fri 19/04/2024

Film Reviews

Let Me In

Anne Billson

By the standards of contemporary horror movies, Let Me In has several things going for it. It isn't about somebody being tortured to death, its leading characters aren't played by the usual vapid twentysomething actors pretending to be high-school students, and, by and large, it eschews some of the more tedious horror fads of our time, such as herky-jerky editing, or big "Boo!" musical cues designed to make you jump.

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The Kids Are All Right

Matt Wolf

Americans are chastised, often wrongly, for possessing a scant sense of irony, so I mean it as no criticism whatsoever of The Kids Are All Right to point out that the title of Lisa Cholodenko's wonderful film is altogether un-ironic. In less caring or careful hands, or a not so fully empathic context, this might be a portrait of irretrievably damaged youth with the parents deemed responsible, of the sort that proliferates on the London stage.

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Burke and Hare

Nick Hasted

John Landis will always be loved for writing and directing An American Werewolf in London (1981), the definitive horror-comedy. That - and The Blues Brothers, and Trading Places - was reason enough for Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis to agree to star as 19th-century grave-robbers Burke and Hare in Landis’s first feature for 12 years.

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Involuntary

alexandra Coghlan

This first feature from Swedish writer-director Ruben Östlund arrives heavy with awards, the seasoned and decorated product of film festivals across Europe. Brutal, quirky and elegantly self-conscious, it does little to challenge the trends that have recently made Swedish cinema (Let The Right One In, The Millennium Trilogy) such hot property.

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RED

Veronica Lee

RED has an interesting backstory: rather than being an adaptation of a novel, or the umpteenth reworking of a Hollywood formula, it has been adapted from the graphic novel of the same title by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Cully Hamner and published by the DC Comics stable. And its origins show in its slick editing, sly humour and original take on what is, let’s face it, hardly a fresh format.

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The Arbor

Veronica Lee

Verbatim drama, long established in theatre, has rarely been used in film. But director Clio Barnard uses the device to magnificent, and sometimes deliberately disjointing, effect in The Arbor, to tell the story of Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar, who wrote The Arbor and Rita, Sue and Bob Too (made into a film in 1986) before she died at the age of 29 in 1990.

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The Stoning of Soraya M

Markie Robson-Scott

A journalist’s car breaks down on a mountain road in the middle of nowhere. He’s towed to a tiny hamlet, where small stone houses are overshadowed by huge painted images of the bearded Ayatollah. A woman wearing a black chador insists on speaking to him. "There are things in this village you do not know about," she hisses. Melodramatic, yes, but this powerful, disturbing film is based on a real event in mid-Eighties Iran, which makes it easier - or perhaps harder - to bear.

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Film: Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow

Igor Toronyi-Lalic Anselm Kiefer's sculpture 'Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow': 'We see him swing huge giant concrete huts around by crane, flinging them on top of one another like they were toys'

Action-movie season ain't over quite yet, folks. Sure. OK. Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow isn't exactly your conventional salute to Armageddon. No guns, no baddies, no hot babes, no long-haired hunks. The pace is slow. The dialogue's pretty non-existent - and mostly European. The setting is pastoral. The soundtrack is...

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The Social Network

Neil Smith

Success has many parents, the old saying goes. And that’s certainly the case in David Fincher’s new film, an enthralling dissection of one of the great success stories of our age. When Harvard undergraduate Mark Zuckerberg devised a putative version of the Facebook website in October 2003, he can not have imagined it would spawn a global phenomenon with more than half a billion users.

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Mr Nice

Nick Hasted

Howard Marks was a pothead Errol Flynn, living a life of remarkable escapades and hair's-breadth escapes. A Welsh working-class Oxford graduate in nuclear physics and philosophy, he’d be fascinating company even if he wasn’t once the world’s most successful dope smuggler, and an associate of the IRA, the CIA, the Mob and MI6. His autobiography, Mr Nice, has let Marks earn a living reminiscing about it ever since.

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Restrepo

Markie Robson-Scott

The most surreal scene in this searing, adrenaline rush of a documentary about a US platoon in Afghanistan is the sight of three soldiers dancing madly in their bunker to "Touch Me, I Want to Feel Your Body" on an iPod.

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A Town Called Panic

Nick Hasted

A Town Called Panic is a charming, giddily funny dose of anarchy from a pair of benign Belgian punks, Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar. The first stop-motion animation to be selected at Cannes, it stars Horse, Cowboy and Indian, dysfunctional plastic toy housemates in a papier-mâché world. UK viewers will recognise the style from the Cravendale milk TV ads. Those mad cows only hint at the bizarre pleasures here.

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Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Jasper Rees

The long-delayed sequel has earned no more than a small, insignificant footnote in movie history. Psycho II, Gregory’s Two Girls and Texasville, to name only three disparate examples, were all superfluous post-scriptums to much venerated, much earlier films. There is at least a pretext for another trip to Wall Street. Since Gordon Gekko last blew the fumes of his fat Havana in your face, money has learnt to talk louder than ever.

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Buried

Nick Hasted

He’s six feet under from the start. Paul Conroy is in a wooden coffin a dead-man’s distance beneath Iraqi soil when the flick of his Zippo illuminates him in the darkness where we’ve heard thudding and screaming. His oxygen, like the film, will last 90 minutes. A mobile phone connects him to his kidnapper, family and would-be rescuers. It’s the ultimate locked-room mystery, told from inside the room.

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Takers

Adam Sweeting

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Made in Dagenham

Veronica Lee

Nigel Cole’s bright and breezy film opens with news footage and advertising reels about the American car giant Ford, which in 1968 had 24,000 men working at its Dagenham plant in Essex and only 187 women. It may have been the decade of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and David Hockney - all...

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