thu 30/03/2017

Film Reviews

Graduation review - 'Cannes winner is a bleak Romanian masterpiece'

tom Birchenough

A decade ago Romanian director Cristian Mungiu took the Palme d’Or at Cannes for 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, a gruelling abortion drama set in the dying days of the Ceauşescu dictatorship. The cold intensity of that film made it a key work in the remarkable movement that came to be known as the Romanian New Wave, which directed a pitiless eye at the reality of the country as it struggled...

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Ghost in the Shell review - 'a mind-bending futuristic dystopia'

adam Sweeting

The Japanese Ghost in the Shell phenomenon is celebrating its 25th birthday, and already has a long history in manga cartoons and animated movies.

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Aquarius review - 'the unease of contemporary Brazil'

tom Birchenough

Politics certainly caught up with Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Aquarius. The Brazilian director and his cast appeared at their Cannes competition premiere last year with placards protesting that democracy in their native land was in peril: it was the day after Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff had been suspended. Cut forward a few months, and the film’s autumn release coincided with the announcement...

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Life review - 'knuckle-gnawing moments of panic'

adam Sweeting

In space, no-one can hear you say “hang on, haven’t I seen this before?” The sprawling, labyrinthine space ship full of ducts and passageways for terrifying creatures to hide in, the laid-back crew who’ve become a little too blasé about life in space, the cute little outer-space organism that looks like an exotic novelty pet…

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The Lost City of Z

jasper Rees

Percy Fawcett: does the name ring a bell? He ought by rights to sit in the pantheon of boys’ own explorers alongside Cook and Ross, Parry and Franklin, Livingstone and Mungo Park, Scott and Shackleton. Either side of the Great War, he returned again and again to the impenetrable South American interior, in pursuit of an ancient Amazonian civilisation which he called Z.

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The Salesman

matt Wolf

"Attention must be paid," we are famously told near the close of Death of a Salesman. And so it was this year on Oscar night when Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi won his second Academy Award for Best Foreign Film (A Separation was the first), this time for a movie that leans heavily on ...

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Personal Shopper

Saskia Baron

What is Personal Shopper? Is it a haunted-house horror movie, a woman-in-peril thriller? Is it a satire on celebrity and the fetishistic world of fashion or an exercise in existential angst for the generation more familiar with texting than talking? It’s all those things, and more.

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Beauty and the Beast

veronica Lee

This is, as the voiceover has it, “a tale as old as time” – or pedantically one that goes back to 1740, when the French fairytale was first published – so maybe it was time for a modernising reboot.

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Elle

adam Sweeting

As Elle’s director Paul Verhoeven put it, “we realised that no American actress would ever take on such an immoral movie.” However, Isabelle Huppert didn’t hesitate, and has delivered a performance of such force and boldness that even the disarming Oscar-winner Emma Stone might secretly...

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Kong: Skull Island

jasper Rees

There have been three versions of King Kong and only one of them answers the question of how they get a massive ape back to New York. In 1976 they shipped him in an oil tanker, but the vessels in RKO’s 1933 original and Peter Jackson’s 2005 homage were nothing like big enough.

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Certain Women

Saskia Baron

From the opening shot of a distant train making its slow journey toward the camera across flat plains ringed by Montana’s mountains, the audience knows they’re in for one of those subtle, low-key American art films. Kelly Reichardt, who doesn’t just direct her movies but edits and writes them too, is the queen of the slow-burn 21st-century Western.

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Viceroy's House

jasper Rees

The Partition of India is vast and unexplored terrain in modern cinema. It triggered the migration of 14 million people: Muslims moved from an India reduced in size overnight to the new homeland of Pakistan, and non-Muslims made the opposite journey. It was what we’ve seen in Syria but multiplied by sheer volume of numbers...

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Trespass Against Us

nick Hasted

The Cutlers are Pa Larkin's Darling Buds of May clan gone feral, rampaging across the Cotswolds.

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Logan

adam Sweeting

The X-Men films have frequently managed to bring a shot of ethical awareness and emotional engagement to the superhero party, but even so this swansong for Hugh Jackman’s Logan (aka Wolverine) is likely to take your breath away. With James Mangold at the helm as director and co-writer, this is a haunting elegy for times past, battles fought and comrades lost, as Logan finds himself grudgingly dragged out of a drink-sodden semi-retirement as a limo driver.

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The Student

tom Birchenough

Translating terrorism is tricky. Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov’s The Student is an adaptation of a play by the German writer Marius von Mayenburg which was staged in London two years ago under its original title, Martyr. One exchange in this story (which is set in and around a school...

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Oscars 2017: Moonlight and La La Land go toe to toe

matt Wolf

If only the recent American election had been similarly rectified. That was surely the thought on many people’s lips as the 89th Academy Awards ended in confusion with the news that the evening’s expected winner, La La Land, had in fact lost to Moonlight – an upset immediately amplified by easily the biggest cock-up in Oscar history. 

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