wed 22/05/2024

Film Reviews

Moonrise Kingdom

Emma Simmonds

With its precocious youngsters, enchanting title, wonderful wit and delight in hand-crafted detail, Moonrise Kingdom is every inch a Wes Anderson film. This year’s Cannes opener is steeped in The Royal Tenenbaums’ director’s faux-naïf, frivolous worldview, with nearly every one of its magical frames carrying his signature.

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Iron Sky

Adam Sweeting

This much-rumoured independent movie has been in the works since 2006, and is improbably billed as a Finnish-German-Australian co-production. It's also unusual for being a project that grew out of the online self-supporting film-making community, Wreck-a-Movie.

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She Monkeys

Kieron Tyler

She Monkeys comes with a “note of intent” from its Swedish director Lisa Aschan. “She Monkeys plays with rules that surround human behaviour. I want to explore society’s contradictions by allowing young women to perform brutal actions. To show these taboos in contrast to the innocent and what seems to be naïve. The story’s focus is a power play between two teenage girls and the world around them. They’re in constant competition.”

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The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

Graham Fuller

It’s impossible to think of a contemporary British director or writer-director team making six consecutive masterpieces as did Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger when they followed The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) with A Canterbury Tale (1944), I Know Where I’m Going! (1945), A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Black Narcissus (1947) and The Red Shoes (1948).

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Even the Rain

Jasper Rees

Perhaps it’s not a strange coincidence that this week brings two films about the precious commodity that is water. (The other is The Source.) More than oil, more than land, certainly more than ideology, one day the thing mankind will fight over is access to the element without which life is unsustainable.

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The Source

Tom Birchenough

Aridity and comedy are not words you expect to read, or write, in the same sentence. Yet they capture some of the many attractions of Radu Mihaileanu’s new film The Source. The director came to considerable public attention two years ago with his Russian-themed burlesque The Concert. This time he has journeyed to the Arab world, and the results are considerably deeper, and more emotionally engaging.

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The Dictator

Bruce Dessau

Is this a sophisticated satire or a dumb, laugh-out-loud, nothing-is-sacred comedy? That is the question which pings around your head Sacha Baron Cohen's latest.

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The Raid

Emma Simmonds

If action speaks louder than words, then The Raid is positively deafening. The third feature from Welshman Gareth Evans is ingeniously, almost absurdly exciting - for the most part it’s shorn of story and propelled not by plot but by peril. That it’s basically a series of imaginative smack-downs and shoot-outs will be off-putting to many but this Indonesian actioner is entirely engrossing and executed with gobsmacking gusto and precision.

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Dark Shadows

Emma Simmonds

Tim Burton is a man who has always been at home in the shadows. His is a world of demon barbers, headless horsemen, deformed sewer dwellers and corpse brides, of chalky complexions, dusky aesthetics and billowing fog. His films are designed to chill children, or bewitch big kids, they hark back to the Brothers Grimm and Hammer horror - not least in the recurring presence of avuncular abomination Christopher Lee.

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Jeff, Who Lives at Home

Jasper Rees

It’s maybe one for their shrink. The filmmaking Duplass brothers are irresistibly drawn to male losers still clinging to the apron strings. In Cyrus Jonah Hill played an overgrown mommy’s boy in the grip of an oedipal love-in who fights off his single mother’s new man like a fat hellcat. In Jeff, Who Lives at Home things have moved on, though not in an evolutionary sense.

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Two Years At Sea

ASH Smyth

He trudges about in the snow somewhere. He cooks. He sleeps. He chops wood and saws branches. He reads. He looks like Darwin. He makes hot drinks. He does not do spring cleaning.

This is a more-or-less complete synopsis of Ben Rivers’ Two Years at Sea, a “study” (I think is the correct technical term) of some bloke, somewhere, living in the wilderness, who clearly does not hold down a day-job.

He takes a shower.

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Le Quai des brumes

Graham Fuller

“Atmosphère…atmosphère,” the tart played by Arletty barks at her boyfriend-pimp on a canal bridge in Marcel Carné’s 1938 Hôtel du Nord.

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Angel & Tony

Demetrios Matheou

I have no idea why the original title of this fine first feature from Frenchwoman Alix Delaporte has been changed, from Angèle and Tony to the current one. Apart from the pointlessness, it also suggests the wrong tone entirely, since Angèle is certainly no angel.

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The Lucky One

Matt Wolf

The sun shines - a LOT - in the new Zac Efron film, which seems appropriate to a celluloid landscape shaded with loss and grief that puts such aspects of the human condition to one side in favour of the sequence of pretty-as-a-postcard images on which Scott Hicks's direction alights before too very long.

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Silent House

Adam Sweeting

Considerable quantities of bile have been hosed over Silent House by American critics, who have found its premise flimsy and its execution dismally predictable. It was made by Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, who were also responsible for 2003's low-budget hit Open Water. That was the one where a couple of objectionable yuppies were left behind by their dive-boat and we bobbed about in the ocean with them as they succumbed to terror, hypothermia and hungry sharks.

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Damsels in Distress

Emma Dibdin

The opening scene of Whit Stillman’s (The Last Days Of Disco) first film in 13 years comprises one of the most immediately familiar scenarios in the American high school genre. A wide-eyed new girl arrives on campus, is spied by a trio of queen bees and co-opted into their ranks, from where she embarks upon a journey of social self-discovery and inevitable hubristic downfall. But this is college, not high school, and the queen bees are something altogether subtler and stranger.

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