wed 08/04/2020

Film Reviews

The A-Team

Neil Smith

As played by the late George Peppard in the original A-Team TV series, Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith was wont to say he loved it when a plan came together. Alas, whatever plan that might have justified this botched retread of the Eighties small-screen favourite soon gets lost amid a wearying welter of gunfire, pyrotechnics and not-so-special effects, all of which appear haphazardly hurled on screen with all the care an incontinent pigeon might deploy while despoiling parked cars.

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Gainsbourg

Anne Billson

Serge Gainsbourg, like Charles Bukowski, is one of those blokes who should be banned as a role model for impressionable young men, who may start imagining they too can behave like disgusting old soaks and pull any gorgeous bird who comes into their orbit. Note to Gainsbourg wannabes -  this only works if you're a creative genius as well.

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Baarìa

Jasper Rees

Giuseppe Tornatore is known overwhelmingly for one international hit. There have been sundry other films from him in the 21 years since Cinema Paradiso won the Best Foreign Language Oscar, but none which have sold such a seductive vision of Italian village life. Though damned to backwardness, stymied by introspection, Tornatore’s evocation of Sicily in 1950s was awash with vitality and colour. In Baarìa he finally goes home.

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Splice

Adam Sweeting

Although it has taken over a decade to come to fruition, Splice still feels like a timely piece of work with its macabre and gruesome take on notions of genetic mutation for commercial gain and the god-like delusions of the scientific community. In addition, it spits out poisonous barbs in the direction of dysfunctional parents who visit their own inadequacies on their hapless offspring.

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The Rebound

Veronica Lee

Let me lay a friendly fiver that many critics will rubbish this film, for the following reasons.

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Toy Story 3

Neil Smith

The 15 years since Disney released the original Toy Story have seen a seismic boom in the computer animation field that has prompted every major movie studio to get in on the act. Relatively cheap to make, accessible to both adults and children and easily converted to 3D, these digital cash cows have become as much a part of a Hollywood balance sheet as the action-packed thriller, low-brow comedy or all-star contemporary reboot.

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Bluebeard

Anne Billson

Sex, blood and shocking - these are the things Catherine Breillat does well. So long as she's busting taboos wide open you can forgive her the longueurs, the wilful refusal to attend to fundamental principles of storytelling, her characters' inclination towards such dreary soliloquising you feel like yelling, "For heaven's sake, shut up and get back to the full-frontal fornicating!" At first glance, the story of Bluebeard would appear to be right up her street.

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Inception

Nick Hasted

Inception is as lucid and heartfelt as summer blockbusters get these days. It is a rigorously built action spectacle about the persistence of memories and ideas, with an intelligent, committed cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio.

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The Concert

Tom Birchenough

Give any masterpiece of classical music a central role in a film - and everything else straightaway faces the highest standards of comparison. In Radu Mihaileanu’s The Concert, it's the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, and from the opening frames the music delivers everything it should – though whether it’s enough to hide other noises (clunking in the script department being only one of them) is another matter.

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The 7th Dimension

Nick Hasted

The friendship between level-headed Sarah (TV’s Hustle star Kelly Adams) and impulsive Zoe (Lucy Evans) is the emotional core, as Zoe dumps her college course to surprise teacher boyfriend Malcolm (David Horton) in his flat and declare her undying love. There is a vague sense of unease in glimpsed locations, apparently in East London, where a bag lady squawks Cassandra-style warnings.

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London River

Jasper Rees

But the theme of not knowing is by no means confined to the agony of uncertainty. Brenda Blethyn plays Elizabeth, a mother who sees the 7/7 bombings on the news and instinctively picks up the phone to check, as millions of other parents will have on that day, if her daughter is alive and well.

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The Twilight Saga - Eclipse

Anne Billson

It's the eternal human-vampire-werewolf triangle, and at times it feels as though it really will go on for ever and ever. The story so far: in the small North-West Pacific town of Forks, where the sun hardly ever shines, a teenage girl called Bella loves Edward, a 100-year-old vampire who is perfect in every way, except of course that he drinks (non-human) blood, and has a tendency to sparkle on those rare occasions when the sun does come out.

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Leaving

Matt Wolf

Kristin Scott Thomas possesses an altogether singular beauty: classical yet faintly wistful, intimidating at times but equally capable of enormous warmth. And because this English rose has professionally blossomed not just in the Anglo-American cinema (and theatre) but also in France, there's something faintly "other" about her. That, in turn, has been useful to this actress's stage turns in Chekhov and Pirandello and accounts for her infinite variety on screen.

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Predators

Nick Hasted

The original Predator from 1987 is perhaps best remembered for taking Schwarzenegger’s borderline homoerotic body-fetishism to new heights, as he stripped naked to mud-wrestle the titular alien hunter. It was among the more efficient of the big, dumb action movies which defined Arnie in the Eighties.

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White Material

Jasper Rees

Isabelle Huppert has always had a wandering soul, ever since she cropped up as a strawberry blonde cowboy’s moll in Michael Cimino’s fabled folly, Heaven’s Gate. That was 30 years ago. Middle age has by no means withered but certainly has hardened her pretty freckled moue into something fierce and obdurate. The owner of that forthright jawline ploughs a self-sufficient furrow these days. The characters she chooses to embody are, for one reason or another, doing it for...

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Shrek Forever After

Veronica Lee

The fourth and last instalment of the ogre animation is a belter. It’s in 3D for one thing and, while the pop culture and film references have been toned down in Josh Klausner and Darren Lemke’s screenplay (directed by Mike Mitchell), in order to tell a gentle morality tale, it takes as its inspiration Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. And that’s a very good starting point for any movie.

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