sun 29/03/2020

Film Reviews

RED

Veronica Lee

RED has an interesting backstory: rather than being an adaptation of a novel, or the umpteenth reworking of a Hollywood formula, it has been adapted from the graphic novel of the same title by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Cully Hamner and published by the DC Comics stable. And its origins show in its slick editing, sly humour and original take on what is, let’s face it, hardly a fresh format.

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The Arbor

Veronica Lee

Verbatim drama, long established in theatre, has rarely been used in film. But director Clio Barnard uses the device to magnificent, and sometimes deliberately disjointing, effect in The Arbor, to tell the story of Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar, who wrote The Arbor and Rita, Sue and Bob Too (made into a film in 1986) before she died at the age of 29 in 1990.

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The Stoning of Soraya M

Markie Robson-Scott

A journalist’s car breaks down on a mountain road in the middle of nowhere. He’s towed to a tiny hamlet, where small stone houses are overshadowed by huge painted images of the bearded Ayatollah. A woman wearing a black chador insists on speaking to him. "There are things in this village you do not know about," she hisses. Melodramatic, yes, but this powerful, disturbing film is based on a real event in mid-Eighties Iran, which makes it easier - or perhaps harder - to bear.

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Film: Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow

Igor Toronyi-Lalic Anselm Kiefer's sculpture 'Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow': 'We see him swing huge giant concrete huts around by crane, flinging them on top of one another like they were toys'

Action-movie season ain't over quite yet, folks. Sure. OK. Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow isn't exactly your conventional salute to Armageddon. No guns, no baddies, no hot babes, no long-haired hunks. The pace is slow. The dialogue's pretty non-existent - and mostly European. The setting is pastoral. The soundtrack is...

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The Social Network

Neil Smith

Success has many parents, the old saying goes. And that’s certainly the case in David Fincher’s new film, an enthralling dissection of one of the great success stories of our age. When Harvard undergraduate Mark Zuckerberg devised a putative version of the Facebook website in October 2003, he can not have imagined it would spawn a global phenomenon with more than half a billion users.

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Mr Nice

Nick Hasted

Howard Marks was a pothead Errol Flynn, living a life of remarkable escapades and hair's-breadth escapes. A Welsh working-class Oxford graduate in nuclear physics and philosophy, he’d be fascinating company even if he wasn’t once the world’s most successful dope smuggler, and an associate of the IRA, the CIA, the Mob and MI6. His autobiography, Mr Nice, has let Marks earn a living reminiscing about it ever since.

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Restrepo

Markie Robson-Scott

The most surreal scene in this searing, adrenaline rush of a documentary about a US platoon in Afghanistan is the sight of three soldiers dancing madly in their bunker to "Touch Me, I Want to Feel Your Body" on an iPod.

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A Town Called Panic

Nick Hasted

A Town Called Panic is a charming, giddily funny dose of anarchy from a pair of benign Belgian punks, Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar. The first stop-motion animation to be selected at Cannes, it stars Horse, Cowboy and Indian, dysfunctional plastic toy housemates in a papier-mâché world. UK viewers will recognise the style from the Cravendale milk TV ads. Those mad cows only hint at the bizarre pleasures here.

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Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Jasper Rees

The long-delayed sequel has earned no more than a small, insignificant footnote in movie history. Psycho II, Gregory’s Two Girls and Texasville, to name only three disparate examples, were all superfluous post-scriptums to much venerated, much earlier films. There is at least a pretext for another trip to Wall Street. Since Gordon Gekko last blew the fumes of his fat Havana in your face, money has learnt to talk louder than ever.

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Buried

Nick Hasted

He’s six feet under from the start. Paul Conroy is in a wooden coffin a dead-man’s distance beneath Iraqi soil when the flick of his Zippo illuminates him in the darkness where we’ve heard thudding and screaming. His oxygen, like the film, will last 90 minutes. A mobile phone connects him to his kidnapper, family and would-be rescuers. It’s the ultimate locked-room mystery, told from inside the room.

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Takers

Adam Sweeting

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Made in Dagenham

Veronica Lee

Nigel Cole’s bright and breezy film opens with news footage and advertising reels about the American car giant Ford, which in 1968 had 24,000 men working at its Dagenham plant in Essex and only 187 women. It may have been the decade of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and David Hockney - all...

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World's Greatest Dad

Veronica Lee

The words “starring Robin Williams” hardly inspire film-goers with confidence these days. After a career that includes the dramatic highlights of Good Morning Vietnam, The Fisher King and Dead Poets Society, and the amenable comedy of Mrs Doubtfire, he has more recently made a slew of films over which it would be kind to draw a veil.

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Enter the Void

Nick Hasted

The constant strobing lights us white like we’re watching an Atom bomb test. From its garish credit sequence to the somehow inevitable vagina’s view of a penetrating penis, Enter the Void attempts assaultive cinema. You’d expect no less from Gaspar Noé, whose previous film Irreversible (2002) menaced audiences with the prospect of Monica Bellucci’s character’s real-time rape half-way through.

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The Town

alexandra Coghlan

Welcome to Charlestown, a Boston neighbourhood of just one square mile that has produced more bank robbers than anywhere else in America. Here crime is a “trade” passed down from father to son, and the height of ambition is to serve your inevitable jail time “like a man”.

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Eat Pray Love

Neil Smith

Julia Roberts takes a long time to find her centre in Eat Pray Love, a glossy adaptation of the Elizabeth Gilbert memoir that, while offering a respite from the usual cinematic diet of reboots, remakes and comic-book blockbusters, ends up being just as simplistic and facile as its box-office competition.

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