Venice 2017: Our festival highlights

Celebrated American director Alexander Payne’s high concept sci-fi comedy Downsizing will open the 74th Venice International Film Festival (30 August-9 September) in a spot that has become a great launchpad for Oscars success (see Gravity, Birdman and La La Land). Downsizing stars Matt Damon who also turns up in George Continue Reading

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Criterion Review: Stalker

★★★★★ Arguably Andrei Tarkovsky’s finest masterpiece, the Russian director’s 1979 film Stalker is the culmination of a career-long preoccupation with memory, trauma and the relationship between subjective perception and physical reality. Following a mysterious disaster that rendered a small town uninhabitable, the eponymous Stalker (Alexksanr Kaydanovskiy) illegally takes visitors in Continue Reading

Film Review: Dunkirk

★★★★★ June 1940. Four-hundred thousand British soldiers prepare for evacuation from the beaches of Dunkirk. While Privates Alex (Harry Styles), Tommy (Fionn Whitehead), and Gibson (Aneurin Barnard) await rescue, RAF pilot Farrier (Tom Hardy) and pleasure-boat skipper Dawson (Mark Rylance) rush to help their comrades in arms.Opening on the streets Continue Reading

Film Review: Scribe

★★☆☆☆ Blending various influences from the likes of The Conversation, Blow Out and perhaps most closely The Lives of Others by German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Scribe is an efficient, albeit underwhelming evocation of these surveillance thriller masterpieces.Though it does not come close to its lofty aspirations, the film Continue Reading

Film Review: City of Ghosts

★★★★★ Documentary filmmaker Matthew Heineman’s City of Ghosts is a humbling, stunning exposé that focuses on the resistance to oppression embodied by the Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently group of pioneering citizen journalists. From 2012 onwards they have punched a hole through ISIS’s ruthless propaganda to tell the world the Continue Reading

Film Review: Cars 3

★★★☆☆ In what is a marked improvement on its predecessor, Cars 3 – the final part of Pixar’s series about anthropomorphic automobiles – delivers dazzling visuals and an entertaining story, despite a spoon-feeding approach to communicating the usual family-friendly messages.Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) has been racing for years, winning time Continue Reading

Film Review: The Beguiled

★★★★☆ “We need chloroform and water” orders boarding school headmistress Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman), like Mary Poppins getting her charges in order. It’s a surprise she doesn’t say “spit-spot”. It’s this sense of female imperturbability which makes The Beguiled so subversive.Sofia Coppola ditches the wayward sexual politics of Don Siegel’s Continue Reading