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 […]

My Favourite Films of 2016

Happy New Year and all the best for 2017; I hope it’s a better one than 2016 in terms of blockbusters, at least, but as I cast my over a list of films that finished just outside my top 50 (below) I think overall it’s been pretty good, once again. Before I list that top […]

Little Men

Ira Sachs makes beautiful, intelligent films that are filled with smart observations about his characters (often middle class families and/or couples). Little Men, his latest, sees the American writer and director returning to subject matter that he also covered in last year’s poignant and moving Love Is Strange: gentrification. In that earlier film a couple […]

The Childhood Of A Leader

Though only in his late-20s, Brady Corbet has already worked (albeit briefly, on occasion) with a string of top European directors as an actor; the list includes Michael Haneke, Olivier Assayas, Lars von Trier, Mia Hansen-Løve, Bertrand Bonello and Ruben Östlund. There are similarities in terms of the directing styles of some of those named […]

August 2016 Recap

I watched a total of 45 films during August, which is a ridiculous amount, considering I’ve also been on holiday for two weeks (to Budapest and then Jersey; both very nice in their own way, thanks for asking) and I’ve just started a new job. I had a couple of weeks of free time before […]

Recent Viewing #4

Palo Alto (Coppola, 2014): Gia Coppola shares her auntie’s affection towards listless, occasionally-irritating and fairly affluent Californian high school kids, and to a certain extent there’s a similar aesthetic going on here as there is in Sofia Coppola’s films Somewhere and The Bling Ring, but damn Palo Alto never stops chasing its own tail for the entirety […]

Recent Viewing #3

Bande De Filles (Girlhood) (Sciamma, 2015): My second viewing of this excellent French film, which was one of my favourites of 2015, and it’s just as good this time round. A wonderful coming-of-age story dealing with femininity, appearances, bonding, crime, sisterhood, prospects and the different kinds of threats that are posed by some men within […]

The Shallows

I initially dismissed Jaume Collett-Serra’s shark vs woman survival thriller The Shallows as simple, slightly entertaining, disposable B-movie nonsense. Which it definitely is, but flippant comments like that do the director a disservice, as Collett-Serra certainly displays a knack for staging tense sequences above and below water, for the most part. His film only includes […]

La Belle Saison (Summertime)

Izïa Higelin and Cécile de France are both very good as a pair of lovers in this early 1970’s-set French romance, which has a strong theme of female empowerment running through the story, as well as a fresh take on that age-old dilemma about living life in the city or life in the countryside. Higelin […]

Keanu

In this action thriller spoof Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele – hitherto best known for their Comedy Central sketch show Key and Peele – play a couple of mild-mannered ‘ordinary’ guys who become embroiled in gang-related crime. This happens because a drug dealer named Cheddar (Method Man) steals the cute kitten (the titular Keanu) that […]

Blind Spot: Saturday Night Fever

[Note: this is the eighth film in my 2016 Blind Spot series. For a list of the other well-known or well-respected films I’ve already watched or I’m going to be watching for the first time this year, see this post.] John Badham’s Saturday Night Fever is well known for being one of John Travolta’s two […]

Suicide Squad

Hey, you’ve really got to hand it to DC and Warner Bros. In the same year that they’ve been knocked from pillar to post for releasing the distinctly average Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, they’ve now managed to pull out all the stops and have provided us with a superhero film – or rather […]

July 2016 Recap

I’m making a few changes to the blog that I’ll post about tomorrow, but one of them is that these monthly round-ups are now just going to focus on new / new-ish releases. If you’re interested in reading about any other (i.e. older) films that I’ve watched and written about then there’s a list of […]

0603 | Star Trek Beyond

In and of itself, the third episode in the rebooted Star Trek franchise is entertaining enough, containing the usual mix of jokes and frenetic action, though after around six hours with these reinvented characters it’s hard to see where this trilogy is actually going, and therefore one wonders whether it will run out of steam […]

June 2016 Recap

June was a busy month for me, as I was away from home quite a bit, plus due to the fact the first fortnight of Euro 2016 contained three matches a day I didn’t see as many films as I would have liked during the month. But I can’t really complain; I love football and […]

0564 | Hard Luck

Here’s another film co-written and co-directed by Buster Keaton and Edward F. Cline. In Hard Luck Keaton plays a suicidal man who repeatedly tries to top himself during the first five minutes, only to fail on each occasion: he lies down in front of an oncoming tram only for it to stop short and go […]

0563 | Convict 13

This Buster Keaton short from 1920 features the star as an innocent golfer who eventually ends up – bear with me, here – dressed in the clothes of an escaped prisoner, whereupon he is captured by the cops and taken to jail. The golf-related material’s quite weak, and I expect Keaton and his regular co-director […]

0561 | Love & Friendship

A film by Whit Stillman is a rare treat for anyone who likes witty, intelligently-written, dialogue-heavy pieces, and the usual loquacity is present and correct in his latest, an adaptation of Jane Austen’s posthumous epistolary novel Lady Susan. For this film Stillman has reunited the two stars of 1998’s The Last Days Of Disco, Kate […]

0559 | Aaaaaaaah!

You might know Steve Oram from one or more of the surreal UK sketch shows or sitcoms he’s appeared in, and he was also one of the two leads in Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers, displaying a talent for deadpan comedy acting within a deliberately-awkward piece. He’s also the man behind Aaaaaaaah!, a surreal film that has […]

0557 | London Road

I watched this musical 24 hours ago, at the time of writing, and I still have mixed feelings about it. It has been adapted for the big screen following a successful stage run at the National Theatre in London, and I suppose the most obvious thing to say about it is that the upbeat musical […]

0546 | Mustang

The debut film by Turkish-born, French-raised filmmaker Deniz Gamze Ergüven is a strong, convincing drama that explores the bond between – and treatment of – five sisters living within an ultra-conservative Turkish village. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Picture earlier this year and won four prizes at the Césars, including […]

0545 | We Are Your Friends

This tale about a wannabe DJ living in Los Angeles is a Zac Efron vehicle, and as you’d expect it’s a film that tries to capitalise on the doe-eyed-former-Disney-kid good looks of its star, though putting my snobbery aside for a minute I guess there’s nothing really wrong with that. His character’s nascent career is […]

0541 | Evolution

The second film by Lucile Hadžihalilović is an odd blend of different genres, successfully serving as minimalist sci-fi, ethereal seaside folk tale and unsettling body horror (though it’s worth stressing at this early stage that Evolution beguiles and intrigues much more than it repulses). The setting is a village of cube-shaped white buildings that sits […]

0535 | She’s Funny That Way

This screwball comedy makes affectionate come-hither glances toward Hollywood Past, but sadly it doesn’t pack anywhere near as many laughs in as the films it’s in thrall of, which is a shame for Peter Bogdanovich as he has spent close to 15 years trying to get it made. The typically-lightweight story takes place in New […]