Film Review: Anomalisa

★★★★★ Charlie Kaufman and Duke Jones’ Anomalisa is a deep, witty and moving portrait of alienation filmed in stop-motion animation. It’s quite unlike anything else shown at Venice, or anywhere else for that matter, but if it helps: imagine Aardman Animation doing a Philip K. Dick adaptation. “What is it to be human?” asks Michael…

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…

Venice 2015: ‘From Afar’ wins Golden Lion

The red carpet has been walked upon, the Spritz has been supped and the lion has roared. This year’s Golden Lion selection is yet another surprise choice, the perfectly serviceable but by no means extraordinary Venezuelan-set drama From Afar, which follows the unlikely relationship between a maker of false teeth and a Caracas street tough….

Venice 2015: ‘From Afar’ review

★★★☆☆ Winner of the prestigious Golden Lion at Venice this year, Lorenzo Vigas’ debut film From Afar (2015) is a tightly controlled tale of quiet desperation and alienation set in present day Venezuela. Armando (Pablo Larraín muse Alfredo Castro) is a well-off small businessman with a false teeth business who regularly cruises the streets of…

Venice 2015: ‘Remember’ review

★★★☆☆ When it comes to the Holocaust, remembering is a serious matter: a moral imperative in fact. However, as the years pass, living memory inevitably diminishes with the death of the survivors, witnesses and the perpetrators. That which must not be forgotten, never forgotten, eventually will be. Life becomes history. In Canadian director Atom Egoyan’s…

Venice 2015: ‘Janis: Little Girl Blue’ review

★★★☆☆ This has been the year of the tragic music star documentary. Brett Morgen’s Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015) might have underwhelmed but Asif Kapadia’s Amy (2015), which premièred at Cannes, was a powerful demonstration of how the form could reveal previously unsuspected depths of emotion behind the tabloid headlines. Tragic chanteuse Janis Joplin has…

Venice 2015: ‘Go With Me’ review

★☆☆☆☆ Daniel Alfredson’s appallingly bland backwoods drama Go With Me (2015) stars Anthony Hopkins as ex-logger Lester, who comes to the aid of harassed waitress Lillian (Julia Stiles). While Lester spends his evenings making garden ornaments in memory of his dead wife, Lillian is redecorating her dead mother’s house. Trouble lurks in the hedgerows via…

Venice 2015: ‘For Your Love’ review

★★☆☆☆ Following a Malickian break between films – his debut Round the Moons Between Earth and Sea was released in 1997 – Giuseppe M. Gaudino tells with For Your Love (2015), the final entry to compete for the Golden Lion at the 72nd Venice Film Festival, a tale of ordinary madness told in an extraordinary…

Venice 2015: ‘Behemoth’ review

★★★★☆ China is the largest coal consumer in the world. The electricity derived from the coal-fuelled power stations drives the huge economic growth of the past decades. At the current rate of consumption it looks unlikely that the coalfields, which contain 13% of the coal in the world, will last much longer. The environmental and…

Venice 2015: ‘Light Years’ review

★★☆☆☆ “What do you miss about mum?” Rose (Zamira Fuller) the youngest daughter of three asks her father, Dee (Muhammet Uzuner). “I used to swim in her wake,” he says. Screening in the Critic’s Week sidebar at the Venice Film Festival, British writer director Esther Campbell’s first feature Light Years (2015) is a meditation on…

Venice 2015: ‘Blood of My Blood’ review

★★★☆☆ Italian director Marco Bellocchio makes his return with Blood of My Blood (2015), another typically anomalous effort being theme rather than plot-driven. Divided into two distinct parts, it’s bound together by recurring actors and the vampiric Count Basta (Roberto Herlitzka). The first half of the film is set in the 17th century and tells…

Venice 2015: ‘Neon Bull’ review

★★★★☆ Debuting in the Orizzonti sidebar at this year’s 72nd Venice Film Festival, August Winds (2014) director Gabriel Mascaro’s Neon Bull (2015) tells a bizarre and sensuous story of a team of bull handlers in a remote corner of Brazil. They go from town to town in a large HGV with the bulls which they…