Film, Reviews

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If I Stay

26 Aug 20142 stars

Chloë Grace Moretz stars in this conceptually interesting but mishandled and mawkish drama

If I Stay finds a teenage girl plunged into existential limbo after a car accident, with her spirit self pondering whether the life that awaits her is worth fighting for. Director RJ Cutler (best known for documentary The September Issue) fashions his…

The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

26 Aug 20144 stars

A gripping and revealing documentary that tells the heartbreaking story of an internet legend

As digital culture matures, stories about its innovators and pioneers proliferate, preparing to become its myths. What adds nuance is the fact that these entrepreneurs were not the thrusting alpha males who went into space, invented modern advertising…

The Keeper of Lost Causes

26 Aug 20143 stars

Functional Danish thriller featuring appealing performances from Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Fares Fares

Arriving very late to the Scandi noir party, The Keeper of Lost Causes is based on the best-selling novel by Jussi Adler-Olsen, the first in his Department Q series. The title’s original translation, ‘The Woman in the Cage’, gives a better indication of…

Let's Be Cops

26 Aug 20143 stars

Fitfully entertaining cop comedy featuring New Girl's Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr

The buddy cop comedy gets an interesting spin in Let’s Be Cops, a hit-and-miss affair that amuses and frustrates in equal measure. Co-written and directed by Luke Greenfield (The Girl Next Door), the film follows two loser flat-mates – Jake Johnson’s…

Million Dollar Arm

26 Aug 20142 stars

Jon Hamm stars in a bland, predictable baseball drama based on a true-life tale

The many admirers of Jon Hamm's work in the iconic television show Mad Men may feel like they could watch him in anything; Disney’s two-hour plus biopic of a sports agent offers a tough test of that. Hamm's charm works well playing a debonair scoundrel…

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Mystery Road

26 Aug 20144 stars

An atmospheric, expertly controlled modern western starring Aaron Pedersen and Hugo Weaving

Writer-director Ivan Sen's flinty, slow-burning murder mystery is a western wrapped in the trappings and clichés of a modern thriller. Aaron Pedersen's Stetson-wearing detective Jay Swan is just as much of an outsider as John Wayne's Ethan Edwards in…

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

26 Aug 20143 stars

Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's sequel favours style over substance

Nearly a decade after Robert Rodriguez teamed up with graphic novelist Frank Miller to bring Miller’s celebrated Sin City to jaw-dropping life, their follow-up navigates the same schlocky, sweaty path of bloody crime and bloodier retribution. Like…

FrightFest 2014: Alleluia

20 Aug 20144 stars

Volver's Lola Dueñas stars in a blood-splattered psychodrama outlining the perils of online dating

A directors' fortnight selection at Cannes 2014, this blood-splattered Belgian-French psychological horror is the fourth feature from writer-director Fabrice Du Welz. The subject is the dangers of online dating; Du Welz conjures up a small scale but…

FrightFest 2014: Creep

20 Aug 20144 stars

Tense two-hander written by and starring Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice

Mark Duplass and debut writer-director Patrick Brice breathe new life into the found footage horror film with this incredibly tense two-hander which is hilarious and terrifying in equal parts. Duplass's indie beginnings (particularly Baghead, on which…

FrightFest 2014: Faults

20 Aug 20144 stars

Riley Stearns' debut pitches a cult expert against a traumatised follower with interesting results

It’s not often you see a film where you have literally no idea what’s going to happen next. That’s one of the main reasons people seek out dark-side cinema, and it’s one of the appeals of American writer-director Riley Stearns’ intriguing feature debut.

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FrightFest 2014: Housebound

20 Aug 20144 stars

Gerard Johnstone's riotous debut skilfully mixes horror and hilarity

Hollywood could learn a thing or two from Kiwi first-time writer-director Gerard Johnstone, who casts two exquisitely expressive ladies in his deliriously funny and downright scary haunted house horror. A combination of fantastic performances and a…

FrightFest 2014: Wolfcop

20 Aug 20143 stars

Fun, furry retro horror from writer-director Lowell Dean

Some films take on a life of their own before they are even released, with the internet going into overdrive before anyone's seen the first frame of footage (recent examples being Snakes on a Plane and Sharknado). Wolfcop now joins these illustrious…

Into the Storm

19 Aug 20142 stars

Richard Armitage stars in an underwhelming found footage disaster movie from director Steven Quale

Steven Quale’s Into the Storm may blow you away with the quality of some of its special effects but it'll leave you underwhelmed and exasperated in most other respects. Set in or around Silverton, Oklahoma it sees a powerful storm hit the town. By…

Deliver Us from Evil

18 Aug 20142 stars

Preachy horror from the director of Sinister, starring Eric Bana and Joel McHale

The face of law enforcement in writer-director Scott Derrickson’s latest horror is a horribly self-righteous tough guy who finds religion and lays down his own kind of violent justice. Derrickson's fourth feature is loosely based on the memoir of ex…

God Help the Girl

18 Aug 20143 stars

The directorial debut of Belle and Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch is toe-curling but charming

God Help the Girl plays to the prejudices of anyone who expects the worst from a long delayed, first film written and directed by Belle and Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch. It is twee, it is whimsical, it is as delicate as a fresh bloom in a howling storm.

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Lucy

18 Aug 20143 stars

Insane but entertaining sci-fi actioner from Luc Besson, starring Scarlett Johansson

With ambition coming out of its ears and ideas coming out of its arse, Lucy is the wayward brainchild of French writer-director Luc Besson. We've recently seen Scarlett Johansson fight alongside superheroes and assume the guise of a curious alien adrift…

Two Days, One Night

18 Aug 20144 stars

Marion Cotillard stars in a compassionate drama from the Dardenne brothers

Two Days, One Night has jokingly been described as the Dardenne brothers' version of High Noon. You can see why as an individual is set apart from a community and faces a ticking deadline towards a moment that could mean life or death. The threat here…

What If

18 Aug 20144 stars

Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan make a cute couple in an unexpectedly charming rom-com

Crass, ten-a-penny rom-coms have devalued the genre. Where's the charm these days? The warmth? What happened to 'the Lubitsch touch'? Despairing traditionalists should eagerly welcome What If (previously entitled The F Word), a sweetly engaging 21st…

Obvious Child

12 Aug 20144 stars

Gillian Robespierre's Sundance 'abortion comedy' is courageous and admirable in its feminism

Billed as the Sundance ‘abortion comedy’, writer-director Gillian Robespierre’s debut has already attracted attention for its controversial subject matter and scatological dialogue. It centres on Donna (the effusive and sardonic Jenny Slate, of SNL…

Blood Ties

11 Aug 20143 stars

Clive Owen and Billy Crudup lead a starry cast in a fitfully successful retro thriller

French director Guillaume Canet's English-language debut has the swagger of a Cain and Abel version of Mean Streets. The film is set in 1970s Brooklyn and Canet is clearly intent on crafting something that Scorsese or Sidney Lumet might have made back…

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Dinosaur 13

11 Aug 20144 stars

Todd Douglas Miller's dinosaur documentary takes in the shocking fallout from a fascinating find

A crowd-pleaser at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, Todd Douglas Miller's riveting documentary tells the true story of the legal battle surrounding 'Sue', the world's largest, most complete T-Rex skeleton and the thirteenth ever discovered. After the…

The Expendables 3

11 Aug 20143 stars

Stallone, Statham and Schwarzenegger reunite for the third part of the actioner franchise

Sylvester Stallone may have assembled his biggest cast yet for this third instalment in his Expendables franchise but, while certainly enjoyable, it’s also (bullet) riddled with the same problems that beset its predecessors. The lack of a decent…

Hector and the Search for Happiness

11 Aug 20142 stars

Simon Pegg fails to turn on the charm in this story of a self-indulgent globe-trotter

As far as his British films go, whenever Simon Pegg is shorn of his Shaun of the Dead team (director and co-writer Edgar Wright, producer Nira Park and co-star Nick Frost) he flounders. Think Burke and Hare, A Fantastic Fear of Everything or Run…

The Rover

11 Aug 20144 stars

David Michôd's follow-up to Animal Kingdom teams Guy Pearce with Robert Pattinson

Robert Pattinson shakes off the Twilight glitter and gets grotty in writer-director David Michôd’s stripped-back, post societal collapse drama. Though not quite as gut-wrenching as his impressive debut Animal Kingdom, Michôd's second film stands out due…

The Unbeatables

11 Aug 20144 stars

An enjoyably quirky football-themed animation featuring the voices of Rupert Grint and Rob Brydon

The Unbeatables (original title Metegol) is probably the last film you would expect from Argentinean director Juan José Campanella. His first feature since the moody, labyrinthine and ultimately Oscar-winning thriller The Secret In Their Eyes is a…