Film Reviews

Dior and I

April 4, 2015
Raf Simons in 'Dior and I' (2014)

Fashion is usually considered a frivolous business, but at the top end it can get very dark indeed. Last year saw the release of two bio-pics of Yves Saint Laurent, in which the great designer’s mental and physical decay was charted in forensic detail. Closer to the present we have seen John Galliano go completely … More


Samba

April 4, 2015
Omar Sy in 'Samba' (2014)

Four years ago, French filmmakers, Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano had such a huge hit with The Intouchables, it left one wondering what they could possibly do for an encore. The answer is Samba, another humanistic comedy-drama starring Omar Sy, the giant-sized wheelchair-pusher from the previous movie. The paradigm may be slightly different but the … More


A Little Chaos

March 28, 2015
Kate Winslet in 'A Little Chaos' (2014)

After watching Leviathan, a present-day tale with overtones of the Old Testament, it is almost a light relief to turn to A Little Chaos, Alan Rickman’s period drama of the Ancient Regime. Set in the court of the Sun King, Louis XIV, it is the story of a fictional landscape gardener, Sabine De Barra, and … More


Leviathan

March 28, 2015
Elena Lyadova in 'Leviathan' (2014)

If you’ve ever wondered why the Russians drink so much, Leviathan has all the answers. No nation does ‘bleak’ so well, but the art lies in creating something both bleak and magnificent at the same time. Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Chekhov were exemplary, while Tarkovsky managed the feat better than any other modern Russian director. Enter … More


Big Eyes

March 21, 2015
Amy Adams in 'Big Eyes' (2014)

When New York Times art critic, John Canaday, wrote a scathing attack on the directors of the 1964 World’s Fair for choosing to hang a gigantic picture of 100 big-eyed children as a “theme painting”, the offending item was quickly removed. Those were the days! Art criticism (and the New York Times) were taken seriously. … More


‘71

March 21, 2015
Jack O'Connell in ''71' (2014)

Yann Demange’s ’71, begins with two soldiers in boxing gloves beating each other to a pulp. This proves to be a relatively gentle opening for a relentless, heart-in-mouth thriller set in Belfast during the period euphemistically known as “The Troubles”. The movie follows a young British soldier, Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell), who finds himself trapped … More


Inherent Vice

March 14, 2015
Joaquin Phoenix in 'Inherent Vice' (2014)

Anyone who complains that the plot of Inherent Vice is confusing has obviously never read a novel by Thomas Pynchon. Confusion, or rather paranoia, is the standard condition of most of Pynchon’s characters, and perhaps readers, – which may explain why Paul Thomas Anderson’s film is the first attempt to bring this elusive author’s work … More


Chappie

March 14, 2015
Hugh Jackman in 'Chappie' (2015)

Chappie is destined to divide its audience. A quick look at the Rotten Tomatoes site reveals a chasm between the critics’ approval rating of 28% and the audience score of 95%. I felt the same conflict within my own mind. I began by thinking it was one of the silliest films I’d seen in a … More


French Film Festival 2015

March 7, 2015
Gemma Arterton in 'Gemma Bovery' (2014)

Three years ago the ever-popular Alliance Francaise French Film Festival opened with Valérie Donzelli’s A Declaration of War. The film had been a hit in France but it provoked a good deal of muttering and eyebrow-raising among the first-night crowd at the Palace Verona who didn’t know what to make of a movie about a … More


A Most Violent Year

February 28, 2015
Oscar Issac in 'A Most Violent Year' (2014)

Oscar Isaac does his best to channel Al Pacino in A Most Violent Year, while director, J.C.Chandor acts as the medium by which the late Sidney Lumet gets to direct another film. These flashes of déjà vu don’t spoil a slow burning thriller that smoulders but never quite blazes. Despite the title, A Most Violent … More