wed 28/02/2024

Film Reviews

Film: Crude

Ryan Gilbey Don't drink the water: Crude explains why.

Far from being the premature biopic of Frankie Boyle that its title might suggest, Crude is the latest and subtlest in a run of environmentally concerned documentaries. To stand out in this newly lucrative genre, you must adopt an original tack: the celebrity-fronted lecture has been done (An Inconvenient Truth), as too has the thriller (The Cove) and the prankster...

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Up in the Air

Sheila Johnston

By trade Ryan Bingham is something called a Termination Facilitator. I'm not entirely sure if that's meant as a euphemism, but it sounds kind of scary and in fact, played by George Clooney with lubricated charm, Bingham is a hit-man contracted out to fire people from companies who don't have the cojones or the courtesy to break the bad news themselves.

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44 Inch Chest

Adam Sweeting

Startlingly, it’s 10 years since Sexy Beast, the infernally cunning gangster movie with a terrifying performance from Ben Kingsley at its core. Now Beast’s screenwriters Louis Mellis and David Scinto are back with their new brainchild 44 Inch Chest. That authorial pedigree is written all over the screen (and in the way the air is turned perpetually blue), but this isn’t Sexy Beast II.

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It's Complicated

Matt Wolf

Meryl Streep feasts once again at the shrine of foodie-ism in It's Complicated, this time playing a California caterer who juggles two men - one of them her ex-husband - in between rolling pastry dough. "Complicated"? Perhaps in terms of decision-making: what to bake? whom to bed?

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Mugabe and the White African

Sheila Johnston Mike Campbell on his mango farm in Zimbabwe, a target of Mugabe's Land Reform Programme

He thought he owned his property - he had the title deeds to it, after all - but suddenly the ground shifted under his feet and there came an aggressive bid to snatch his home away. His savings became worthless in the economic chaos; the social order was crumbling. The nightmare has become all too familiar over the last 18 months. But in Mike Campbell's case there was a further cruel turn of the screw: he lived in Zimbabwe....

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Exam

Jasper Rees 'Exam', in which 'Lord of the Flies' meets 'The Apprentice'

The list of plays that have successfully migrated from the stage to the screen is not so very long. If Exam doesn’t belong on that list, it’s not quite for the reason you’d expect. With only ten characters and one windowless set, it has the shape, size and claustrophobic intensity of something that began its life in the theatre. But unless it has kept its roots very well hidden, the screenplay by Stuart Hazeldine appears here in its original incarnation. A film which doesn’t go...

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The Road

Anne Billson

Hey-ho. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the cinema, it's the end of the world again. Where mankind would once have contemplated the apocalypse and its aftermath by way of triptychs and frescos, now it's repeatedly faced with its own extinction in widescreen, with Dolby Digital sound. And if you thought the collapsing CGI cities of 2012 were frivolous, never fear.

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Did You Hear About the Morgans?

Matt Wolf Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker as the off again/on again Morgans

The first movie in my experience to feature a Sarah Palin joke lends a glimmer of distinction to Did You Hear About the Morgans?, an otherwise excruciating romcom that finds Hugh Grant in tic-laden overdrive, his genuine charm jettisoned somewhere in the onscreen journey from New York to points west. Sarah Jessica Parker is on hand to trundle out her mightily-aggrieved-lover routine that she long ago patented on Sex and the City, but Marc Lawrence's film is probably best saved...

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Film 2009-10: Boo for Hollywood

Sheila Johnston

In 2009 Hollywood sank deeper into the trough that it has busily been colonising over the last decade.

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Peter and the Wolf, RFH

David Nice Just me and my duck: Suzie Templeton's lone wolf Peter with one of his friends

Even for a narratorless animation of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf like Suzie Templeton's obsessively detailed gem of a film, you probably only need 14 words before you can get on with the business of screening and playing. Peter: strings; bird: flute; duck: oboe; cat: clarinet; grandfather: bassoon; wolf: horns; hunters: timps. The savvy middle-class children gathered with their parents in the Royal Festival Hall yesterday afternoon had only two for actor/presenter Burn Gorman's...

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The Queen of Spades

Sheila Johnston

Family been bickering over games again this Christmas? Take the blighters to this fabulous supernatural melodrama and they'll learn soon enough what happens to a dirty card cheat. Long unavailable, Thorold Dickinson's 1949 adaptation of Alexander Pushkin's eerie short story, wherein a penniless Russian officer and crusty beldame sell their souls for the secret of winning at a simple game of chance,...

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Nowhere Boy

Adam Sweeting

It’s been a very good year for Beatlemania, with all the albums re-repackaged and the group going virtual in Rock Band. The BBC lobbed in their own Beatles season-ette, and one of the more striking images from their riot of documentary footage was of John Lennon escorting his Aunt Mimi up the steps onto the plane taking them to America, with her handbag and Sunday-best hat.

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Sherlock Holmes

Adam Sweeting

If James Bond could survive Roger Moore and George Lazenby, there must be grounds for optimism that Sherlock Holmes will eventually recover from this brutal mauling by Robert Downey Jr, under the gaudy directorial eye of Guy Ritchie. Holmesophiles are a doughty bunch, and will probably just carry on watching Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett as if Mr Madonna never happened.

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Avatar

Jasper Rees

There is a sequence in which a monstrous tree of otherworldly dimensions, its boughs as sturdy as oaks, its twigs as vigorous as saplings, crashes spectacularly to earth in roaring, creaking, shattering, time-expanding slo-mo. In a film that’s full of them, this is very much the premier-cru money shot. Remember the last time the director, deploying the computer-generated forces of a sound-stage deity, downed another very large object? Back then it was a boat.

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St Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold

Veronica Lee

This film was never going to be nominated for any awards, but then it probably doesn’t need critical acclaim - the first reworking of the glorious 1950s Ealing Studios comedies (which were based on Ronald Searle’s cartoons), released in 2007, was the third-highest grossing independent UK film ever. St Trinian’s 2 is more of the same: loud, silly and rollicking good fun.

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Humpday

Sheila Johnston

Sixteen years ago, Tom Hanks was in Seattle, pining sleeplessly for Meg Ryan. In 2009, though, romantic comedy has a rather different complexion and, in another corner of the Space Needle city, two best buddies flirt with a gay affair, even though both of them protest, just a little too much, that they are straight.

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