sat 04/07/2015

Tom Birchenough

tom.birchenough

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Bio
Tom has been based largely in Moscow since 1991, from where he has written for a range of publications. He has contributed to Variety since 1993, and was for many years the film critic for the main English-language publication in Russia, The Moscow Times. He has been associate producer on a number of television documentaries on Russian subjects.

Articles by Tom Birchenough

West

As its title might suggest, Christian Schwochow’s West (Westen) takes us back to the time of Germany divided. It's almost a chamber piece, catching the very particular experiences of a woman and her...

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Black Coal, Thin Ice

A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Winston Churchill’s famous words on Russia serve as a very apt verdict on Black Coal, Thin Ice (Bai ri yan huo), the third film from Chinese director...

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1945: The Savage Peace, BBC Two

“Enjoy the war, for the peace will be savage,” was apparently a macabre joke circulating in the German military towards the end of World War Two. Peter Molloy’s searing documentary, 1945: The Savage...

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The Tribe

In The Tribe, his feature debut, Ukrainian director Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy has created something totally unexpected, and viscerally powerful to boot. This dark tale of life among inmates of a Kyiv...

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Stray Dogs

Whatever you make of Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang’s Stray Dogs (Jiao you), it’ll likely have you looking at your watch. If you’re hypnotized by its almost narrative-free, stretched naturalism...

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DVD: Turned Towards the Sun

The phrase “improbable life” crops up more than once in Greg Olliver’s highly engaging documentary Turned Towards the Sun about the poet Micky Burn (its title is that of the writer’s autobiography)....

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The Game, BBC Two

Rum old business, espionage – at least in the way we Brits are still pursuing it. For all the reality that the existential threat has long moved locations, in its television incarnations we remain...

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This World: World’s Richest Terror Army, BBC Two

You haven’t had to actually watch the brutal executions staged by Islamic State (IS, or ISIS or ISIL, as it’s also known) to register them: just a single image registered has been more than enough to...

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Exit

Taiwanese director Chienn Hsiang has given his lead actress Chen Shiang-chyi a role of rare complexity in Exit, and she dominates this bleakly naturalistic slice-of-life film completely. Chen’s...

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DVD: Traps/Fruit of Paradise

“Iconoclast” is the word used in one of the booklet essays accompanying Second Run’s rerelease of two films by the great Czech director Věra Chytilová (1929-2014) to describe her work. Other terms...

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Sex and the Church, BBC Two

I’ve got no idea what the opposite of dumbing down might be. Swatting up? Whatever it is, it’s surely going to set the tone for the next couple of Friday nights on BBC Two, where Sex and the Church...

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Force Majeure

The fault-lines of human relationships are tested in Swedish director Ruben Ostlund’s Force Majeure, and prove much more fraught than the physical threat inherent in the film’s glorious alpine...

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The Three Lions, St James Theatre

The devil gets the best lines, as usual. That may depend, of course, on whether we’re prepared to qualify David Cameron in that role, but in William Gaminara's rapid-firing farce The Three Lions, the...

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Storyville: Masterspy of Moscow - George Blake, BBC Four

“The righteous traitor” must be as provocative a subtitle as any when the subject is espionage. Director George Carey nevertheless used it in this highly revealing film about George Blake, the “spy...

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The Broken Heart, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Jacobean playwright John Ford is flavour of the season at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. His better-known, and simply better, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, opened the venue’s new programme last autumn and...

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Mommy

“Loving people doesn’t save them” could be the epitaph to the young Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s exuberant, emotionally draining fifth feature Mommy. Its vivid colours, concentrated in an unusual...

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