Film Review: Alone in Berlin

★★☆☆☆ British actors Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson star as unexpected Nazi resistors Anna and Otto Quangel in Vincent Perez’s Alone in Berlin, adapted from the 1947 novel Each Dies Only for Himself by Hans Fallada, which wasn’t translated into English until 2009.Alone in Berlin tells the story of Anna and Otto’s quiet act of…

Film Review: Fire at Sea

★★★★☆ The adventures and anxieties of a young boy, one who possesses impetuous curiosity and imagination and whose gestures resemble the stature of a much older man, are shown in contrast to the traumatic experiences of migrants seeking refuge on the island of Lampedusa in Fire at Sea. For Golden Bear winner Gianfranco Rosi’s fifth…

Berlin 2016: Genius review

★☆☆☆☆ British theatre director Michael Grandage makes his cinematic debut with Genius, based on A. Scott Berg’s Max Perkins: Editor of Genius and starring an excitable Jude Law as novelist Thomas Wolfe. With a screenplay written by Gladiator writer John Logan, Genius tells the story of how Scribner’s Sons editor Max Perkins (Colin Firth) wrangled…

Berlin 2016: Death in Sarajevo review

★★★★☆ The winner of two Silver Bears in 2013 for An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker, Bosnian director Danis Tanović returns to the Berlinale competition with his spirited new film Death in Sarajevo. Adapted from the 2014 play Hotel Europa by Bernard-Henri Levy, Tanović incorporates his source material’s monologue delivered by a…

Berlin 2016: Being 17 review

★★★★☆ French director André Téchiné teams up with Céline Sciamma to write the screenplay for a tale of two young men struggling with their identities whilst living in the unforgiving landscape of rural France. Being 17, screening in competition in Berlin, introduces Damien (Kacey Mottet Klein) and Tom (Corentin Fila) as being somewhat close to…

DVD Review: ‘The Salt of the Earth’

★★★★☆ Life in the twenty-first century is saturated with images. Our hourly or more likely by-the-minute interaction with screens presents us with a multitude of ideas, news and more often than not, waffle clamouring for our attention. Yet a singular image can still manage to grab us and come to represent a national or international…

East End 2015: ‘Norfolk’ review

★★★☆☆ In director Martin Radich’s Norfolk (2015) – which premièred in the Hivos Tiger Awards strand at Rotterdam and now screens at EIFF – the rolling eastern countryside is presented as the site for a deadly serious vision of familial trauma and unmerciful violence that indicates a pessimistic future for its inhabitants. A boy lives…

Edinburgh 2015: ‘Life May Be’ review

★★★★☆ Two Edinburgh regulars, Mark Cousins and Mania Akbari, have collaborated to produce an insightful film-essay exchange, their differing filmmaking styles bursting with ideas and inspiring new thought in each other in Life May Be (2014). The project was conceived when the distributor, Second Run asked Cousins to write something in response to Akbari’s One….

DVD Review: ‘Dreamcatcher’

★★★★☆ The lives of women in prostitution trying to survive in Chicago and young girls at risk of taking the same path, is revealed with compelling sensitivity in Kim Longinotto’s latest documentary, Dreamcatcher (2015). The film follows co-founder and executive director Brenda Myers-Powell as she works and volunteers tirelessly for the Dreamcatcher Foundation to help…

Rotterdam 2015: ‘Stinking Heaven’ review

★★★★☆ Writer and director Nathan Silver again seeks to explore the dynamics of communal living just as he did in Exit Elena (2012) to Uncertain Terms (2014). In the latter film, pregnant teens take refuge in the home of Carla (Cindy Silver), who plays a maternal, educator role in their lives and aims to protect…

DVD Review: ‘Night Moves’

★★★☆☆ Now an established voice in American indie cinema, Kelly Reichardt has created films that consistently demonstrate a sensitivity towards characterisation that address with compassion, a diversity of approaches to the human condition. What drives an individual to self deception, is probed in Old Joy (2006); a solitary, marginal existence, in Wendy and Lucy (2008); survival…

DVD Review: ‘In Their Room’

★★★★☆ For their 2013 collaboration, Interior. Leather Bar, Travis Mathews and James Franco worked on the premise of a reimagining the lost 40 minutes of William Friedkin’s 1980 film Cruising – cut by censors who deemed it too explicit. Rather than present the extent of their footage however, Mathews and Franco’s film appeared as more…