sun 26/05/2024

Film Reviews

Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed review - the closeted life of a Hollywood great

Adam Sweeting

Rock Hudson was built up as a silver screen archetype of heterosexual manhood, with his 6ft 5in frame and muscular physique, but his story has subsequently come to epitomise a Hollywood system built on illusions and delusions.

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Foe review - unsettling sci-fi drama

Demetrios Matheou

Garth Davis’s Foe is cast from that classic science fiction mould that uses a fantastical premise to explore the commonplace, yet profound aspects of our lives; in this case, the intricacies, dissatisfactions and anxieties of a marriage.

At the same time, it offers the sort of unsettling mystery and killer twists that have made the similarly inclined Black Mirror such a success.

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The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from the Life of John le Carré, Apple TV+ review - outstanding, intriguing portrait of David Cornwell

Helen Hawkins

When the Oscar-winning documentary-maker Errol Morris sat David Cornwell down before his Interrotron camera in 2019, the first salvo of the chat came, not from the interviewer, but from his subject: “Who are you?” 

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London Film Festival 2023 - mixed fortunes for film masters

Nick Hasted

The LFF's Best Film Award winner, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car follow-up Evil Does Not Exist, is a characteristic mix of extended takes and conversations, limpid beauty and dizzyingly intense dramatic incident, and just one of the festival's major auteur UK premieres.

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London Film Festival 2023 - monsters, ghosts and diabolical people

Demetrios Matheou

Poor Things, Yorgos Lanthimos’s follow-up to The Favourite, is an intoxicating achievement, a ravishing, twisted, very funny and even radical fable that must be a major contender in the awards season that gets into gear as the London Film Festival closes. 

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London Film Festival 2023 - movies in a musical vein

Adam Sweeting

The Rolling Stones are winning plaudits for their Hackney Diamonds album, but Alexis Bloom and Svetlana Zill’s documentary Catching Fire: The Story of Anita Pallenberg is a brilliant and sometimes painfully emotional portrait of the woman who helped inspire some of their finest work in their golden years, including “Gimme Shelter” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. Pallenberg’s heroin habit prompted Marianne Faithfull to write “Sister Morphine”.

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Lies We Tell review - fear and gaslighting in 1860s Ireland

Sebastian Scotney

It is 1864 and the lush green lawns of Knowl, the stately home in Ireland that Maud Ruthyn (Agnes O’Casey) will inherit when she reaches the age of 21, are beautifully kept. Everything is in its place. Maud expects deference, especially from the domestic staff.

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The Miracle Club review - unchallenging but enjoyable Irish drama

Veronica Lee

If I had to condense the Catholic faith of my upbringing in one sentence, I would say that it essentially comes down to two things: we're all sinners, but we are all capable of redemption. (Theological experts may take a different view.) That boiled-down notion appears to be the takeaway of Thaddeus O'Sullivan's The Miracle Club, set in 1967 working-class Ballygar, just outside Dublin – the kind of place whose residents live there their entire life.

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Dalíland review - a tidy portrait of a chaotic artist

James Saynor

The director Mary Harron is famous for staying classy while tackling blood-splashy topics – notably the attack on pop art’s leader in I Shot Andy Warhol (1996) and whatever the hell was going on in the Bret Easton Ellis novel that became Harron’s American Psycho (2000). Almost any male director would have gone Brian-De-Palma-berserk with the latter, but Harron’s film is more memorable for an OCD Christian Bale handing out his business cards than any ultra-violence.

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London Film Festival 2023 - a mixed bag of dramas and documentaries

Saskia Baron

The London Film Festival continues to pull in an eclectic selection of films from all over the world. And it’s from the countries not known for their movie industries that some of the most impressive and engaging films have emerged.

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London Film Festival 2023 - provocation, celebration and film-buzzing community

Demetrios Matheou

When Kristy Matheson won the job of BFI London Film Festival director, she spoke of the chance afforded by festivals for filmmakers, artists and audiences “to commune on a grand scale – to experience ideas, ask big questions and celebrate together.”

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20 Days in Mariupol review - carnage in a dying Ukrainian city

Hugh Barnes

Mstyslav Chernov’s 20 Days in Mariupol, which won the World Cinema Documentary Competition at Sundance this year, is an emotionally devastating account of the inhumanity of war.

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The Great Escaper review - Glenda Jackson takes her final bow

Saskia Baron

This wasn’t a film to go and see with my 94-year-old father and hope I’d come out with my critical faculties intact and my handkerchief dry. The Great Escaper is an old fashioned, old school weepie about ageing, guilt and the horrors of war. 

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BlackBerry review - the nerds versus The Man

Adam Sweeting

Nothing goes out of date like new technology. Who now remembers how plain old Alan Sugar brought word-processing to the masses with the Amstrad PCW 8256, or how the Psion 5 was for a moment the last word in personal organisers?

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The Creator review - bold, beautiful, flawed sci-fi epic

Demetrios Matheou

It has been seven years since Gareth Edwards directed, for me, the best of the new generation of Star Wars films, Rogue One. Having made Godzilla before that, it’s nice to see him return with a more personal project, a big, bold, beautiful, if flawed sci-fi epic. 

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The Old Oak review - a searing ode to solidarity

Graham Fuller

Ken Loach has occasionally invested his realist TV dramas and movies with moments of magical realism – football inspiring them in The Golden Vision (1968) and Looking for Eric (2009) – but magical spaces in them are rare. In The Old Oak, as affecting a movie as any the veteran director has made and his 14th with screenwriter Paul Laverty, three sacred spaces (but a single church) work on the characters in vital ways. 

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