mon 04/03/2024

Film Reviews

Napoleon review - Sir Ridley Scott's historical epic is wide but not deep

Adam Sweeting

Sir Ridley Scott has taken umbrage at the French critics who weren’t too impressed with his new movie. Not only do they not like his film, but the French “don’t even like themselves”, according to the dyspeptic auteur.

Read more...

Mami Wata review – a gorgeous, strange African fable

Nick Hasted

Mami Wata is the female West African water god still worshipped in Iyi, a fragile, matriarchal village redoubt against modernity. Writer-director C.J. “Fiery” Obasi’s third film makes Iyi a battleground for African identity, in a glistening black-and-white fable played out to the sea’s constant, low crash and wash.

Read more...

May December review - a queasy take on sexual exploitation

Saskia Baron

There’s much to admire  here – May December features impressive performances from Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman, and director Todd Haynes shows his mastery of classic Sirkian style. But disappointingly, this comes across as a movie that aims to critique media exploitation of a scandal while indulging in its own manipulation.  

Read more...

Is There Anybody Out There? review - autobiographical documentary on disability

Saskia Baron

Ella Glendining has made an impressive documentary debut with the autobiographical essay, Is There Anybody Out There? Born without hip joints and very short thigh bones, we first encounter her as a perky, confident little girl walking in the woods near her home, in video footage filmed by her parents. They were aware from the first pregnancy scan that she was different and have done an exemplary job of ensuring that she had as happy a childhood as possible.

Read more...

Saltburn review - an uneven gothic romp

James Saynor

This seems to be a season for films majoring on bisexuality, with the awards round encompassing Ira Sachs’s Passages, Bradley Cooper’s Maestro and Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn, a story of high-class high jinks in a modern twist on Evelyn’s Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.

Read more...

Tish review - haunting portrait of a driven working-class photographer

Graham Fuller

Paul Sng’s documentary Tish is one of the best British films of 2023 – both a heartfelt tribute to the life and work of the late photographer Tish (born Patricia) Murtha and a timely reminder of the war waged on the nation’s industrial working-class by the Thatcher government and its successors. Murtha’s death in 2013 was not unrelated to that war.

Read more...

Driving Madeleine review - a Paris taxi ride reveals a harrowing life story

Markie Robson-Scott

Charles (French comedian Dany Boon), a jaded taxi driver in Paris, is stressed out. He owes money, the points on his license are mounting up, he barely has time to see his wife and daughter. When he gets a booking for a far-flung ride involving an old lady, he’s not enthusiastic even though the pay’s good. All joie de vivre has left him.

Read more...

Peter Doherty: Stranger In My Own Skin review – close-up on chaos

Nick Hasted

Pete Doherty’s notorious tabloid image as Kate Moss’s junkie rock star boyfriend blessedly faded following that relationship’s end, stopping short of Amy Winehouse territory. Katia deVidas’s documentary focuses on that addiction through his preferred self-image as a latter-day Rimbaud, a punk poet more suited to his current French home. The result is remarkably unvarnished, but narrowly framed.

Read more...

Anatomy of a Fall review - gripping psychological thriller set in the French Alps

Markie Robson-Scott

There’s a splinter of ice in the heart of a writer, said Graham Greene, and that ice plays a part in French director Justine Triet’s superb fourth feature, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

Read more...

A Forgotten Man review - Switzerland's WW2 record haunts monochrome drama

Saskia Baron

Switzerland isn’t exactly famous for parading its history during WWII. Remaining neutral from the conflict like its neighbour Liechtenstein, the Swiss benefitted from financial and armament deals with Nazi Germany, turned away Jewish refugees at the border and, post-war, failed to inform the remaining families of Holocaust victims about the deposits left by dead relatives in Swiss banks. 

Read more...

Rustin review - a doubly liberated American life

Nick Hasted

This is a tribute to a forgotten hero, gay black Quaker Bayard Rustin (Colman Domingo), driving force behind the 1963 March on Washington, the vast peaceful protest that sanctified Martin Luther King as his oratory seemed to lift black America towards a Promised Land.

Read more...

On the Adamant review - moving French documentary focusing on mental health

Saskia Baron

On the Adamant is an endearing  documentary by the French director Nicolas Philibert, best known here for his 2003 film, Être et Avoir, a portrait of a single-room school in the Auvergne.

Read more...

Dance First - the travails of Samuel Beckett

Hugh Barnes

Dance First takes its title from a line in Samuel Beckett’s most famous work Waiting for Godot. “Perhaps he could dance first and think afterwards,” says the tramp Estragon of Pozzo’s slave Lucky, who then proceeds to do both in a typically absurd Beckettian way.

Read more...

How to Have Sex review - compelling journey of a vulnerable teen

Helen Hawkins

Molly Manning Walker surprised herself by winning the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes this year with her rites-of-passage feature, How to Have Sex. Why the surprise? It’s a compelling debut.

Read more...

The Royal Hotel review - sexual malice in Australia

Graham Fuller

The jitters-inducing first feature directed on home soil by the Australian filmmaker Kitty Green is named after The Royal Hotel, the only pub in an Outback mining community removed from civilised society. To suggest all the blokes who drink there are potential rapists would be wrong: only 95 per cent of them are.

Read more...

Beyond Utopia review - harrowing escape stories vividly captured with live footage

Sarah Kent

If Madeleine Gavin’s Beyond Utopia doesn’t make you cry, you’re a hard nut to crack. The film records the fortunes of defectors fleeing North Korea, a hell hole that is more like a prison camp than a country.

Read more...

Pages

latest in today

The Duchess of Malfi, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse review - the g...

“All discord without this circumference,” the Duchess of Malfi tells the good man she’s just asked to be her husband, “is only to be pitied and...

Gerstein, LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - American glitter an...

How lucky those of us were who grew up musically with the young Simon Rattle’s highly original programming in the 1980s. He’s still doing it at a...

theartsdesk on Vinyl 82: Human League, Hawkwind, Roberta Fla...

VINYL OF THE MONTH

Mito y Comadre Guajirando (ZZK)

...

Album: Loreena McKennitt - The Road Back Home

It was one of those truly memorable evenings – a...

The Creation, Alder, Clayton, Mofidian, LPO, Gardner, RFH re...

Light and grace must flood the concert hall in Haydn’s The Creation, after a striking-for-its time evocation of Chaos, and periwigged...

Dune: Part 2 review - sombre space opera

Dennis Villeneuve’s Dune sequel is a sombre science-fiction spectacle that insists on the scale of cinema: erupting sandworms are Cecil B...

Faust, LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - violence and wit in Sh...

The LSO’s apéritif hour “Half-Six Fixes” have an informality that usually works and sometimes doesn’t. But the first of this two-night...

Music Reissues Weekly: Mark Eric - A Midsummer’s Day Dream

In June 1969, The Beach Boys released “Break Away” as a single. A month earlier, they had announced they were leaving Capitol Records, who they...

St Matthew Passion, Irish Baroque Orchestra, Whelan, St Patr...

After last year’s small-scale, big-impact Messiah in the Wigmore Hall, superlatives are again in order for the IBO’s performance of the...

Lisa Frankenstein review - a bitchy trawl through the high-s...

Diablo Cody’s biggest screenwriting hit was 2007’s Juno, a larky but tender story of teenage pregnancy. She’s gone back to high school...