Film, Reviews

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Hello Carter

1 Dec 20142 stars

Charlie Cox and Jodie Whittaker star in this so-so romantic comedy

Britain’s got talent and, at first glance at least, few low budget films show that better than Hello Carter. Starring as the lovelorn London loser Carter is Charlie Cox, soon to be American TV’s new Daredevil. Nimble romantic support comes from Jodie…

Eastern Boys

1 Dec 20144 stars

Morally complex, skilfully performed French thriller from Robin Campillo

A transgressive sexual connection gives way to a deeper, far more risky bond in this elegantly made and morally complex French thriller. Daniel (Olivier Rabourdin) initially solicits young Latvian immigrant Marek (Kirill Emelyanov) solely for sex...

The Vatican Museums 3D

17 Nov 20143 stars

Great art becomes an immersive cinematic experience in a novel documentary

Museum movies are so hot right now and The Vatican Museums 3D is one of the big daddies. Suitable for nearly all viewers, the only people who will find it offensive will be dyed-in-the-wool types who are staunchly anti-technology. Certainly, we’d all…

Me, Myself and Mum

1 Dec 20143 stars

Award-winning French comedy from Guillaume Gallienne that'll amuse and bemuse

Me, Myself and Mum has been one of French cinema's surprise crowd-pleasers over the past 18-months. Feted at Cannes 2013, it was also showered with César awards, including Best Film. You suspect British audiences might regard it as more of an acquired…

Black Sea

1 Dec 20144 stars

Gripping submarine thriller from Kevin Macdonald featuring a commanding Jude Law

Directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland), this enjoyable thriller stars Jude Law as Robinson, a Scottish former submarine captain who's made redundant from his job at a salvage company after 11 years of service. When he hears a story…

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Bonobo

1 Dec 20143 stars

Commune-set dramedy starring Tessa Peake-Jones and Josie Lawrence

While the father/son dynamic is a mainstay of narrative features, it’s less common to see a filmmaker explore the relationship between a mother and daughter. For that reason alone the premise of Bonobo is certainly promising, as it examines the strength…

St Vincent

1 Dec 20143 stars

Bill Murray's latest is a likeable mix of crabby and cute, co-starring Naomi Watts

Bill Murray is certainly no stranger to misanthropic sad-sacks and his titular Vincent is one such crabby feller, albeit with a slightly coarser edge. Vincent is given a crack at redemption when a young boy in need of a father figure moves in next door…

The Grandmaster

1 Dec 20143 stars

Stunning but emotionally undernourished martial arts biopic from Wong Kar-wai

Flying fists and the agony of unconsummated romance power Wong Kar-wai's Oscar-nominated kung fu spectacle, which receives a belated UK release after its clandestine premiere when it was unmasked as the 2013 London Film Festival's surprise film

Kajaki. The True Story

24 Nov 20144 stars

Paul Katis turns a true-life tragedy into a moving, suspenseful drama

Taking its name from the Kajaki Dam in Afghanistan, this harrowing drama depicts a real-life incident that took place in 2006, when a group of British soldiers stumbled into an abandoned Afghani minefield by mistake, sustaining multiple casualties. It…

Paddington

24 Nov 20144 stars

The beloved bear is brought to the big screen by Paul King's charming adaptation

Ever since his creation in 1958 by author Michael Bond generations of children have grown up with Paddington Bear, so writer-director Paul King (The Mighty Boosh, Bunny and the Bull) faced no small task in bringing the hirsute hero to the big screen. By…

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Hockney

24 Nov 20144 stars

Warm, insightful documentary from Randall Wright examining the celebrated artist

Britain’s most enduringly popular modern artist, David Hockney, has been the subject of many documentaries, including one made for TV by this film's director Randall Wright in 2003 (David Hockney: Secret Knowledge). None could claim to be as intimate…

Concerning Violence

24 Nov 20144 stars

A smart, passionate essay film from Göran Olsson, narrated by Lauryn Hill

This sobering, important and expertly curated documentary details Africa's hard-fought liberation from colonial rule in the 60s and 70s. Narrated by the musician Lauryn Hill and directed by Göran Olsson, the viewer is taken through nine definitive…

Horrible Bosses 2

24 Nov 20142 stars

Limp sequel teaming Bateman and co with newbies Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz

Like its title, this sequel to Seth Gordon’s 2011 comedy lacks imagination. The first 30 minutes or so are particularly uninspiring as we catch up with Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day) and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), the trio of white-collar dudes…

What We Do in the Shadows

17 Nov 20144 stars

Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi helm a killer comedy about a vampire flat-share

'When you get three vampires in a flat obviously there’s going to be a lot of tension,' dryly observes 862-year-old Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), who shares a house with 18th Century dandy Viago (Taika Waititi) and self-proclaimed bad boy Deacon…

David Bowie Is

17 Nov 20143 stars

Docu-tour leading us through the V&A's acclaimed tribute to an incomparable performer

If you were one of the unlucky thousands who couldn’t get tickets for last year’s sublime David Bowie exhibition at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, this curio gives you a little taste of what you missed. In truth, it’s a bizarre idea – a docu-tour…

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Get On Up

17 Nov 20144 stars

Exhilarating James Brown biopic featuring a barnstorming Chadwick Boseman

One word perfectly describes Tate Taylor’s James Brown biopic: funky. The ‘Godfather of Soul’ was such a force of nature, anything less than a toe-tapping, booty-shaking, yeow of a movie would’ve done him a disservice. Thankfully, Taylor (who made The…

The Homesman

17 Nov 20144 stars

Striking, desperately sad western directed by and starring Tommy Lee Jones

Since Clint Eastwood hung up his holster those of us who love westerns thank Tommy Lee Jones for keeping the genre alive. That's not to say his second directorial effort, eight years after his fine debut The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, is any…

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

17 Nov 20144 stars

Jennifer Lawrence remains a girl on fire in the penultimate part of the dystopian saga

After Harry Potter and Twilight, carving two films from the final book in a series has become an unwelcome Hollywood trend. And so it goes with The Hunger Games, which stretches the last book in Suzanne Collins’ dystopian YA trilogy into a two part…

Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy

17 Nov 20144 stars

A Twitter inspired Thai love story from director Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit

'Love stories are hard to write,' muses the central character in Thai director Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit’s second film Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy. This is itself a love story of sorts, however, like Thamrongrattanarit’s highly impressive debut 36…

No Good Deed

17 Nov 20142 stars

Derivative thriller starring, and squandering the talented Idris Elba and Taraji P Henson

A leaden entry in the home invasion stakes, No Good Deed's box office success in the US is presumably due to a lack of comparable cinematic competition, as there's nothing to distinguish TV director Sam Miller's pedestrian effort from scores of…

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White Reindeer

12 Nov 20143 stars

An interesting alternative to generic Christmas movies starring Anna Margaret Hollyman

A quirky low budget indie drama, Suzanne Barrington's (Anna Margaret Hollyman) December gets off to a particularly traumatic start. This tragedy sets off a series of unusual encounters as this seemingly prim and proper real estate agent veers out of…

We Are The Giant

11 Nov 20144 stars

Frontline tales from the Arab Spring brought together by director Greg Barker

A small girl sings a song of hope and freedom in the street, just as an explosion wreaks havoc around her. A peace activist interrupts a downbeat interview about whether nonviolent protest has been unsuccessful when a shell rocks the street outside. And…

Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?!

10 Nov 20142 stars

Suitably silly but gratingly repetitive third instalment of the Nativity series

Though the title (a play of course on Dude, Where’s My Car?) may suggest the darker theme of drug-taking amongst tiny tykes over the difficult Christmas period, it is in fact – somewhat thankfully – the name of a terrible song which features in the…

Diplomacy

10 Nov 20144 stars

A slice of scintillating history from Volker Schlöndorff, starring Niels Arestrup

Director Volker Schlöndorff created a masterpiece with his 1979 adaptation of Günter Grass's novel The Tin Drum; having made a definitive anti-war film, it's surprising to see him return to the subject some 35 years later. However Diplomacy quickly…

Life Itself

10 Nov 20144 stars

Steve James takes a loving look at the life and legacy of Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert did a lot for film criticism: he promoted small films and reviewed with Midwestern honesty. Life Itself, a warm-hearted and artful documentary by filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams), is a loving look at Ebert’s life as perhaps the most…