★★★☆☆New Yorkers staring skywards from below the World Trade Center, struck by a sense of terror and confusion, evokes dark memories of the not too distant past. However, in The Walk (2015), the latest film from Robert Zemeckis, the onlookers' bewildered emotions are mingled with admiration, awe and sheer disbelief. This is due to French high-wire walker Philippe Petit (played with characteristically boyish charm by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) attempting to traverse a cable linking the towers at 1,400 feet above terra firma.
The Martian (2015), is to be considered as evidence, then the answer is 'not likely'. Based on the novel by Andy Wier, here Damon excels as botanist Mark Watney, who is forced to rely on his expert know-how and good old American can-do attitude to survive after been left for dead on the surface of the Red Planet.Read More »
Snowtown director Justin Kurzel's visually inventive take on the Scottish play Macbeth (2015), starring Michael Fassbender as the murderous Thane and Marion Cotillard as his Lady. Scotland is in the grip of civil war and the survival of King Duncan's (David Thewlis) reign depends on a final battle with the loyal Macbeth commanding his troops. The battle is bloody and brutal but with a stylised 300-like aesthetic of slow motion interlaced with bloody detail. Banquo (the ever excellent Paddy Considine) and Macbeth meet up with the weird sisters - four rather than three here - and are gifted/cursed with their fatal prophecies.Read More »
Convenience (2015) starts with a bang as half naked Shaan (Adeel Akhtar) runs from the Russian mafia down a wet street as music pounds in the background, bringing to mind the kinetic energy of Danny Boyle's Trainspotting. It won't be the last influence to be cited in Keri Collins' spritely, entertaining if somewhat shop worn British indie-comedy. Shaan, it turns out, has inadvertently run up a huge bill at a local strip club and leads his pursuers back to his flat.Read More »
By Our Selves (2015), a barmy reconstruction of a four-day walk/escapade that Clare took from the asylum near Epping Forest, where he was confined, heading for Helpston in Northamptonshire. Toby Jones has the thankless task of portraying the escapee, wandering about looking befuddled while a variety of voices recite poetry and letters, or mutter against a soundtrack that mixes ambient noise and electronic fluttering.Read More »
Funny Ha Ha (2002), Mutual Appreciation (2005) and Beeswax (2009) possess a tenderness and interest in their characters that few filmmakers are capable of.Read More »
★★☆☆☆In a grey, rainy London, hued blue to add further sombre foreboding, the indomitable Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) finds himself in a familiar position: watching an op go south via screens in a new and improved Thames House, stuck between a rock and a hard place. Bharat Nalluri - who directed half a dozen episodes of Spooks - has created a feature based firmly on show which is at the same time expansive and reductive in its cinematic scope and only partly successful in its attempt to catapult the property from tube to silver screen.
P'tit Quinquin (2014), which premièred on French television last year and is now released in its entirety as a singular work on DVD courtesy of New Wave Films.Read More »
Fallen Angel (1945), Whirlpool (1949) and Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950). The collection itself is handsomely, if a little sparsely, presented with a small but informative booklet, and trailers and commentaries for each film.Read More »
Night and the City (1950) postmarked the end of the gloom-ridden cinema of the forties as something of an exemplary of the film noir genre. Directed by Jules Dassin before his unfathomable exile from Hollywood, the film is an astonishing, baroque study of corruption and paranoia in a frantic metropolitan setting rife with betrayal.Read More »
Leave to Remain (2013) confronts the issue of teenage asylum seekers struggling to adapt to life in London and dealing with past trauma as they wait for their permanent leave to remain. In Britain, unaccompanied minors are granted temporary asylum and are placed in foster homes or shelters. But when they reach eighteen, their cases are reassessed and they live in limbo as they await the court's decision which can take months, or even years.Read More »
Catch Me Daddy (2014) is a film that engages in a far more pertinent aspect of contemporary culture, combining British values and Islamic beliefs under a shared canopy of greed and dominant masculinity.Read More »
Anarchy (2014) is an intriguingly off-the-wall production which ultimately doesn't quite gel. Cymbeline (Ed Harris) of the Briton Motorcycle Club goes to war with the Roman police department headed by Caius Lucius (Vondie Curtis-Hall). Meanwhile, his second wife (Milla Jovovich) plots to remove Cymbeline's beloved daughter Imogen (Dakota Johnson), who is also endangered by trouble-making villain Iachimo (Ethan Hawke), who taunts her boyfriend Posthumus (Penn Badgley) into an ill-advised bet against Imogen's fidelity.Read More »
52 Tuesdays (2013), Sophie Hyde, must be commended for her sticking to the challenging rules that she set herself. The film was shot strictly on every Tuesday for a year, to the point that when one character takes a brief trip to San Francisco they still made sure that the crew stuck to Australian timezones when shooting his scenes. This rigorous, near-masochistic commitment to form could easily be deemed unnecessary, but the authenticity it adds creates a depth that the film would have lacked otherwise.Read More »
Arcade Fire: The Reflektor Tapes (2015), begging the question: why not just release your music anonymously? Why allow a filmmaker access to your live shows and recording sessions? Why allow them to interview you so that you come out with such guff? As Gandhi might have advised: "Be the change you want to see in the world." Kahlil Joseph's rockumentary (if you will) strives to be an impressionistic mix of audio and visual sensation, a cornucopian bricolage of text, image and sound. It also makes no concession to those who aren't fans of the band.Read More »
Palio (2015) - released in UK cinemas this week - is about the oldest horse race in the world, whose origins date from medieval times. The Palio is a ruthless bareback race around the Piazza del Campo, Siena's main square. There are two a year, held in July and August and each race lasts a breathtaking ninety seconds. Spender interviews jockeys, former jockeys now trainers and horse owners, many of whom describe the race as "the essence of the city".Read More »
Orion: The Man Who Would Be King (2015). Jeanie Finlay's best-known film to date, The Great Hip-Hop Hoax (2013), was an unbelievable tale of a music industry swindle and she's dipped her toe in similar, but far deeper waters for her follow-up. The tale of a man who found both imprisonment and release in a glittery eye-mask, this is a stirring exploration of that age-old comic book dichotomy before any of the current crop of big-screen superhero outings have managed it.Read More »
Narcopolis (2014) posits such a future as a dour urban nightmare in which everyone looks miserable, except when they're dancing to futuristic house music - which basically sounds like the same thing we have now. A billionaire corporate big wig - a cross between Richard Branson and Steve Jobs - Tod Ambro (James Callis) has cornered the market and is pushing his legal wares in schools, workplaces and through mass advertising through his omnipresent TV advertising and the rather naïf slogan 'If you want Safe Play, Play Safe'.Read More »
Mia Madre (2015), which first premièred at this year's Cannes Film Festival, is a meditation on imminent grief and the loss of a mother. Margherita (Margherita Buy) is a stressed modern woman, balancing her career as an established film director, her family commitments - she has a daughter, custody is shared amicably with the father - and the recent illness of her mother. She's in the latter stages of a break up with one of her actors. She spends her days on set making what looks like a fairly tired and clichéd political film about a labour dispute.Read More »
Life (2015) a James Dean biopic, despite its subject matter. Far more interesting is the fact that Corbijn, a world famous photographer known for working with everyone from Bob Dylan to U2, has chosen to direct a film about photographer Dennis Stock, the man responsible for the iconic Times Square image of Dean. Life is a small but eloquently expressed drama of two men whose lives cross and how they effect each other's futures - with one of the pair destined to become a Hollywood icon.Read More »
★☆☆☆☆The warning signs are there even before the opening credits roll. Lessons in Love (2014) - the UK title of Tom Vaughan's latest - went through two prior iterations for its appearance in Canadian (How To Make Love Like An Englishman) and US (Some Kind of Beautiful) cinemas. Unfortunately, much like giving someone the same present for Christmas, Easter and their birthday, no matter how this rom-com is gift wrapped the resultant 99 minutes of your life will feel as hollow and wasted as receiving an empty box.
Just Jim (2015) pretty remarkable is unlike those who had spent a considerable time performing before making the leap (under the tutelage of Don Siegel and Sergio Leone, Eastwood had hit forty when he directed Play Misty For Me in 1971), Craig Roberts is a fresh-faced 24 year-old who first made an impact as an actor five years previous in Richard Ayoade's teen comedy Submarine (2010).Read More »
99 Homes (2014), is a humid Floridian thriller set during the 2008 US housing market collapse. Combining economics, class and wealth inequality to form a deeply compassionate portrait of a family struggling on the margins, it's a refreshingly intelligent and socially aware thriller about how the commodification of the house has irrevocably changed the definition of the 'home', focusing on the human tragedy that accompanied the numerous court-ordered repossessions of the sub-prime market crash.Read More »
Right Now, Wrong Then (2015). Employing a structural gimmick to far more interesting effect than last year's The Hill of Freedom (2014), Hong explores how slightest change in the wind can alter the course of life. Naturally, he does this in a whimsical tale that wends its way through the foothills of a tentative romance. It's endearing, but unlikely to convert those that have previously resisted the director's charms.Read More »
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