CineVue

Film reviews and more

Christopher Machell

Film Review: Thor: Love and Thunder

★★☆☆☆ Taika Waititi returns to direct his second instalment of the Thor saga. Leaning even further into the comedy that made Ragnarok such a riot, upping the visual ante and raising the emotional stakes, Waititi’s follow-up has all the makings of the God of Thunder’s best adventure yet. Sadly, Love and Thunder proves that it is possible to have too much of a good Thor.

Film Review: Faya Dayi

★★★★☆ The chewing of khat leaves in Ethiopia is a tradition dating back centuries and is often used by Sufi Muslims as part of their religious experience. In Faya Dayi, which premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, Mexican-Ethiopian director, producer and cinematographer Jessica Beshir finds vivid inspiration in the practice.

Film Review: Pleasure

★★★★☆ Adapted from her 2013 short of the same name, Swedish director Ninja Thyberg’s debut feature is an unflinching look at the 21st century porn industry. Featuring a knockout star performance from newcomer Sofia Kappel, Pleasure’s depiction of the reality of working in porn is lucid, often harrowing and occasionally tender.

Film Review: Il buco

★★★★★ In 1961, while wealthy Milanese businessmen scaled the Pirelli Tower, Giulio Gècchele led the first expedition into its deepest abyss, Calabria’s 700-metre deep Abisso del Bifurto. For his third feature, Milan-born director Michelangelo Frammartino dramatises the expedition in a study of humanity’s hubris against nature’s immovable permanency.

Film Review: Jurassic World Dominion

★☆☆☆☆ After recusing himself from directing duties for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Colin Trevorrow is back to finish the job with this sixth instalment of the prehistoric franchise. The original Jurassic Park was replete with quotable lines: “Clever girl”, “Spared no expense” etc. With Dominion, this zinger from The Lost World feels more apt: “Oh, this is gonna be bad”.

Film Review: Bergman Island

★★★★☆ Having premiered at Cannes last year, Mia Hansen-Løve’s eighth feature makes its way onto UK screens. Bergman Island is at once an ambivalent love-letter to the Swedish master director Ingmar Bergman and a charming study of the complexities of relationships, the creative process, and the ways that one invariably influences the other.

Film Review: Olga

★★★★☆ French-born director Elie Grappe’s film about an exiled Ukrainian gymnast, set largely in 2013-14 during the Ukrainian Maidan protests and subsequent revolution, was delayed in 2020 by the Covid-19 pandemic, premiering last year. It’s a deeply bitter irony, then, that the very catastrophe that Olga warns against should only find notice now.

Film Review: Top Gun: Maverick

★★★★☆ The better part of three decades since he conquered his intense feelings with rival pilot Iceman (Val Kilmer) and saved the day, hotshot ace Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is called back into action for his most dangerous mission yet. Heading a hothead crew of recent Top Gun graduates, it’s time to fly into the danger zone once again.

Film Review: Oyate

★★★★☆ Co-directors Emil Benjamin and Brandon Jackson’s feature debut documents the Oceti Sakowin Oyate Nation’s protests – known commonly but erroneously as the Sioux Nation – against the infamous Dakota Access Pipeline. A patchy structure in the film’s first half eventually gives way to an animating depiction of struggle against colonial rule.

Film Review: Benediction

★★★★☆ Terence Davies’ first feature since 2016 is a moving biopic of the war poet Siegfried Sassoon: an anti-war film in the sense that we never see the conflict, yet its traumas echo throughout the life of its protagonist. Amidst the horrors of the Great War, army lieutenant and poet Siegfried Sassoon (Jack Lowden) petitions to end the bloodshed.

Film Review: Vortex

★★★★★ Dario Argento and Françoise Lebrun star as an elderly couple suffering through dementia and ill health in Gaspar Noé’s latest outing, Vortex. The Argentinian director’s follow up to 2019’s Lux Æterna is a typically difficult watch, subjecting us to the grinding indignities of old age, but it also a deeply moving study of lifelong love and loyalty to the bitter end.