wed 28/02/2024

Film Reviews

Le Havre

Emma Simmonds

“Feel good” is a description applied far too frequently in reviews, often to movies which are formulaic and saccharine in the extreme. However, Le Havre is a film that’s begging to be described as just that, though it’s far from conventional or fluffy fare. This buoyantly beneficent and frequently hilarious picture combines artful absurdity and a neo-noir aesthetic with a pervasive sense of social justice and a laudable belief in the kindness of strangers.

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This Must Be The Place

Emma Dibdin

“There’s something wrong here. I don’t know exactly what it is, but something.” It’s no coincidence that this line bookends Paolo Sorrentino’s much-anticipated English language debut – it's a beguilingly strange, distancing, even discombobulating venture, at times gently lyrical, at others nightmarish. While there is indeed something about it that feels wrong, a more accurate turn of phrase might be that there’s something missing here.

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Headhunters

Adam Sweeting

Despite being called Roger Brown, the protagonist of Morten Tyldum's wickedly stylish and knowing thriller (adapted from Jo Nesbø's bestseller) is Norwegian, and earns himself a comfortable living as a corporate headhunter. Prowling the coolly minimalist boardrooms and restaurants of a seemingly recession-proof Scandinavia, Brown (Aksel Hennie) tracks his fat-cat candidates with smarmy knowingness, congratulating himself on his mastery of his own private game.

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Mirror Mirror

Matt Wolf

Some gorgeous costumes get paraded about to little effect in Mirror Mirror, the latest in a series of Julia Roberts star vehicles to make one wonder whether this A-list thesp's management is actually out to torpedo her career. A terrific actress in material that actually asks something of her, Roberts looks irritated by her latest assignment in a wan Snow White rewrite, and who can blame her?

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Wrath of the Titans

Adam Sweeting

It sounded like a good idea at the time - go and see colossal special-effects epic at an IMAX cinema in 3D. There was even a fleeting pre-show visit from the stars, Liam Neeson and Sam Worthington, who play Zeus and his son Perseus respectively. However, having just about managed to say "Hello, enjoy the film," the pair of them couldn't get out of there fast enough.

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Corpo Celeste

william Ward

Now here is something genuinely original and genuinely innovative coming out of Italian cinema, a very welcome surprise. Alice Rohrwacher’s debut feature film has a freshness of outlook and a sharpness of overview that could put many of her more venerable rivals in Italy to shame. 

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This is Not a Film

Fisun Güner

With only a modest, handheld camera and an iPhone at his disposal, the internationally acclaimed Iranian director Jafar Panahi shot this film in secret whilst under house arrest. His close friend, and co-director of this film, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, then smuggled it into France hidden in a cake as a last-minute submission to Cannes last year.

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Tiny Furniture

Emma Simmonds

Perfectly peculiar and as cute as can be, Tiny Furniture is the second film from writer/director Lena Dunham. Her first, Creative Nonfiction (2009), was based on her own romantic woes, shot whilst she was attending college and featured a cast of non-professionals - mostly her friends.

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Bonsai

Demetrios Matheou

One of the most refreshing aspects of current Latin American cinema, most evident in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, is a particular brand of off-beat romantic comedy – one with echoes of the literate and quirky US independents of the Eighties and Nineties, of Hartley, Jarmusch and Tom DiCillo, but laced with melancholy and shards of realism that are specifically Latin.

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Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life

Emma Simmonds

Into the Abyss sees celebrated German filmmaker Werner Herzog take a sharp turn away from those marvels of early man he so magnificently captured in the stereoscopic Cave of Forgotten Dreams to the shocking violence of which humanity is also capable, here both greed-fuelled and state-sanctioned.

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Wild Bill

Jasper Rees

The Olympics will be upon us all any minute now, but for the residents of East London they have been physically sprouting at the end of the road in the shape of a futuristic stadium for years. It takes the role of a shy walk-on in Wild Bill, a looming symbol of a local regeneration which was touted as integral to the hosting bid. It’s safe to say that the London seen here will not earn the grateful rubberstamp of the Cultural Olympiad.

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The Kid With a Bike

Demetrios Matheou

There are many directors who profess (or have claimed for them) one sort of naturalistic cinema or another, from Ken Loach in the UK, to Bruno Dumont in France and Lisandro Alonso in Argentina. It’s an odd characteristic of the Belgian brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, that one feels almost discourteous to give them any such label.

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The Hunger Games

Emma Dibdin

Given the numerous and now pretty tiresome comparisons that pundits and punters alike have drawn between the Hunger Games trilogy and the inexorable Twilight saga, it’s worth taking a moment to imagine how the franchises’ respective heroines might get on if they actually met. One can’t imagine they’d see eye to eye on much.

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Bill Cunningham New York

Fisun Güner

If you’re the kind of person who appreciates auto-recommendations based on previous purchases, then perhaps I could do worse than begin this review by saying:” If you liked The September Issue, you’ll simply love Bill Cunningham New York.” There are obvious similarities: both are Cinema Verité-style documentary profiles centred around New York and fashion, both present a series of talking heads, and both feature the formidable Anna Wintour, managing editor of American...

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21 Jump Street

Veronica Lee

Those of a certain age will remember the television series 21 Jump Street, a huge hit for the then fledgling Fox network in America. It ran from 1987 to 1991 and starred Johnny Depp. The titular address was where he worked as an undercover cop, one of a team of youthful officers investigating crimes in high schools and colleges.

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In Darkness

Jasper Rees

The world has heard of Schindler’s Jews, who were saved from the gas ovens by the patronage of an enlightened German industrialist. Socha’s Jews are not quite so celebrated. There are number of reasons for that. For a start, many fewer Jews were saved in this narrative, and their story has not found its own Thomas Kenneally - nor until now its Steven Spielberg.

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