Film, Reviews

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It Follows

16 Oct 20145 stars

London Film Festival: David Robert Mitchell offers his twist on the slasher film and it's a ripper

David Robert Mitchell continues his visually arresting exploration of teen life with a horror film that recalls John Carpenter’s Halloween but puts its own unique spin on the slasher film. The same leafy streets of suburban Michigan in which Mitchell…

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

13 Oct 20143 stars

Fun, cheesy reboot of the action franchise starring Megan Fox and Will Arnett

The director's credit may read Jonathan Liebesman, but there's no mistaking the influence of producer Michael Bay on this reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle franchise, which began life in 1984 as a humble self-published comic book by Peter Laird…

Wild Tales

9 Oct 20144 stars

London Film Festival: A hugely entertaining anthology film from director Damián Szifrón

Announcing its disregard for subtlety, sense, lawfulness and decency from the off, this Argentinean anthology film lays out a feast of unhinged antics, introducing us to a collection of diverse characters just as they reach their tipping…

Testament of Youth

16 Oct 20143 stars

London Film Festival: Respectful adaptation of Vera Brittain's memoir starring Alicia Vikander

The gut-wrenchingly poignant WWI memoir Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain was a bestseller in 1933, although by then young men knew war wasn’t a school trip with guns. The basis for a 1979 TV series, it remains a moving tribute to the innocence of the…

The Duke of Burgundy

8 Oct 20144 stars

London Film Festival: Peter Strickland takes a typically idiosyncratic look at tortured love affair

'You can pin and mount me like a butterfly,' sang Morrissey in The Smiths' 'Reel Around the Fountain'. It's a line that seems tailor-made for Peter Strickland's latest, a pleasingly original yet playfully retro romance set in an undisclosed European…

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The Best of Me

16 Oct 20142 stars

Insipid romantic drama that wastes the talent of James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan

The ninth adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel is as soft focus and simple minded as its predecessors but with a whiff of fatigue which suggests even the filmmakers involved have grown weary of identikit romantic tragedies. Michael Hoffman steers a far…

Black Butler

16 Oct 20143 stars

Martial arts mayhem from Kentarô Ohtani and Kei’ichi Sato as the manga springs to life

Two directors, Kentarô Ohtani and Kei’ichi Sato, take on the task of bringing Yana Toboso's massively successful manga Kuroshitsuji to the big screen, a comic which has already inspired an anime TV series, a musical and a video game. Tsutomu Kuroiwa…

The Salvation

16 Oct 20144 stars

London Film Festival: Edgy, entertaining western from Kristian Levring, starring Mads Mikkelsen

The Good, the Bad and... the Danish? Dogme signatory Kristian Levring has crafted a gripping and stylish revenge western with a decidedly dark bent, taking standard genre staples and imbuing them with a suitably Scandinavian sensibility to enormously…

Fury

15 Oct 20144 stars

London Film Festival: Brad Pitt impresses in David Ayer's appropriately brutal take on World War II

David Ayer’s second film this year, following Sabotage, takes all of the contemporary grit that he shovelled into his earlier work – like 2012's End of Watch – and puts it in a period context. Set in April 1945, as the Allies make their final push to…

Wild

14 Oct 20144 stars

London Film Festival: Reese Witherspoon returns to form in adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's memoir

Having steered both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto to Oscar glory with Dallas Buyers Club, director Jean-Marc Vallée could well be on course to repeat the trick for producer-star Reese Witherspoon with his new film Wild, adapted from the…

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The Falling

14 Oct 20144 stars

London Film Festival: Maisie Williams shines in this eerie drama from British director Carol Morley

Carol Morley is best known for her documentaries Dreams of a Life and The Alcohol Years; her second narrative feature (after Edge) is a dark, twisted and thoughtful coming-of-ager set at a British girls' school in the late 60s. It's partly inspired by a…

White Bird in a Blizzard

14 Oct 20143 stars

London Film Festival: Gregg Araki's latest is a melancholy mystery starring Shailene Woodley

Shailene Woodley stars as Kat Connor, a teenager coming to terms with her mother’s disappearance in Gregg Araki’s 80s-set drama, adapted from Laura Kasischke’s novel. Eva Green has been perfecting embittered rage for a few years now and slips neatly…

Northern Soul

13 Oct 20143 stars

Elaine Constantine's directorial debut takes a look at the titular youth scene

For the uninitiated, northern soul was a youth movement that gripped the North of England during the 60s and 70s, fuelled by high octane funk and soul records from the States. DJs were on a permanent quest for ever more elusive tracks, unearthing gems…

Björk: Biophilia Live

13 Oct 20144 stars

A beautiful presentation of Björk's strange, beguiling vision from cinematographer Brett Turnbull

In 2008 Björk embarked upon her eighth album, Biophilia, which over the course of a few years turned into a massively ambitious multimedia project, including an otherworldly live show. The final concert took place in September 2013 after a 70-date world…

Winter Sleep

10 Oct 20145 stars

London Film Festival: Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Palme d'Or winning drama is epic story of family in crisis

This masterful, achingly sad story of marital decay and societal rifts is the latest from Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan and the winner of this year's Palme d'Or. It finds a tightly wound, quietly angry family gradually unravelling in their mountain…

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Effie Gray

7 Oct 20143 stars

Victorian biopic featuring Dakota Fanning alongside screenwriter Emma Thompson

Delayed by two years due to legal wranglings surrounding Emma Thompson's screenplay, director Richard Laxton's period piece focuses on the early life of Euphemia 'Effie' Gray (Dakota Fanning), a young Scottish woman who marries older art critic John…

The Rewrite

7 Oct 20143 stars

Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei star in Marc Lawrence's likeable if imperfect comedy

This engaging comedy marks the fourth collaboration between actor Hugh Grant and writer-director Marc Lawrence, following Two Weeks Notice, Did You Hear About The Morgans? and Music and Lyrics. The result is pretty much exactly what you're expecting…

’71

6 Oct 20144 stars

Jack O'Connell impresses yet again in a tense thriller set at the height of the Troubles

There seems to be no stopping Jack O’Connell right now. The former Skins star is having a stellar year, with a searing performance in prison drama Starred Up behind him and, ahead, a high-profile lead role in the Angelina Jolie directed Unbroken. His…

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

6 Oct 20144 stars

Fun family comedy adapted from the kids' book featuring Jennifer Garner and Steve Carell

Ever had one of those days where nothing goes right? 11-year-old Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) seems to have more than his fair share. And when his latest day from hell is largely ignored by his family, Alexander makes a midnight birthday wish for the…

Annabelle

6 Oct 20143 stars

Hastily produced, sporadically scary spinoff of The Conjuring focussing on the film's devil doll

James Wan's name is synonymous with modern horror. He’s the man who directed Saw, Insidious and Insidious: Chapter 2 and here he acts as producer on this spinoff of his other smash, 2013's The Conjuring, passing directorial duties to his cinematographer…

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The Calling

6 Oct 20142 stars

Disappointing crime thriller starring Susan Sarandon and Topher Grace

If evidence were needed that there are increasingly limited roles for older women in Hollywood, then The Calling offers itself up as a perfect example of a miserable fact. For here we see powerhouse performer Susan Sarandon reduced to a badly drawn…

Gone Too Far!

6 Oct 20144 stars

Bola Agbaje's adaptation of her own play is a fresh, funny look at race relations and youth culture

On an estate in South-East London teenager Yemi (Malachi Kirby) awaits the arrival of his prodigal older brother Iku (OC Ukeje) from their native Nigeria. When Iku turns up, however, Yemi is embarrassed by his sibling's loud, proud African personality…

The Maze Runner

6 Oct 20143 stars

James Dashner's YA novel is the basis for a dystopian adventure starring Dylan O'Brien

Ever since Suzanne Collins’ young adult novel The Hunger Games was transformed into a box-office smash starring Jennifer Lawrence, there’s been a trend for adapting teen dystopian fiction in Hollywood. Shailene Woodley appeared in the adaptation of…

Dracula Untold

30 Sep 20142 stars

Luke Evans and Charles Dance impress in an otherwise mishandled origin story

An early title for this latest spin on Bram Stoker’s fanged fiend was ‘Dracula: Year Zero’, which gives some indication of where the writers gleaned inspiration for this origin story: Frank Miller’s seminal graphic novel 'Batman: Year One'. Dracula…

Soul Boys of the Western World

29 Sep 20143 stars

Documentary charting the fluctuating fortunes of Spandau Ballet from George Hencken

Spandau Ballet might not seem the hippest subjects for a documentary. Formed in the late Seventies, they hit the charts in the early Eighties as the New Romantic scene blossomed, but this five-piece all-male band from Islington were hardly musical…