Film reviews and more

Month: August 2014

Venice 2014: ‘Three Hearts’ review

★★☆☆☆ Director Benoît Jacquot returns to the Venice Lido with Three Hearts (2014), a slickly presented and thespy relationship drama which flounders on its own lack of originality, humourlessness and absence of credibility. Marc (Benoît Poelvoorde, in his second film of the festival), a tax inspector from Paris, misses his train and finds himself trapped in a provincial town […]

Venice 2014: ‘Far From Men’ review

★★★★★ Adapted from the Albert Camus short story The Guest, David Oelhoffen’s second feature Far From Men (2014), a handsomely shot drama set during the Algerian War of Independence, joined the race for the Golden Lion at Venice 2014. Following his Spanish language Cannes entry Jauja (2014) earlier this year, multi-lingual Viggo Mortensen essays the role of Algerian-born Frenchman […]

Venice 2014: ‘Manglehorn’ review

★★★☆☆ David Gordon Green has to have one of the most eclectic directorial résumés of recent times. From stoner comedies like Pineapple Express (2008) and Your Highness (2011) to his work on hit TV show Eastbound & Down and striking debut George Washington (2000), Green has graduated into spiky character studies of Americans leading lives of quiet and not […]

Venice 2014: ‘In the Basement’ review

★★☆☆☆ When Ulrich Seidl unveiled plans to make a documentary on everyday Austrians and their relationships with their basements, almost everyone jumped to the conclusion that this would be about Joseph Fritzl. In the Basement (2014), which screened out of competition at the Venice Film Festival this week, makes no mention of Fritzl, even though the very idea of […]

Venice 2014: ‘She’s Funny That Way’ review

★★★★☆ Old-fashioned Hollywood pizazz arrived at the Venice Film Festival this year in the form of Peter Bogdanovich’s delightful, zinger-filled farce She’s Funny That Way (2014). Owen Wilson stars as protag Arnold Patterson, a director preparing a play for Broadway. The night before casting begins, Arnold – using the name Dennis – calls up an escort agency and gets […]

Venice 2014: ’99 Homes’ review

★★★★☆ Festival favourite Ramin Bahrani returns to the Venice Lido with 99 Homes (2014), a dramatic thriller set at the sharp-end of the housing crisis. The very first shot shows that there is blood on the bathroom walls of America. The recent economic travails are not just some victimless white collar larks – Margin Call style – but rather […]

Venice 2014: ‘Tales’ review

★★★☆☆ Entering the race for the prestigious Golden Lion prize at this year’s 71st Venice Film Festival, Iranian director Rakhshan Bani-Etemad’s Tales (Ghesse-ha, 2014) presents the interlocking lives of several disparate Iranians trying to make sense of modern day Iran; imagine a Shortcuts set in Tehran and with a predominantly female cast. A documentary filmmaker takes a late night […]

Venice 2014: ‘The Price of Fame’ review

★☆☆☆☆ When Charlie Chaplin died on Christmas Day in 1977, the whole world paid tribute to the passing of a comic genius. However, two down-on-their luck, unemployed immigrants living in Switzerland saw his passing as an opportunity – the answer to all their problems – and hatched a plan to dig up and steal his coffin and then hold […]

Film Review: ‘Obvious Child’

★★★★☆ The label of ‘abortion rom-com’ doesn’t necessarily scream box office success. However, director Gillian Robespierre doesn’t care what you think. Her debut feature, Obvious Child (2014), aims to confront life’s uncomfortable truths. From the moment Donna (Jenny Slate) begins her stand-up routine with an anecdote about vaginal discharge, you know you’re in for something different. Stand-up has recently […]

Film Review: ‘Night Moves’

★★★★☆ The films of Kelly Reichardt have often explored the relationship between people and their environment – whether in tune or fatally at odds. Like a polar opposite to the autumnal flow of Old Joy (2006), the director’s latest delves into the ambiguous world of fanatical environmentalism in a location ubiquitous with her oeuvre, Oregon. Where as her previous […]

Film Review: ‘Million Dollar Arm’

★★★☆☆ Only an actor with as much natural charisma as Mad Men star Jon Hamm (who plays ad man Donald Draper in the hit AMC show) could make a money-centric, hard-balling sports agent look appealing, and this is exactly what he does in Disney’s Million Dollar Arm (2014). Based on a true-story and directed by Craig Gillespie, Hamm stars […]

Venice 2014: ‘Messi’ review

★☆☆☆☆ Messi (2014), a new film about diminutive Argentinian football icon Lionel Messi, has all the ingredients for a great sports documentary. A mass of archive material has been made available to director Álex de la Iglesia, apparently provided by Messi’s constantly videotaping father, there are interviews with influential figures in the player’s life including FC Barcelona team mates […]