sun 24/01/2021

Film Reviews

The High Note review - Tracee Ellis Ross shines in so-so music dramedy

Joseph Walsh

Nisha Ganatra’s musical dramedy, penned by first time screenwriter Flora Greeson, isn’t going to win any prizes for originality and is almost unforgivably corny. But the feel-good vibes and winning combination of Tracee Ellis Ross and Dakota Johnson are still likely to win audiences over.

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Have a Good Trip, Netflix review - a breezy journey into the mind

Owen Richards

Don’t do drugs, kids. For the past 50 years, that’s been the consistent message. But how much of what we know about psychedelics is just fearmongering? Do you really want to jump out of a window? Will you permanently lose your mind?

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Women Make Film: Part Two review - two steps forward, one step back

Jill Chuah Masters

The second half of Mark Cousins’ documentary on films by women filmmakers starts with religion; it ends with song and dance. This is a second seven-hour journey through cinema.

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Women Make Film: Part One review - a mesmerising journey of neglected film

Joseph Walsh

Equally ambitious in scope as his 900min ode to cinema The Story of Film: An Odyssey, Mark Cousins’ latest work, Women Make Film, is a fourteen-hour exploration of the work of female...

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The County review - Icelandic drama from the director of 'Rams'

Joseph Walsh

Like Rams before it, the ice-glazed hillsides and stark ochre grasslands of northern Iceland are the backdrop for Grímur Hákonarson’s third feature The County, a rural drama that explores the murkier side of local politics.

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Reborn review - horror on the Hollywood skids

Nick Hasted

The Frankenstein-style, electrical storm-sparked resurrection of a dead baby in a hospital morgue, and her theft by its creepy attendant, is followed by a homage to Stephen King’s supernaturally potent teenagers, from Carrie to Firestarter, in a threadbare horror with consistent, curious ideas about its own B-movie realm.

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In Search of Greatness review - Gabe Polsky's absorbing sports documentary

Veronica Lee

Ask any great sportsman or woman about greatness and they'll tell you it's as much achieved as made; natal talent isn't worth much if you don't practise, or are unfit, or don't have a hunger to win.

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The Atom: A Love Affair review - hot fusion and cold hearts

Joseph Walsh

It’s fair to say that humanity’s relationship with nuclear energy over the last 50 years has had more highs and lows than a Spanish soap opera. From the Manhattan Project to Hinkley Point, it’s been a controversial technology that has promised both humanity’s salvation and damnation.

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Romantic Comedy review - a not-so-guilty pleasure

Owen Richards

Only those who really love you can deliver the hard truths, and for filmmaker Elizabeth Sankey, that one love is romantic comedies. Better known as one half of band Summer Camp, Sankey is a self-confessed romcom expert, having watched nearly every film from the 80s onwards.

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Dangerous Lies, Netflix review - slick silliness

Nick Hasted

When not dipping into its bottomless debts to write Scorsese blank cheques, Netflix tends to favour old-school TV movie potboilers such as this slick, silly thriller, in which young couple Katie (Camila Mendes) and Adam (...

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The Whistlers review – a smart, self-aware noir concerning a crooked cop

Joseph Walsh

Romanian filmmaker Corneliu Porumboiu has made a career crafting perceptive and cerebral examinations of his native country. From his 2006 debut 12:08 to Bucharest to The Treasure, they were cerebral films that powerfully embodied the Romanian New Wave. 

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Camino Skies review - NZ documentary brings no surprises

Markie Robson-Scott

A documentary about six middle-aged Antipodeans, four women and two men, walking the 500 mile pilgrims’ path through France and Spain to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela sounds uplifting, inspiring, even fun. Just the ticket, perhaps, when one's travel horizons are limited. But this soft-focus film fails to dig deeply enough into the lives and motivations of strangers thrown together with nothing much in common apart from grief, and sometimes not even that.

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Can You Keep A Secret? review - a bumpy ride

Matt Wolf

Featherweight is one thing, brainless is another. Can You Keep A Secret?, the romcom adapted by screenwriter Peter Hutchings from the 2003 novel by Sophie Kinsella, uneasily straddles the two until a conclusion that goes off the rails altogether and tumbles into the ludicrous.

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A Russian Youth, MUBI review - First World War setting, contemporary orchestra

Tom Baily

Alexander Tolotukhin’s debut film places the viewer into a microcosm of the first world war and frames the experience with a peculiar musical device.

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The Assistant review - riveting #MeToo drama

Demetrios Matheou

Harvey Weinstein is never mentioned in The Assistant, but the former movie mogul and convicted rapist looms large over this savagely relevant drama, which offers a vivid picture of what life might have been like for every one of the employees – male as well as female, victim or no – trapped in Weinstein’s evil little world. 

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Ema review - vibrant tale of anarchic mum seeking redemption

Demetrios Matheou

The great Chilean director Pablo Larraín specialises in dark psychological reflections on the past, notably his trilogy of Chilean dictatorship dramas – Tony ManeroPost Mortem and No – and his English-language debut about the personal aftermath of the JFK assassination, Jackie.

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