Film, Reviews

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Dracula Untold

30 Sep 20142 stars

Luke Evans and Charles Dance impress in an otherwise mishandled origin story

An early title for this latest spin on Bram Stoker’s fanged fiend was ‘Dracula: Year Zero’, which gives some indication of where the writers gleaned inspiration for this origin story: Frank Miller’s seminal graphic novel 'Batman: Year One'. Dracula…

Still the Enemy Within

29 Sep 20144 stars

Documentary on the miners' strike from Owen Gower illuminates a passionately fought conflict

An interesting companion piece to the acclaimed comedy Pride, providing pertinent social history in the context of current debates about privilege, representation and poverty in modern Britain, Still the Enemy Within is a thorough account of the 1984-5…

Gone Girl

29 Sep 20144 stars

Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's sharp take on Gillian Flynn's bestseller

David Fincher: an excellent choice to direct Gillian Flynn’s whiplashing tale of deceptions. He steers this adaptation with cool, detached technical proficiency and a sense of brutally malicious fun, making Gone Girl as entertainingly gripping as it is…

Dolphin Tale 2

29 Sep 20142 stars

Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman feature in a bland, aquarium-set sequel

The seam of true-life marine stories mined in 2011's anodyne Dolphin Tale is further depleted by this return visit to the underwater denizens of Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida. The bright-looking yet colourless live-action narrative and…

Soul Boys of the Western World

29 Sep 20143 stars

Documentary charting the fluctuating fortunes of Spandau Ballet from George Hencken

Spandau Ballet might not seem the hippest subjects for a documentary. Formed in the late Seventies, they hit the charts in the early Eighties as the New Romantic scene blossomed, but this five-piece all-male band from Islington were hardly musical…

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You and the Night

29 Sep 20143 stars

Eric Cantona and Béatrice Dalle star in an oddly lovable orgy dramedy

Looking for the orgy? You’ll find it up Fassbinder Street, left at Almodóvar Corner, on the corner of Pierre et Gilles. Be sure to wear your eye-patch or maid’s uniform, and to bring a poignant story detailing what made you so depraved… Set among the…

The Equalizer

22 Sep 20143 stars

Brutal thriller reuniting Denzel Washington with Training Day director Antoine Fuqua

The Equalizer is a nominal product of the gritty 1980s TV series - starring Edward Woodward as a vigilante private eye prowling the Big Apple’s mean streets - which lifts the title, character and concept but nothing else. Not even Stewart Copeland’s…

Draft Day

29 Sep 20142 stars

Disappointing sports movie from Ivan Reitman featuring Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner

The UK release of Ivan Reitman's latest follows on quickly from the NFL getting its first openly gay player, while the spotlight has recently been thrown on the off-field bad behaviour of some of its other members; Draft Day is a behind-the-scenes look…

What We Did on Our Holiday

22 Sep 20144 stars

David Tennant, Billy Connolly and Rosamund Pike head up a charming comedy

From the creators of TV's Outnumbered comes this enjoyable British comedy that takes the show's winning formula (talented and adorable children, a script that allows those children to improvise much of their dialogue) and successfully translates it to…

Violette

29 Sep 20144 stars

Martin Provost's sophisticated biopic stars Emmanuelle Devos as Violette Leduc

This elegant but deeply felt biopic charts the messy rise to counter-culture fame of French post-war novelist Violette Leduc, played by the always compelling Emmanuelle Devos. Whilst emerging from a wartime career as a black marketeer into writing…

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Maps to the Stars

22 Sep 20142 stars

David Cronenberg's satirical misfire stars a nevertheless impressive Julianne Moore

David Cronenberg arrives about 20 years too late to the party with Maps to the Stars, a strained satire of Tinseltown neuroses that feels surprisingly old hat. Screenwriter Bruce Wagner's slice of Hollywood gothic takes lazy pot shots at easy targets…

A Walk Among the Tombstones

17 Sep 20142 stars

Misjudged thriller starring Liam Neeson that's unintentionally amusing

Liam Neeson treads by now very well worn ground as another ageing badass in this adaptation of Lawrence Block’s crime thriller from writer-director Scott Frank. Neeson is back on the phone negotiating with kidnappers, this time as unlicensed private…

Rachel Maclean – The Weepers

24 Sep 20144 stars

Superb darkly comic retelling of Celtic Bean Nighe myth from Glasgow film-maker

The Scotch mist that wafts around Duart Castle at the opening of Rachel Maclean's new film speaks volumes about where she's coming from; this major commission for the Mull-based Comar organisation looks like a big leap towards something even more…

TIFF 2014: The Drop

15 Sep 20144 stars

James Gandolfini's swansong is a satisfying thriller co-starring Tom Hardy

Tom Hardy is steadily proving to be one of the most versatile actors of his generation, constantly extending a range that stretches from Batman baddie and Bronson swagger to the gentle tour-de-force of Locke and now, in this tough Brooklyn thriller, he…

I Origins

23 Sep 20144 stars

Brit Marling and Michael Pitt feature in Mike Cahill's ambitious sci-fi thriller

Actress Brit Marling made a name for herself in the low budget, conceptually ambitious sci-fi thrillers Sound of My Voice, from Zal Batmanglij, and Another Earth, which she co-wrote with director Mike Cahill. Both films were characterised by thoughtful…

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The Riot Club

15 Sep 20144 stars

Lone Scherfig's appropriately nasty drama features a star turn from Sam Claflin

Adapted by Laura Wade from her own play Posh, The Riot Club violently disabuses us of the notion that those who rule us might do so from a good place. Wade and director Lone Scherfig knock the uber-privileged off their pedestal by turning puffed-up…

The Last Impresario

22 Sep 20144 stars

This celebratory look at the life of Michael White brings together lots of famous faces

Glasgow-born Michael White is frequently dubbed the most famous man you have never heard of. A showbusiness mover and shaker, he has rubbed shoulders with everyone from Bowie to the Beatles and Mick Jagger to the Monty Python team. He has supped with…

TIFF 2014: The Imitation Game

15 Sep 20144 stars

Stirring drama featuring a brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch as tortured code-breaker Alan Turing

The story of how Alan Turing and the Bletchley boffins defeated the Enigma machine is one of the most stirring of the Second World War; the British David conquering the Nazi Goliath by virtue of superior mathematics and intellectual daring. The…

The Giver

15 Sep 20142 stars

Disappointing adaptation of Lois Lowry's YA novel with Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges

The pile of unwanted, underwhelming young-adult adaptations is rising. From The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones to The Host via Ender’s Game, the search for another Twilight or The Hunger Games has ransacked the bookshelves of many literate teens.

Magic in the Moonlight

15 Sep 20143 stars

Sparks fail to fly between Colin Firth and Emma Stone in Woody Allen's latest

Woody Allen waves his wand for the 44th time (a figure worthy of a sharp intake of breath) and the result is rather less bewitching than its twinkly title suggests. The promising premise involves one professional swindler attempting to unmask another…

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Grand Piano

15 Sep 20144 stars

Fun, Hitchcockian thriller starring Elijah Wood and John Cusack

Grand Piano finds pianist Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) nervously preparing for a comeback concert, several years after he choked during a performance. His stage fright pales into insignificance, however, when he sits down to play and discovers a message…

Think Like a Man Too

15 Sep 20142 stars

Comedy sequel starring Kevin Hart is watchable but lacking in big laughs

As its awkward-looking title suggests, ensemble rom-com Think Like a Man Too is a sequel to director Tim Story's 2012 hit. Based on a self-help book by Steve Harvey, the original film featured a group of women (Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Taraji P Henson…

20,000 Days on Earth

15 Sep 20144 stars

This eclectic pseudo-doc paints a fittingly askew portrait of the musician Nick Cave

20,000 Days on Earth spins the seductive, semi-truthful story of Nick Cave. It's an existentialist pseudo-documentary, taking in love, death and memories as well as the art of song-writing, storytelling and performance. With its theme of self…

Human Capital

24 Sep 20144 stars

An impressive Italian thriller starring Valeria Golino and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi

The value of a human life is a question of cold hard currency in Italian writer-director Paolo Virzì's cynical, deftly performed latest. The death of a cyclist is the starting point for a cleverly structured story detailing the shifting, dovetailing…

Night Will Fall

15 Sep 20143 stars

Andre Singer's documentary acts as a sobering reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust

That the Holocaust is so frequently invoked in justification of a raft of contradictory positions (not least, as ‘Godwin's Law’ reminds us, as a self-righteous point-scorer in online debates) is all the more reason for frequent reminders of its…