Film reviews and more

Month: May 2015

Film Review: ‘Timbuktu’

★★★★☆ “Tire it, don’t kill it,” shouts a hunter to his party as they pursue a gazelle across the desert plain in a jeep. The men let off sporadic shots with the assault rifles they will later use to rip […]

Film Review: ‘Results’

★★★☆☆ Results (2015) – the fifth film from Andrew Bujalski, the director of 2013’s Computer Chess – takes a while to find itself. Once it does, it’s revealed to be a funny, well observed and quite touching adult romantic comedy […]

Film Review: ‘Man Up’

★★☆☆☆ A forcedly feel-good British rom-com starring the quirkily charming Lake Bell and frenetic Simon Pegg as its screwball couple, Man Up (2015) falls surprisingly flat. Even the strained efforts of its talented lead actors fail to redeem the pitfalls […]

Film Review: ‘The Dead Lands’

★★★☆☆ There’s much to be said for genre films that strip things back to their fundamental elements and hit the ground running, shorn of all contrivances and elaborate special effects. Whilst much is going on in Toa Fraser’s The Dead […]

Film Review: ‘Danny Collins’

★★☆☆☆ “I was the real thing once” claims the title character in Dan Fogelman’s misfiring dramedy Danny Collins (2015). Played by Al Pacino (who else?), Collins was a once-promising folk singer who has leveraged his talent against a bleach-blonde trophy […]

Film Review: ‘The Connection’

★★★☆☆ While a fellow adaptation rather than a remake, The Connection (with the rather pleasing alternative title of La French in its homeland) will not escape comparisons with The French Connection (1971), William Friedkin’s classic based on a different part […]

DVD Review: ‘Testament of Youth’

★★★★☆ James Kent’s magnificent feature debut Testament of Youth (2014), based on Vera Brittain’s bestselling memoir about the First World War, is a real tearjerker that should move male and female audiences alike and appeal to fans of Joe Wright’s […]

DVD Review: ‘Polish Cinema Classics Vol.III’

★★★★☆ “Polish films are… boring…” claims Engineer Mamon in Marek Piwowski’s The Cruise (1970), widely considered the country’s original ‘cult’ film. A tongue-in-cheek microcosm of the Communist state in which it was produced, it sits perfectly within the third volume […]

Blu-ray Review: ‘Paper Moon’

★★★★☆ In LCD Soundsystem’s Losing My Edge, James Murphy charts the history of alternative music and places himself at every key scene along the way (“I was there at the first Suicide practices in a loft in New York City”) […]

DVD Review: ‘Gente de Bien’

★★★★☆ There are a number of key scenes in Columbian director Franco Lolli’s superb Gente de Bien (2014) – a playful title that means both ‘Decent People’ and ‘Well-off People’ – where it feels like it was written as a […]

Blu-ray Review: ‘Chaplin’s Mutual Comedies’

★★★★★ Signing a contract with a distributor rather than a studio might appear to be a very modern course of action for a star to take. But Charles Chaplin, the pioneer that he was, did such a thing way back […]

Kinoteka 2015: ‘The Promised Land’ review

★★★★★ It has been sixty years since the release of Andrzej Wajda’s first film, Generation (1955), and in that time he has directed over fifty more. 1975’s The Promised Land, which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the […]

Kinoteka 2015: ‘The Last Day of Summer’ review

★★★★☆ Novelist turned filmmaker Tadeusz Konwicki excelled at crafting an atmosphere of the otherworldly on the screen. Though 1965’s Jump may be more widely known and highly regarded, a similar milieu pervades The Last Day of Summer (1958), Konwici’s first […]

Kinoteka 2015: ‘Austeria’ review

★★★★☆ There’s a moment of cinematic perfection around forty minutes into Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s Austeria (1981). It’s an instant of the kind of visual poetry that enlivens the medium in the viewer’s mind and reminds us of the simple potency that […]

Kinoteka 2015: ‘Ashes and Diamonds’ review

★★★★★ In 1956 there was a seismic political shift in Poland known variously as the Polish Thaw or Polish October. The Stalinist period ended and the entire country went through a process of comparable liberalisation that naturally extended to the […]

Cannes 2015: ‘The Wakhan Front’ review

★★★☆☆ A black dog lopes through an apparently empty camp amidst a lifeless landscape. This eerie intro to Clément Cogitore’s fascinatingly spooky The Wakhan Front (2015) recalls a dustier, low-key version of John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982). Playing in the […]

Cannes 2015: ‘The Treasure’ review

★★★☆☆ Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu won the Un Certain Regard prize back in 2009 with his black comedy Police, Adjective. This year he entered the competition and picked up the Un Certain Talent prize with The Treasure (2015), a similarly […]

Cannes 2015: ‘Rams’ review

★★★★☆ A story of filial rivalry in a remote valley in Iceland, Grímur Hákonarson’s second narrative feature Rams (Hrútar, 2015) begins as an oddball comedy about sheep farming and grows slowly into a tale of elemental and moving power, deservingly […]