sat 02/03/2024

Film Reviews

The Damned Don't Cry review - a Moroccan mother and son on the margins

Markie Robson-Scott

British-Moroccan director Fyzal Boulifa’s second feature is a departure from his first, the brilliant and disturbing Lynn + Lucy of 2020. That was set on an Essex housing estate; this one takes place in Morocco.

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Shabu review - documentary-drama about youngsters in Rotterdam

Saskia Baron

This loose-limbed movie follows Shabu, a 14-year-old boy who is growing up on the public housing estate known as the Peperklip (Paperclip) in Rotterdam. It’s the summer holidays and he’d like to hang out with his girlfriend and his mates, but first he’s got to sort out some trouble. 

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Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One review - buckle up

Demetrios Matheou

After 27 years and half a dozen instalments of a franchise predicated on its ability to up the ante on itself to ever more dizzying heights of ingenious, character-driven, genuinely heart-in-mouth action, the killjoy or cynic may well be lining up an alternative title for the latest: Mission: Impossible – Anti-climax. But they would never get to use it. Not a chance. 

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Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny review - a baggy, finally poignant finale

Nick Hasted

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) revived Thirties adventure serials’ simple thrills, a George Lucas notion adrenalised by Spielberg. Its hero Indy Jones wasn’t built for depth or pathos, and the struggle to find reasons for his return notoriously sank Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), and left this final chapter in production purgatory till Harrison Ford was 79.

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Mother and Son review - 20 years with an erratic ma

James Saynor

In French, this film is called Un petit frère (“A little brother”), and for once it may be that a film’s English title is an improvement on the original. The fitful and fragmented second feature by Léonor Serraille is about a multi-tasking migrant from Ivory Coast and her two sons, whom we drop in on at intervals across 20 years or so, beginning in 1989.

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La Syndicaliste review - a star outshines her conspiracy thriller script

Helen Hawkins

On the face of it, La Syndicaliste (aka The Sitting Duck) is a conspiracy thriller that runs along familiar tracks: clever woman begins to suspect dirty dealings at a very high level in the high-stakes industry she works for and lands herself in a dangerous mess. There are anonymous phonecalls, menacingly bright headlights behind her… Think Silkwood in stilettos.

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Hello, Bookstore review - a documentary with shelf life

Sarah Kent

It’s impossible not to fall in love with Matthew Tannenbaum, the man at the centre of this delightful film. Reading books and chatting to people about books are two of his favourite occupations, so running a bookstore is his idea of paradise. His pleasure is so infectious that the independent bookstore he’s run in Lenox, Massachusetts for over 40 years has become a hub of bonhomie.

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The Super 8 Years review - Nobel laureate’s meditative self-portrait from home movies

Helen Hawkins

The French auto-fiction writer Annie Ernaux, now 82, was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature last year; now a fascinating new facet of her creative life has been released via her home movies.

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Asteroid City review - desert dreams

Nick Hasted

Multi-media meta-layers land fast in Wes Anderson’s 11th film, overriding reality. Here’s Bryan Cranston’s portentous Fifties TV host (pictured below) in black-and-white, boxed Academy ratio, documenting rehearsals for a televised play, whose fictive reality then becomes a widescreen colour train hurtling through the desert. The latter scene's exhilarating cinema still sweeps you up.

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No Hard Feelings review - nothing about this queasy comedy feels quite right

Adam Sweeting

Last year Jennifer Lawrence won critical plaudits for her war-trauma drama Causeway, which seemingly signalled a bold new direction for her career, but how she got from there to No Hard Feelings is a bit of a mystery. Nothing about it feels quite right.

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The Flash review - back to DC, unremarkably

Justine Elias

Superhero movies are the nearest equivalent to American holiday parades: they come along with noisy, bright regularity, and crowds either flock to them, many eager persons deep along the sidewalk, or flee to quieter neighbourhoods.

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Pretty Red Dress review - not so sparkly British black film

Saskia Baron

Pretty Red Dress opens with a classic Motown-esque girl group belting out a show tune before cutting to Travis (Natey Jones) as he leaves prison. Waiting for him outside is Candice (Alexandra Burke); she’s sitting in her Audi, singing along to the radio.

At home is their teenage daughter, Kenisha (Temilola Olatunbosun), happy enough to have her dad back in their Lambeth flat on a council estate, but facing her own problems at school with both authority and friends.

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Medusa Deluxe review - combing for clues in a stylish murder mystery

Justine Elias

Medusa is having a moment. From Natalie Haynes’ feminist novel to the recent Brazilian horror movie, the beleaguered, beheaded, snake-haired monstress of Greek myth rises again, and again, as a symbol of female rage and resistance.

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Chevalier review - a less than extraordinary film about an extraordinary man

Adam Sweeting

This frothy bio-fantasy about the 18th century composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges and top tunesmith to Marie Antoinette at the French court, could have been a powerful and revealing shout-out to a woefully under-appreciated composer.

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War Pony review - life on the Pine Ridge reservation in south Dakota

Markie Robson-Scott

Set on the lands of the Oglala Lakota in South Dakota, War Pony focuses, in a hazy way, on the lives of 23-year-old Bill (Jojo Bapteise Whiting), who has two toddler sons with two different mothers, and 12-year-old Matho (Ladainian Crazy Thunder) who seems to have no mother at all. Both are struggling to get by. Drugs, violence and chaos rule on the Pine Ridge reservation. The women are mainly exasperated with the men. A poodle called Beast also plays an important role.

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Reality review - Sydney Sweeney excels as a whistleblower

Graham Fuller

The actress Sydney Sweeney’s face in the harrowing docudrama Reality is an ever-evolving map, its contours and pallor altering as it gradually dawns on her character, the real-life American whistleblower Reality Winner, that her conscience has put paid to her freedom for the forseeable future.

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