Film Review: Hotel Salvation

★★★★☆ Set in Varanasi, Shubhashish Bhutiani’s remarkably assured debut feature, starring Lalit Behl and Adil Hussain, has already won plaudits and awards on the festival circuit. Shot when he was just 23, Hotel Salvation is a bittersweet meditation on life, death and salvation.Haunted by a recurring dream, seventy-seven-year old Daya (Behl) is convinced it is…

Film Review: Land of Mine

★★★★☆ Inspired by true events in 1945, director Martin Zandvliet’s powerful Academy Award-nominated film about Denmark’s treatment of German prisoners, Land of Mine, demonstrates that the aftermath of war can often be just as brutal as the bloody conflict itself.Fearful of an allied invasion, Nazi forces left behind two million landmines on Denmark’s western coast…

Film Review: Lost in Lebanon

★★★★★ This heartbreaking film by Sophia and Georgia Scott follows four Syrian refugees as they struggle to rebuild their lives in Lebanon. Syria’s neighbour has had to cope with a massive influx of refugees – Lebanon’s population of 4.4 million now comprises 1.5 million Syrians.Lost in Lebanon was shot in Beirut and on the Syrian…

Film Review: A Quiet Passion

★★★☆☆ Terence Davies is no stranger to biographical film, having mined his own life story to great effect in Distant Voices, Still Lives and The Long Day Closes. The overall tone of his sensitive Emily Dickinson biopic mirrors the great American poet’s contemplative style. The languorous pace may divide audiences, despite some strong performances and…

Film Review: I Am Not Your Negro

★★★★☆ Raoul Peck’s provocative and timely documentary I Am Not Your Negro is an incisive meditation on America’s Civil Rights Movement told through the eyes of the late novelist James Baldwin. Peck’s Oscar-nominated film focuses on Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript Remember This House, about the lives and murders of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Medgar…

Film Review: Denial

★★★☆☆ Mick Jackson’s courtroom drama Denial focuses on the 1996 British libel suit brought by David Irving (Timothy Spall), the infamous Holocaust denier, against American historian Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) and her publisher Penguin Books. Based on Lipstadt’s book Denial: Holocaust History on Trial, and adapted for screen by David Hare, Denial offers some fascinating…

Film Review: Little Men

★★★★☆ The final film in a trilogy focusing on New York City, Ira Sachs’ latest feature Little Men, starring Jennifer Ehle and Greg Kinnear, follows the rites of passage of two thirteen-year-old boys, Jake (Theo Taplitz) and Tony (Michael Barbieri). Jake is a sensitive loner whose artistic talents are derided by his school teacher and…

Film Review: Things to Come

★★★☆☆ Mia Hansen-Løve’s fifth feature, Things to Come, is an introspective exploration of a woman losing her moorings and facing up to old age. Isabelle Huppert plays Nathalie, a high school philosophy teacher. When Heinz (André Marcon), her husband of twenty-five years, also a philosophy lecturer, admits he has met someone else, she asks “Why…

Film Review: Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

★★★☆☆ It’s incredible to think that Absolutely Fabulous, the popular sitcom starring Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley, ran from 1992-2012. Some twenty-five years after the TV pilot, the pair are back, this time on the big screen; older but no wiser. Given the current malaise settling on Britain, the timing of Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie could…

Film Review: The Meddler

★★★★☆ Although Lorene Scafaria’s tender, bittersweet comedy The Meddler, starring Susan Sarandon and J.K. Simmons, is marred by the occasional cliché, it’s also an unexpectedly perceptive film about loneliness, grief and mother-daughter relationships. After the death of her beloved husband, Joe, Marnie Minervini (Sarandon) moves to Los Angeles to be close to her daughter Lori…

HRW 2016: Mediterranea review

★★★★☆ Jonas Carpignano’s debut feature Mediterranea follows the fortunes of two African migrants, Ayiva (Koudous Seihon) and Abas (Alassane Sy), friends from Burkina Faso in search of a better life on the European continent. They endure a hazardous journey through Algeria and survive a run in with violent bandits. Once in Libya, they join a…

HRW 2016: Hooligan Sparrow review

★★★★☆ Hooligan Sparrow, Nanfu Wang’s astonishing documentary about corruption in China, opened this year’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival. Many Chinese dissidents take on a pseudonym in order to protect their identity. Artist and activist Ye Haiyan, aka Hooligan Sparrow, does not attempt to hide herself – in fact she shot to notoriety in China…