Film reviews and more

Month: October 2016

DVD Review: The World of Kanako

★★☆☆☆ Punctuated with kind of casual bursts of grim violence which will be familiar to anyone versed in Asian extreme cinema, The World of Kanako is a mixed bag of cinematic influences and styles. With opening titles that wouldn’t look out of place in a low-rent 1960s US action TV show, what initially starts out as a ferocious, full-throttle […]

DVD Review: The Neon Demon

★★★★☆ The opening shot of Nicolas Winding Refn’s dreamlike tenth feature The Neon Demon sees Elle Fanning as rosy-cheeked model Jesse draped in macabre glory on a sofa, her throat apparently slit. Blood spools onto the floor as a photographer stares on, snapping away, Jesse’s eyes vacant. There’s a lush, albeit gruesome glory to the shot, made humorous as […]

DVD Review: Kate Plays Christine

★★★★☆ “Nobody sees anyone as she is, let alone an actress playing a troubled young woman 40 years after her death. They see a whole – they see all sorts of things – they see themselves.” This is a flagrant bastardisation of a quote from Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room, but it perfectly encapsulates the needling interrogation that is central […]

DVD Review: Dekalog and Other TV Works

★★★★★ Before the French revolutionary values of liberty, equality and fraternity provided the basis for Polish writer-director Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colours trilogy – the height of his international fame – the Ten Commandments were the starting point for 1988’s Dekalog. Arguably more ambitious than Three Colours, the ten-part series of ordinary people struggling to live up to the Commandments’ […]

Film Review: Train to Busan

★★★★☆ If you want to see the beautiful and highly improbable spectacle of your nearest and dearest in floods of tears at the end of a zombie film, Train to Busan is your ticket. While Sang-ho Yeon’s film doesn’t do anything particularly radical with the rulebook in a way which Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later attempted, it’s able to […]

Film Review: Into the Inferno

★★★☆☆ There’s something deeply unsettling about the unstoppable, magma-like flow of Werner Herzog’s Into the Inferno. Imperceptibly bubbling away in time with the veteran filmmaker’s monotone delivery, and left-field, impenetrable musings on mankind’s interaction with the natural world, this documentary may concern itself with the incendiary hostility of some of Earth’s most dangerous volcanic activity but the tentacled rivulets […]

Film Review: Doctor Strange

★★★★☆ The Marvel Cinematic Universe is an expansive and nebulous place, the riches of which the movies have only really begun to discover. After the scientific and Earth-bound exploits of the Avengers, 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy voyaged to the furthest reaches of space through the eyes of a boy taken from Earth; in their newest film, Doctor Strange, […]

Film Review: Burn Burn Burn

★★★☆☆ “Try not to fuck it up, but don’t worry if you do.” Full of late twenties anguish and uncertainty, this rather tongue in cheek mantra could be applied to many aspects of Chanya Button’s Burn Burn Burn, a film which champions the notion of trying again, and again, if at first you don’t succeed. It’s clear throughout the […]

Film Review: Boyz n the Hood

★★★★☆ “Either they don’t know, don’t show, or don’t care about what’s going on in the hood.” These are the now iconic, and still deeply relevant, words uttered by Ice-Cube’s Doughboy in John Singleton’s timeless drama Boyz n the Hood as he reflects on the struggle of the black community of LA’s Inglewood and Crenshaw. Twenty-five years on from […]

Film Review: After Love

★★★★☆ Joachim Lafosse’s Our Children explored the desperation and unhappiness that can drive a mother to physically harm her own children. Now Lafosse is back with another – marginally lighter – drama about domestic dysfunction, this time featuring Bérénice Bejo and Cédric Kahn as a couple with two daughters (played wonderfully by real-life siblings Jade Soentjens and Margaux Soentjens) […]

Film Africa 2016: Our picks from the programme

Set for its launch with an opening night gala showing of Mandla Dube’s Apartheid-era biopic, Kalushi: The Story of Solomon Mahlungu, Film Africa 2016 is the Royal African Society’s 6th annual celebration of cinema from right across the continent. Narrative film and documentaries from South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana, Chad, Mali and many other nations, tell compelling, insightful and […]

DVD Review: Paris Blues

★★★★☆ Much like the multitude of heady jazz numbers that flow throughout the film, Paris Blues is a cool, breezy and laid-back character-led romantic drama with strong turns by the four likable leads, not least the late, great Paul Newman, effortlessly exuding that trademark piercing blue-eyed intensity and magnetism. The second of five memorable collaborations between director Martin Ritt […]