Tag: Movies

Personal Shopper

Olivier Assayas concocts a heady atmosphere here; Personal Shopper is spooky and cold throughout, thanks in part to its superb sound design (with all those bumps and smashes mysteriously occurring in a grand old mansion) and also thanks to the terrific central performance by Kristen Stewart. Her character, Maureen, seems oddly disconnected from the world; […]

The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies De Cherbourg)

My Blind Spot choice for May was an excellent one, and as I write this a couple of weeks after watching Jacques Demy’s 1964 film The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg for the first time, I feel relatively confident in saying that it is now one of my favourite musicals – a vivid, colourful and bittersweet melodrama […]

The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cents Coups)

The first of five semi-autobiographical François Truffaut films – also his debut – that star Jean-Pierre Léaud as Antoine Doinel, a young Parisian boy whose journey from neglected, mis-treated youth to juvenile petty criminal is profoundly moving and wonderfully acted. The opening sequence sets 1950s Paris up as a kind of playground, and it remains […]

Limelight

Charlie Chaplin’s Limelight is a 1952 film about a washed-up, alcoholic stage performer (Chaplin) and a suicidal but promising dancer (Claire Bloom), who he nurses back to health; to different extents they inspire and encourage one another to tread the boards once more. Chaplin’s own father went through similar travails as his popularity dwindled at […]

The Monuments Men

You can see what George Clooney was trying to do with The Monuments Men. On paper it looks like a modern day Kelly’s Heroes, or some other war caper movie from the 1970s featuring an unconventional cast made up of normally serious actors, bankable stars, a couple of non-Americans – to pay lip service to […]

Deepwater Horizon

I still think of Peter Berg as being a half-decent 90s actor, as opposed to his new guise as a director of macho, artillery-heavy blockbusters, simply because I haven’t bothered to check out many of the films he’s made. Those that I have seen – Hancock, Very Bad Things – just didn’t seem to work, […]

Heal The Living (Réparer Les Vivants)

The narrative in this excellent new film by Katell Quillévéré, written by Quillévéré and Gilles Taurand, drifts from one character to another, all of whom are linked together in some way by a dying patient in a hospital and his heart. You could argue that there are three specific threads: a teenager is left brain-dead after […]

What Happened, Miss Simone?

An impressive documentary that concentrates on Nina Simone’s personality and politics, both of which were key to her magnificent career as a singer and pianist. It’s full of superb concert footage, with a few car crash moments thrown in, such as the opening sequence showing a clearly troubled Simone on stage in Montreux. The people […]

Logan

I’ve not got much desire to write lots about a film that has been discussed by thousands of other people already this year, but I finally caught up with sweary, violent X-Men spinoff Logan (that’s Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine’s real name, in case you weren’t aware) and I’m just registering the fact that I’ve seen it […]

The Bridges Of Madison County

I had my reservations before sitting down to watch Clint Eastwood’s mid-90s weepie: this was exactly the kind of slow, autumnul, po-faced drama The Academy seemed to favour throughout the 1990s to the detriment of more abrasive, interesting, daring and exciting movies; plus I’ve heard many times over the years that this film progresses at […]

Harold And Maude

Hal Ashby’s dark romantic comedy was panned by several prominent critics upon release at the start of 1972, but it has since developed a cult following and has been comprehensively reappraised; in fact it’s hard to find anyone with a bad word to say about it today. The film stars Bud Cort as Harold – […]

Bonnie And Clyde

Regarded as a countercultural, anti-establishment rallying cry as well as being one of the films that kickstarted the New Hollywood era (though many would argue Mike Nichols’ Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? is the film to have done so), Arthur Penn’s Bonnie And Clyde seems forever bound up with the turmoil and change of the […]

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Though a stop-motion animation rather than the usual live action movie, here’s another Wes Anderson film that’s seemingly close to being universally praised to the high heavens and… well… I guess I quite like it but fall short of joining the wild, exuberant love-in. Adapting Roald Dahl’s children’s book with frequent collaborator Noah Baumbach, Anderson […]

Get Out

Jordan Peele’s debut film is a whip-smart Stepford Wives, Society or Invasion Of The Body Snatchers-style horror / thriller about race, effectively satirising white, middle class liberal American attitudes towards black people, while also providing the audience with an occasionally comic ride and plenty of edge-of-the-seat excitement. I liked Daniel Kaluuya as photographer Chris, the […]

Catfight

This black comedy by Onur Tukel has an interesting premise and a couple of decent performances, though the film starts to drag well before the end and the humour – including some clumsily-delivered satirical elements – loses impact as a result of repetition. Sandrah Oh and Anne Heche star as a pair of former college […]

Cake

A necessarily dreary drama starring Jennifer Aniston as Claire Bennett, a woman suffering from chronic pain, which is both serious in nature and perhaps tied to her ongoing grief at the earlier, offscreen death of her only child. Aniston – who probably ought to get more roles like this, unless she’s just deliberately ignoring them […]

The Happiest Day In The Life Of Olli Mäki (Hymyilevä Mies)

Unsurprisingly, sports films – and boxing movies in particular – are filled with characters who have an incredibly strong will to win. Think of the pummellings the modern-day gladiators dish out and endure in the likes of The Fighter, Raging Bull and Southpaw, for example, before those very same boxers get back in the ring […]

The Wailing (Gokseong)

I saw a flurry of positive reviews at the end of 2016 for this disturbing horror by South Korean director Na Hong-jin. Currently showing at the time of writing on Netflix in the UK, it’s a fairly long and extremely creepy film that starts off as a kind of black comedy with a plot that […]

Pan’s Labyrinth (El Laberinto Del Fauno)

A rewatch, and the first time I’ve viewed this dark fairy tale since it was in cinemas, just over ten years ago. It’s still as magnificent as I thought it was back then, which is perhaps testament to Guillermo del Toro’s flair for writing a good story and for creating striking, scary creatures (and yes, […]

Swallows And Amazons

Philippa Lowthorpe’s take on Arthur Ransome’s much-loved novel is a good-natured throwback, in which four young siblings form a gang while on holiday in the Lake District (‘The Swallows’), only to become embroiled in an adventure involving a rival group (‘The Amazons’) and some rather silly business about spying and secret agents on the cusp […]

Ghost In The Shell

This 2017 live-action version of the influential Japanese manga and anime has been heavily criticised for ‘whitewashing’, with Takeshi Kitano the only Asian actor among the principal cast members. (Though it’s a moot point, the white, western cast members actually do OK here, with the exception of a scenery-chewing Michael Pitt.) Commercially-minded, heavy-handed casting decisions […]

Wild At Heart

It’s a shame that David Lynch became less and less involved with the original version of the Twin Peaks TV show; creative differences with his paymasters is the reason most often cited (they wanted to reveal Laura Palmer’s killer and satisfy audience curiosity while Lynch wanted to retain an air of mystery), but there was […]

Hellboy

Hellboy’s gothic production design and striking, occasionally-disturbing use of make-up means it’s recognisably a film by Guillermo del Toro; the overall look is probably the main reason why it feels concomitant with the visual stylist’s other work, slotting into his filmography comfortably as the bridge between Blade II and Pan’s Labyrinth. It’s also a superhero movie […]

Ben-Hur

Despite the fact that at least one Christianity-related blockbuster gets released every year – Aronofsky, Scott and Bekmambatov have all filed dubious entries of late – big, bombastic religious epics like the 1959 version of Ben-Hur are completely out of fashion today; it’s no surprise, then, that they are less highly regarded by audiences than […]

Wonder Woman

This 2009 feature length animation by Lauren Montgomery draws largely on the Gods and Mortals comic book story that began in the late 1980s, and it has a notably strong feminist line throughout – it’s a minor moment overall, but I did enjoy Wonder Woman chastising Steve Rogers for a fumbled attempt at saving her, […]

Belle

A competently made and occasionally handsome period drama from Amma Asante, which fictionalises the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle, an 18th century West Indian woman who was raised by a wealthy family in England, played here by Gugu Mbatha-Raw. While it’s an unusual British period piece precisely because of the lead character’s race, it’s conventional […]