Film reviews and more

Month: November 2015

DVD Review: ‘Listen to Me Marlon’

★★★★☆ “You’ve got to stop the movement from the popcorn to the mouth,” Marlon Brando says, speaking of the peak of movie acting. “You’ve got to get them to stop chewing.” At his best, Brando could do that. He was a movie actor for who was serially iconic and yet paradoxically detailed in his performances. From Stanley Kowalski in […]

DVD Review: ‘By Our Selves’

★★★☆☆ At the age of just 44, English poet John Clare began to suffer from a severe mental illness which ultimately resulted in him being institutionalised under private care for the rest of his life. He managed, however, one short spell of freedom by absconding from an asylum in Epping Forest and making his way home to Peterborough on […]

DVD Review: ‘Ant-Man’

★★★★☆ Following this year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Ant-Man sees the ubiquitous Marvel Studios getting back to basics and back on form. Where the overall flavour of Marvel’s Phase Two has arguably been one of expanded-universe brand management, Ant-Man feels like a return to the simplicity of the early Marvel films: not since Iron Man (2008) has a Marvel […]

Film Review: My Skinny Sister

★★★★☆ Swedish writer-director Sanna Lenken’s notable debut My Skinny Sister (2015) about a young teenager’s eating disorder is a simple tale given added poignancy by powerful performances from the two leads. Katja (Amy Deasismont) is a promising young figure skater envied and admired by her younger sister Stella (Rebecka Josephson). Katja is beautiful, svelte and talented while 12-year-old Stella […]

Film Review: ‘The Good Dinosaur’

★★★★★ From first-time feature director Peter Sohn, Disney Pixar’s latest The Good Dinosaur is a crowning triumph, blending jaw-dropping photorealistic animation with a heart-wrenchingly beautiful tale of friendship against the odds. When Inside Out was released earlier in the year, many thought that it was a sure bet for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards (with some arguing […]

Film Review: ‘Doctor Zhivago’

★★★★☆ As part of their ongoing Love season and to celebrate 50 years since the film’s release, the BFI have undergone a 4K digital restoration of David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago (1965) – a romance told in the grandest terms, where the tale of passion between two desperate lovers is almost as devastating as its history and its politics. The […]

Film Review: ‘Bridge of Spies’

★★★★★ Cold War espionage-thriller Bridge of Spies (2015) is ‘inspired by true events’, which allows legendary Hollywood director Steven Spielberg a welcome and well-used degree of artistic license. In an eerily quiet opening sequence a quarter worth far more than 25 cents appears, affixed to the underside of a park bench. Wading through the murky waters of a conflict […]

Film Review: ‘Black Mass’

★★★☆☆ Scott Cooper’s real-life crime drama Black Mass (2015) is constantly trying to escape the looming shadow of past gangster cinema triumphs. It all too readily falls into the comfortable tropes of the genre whilst failing to provide a comprehensive and engaging biopic of one of Boston’s most notorious mob bosses. When it bowed at Venice earlier in the […]

Blu-ray Review: ‘Wake Up and Kill’

★★★★☆ Following hot on the heels of the Blu-ray release of Requiescant (1967) comes director Carlo Lizzani’s Wake Up and Kill (1966), based on the true story of infamous jewel thief Luciano Lutring. Dripping in late-1960s Italian cool, Wake Up and Kill prefigures the grimy American crime cinema of the 1970s, feeling like a grubbier, less self-satisfied Á Bout […]

DVD Review: ‘Southpaw’

★★☆☆☆ When the first image for Antoine Fuqua’s Southpaw (2015) was released online of a muscle-bound Jake Gyllenhaal audiences became very excited. The anticipation was in part due to the Gyllenhaal’s remarkable performance as the ghoulish Louis Bloom in Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler (2014). The physical transformation from the wraith-like Bloom to Southpaw‘s central protagonist Billy promised much. In reality, […]

DVD Review: ‘Inside Out’

★★★★☆ Pixar have knocked it out of the park with new film Inside Out (2015), which premièred at Cannes earlier this year. Directors Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen have crafted a cerebral comedy, loaded with smart, witty humour and a great deal of meta-emotional intelligence. The story opens with the birth of Riley. At the same time, Joy […]