Film, Reviews

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Cinderella

23 Mar 20154 stars

Kenneth Branagh helms a lavish rendition of the fairytale, starring Cate Blanchett

After delivering the likes of Maleficent, Snow White and the Huntsman and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, commercial cinema has finally woken up to the idea that audiences don’t always want their fairytales spiced-up and rejigged. Kenneth Branagh’s…

Home

16 Mar 20152 stars

Irksome animation featuring the voices of Jim Parsons and Jennifer Lopez

The DreamWorks Animation brand has recently delivered some notable misses (Rise of the Guardians, Mr Peabody & Sherman) alongside its hits and Home is a painful example of a studio going once-too-often to a well that’s running rather dry. Director Tim…

Fast & Furious 7

30 Mar 20153 stars

The franchise's latest insane instalment adds Jason Statham to the mix

In Fast & Furious 6 a character was afflicted with amnesia in a bid to reboot the romance. If that suggested that the filmmakers were running out of ideas then the continued, not inconsiderable, presence of Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and the casting of…

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

23 Mar 20153 stars

Fun cinematic return for the animated TV star, featuring Antonio Banderas

Life in Bikini Bottom is chugging along as usual for our animated hero SpongeBob (voiced by Tom Kenny). Plankton (Mr Lawrence) is still determined to steal the secret recipe for the delicious Krabby Patties, launching a major attack on the Krusty Krab.

I Used to Live Here

30 Mar 20154 stars

Frank Berry's riveting drama explores the effect of suicide on a Dublin community

Previously lauded for his documentary Ballymun Lullaby, Frank Berry initially intended to make I Used to Live Here as a non-fiction film. In choosing to not do so, the writer-director has achieved a rare feat: his first narrative feature is both an…

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The Water Diviner

30 Mar 20153 stars

Earnest drama which finds Russell Crowe behind as well as in front of the camera

While any director who chooses to end a film on his own smiling face clearly needs reining in, Russell Crowe’s directorial debut is a well-mounted and surprisingly assured piece of historical drama. Looking into the aftermath of World War I, Crowe…

Get Hard

25 Mar 20153 stars

Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart pair up for a rollercoaster of a race relations comedy

Race relations are placed under a comic spotlight, but Blazing Saddles this ain't. When innocent hedge fund exec James King (Will Ferrell) finds out that he is being sent to prison for fraud, he assumes car-wash owner Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart) can…

Seventh Son

23 Mar 20153 stars

Julianne Moore and Jeff Bridges enliven a thoroughly daft fantasy

'Help yourself to the blood-cakes, little one,' coolly enjoins Julianne Moore as witch Mother Malkin in Sergei Bodrov’s demented fantasy. Such ripe dialogue abounds as Moore and Jeff Bridges struggle valiantly to make sense of an effects-heavy…

The Divergent Series: Insurgent

16 Mar 20152 stars

Underwhelming adaptation of the second in Veronica Roth's YA trilogy

Those who found Divergent one young adult dystopia too far will find little in Robert Schwentke's sequel to lessen bewilderment. The walled, post-apocalyptic version of Chicago where society is regimented into five factions is now at war, with the Big…

Something Must Break

30 Mar 20152 stars

Well-intentioned but overwrought transgender drama from Ester Martin Bergsmark

An unconventional love story set in Stockholm’s LGBT scene, transgender filmmaker Ester Martin Bergsmark’s first narrative feature joins recent movies like Let the Right One In, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Force Majeure and Roy Andersson's 'Living…

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The Dark Horse

30 Mar 20154 stars

Cliff Curtis astounds in a nuanced biopic of chess champion Genesis Potini

His presence in films like The Piano, Once Were Warriors and Whale Rider has made Cliff Curtis into a mark of quality for everything that is good in New Zealand cinema. The Dark Horse is no exception to that rule; Curtis gives the performance of his…

Suite Française

9 Mar 20153 stars

Michelle Williams enters into a dangerous liaison in Saul Dibb's wartime drama

Briefly touched on in the end credits, the story behind Suite Française is fascinating. It's based on the novellas by Irène Némirovsky whose work was discovered in a notebook by one of her daughters some 50 years after her death in Auschwitz, becoming a…

Kidnapping Freddy Heineken

30 Mar 20152 stars

Anthony Hopkins distinguishes himself in an otherwise curdled caper

The true story of the 1983 kidnapping in the Netherlands of the chairman and heir of the Heineken brewing company, which resulted in the largest ransom ever paid for an individual, is told here in the language of the superficial, blokey caper movie.

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

16 Mar 20154 stars

Beautiful, feminist animation from Studio Ghibli's Isao Takahata

Not every little girl aspires to be a princess. Something that’s important to keep in mind while watching Isao Takahata’s feminist-slanted adaptation of an old Japanese folktale, 'The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter'. What may be Takahata’s last Studio Ghibli…

Run All Night

10 Mar 20153 stars

Liam Neeson has yet more men to find and kill in this serviceable actioner

The Liam Neeson actioner has become a sub-genre of its own, invariably delivering exactly what it says on the tin, which is 'Liam Kicks Ass'. He still looks the part, too, so we are content to watch him keep doing what he’s doing. Run All Night is third…

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Robot Overlords

23 Mar 20152 stars

Derivative British sci-fi adventure featuring Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson

The worldwide popularity of young adult franchises The Hunger Games and Divergent certainly hasn't escaped the attention of UK filmmakers. After Kevin Macdonald’s How I Live Now mined the dystopian sci-fi seam, Robot Overlords – from Northern Irish…

Altman

30 Mar 20154 stars

Brisk yet insightful documentary celebrating the legendary American filmmaker

Robert Altman remains the very definition of a maverick filmmaker. He worked inventively with the resources of big Hollywood studios when such a thing was possible, and made the most of the greater creative freedoms that came with the smaller budgets of…

Wild Card

18 Mar 20151 star

Messy, misjudged actioner from Simon West, starring Jason Statham

Jason Statham has gravitated towards certain types of characters to such a degree that his name has become cinematic shorthand for 'thug with a heart of gold'. His latest, Nick Wild, is cast from exactly the same mould, but operates in an environment so…

Dior and I

23 Mar 20153 stars

Low-key, engaging documentary focusing on the iconic fashion house

There has been a small glut of fashion documentaries over recent years, and director Frédéric Tcheng has been involved with some of the best of them: he co-directed, wrote and edited the wonderful Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, and co-edited…

The Face of an Angel

23 Mar 20153 stars

Michael Winterbottom uses a real-life murder case as a springboard for drama

After sending funny men Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon munching their way around Italy for TV series / film The Trip to Italy, prolific British director Michael Winterbottom stays in the region for his latest movie. This, however, is anything but comedy…

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The Gunman

16 Mar 20152 stars

Clumsy thriller which reinvents Sean Penn as an action star

Sean Penn is not an actor known for vanity projects. But there’s no other way to describe this risible thriller, produced by the man himself. Directed by Pierre Morel, who gave Liam Neeson a career injection as an ageing action star in Taken, it would…

Far from the Madding Crowd R/I (1967)

9 Mar 20155 stars

Reissue of John Schlesinger's enchanting interpretation of Thomas Hardy's novel

Rightly or wrongly, the expression 'period drama' has become synonymous with spiritedly performed but staidly directed TV adaptations and unadventurous films. John Schlesinger's 1967 interpretation of Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd could…

The Signal

23 Mar 20153 stars

Promising indie sci-fi with Laurence Fishburne and Brenton Thwaites

US indie sci-fi has been booming since Colin Trevorrow went from directing Safety Not Guaranteed to being handed the reins of Jurassic World. William Eubank’s The Signal might seem like just another entry for the ongoing pile of lo-fi, stargazing fare…

The Voices

16 Mar 20154 stars

Ryan Reynolds plays a blinder in this entertaining comedy horror

'The cat made me do it!' exclaims Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) at one point in Marjane Satrapi’s visually striking comedy horror and to his mind he’s not lying. Jerry hears voices. His regular conversations with his cat and dog are comforting to him and, if…

Dark Summer

16 Mar 20153 stars

Paul Solet is at the helm of an intermittently scary but rather po-faced horror

A teen horror with an indie movie aesthetic and a self-consciously solemn vibe, Paul Solet's Dark Summer has promising elements at the outset: a distinctly creepy protagonist with whom it’s uncomfortable to have one’s sympathies aligned; and a pertinent…