Film reviews and more

John Bleasdale

Film Review: Army of the Dead

★★★☆☆ Is there currently a more divisive director than Zack Snyder? On one side there are the legions of fans and hashtag warriors for who he is a messianic figure of unsurpassed vision. Facing them, the hordes who find his […]

IFFR 2021: Madalena review

★★★☆☆ In a small rural town in the middle of acres and acres of soy fields, bodies keep turning up. The latest is the body of a trans woman Madalena (Chloe Milan). The lives of three people seem obscurely affected […]

IFFR 2021: Liborio review

★★★★☆ It’s the beginning of the 20th century, and Olivorio Mateo (Vicente Santos) is a peasant who disappears in the midst of a storm. In the darkness of a cave, he almost gives up hope but manages to escape in […]

IFFR 2021: Gritt review

★★★★☆ Itonje Søimer Guttormsen’s Gritt is a funny, maddening and at times touching work about art, ambition and how to live. The titular Gritt (Birgitte Larsen) is a familiar figure, both in real life and in culture: the artistic meanderer […]

IFFR 2021: The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet review

★★★★★ It seems ridiculous to call a film that is only 73-minutes long an epic, but that is what The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet feels like. Though it should be made clear, by epic there’s nothing grandiose; there is […]

IFFR 2021: Black Medusa review

★★★☆☆ Nada (played with resolute sternness by Nour Hajri) is a young woman who leads a double life. By day she works for an online company; at night she scours the bars and clubs of Tunis for men who want […]

Film Review: The Capote Tapes

★★★☆☆ Cinema has a love/hate relationship with Truman Capote. On the evidence of The Capote Tapes, almost everyone did. Breakfast at Tiffany’s – a slim novella a cigarette holder away from plagiarising Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin – was made […]

Film Review: 76 Days

★★★★☆ The coronavirus and its consequences have already become the subject of cinema. Aside from last year’s lockdown movies like Host and Songbird, Alex Gibney released his j’accuse against the Trump administration’s response in the form of Totally Under Control. […]

Film Review: About Endlessness

★★★★☆ Only Roy Andersson would call a 78-minute film About Endlessness. It is of a piece with his droll Swedish wit, a universe drawn with fastidious precision and painted in a palette of greys, drab greens, beiges and browns. Made […]

Blu-ray Review: Hoop Dreams

★★★★★ Steve James, Frederick Marx and Peter Gilbert’s seminal 1994 Hoop Dreams – making its UK Blu-ray debut this week – charts the aspirations and tribulations, the jump shots and the rebounds of two black American teenagers shooting for their […]

Film Review: Totally Under Control

★★★★☆ Documentary-making machine Alex Gibney (here joined by co-directors Ophelia Harutyunyan and Suzanne Hillinger) returns with a timely – perhaps too timely – postmortem on the American response to the Coronavirus pandemic, Totally Under Control. Right from the start, Gibney […]

Film Review: The Climb

★★★★☆ A revelation on a bike ride in France leads to a rift between two childhood friends, but through thick and thin, uphill and downhill, friendship proves surprisingly and hearteningly durable in Michael Angelo Covino’s The Climb. Kyle (Kyle Marvin) […]

Film Review: Goodfellas

★★★★★ Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, now celebrating its 30th anniversary, is the rock ‘n’ roll counterpoint to the grand operatic tragedy of Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather saga. There are no auburn-tinted scenes of old men dying in fruit orchards or golden […]

Film Review: Space Dogs

★★★☆☆ We’ve already had First Man and Apollo 11, but the renewed interest in the space race prompted by the lunar landings anniversary gets its weirdest entry yet with Elsa Kresmer and Levin Peter’s impressionistic documentary Space Dogs. There is […]

Film Review: The Painted Bird

★★★★☆ Premiering in competition at last year’s Venice Film Festival, Václav Marhoul’s adaptation of Jerzy Kosińsk’s 1965 novel The Painted Bird is a gruelling odyssey through the bloody fields of Europe in the middle of the 20th century. Sometimes there […]

Film Review: Babyteeth

★★★☆☆ Shannon Murphy makes her feature debut with Babyteeth, a tragicomedy about a teenager facing terminal cancer. Teens dying young is a recurring theme, from Romeo + Juliet to The Fault in Our Stars. Milla (Eliza Scanlen) is one such case, […]

Film Review: Wasp Network

★★★☆☆ French director Olivier Assayas makes his Netflix debut with Wasp Network, a tale of spies, politics and refugees in a mid-1990s Cuba and Florida which is as undecided on its tone as it is on its politics. Rene Gonzalez […]

Film Review: A Rainy Day in New York

★★★☆☆ Woody Allen returns with his 49th film, A Rainy Day in New York, as two young lovers decide to spend a couple of days in New York City – although scattered showers are expected. Stephen Sondheim once said that […]