#MadeInPrague: Our 2017 festival highlights

The Made in Prague Film Festival (10-19 November) is back in London over the next two weekends. Programmed by the Czech Cultural Centre, new films will be accompanied by the first ever UK retrospective of seminal Czech New Wave filmmaker Jan Němec. Němec was an exciting name in an exciting scene in the 1960s, graduating…

Filmfest Hamburg celebrates 25 years

We were invited to attend Filmfest Hamburg’s bicentennial as guest of the “Come To Hamburg” initiative; a project set up to highlight the city’s hidden treasures through the writing of culture and travel bloggers from around the world.Normally, festivals are exclusive events, organised to create pre-release buzz or to market films lacking distribution deals. Meanwhile,…

#LFF 2017: Three Billboards review

★★★★☆ Following In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, director Martin McDonagh closes this year’s BFI London Film Festival with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a comic thriller about a mother seeking justice for her murdered daughter.Film titles can be lyrical, puzzling or purely literal. Three Billboards is the latter. Frances McDormand plays Mildred Hayes, a mother…

#LFF 2017: You Were Never Really Here review

★★★★★ There was talk that the film wasn’t ready; the score was incomplete; there were no end credits. Thankfully, Cannes and now London usher in Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, a psycho-noir featuring a stunning turn by Joaquin Phoenix.“They tell me you’re a brutal man,” a client says to Joe (Phoenix, sporting full…

#LFF 2017: Loveless review

★★★★★ In 1985, Sting sang: “Believe me when I say to you / I hope the Russians love their children too.” Andrey Zvyagintsev’s masterful Loveless concerns itself with the same question but there’s a hopelessness that Sting’s MOR hit couldn’t hope to come close to.Boris (Alexei Rozin) and Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) are a relatively young…

#LFF 2017: Zama review

★★★★★ Based on Antonio di Benedetto’s 1956 novel, Lucrecia Martel’s Zama is a beguiling, haunting, comic indictment of the ills of colonialism. Centred on the existential woes of a lowly magistrate, it examines the crushing stasis and ultimate evil of empire.An allegorical reckoning of perpetual struggle, recounted to the eponymous Don Diego de Zama (Daniel…

#LFF 2017: The Rider review

★★★★☆ A poetic expression of hopelessness in a land of limited opportunities, Chloé Zhao’s The Rider follows a Bronco-rider from South Dakota as he traverses a fictionalised version of his ill-fated pursuit of a dream that’s galloping away from him.After suffering a near fatal head injury at a rodeo, and learning he might never ride…

#LFF 2017: A Prayer Before Dawn review

★★★★☆ Pulling no punches in telling the true story of Scouse ne’er-do-well Billy Moore’s three years in Bangkok’s infamous Klong Prem Prison, Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s A Prayer Before Dawn wins points for its unerring depiction of the brutality of incarceration. The film is an unflinching, punishing spectacle which drops us in to the thick of a…

#LFF 2017: The Killing of a Sacred Deer review

★★★★☆ Two years on from The Lobster, pioneering Greek Weird Wave director Yorgos Lanthimos returns to the London Film Festival with his 2017 Palme d’Or nominee The Killing of a Sacred Deer, a dark and twisted psychological thriller set in suburban America.The first sight we see is a beating human heart. It looks nothing like…

#LFF 2017: Journeyman review

★★★☆☆ Few British actors can lay claim to the kind of performance which we have come to expect and appreciate from Paddy Considine. Journeyman, which Considine writes, directs and stars in as champion boxer Matty Burton, is further proof of his impressive versatility.Six years on from the near unanimous praise for his directorial debut Tyrannosaur,…

#LFF 2017: The Shape of Water review

★★★★☆ Mexican director Guillermo del Toro won his first Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival with The Shape of Water, a monstrous fairytale about the love between a mute cleaning lady (Sally Hawkins) and a creature from the Black Lagoon.Is anyone making cinema as lusciously beautiful as Guillermo del Toro at the moment?…

#LFF 2017: Princess Cyd review

★★★★★ Billed as the coming-of-age story of an adolescent American teenage girl, Princess Cyd is so much more. Told with tenderness and a perceptive humanist eye by writer-director Stephen Cone, his latest film is an affecting exploration of loss, love and trauma.Disproving any kind of ludicrous notion that a male director is incapable of crafting…