Film Review: Kong: Skull Island

★★☆☆☆ “I’ve taken enough photos of mass graves to recognise one.” The words of Brie Larson’s anti-war photographer, thankfully describing the giant remains of long-dead gorillas rather than the forever-soiled career of herself and her co-stars after a slog on Skull Island. While not quite a terminal misstep for Larson et al, you do wonder…

First Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

★★★★☆ Disney’s well-publicised decision to further expand its newly acquired Star Wars franchise beyond a sequel trilogy with a separate spin-off strand was hardly a revolutionary concept. For years, George Lucas and his acolytes have licensed books, toys and videogames all branching off – or bookending – the original holy trinity. For anyone not already…

DVD Review: ‘Wellington’

★★★★☆ A fitting ode to the late, great Chilean filmmaker Raoul Ruiz (directed by his former editing partner and widow Valeria Sarmiento), it would perhaps be unfavourable to compare the Golden Lion-nominated Lines of Wellington (2012) with Ruiz’s final finished work, the sublime Mysteries of Lisbon (2010). An understandably disruptive production history undoubtedly helps the…

Film Review: ‘8½’

★★★★★ A regular fixture in discussions of cinema’s greatest ever achievements, Federico Fellini’s 8½ (1963) returns to screens this week thanks to European preservationists Argent and the British Film Institute. Regarded by Fellini himself as his eight-and-a-halfth feature (hence the playful, self-referential title), 8½ would go on to be recognised as the Italian auteur’s magnum…

DVD Review: ‘God’s Pocket’

★★★☆☆ The feature debut from Mad Men actor John Slattery (who plays the wonderfully urbane Roger Sterling in the hit AMC show), God’s Pocket (2013) may not share the same air of sophistication as the stylish ad industry ratings winner, but this sleazy tale of small town Joes and two-bit hustlers is easily pulled through by…

DVD Review: ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’

★★★★☆ Memories of Tim Burton’s woeful 2001 Planet of the Apes remake were thankfully replaced with far fonder recollections in 2011 following the release of Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. An earnest entry in the flagging sci-fi franchise and a surprise hit at the international box office, a sequel was quickly…

London 2014: Our guide to this year’s LFF programme

The BFI London Film Festival returns to the nation’s capital for its 58th edition this week (8 October), bringing with it the promise of ten days of cinematic delights for cineastes and casual movie fans alike. Opening this year’s festivities is Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, one of several British biopics with serious award season…

DVD Review: ‘Fruitvale Station’

★★★★☆ Early on New Year’s Day, 2009, 22-year-old Oakland, California resident Oscar Grant was shot in the back by a police officer following a disturbance on a packed train. The incident led to widespread rioting, with the African-American community and its sympathisers in arms against this apparent heinous crime. Even now, Grant’s death remains a…

Film Review: ‘Gone Girl’

★★★☆☆ David Fincher knew exactly what he was getting himself into when he agreed to take on the big-screen adaptation of Gillian Flynn′s bestselling Gone Girl. Like 2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (also based on a popular page-turner), Gone Girl (2014) attempts to marry the innately pulpy sensibilities of its source material with…

Film Review: ‘Maps to the Stars’

★★☆☆☆ David Cronenberg has had a tough time of late. Though his last two efforts, A Dangerous Method (2011) and Cosmopolis (2012), arguably lacked the shocking cut and thrust of his most visceral outings, they were both far from abject failures. Neither is Maps to the Stars (2014), a celebrity satire from the Canadian body…

Film Review: ‘Night Will Fall’

★★★★☆ A conflict rich in inhumane horrors, it was the discovery of Nazi concentration camps by Allied forces as the battle in the European arena drew to its conclusion that remains most potent to this day. In Night Will Fall (2014), directed by The Act of Killing (2012) producer André Singer, we’re provided with a…

Film Review: ‘A Dangerous Game’

★★★★☆ Anthony Baxter’s You’ve Been Trumped was one of the unexpected gems of 2011; a blood-boiling j’accuse at American fat cat Donald Trump and, more specifically, his construction of a luxury golf course for the super-rich on a portion of Aberdeenshire’s vast and pristine coastal sand dunes. Fobbed off by Trump’s cronies at every turn…