sat 30/05/2020

Film Reviews

Uncut Gems review - relentless tale of gambling and the diamond trade

Saskia Baron

The Safdie brothers, Josh and Benny, once programmed a season of films entitled Emotional Sloppy Manic Cinema, and if sloppy is subtracted from that description, it’s a pretty accurate summation of their work here in Uncut Gems. This is edge-of-the-seat filmmaking, with vertiginous camerawork by Darius Khondji and a relentless, immersive soundscape of electronica and layered dialogue.

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Seberg review - lightweight script, heavyweight performance

Joseph Walsh

It’s 1968, and Seberg leaves her husband, Romain Gary (Yvan Attal) and son, Alexandre (Gabriel Sky) for an audition in Hollywood. She seems happy to be going. Touching down in LAX she joins a group of black activists, led by Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie), and offers up a black power salute. Her intentions are unclear.

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1917 review – immersive, exemplary war film

Demetrios Matheou

The greatest war films are those which capture the terrifying physical and psychological ordeal that soldiers face, along with the sheer folly and waste of it all –  Paths of Glory, Come and See, Apocalypse Now, Saving Private Ryan, most recently Dunkirk.

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The Runaways review - a road trip worth taking

Owen Richards

Oh how British indies love a road trip. Trekking across the rugged landscape, meeting a colourful cast of characters, realising it’s not the destination but the journey.

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In the Line of Duty review - brazen absurdity

Nick Hasted

The dinosaur credentials of disgraced cop Frank Penny (Aaron Eckhart) litter his flat, from his battered old TV to his binning of his daily newspaper, bar the sports section.

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The Gentlemen review - it ain't woke but don't fix it

Adam Sweeting

Guy Ritchie enjoyed his greatest commercial success with 2019’s live-action fantasy Aladdin, the most atypical project of his career, but The Gentlemen finds him back on his best-known turf as a purveyor of mouthy, ultra-violent geezerism.

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Jojo Rabbit review - a risky balancing act

Demetrios Matheou

Just as Joker was the most divisive film of 2019, so Jojo Rabbit may take the mantle for the early months of 2020. The issue is not that director Taika Waititi is making a comedy about the Nazis – plenty of filmmakers have done that, from Mel Brooks to Tarantino – but the manner in which he goes about it.

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Liam Gallagher: As It Was, BBC Two review - no expletives deleted in exhausting rock-doc

Kathryn Reilly

Liam Gallagher knows exactly how "fucking fantastic… and fucking shit I am", and proceeds to tell us so for 85 minutes. This 10-year documentary project came about as a result of director Charlie Lightening’s friendship with Gallagher, formed as Oasis came to a predictable halt.

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Long Day's Journey into Night review - Chinese art-house stunner

Graham Fuller

Marketed as a couples-friendly romance, Bi Gan’s Long Day’s Journey into Night made a massive $37 million on its opening day in China but was subsequently denounced by irate viewers who felt they’d been conned into watching a neo-noir pastiche that bafflingly morphs into a journey into the hero’s unconscious mind.

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Best of 2019: Film

theartsdesk

Another year gone, another year closer to complete Disney domination. Death, taxes, and the house of mouse buying every remaining film studio, the three certainties. But 2019 still packed some surprises. Old hands Scorsese and Tarantino hit late career highs, while indie gems Bait and Burning found worthy mainstream success. As the year comes to a close, our team of writers appraise their hits and misses of 2019.

THE HITS

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Little Women review - a beguiling adaptation

Demetrios Matheou

There have been countless film and TV adaptations of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel about four sisters coming of age during the American Civil War. This latest, by Greta Gerwig, may be the best of the lot. With its outstanding young cast and a modern sensibility that blows a feisty breeze through the well-worn period action, this is a joyful, moving, near flawless piece of filmmaking. 

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The Courier review – lacklustre hit job goes bad in every way

Tom Baily

The Courier is a split entity that comprises two interlinked parts. One half involves a silent Gary Oldman who occasionally becomes hysterically enraged, the other a furious Olga Kurylenko who is never allowed a moment of silence.

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Cats review - feline freakiness

Nick Hasted

Tom Hooper’s freakily phantasmagoric visualisation of an already strange West End smash is a high-wire act risking the sniggers which greeted its trailer. And yet it never falls, sustaining a subtly hallucinatory, wholly theatrical reality.

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker review – a fittingly nostalgic send-off

Demetrios Matheou

So here we are. The final instalment of a nine-film saga, three trilogies across 42 years. It’s debatable what would be harder – saving that galaxy "far, far away", or giving millions of Star Wars fans the send-off they crave. J.J. Abrams certainly had his work cut out. But, with a few provisos, he’s succeeded.

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Citizen K review - real power in Russia

Nick Hasted

Putin and Mikhail Khodorkovsky are “strong”, a Russian journalist considers. “Everyone else – weak.” This is essentially Khodorkovsky’s opinion, too, after the former oil oligarch’s decade in a Siberian jail for suggesting the President was corrupt to his face on TV.

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Pink Wall review - scattered scenes from a tortuous relationship

Markie Robson-Scott

What Jenna (Tatiana Maslany, star of Orphan Black), likes doing is wrangling and coordinating, not creating – she hates that - which makes for a refreshing change in a heroine. Her new boyfriend Leon (Jay Duplass, pictured below, of the Duplass brothers), an ambition-free photographers’ assistant, tells her that, given her talents, what she must do is become a film producer and, in a lightbulb moment, her future is suddenly mapped out.

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