★★★☆☆ A man sits alone in a room with a notepad and begins to scribble down his own voiceover. He only writes on one page and seems to always be starting at the top. His thoughts will be meticulous and he will show a certain expertise. When he’s finished writing he will place the pen on the table, neatly aligned with the pad.
★★★★★ “All plots tend to move deathward. This is the nature of plots.” we are told early on in Noah Baumbach’s new film White Noise. Not since Alvy Singer bought Annie Hall all those books about death has there been such a funny and richly intelligent investigation of the particularly American anxiety about death.
★★★★★ A family car journey isn’t always an enticing premise – either for a film or in real life. But in Panah Panahi’s feature debut Hit the Road, the ride is one that both the audience and the family featured probably wish would last forever. It’s an intimate, frequently funny, poignant and deeply moving piece of work.
★★★★☆ Justin Kurzel first made his name with his breakout film Snowtown, a true crime murder story that shone an unflattering light on small town Australia. Following some missteps, Nitram is a solid return to form as well as a return to similar territory. It’s based on the Port Arthur massacre that cost the lives of 35 people.
★★★☆☆ A bland title – much like a bland line of conversation – can hide an abyss the way a household fridge can hide a corpse. François Ozon is a master at this kind of observational understatement that touches on something deeper. In his new film Everything Went Fine, it is the fine details that holds weight.
★★★★☆ Following Ex Machina and Annihilation, writer and director Alex Garland returns to the green, green pastures of home with a new chiller on just how toxic masculinity can be. Jessie Buckley plays Harper, a woman in need of a retreat following the tragic end of her relationship with James (Paapa Essiedu).
Cannes’ 75th edition came to a close with a Palme d’Or for Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness. It was a fittingly ironic moment for the wealthy, star-studded audience to applaud a satire that eviscerates the wealthy and celebrity-obsessed upper-classes. It was Östlund’s second Palme d’Or and, although well-deserved, felt symptomatic of a festival which was fine at best.
★★★★★ If there’s one criticism of Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or-winning The Square, it’s that his satire wasn’t so much shooting fish in a barrel as nuking a pod of whales in a glass of water. The art world is full of self-obsessed poseurs? You don’t say. His new film, Triangle of Sadness, begins with a series of riffs on how vacuous the world of high fashion is.
★★★★★ 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.
★★★☆☆ “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.
★★★★☆ A woman goes to her mother’s funeral. At the wake afterwards she meets a man who she chats to and he gives her his number. The next morning she can’t find the slip of paper she’d written his number on. The following week she kills her sister. Why? Have a think. You’ve got your answer? Okay, if you say something along the lines of she found out her sister had stolen the number or was dating the man, then you’re normal.
★★☆☆☆ We all have directors that we don’t seem to get on with. We might admire their technical prowess or their commitment, but for some reason we just don’t click. For this critic, that’s the Dardenne brothers – Jean-Pierre and Luc – the Belgian filmmaking team that have brought a series of what are widely considered modern classics.