the Number One slot.

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Fair Game

Adam Sweeting

News junkies and connoisseurs of Iraq war conspiracies may be familiar with the true story of CIA agent Valerie Plame, which is earnestly converted to celluloid here by director Doug Liman. Part of Plame's work was infiltrating Saddam Hussein's weapons programme before the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 was taken.

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His & Hers

Veronica Lee

Ken Wardrop is a young Irish film-maker who has been winning awards since his days at the National Film School in Dublin. His & Hers, his feature debut, is no exception: it won the World Documentary Cinematography award at last year’s Sundance film festival. The title is deliberately misleading.

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Patagonia

Jasper Rees

To anyone less than familiar with a transatlantic migration of 150 souls which took place in 1865, a bilingual film with dialogue in Spanish and Welsh may look like a subtitled bridge too far. Any such prejudgement would be a mistake. Patagonia is a film rich in cinematic textures which visits not one but two ravishing parts of the world rarely celebrated in widescreen.

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Archipelago

Emma Simmonds

Upper-middle-class familial relations are placed under an unflattering spotlight in Joanna Hogg’s rich, resonant and often scathingly comic drama, which triumphantly harnesses the power of the unsaid and the unseen. Like its predecessor Unrelated, Archipelago is a superior, stylistically distinct work that is utterly, almost cringingly credible.

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Tempest

james Woodall

Shakespeare’s The Tempest is apparently a gift for the big screen. It's full of tricks, illusions, two half-humans and of course kicks off with a stonker of a storm: any film-maker might, particularly in this hi-tech epoch, give his or her eye teeth to unleash wildest imaginings on this magical text for grabbiest effect. “The isle is full of noises,/ Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not”, says Caliban.

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Howl

Jasper Rees

Over here we had our own obscenity trial in 1960. Before Lady Chatterley’s Lover made it into the dock, it’s always said that sex in the UK didn’t exist while no sooner had the judge pronounced it not guilty of obscenity than everyone was at it very promptly. Thus does the collective memory simplify. As is usually the case, America got there first.

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West Is West

Veronica Lee

Ayub Khan Din’s belated sequel to 1999’s East is East moves the story on by five years as we revisit the Khan family in Salford in 1976. East is East (directed by Damien O’Donnell) concerned chip-shop owner George Khan’s determined attempts to marry off his sons to Pakistani girls, while West is West (directed by Andy DeEmmony) centres on Sajid, the youngest brother whom we previously saw permanently in a hooded Parka.

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