sun 13/10/2019

Film Reviews

English Journey Revisited, AV Festival, Newcastle

Alice Vincent Alan Moore performing at the Southbank Centre, London 2007

The description of the AV Festival’s closing event was vague in the promotional material. Going only by the promise of “music/performance,” and the undeniably odd combination of Alan Moore and Iain Sinclair with performance musicians including the guitarist from drone doom band Sunn O))), expectations were hard to form. The organisers must have realised the mystery - four sheets of A4 were thrust into our hands last night by ushers upon entry as a means of explanation, although the...

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Shutter Island

Sheila Johnston

The opening scene of Martin Scorsese's new film - a storm-tossed ferry buffeting its way to an isolated island off America's East Coast - bears an unmissable resemblance to that of Roman Polanski's The Ghost. So too does its premise, of a vulnerable young man who falls under the sway of a powerful, indefinably sinister older one.

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Green Zone

Adam Sweeting

It seems both Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass felt it was time to leave the Bourne franchise on the shelf for a while, fearing they would corner themselves into making The Bourne Redundancy. Instead, they have transposed their working partnership into this Iraq war saga.

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Graham Fuller

When roused, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), the sullen, leather-clad, metal-pierced heroine ofThe Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, is as ferocious as the panther her physical presence evokes.

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The Kreutzer Sonata

Tom Birchenough

For scalpel-sharp dissection of the most vapid parts of Hollywood/LA life, told with low-budget digital flexibility that itself critiques studio indulgences, British director Bernard Rose is your man. He hit the note most viscerally in Ivansxtc a decade ago with a story of the drug-induced implosion of one of the city’s top agenting talents.

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Father of My Children

Sheila Johnston

High summer in Paris. Jazz plays on the soundtrack, the boulevards are bright, leafy and humming and Grégoire, a good-looking man in his mid-forties, scuttles along the street, mobile phone glued to ear. He's troubleshooting on a truly international scale: the Koreans are arriving mob-handed, the Georgians are so demanding and that nutty Swedish director's budget is spiralling out of control.

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Ondine

Jasper Rees

Neil Jordan’s smaller films have often betrayed a fascination with wispy visitants from the borderlands of gender. In The Crying Game the beautiful young call girl turns out, in one of cinema’s more jawdropping reveals, to be somewhat less she than he. Breakfast on Pluto found Cillian Murphy’s girly boy swishing around working-class Dublin in frocks and furs. And now comes Ondine, Jordan’s reimagining of the watery fable transplanted to the rugged shores of Cork....

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Alice in Wonderland

Sheila Johnston

Must rush, have to hurry: like the fretful White Rabbit with his pocket watch, fans have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of Tim Burton's Alice, which finally arrives in cinemas this week, albeit for a limited period following the controversial decision to push the film out quickly on DVD. Mindful of this, I hastened to the IMAX, Waterloo to catch it in 3D, larger than life and twice as natural, on the very biggest screen available. 30,000 people have already pre-booked tickets...

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Chloe

Veronica Lee

“I guess I’ve always been pretty good with words,” says the eponymous character in the opening, voiceover line of Atom Egoyan’s Chloe - and with that clunker we know the Canadian director's move into the mainstream isn't going to be as gripping or original as any of his previous indie efforts. With a join-the-dots script by Erin Cressida Wilson and overwrought music, it is, unusually for Egoyan, a linear movie and one that ultimately goes nowhere.

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Nitin Sawhney and LSO, Yogoto No Yume, Barbican

Peter Culshaw

When I last met Nitin Sawhney, I’d heard that he was a whizz at mental arithmetic. I asked him, perhaps impertinently, what was 91 times 94? “8,827,” he relied, quick as a flash. Several hours later, I worked out he was probably right. “Vedic mathematics,” he said. What I can say about last night’s performance was there was some interesting mathematics going on. Some time signatures rubbed friskily against others in certain scenes in ways a mathematician would love.

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Everybody's Fine

Matt Wolf

For a  while, actually, it appears as if a dollop of irony might just be on the cards, and during those passages, at least, British writer-director Kirk Jones's road movie looks poised to be quietly revolutionary. But once the dictates of convention settle in, watch out!  At the press screening attended, a fellow near me was crying what seemed to be tears brought on by the helpless laughter that accompanies mockery. One can only assume he wasn't moved.

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Capitalism: A Love Story

Sheila Johnston

If Michael Moore's new film were a person, it would be diagnosed with a severe case of Attention Deficit Disorder.

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The Headless Woman

Sheila Johnston A brittle precision: María Onetto as the headless woman

A merciless anatomy of the inner meltdown that follows a hit-and-run accident, The Headless Woman is as baffling, brilliant, demanding and utterly original a work as you're likely to see all year. Its themes are confusion, amnesia, disavowal. The director, Lucrecia Martel, by contrast is in vice-like control of her material. This film might be a real head-scratcher. But no-one seeing it can come out unconvinced that Martel is a world-class talent.

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The Last Station

Jasper Rees

The final days of Tolstoy are innately dramatic, as the American author Jay Parini intuited. The Last Station, published in 1990, was his novel about the novelist’s own denouement. Towards the end of his long and prodigiously successful life, Tolstoy chose to embrace the simple values of the fabled Russian peasant he had lionised in War and Peace.

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Crazy Heart

Matt Wolf

Jeff Bridges cranks his dude status up a notch or 10 or 20, and his payoff looks likely to be this much-loved actor's first-ever Oscar. So what if writer-director Scott Cooper's film plays out like the careful illustration of a Hollywood pitch: The Wrestler as filtered through the prism of Tender Mercies (with the Academy Award-winning lead of that Bruce Beresford movie, Robert Duvall, on hand here to make the connection complete)?

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The Lovely Bones

Graham Fuller

The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold’s 2002 bestseller about a murdered 14-year-old who hovers in metaphysical limbo over her grieving family, was once to have been filmed by the Scottish director Lynne Ramsay. On the evidence of Ramsay’s Ratcatcher and Morvern Callar, her take on Sebold’s novel would have been a moodily lyrical but deadpan reverie that wouldn’t have skirted its engagement with evil.

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