wed 03/06/2020

Film Reviews

Unmade Beds

Ryan Gilbey Animal magic: Vera (Déborah François) and Axl (Fernando Tielve) in Unmade Beds

Of all the film genres to flourish in recent times, mumblecore is both the most ethereal and, to date, the least profitable. But unlike, say, torture-porn or mockumentary, it has some distance to go before it outstays its welcome. For the uninitiated, mumblecore is essentially an offshoot of the rom-com, but instead of Kate Hudson, Sandra Bullock and/or Matthew McConaughey, you get an infinitely preferable...

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Mascarades, Ciné Lumière

Sheila Johnston Wedding breakdown: Mascarades, the feature debut of the Algerian film-maker Lyes Salem

It begins with a touch of brio: a sinuous, swirling tracking shot plunges deep into the daily chaos of a market place in a remote Algerian desert village. Signs are hoisted aloft and askew, mobile phones noisily bickered over, clapped-out bangers pushed out of the way. Eventually, the camera pauses on three old men as they, as one, clasp their handkerchiefs to their noses: a honking wedding cortege is about to roar past in a miniature dust-storm to set the seal on the mayhem.

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Where the Wild Things Are

Graham Fuller

Beware the ids of kids: Where the Wild Things Are, Spike Jonze's film of Maurice Sendak's seminal children's picture book, centres on a hyperactive nine-year-old boy, Max (Max Records), who’s so angered and frustrated by the reverses of a winter's day that he destroys a keepsake he gave his adolescent sister and ends up biting his single mother (Catherine Keener) while she’s entertaining her boyfriend at home.

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Candy Gothic: Tim Burton, MoMA, New York

Graham Fuller

Though he has yet to make a perfect film, the director Tim Burton’s choice of Gothic and fantasy subjects and his deadpan, post-expressionist approach to them rightfully designate him an auteur of considerable genius. His 14 movies to date have earned him a cohesive retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

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The Merry Gentleman

Sheila Johnston Lost souls: Michael Keaton and Kelly Macdonald find salvation, of sorts

It has hardly been a vintage year for Christmas movies so far (click here and here to read our respective reviews of Nativity! and A Christmas Carol). But Michael Keaton's absorbing first film as director, in which he also stars, finally nails the true spirit of the festive season: it is about a suicidal hitman....

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The Posters Came From The Walls, Clapham Picture House

joe Muggs German Depeche Mode fan in video re-enactment costume

In a pirate television (pirate television!) broadcast from 1992, a large group of Russian youths in flat top haircuts and leather jackets discuss Depeche Mode's appeal. “It's romantic style,” suggests one with absolute assurance, “it's music for the lonely.” It is just one touching, funny moment in a film packed with them, but it also sums up what The Posters Came From The Walls is...

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The Box

Anne Billson

Looks can be deceiving. The first thing you should know is that Richard Kelly's third film isn't really about the box at all. It's more about what's inside, which is a big red button. The place is suburban Virginia and the time is 1976, for no reason I can fathom other than this was the heyday of the paranoid conspiracy thriller and Kelly fancied giving us the heebie-jeebies with some truly terrifying 1970s wallpaper.

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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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