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 career. To celebrate Welles’ centenary, Chuck Workman’s Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles (2015) gives us […]

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 projected on their Cinematographe device in Paris’s Grand Café Boulevard des Capucines in 1895 – with a grandiose “Let […]

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 the film’s ardent reflexivity, also describes the film itself. He’s speaking to his romantic foil, Kimberly (Emmy Rossum), who […]

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 him into a tragic icon. With Amy (2015) – which premieried at Cannes and is released int he UK […]

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 history and literature and uses them to metaphorically wander through a social dusk, taking one last look at the […]

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 from the perennially ambitious brother and sister duo Andy and Lana Wachowski, writer-directors of The Matrix (1999) and the […]

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 where shows like True Detective and Game Of Thrones dominate our viewing time. The BBC, once a home to […]

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 its shape-shifting alien lurking amidst the blank spaces of Antarctica. With a similarly unspecific title, David Robert Mitchell’s It […]

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 patriarch Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke), on holiday with his family at a luxury French ski resort, implodes when he comes […]

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 age, charting the effects of decades of progression and asks: what is left of the hunter-gatherer in 2015? It’s […]

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 would be to ignore the significance of its message. A rebuke to the misogyny of the music industry, Prince-Bythewood’s […]

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 her debut feature Appropriate Behaviour (2014), which she wrote and directed, she stars as Shirin, a bisexual Iranian-American, going […]