thu 22/02/2024

Film Reviews

Cosmopolis

Emma Simmonds

Once again bringing to screen the seemingly unfilmable (see also Naked Lunch and Crash), the audacious David Cronenberg takes on Don DeLillo’s 2003 novel - a novel which in the last decade has become frighteningly pertinent. Respectfully retaining much of DeLillo’s original dialogue, Cosmopolis is a paranoid, loquacious nightmare, a sly, searing study of the alienated super rich, a meditation on greed, emptiness and jealousy.

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Rock of Ages

Matt Wolf

There's nothing wrong with the film adaptation of the stage show Rock of Ages that more raunch and noise - oops, I meant noize - might not put right, assuming that an amiably dopy immersion in Eighties rock pop is your thing.

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Polisse

Adam Sweeting

Hailed in some quarters for its gruelling realism in the depiction of the work of the Paris-based Child Protection Unit (the French call it La Brigade de Protection des Mineurs), Polisse is another French cop drama but with tiresome pretensions of social concern plastered on top.

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A Thousand Kisses Deep

Tom Birchenough

The wish to go back into your past, and change things with the knowledge you have in the present, must be a universal one. It’s the subject of Israeli-US director Dana Lustig’s A Thousand Kisses Deep, which manages to make fantasy come alive for its heroine Mia (Jodie Whittaker, outstanding in the role). With the help of time travel.

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Fast Girls

Veronica Lee

Nicely timed to coincide with London 2012, Fast Girls is a kind of athletic Bend It Like Beckham, although I doubt it will have that film's impact, either at the box office or on the careers of its stars. While the leads, playing a group of young female sprinters, are likeable and engaging, the film is a rather predictable story of overcoming hardship and conflict through sporting endeavour.

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The Apartment

Graham Fuller

“A dirty fairy tale” was one of the encomiums lobbed at The Apartment in June 1960, nine months before it won Billy Wilder and I A L Diamond the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and Wilder the Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director. Although The Saturday Review’s influential Hollis Alpert was critically off the mark when he disparaged Wilder’s serious adult comedy, he was right to describe it as a fairy tale.

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Sing Your Song

Kieron Tyler

Sing Your Song isn’t a showbiz biopic of the actor and singer, it’s a history lesson that revolves around Harry Belafonte and his tireless, long-term espousal of civil rights and socio-political causes. Belafonte is an incredibly important figure, a man whose place in history is assured. What’s less certain is who he actually is. “He took all our struggles and made them his own,” says Miriam Makeba.

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Casa de mi Padre

Emma Simmonds

Comedic curio Casa de mi Padre features Will Ferrell in his most surprising role yet – that of a Mexican rancher who “no habla inglés”. This Spanish-language film is a tongue-in-cheek thriller featuring Ferrell alongside Mexican stars Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna. It’s Acorn Antiques meets El Topo: frequently batty, wilfully inept and performed with aplomb by a sporting cast.

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iLL Manors

Tom Birchenough

There was a strange sense of ghosts, or rather absent presences, in the screening room where I saw Ben Drew’s iLL Manors (that orthography reflects the chosen spelling of the film’s title, and Drew is also as well known as Plan B, from his rapper music career).

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Under African Skies

Adam Sweeting

The world is awash with rock docs, most of them not very good, but it's best to think of Under African Skies as merely a superb piece of film-making.

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The Turin Horse

Graham Fuller

The Turin Horse begins with a prologue in which a novelistic male narrator, talking over a black screen, describes the probably apocryphal incident that caused Friedrich Nietzsche to suffer a terminal mental breakdown (the more likely reason being syphilis). In a Turin plaza on 3 January 1889, the German philosopher supposedly saw a horse being whipped by a coachman and, sobbing, threw his arms around its neck.

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Prometheus

Adam Sweeting

The main problem with making a prequel to Alien is that the 1979 original was so shockingly successful. Even now, countless generations of CGI and special effects later, Ridley Scott's unstoppable monstrosity is surely the most hideous intergalactic threat ever burned onto celluloid.

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The Angels' Share

Emma Simmonds

“The angels' share” refers to the two percent of whisky that evaporates each year during its maturation process - which the romantically or religiously inclined would have us believe is siphoned off by cheeky celestial beings.

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Snow White and the Huntsman

Jasper Rees

There’s no particular reason, beyond the herd instinct of producers, why films should enter the multiplex two by two. But such is the case with twin reimaginings of Snow White within a couple of months. First Mirror Mirror went all out for post-modern irony with Julia Roberts camping it up as the Wicked Queen. Now Snow White and the Huntsman imparts a heavy dose of post-feminist top spin with Charlize Theron vamping it up as the etc etc. The reboot is on the other...

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Top Cat: The Movie

Lisa-Marie Ferla

The last time racial stereotyping (or at least, its cross-species equivalent) could be passed off as shorthand for a certain kind of slapstick humour was probably back in 1962 - coincidentally, the year that the last of Hanna-Barbera’s 30 episodes of the original Top Cat cartoon ran. And yet you don’t have to be eight years old to laugh out loud at the spectacle of a red-eyed gorilla beating its chest and screaming for bananas.

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Yael Bartana: And Europe Will Be Stunned, Artangel at Hornsey Town Hall

Steven Gambardella

In the cool, dim, municipal modernist interior of Hornsey Town Hall you’re confronted with a neon sign: And Europe Will be Stunned. It's the title of the trilogy of films at the heart of this Artangel-commissioned show by Israel-born Yael Bartana. The films are split in location around the building in an exhibition which includes neon slogans and posters which can be taken away, bearing manifestos in different languages.

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