Film reviews and more

Maximilian von Thun

Film Review: A Private War

★★★★★ Matthew Heineman, best-known for his acclaimed documentaries Cartel Land and City of Ghosts, seamlessly makes the transition to fiction with the utterly absorbing and emotionally searing Marie Colvin drama A Private War. Anchored by a career-best performance from Rosamund Pike and flawless direction and storytelling by Heineman, A Private War ­- named after and based on a Vanity Fair […]

Film Review: Vice

★★★★☆ When historians look back at the rise of populism and anti-establishment feeling in the early years of the 21st century, they will almost certainly ascribe it to two central events. The first is the Iraq War, and the loss of faith it engendered in the West’s moral standing and its basic competence. The second is the financial crisis, […]

Film Review: Colette

★★★☆☆ Director Wash Westmoreland’s latest film, based on a screenplay written jointly by himself, his late husband Richard Glatzer and British playwright Rebecca Lenkiewicz, tells the timely story of the early 20th century female writer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley). Plucked from her comfortable but sheltered countryside existence by pompous Parisian writer Willy (Dominic West), Colette is at first overwhelmed […]

Film Review: Shoplifters

★★★★☆ Often compared in his distinctly Japanese minimalism to legendary compatriot Ozu, Hirokazu Kore-eda is a filmmaker whose graceful yet unfussy style contrasts with the knotty themes he has made it his trademark to tackle. Kore-eda’s films are dedicated to the dilemmas and tragedies of family life, from the loss of a child (Still Walking) or a treasured pet […]

Film Review: The Price of Everything

★★★★★ Primarily centred around New York auction houses, art fairs and the colourful characters that frequent them, Nathaniel Kahn’s The Price of Everything certainly doesn’t hold back in its skewering of a contemporary art world defined far more by financial gain and status seeking than a genuine love of beauty. Khan leaves his subjects to make the point, with […]

Film Review: Cold War

★★★★☆ There is a ruined church that appears twice in Paweł Pawlikowski’s Cold War: once at the beginning and once at the end, which serves as an authentic counterpoint to the fake heritage the new communist government is trying to create. Lacking a roof and strewn with rubble, it nonetheless feels far more solid than the folk ensemble – Mazurek […]

Film Review: Distant Voices, Still Lives

★★★★☆ Filmed in two separate parts by Terence Davies, Distant Voices, Still Lives explores his childhood and early adulthood in the Liverpool of the 1940s and 1950s through the characters of Tony (Dean Williams), his authoritarian father Tommy (Pete Postlethwaite), loving mother (Freda Dowie) and lively sisters Eileen (Angela Walsh) and Maisie (Lorraine Ashbourne). Told in a non-linear fashion, […]

Film Review: The Guardians

★★★☆☆ Best-known for Of Gods And Men, a film about a group of lonely men in a monastery at a time of political conflict, Xavier Beauvois is back with The Guardians, a film about a group of lonely women on a farm at a time of political conflict. Jokes about self-plagiarism aside, The Guardians is a subtle, beautifully made […]

Film Review: The Heiresses

★★★★☆ This modest but polished film follows an older woman’s journey of self-discovery as her partner is sent to jail. Set in the Paraguayan capital city of Asunción, Marcelo Martinessi’s The Heiresses opens as the vivacious Chiquita (Margarita Irún) finds out she has been sentenced to prison for unpaid debts. No more information than this is given on her […]

Film Review: Sicario 2: Soldado

★★★☆☆ Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario was a masterclass in direction, cinematography, sound design and dramatic tension. This year’s sequel Sicario 2: Soldado, directed by Italian crime-thriller veteran Stefano Sollima, is a solid but less memorable effort. Despite its big-name cast and eventful narrative, the original film had a distinctly art-house touch to it, and never felt like it needed – […]

Film Review: Lean on Pete

★★★★★ British director Andrew Haigh follows up the brilliant 45 Years and Weekend with another understated masterpiece, Lean on Pete, about a young man’s odyssey across America with his horse. Haigh demonstrates impressive versatility by moving from a drama about the collapsing marriage of a middle-class retired couple in genteel rural England, to one about a teenage boy trying […]

Film Review: A Gentle Creature

★★★★☆ Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa (My Joy, In the Fog, Maidan) returns to fiction filmmaking with A Gentle Creature: a gloomy, timely tale of a nameless woman trying to track down her incarcerated husband in remote rural Russia. Since his last fictional work with In the Fog, Loznitsa has directed a slew of documentaries on challenging topics including the Holocaust and […]