sat 20/07/2024

Film Reviews

Santa Sangre

Tom Birchenough

Circus and church, and a whole lot of other extremes, come up against each other in bewildering opposition in Alejandro Jodorowsky’s re-released 1989 Santa Sangre, a cult film of which it could truly be said, “They don’t make them like this any more.” It’s practically a one-off, visually spectacular and musically vibrant; if you’re looking for equivalents, Buñuel, Ken Russell at his most hysterical, and the Italian horror-and-gore genre of the Seventies (think Berberian Sound...

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Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel

Karen Krizanovich

It is said of many people, but for Diana Vreeland it was true: she remains fashion’s once and future queen. An enduring legend of a notoriously vicious and ephemeral world, the Paris-loving Anglo-American had a magical life as a heralded columnist and editor for Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Not blessed with what one may call traditional beauty, Vreeland understood style - proportion, colour, flair, flow and accent.

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Hysteria

alexandra Coghlan

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” It is a truth less universally acknowledged that a married woman in possession of a rich Victorian husband must be in want of a vibrator.

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Premium Rush

Karen Krizanovich

It's not like we don't already love him, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt couldn't possibly get more adorable than he is as the fearsomely skilled bike-riding good guy in Premium Rush - a film that may remind older moviegoers of a 1986 bike messenger film Quicksilver.

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Hope Springs

Matt Wolf

Even Meryl Streep, bless her, is allowed the odd dud, and Hope Springs is a snore. Much has been made of the film shifting Hollywood’s attention toward the middle-aged – meaning, in their terms, anyone 20 or older.

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To Rome With Love

Matt Wolf

Woody Allen plays tour operator (yet again) in the excruciating To Rome With Love, and the result is not a pretty sight. Oh, sure, the Eternal City looks great, in the manner of one of those vibrant, come-hither videos that one might expect at a travel convention.

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The Sweeney

Adam Sweeting

If you saw previous Nick Love efforts like The Football Factory or Outlaw, you'll know he likes nothing better than a lairy swagger down Geezer Street while slaughtering innocent bystanders. He's at it again here, with this glaringly unnecessary remake of  Seventies cop show The Sweeney, a TV institution that very nearly justifies the use of the crassly abused-to-death term "iconic".

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Tabu

Graham Fuller

A wondrous antidote to digital movies’ colonisation of the darkening continent of cinema, Miguel Gomes’s luminously black-and-white Tabu is a tripartite paean to the past: to the perils of Portuguese imperialism in Africa; to Hollywood silent movies as they transitioned to sound; to an adulterous affair that trapped its enraptured lovers for the remaining 50 years of their lives.

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Anna Karenina: The Rave

Matt Wolf

A curtain rises at the start of Joe Wright’s thrilling film version of Anna Karenina only for the finish several hours later to be accompanied in time-honoured fashion by the words “the end”.

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Anna Karenina: The Pan

alexandra Coghlan

“You can’t ask why about love,” Aaron Johnson’s Count Vronsky croons tenderly to his beloved, pink lips peeking indecently out through his flasher’s mac of a moustache. Maybe you can’t, but you certainly can ask why you’d take a thousand-page realist novel and choke it in the grip of meta-theatrical conceptualising and Brechtian by-play. Anna Karenina feels as though its director just discovered the fourth wall and felt the need to graffiti all over it: “Joe Wright woz ere.”

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Shut Up and Play the Hits

Lisa-Marie Ferla

According to US television anchor Stephen Colbert, there are only three ways to end your career as a rock star: overdose, overstay your welcome or write Spiderman: The Musical.

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Lawless

Emma Simmonds

Australian director John Hillcoat certainly knows what he likes, and what he likes is lawlessness. It’s the central focus of his brilliantly uncompromising film Ghosts… of the Civil Dead, which saw a high-security prison driven to bloody ruin, and of his scorching western The Proposition.

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Total Recall

Karen Krizanovich

There’s no Mars or Arnie, but the new Total Recall has science fiction goodness running through it. A mile of Blade Runner, a yard of Fifth Element, a furlong of Star Wars and an inch of RoboCop make up the distances in Len Wiseman’s glossy, brooding take on Paul Verhoeven’s beloved Nineties hit.

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Cockneys vs Zombies

Karen Krizanovich

If you hate zombies and East End gangster movies, Cockneys vs Zombies will wreck those prejudices. Expect to have them turned topsy-turvy by this pocket-sized dynamo of horror comedy. Visually, it gets the simple things right straightaway. The blood looks real(ish). The London locations are cheerily drearily evocative. Then there's the unique opportunity of seeing Goldfinger Bond Girl and all-around heroine Honor Blackman fire a machine gun.

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Berberian Sound Studio

Emma Simmonds

If in space no one can hear you scream, that’s certainly not a problem you’ll experience in a giallo sound studio. Known for their high anxiety and buckets of blood, the Italian giallos of the Sixties and Seventies gave us heinous horror, drenched in style. Directors such as Lucio Fulci, Mario Bava and Dario Argento enjoyed a reign of terror with their handsome barbarism benefitting from fantastically histrionic sounds and scores.

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Circumstance

Tom Birchenough

Recent Iranian cinema has seen the best of times - and the worst of times. From the 1990s onwards the phenomenon of the "Iranian New Wave" has captured worldwide festival attention, with directors like Abbas Kiarostami, and father and daughter pair Mohsen and Samara Makhmalbaf among the leaders of the list of those who brought a new view of their nation to international eyes.

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