Film Reviews

Toni Erdmann

February 10, 2017
Peter Simonischek and Sandra Hüller in Toni Erdmann (2016)

Toni Erdmann is a film destined to reignite that old question about the German sense of humour: “Do they have one?” It’s a stereotype Germans themselves like to joke about, in a not-very-funny way. On the evidence of Maren Ade’s long, unorthodox film it seems German humour is alive and well, although some viewers may … More


Manchester by the Sea

February 2, 2017
Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges in Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Patriotism demands we all get excited about Lion and its Oscar chances. Political correctness requires us to be appalled that a notorious sexual harasser such as Casey Affleck, has received a Best Actor nomination for Manchester by the Sea. If only life were so simple. By any standard, Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea is … More


Lion

January 27, 2017
Dev Patel in Lion (2016)

There are two kinds of exotic in Lion – exotic India, all poverty and squalor; and exotic Tasmania with its rugged scenery and sporty lifestyles. Middle-class audiences in America and Europe can indulge in a double whammy: feeling sympathy for the Indians and envy for the Tasmanians. This is a first feature for Australian director, … More


Jackie

January 20, 2017
Natalie Portman in Jackie (2016)

Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot. In an interview with Theodore H. White of Life magazine one week after her husband’s assassination, Jackie Kennedy insisted that no-one should forget Camelot. It was the song Jack loved most, the lines he … More


Passengers

January 13, 2017
Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers (2016)

Writing in the 1920s Aldous Huxley denounced the joyless “Good Time” that had made people into passive consumers of art and entertainment. Huxley regretted that the cinema had killed off amateur theatrics, while music making at home had been supplanted by the gramophone. He believed this indulgence in instant entertainment led to a crippling sense … More


Paterson

January 6, 2017
Adam Driver in Paterson, 2016. Photo by Mary Cybulsky - © Window Frame Films

For most directors film is a narrative art. Those movies that abandon story-telling in favour of portentous ‘poetic’ imagery are rapidly consigned to the arthouse bin where they are admired by a handful of academics and ignored by everyone else. In Paterson, Jim Jarmusch has demonstrated that it’s possible to make a film about poetry … More


Office Christmas Party

December 16, 2016
T.J Miller and Courtney B. Vance in Office Christmas Party (2016)

T.J.Miller, one of the stars of Office Christmas Party, was arrested last week for slapping someone across the back of the head after an argument about Donald Trump. In the movie he presides – with apparent impunity – over an evening of massive destruction of private property and numberless offences against good taste. In a … More


La La Land

December 16, 2016
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land (2016)

With seven nominations for this year’s Golden Globes it will be surprising if La La Land doesn’t blitz the coming awards season. 31-year-old writer-director, Damien Chazelle came to prominence with his impressive second feature, Whiplash (2014), described as a horror film about music. Now he has given us a musical that pays homage to the … More


Little Men

December 9, 2016
Michael Barbieri and Theo Taplitz in Little Men (2016

This time of year is the Sargasso Sea of new releases. The big films have already been reviewed and there is very little to see until Boxing Day, when one is confronted with an embarrassment of choices. In the absence of a Big Film, I’m obliged to write about a little one. Everything is of … More


Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

December 2, 2016
Joe Alwyn in Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (2016)

It takes a confident director to run with a title like Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, but we know that’s the case with Ang Lee – a fearless all-rounder who has worked in a wide range of genres since his debut in 1992. To keep the title is really a mark of respect for the … More