Film Reviews

Suffragette

January 6, 2016
Carey Mulligan in 'Suffragette' (2015)

It’s a common tactic when making a film about an historical moment to focus on a single participant. Make that character fictional and you have more room to move, being able to channel all the important points into an Everyman – or Everywoman. In Suffragette, Carey Mulligan plays that role. She is Maude Watts, an … More


Youth

January 4, 2016
Michael Caine in 'Youth' (2015)

Paolo Sorrentino’s This Must be the Place was the most cruelly underrated film of 2011. He followed up with The Great Beauty (2013), which was as close to a masterpiece that Italy has produced since the glory days of Cinecittà. Now we have Youth, another multi-layered homage to Fellini, filled with striking images and dubious … More


Joy

January 4, 2016
Jennifer Lawrence in 'Joy' (2015)

David O. Russell is one of the few active Hollywood directors that thinks in terms of stories, scripts and actors rather than big budgets and special effects. Paolo Sorrentino is the most talented director to emerge from Italy over the past two decades. Both men have new movies released this week, movies that are flawed … More


Star Wars: The Force Awakens

December 17, 2015
John Boyega & Daisy Ridley in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' (2015)

In preparation for the new Star Wars movie I planned to work my way through the six previous installments in this never-ending saga. At the end of the of year there is virtually nothing to write about until Boxing Day brings a swag of new releases, so I had time to do my homework. It … More


By the Sea

December 10, 2015
Angelina Jolie Pitt in 'By the Sea' (2015)

By the Sea has received such terrible notices I went along with diminished expectations – which was probably the ideal frame of mind in which to view Angelina Jolie Pitt’s third outing as a director. Think: “I know this is going to be bad,” and for a long time you can fool yourself that it … More


Truth

December 10, 2015
Cate Blanchett in 'Truth' (2015)

For those of us who haven’t grown up watching Dan Rather anchoring the CBS News, his portrayal in Truth is a little hard to swallow. Played by Robert Redford as a secular saint, Rather comes across a beacon of moral purity in the midst of a media swamp. Not only is he the ‘grand old … More


Phoenix

December 4, 2015
Nina Hoss in 'Phoenix' (2014)

While Ron Howard gives us adventure on the high seas, Christian Petzold takes us to a seedy, broken-down Germany in the wake of the Second World War. Phoenix is an advance on Petzold’s previous feature, Barbara (2012), which was set in East Germany during the 1980s. Both movies share the same female and male leads, … More


In the Heart of the Sea

December 4, 2015
Chris Hemsworth in 'In the Heart of the Sea' (2015)

Ron Howard is the kind of old-fashioned director Hollywood loves. He is happy to work with trash such as The Da Vinci Code (2006), but able to rise to the occasion when given a more challenging assignment such as Apollo 13 (1995) or Frost/Nixon (2008). The skill is to make the trash seem a little … More


The Program

November 26, 2015
Ben Foster in 'The Program' (2015)

It’s strange that with so many excellent documentaries being made today, filmmakers still believe that every true story needs to be turned into fiction. This was the case with features such as The Walk and Freeheld, which reworked the subjects of acclaimed documentaries. Now Stephen Frears, who really should know better, has entered the fray … More


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

November 26, 2015
Jennifer Lawrence in 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2' (2015)

After four gruelling installments the lucrative Hunger Games franchise has finally ground to a halt. Just as The Hobbit had to be extruded into a trilogy, with the entire third part based on only a few pages of the actual book, so too has Suzanne Collins’s young adult series been stretched beyond the point of … More