Film, Foreign

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Cinema Komunisto

22 Nov 20123 stars

A slicky-produced documentary about Yugoslavian cinema that would have benefitted from wider context

As Yugoslavia came together as a new nation in the aftermath of World War 2, leader and confirmed film buff Josip Broz Tito fully embraced the power of film to help forge a new national identity. Initially his model for this endeavour came from his…

Alps

13 Nov 20123 stars

Yorgos Lanthimos' Dogtooth follow-up retains that film's weird sensibility but lacks its wider focus

Having launched a new wave of bizarro Greek cinema (see also Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Attenberg) with his Oscar-nominated queasy black comedy Dogtooth, Yorgos Lanthimos returns with a follow up that’s just as absurdly idiosyncratic. The Alps of the…

The Pool

13 Nov 20124 stars

A funny, sensitive drama delivered with grace, sincerity and charm by director Chris Smith

This likable little film has been on the shelf awaiting distribution for so long that it predates the bigger, flashier, somewhat similarly-themed Slumdog Millionaire: it first won prizes on the festival circuit way back in 2007. This is a bit of a…

Preview of French Film Festival 2012

13 Nov 2012

This year's festival will feature screenings of You Will Be My Son, Renoir and The Suicide Shop

Add some joie de vivre to your life by heading along to this year’s French Film Festival, which each year brings more Gallic cinema to the screens than you can shake a stick at. The 2012 programme includes a preview screening of You Will Be My Son, the…

Profile: Yorgos Lanthimos, director of Alps

1 Nov 2012

The Greek filmmaker is also the man behind comedy drama Dogtooth

Born Athens, Greece, 1973 Background Having studied at film school in Athens, Lanthimos made his debut feature with My Best Friend in 2001. It was his third feature Dogtooth however, a bizarre black comedy about an upper-class Greek couple who try…

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Caesar Must Die

22 Oct 20123 stars

Compelling version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, filmed with the inmates of Rome’s Rebibbia jail

Veteran filmmakers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani craft a compelling version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in Caesar Must Die, which won the Golden Bear award at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. The twist here is that the performance takes place within…

In the House (Dans La Maison)

9 Oct 20124 stars

Fascinating new offering from French filmmaker Francois Ozon.

A sparkling and superbly acted black comedy, Francois Ozon’s In the House is a fascinating companion piece to Ian McEwan’s new novel Sweet Tooth, in its exploration of both creating and consuming fiction. The wonderfully deadpan Fabrice Luchini plays…

Reality

9 Oct 20124 stars

Magic realist drama from Gomorrah director Matteo Garrone

Meet Luciano (Aniello Arena), a Neapolitan fish-seller and minor scam artist. Encouraged by his wife Maria (Loredana Simioli), three children and extended family, he enters the local try-outs for the popular reality TV series Grande Fratelli (Big…

Sister

9 Oct 20125 stars

Utterly absorbing drama about fractured family relationships

Swiss-French filmmaker Ursula Meier follows her feature debut, the tragic-comic domestic drama Home, with another leftfield story about a family in dysfunction. In this case, it’s a family of two comprising a 12-year-old boy named Simon (Kacey Mottet…

Rust and Bone

3 Oct 20124 stars

Thought-provoking drama from the director of A Prophet, starring Marion Cotillard

Expectations are high when it comes to a new Jacques Audiard film, for the simple reason that on the building evidence of his last three films Read My Lips, The Beat That My Heart Skipped and A Prophet, he might be the best writer/director currently…

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Thaandavam

2 Oct 20122 stars

Overlong masala movie starring Vikram, Amy Jackson and Santhanam

Kenny Thomas (Tamil superstar Vikram) is a blind man leading a double existence: by day he plays the organ at a rural Kentish church; by night he uses echolocation to assassinate targets in London. His life becomes more complicated with the intrusion of…

You Are God

1 Oct 20122 stars

Bleak Polish drama about hip hop group Paktofonika

You Are God follows the career trajectory of Magik, Fokus and Rahim, aka Polish hip hop group Paktofonika. Trudging through their various dead-end existences in the bleak region of Silesia, the trio banded together to create something representative of…

Call Me Kuchu

18 Sep 20124 stars

Insightful documentary about the struggle for gay rights in Uganda

Call Me Kuchu is an even-handed documentary tackling the topic of gay rights in Africa. Taking its title from a slang word used with pride to describe the country’s LGBT community, Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worral’s film explores…

Untouchable

6 Sep 20123 stars

French box office hit about an unlikely relationship between a man and his carer

A colossal hit in its native France, this story, inspired by real events, looks on paper to be the kind of tactless three-hanky issue movie that Hollywood never misses an opportunity to churn out. Philippe (Francois Cluzet) is a filthy-rich…

Barbara

6 Sep 20124 stars

Slow burning drama set in East Germany with real dramatic weight

Germany’s Best Foreign Language Film contender for next year’s Academy Awards recalls the country’s 2007 winner The Lives of Others inasmuch as it dramatises life lived under the watchful eye of the authorities in East Germany before the wall came down.

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Miguel Gomes, director of Tabu - interview

4 Sep 2012

The film has marked the director out as a major new voice in international cinema

A senile woman in contemporary Lisbon who runs away to the casino whenever she gets the chance; a secret, destructive love affair that unravels in 60s colonial Africa; and a pet crocodile that keeps on escaping from its enclosure: these are the unusual…

Yuma

4 Sep 20123 stars

Scarface-style story set in the dying days of communist Poland

Zyga (Jakub Gierszal) is a Polish teenager, yearning to establish himself in the adult world while his country breaks free from communism in the late 1980s. He finds his opportunity in the practise of ‘yuma’ – shoplifting from West German stores and…

About Elly

3 Sep 20124 stars

A rigorous, deeply felt drama from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi

Much admired at its Berlin premiere back in 2009, this elegant, edgy and touching Iranian drama has finally been granted a UK cinema release, presumably thanks to its gifted director's worldwide statuette sweep for 2011's peerless A Separation. While…

Circumstance

28 Aug 20123 stars

A timely and worthwhile Iranian film somewhat let down by 2D storytelling

Developed with the help of the Sundance programme, writer/director Maryam Keshavarz’s debut feature exemplifies the strengths and weaknesses of recent Iranian cinema. A romance between two well-heeled young women set against an oppressive backdrop of…

[REC]³ Génesis

28 Aug 20123 stars

Dark laughs and outrageous violence feature in the third film in the [REC] series

Where the first two [REC] films relied on claustrophobic tension and shaky camera to impress, the third film goes for a more conventional format that's backed by dark laughs and in-your-face violence. Directed with over the top relish by Paco Plaza…

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The Snows of Kilimanjaro

19 Aug 20124 stars

Provocative drama from the French Ken Loach, Robert Guédiguian

Not to be confused with the 1952 Hollywood film of the same name, this is the latest slice of social realism from France’s answer to Ken Loach, Robert Guédiguian. Guédiguian’s The Snows of Kilimanjiro takes it name from the 1966 sugary French pop hit…

The Forgiveness of Blood

8 Aug 20124 stars

Compelling Albanian drama from the director of Maria Full of Grace

Los Angelino filmmaker Joshua Marston repeats the success of his first film, the award-winning Maria Full of Grace, with a second compelling foreign language drama that unfolds beyond the borders of the First World. Marston’s follow-up to Maria, which…

Profile: Magnus Martens, director of Jackpot

6 Aug 2012

The Norwegian director on the comedy and violence in his Jo Nesbo adaptation

Born 1973, Stord, Norway Background Oslo-based writer and director Martens has worked in film and television for over a decade, notably on 2003’s football–based United. He was writing his own crime comedy screenplay when he was offered the chance…

Jackpot

1 Aug 20124 stars

Second Jo Nesbo adaptation once again gleefully mixes comedy and gory violence

The Jo Nesbo phenomenon shifted from publishing to cinema with the unexpected box-office and critical success of this year’s art-crime drama Headhunters. Following quickly on its heels, director Magnus Martens has adapted an original story by Nesbo to…

In Your Hands

17 Jul 20124 stars

Kristin Scott Thomas and Pio Marmaï star in this claustrophobic French drama

Virtually a two-hander, and physically confined enough that it might have been written for the stage, this film is a risky proposition even before the plot asks you to believe that a woman might find more than just sympathy for her violent kidnapper.