thu 23/05/2024

Film Reviews

Albert Nobbs

Jasper Rees

Glenn Close always had it in her somehow. That mannish jawline was part of her steel cladding in Fatal Attraction. The lasting image of Dangerous Liaisons comes at the close, when Close’s Madame de Meurteuil scrapes off her painted mask to reveal a hard hatchet face. And then there’s her ruthless lawyer in Damages, not to mention two gruesome helpings of Cruella de Vil.

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Avengers Assemble

Emma Simmonds

The long-threatened Avengers Assemble (in the US simply The Avengers) is an appositely extravagant big screen adaptation of the Marvel comic book sensation. More importantly for many, it’s an amalgam of several superhero film franchises, making it a great excuse to pile star upon star. Written and directed by cult favourite Joss Whedon, it really is a fanboy’s dream.

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Le Moine

alexandra Coghlan

Incest, rape, torture and matricide, as well as an obligatory spot of cross-dressing, all played their part in making Matthew Lewis’s Gothic novel The Monk the scandalous success of its day. But with such stuff the bread and butter of Hollywood’s unblinking horror departments, why would a contemporary director choose to revisit this period classic? It was apparently a lifelong ambition of Surrealism’s greatest filmmaker Luis Buñuel to adapt The Monk for the screen.

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Elles

Matt Wolf

Remember when the movies used to celebrate sex, be it Julie Christie diving under the table to service Warren Beatty in Shampoo or Kathleen Turner selling the sizzle in Body Heat? No longer. These days, celluloid sex is a soulless, dispiriting affair even when the bodies on view are beauts.

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Breathing

Jasper Rees

This one sounds like a hard sell: a muted, taciturn, cautious film from Austria about a friendless boy in a young offenders’ institution who takes a job working for the municipal undertakers. Breathing (original title: Atmen) would appear at first glance modest in scope and gloomy in outlook. But whatever the odds stacked against it, this quiet, observational debut from Karl Markovics turns out to pack a discreetly powerful punch.

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Town of Runners

ASH Smyth

Footage of wiry East African men and women breaking the tape in marathons and distance track-events is now more or less synonymous with the highest achievements in top-level sport, and it won’t come as a surprise to those who’ve lived through more than a couple of cycles of the Olympic Games to be reminded that the medal-winners in the long-distance running events are no longer, generally speaking, from “round here”.

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The Bad and the Beautiful

Jasper Rees

In the golden age of the movies that was 1952, The Bad and the Beautiful must have seemed quite a radical attack on the industry.

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Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Jasper Rees

Getting on for three decades ago Lasse Hallström was introduced to audiences outside his native Sweden with My Life As a Dog. An emotionally continent, directorially restrained picture of the pains and pleasures of a rural childhood, it was Hallström’s ticket to Hollywood.

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Battleship

Adam Sweeting

"Find your inner soldier and stop the alien threat before it's too late!" runs the blurb for Hasbro's Battleship computer game. The movie of the game seizes this basic idea by the scruff of the neck, and pumps it up into a cacophonous effects-crammed military yarn with a deafening heavy metal soundtrack. Alien forces have landed in the Pacific, and the US Navy is forced to fight Pearl Harbor II.

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The Gospel of Us

Dylan Moore

The Gospel of Us is a film about remembering. It is based on and was filmed at The Passion of Port Talbot, Michael Sheen’s triumphant theatre-event that took over his home town in south Wales to retell the Easter story this time last year. Writer Owen Sheers has novelised The Passion as The Gospel of Us.

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The Cabin in the Woods

Emma Simmonds

Like an adrenalin injection straight to the heart of a flagging horror genre, The Cabin in the Woods is fresh, funny and teeming with deliciously nasty surprises which - have no fear - will not be revealed to you here. Although it’s helmed by first-time director Drew Goddard (the Cloverfield scribe and co-producer of Lost and Alias), for many the key name attached to The Cabin in the Woods will be Joss Whedon, the film’s co-writer and producer.

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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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