Film reviews and more

Venice 2019: Joker has last laugh with Golden Lion win

In what has to be one of the crazier award ceremonies to grace the Venice Lido on its 76th edition, Todd Phillips’ Joker took home this year’s Golden Lion in a move guaranteed to provoke a flood of hot takes, an avalanche of think pieces and further lubrication for Oscars season. It was a surprise but not exactly unthinkable. […]

Venice 2019: Saturday Fiction review

★★★★☆ Suzhou River director Lou Ye’s wartime espionage thriller Saturday Fiction starts as a mysterious murky mess and resolves itself into a bullet-riddled noir. We first meet Jean Yu (Gong Li) in Shanghai circa 1937 as she is rehearsing a play – the titular Saturday Fiction – with director/lead actor Tan Na (Mark Chao). The play is already about […]

Venice 2019: The Domain review

★★★★☆ Tiago Guedes’ latest The Domain dissects a wealthy Portuguese family in the second half of the 20th century as a libertarian young patriarch struggles with duty, family, politics and his own personal destructive freedom. We’re in Portugal 1943, and a father shows his young son the swinging corpse of his older brother who has hung himself on a tree in […]

Venice 2019: The King review

★★★☆☆ The story of Henry V gets a revisionist, Netflix-backed interpretation from Animal Kingdom director David Michôd as a floppy-haired Timothée Chalamet goes boldly into the breach once more in Venice out-of-competition offering The King. “All hail the king,” proclaim the posters dotted around the Lido for Michôd’s latest. It’s an audacious move, dramatising a figure who has been […]

Venice 2019: The Laundromat review

★★★☆☆ Do you remember when Steven Soderbergh retired from filmmaking? That was approximately five films and two television series ago. There’s a looseness to his new Netflix-bound Panama Papers takedown The Laundromat that, for both better or worse, smacks of an OAP not giving a tinker’s cuss. Meryl Streep stars as Ellen Martin, herself a retiree, who is on a […]

Venice 2019: Ema review

★★★☆☆ Ema (Mariana Di Girólamo) is a young dancer with a Daenerys Targaryen bleach job and a love of Reggaeton. She’s also a bit of a pyromaniac. The first shot we see in Pablo Larraín’s new film Ema is of a stoplight burning, set on fire by Ema with her flamethrower. The image is a searing warning for the […]

Venice 2019: An Officer and a Spy review

★★★☆☆ The Dreyfus Affair is chronicled as a turn of the century espionage thriller worthy of Le Carré in Roman Polanski’s An Officer and a Spy. There was a good chance that his film could have been withdrawn after the head of the jury Lucrecia Martel let rip with her own dissatisfaction at the film being included in the […]

Film Review: Ad Astra

★★☆☆☆ It’s the near future: a time of “conflict and hope”, according to the first title cards of James Gray’s latest offering, the space drama Ad Astra. Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) is an unflappable astronaut with ice in his veins, and whose pulse doesn’t redline even as he falls to Earth from the upper reaches of the atmosphere. A mysterious […]

Venice 2019: Jokers, Kings and everyone in-between

As the 76th edition of Venice commenced this week, the oldest film festival in the world has entered some choppy waters. First of all, there was a Hollywood Reporter article that slammed Venice as the “Fuck you” festival, essentially ignoring the #MeToo movement and the calls for gender representation which even Cannes has been slowly responding to. Alberto Barbera […]

Venice 2018: Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma wins Golden Lion

The winner of last year’s Golden Lion for The Shape of Water, Guillermo Del Toro joked “Let me see if I can pronounce this,” before announcing to very few peoples’ surprise that Alfonso Cuarón had won Venice’s top prize for his sumptuous memoir of childhood, Roma. In his speech, he pointed out the serendipity that today was also the […]

Venice 2018: Vox Lux review

★★★★★ We’ve already had A Star Is Born here at Venice. Now, with Brady Corbet’s latest film Vox Lux, we have A Star Is Torn – a truly unique power-pop epic starring Natalie Portman as the mononymous singer Celeste, whose rise to fame is intertwined with other tragic trajectories. Corbet originally caught our attention with the superb The Childhood of […]

Venice 2018: Dragged Across Concrete review

★★☆☆☆ S. Craig Zahler falls between ever-widening stools with his brutal new crime drama Dragged Across Concrete, which might have been more representative of the viewing experience had it been called Dragged Slowly Across Concrete. Recently-released criminal Henry Johns (Tory Kittles) returns home to find his mother hooking to pay for drugs. Meanwhile two cops, Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and […]