Film, Reviews

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Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

16 Feb 20154 stars

David Zellner's heartbreaking and humorous film focusses on an unusual quest

Fuzzy images from an over-watched VHS tape open David Zellner’s fifth feature, which he co-wrote with his brother Nathan. The movie that our protagonist Kumiko is watching, and currently fixated on, is the Coen brothers' Fargo. The focus on that film's…

Kung Fu Killer

16 Feb 20154 stars

Stylish and fast-paced martial arts thriller from Teddy Chan, starring Donnie Yen

However hard they try, action stars like Jason Statham, Steven Seagal, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dwayne Johnson can't hope to match the speed and grace of their Asian counterparts. Over the years Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais and…

Maidan

16 Feb 20154 stars

Excellent documentary from Sergei Loznitsa which shows the power of protest

On February 20th, 2014, a clash between protestors and police in Kiev's Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) saw over 50 people lose their lives, and marked the beginning of the end of Viktor Yanukovych's contentious presidency. Released on the…

Cake

16 Feb 20153 stars

Jennifer Aniston shines in Daniel Barnz's sentimental and predictable drama

Cake has been gaining a lot of attention as the film in which a Golden Globe-nominated Jennifer Aniston dares to dispense with make-up and act mean. In truth, it is a thoroughly respectable performance and a welcome change from the inanities and…

The Wedding Ringer

16 Feb 20152 stars

Mirthless matrimonial comedy squandering the talented Kevin Hart and Josh Gad

At one point earmarked as a vehicle for Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson (the first draft of the screenplay predates their similar hit Wedding Crashers), The Wedding Ringer is a low-brow comedy pairing Kevin Hart (Ride Along) with rising star Josh Gad, who…

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Project Almanac

16 Feb 20152 stars

Dean Israelite's derivative sci-fi follows a group of teen time-travellers

A MTV Films co-production whose producers include Michael Bay, this found-footage teen time travelling adventure from director Dean Israelite is pitched at those too young to be well versed in time travel / time loop flicks. That's just as well since it…

Fifty Shades of Grey

13 Feb 20153 stars

Adaptation of EL James' sadomasochist sensation looks set to dominate cinemas

Whatever your thoughts on EL James' S&M bonkbusters they've certainly set pulses racing with their admirably frank exploration of female desire; and they've now put sex back on the big screen in a pretty emphatic fashion, with Sam Taylor-Johnson's take…

Mr Holmes

13 Feb 20154 stars

Berlinale 2015: Ian McKellen and Bill Condon offer their own take on Sherlock Holmes

17 years after they made the Oscar-winning James Whale biopic Gods and Monsters, director Bill Condon and star Ian McKellen reunite for this unique spin on Sherlock Holmes. Certainly, the two films bear comparison, with the esteemed thespian once again…

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

13 Feb 20154 stars

Berlinale 2015: Provocative coming-of-ager with Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgård

Smartly drawn in more ways than one, Marielle Heller's directorial debut is a high-wire act. Adapted from Phoebe Gloeckner’s semi-graphic coming-of-age novel, in the wrong hands this could easily have become lurid and exploitative, as it delves brazenly…

Queen of the Desert

13 Feb 20152 stars

Berlinale 2015: Werner Herzog and Nicole Kidman tell the story of Gertrude Bell

From Fitzcarraldo to Rescue Dawn, Werner Herzog is no stranger to exploring inhospitable lands in his films. So it makes sense that he should be drawn to the story of the indefatigable Englishwoman Gertrude Bell for his latest feature Queen of the…

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Dancing in Jaffa

9 Feb 20153 stars

Dancer Pierre Dulaine returns to his homeland in Hilla Medalia's doc

Ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine makes a naïve attempt to bring Jewish and Palestinian-Israeli children together via the medium of dance in this heart-warming but uneven documentary from Hilla Medalia. This also marks Dulaine's return to his city of birth…

Down Dog

9 Feb 20152 stars

Tedious, infantile Britcom starring Jason Durr and Nick Moran

The opening shot of writer-director Andres Dussan’s Britcom is of a woman in an armchair making good use of a sex toy; sadly, her sense of satisfaction is a world away from the experience of watching this tedious effort. Co-written by Lawrence Tallis…

Love is All

9 Feb 20153 stars

Delightful, slightly rudderless documentary from the great Kim Longinotto

The noted British documentarian Kim Longinotto – director of Divorce Iranian Style and Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go, among many others – oversees one of those whirling carousels of dusted-off archive footage that serve to remind us what a busy and…

Snow in Paradise

9 Feb 20153 stars

Gangland thriller from Andrew Hulme that's undermined by clichés

If nothing else, British gangland thriller Snow in Paradise provides a fantastic showcase for Frederick Schmidt. Previously seen in Starred Up, the lean, charismatic Schmidt shows signs of the brooding intensity that has propelled Tom Hardy and Jack…

Two Night Stand

9 Feb 20151 star

Sexist and uninspired rom-com starring Analeigh Tipton and Miles Teller

The morning after her first one night stand, Megan (Analeigh Tipton) is desperate to leave the Brooklyn apartment of her conquest Alec (Miles Teller), but a blizzard stands in the way of her escape. Trapped together, the mismatched pair are forced to…

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Love Is Strange

9 Feb 20154 stars

A charming, truthful look at love in later life with John Lithgow and Alfred Molina

Get married and your life goes to pot. This is what happens in Ira Sachs' Love Is Strange, a confidently uncomfortable, New York-set story co-written with Mauricio Zacharias. This is real love: there is old age, there is debt, there is misunderstanding.

Coherence

9 Feb 20154 stars

Micro-budget, character-driven sci-fi from James Ward Byrkit

Coherence suggests that the thing which should scare us the most is our own potential, presenting us with a carefully crafted exploration of this unsettling notion. With its quantum mechanics-referencing title and Twilight Zone-style plot, it's a…

Jupiter Ascending

3 Feb 20152 stars

Derivative sci-fi from the Wachowski siblings comes crashing down to Earth

It’s clear that Jupiter Ascending is a labour of love for its creators Andy and Lana Wachowski, who have jam-packed their ambitious intergalactic fantasy adventure full of ideas concerning genetics, reincarnation, the growing wealth divide and the…

Selma

2 Feb 20155 stars

Astonishing Martin Luther King biopic from Ava DuVernay, starring David Oyelowo

In his iconic 1963 speech, Martin Luther King shared his dream that one day all Americans would be judged not by 'the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character'. While King's words echo down the years, his optimism remains largely…

Shaun the Sheep Movie

2 Feb 20154 stars

This big screen adaptation of the stop-motion kids' TV show boasts bags of charm

Hot on the heels of Postman Pat and Paddington, the latest British children's TV show to receive the big screen treatment is Shaun the Sheep, the wildly successful stop-motion animated series from the geniuses at Aardman Animations. Happily, the show's…

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The Interview

2 Feb 20152 stars

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's controversial comedy proves hugely disappointing

At a time when satire is an increasingly rare commodity, The Interview became a cause célèbre when Sony temporarily pulled its release after threats from cyber-terrorists. A fictitious tale of a plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un, Seth Rogen and Evan…

Amour Fou

2 Feb 20153 stars

Jessica Hausner crafts an enjoyably overblown tale of romantic longing and suicidal urges

A melancholic poet who longs for death — but only if the vivacious woman he loves will agree to a suicide pact, ideally to take place somewhere wild and scenic — is devastated when she laughs him off. Sensible woman! Then the depressed but persistent…

Still Life

2 Feb 20153 stars

Eddie Marsan shines in Uberto Pasolini's moving life-and-death drama

The quiet and contemplative Still Life casts Eddie Marsan in the leading role of John May, a Kennington-based funeral officer for Lambeth council, whose job it is to arrange the services of those who die alone and who have no relatives.

The Turning

2 Feb 20154 stars

Tim Winton's stories become scintillating cinema in this abbreviated adaptation

An adaptation of Australian author Tim Winton's 2005 collection of short stories, The Turning is a beguiling piece of storytelling. Producer Robert Connolly tasked 18 Australian directors (including himself) to each bring a segment of the book to life…

Tales of the Grim Sleeper

26 Jan 20154 stars

Gripping and disturbing serial killer documentary from Nick Broomfield

Nick Broomfield’s latest documentary hones in on the strange and disturbing case of a serial killer nicknamed the 'Grim Sleeper' by the press, due to an apparent period of slumber from his crimes, which stretch back more than a quarter of a century.