tue 31/01/2023

Film Reviews

Women Without Men

Tom Birchenough

Shirin Neshat's often compelling Women Without Men spirits us back to Tehran 1953, and the political atmosphere surrounding the British- and American-supported coup that deposed Iran’s first democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh.

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Letters to Juliet

Matt Wolf

What happens when shlock is ennobled to something resembling a state of grace? The answer is on emotionally capacious view in Letters to Juliet, a by-the-books romcom that is raised beyond the ordinary, and then some, by the presence of the great Vanessa Redgrave.

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Greenberg

Veronica Lee

Anyone who saw Ben Stiller in Zoolander will know that he is a very fine actor. He made his over-the-top character both believable and lovable (well, up to a point on the latter, but you know what I mean) while playing the fashion model’s absurdities for every laugh he could get.

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Brooklyn's Finest

Jasper Rees

For the past decade or so, New York City has been bragging about its crime figures. Homicides are through the floor, whole fleets of firepower-toting cops are out there hassling hustlers, and the mean streets have been swept pretty much clean. I don’t think the creators of Brooklyn’s Finest can have got the press release.

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Kicks

Jasper Rees

This is a modest film – only 80 minutes long – with big things to say about the way celebrity warps the lives of all who come into contact with it: not only of the elect few whose faces adorn teenage walls, but also those lonely girls in their bedrooms who conjure up a sustaining fantasy that some of the fame will brush personally off on them.

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The Killer Inside Me

Tom Birchenough

We’ll never feel the real impact - an all too apposite word - of the violence in Michael Winterbottom’s The Killer Inside Me, given that it has dominated pre-release publicity for the film. The suspense of waiting for it will surely distract viewers from any suspense that the director was trying to create naturally through the formal build-up of unease within the plot and environment he’s taken on from Jim Thompson’s noir novel.

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She's Out of My League

Jasper Rees

Has modern cinema ever arranged quite so fetishistic an entrance? She’s blonde, she’s beautiful, and needless to say busty - a benign pneumatic deity who, gliding in slo-mo across a crowded screen, induces males of every age and hue to turn and gawp in frank, unreconstructed appreciation of her sheer unblemished wondrousness. Hollywood is zip-all without dream retail and the shameless objectification of women. But surely – surely – this is too much.

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Sex and the City 2

alexandra Coghlan

There are, in urban myth, those moments when a runway model – leggy, impassively superhuman and dressed in some impossibly haute garment – catches a heel and collapses, foal-like, into a heap of fragile legs. It’s a moment that Sex and the City the series neatly turned on its head, urging us to celebrate the beauty to be found in human flaw and error; yet, watching the self-assured sass of this once-mighty franchise sprawl headlong, it wasn’t beauty but a sense of raging...

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Videocracy

william Ward 'Videocracy': a would-be Italian starlet tries to strut her stuff.. and fluffs it

The worldwide anti-Berlusconi lobby has made much of the fact that the state-owned (and government-controlled) RAI TV channels declined to screen trailers for Italo-Swede Erik Gandini’s 2009 documentary film Videocracy. But It's hard to think what exercised Berlusconi's place men there so much. Anyone hoping to sit down to 85 minutes of harsh political polemic will be...

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The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Sheila Johnston

Werner Herzog is your go-to guy if you want a film about extraordinary madness. The German director's legendary partnership with Klaus Kinski yielded such wild and wonderful monuments to insanity as Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo. Theirs would be the natural team for this tale of a cop run amok, but, Kinski having departed to that great padded cell in the sky, Herzog hooks up instead with Nicolas Cage. The result is a slickly amusing, facetious study in dementia...

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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Adam Sweeting

The most exciting part of the screening of this absurd new blockbuster was an appearance by producer Jerry Bruckheimer for a pre-show pep talk. You may be familiar with his CV - Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, all the CSIs, Pirates of the Caribbean. Only a little guy, but so was Attila the Hun. He raved dutifully to a theatre-full of British hacks about the flick’s marvellous mostly-English cast (a lot of it having been shot at Pinewood) and schmoozed with...

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Philip Glass Ensemble, Koyaanisqatsi, The Dome, Brighton

Thomas H Green

One of the hottest tickets at this year's Brighton festival is Godfrey Reggio's 1983 film Koyaanisqatsi accompanied by live soundtrack performance from the Philip Glass Ensemble. Sold out for weeks beforehand, there are touts outside but most of the middle-aged Bohemian audience seem to have bought their tickets well in advance. The reason it's such a draw is that Koyaanisqatsi is a cult whose enthusiasts are multifarious.

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DVDs Round-up 7: Nightwatching

Fisun Güner Martin Freeaman bears an uncanny resemblance to Rembrandt

When Rembrandt painted his 1642 masterpiece The Night Watch, he must have expected to live out his days in the style befitting a great artist. Yet he was soon to face financial ruin.

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Lebanon

Sheila Johnston Monstrous apparition: an Israeli tank invades Lebanon

A field of sunflowers hang their heads, as though in shame or sorrow, to the deep thrum of a single chord in the film's opening shot, at once beautiful and threatening. But that is about the only breath of fresh air in the whole of the movie. Set on the first day of the 1982 Lebanon War, it proceeds for the rest of its duration to trap us, along with four terrified young Israeli soldiers, inside the confines of their tank, a monstrous apparition fetid with stale cigarette smoke,...

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Triomf

alexandra Coghlan White trash fear and social intolerance in mid-1990s South Africa

"Change" has been the watchword of the past few months, the standard flown hopefully aloft by every political party. A week spent anxiously waiting for a political conclusion, worrying about its impact, and heatedly debating its validity has made for a more than usually vulnerable sense of British nationhood: an apt time indeed for the UK release of Triomf, a brutal South African parable about political prejudice, social intolerance, and above all the fear of the new.

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Vincere Special 1: Fascism is Dead, Long Live Il Duce

william Ward 'Vincere': the future Duce (Filippo Tomi) seduces his mistress (Giovanna Mezzogiorno)

Applauded by the audiences at Cannes last year, where it was the only Italian film in the competition, and nominated for a Palme d’Or, awarded four prizes at the Chicago International Film Festival, and favourably received at home, Marco Bellocchio’s Vincere is now being released in the UK, increasingly a rare event for films of Italian origin.

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