Film Reviews

Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice

March 31, 2016
Henry Cavill in 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' (2016)

At the age of twelve I read Marvel comics with religious dedication. As a fan one made a clear choice between the Marvel universe and that of its great rival, DC comics. While DC may have had those two archetypal superheroes, Batman and Superman, Marvel had a whole raft of characters that seemed more imaginatively … More


The Witch

March 23, 2016
Anya Taylor-Joy in 'The Witch' (2015)

Robert Eggers’s directorial debut, The Witch, is a horror movie that will appeal more strongly to arthouse types than to viewers weaned on a diet of ‘shock and gore’. It’s undeniably creepy but most of the director’s energy has gone into the creation of atmosphere and period detail. The entire film seems to have been … More


A Bigger Splash

March 23, 2016
Tilda Swinton in 'A Bigger Splash' (2015)

Ten years ago Ralph Fiennes was the model of a stiff-upper-lip character actor, the epitome of English reserve. There was, however, another persona biding its time until it could be unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. This Fiennes has given us a brutal warrior in Coriolanus, a sparkling portrait of Charles Dickens in The Invisible Woman, … More


10 Cloverfield Lane

March 17, 2016
Mary Elizabeth Winstead in '10 Cloverfield Lane' (2016)

Would you like to wake up and find yourself locked in a bunker with John Goodman? In 10 Cloverfield Lane this is exactly what happens to Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who plays Michelle, a young woman who leaves her fiancée and heads off on a road trip. After a car accident she regains consciousness chained to … More


Eye in the Sky

March 17, 2016
Aaron Paul in 'Eye in the Sky' (2015)

“Something inherent in the necessities of successful action,’ wrote Joseph Conrad in Nostromo,’ carried with it the moral degradation of the idea.” He could be describing the contemporary ‘war on terror’, in which the efficient use of drones makes a mockery of the idea of the nobility of armed conflict. There’s nothing romantic about sending … More


The Daughter

March 10, 2016
Odessa Young in 'The Daughter' (2015)

Being only an occasional theatre-goer, I’ve not been able to form an opinion on the productions of local Wunderkind, Simon Stone, who has made his reputation rewriting classic plays by figures such as Chekhov and Ibsen. The one play I did see – based very loosely on Gogol’s The Government Inspector – was a pretty … More


The Lady in the Van

March 10, 2016
Maggie Smith in 'The Lady in the Van' (2015)

Casting Maggie Smith in anything is a reliable way of collecting a few favourable reviews and a tidy sum at the the box office. Make it an Alan Bennett script and the percentages keep improving. And so we have The Lady in the Van, a likeable film with a few fanciful touches that should elicit … More


Alliance Francaise French Film Festival 2016

March 4, 2016
Catherine Frot in 'Marguerite' (2015)

Last year’s French Film Festival reprised three classics, including Jean Renoir’s La Grande Illusion (1937). This year the retro special is Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt (Le Mépris) (1963). By coincidence this is a film I watched again only recently, after reading Alberto Moravia’s A Ghost at Noon (1954) – a book that is chiefly known today … More


Son of Saul

February 25, 2016
Géza Röhrig in 'Son of Saul' (2015)

Son of Saul is not the kind of film that will draw large, admiring audiences. Set in the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944, it is the latest manifestation of the cinema’s morbid fascination with the Holocaust. It’s a topic that generates a pre-emptive sense of emotional fatigue, as there is only so much horror … More


Hail, Caesar!

February 24, 2016
George Clooney in 'Hail, Caesar!' (2016)

“Comedy deserves to be taken seriously,” wrote Aldous Huxley, in 1924, before going on to denounce those “lesser exponents” of the genre who specialise in “triviality, ugliness and vulgarity.” Three years later The Jazz Singer ushered in a new era of ‘talkies’ that would change the way Hollywood made comedies, as slapstick and sight gags … More