tue 11/08/2020

Film Reviews

JT Leroy review - pseudonym, avatar, literary hoax

Markie Robson-Scott

Based on Savannah Knoop’s memoir Girl Boy Girl: How I became JT LeRoy, Justin Kelly’s film skims the surface of the sensational literary hoax of the early 2000s, that far-off time before avatars, gender fluidity and fake online identity were part of everyday life.

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Playmobil The Movie review - resolutely kids' stuff

Nick Hasted

Modern children’s films wink knowingly over kids’ heads at their paying parents, as with the Lego movies’ rapid-fire pop-culture salvos. Lino DiSalvo (Disney’s Head of Animation for Frozen) could have sulked upon receiving the apparent short straw of rival Playmobil’s toys for his directorial debut. Instead, he finds modest charm in a simpler childhood world.  

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Blinded by the Light review – flawed but feelgood

Demetrios Matheou

Filmmakers have an obsession with the music world that is beginning to seem unhealthy. In quick succession we’ve had two Abba musicals, biopics of Freddie Mercury and Elton John, A Star is Born with Lady Gaga and the Beatles fantasy Yesterday, most of which feel pretty B-side. 

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Gaza review - portraits of love and futility

Tom Baily

First-time collaborators Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell have tried to divert from the standard media narrative by looking at Gaza from the viewpoint of its inhabitants.

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Holiday review - harrowing Danish drama about misogyny

Graham Fuller

The English-language drama Holiday, Danish filmmaker Isabella Eklöf’s feature debut, is an anthropological study of the corrosive effects of absolute male power and calcified misogyny.

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Animals review - who decides when the party's over?

Adam Sweeting

This is a scathing and heartfelt coming of age drama, though not of the adolescent kind. Tyler and Laura are soulmates and flatmates, two single women blazing a riotous trail of booze, sex and drugs through the bars and basements of Dublin.

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Photograph review - a fresh take on old love stories

Joseph Walsh

“Movies are all the same,” says one character in Photograph, the latest film from India independent director, Ritesh Batra. It’s true, the plot feels familiar, but if stories are all the same, it’s how you play with the form that makes a film a success or not.

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Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw review – falls flat fast

Demetrios Matheou

“You know twinkle toes, in another life I bet me and you could’ve done some serious damage.” 

When Jason Statham’s bad guy turned good finally warmed to Dwayne Johnson’s cartoon-like lawman in Fast & Furious 8, it could well have been a cue for this spin-off focussed on the two bickering beefcakes.

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The Edge review - mind games

Nick Hasted

With the vertiginous drama of England’s cricket World Cup victory still fresh, Barney Douglas’s documentary digs into the human cost of a previous ascent, when England’s Test team rose to No 1 in the early 2010s.

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Marianne and Leonard review - the artist, his muse and collateral damage

Markie Robson-Scott

Nick Broomfield is never shy about inserting himself into his documentaries but here he has good reason: he was, briefly, a lover of Marianne Ihlen, Leonard Cohen’s muse (So Long, Marianne was originally called Come On, Marianne; Bird on the Wire was also inspired by her).

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The Current War review – lacks the spark of invention

Demetrios Matheou

We like to think of scientists and inventors as innocent dreamers, trampled upon by the cruel old world. Of course, that’s not wholly true. Just look at today’s tech and social media industries. In fact the man cited as America’s greatest ever inventor, Thomas Edison, was a real scoundrel who wasn’t adverse to using dirty tricks to get ahead.

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Lights, Camera, Malta!, BBC Concert Orchestra, Malta review – a spectacular celebration of film history

Owen Richards

With sapphire blue waters, year-round sun and architecture that spans centuries and cultures, it’s little wonder that Malta is a favourite location for Hollywood. To celebrate its long featured history, Radio 2 brought the BBC Concert Orchestra to Valletta for a special Friday Night is Music Night.

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Tell It to the Bees review - taboo love in 1950s Scotland

Graham Fuller

In Tell It to the Bees, sex is aberrant unless it’s conducted by a straight married couple. Since Annabel Jankel’s low-key drama is set in a grim Scottish mill town in 1952, you can add “white” to that dictum.

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Pavarotti review - enjoyable but superficial survey of a superstar

Adam Sweeting

One of the most memorable moments in Ron Howard’s documentary about Luciano Pavarotti is one of its earliest scenes. It’s a chunk of amateur video shot when Pavarotti visited the Teatro Amazonas in Manaus, a splendid Belle Epoque structure in the midst of the Amazonian jungle.

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Varda by Agnès review - a richly moving film farewell

Tom Birchenough

French director Agnès Varda looks back over a cinematic career of seven decades in this a richly moving film farewell, finished not long before her death at the end of March, aged 90.

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The Lion King review - a dazzling photocopy

Nick Hasted

The cynicism of this film’s existence squeezes all the feeling from it. It approaches cherished childhood memories of the original The Lion King (1994) with a view to remonetising them. Technological advances apart, there’s no reason at all for this Lion King.

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