Film, Reviews

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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.

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Trash

26 Jan 20152 stars

Hopeful but sanitised slum drama from Stephen Daldry and Richard Curtis

It’s quite a gutsy move to name your film Trash but director Stephen Daldry and screenwriter Richard Curtis clearly have confidence in this feel-good adventure set in the Brazilian favelas, which follows a trio of teenage boys as they team up to solve a…

Pelo Malo (Bad Hair)

26 Jan 20154 stars

Courageous Venezuelan drama from Mariana Rondón gives us a child's-eye-view

Childhood can be seen as a fight between a child and its parents for control of the child's identity, and for the right to decide their path. Taking this idea as a starting point, Pelo Malo (Bad Hair) turns a home into a battleground. From…

No Manifesto: A Film About Manic Street Preachers

26 Jan 20154 stars

Elizabeth Marcus' insightful film disabuses numerous notions about the band

'We've sold millions of albums, and nobody knows who we are,' says Manic Street Preachers drummer Sean Moore in Elizabeth Marcus' excellent documentary about the Welsh band. It may sound churlish, but the film gives credence to his lament; whatever you…

I Am Yours

26 Jan 20153 stars

Amrita Acharia excels in the feature debut of Norwegian director Iram Haq

Anchored by a splendid lead performance from Amrita Acharia, but a little directionless otherwise, this semi-autobiographical Norwegian drama from debut writer-director Iram Haq examines one young woman’s struggle to accommodate the pressures of single…

Au Revoir les Enfants

26 Jan 20154 stars

Louis Malle's minor classic returns to cinemas to haunt a new generation

After making a few films in the States in the late 70s and 80s (including My Dinner with Andre and Atlantic City), Louis Malle returned to his native France to direct this 1987 tale of two Catholic schoolboys living in a French boarding school during…

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Kingsman: The Secret Service

26 Jan 20154 stars

Colin Firth is the cool centre of Matthew Vaughn's riotously entertaining spy pastiche

Writer-director Matthew Vaughn and screenwriter Jane Goldman (Stardust, Kick-Ass) reteam for their second adaptation of a Mark Millar comic with this hugely entertaining spy thriller pastiche that plays, appropriately, like James Bond meets Kick-Ass.

Big Hero 6

26 Jan 20154 stars

Appealing animation combining cutting-edge visuals with classic Disney charm

In the bustling metropolis of San Fransokyo, 14-year-old tearaway Hiro (Ryan Potter) has just been persuaded by older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) to channel his engineering talents into robotics when tragedy throws his life into turmoil. Struggling…

Son of a Gun

26 Jan 20152 stars

Misfiring Australian crime flick starring Ewan McGregor and Brenton Thwaites

Locked up for a misdemeanour, naïve young Aussie JR (Brenton Thwaites) only survives his hellish prison experience under the wing of notorious criminal Brendan Lynch (Ewan McGregor). Brendan’s protection doesn’t come for free, however, and JR soon finds…

Inherent Vice

26 Jan 20154 stars

Paul Thomas Anderson's latest is a sun-scorched noir with the right helping of nuts

After the crisply shot mind games of The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson goes all warm and fuzzy with a film that follows a perma-stoned private detective on a fabulously befuddling quest, and apes the aesthetic of faded film stock. Like the Thomas Pynchon…

Mortdecai

22 Jan 20151 star

Johnny Depp is reunited with director David Koepp in this crude, charmless caper

Ay, caramba! Johnny Depp has given us quite a catalogue of eccentric and goofy characterisations in his time. But none of them has been as thoroughly unamusing and charmless as his Charlie Mortdecai, eponymous anti-hero of a badly misjudged action comedy.

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La Maison de la Radio

19 Jan 20152 stars

Nicolas Philibert's Radio France documentary proves both fascinating and frustrating

French filmmaker Nicolas Philibert will be best known to international audiences for his excellent 2002 documentary Être et Avoir, a portrait of a single-room school in rural France. His latest work, La Maison de la Radio, takes the same fly-on-the-wall…

The Gambler

19 Jan 20154 stars

Modern twist on the 70s crime drama starring an impressive Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg has transcended his boy-rapper roots to become a dependable leading man but, although he's proved adept with lighter roles, he's sometimes struggled to be taken seriously. Reviving Karel Reisz’s 1974 heavyweight drama – which starred James…

Beyond Clueless

19 Jan 20153 stars

Charlie Lyne's entertaining documentary celebrates and dissects the teen movie

Ever since James Dean set light to the establishment in the 50s, teens have been central to cinema, both as audience and subject. Every generation since has films that define adolescence: from the antics of The Beatles and the students of Rydell High in…

Ex Machina

19 Jan 20154 stars

Smart, skilfully constructed sci-fi from Alex Garland featuring Alicia Vikander

Novelist and screenwriter Alex Garland’s directorial debut is an unsettling, teasing and thought-provoking sci-fi, centred around artificial intelligence. When Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) wins a work competition to fly to his CEO’s home to take part in a…

A Most Violent Year

19 Jan 20154 stars

Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac shine in JC Chandor's elegant crime flick

'I spent my whole life trying to not become a gangster,' Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) tells his wife Anna (Jessica Chastain) in a striking subversion of the famous line from Goodfellas. JC Chandor's third film as writer-director (after Margin Call and All…

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American Sniper

12 Jan 20153 stars

Sympathetic but simplistic true-life drama featuring a formidable Bradley Cooper

As a Republican Party stalwart, Clint Eastwood has never been shy of addressing the role of the military. From the gung-ho Heartbreak Ridge to his more thoughtful Flags of Our Fathers / Letters from Iwo Jima double-header, Eastwood’s frontline sojourns…

Duck Soup

12 Jan 20155 stars

The Marx Brothers' masterpiece returns to cinemas in all its madcap glory

Featuring the kind of disruption to the cinematic status quo which couldn't be outdone by a feathered friend in a flap, 1933's Duck Soup was the fifth film fronted by the Marx Brothers and the last to feature straight-man Zeppo. Directed by Leo McCarey…

Paper Souls

12 Jan 20152 stars

Disappointing supernatural dramedy from Vincent Lannoo about love and loss

It’s not unreasonable to say that, in recent times, the French have set the standard for eccentric existential comedies; from Jeunet to Gondry, there is clearly something about the Gallic sense of humour that compliments wildly absurd situations. It’s…

Point and Shoot

12 Jan 20152 stars

Marshall Curry's flawed film documents Matt VanDyke's quest for masculinity

You can tell a lot about a documentary from its closing frames. In Point and Shoot the Oscar-nominated writer-director Marshall Curry asks a summing-up question of his subject Matt VanDyke, an OCD-suffering Baltimore filmmaker turned Arab Spring…

Taken 3

6 Jan 20152 stars

Liam Neeson returns in this tired third instalment of the actioner franchise

You know the drill by now. If you're an evildoer, Liam Neeson’s grizzled ex-CIA operative will find you and he will kill you. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ‘I’ll be back’ battle cry, this catchphrase helped turn Neeson into an ageing action hero back in…