sat 21/09/2019

Film Reviews

Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story review - inside Sidebottom's head

Nick Hasted

Frank Sidebottom was a petulant, man-child showbiz trouper with a papier-mâché head. He was more spontaneously subversive than memories of his heyday rampaging round Nineties kids TV may suggest. As to the rigorously hidden man behind the mask, he was more peculiarly brilliant than that.

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Dumbo review - does Tim Burton’s new adaption take flight?

Joseph Walsh

At its heart, Disney’s fourth-feature, Dumbo, was about the love between mother and child, and defying expectations.

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Minding the Gap review – profound musings on life

Owen Richards

Where would you go for a devastating study on the human condition? The home movies of teenage skaters would be very low down on that list. But most of those movies aren’t filmed, compiled and analysed by Bing Liu, the director of Minding the Gap.

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The White Crow review - gripping depiction of the brilliance of Nureyev

Adam Sweeting

Genius is as genius does, and Rudolf Nureyev made sure nobody was left in any doubt about the scale of either his talents or his ambitions.

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Girl review - Belgian art-house portrait of a teenage ballerina

Saskia Baron

Girl opens in a golden haze of sibling affection; a teenager is tickling a little boy one sunny morning in their bedroom. Lara is 15 and has just moved to a new flat with little brother Milo, 6 and single dad Mathias. The family have changed cities because Lara has been offered an 8-week trial at a prestigious ballet school.

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Triple Frontier, Netflix review - war-on-drugs thriller suffers identity crisis

Adam Sweeting

Flying boldly against the #MeToo grain, Triple Frontier is a rather old-fashioned story of male buddyhood and the disappointments of encroaching middle age.

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Under the Silver Lake review - fascinating LA noir folly

Nick Hasted

Disappointment is instant, anyway. David Robert Mitchell’s second film, It Follows, was a teenage horror tragedy of perfectly sustained emotion.

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Benjamin review - awkward romcom meets cultural analysis

Tom Baily

Benjamin is the debut feature of Simon Amstell, a young director who has thought cleverly about the torments (and hilarities) of artistic creation in an information-soaked world.

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Border review - genre-defying Oscar-nominated Swedish film

Saskia Baron

This might just be the most challenging film review I’ve had to write in decades. The best thing would be to go and see Border knowing nothing more than that it won the prize for most innovative film at Cannes. Don't watch the trailer, and definitely don’t read those lazy reviewers who complete their word count by writing a detailed synopsis ruining every reveal and plot twist.

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The Kindergarten Teacher review - obsession, talent and the power of poetry

Markie Robson-Scott

Lisa, the kindergarten teacher in question (a mesmerising Maggie Gyllenhaal), is taking evening classes in poetry. Twenty years of teaching and raising her three kids, now monosyllabic, mean teens, have left her desperate for culture and a creative outlet. Her stolid husband (Michael Chernus) tries his best to be supportive, but he doesn’t really get it. “My teacher says I need to put more of myself into my work,” she sighs, as she picks at a dull salad at home in Staten Island after class...

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Everybody Knows review - so-so Spanish kidnap drama

Demetrios Matheou

It’s a parental nightmare that’s virtually impossible to comprehend – a missing child. But however disturbing, that dilemma is not the chief concern of the Iranian writer/director Ashgar Farhadi’s latest drama. As ever, he’s interested in the psychological scars and relationship fault-lines that a crime or misdeed can expose. 

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Captain Marvel review – Brie Larson is the Avenger we’ve always been waiting for

Demetrios Matheou

There have been two relatively recent, welcome correctives in what is grandiosely referred to as the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” – a move towards diversity (Black Panther) and a sharp injection of comedy (Guardians of the GalaxyThor: Ragnarok).

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Ray & Liz review - beautifully shot portrait of poverty

Sarah Kent

Ray’s world has shrunk to a single room in a council flat. His life consists of drinking home-brew, smoking, gazing out of the window, listening to Radio 4 and sinking into an alcohol-induced stupour. There’s no need ever to leave his bedroom because his neighbour Sid does all the necessaries. 

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The Hole in the Ground review - parental horror stays on the surface

Nick Hasted

Mothers’ fears for and of their children are primal horror material: The Babadook and Under the Shadow set recent standards for exploring its emotional terror.

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Serenity review - a game of two ill-fitting halves

Adam Sweeting

You’d expect the man who created Peaky Blinders and the ingenious one-man-and-his-car drama Locke to have his ducks in a row and his feet planted securely on terra firma, but in Serenity Steven Knight seems to have permitted himself a leisurely mental vacation. It’s a tale of love, loss, multi-dimensional weirdness and a very large fish.

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Hannah review - Rampling's restrained passion burns bright

mark Kidel

Hannah is a vehicle for Charlotte Rampling, and it's no wonder she won the Best Actress Award for her role at Venice in 2018.  The film follows her as she gradually falls to pieces, without a trace of hysteria, slowly and surely, with her husband in prison for reasons that are never clear.

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