wed 13/11/2019

Film Reviews

The Girlfriend Experience

Sheila Johnston

The porn star Sasha Grey - turned mainstream actress in Steven Soderbergh's new film - is a bit better looking than the schlubby, chubby hero of The Informant!, also directed by Soderbergh and released just two weeks ago (click here for our review). More attractive also than the unkempt and ultra-hirsute Che Guevara in SS's epic diptych about the Cuban revolutionary.

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Mr Right

Matt Wolf Luke de Woolfson as Alex: low budget is no guarantee of depth in a subpar 'This Life' gone gay,

London builds on its metrosexual status in Mr Right, a dreary gay-themed indie in which the metropolis by default becomes the star. There's nary a homophobe in sight - not to mention a traffic snarl-up or tube strike - in brother-sister filmmaking team David and Jacqui Morris's view of the capital, which looks giddy and rife with possibilities throughout. Shame, then, about the script.

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Nativity!

Jasper Rees

A filmgoing acquaintance has personally drafted a set of guidelines to increase her chances of a good time at the cinema. It’s a fairly hardline set of strictures. No sequels, for one. Not to mention the ban on cartoons. And in the most random cull, she will see no film with a two-word title in which the first word is “The”. It’s by no means a foolproof system. She gets to miss The Godfather on rule three and The Godfather 2 on rule one.

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Film: Paranormal Activity

Adam Sweeting Demonic interference was ruining poor Katie's complexion

Low-budget horror movie, comprising supposedly "found" video footage depicting freaky supernatural events...  it's Blair Witch 2! Indeed, writer/director Oren Peli has taken discount film-making to new extremes, using his own home in San Diego as his sole location, restricting the cast to five (I can't even remember the "Girl on Internet" mentioned in the cast list), and bringing the piece home for a ridiculous $15,000.

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Bunny and the Bull

Veronica Lee

How do you make a road movie set in several European countries for just £1million? Set it inside your lead character’s head and use strikingly inventive visual imagery to conjure a world full of the weird and wonderful, that’s how. And if the previous sentence rings a bell for The Mighty Boosh fans, it’s because Paul King, the BBC television comedy’s director, wrote and directed...

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The Twilight Saga - New Moon

Anne Billson

They're back! Bella Swan and Edward Cullen (otherwise known as Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson) are once again smooching on a screen near you. I turned up one hour early for a showing of the new Twilight movie, and the damn thing was already sold out.

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A Serious Man

Sheila Johnston

If you stick with the Coen Brothers' new film until the end of the final credit crawl, you will notice the legend, in small print, "No Jews were harmed in the making of this motion picture." I wouldn't be so sure: they certainly put their hero through the trials of Job. With a title like that, it ought to be a comedy, but the Coens customarily keep a protective, ironic distance from their fictional creations, and so you never really quite know where you stand with them.

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Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno

Jasper Rees

When a film shoot is in trouble, with actors dying on set, the heavens opening and other acts of God putting a spanner in the works, it’s usually a gigantic directorial ego which hauls the troubled production over the line. You think of Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, of Coppola’s Apocalypse Now and above all Herzog's Fitzcarraldo, all films characterised by epic folie de grandeur and flirtation with insanity.

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An Education

Sheila Johnston

London, 1961. Duffle coats are the ne plus ultra in hipster cool, everybody smokes like fury and black people are known as negroes in enlightened society (and even enlightened society wouldn't want them moving in next door). In the congenial, shiny-surfaced world of this coming-of-age comedy, the Beatles' first LP is still two years away, and so is sexual intercourse, but not for Jenny.

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Jennifer's Body

Anne Billson

Blame it on the bloody menarche. The combination of schoolgirls and horror is so intoxicating it's a wonder there haven't been more films like Carrie, Suspiria or Ginger Snaps to exploit that tricky adolescent surge of oestrogen. So I'm sorry to disappoint you, but Jennifer's Body isn't worthy to be set alongside The Craft, let alone any of the aforementioned titles. It has all the ingredients for guilty pleasure - cheerleader transformed into man...

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Colin

Sheila Johnston

There has been robust debate on the internet over whether Colin could, in fact, have been made for such a small sum - it makes the forthcoming chiller Paranormal Activity, made for $10,000 and now a huge box-office hit in the US thanks to a vigorous viral marketing campaign (it opens in the UK on 27 November), look like a megabudget blockbuster.

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Film: Johnny Mad Dog

Ryan Gilbey

The raucous young lads swaggering down the streets of a charred, deserted town could be the Lost Boys in an African production of Peter Pan. Some are in their late teens, others are no older than 10 or 11, but most are decked out in fancy-dress garb and accoutrements which suggest a recent dip in the dressing-up box.

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The Men Who Stare at Goats, London Film Festival

Sheila Johnston

A rubicund major-general leaps up from his desk, scrunches up his face in concentration, breaks into a run and belts towards the office wall, intending to race through it. Sadly, in this opening sequence of The Men Who Stare at Goats, he falls flat on his face, and so does the joke; so does the whole film, actually, come to that.

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Fantastic Mr Fox, London Film Festival

Sheila Johnston

It would be an understatement to say that the auguries weren't good for Wes Anderson's first animated movie, the world premiere of which opened the London Film Festival last night. The distributor - Twentieth Century Fox, by a neat coincidence - was coy about screening it to critics, the trailer (below) was teeth-grindingly unfunny and...

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The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Adam Sweeting

Terry Gilliam set toupees a-flutter with a feisty piece in the Sunday Times about the pandemonium surrounding the release of his new film, firing off broadsides at Tracey Emin and gossips who spread malicious rumours about the late Heath Ledger, and deploring the bureaucratic bloat which he reckons has capsized the BBC. “I’m good at being angry – it’s an occupation,” he growled.

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Werner Herzog: Huie's Sermon and God's Angry Man

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

A familiar Herzogian weirdness was on display at last night's Herzog documentary double bill. And not all of it was cinematic. The organisers of the Herzog retrospective had matched up out-of-the-way venues to specific Herzog movies, and these movies to suitable companion acts.

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