Film, Reviews

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March DVD/VOD Review Round-up

2 Mar 2015

Including Broadchurch, Wolf Hall, The Imitation Game, '71, Horns, Nightcrawler and more

The second series of Broadchurch (Acorn) ●● has already been much discussed but unfortunately we concur: it's a mess. The courtroom drama veers all over the place while everyone involved in the old Sandbrook case suddenly seems to remember vital clues…

Dreamcatcher

2 Mar 20154 stars

Kim Longinotto's documentary shines a light on a truly wonderful woman

Forget all those lycra-clad crime-fighters who constantly jostle for position at the box office, Dreamcatcher is a documentary about a bona fide superhero. By day, Brenda Myers-Powell works with prostitutes in prison and disadvantaged young girls in…

Difret

2 Mar 20153 stars

Moving Ethiopian drama focusing on the fight for a young girl's freedom

There are a lot of good films being made in Africa and we rarely get to see any of them outside of festivals, so Ethiopian filmmaker Zeresenay Mehari’s eye-opening social justice drama, based on a groundbreaking true story, deserves an…

Appropriate Behaviour

2 Mar 20154 stars

Hilarious, accomplished and idiosyncratic debut from Desiree Akhavan

Appropriate Behaviour is a beautifully observed breakup comedy told from the perspective of a Persian-American bisexual woman, living in Brooklyn, who is afraid to come out to her parents. Desiree Akhavan (recently seen in Lena Dunham’s Girls…

Kill the Messenger

2 Mar 20153 stars

Jeremy Renner heads up Michael Cuesta's informative take on a true story

'Some stories are just too true to tell,' warns federal prosecutor Fred Weil (Michael Sheen) in director Michael Cuesta's crime drama, which recounts the real-life experiences of reporter Gary Webb. Played with considerable spark by Jeremy Renner, we…

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Life of Riley

2 Mar 20154 stars

Alain Resnais' final film is an elegant closer to a fine career

Alain Resnais died last March at the age of 91, just three weeks after his final work was among the prize winners at Berlin. It's heartening to discover that the playful, experimental instincts that marked his 70 year career remained constant until the…

Eden

26 Feb 20154 stars

Glasgow Film Festival: Mia Hansen-Løve's heady take on the French house scene

Mia Hansen-Løve has created an insightful and involving cinematic experience with her fourth feature, which centres on the rise and fall of a French house DJ from the 1990s to the 2000s. It’s a heady trip into the electronic dance music scene that…

Force Majeure

26 Feb 20155 stars

Glasgow Film Festival: Ruben Östlund's masterful dramedy foregrounds weakness

A family skiing holiday turns rivetingly sour in Swedish writer-director Ruben Östlund's impeccably executed, discomforting dramedy, which holds humanity under an unflattering, unflinching microscope. It benefits from a simple but terrifically fruitful…

Boychoir

25 Feb 20153 stars

Glasgow Film Festival: Likeable music school drama featuring Dustin Hoffman

Boychoir, from French-Canadian director François Girard, is a charming, thoughtful music school drama that dials down the expected sentimentality and plays like a PG version of Whiplash. Newcomer Garrett Wareing plays Stet, a rebellious 11-year-old…

Focus

25 Feb 20152 stars

Vacuous, less-than-thrilling con artist flick starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie

It's been 22 years since Will Smith starred in Six Degrees of Separation, a wonderfully subtle adaptation of John Guare's play about a young con artist who takes in a well-to-do Manhattan couple. Watching Smith's new film Focus, his first lead since the…

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Jauja

24 Feb 20154 stars

Glasgow Film Festival: Lisandro Alonso's singular western stars Viggo Mortensen

Argentinean director Lisandro Alonso fuses Scandinavian and South American sensibilities in a spectacularly shot existential western which evokes both Ingmar Bergman and Alejandro Jodorowsky. The craggily handsome Viggo Mortensen makes for a compelling…

Stonehearst Asylum

24 Feb 20152 stars

Glasgow Film Festival: Brad Anderson's thriller is a star-studded misfire

The lunatics have quite literally taken over the asylum in Brad Anderson's latest, an inept effort that maintains some interest due to its overqualified cast. Anderson has form with mental hospital-set thrillers – having impressed with Session 9 back in…

X+Y

24 Feb 20154 stars

Glasgow Film Festival: Moving drama with Asa Butterfield and Rafe Spall

The story of a young maths prodigy with autism, Morgan Matthews’ film could be viewed as a juvenile Rain Man. At least that would be the case if a Hollywood studio had made it. But actually, this British tale of the difficulties of adolescence and…

The Boy Next Door

23 Feb 20152 stars

Rob Cohen directs Jennifer Lopez in an unintentionally amusing erotic thriller

Jennifer Lopez plays a classics teacher in The Boy Next Door. If she taught something else, we wouldn't be treated to the best joke in a film so far this year. Hot neighbour Noah (the Step Up series' Ryan Guzman) seduces almost-divorced older woman…

Catch Me Daddy

23 Feb 20154 stars

Daniel and Matthew Wolfe's hugely promising debut is both poetic and brutal

Positioned somewhere between a contemporary Romeo and Juliet and a fatalistic film noir, Catch Me Daddy marks a grimly impressive debut from music promo director Daniel Wolfe and his brother Matthew, who co-writes. Cinematographer Robbie Ryan (Fish…

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Hinterland

23 Feb 20153 stars

Childhood friends are reunited in this sincere but uneventful debut

This British two-hander is prettily shot, credibly performed and sure of what it wants to achieve – though its particular aspirations won’t do much for viewers who prefer films in which stuff happens, or who have an aversion to post-adolescent…

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

23 Feb 20153 stars

Spry sequel to the cross-cultural smash featuring Judi Dench and Maggie Smith

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel's happy resolution didn't leave much room for a sequel; the film's extraordinary commercial success, however, made this an inevitability. Although the motivations behind its existence are certainly cynical, The Second Best…

White God

23 Feb 20154 stars

Gripping canine drama from Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó

Kornél Mundruczó’s arresting, prize-winning drama imagines a revolutionary movement of cruelly abused dogs rebelling against their oppressors, and forcefully makes the point that the people running things are not as superior as they think. This…

The New Girlfriend

20 Feb 20152 stars

Glasgow Film Festival: Jumbled, Ruth Rendell-inspired drama from François Ozon

François Ozon’s latest feature takes Ruth Rendell’s short story, 'The New Girlfriend', as its jumping-off point. But fans of Rendell’s gripping thrillers won’t find much stylistic likeness in this plodding drama, which is buoyed by its…

GFF live: A Night at the Regal

20 Feb 20154 stars

Joe McAlinden, eagleowl and BSP provide live soundtracks to short films and archive footage

It’s a nice idea for a site-specific Glasgow Film Festival event – drawing on the past life of the O2 ABC as one of the city’s grand old picture houses to host a quadruple-bill of short movies and video pieces set to live soundtracks. Beyond that…

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Rosewater

20 Feb 20154 stars

Glasgow Film Festival: Gael García Bernal heads up Jon Stewart's directorial debut

Whatever satirist Jon Stewart decides to do after ending his stint as host of The Daily Show, he’s got a promising sideline as a writer-director to fall back on. His debut film Rosewater is a small-scale but heartfelt drama that delivers a simple and…

A Second Chance

20 Feb 20154 stars

Glasgow Film Festival: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau impresses in this potent drama

Danish policeman Andreas (Game of Thrones' Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is adjusting to life as a new parent with wife Anna (Maria Bonnevie) when he visits the home of drug addicts Tristan (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and girlfriend Sanne (May Andersen) to discover…

Clouds of Sils Maria

20 Feb 20154 stars

Glasgow Film Festival: Juliette Binoche shines as an insecure actress

The inquisitive and enchanting Clouds of Sils Maria came about when Juliette Binoche challenged her Summer Hours director Olivier Assayas to deliver a daring examination of the feminine, based on her original idea. The result is a story which revolves…

Still Alice

20 Feb 20154 stars

Glasgow Film Festival: Julianne Moore excels as an Alzheimer's sufferer

'I wish I had cancer,' rages Alice (Julianne Moore). The focus may be soft, the music melancholy but, make no mistake, Still Alice is furious. This film from directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland sees a celebrated intellectual ravaged by…

Blind

19 Feb 20154 stars

Glasgow Film Festival: Eskil Vogt's impressive debut explores the titular condition

Norwegian writer-director Eskil Vogt's intriguing directorial debut skilfully investigates the experience of blindness and of social alienation more generally, probing the anxieties of a woman suffering from sight-loss who's become physically and…