mon 30/01/2023

Film Reviews

The Phantom of the Open review - charmingly incompetent golfer channels Ealing

Nick Hasted

“No one can say you didn’t try,” shipyard worker Maurice Flitcroft (Mark Rylance) is told, shortly before bluffing his way aged 46 into the 1976 British Open, having never played golf before.

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Hive review - how a group of Kosovan widows rebuilt their lives

Adam Sweeting

As the air echoes with wars and rumours of wars, Hive has the potential to strike a chord resonating way beyond its Kosovan setting. The factually-based story is set in the aftermath of the Balkan conflicts of the late 1990s, after Serbian forces had carved a trail of rape, murder and destruction through Kosovo’s Albanian communities.

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The Metamorphosis of Birds review - picture perfect

Sarah Kent

How do you make a film about death, love and loss that avoids being sentimental, maudlin or pretentious? Take your cue from Portuguese artist Catarina Vasconcelos.

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The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone review - can it pull you back in?

Nick Hasted

The relative runt of the Godfather litter was hacked out in a Las Vegas casino, as Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo worked up scenarios for an assignment taken on for the money.

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Great Freedom review - love behind bars in Germany

Sebastian Scotney

A story of forbidden love, Great Freedom takes place almost entirely in a prison. The film's background is encapsulated in the word “175er/ hundertfünfundsiebziger”, still to be found in German dictionaries and collective memories as a pejorative word for a gay man.

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A Banquet review – horror, done before

Daniel Baksi

One feels, or perhaps hopes, that if she could have avoided it, first-time feature director Ruth Paxton might not have started A Banquet as she ultimately did: with Holly Hughes (Sienna Guillory) arduously scrubbing the frame of her husband’s hospital-style bed, as he coughs, gasps, and weeps for an end to whatever ghastly affliction he has been dealt. 

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Master Cheng review - slight but soothing Finnish-Chinese romance

Saskia Baron

There’s a long tradition of foodie romances proving art-house cinema hits – think of Babette’s Feast, Tampopo, and Chocolat. Sadly, it’s unlikely that Master Cheng, a gentle and very slow Finnish-Chinese coproduction about a chef from Shanghai charming the Nordic locals with his cleaver skills, is going to light up the UK box office. 

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The Batman review - lean and mean, yet again

Nick Hasted

Robert Pattinson’s Batman is lean and aquiline, his Bruce Wayne an obsessive recluse.

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Rebel Dread review - generous documentary portrait of punk-reggae legend Don Letts

Saskia Baron

Don Letts, the film director, musician and DJ responsible for so many of the iconic images of punk and reggae artists, executive produced this documentary portrait.

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The Duke review - a new feelgood classic

Sebastian Scotney

The Duke, directed by the late Roger Michell (1956-2021), is a delight. At its heart is a towering, defining performance from Jim Broadbent and an unforgettably surprising role for Helen Mirren.

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Cyrano review - a heady cinematic Valentine

Nick Hasted

Edmond Rostand’s familiar story of ventriloquised love becomes a sensual, sacrificial tragedy, in Joe Wright’s heady cinematic Valentine, adapted by screenwriter Erica Schmidt from her own stage musical, with music by members of The National.

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La Mif review - Swiss docu-drama focuses on troubled teens

Saskia Baron

La Mif is French slang for family  - it’s the cool kids practice of reversing key words known as ‘verlan’ (itself l’envers backwards) to create their own language.

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Here Before review - family values under supernatural pressure

Adam Sweeting

You generally find that a movie with Andrea Riseborough in it is worth a look, and so it proves here.

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The Real Charlie Chaplin review - not as revealing as its title suggests

Adam Sweeting

Even today, Charlie Chaplin still earns glowing accolades from critics for his work during the formative years of cinema, though a contemporary viewing public saturated in CGI and superheroes might struggle to see the allure of his oeuvre as the “Little Tramp”.

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Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy review - a trio of tales from Japan

Saskia Baron

With some films it’s all about the editing, a brisk parade of striking images accompanied by a kinetic score.  And then there are films like Hamaguchi Ryusuke’s Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy and the Oscar-nominated Drive My Car, where the camera stays still and watches the performers watching each other talk.

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Marry Me review - Jennifer Lopez vehicle delivers

Veronica Lee

Lots of drama follows well-worn paths; just as we expect that in a tragedy that Chekhov's gun (or variants of it) will deliver the denouement, so we know that in a romcom the two leads will end up together. So – no spoilers, but you know the drill – Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson's characters overcome all sorts of obstacles that could thwart their romance.

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