Other Writing

Footnote

April 28, 2012
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A story about two professors of Talmudic studies may not sound the most promising scenario for a night at the movies, but Joseph Cedar’s Footnote, which was nominated for an Oscar this year, will surprise the sceptics. While it is hard to believe, even in Israel, that a Talmudic scholar could become a public intellectual, … More


German Film Festival

April 21, 2012
Scene from Hotel Lux

That old injunction from Fawlty Towers – “Don’t mention the war!” – is no longer relevant. Nowadays the German film industry is mentioning the war at every opportunity. The game-breaker was probably Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Downfall of 2004. After a movie devoted to Hitler’s last days in the bunker, there was nothing that might prove more … More


The Deep Blue Sea

April 12, 2012
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It wouldn’t be a Terence Davies film without a singsong, or several singsongs. In Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988), the bleak, powerful, autobiographical movie that brought the director to worldwide attention, the singing took on a ritualistic dimension. Every time the Liverpool locals sang, one felt a few more nails had been hammered into the … More


A Dangerous Method

April 12, 2012
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When a film is based on a play called  The Talking Cure, it is only to be expected there will be a lot of chat, with relatively few scenes of animatronic monsters and bloodthirsty vampires. Nevertheless, in these days when even Sherlock Holmes has become a Kung Fu hero, one learns to expect anything. It … More


This Must Be the Place

April 7, 2012
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Sean Penn has had more dynamic roles, but he can hardly have played a weirder character than Cheyenne, a living relic of the post-punk era, complete with porcupine hairdo, lipstick, and the kind of eyeshadow usually found on Egyptian tomb paintings. Think of Robert Smith from the Cure. When Cheyenne talks, he enunciates every word … More


Le Havre

April 7, 2012
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Some films are too good to be saddled with that paralysing epithet, “heart-warming”. One thinks of smiling, rosey-cheeked children, poor but honest parents, perhaps a loveable old codger, and a dog. Aki Kaurismaki’s Le Havre has the dog, it has the salt-of-the-earth characters, but it also has a vein of surreal humour that never allows … More


Goodbye, First Love

March 31, 2012
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Goodbye First Love is one of those films that will polarise its audience in terms of personality. If you are a type A Alpha male, you will most probably find this tale of young love and lost innocence to be unbearably slow and insipid. If you are the sensitive type B, you may be charmed … More


Margin Call

March 31, 2012
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Margin Call is a small drama about a very big topic: the ongoing exercise in wealth creation and global domination that is Wall Street. It has a fine ensemble cast and the compact atmosphere of a chamber opera played out during one long night in a Manhattan office block. For writer-director, J.C.Chandor, who had previously … More


In Search of Haydn

March 24, 2012
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“Anybody can see just by looking at me that I’m a nice sort of fellow,” said Joseph Haydn. Indeed, one could tell simply from listening to the playful first bars of his Piano Sonata No. 56 in D major. Only a nice fellow could write that. The impression of niceness is reinforced by every talking … More


The Kid with a Bike

March 24, 2012
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While it has been a bumper season for terriers, with star appearances in no fewer than three major films, 2011-12 has also been a boom time for disturbed children. First there was the terrifying protagonist of We Need to Talk about Kevin, then hypersensitive Oscar in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Get ready to meet … More