sat 22/02/2020

Film Reviews

No One Knows About Persian Cats

joe Muggs Musicians from the film, including Ashkan and Negar (front)

The protests around the Iranian presidential elections of 2009 brought home to many in the West not only how dominated by youth the pro-democracy movement in Iran is, but also how westernised the youth of that country are. Symbolised by Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman whose death at the hands of security forces was caught on camera and beamed around the world, this was an Iran a world away from the glowering Ayatollahs and pepperpot women in black chadors we tended to see on news...

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Film: Sons of Cuba

Sheila Johnston Raging bullocks: Cuba's young boxing champions-in-waiting

Cuban boxers have always punched above their weight in the world arena: the little island has clocked up no fewer than 63 Olympic medals - 32 of them gold - in the last 40 years. Enjoying extraordinary access to the mysteries of the Havana Boxing Academy, this emotional documentary follows the fortunes of three ten-year-old lads over eight months as they submit to a punishing regimen of training for the National Boxing Championship. But, as with the best sports films, Sons of Cuba...

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The Scouting Book for Boys

Veronica Lee Like brother and sister: Holliday Grainger and Thomas Turgoose in The Scouting Book for Boys

Teenagers David and Emily are inseparable friends, who live year-round on a crummy seaside caravan park on the East Anglian coast. They play games of chase among the caravans, scare sheep in surrounding fields and steal from the sweet shop on site. The friends, although the same age, are at different stages of their development; he still looks boyish, she is already flirting with Steve, the much older security guard on site. But the pair are equally emotionally inarticulate and struggling to...

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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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