Film of the Week

Film of the Week
★★★★★ It's hard to adequately describe the magnitude of László Nemes' harrowing Son of Saul

Film Review: Son of Saul

★★★★★
It's hard to find the words to adequately describe the breathtaking magnitude and harrowing brilliance of Son of Saul. More than seventy years have passed since the liberation of the death camps but in that time cinema has struggled to ascertain how the worst atrocities of the Holocaust be portrayed on the big screen. The works of Spielberg and Lanzmann are now joined by one of the most impressive debut features of all time. Hungarian director László Nemes comes as close as is humanly imaginable to conveying the brutal inhumanity of the darkest chapter in modern history from within the walls of Auschwitz-Birkenau. It is a claustrophobic masterpiece of gut-wrenching bravura filmmaking.

Film Review: Ratchet & Clank

★★☆☆☆
Some 16 years ago, action-packed third-person videogame Ratchet & Clank blasted into the hearts and minds of many when it was released for the long-shelved PlayStation 2. It was inevitable that, at some point down the line, a film adaptation would be made - and here it is. Even ith many of the original voice cast involved it's a tired effort that sadly - and it really is sad - doesn't live up to expectations.

Film Review: Heaven Knows What

★★★☆☆
We all know that some people take heroin but for most of us it is what "those people" do, a practice beyond the fringes of mainstream society we engage with at a distance - if at all - through the press and stylised media representations. With their latest feature, Heaven Knows What, Josh and Benny Safdie transcend this distance by recruiting real life heroin addict Arielle Holmes to play herself (as Harley) and tell her chaotic true story. Madly in love with the sadistic Ilya (Caleb Landry Jones) whose twisted notions of fidelity involve goading her to commit suicide, Harley roams the streets of New York in search of her next rush, never worrying too much about such inconveniences as a home or a job.

Film Review: Hard Tide

★★☆☆☆
"Where you going to run? This is Margate!" yells the stocky Mr. Big of the over-familiar seaside crime thriller Hard Tide. This small town on the Kent coast seems an unlikely setting for nefarious doings but the film starts out as a convincing enough tale. Jake (Nathanael Wiseman) is a drug dealer and enforcer, a chippy skinhead who strides about the waterfront and housing estates with his bag of wares and the occasional duffing up to be delivered. He has a past of foster homes and a criminal kingpin father (Ralph Brown) who is about to go into prison and leave his estranged son in charge of the family business.

Film Review: Golden Years

★★★☆☆
If there's one thing to be learned from the Hatton Garden robbery, it's that OAPs are not to be underestimated when it comes to audacious heists. Golden Years is a light-hearted, entertaining crime romp that bounces around the high street banks of middle England at a geriatric shuffle. There are plenty of laughs and mishaps along the way and a modicum of social comment on the treatment of the elderly, too. Director and co-writer John Miller tells the tale of a group of grey-haired pals whose pensions are menaced by recession and the existence of their beloved bowls and bingo club threatened with closure.

Film Review: Demolition

★★★★☆
Jake Gyllenhaal has recently proved himself more than capable of carrying a film on his alternately emaciated or beefed-up shoulders. In Jean-Marc Vallée's Demolition they're characteristically broad and Gyllenhaal's performance is one of his finest to date; further proof of his ever-growing and impressively hirsute acting chops. Vallée's return to Toronto is a triumph at the level of Dallas Buyers Club, following the slight hiccup of last year's Wild. The French-Canadian certainly turns the quirk-o-meter up to eleven here with a tale that explores the effects of grief through a character unable to shed even a tear.

Film Review: Captain America: Civil War

★★★☆☆
The Russo brothers return with Captain America: Civil War, pitting two of Marvel's favourite sons against each other - but are you #TeamCap or #TeamIronman? Swathes of superheroes go at it and action abounds, but at the core of this film is not the light-hearted frolics of Joss Whedon's Avengers outings. Instead, this is something a little more confused, overly-long, but nevertheless an entertaining blockbuster with a few surprising decisions thrown in. Following the Battle of New York, the destruction of Sokovia and numerous other catastrophes indirectly caused by the Avengers, it is decided by the world's governments that these heroes need to be brought into check.

Film Review: Arabian Nights: Volume Two

★★★★☆
The second part in the Arabian Nights saga slowly but surely raises a middle finger to the Portuguese establishment. As its subtitle suggests the mood moves toward the disconsolate, the desperate and the disenfranchised. There's a weary helplessness to The Desolate One which makes its overall tone far more sombre than the amusing oddity witnessed in The Restless One. Director Miguel Gomes applies the rule of three to part two of his trilogy. The Escape of Simao Without Bowels, The Tears of the Judge and The Owners of Dixie constitute three extended chapters, each narrated by the disembodied, omniscient voice of Scheherazade (Crista Alfaiate).

Interview: Miguel Gomes


Following the widespread acclaim of his monochrome 2012 feature Tabu, Miguel Gomes ups the stakes with six-hour three volume epic Arabian Nights. An extraordinarily ambitious and eclectic work, it combines the mythology of Scheherazade's tales with a critique of the Portuguese government's program of austerity during the financial crisis. Confused? You may will be. But there is something quite brilliant here. Between cigarettes and with glass of red wine in hand, he spoke to CineVue's Matthew Anderson about his latest cinematic creation.

DVD Review: The Zero Boys

★★★☆☆
Cult film archivists Arrow Video sometimes unearth an obscure artefact from a cinematic bygone era which proves to be something of a lost gem and is rightfully lavished with the kind of praise that has previously eluded it. It's safe to say The Zero Boys isn't one of those releases, yet in its own terrible way, there's much enjoyment to be had here. It's the kind of film which feels like it was custom made for a 'bad movie' audience participatory screening.

DVD Review: Sisters

★★★★☆
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler pair up once more for the raucous quasi-Christmas comedy Sisters. Penned by Saturday Night Live writer Paula Pell and helmed by Pitch Perfect director Jason Moore, the comedy sees Poehler and Fey star as Maura and Kate Ellis, two siblings approaching middle age. Maura is a divorcee, do-gooder nurse, perfectly introduced when she patronisingly tries to apply suncream to a man she believes to be homeless, only to realise he is in fact a resting construction worker.

DVD Review: The Ninth Configuration

★★★★☆
Ever had trouble in a casual conversation explaining the plot of a film you've recently watched? Try recounting what happens in The Ninth Configuration and you're liable to end up in a gibbering, tongue-tied mess on the floor. A uniquely original take on the manifestations of post-traumatic stress disorder, it tiptoes around maintaining a tonal consistency, oscillating from laugh-out-loud farce to a dark, yet strangely poignant, existentialist study. It also, somehow, manages to feature the most unnerving and extraordinary bar confrontation ever committed to celluloid. To say that it's incredibly difficult to categorise would be an understatement, yet this really shouldn't put you off viewing.

DVD Review: Mysterious Object at Noon

★★★★☆
The construction of a narrative may not be the first thing that comes to mind when one considers the beguiling cinema of Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Indeed, such matters seem irrelevant and even a little uncouth when contemplating his particular form of poetic transcendence - but when 'Joe' started out, the construction of narrative was his opening premise. Adopting the surrealist storytelling game of the exquisite corpse, he set about travelling Thailand to stitch together something approximating a shared national dreamscape, something that he continues to pursue to this day.

DVD Review: Joy

★★★★☆
Reinvention and familial turmoil have long been hallmarks of David O. Russell's particular brand of knockabout cinema and his latest collaboration with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, Joy, is a wonderful fairytale marriage of the two. It's a banana flambé with extra rum that brazenly throws together folksy storytelling, arch soap opera melodrama and a typically eccentric cast into a golden Hollywood crack at the American Dream. "I don't need a prince," declares the young protagonist (Isabella Crovetti-Cramp) before J-Law takes over leading lady duties and carries the fortunes of on-screen and off-screen families on her increasingly charismatic shoulders.

Film Review: Miles Ahead

★★★★☆
2004 must seem like a long time ago for Don Cheadle - whose lead performance in that year's Hotel Rwanda won wide acclaim for its humanity in a film portraying very knotty, harrowing matter. In recent years, his film work has mostly been limited to output from the Marvel stable, so it's little surprise that he feels the need to cut loose, take a few risks and "be wrong, strong" up on the big stage. Miles Ahead, a frenetic biopic of jazz great Miles Davis, is his tribute to a troubled pioneer.

Film Review: Mapplethorpe

★★★☆☆
Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato's Mapplethorpe: Looks at the Pictures is a compelling slice of the art world from every angle. With a tight focus on decoding the myth of iconic photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, this documentary is entrancing to watch if only because it manages to turn its subject into an enigma while it explores his life. Part paean for the artist, part exposé of Mapplethorpe as a man, Looks at the Pictures is a treat for audiences. What unfolds throughout this documentary is a careful, if somewhat typical, examination of its eponymous subject.

Film Review: Louder Than Bombs

★★★★☆
More often than not, men fall somewhere between ill-equipped and completely inept when it comes to sharing, processing and discussing their emotions. This is duly amplified when it involves coping with the unexpected loss of a loved one under traumatic circumstances. Louder Than Bombs, Joachim Trier's first foray into English-language filmmaking, demonstrates a similar awkwardness, reticence and restraint as Gene (Gabriel Byrne) and sons Jonah (Jesse Eisenberg) and Conrad (Devin Druid), who grieve the loss of mother and wife, Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert).

Film Review: The Divide

★★★☆☆
It's safe to say that Katharine Round and Gordon Gekko would not see eye to eye if asked whether greed was good. The British filmmaker's subtly profound documentary, The Divide, laments the growing inequality between the super rich and all us plebs below them. Round's film is yet another rallying cry for the masses to rage against the machine, but one which retains a sickening sense of history repeating itself. Burning with injustice, even helplessness, it is a commendably even-handed indictment of capitalism that leaves an undeniably bitter taste in the mouth.

Film Review: Desert Dancer

★★☆☆☆
It's all the more disappointing for a cinemagoer when a film meant to delight in a fellow performance art falls limply flat on its face. Paired with a weakly executed, western-articulated perspective on the constraints of Iranian society, Richard Raymond's debut feature Desert Dancer is a lifeless, contrived and remarkably unengaging rallying cry for freedom of expression and self-fulfilment in the face of adversity. Caught somewhere between one of the Step Up series and an attempted expose on political oppression, the film opens with images of a man beaten black and blue by vicious kicks to the face.

Film Review: Bastille Day

★★☆☆☆
British director James Watkins has labelled his latest big screen effort a fun, Friday night cinematic ride. Aspiring to Walter Hill's 1982 unorthodox buddy movie 48 Hrs, which starred Nick Nolte and a baby-faced Eddie Murphy as cop and con respectively, Bastille Day represents a marked change in direction after acclaimed horror-chillers Eden Lake and The Woman in Black. If expectations of Watkins' third feature are kept within the boundaries of wham-bam-thank- you-ma'am generic action thrills and spills, audiences should be satisfied enough, but as pulse-raising as it is to see Idris Elba let loose as a gun-wielding CIA agent on the streets of Paris there remains a lot that that is highly problematic here.

Film Review: Arabian Nights: Volume One

★★★★☆
Once in a blue moon a film will come along that defies criticism, understanding and any conventional sense of logic. But left to percolate and ruminate in the back of one's mind for long enough it proves to be something quite brilliant. With Arabian Nights, a six-hour epic split into three distinct volumes, Portuguese director Miguel Gomes has created such a film. It is not undue praise to call it a work of art.

Criterion Review: The Tragedy of Macbeth

★★★★★
In one of the special supplements on the Criterion Collection's release of Roman Polanski's The Tragedy of Macbeth, the director describes the joy of adapting The Bard. "It's a little bit like jazz," he says, "where you have a theme and you can improvise upon this theme." This perfectly encapsulates his exceptional interpretation of The Scottish Play which prunes the poetic dialogue to affect a more naturalistic tone and internalises many soliloquies to convey a surprising degree of psychological realism. In doing so, Polanski makes Macbeth a startling exploration of twisted youthful ambition in a world beset by grim brutality.

Criterion Review: Tootsie

★★★★☆
In a tearful and candid interview, Dustin Hoffman once explained his impetus to make Tootsie: expecting himself to be a beautiful woman in make-up test, he was shocked not only to discover that he wasn't, but also realised that if he met the woman staring back at him in the mirror, he would have dismissed her for not being attractive enough. After his revelation, Hoffman knew he had to make the acclaimed 1982 film, claiming afterwards that it was never a comedy for him. In one is surely one of his best performances, Hoffman plays actor Michael Dorsey, who, out of desperation for work, auditions for a female role for a soap opera under the guise of Dorothy Michaels.

Criterion Review: Speedy

★★★★☆
Watching Ted Wilde's silent comedy Speedy is like reading a palimpsest coloured by layer upon layer of nostalgia. In the first instance, there is the veritable nostalgia of watching any and all silent cinema. Speedy is the standard-bearer for pre-talkies in the first wave of UK releases by the prestigious Criterion and proves a perfect example of an art form so beloved of cinephiles and oft overlooked by wider audiences. The ingenuity of visual storytelling is matched only by the marvel of fantastic physical comedy and hilarious unexpected consequences. This is only heightened by the timing of the film's release.
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