tue 23/04/2024

Film Reviews

Upside Down: The Creation Records Story

Kieron Tyler

“I thought I was creating metaphysical history by running Creation” says the label’s Alan McGee in Upside Down. Seconds later the meat-and-potatoes rock of Oasis blasts from the soundtrack. The drug-assisted disconnect between such lofty aspiration and the grounded music of Oasis was never going to be bridged. Even by the man billed as “the president of pop”.

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How I Ended This Summer

Tom Birchenough

If ever there’s a film where the landscape itself seems to become a main character, it’s Alexei Popogrebsky’s How I Ended This Summer. Action, such as it is, unfolds in the remotest Arctic regions of Russia’s Far East, where the personal conflict between the film’s two protagonists develops as they come to understand the nature of their different conflicts with the looming mountains and rough seascapes by which they are isolated.

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Adèle Blanc-Sec

Anne Billson

BD, pronounced bédé, is short for "bande déssinée", the French equivalent of the comic strip or graphic novel, which has long been accorded a popular affection and cultural standing well beyond that of its anglophone equivalent. Luc Besson says he was weaned on BD, which comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with his films. The only surprise is that it has taken him so long to direct an adaptation of one.

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Meek's Cutoff

Emma Simmonds

Kelly Reichardt’s quietly radical vision of the Wild West is a slender, provocatively ambiguous work and the antithesis to the genre’s muscular action-packed epics. It’s a western which aligns us with those who don bonnets rather than Stetsons, and which favours quiet pluck over showy heroics. With a narrative shorn almost entirely of incident, its existential, quasi-religious minimalism recalls Waiting for Godot.

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Cold Weather

Veronica Lee

To describe this movie as slow-burn would be like saying snails live in the fast lane. The latest work from indie auteur Aaron Katz (Dance Party USA and Quiet City) who wrote, directed and edited, is 97 minutes long, but nothing happens for its first third and then when things do start happening - as the lead characters investigate the disappearance of a friend - the film abruptly ends. It may be layered with all manner of subtexts but they pretty much passed me by.

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Your Highness

Jasper Rees

In the end, the media-industrial complex which takes responsibility for entertaining the planet doesn’t put your needs and mine near the top of the pile. But I think we know this already. Why am I even saying it? Saying it again. Bears make their toilet in the woods, pontiffs wave from balconies and highly remunerated people in Hollywood with popcorn for brains chair meetings the usual product of which are brazenly cheap concepts like Your Highness.

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Little White Lies

Emma Simmonds

The secrets and lies, delusions and foibles of a group of thirty-, forty- and fiftysomething friends are laid bare in French director Guillaume Canet’s third feature, following his breakthrough international hit Tell No One (2006). This alternately genial and scathing comic drama explores the dynamics of friendship and the fragility of romantic relations.

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Red Riding Hood

Matt Wolf

Once upon a time, Gary Oldman acted in the plays or films of Caryl Churchill, Mike Leigh and Alan Bennett, bringing a deliberately disorienting intensity to whatever the role. But here he is in Red Riding Hood snarling commands like “You will die now, beast!” in a film in which considerable members of the cast – spoiler ahead! – go down for the count.

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Before the Revolution

Graham Fuller

Bernardo Bertolucci was a 23-year-old Marxist intellectual and prizewinning poet with a partner, Adriana Asti, seven years his senior, when he made his lustrous semi-autobiographical second feature, Before the Revolution, in his native Parma in 1963-64.

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2001: A Space Odyssey with live score, Philharmonia, de Ridder, Royal Festival Hall

David Nice

Imagine a special two-hour-plus resurrection of that wannabe extravaganza Stars in Their Eyes.

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Tomorrow, When the War Began

Veronica Lee

Tomorrow, When the War Began, Australia's highest-grossing movie of 2010, was written and directed by Stuart Beattie. It was adapted from John Marsden’s novel of the same name, the first in his seven-book Tomorrow series for teenagers, published 1993-1999. They tell the story of Ellie Linton and a group of her high-school friends who have to try to save their country from an invading militia after their hometown of Wirrawee has been taken over, their families taken prisoner...

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Armadillo

Adam Sweeting

If war is such hell, why do we keep doing it? This may be one of the questions you'll be asking yourself after sitting through the taut and gruelling 100 minutes of Armadillo, Janus Metz's remarkable account of a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan with soldiers of Denmark's Guard Hussars.

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Essential Killing

Jasper Rees

There are certain film-makers who like to give themselves a headache. Buried confined its only character to a coffin. Phone Booth stuck Colin Farrell in – what else? – a phone booth. Essential Killing imposes another kind of confinement on its main character: it maroons him in silence.

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Passenger Side

Emma Simmonds

Matthew Bissonnette’s third feature Passenger Side is a mellow, honey-hued road movie which sees two discordant brothers combing the streets of Los Angeles with an initially mysterious purpose. A likeable diversion, for the most part it’s a nicely played two-hander depicting the rekindling of a sibling bond.

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Source Code

Adam Sweeting

With his debut film, Moon, Duncan Jones demonstrated that a sci-fi movie doesn't have to depend for its success on fleets of warring spacecraft or flesh-eating alien monstrosities. He's done it again with Source Code, a cool and clever thriller in which futuristic anxiety and mind-bending scientific theory are firmly anchored in almost mundane reality.

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Oranges and Sunshine

Veronica Lee

This film tells an extraordinary - scarcely believable - story. Throughout the 20th century, the UK sent tens of thousands of children from care homes and orphanages to the colonies, later the Commonwealth. Parents were routinely told their children had been adopted by British families, while the children were told in many cases that their parents were dead.

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