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John Bleasdale

Cannes 2023: May December review

★★★☆☆ American director Todd Haynes returns to the Cannes Croisette with the recently Netflix-acquired May December, a Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore two-hander that asks the question: what if Brian De Palma remade Persona but as a comedy?

Cannes 2023: Firebrand review

★★☆☆☆ “An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king,” Percy Shelley once wrote in his sonnet England in 1819. He was firing his barbs at King George III but the words could just as well be used for any number of English monarchs including Henry VIII.

Cannes 2023: Killers of the Flower Moon review

★★★☆☆ We are now deep into the elder statesman stage of Martin Scorsese’s career. Every film comes with a certain weight of expectation, even as it tries to reach the escape velocity from his previous work. The Killers of the Flower Moon, like his Netflix-backed The Irishman, is a lengthy retelling of American history, exhumed and played in the key of true crime.

Cannes 2023: Homecoming review

★★★☆☆ Catherine Corsini arrives in Cannes with Homecoming, an adeptly told family drama which boasts some stand out performances. Fifteen years after a tragic incident, Kheìdidja (Aissatou Diallo Sagna), a single mother, returns to Corsica with her two daughters to look after the children of a wealthy family.

Cannes 2023: About Dry Grasses review

★★★★★ Turkish master director Nuri Bilge Ceylan returns to the Cannes Croisette with About Dry Grasses, a wonderful wintry meditation on male fragility and the way we often make our own hells and then deceive ourselves that we’re trapped.

Cannes 2023: The Zone of Interest review

★★★★★ Theodor Adorno famously wrote that poetry was not possible after Auschwitz, but is cinema? Billy Wilder certainly thought so, getting footage from the camps as evidence as much as anything else. Steven Spielberg, Claude Lanzmann, Alain Resnais and Roberto Benigni have all with differing degrees of success tried their hands.

Cannes 2023: Monster review

★★★★☆ Having won the Jury Prize in 2013 for Like Father, Like Son and the Palme d’Or in 2018 with Shoplifters, Cannes favourite and Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda returns with Monster, a masterful work of intricate storytelling, complemented by a lovely score by the late Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Cannes 2023: Jeanne du Barry review

★★☆☆☆ Maïwenn’s French period drama Jeanne du Barry is the perfect opening salvo for the 76th Cannes Film Festival. It is as glitzy and gaudy as the festival itself, with its vacuous politics drowned out by the thunderous sound of it slapping its own back.

Film Review: Other People’s Children

★★★★☆ There is tragedy and there is comedy, but the hinterland has never really received a proper definition. Melodrama suggests histrionics and musical accompaniment milking the emotional teat. Drama is too broad. And anyone who suggests “dramedy” should be punished. It would be “dramedic”.

Film Review: Close

★★★★★ Léo (Eden Dambrine) and Remi (Gustav De Waele) are best friends. At 13, they are intelligent and autonomous enough to be allowed a certain freedom, but still full of the childish and spontaneous joy of being and imagining. They pretend villains are attacking the castle, run through the flower fields, and have so many sleepovers together that Leo’s mum wonders aloud if he’ll ever come home.

Film Review: Broker

★★★☆☆ “Family isn’t a word…it’s a sentence”. So ran the tagline to The Royal Tenenbaums. For Hirokazu Kore-eda it could be argued that it’s a whole career. From Still Walking to the Palme d’Or-winning Shoplifters, the Japanese auteur has spent the greater part of his career delineating the lines of attraction and repulsion, the dynamics of duty and care that make up families – both real and alternative.

Film Review: The Son

★★★★☆ “Love is not enough,” is the advice given to the parents in French playwright Florian Zeller’s sophomore feature film The Son, which closes the diptych begun by The Father. It is wise advice and goes against so much that we instinctively feel about parenting and childcare. All we need is love, surely? Unconditional love.