Film, Reviews

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Horrible Bosses 2

24 Nov 20142 stars

Limp sequel teaming Bateman and co with newbies Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz

Like its title, this sequel to Seth Gordon’s 2011 comedy lacks imagination. The first 30 minutes or so are particularly uninspiring as we catch up with Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day) and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), the trio of white-collar dudes…

Hockney

24 Nov 20144 stars

Warm, insightful documentary from Randall Wright examining the celebrated artist

Britain’s most enduringly popular modern artist, David Hockney, has been the subject of many documentaries, including one made for TV by this film's director Randall Wright in 2003 (David Hockney: Secret Knowledge). None could claim to be as intimate…

Paddington

24 Nov 20144 stars

The beloved bear is brought to the big screen by Paul King's charming adaptation

Ever since his creation in 1958 by author Michael Bond generations of children have grown up with Paddington Bear, so writer-director Paul King (The Mighty Boosh, Bunny and the Bull) faced no small task in bringing the hirsute hero to the big screen. By…

Concerning Violence

24 Nov 20144 stars

A smart, passionate essay film from Göran Olsson, narrated by Lauryn Hill

This sobering, important and expertly curated documentary details Africa's hard-fought liberation from colonial rule in the 60s and 70s. Narrated by the musician Lauryn Hill and directed by Göran Olsson, the viewer is taken through nine definitive…

Kajaki. The True Story

24 Nov 20144 stars

Paul Katis turns a true-life tragedy into a moving, suspenseful drama

Taking its name from the Kajaki Dam in Afghanistan, this harrowing drama depicts a real-life incident that took place in 2006, when a group of British soldiers stumbled into an abandoned Afghani minefield by mistake, sustaining multiple casualties. It…

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What We Do in the Shadows

17 Nov 20144 stars

Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi helm a killer comedy about a vampire flat-share

'When you get three vampires in a flat obviously there’s going to be a lot of tension,' dryly observes 862-year-old Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), who shares a house with 18th Century dandy Viago (Taika Waititi) and self-proclaimed bad boy Deacon…

The Homesman

17 Nov 20144 stars

Striking, desperately sad western directed by and starring Tommy Lee Jones

Since Clint Eastwood hung up his holster those of us who love westerns thank Tommy Lee Jones for keeping the genre alive. That's not to say his second directorial effort, eight years after his fine debut The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, is any…

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

17 Nov 20144 stars

Jennifer Lawrence remains a girl on fire in the penultimate part of the dystopian saga

After Harry Potter and Twilight, carving two films from the final book in a series has become an unwelcome Hollywood trend. And so it goes with The Hunger Games, which stretches the last book in Suzanne Collins’ dystopian YA trilogy into a two part…

Get On Up

17 Nov 20144 stars

Exhilarating James Brown biopic featuring a barnstorming Chadwick Boseman

One word perfectly describes Tate Taylor’s James Brown biopic: funky. The ‘Godfather of Soul’ was such a force of nature, anything less than a toe-tapping, booty-shaking, yeow of a movie would’ve done him a disservice. Thankfully, Taylor (who made The…

The Vatican Museums 3D

17 Nov 20143 stars

Great art becomes an immersive cinematic experience in a novel documentary

Museum movies are so hot right now and The Vatican Museums 3D is one of the big daddies. Suitable for nearly all viewers, the only people who will find it offensive will be dyed-in-the-wool types who are staunchly anti-technology. Certainly, we’d all…

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David Bowie Is

17 Nov 20143 stars

Docu-tour leading us through the V&A's acclaimed tribute to an incomparable performer

If you were one of the unlucky thousands who couldn’t get tickets for last year’s sublime David Bowie exhibition at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, this curio gives you a little taste of what you missed. In truth, it’s a bizarre idea – a docu-tour…

Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy

17 Nov 20144 stars

A Twitter inspired Thai love story from director Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit

'Love stories are hard to write,' muses the central character in Thai director Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit’s second film Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy. This is itself a love story of sorts, however, like Thamrongrattanarit’s highly impressive debut 36…

No Good Deed

17 Nov 20142 stars

Derivative thriller starring, and squandering the talented Idris Elba and Taraji P Henson

A leaden entry in the home invasion stakes, No Good Deed's box office success in the US is presumably due to a lack of comparable cinematic competition, as there's nothing to distinguish TV director Sam Miller's pedestrian effort from scores of…

White Reindeer

12 Nov 20143 stars

An interesting alternative to generic Christmas movies starring Anna Margaret Hollyman

A quirky low budget indie drama, Suzanne Barrington's (Anna Margaret Hollyman) December gets off to a particularly traumatic start. This tragedy sets off a series of unusual encounters as this seemingly prim and proper real estate agent veers out of…

We Are The Giant

11 Nov 20144 stars

Frontline tales from the Arab Spring brought together by director Greg Barker

A small girl sings a song of hope and freedom in the street, just as an explosion wreaks havoc around her. A peace activist interrupts a downbeat interview about whether nonviolent protest has been unsuccessful when a shell rocks the street outside. And…

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Life Itself

10 Nov 20144 stars

Steve James takes a loving look at the life and legacy of Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert did a lot for film criticism: he promoted small films and reviewed with Midwestern honesty. Life Itself, a warm-hearted and artful documentary by filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams), is a loving look at Ebert’s life as perhaps the most…

Third Person

10 Nov 20141 star

Painfully poor effort from Paul Haggis that squanders the talents of an all-star cast

Paul Haggis' 2006 Best Picture Oscar winner Crash (still a sore point for Brokeback Mountain fans) was famously inspired by a real-life car-jacking incident that saw the writer-director work through his subsequent feelings of prejudice and guilt in…

Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?!

10 Nov 20142 stars

Suitably silly but gratingly repetitive third instalment of the Nativity series

Though the title (a play of course on Dude, Where’s My Car?) may suggest the darker theme of drug-taking amongst tiny tykes over the difficult Christmas period, it is in fact – somewhat thankfully – the name of a terrible song which features in the…

Diplomacy

10 Nov 20144 stars

A slice of scintillating history from Volker Schlöndorff, starring Niels Arestrup

Director Volker Schlöndorff created a masterpiece with his 1979 adaptation of Günter Grass's novel The Tin Drum; having made a definitive anti-war film, it's surprising to see him return to the subject some 35 years later. However Diplomacy quickly…

Leviathan

4 Nov 20145 stars

Exceptional, award-winning drama from Russian writer-director Andrey Zvyagintsev

First feted for his striking 2003 debut The Return, and celebrated since for The Banishment and Elena, Andrey Zvyagintsev is a director of heavyweight gifts, whose films are distinguished by both their visual beauty and their narrative ambition. This…

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Interstellar

3 Nov 20143 stars

Christopher Nolan's space odyssey is an admirable and adventurous folly

A film of soaring ambition and spectacular flaws, Interstellar is the ninth feature from movie messiah Christopher Nolan. His latest wields a Spielbergian sense of wonder, plunging us into a dystopian near-future; taking us through space and time on a…

The November Man

3 Nov 20142 stars

Generic thriller in which Pierce Brosnan fails to recapture the magic of Bond

Pierce Brosnan has made little use of his stardom since serving his time as James Bond; only Richard Shepard's offbeat hit-man thriller The Matador made something interesting of his saturnine charm. Veteran director Roger Donaldson (Dante's Peak, The…

The Case Against 8

3 Nov 20143 stars

Elegant but unbalanced account of the fight against a controversial amendment

The eight of the title refers to Proposition 8, which would have added to California's Declaration of Rights the specification that marriage be permitted only between a man and a woman, and was ruled as unconstitutional in 2010. Ben Cotner and Ryan…

Say When

3 Nov 20143 stars

Likeable life crisis dramedy from Lynn Shelton starring Keira Knightley

Writer-director Lynn Shelton has made her name with lo-fi relationship dramas – Humpday, Your Sister’s Sister and Touchy Feely among others. Say When is no different, albeit with a higher-profile cast than Shelton is used to. It’s also the first time…

The Possibilities Are Endless

3 Nov 20144 stars

Striking documentary charting the trauma and triumph of singer Edwyn Collins

In 2005 the Scottish singer-songwriter Edwyn Collins suffered a massive cerebral haemorrhage that left him with very limited speech and movement. Devastating doesn’t even begin to describe it. And yet, as this impressionistic and moving documentary from…