tue 21/05/2024

Film Reviews

Villa Amalia

Veronica Lee

The fifth collaboration between iconic French actress Isabelle Huppert and director Benoît Jacquot tells the story of Ann (Huppert), a concert pianist who leaves her partner of 15 years after she sees him passionately kiss another woman. She decides to abandon her life, leaving no trace of her previous existence, and only one friend, Georges (Jean-Hugues Anglade), is allowed to know her plans. She has met Georges for the first time since childhood by a ridiculous contrivance but, as with so...

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Please Give

Matt Wolf

Charity begins at home - or maybe not - in Nicole Holofcener's lovely film, Please Give, which joins the superlative Greenberg as one of the beacons in a summer movie line-up given over to sequels, franchises and pitches that should never have got beyond the story board.

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The Illusionist, EIFF Opening Gala, Edinburgh

graeme Thomson

Last night’s gala opening of the 64th Edinburgh International Film Festival may have been touched by living history – in particular the presence of Sean Connery (pictured below, arriving at last night's screening), who strode up the red carpet looking sharp and dapper in black – but the film on show, Sylvain Chomet’s ravishing animated feature, The Illusionist, was haunted by old ghosts.

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Hierro

alexandra Coghlan Maria (Elena Anaya) offers a compelling emotional core to an otherwise laborious film

What is it with horror films and water? Think back through all the watery episodes in the horror canon, not the grandiose creature-from-the-deep type but the more domestic scenarios – beaches, showers, baths, bathrooms. From Hitchcock’s originary shower scene onwards, the list is long and gory. Most recently we've seen the elegant atmospheric manipulations of Juan Antonio Bayona’s El Orfanato with its plot-significant headland setting and dark tidal caves; now following close...

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Killers

Matt Wolf

As cinematic landmarks go, Kutcher Speaks French may not quite be up there with Garbo Talks. But there's a certain pleasure to be had in the opening sequences of the otherwise dismal Killers to find that so quintessential a movie dude can actually manage the word "bonjour". Small wonder that a vacationing, newly single Katherine Heigl falls for this clearly keen linguist in a lift in Nice. His bared torso has nothing to do with it - surely, not!

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Wild Grass

Jasper Rees

It’s an odd enough statistic that only four of Alan Ayckbourn’s plays have been made into films. Odder still that, of those, three are the work of Alain Resnais, the grand old man of the nouvelle vague. Yes, it was a curious moment when the director of Last Year in Marienbad got into bed with the author of Bedroom Farce.

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Black Death

Anne Billson

When were you last horrified by a horror movie? Really horrified, that is, as opposed to merely creeped out, or disgusted, or amused. Black Death is a proper horror movie, for grown-ups rather than ADD-afflicted teens, and I'll wager grown-ups will be duly horrified by it.

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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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