Film reviews and more

Month: June 2015

Film Review: ‘Magician’

★★★☆☆ At the age of 25, Orson Welles produced, wrote, directed and starred in Citizen Kane (1941), a film widely considered to be one of the greatest ever made. In many ways, this proved to be the peak of his […]

Film Review: ‘The First Film’

★★★★☆ Gilbert Adair began the first chapter of Flickers (1995), his deeply personal and often eccentric odyssey into the history of the movies – written to mark the centenary of the Lumière brothers’ public exhibition of short films shot and […]

Film Review: ‘Comet’

★★☆☆☆ “A dream of memories; conversations that we’ve had…they weaved in and out of each other like those M.C. Escher drawings.” This is how insufferable protagonist Dell (Justin Long) describes a recent dream in Comet (2014) which, in keeping with […]

Film Review: ‘Amy’

★★★★☆ Bafta-winning British director Asif Kapadia made his name with his brilliant 2012 biographic documentary Senna, which told the story of the young Brazilian race driver whose early death in a crash in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix made […]

DVD Review: ‘Story of My Death’

★★★★☆ The libertine rationalism of pre-revolutionary France is fed to the lions in Albert Serra’s strange and transfixing Story of My Death (2013). A low-lit union of bloody thighs and throats, it plucks two infamous seducers from the annals of […]

DVD Review: ‘Jupiter Ascending’

★★★★☆ Both of the following are true: Jupiter Ascending (2015) is a giddy, sweeping adventure filled with interesting characters and stunning visuals; Jupiter Ascending is a frustrating experience, filled with dead ends, vanishing subplots and too much exposition. Perhaps, coming […]

DVD Review: ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell’

★★★★☆ These days there is such a rich offering of TV dramas that it can be hard to know what to watch and what not to. It can be difficult for new dramas to grab our attention, especially in world […]

DVD Review: ‘It Follows’

★★★★☆ Boiling terror down to essentials can be a winning formula for horror films: the phone call in Scream (1996), or the video tape in The Ring (1998). Perhaps, the best example is John Carpenter’s 1982 remake The Thing, with […]

Interview: Ruben Östlund, ‘Force Majeure’

“Have you cried as an adult?” My question to Ruben Östlund, the director of ice-cold Swedish black comedy Force Majeure (2014), is not as impertinent as it might appear. It’s a reference to a scene of his film in which […]

DVD Review: ‘Force Majeure’

★★★☆☆ What could have easily been a glib provocation turns out to be rigorous examination of masculinity in crisis in the hands of Swedish director Ruben Östlund. Force Majeure (2014) tests the limits (or troughs) of masculinity in the post-liberal […]

DVD Review: ‘Beyond the Lights’

★★★★☆ Tales of impossible love and the trappings of fame and fortune have long been staples of Hollywood cinema. However, to accuse Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Beyond the Lights (2014), a romantic melodrama about the human price of stardom, of being derivative […]

Interview: Desiree Akhaven, ‘Appropriate Behaviour’

“I love Curb Your Enthusiasm. I want to feel just as entitled as any rich, middle aged white man; that’s how entitled I want my protagonist to be.” Desiree Akhaven does not consider herself to be a political filmmaker. In […]

DVD Review: ‘Appropriate Behaviour’

★★★★☆ Joining the latest throng of female filmmakers baring their souls – and bettering their mainstream equivalents – through homegrown autobiographical independent films is the talented Desiree Akhavan, whose debut feature Appropriate Behaviour (2014) is something of a doyenne in […]

Edinburgh 2015: ‘Iona’ review

★★★☆☆ This year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival drew to a close with Iona (2015), Scott Graham’s follow-up to his much praised debut feature Shell (2012). Set against the beautiful, isolated terrain of the titular Scottish island, Iona retains much of […]

Edinburgh 2015: ‘Life May Be’ review

★★★★☆ Two Edinburgh regulars, Mark Cousins and Mania Akbari, have collaborated to produce an insightful film-essay exchange, their differing filmmaking styles bursting with ideas and inspiring new thought in each other in Life May Be (2014). The project was conceived […]

Edinburgh 2015: ’45 Years’ review

★★★★☆ Based on a short story by David Constantine, British director Andrew Haigh’s poignant drama 45 Years (2015) is led by two terrific central performances from Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling. Kate and Geoff are preparing for their forty-fifth wedding […]

Edinburgh 2015: ‘Scottish Mussel’ review

★☆☆☆☆ Talulah Riley takes three tasks in this Scottish rom-com, acting as star, writer and director. Sadly, her feature debut Scottish Mussel (2015) is a vacuous as they come, without so much as a morsel of skill being put on […]

Edinburgh 2015: ‘The Incident’ review

★★☆☆☆ Bafta-winning filmmaker Jane Linfoot makes her feature debut with The Incident (2015), a well-shot yet clinical and emotionally stunted psychological drama that fails to develop into anything particularly gripping. Annabel (Ruta Gedmintas) and her husband Joe (Tom Hughes) relocate […]