sun 07/08/2022

Film Reviews

Memory Box review - exquisitely made drama set in Lebanon

Saskia Baron

Memory Box is that rare thing, a glimpse into a lost world from its traumatised inhabitants. Made by the Lebanese artist-filmmakers, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige (a husband and wife team), it’s an intergenerational drama split between Beirut during the Eighties (the height of the Lebanese Civil War) and present day Canada. 

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Munich: The Edge of War review - Jeremy Irons excels in a revisionist portrait of Neville Chamberlain

Adam Sweeting

The name of Neville Chamberlain and the term “appeasement” have become indelibly linked, thanks to his efforts to accommodate Adolf Hitler’s bellicose ambitions in the run-up to what became World War Two.

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Don't Look Up, Netflix review - hitting most targets in high style

David Nice

Most dystopian satires are located in a nightmarish future, but their scripts build on the worst of our world today. Adam McKay's Don’t Look Up is different: this is now, and the notion of a comet hurtling towards the assured destruction of planet Earth is the hub for a heaping-up and jamming-together of how media and government respond to the worst imaginable crisis.

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The Humans review - staring headlong into the abyss

Matt Wolf

A small film that packs a significant wallop, The Humans snuck into view at the very end of 2021 to cast a despairing shadow that extends well beyond the Thanksgiving day during which it takes place.

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A Hero review - a morality tale with no firm conclusions

Markie Robson-Scott

A Hero, set in the ancient city of Shiraz in southwest Iran, revolves around Rahim (Amir Jadidi), a weak man with gleaming white teeth and a permanent smile.
 
He’s on leave from prison for the weekend, an odd concept in itself, as there are no restrictions to his movements and the whole set-up seems surprisingly lax and polite for what we might expect from an Iranian jail.

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Best of 2021: Film

theartsdesk

Like every other artform, cinema suffered greatly in a year of lockdowns. But despite an ever-changing outlook, theartsdesk still managed to review over 130 films in 2021!

Long-awaited blockbusters and no-budget indies fought for screen space big and small, but only a select few achieved five star status. Here are the 2021 releases our critics deemed perfect:

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Titane review - love under the bonnet

Graham Fuller

The restrictiveness of conventional gender identities explains the extreme body horror of Titane, in which a pregnant rookie firefighter frequently invoked as Jesus bleeds car oil from her vagina and from the stigmatic splits in her swollen belly. The miracle of Julia Doucournau’s luridly beautiful Palme d’Or-winner is that the memory of the violence puncturing the film's first half recedes as loving tenderness takes hold.

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The Matrix Resurrections review - reboot or remix?

Joseph Walsh

Back in 1999The Matrix offered something revolutionary. With a heady brew of William Gibson-influenced cyberpunk, Platonic philosophy and Prada, it proved that blockbusters could be both smart and action-packed. Remember those days? 

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The Hand of God review - Sorrentino's unsentimental education

David Nice

“It was the hand of God,” says the Neapolitan family patriarch about a rather unexpected consequence of Maradona's coming to play for the city’s team. That gives us a date, 1984, and, while the adolescent protagonist Fabietto remains in Naples, a fleeting sense of time and place.

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Spider-Man: No Way Home review - The web-slinger returns

Joseph Walsh

A brief warning to readers: while effort is made to avoid spoilers, I would advise anyone who has somehow missed the massive amount of online speculation about the film’s plot to not read on. See the film first, and please come back. 

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Hope review - brilliance and honesty from Norwegian director Maria Sødahl

Markie Robson-Scott

The story of a woman with lung cancer that has metastasised to the brain is based on Norwegian director Maria Sødahl's own experience, which is a hopeful sign in itself.

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The Power of the Dog review - of rawhide and roses

Graham Fuller

The archetypal fascinating male in Jane Campion’s films – whether his allure for a woman owes to his earthy virility or emotional sensitivity, his animal appeal or his soul – has a malign other.

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Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn review - viral venom in Bucharest

Graham Fuller

Though sexual hypocrisy in modern-day Romania is the ostensible target of Bad Lack Banging or Loony Porn – a satirical drama that enfolds a scattershot polemic – Radu Jude’s tenth film is broadly concerned with the nation’s all-enveloping post-Communist malaise.

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The Unforgivable review - Sandra Bullock gets stuck in a doom-struck rut

Adam Sweeting

Based fairly closely on Sally Wainwright’s 2009 ITV series Unforgiven, The Unforgivable replaces the former’s star Suranne Jones with Sandra Bullock and has airlifted the action from Yorkshire to Seattle.

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House Of Gucci review – gloriously gawdy trash

Joseph Walsh

Back in 2013, Gina Gershon chewed up the scenery in the daytime movie House of Versace. Focusing on the murder of Gianni Versace, it was a tacky, cheap drama that knew what it was, and was all the more entertaining for it. The same cant be said of Ridley Scotts new drama which focuses on an equally prestigious Italian fashion house and a murder.

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Drive My Car review - talk therapy on the road

Graham Fuller

In the first 35 minutes of Hamaguchi Ryūsuke’s three-hour Drive My Car, which the Japanese director adapted with Oe Takamasa from a story in Murakami Haruku’s Men Without Women collection, the successful actor Kafuku Yūsuke (Nishijima Hidetoshi) endures experiences that would derail a less stoical man.

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