DVD Review: Aferim!

★★★★☆ Radu Jude’s Everybody in Our Family (2012) was a critically revered, yet criminally little-seen comic satire about the fragile fabric of contemporary Romanian society. Jude’s follow-up Aferim! (2015) marks a noticeably tonal, if not entirely thematic, departure from the intimacy and immediacy of his previous work. Set in the southern Romanian region of Wallachia, in…

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…

Film Review: ‘Tangerine’

★★★★☆ An acerbically funny yet emotionally engaging film about friendship and the surprising alliances that arise in marginalised America, Sean Baker’s Tangerine (2015) is a riotously entertaining portrait of life on the streets of LA. Baker has cultivated something of a reputation for telling conventional stories about unconventional characters, from an illegal Chinese immigrant struggling…

Film Review: ‘Steve Jobs’

★★★★☆ Since its announcement, press interest surrounding the latest film about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has been dominated by its writer Aaron Sorkin, who has dutifully offers a rich and textured screenplay. Contrastingly, its director Danny Boyle provides only the lightest of touches, with this refreshing biopic largely absent of his typical stylistic devices. There’s…

Film Review: ‘The Fear of 13’

★★★★☆ An irrational fear of the number thirteen is not a concept that many will be familiar with. Unlucky or not, the word in of itself held no particular meaning for convicted murderer Nick but is representative of the process of learning, self-education and personal enlightenment he achieved through a voracious appetite for books while…

Film Review: ‘Brooklyn’

★★★★☆ John Crowley’s Brooklyn (2015) is based on a novel of the same name by Colm Tóibín, a man considered by many to be the finest writer Ireland has produced since John Banville. His novel has, however, been digested by Nick Hornby, who produced the screenplay. In the process, it has been stripped of any…

Film Review: ‘The Program’

★★★☆☆ Standing in front of a mirror, a man repeats the phrase, “I have never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.” His intonation and inflection changes but his eyes remain piercing, emotionless and glacially cold. Pauses for effect are added, differing facial expressions are selected, each one conveying a slightly altered emotion, as if picking a…

Film Review: ‘The Lobster’

★★★☆☆ There were few films at Cannes this year with as strange a central premise Yorgos Lanthimos’ first English language offering The Lobster (2015), written with his long-standing collaborator Efthymis Filippou. Bearing the macabre tone of his previous works Dogtooth (2008) and Alps (2011), Lanthimos plants the audience in a bizarre world where being single…

Film Review: ‘Censored Voices’

★★★☆☆ 1967’s Six-Day War provides the setting for Censored Voices (2015), an arresting oral account of the conflict from the mouths of soldiers fresh from the battlefield; though one that never pushes its subject as far as it might. In a similar vein to recent docs like Liz Garbus’ Love, Marilyn (2012) and Vanessa Lupa’s…

Film Review: ‘Beasts of No Nation’

★★★★☆ There’s a scene halfway through Cary Fukunaga’s adaptation of Uzodinma Iweala’s harrowing novel Beasts of No Nation (2015) – currently in select cinemas and on Netflix from 16 October – where a mother and her daughter are dragged from their hiding places, raped and killed while our protagonist Agu (a stunning performance from Abraham…

London 2015: ‘Something Better to Come’ review

★★★★☆ “Doomed to the dump for the rest of our lives. That is our reality.” This statement, spoken by a girl of just 14, may sound portentous but it exemplifies the perpetual suffering of the woebegone subjects of Something Better to Come (2014). Director Hanna Polak tried to give a voice to the disenfranchised children…

London 2015: ‘My Golden Days’ review

★★★★☆ Arnaud Desplechin’s My Golden Days (2015) follows Paul Dédalus (Quentin Dolmaire) on a path through adolescence into adulthood, as told by his older self (Mathieu Amalric). Paul is reminiscent of those teenagers embodied by a youthful John Cusack – a twinkle in his eye, too smart for his own good but above all forthright…