thu 24/10/2019

Film Reviews

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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The Aftermath review - it looks great but it lacks bite

Adam Sweeting

Is it time for the rebirth of the old-fashioned wartime weepie? If so, this time next year The Aftermath will be dragging a clanking heap of statuettes round Hollywood, attached to the rear bumper of its 1940s army staff car. If not…

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Foxtrot review – controversial movie dances to an ugly tune

Graham Fuller

Israeli filmmaker Samuel Maoz’s Foxtrot uses irony and visual poetry to condemn his nation’s militarism. Twenty months after the movie won the Grand Jury Prize at Venice, it opens in the UK trailing a divisive history.

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Oscars 2019: Olivia Colman crowned queen of Hollywood

Matt Wolf

The 91st Academy Awards began with a rousing concert appearance from Queen to kick off a show from which Bohemian Rhapsody led the field with four trophies.

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Old Boys review - short but not especially sweet

Matt Wolf

How does the ever cherub-cheeked Alex Lawther keep getting served in pubs? That question crossed my mind during the more leisurely portions of Old Boys, an overextended English schoolboy revamp of Cyrano de Bergerac that flags just when it most needs narrative adrenaline.

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Capernaum review - sorrow, pity and shame in the Beirut slums

Markie Robson-Scott

An angry little boy, in jail after stabbing someone, stands in a Beirut courtroom and tells the judge that he wants to sue his parents. Why? For giving birth to him when they’re too poor and feckless to care for him. And he wants them to stop having children.

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On the Basis of Sex review – real-life legal drama

Demetrios Matheou

When the world is as crazy as it is right now, its political life dominated by dolts and villains, it needs a new kind of hero. That’s why Americans are embracing an octogenarian woman with more guts and integrity than virtually anyone at her level of public life, and why in quick succession we’ve had two films about her.    

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69th Berlin Film Festival round-up - what a banal Berlinale

Joseph Walsh

As journalists and critics were enjoying the unseasonably balmy weather in Berlin at the 69th Film Festival, all were wondering – where are all the good films?

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