Film Review: The Florida Project

★★★★★ “That’s my favourite tree,” Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) tells her friend “because it’s fallen but it still grows.” It’s a moment of lyrical beauty, underlined by a long shot of the two kids sitting in the tree itself, and sums up the theme of The Florida Project, Sean Baker’s Tangerine follow-up. Six-year-old Moonee lives with…

#LFF 2017: Three Billboards review

★★★★☆ Following In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, director Martin McDonagh closes this year’s BFI London Film Festival with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a comic thriller about a mother seeking justice for her murdered daughter.Film titles can be lyrical, puzzling or purely literal. Three Billboards is the latter. Frances McDormand plays Mildred Hayes, a mother…

#LFF 2017: You Were Never Really Here review

★★★★★ There was talk that the film wasn’t ready; the score was incomplete; there were no end credits. Thankfully, Cannes and now London usher in Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, a psycho-noir featuring a stunning turn by Joaquin Phoenix.“They tell me you’re a brutal man,” a client says to Joe (Phoenix, sporting full…

#LFF 2017: Loveless review

★★★★★ In 1985, Sting sang: “Believe me when I say to you / I hope the Russians love their children too.” Andrey Zvyagintsev’s masterful Loveless concerns itself with the same question but there’s a hopelessness that Sting’s MOR hit couldn’t hope to come close to.Boris (Alexei Rozin) and Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) are a relatively young…

Film Review: The Meyerowitz Stories

★★★★☆ “Family isn’t a word, it’s a sentence,” stated Wes Anderson’s Royal Tenenbaums. In Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), family is more an anthology: a series of short stories we tell ourselves in a way that is partial and ‘selected’.It’s a hilarious take on the well-worn trope of the dysfunctional American family,…

#LFF 2017: The Killing of a Sacred Deer review

★★★★☆ Two years on from The Lobster, pioneering Greek Weird Wave director Yorgos Lanthimos returns to the London Film Festival with his 2017 Palme d’Or nominee The Killing of a Sacred Deer, a dark and twisted psychological thriller set in suburban America.The first sight we see is a beating human heart. It looks nothing like…

#LFF 2017: The Shape of Water review

★★★★☆ Mexican director Guillermo del Toro won his first Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival with The Shape of Water, a monstrous fairytale about the love between a mute cleaning lady (Sally Hawkins) and a creature from the Black Lagoon.Is anyone making cinema as lusciously beautiful as Guillermo del Toro at the moment?…

Film Review: The Reagan Show

★★★★☆ The Reagan Show is timely on a number of levels. Using archive footage, news reports and White House TV, they manage to piece together the second term of the Reagan presidency and give a sobering portrait of a man whose prime concern was always his own image.It’s difficult to remember how disturbing it was…

Film Review: Blade Runner 2049

★★★★★ One of the most eagerly-awaited films of 2017, we run the critical Voight-Kampff test to find out if Canadian director Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 is a shoddy replicant of Ridley Scott’s acclaimed 1982 original, or a new generation of science fiction.In an early draft of Hampton Francher’s Blade Runner script, there was a…

Film Review: The Bad Batch

★★☆☆☆ Following on from her stylish and well-received debut A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, American-Iranian Ana Lily Amirpour returns with The Bad Batch (Netflix, 22 Sep), a post-apocalyptic cannibal movie that devours its influences without ever getting to the red meat.Suki Waterhouse plays Arlen, a girl with a cherry tattoo and a Tank…

Film Review: Victoria and Abdul

★☆☆☆☆ The last years in the life of Queen Victoria and her friendship with an Indian subject are the focus of British director Stephen Frears’ latest film Victoria and Abdul. Sadly, a cliché-ridden plot ultimately inhibits what could have been a spritely historical period drama.Frears has had some success with monarchs. In 2006, The Queen…

Film Review: Mother!

★★★★★ Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky returns to cinema screens with Mother!, an utterly insane film starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, which begins as a haunted house tale before transforming into an allegorical journey.Aronofsky has always been a filmmaker who has lived on the edge between the profound and…