Film, Reviews

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Camille Claudel 1915

17 Jun 20143 stars

Bruno Dumont's historical biopic is a quiet heartbreaker starring a luminous Juliette Binoche

Camille Claudel spent the last 30 years of her life confined to an asylum near Avignon. Using her medical records and correspondence, Bruno Dumont's sparse drama focuses on a brief period early in her incarceration. It effectively conveys the decades of…

Jersey Boys

17 Jun 20143 stars

Clint Eastwood delivers a disappointingly workmanlike account of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

In his directing career, Clint Eastwood has tackled both biopics (J Edgar) and films about iconic musicians (Bird), but he still seems like an odd choice to direct the big screen adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical: one can only assume he was a…

The Fault in Our Stars

17 Jun 20143 stars

Watching the film adaptation of John Green's terminal love story will require tissues, or a bucket

A story about first love in the face of certain death, The Fault in Our Stars is based on the novel by John Green. At the centre is a hugely affecting performance from Shailene Woodley – who is shaping up to be something of a star herself. Josh Boone's…

3 Days To Kill

17 Jun 20142 stars

Kevin Costner headlines a preposterous actioner that fails to clone Liam Neeson's Taken

Directed by McG, 3 Days to Kill stars Kevin Costner as hotshot CIA operative Ethan Renner, who's diagnosed with terminal lung cancer (signified by a Cough of Death) after collapsing on his latest mission. Determined to spend his remaining days…

Of Horses and Men

17 Jun 20143 stars

A series of Icelandic vignettes successfully portraying the interweaving lives of horses and humans

In a succession of vignettes, this Icelandic feature depicts various interactions between horses and humans that highlight both the symbiosis and the separation between human and animal lives. The Icelandic title translates literally as ‘The Horse in…

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Island of Lemurs: Madagascar

16 Jun 20143 stars

A beautiful but over-simplified family-friendly nature doc narrated by Morgan Freeman

At 40 minutes, David Douglas’ slender, family-friendly IMAX lemur doc is a hark back to the format’s days as a short-form edutainment outlet. Friendly, photogentic primates leap across the massive screen while Morgan Freeman’s subterranean tones…

Chef

4 Jun 20144 stars

Amusing and occasionally charming Jon Favreau project with some big name supporting roles

Sandwiched right in the heart of this amiable comedy-drama by Jon Favreau is a big, fat career metaphor. The writer-director-actor plays Carl Casper, a divorced chef who works for a plush Los Angeles restaurant – until a food blogger (Oliver Platt…

Oculus

4 Jun 20143 stars

Karen Gillan-starring supernatural thriller from Blumhouse is a good little midnight movie

Right back to Night of The Living Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, horror has always been at its best when it stays low-budget. Take Mike Flanagan’s Oculus, another offering from the impressive Blumhouse Productions – the company behind such…

The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet

4 Jun 20143 stars

Offbeat adventure packed with Jean-Pierre Jeunet's trademark crazy energy and visual splendour

Its full title – The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet – may be a bit of a mouthful, but this latest effort from French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet is still packed tight with his usual crazy energy. His first English-language effort since the rather…

Chinese Puzzle

4 Jun 20143 stars

Third instalment in series is as slick, fun and ultimately insubstantial as its predecessors

The third in French writer/director Cédric Klapisch’s occasional series of films following the life and loves of writer Xavier (Romain Duris) continues on from Pot Luck (2002) and Russian Dolls (2006), and is as slick, fun and ultimately insubstantial…

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22 Jump Street

3 Jun 20144 stars

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum return in one of the finest sequels you're ever likely to see

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum reunite to hilarious effect in 22 Jump Street, a rare sequel that actually manages to surpass the crowd-pleasing achievements of the original. Co-directed once again by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, this winning…

Cold In July

3 Jun 20143 stars

Entertainingly oddball adaptation full of pulpy B-movie ingredients

You never quite know where you stand with Cold In July and that is a large part of its appeal. Director Jim Mickle has a track record built on twisted genre hybrids like vampire yarn Stake Land and cannibal family drama We Are What We Are.

Belle

3 Jun 20144 stars

Assured historical drama profiling illegitimate daughter of British aristocrat and an African slave

The fact that a decade has passed since Amma Asante's BAFTA-winning debut A Way Of Life is a stark reminder of how difficult it is for even the most talented individuals to make films in Britain. Belle is an elegantly assured, emotionally charged…

The Dirties

2 Jun 20143 stars

A dark, not-quite-funny indie comedy about two amateur filmmakers planning a school shooting

The line between reality and fiction is ripped apart by Canadian writer-director Matt Johnson in this ramshackle yet inventive first feature, which arrives with the effusive backing of Kevin Smith. The Dirties was shot for just $10,000 with virtually no…

A Million Ways to Die in the West

2 Jun 20142 stars

Family Guy and Ted creator Seth MacFarlane stars in this cowboy comedy-cum-vanity project

Seth MacFarlane comes out from behind the teddy bear to take centre stage in this misjudged effort. The writer-director-producer is also the flesh-and-blood star of a film that has the stench of a vanity project, a work of eye-watering indulgence that…

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Edge of Tomorrow

28 May 20144 stars

The Tom Cruise-starring sci-fi actioner is witty, thrilling and consistently inventive

Based on the novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Edge of Tomorrow is directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) and plays like Groundhog Day crossed with Starship Troopers. Set in the near future, where the Earth is under deadly attack…

Blended

27 May 20142 stars

Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore's third pairing is a good film scuttled by crudeness

Directed by Frank Coraci, Blended marks the third romcom collaboration between Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, following The Wedding Singer (also directed by Coraci) and 50 First Dates. Their chemistry is still very much intact, but the film badly…

Jimmy’s Hall

27 May 20143 stars

The film Ken Loach has hinted may be his last is a contemplative, tender drama

Ken Loach returns with what may or may not be his final feature film. Either way, Jimmy’s Hall is typical of the 77 year-old director, with its story of a real-life Irish activist, who comes to clash with the authorities. Written again by his prolific…

Cheap Thrills

27 May 20143 stars

Black comedy that brings to mind a drug-fuelled Coen Brothers flick with a hint of early Sam Raimi

Family man Craig (Pat Healy) is resoundingly down on his luck. Facing eviction after losing his job, he hits the bar with old drinking buddy Vince (Ethan Embry). It's there they encounter rich couple Colin and Violet (David Koechner and Sara Paxton)…

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

20 May 20142 stars

A vaguely spooky Latino twist on the found footage subgenre that just feels repetitive

Found footage has become the most over used device in horror. Paranormal Activity not only hold the dubious honour of ushering in this new age of shaky cam cinema but are also the masters of the over crowded sub-genre. We’ve already had a Japanese take…

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Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return

20 May 20142 stars

The latest family fantasy incarnation is a cynical, charmless cash-grab

The Kingdom of Oz is a complicated one from a copyright point of view; while the rights to many of L Frank Baum's books and characters have expired, many of the details of the 1939 MGM film remain tightly controlled by studio lawyers. So without any…

Run & Jump

20 May 20143 stars

A slightly-too-rose-tinted heartwarmer starring Maxine Peake and Will Forte

This charming, if slight Irish dramedy marks the debut of American director Steph Green, who was Oscar-nominated for her short film New Boy. Working from a script she co-wrote with Ailbhe Keogan, Green fashions a film whose positivity and romance is…

In Secret

20 May 20142 stars

An unimaginative adaptation of Emile Zola's Therese Raquin, starring Oscar Isaac and Elizabeth Olsen

Emile Zola's tale of love and betrayal in Therese Raquin has traditionally been cherished by those without imaginations of their own, making it one of the most overused plot-lines in cinema; this risible film takes inspiration from a play adaptation by…

Made in America

20 May 20143 stars

Ron Howard directs a behind-the-scenes look at Jay Z's titular music festival

In 2012 hip hop mogul Jay Z hosted the inaugural Made in America music festival in central Philadelphia. Calling on his celebrity friends Ron Howard was on hand to film the two days of rap, indie, rock and dance music. However this is more of a…

X-Men: Days of Future Past

15 May 20143 stars

Bryan Singer's directorial return is triumphant but may leave non-fanboys scratching their heads

Where most superhero movies strive to win ever more fans by reinventing themselves with each new sequel, X-Men: Days of Future Past is content to reward the loyalists. Not only does it mark the return of co-creator Bryan Singer (for the first time since…