biography

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


The Founder

November 24, 2016
Michael Keaton in The Founder (2016)

There are characters that can’t be made sympathetic no matter how many hardships they endure. One such is Ray Kroc, the “founder” of the McDonalds fast-food empire. In almost any other film we would warm to this story of a 50-something battler who succeeds in making it big through his commitment to unstinting hard work … More


Snowden

September 22, 2016
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 'Snowden' (2016)

Snowden belongs to a peculiar new genre: the fictionalised re-make of the successful documentary – in this case, Laura Poitras’s award-winning Citizenfour (2014). The question for viewers is whether director, Oliver Stone, has brought anything new and vital to the mix that was not canvassed in the real-life film. The answer is ‘no’, unless we … More


Embrace of the Serpent

August 4, 2016
Nilbio Torres in 'Embrace the Serpent' (2015)

There can’t be many films in which the lead actor has never actually seen a movie before, let alone starred in one. This unique achievement belongs to Nilbio Torres, an Amazonian Indian who plays a lead role in Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent, the first Columbian film to have been nominated for an Academy … More


Miles Ahead

June 17, 2016
Don Cheadle in 'Miles Ahead' (2015)

In a week in which all the talk is about America’s bloody love affair with firearms, it’s remarkable to see three movies that show the devotion that Elvis, Hank Williams, and Miles Davis felt for their guns. The portrayal of Miles Davis brought to us by Don Cheadle, who both directs and stars, is on … More


Queen of the Desert

June 3, 2016
Nicole Kidman in 'Queen of the Desert' (2015)

Werner Herzog has made some great movies in the course of a career of more than 50 years, but Queen of the Desert isn’t one of them. In this biopic – a virtual masterpiece of miscasting – the “waif-like” Gertrude Bell is represented by the towering form of Our Nic; James Franco struggles with a … More


The Man Who Knew Infinity

May 12, 2016
Dev Patel in 'The Man Who Knew Infinity' (2015)

There may be no Afghans in lead roles in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, but The Man Who Knew Infinity does manage to insert a few genuine Indians in key places. Who else but Dev Patel, known for his work in Slumdog Millionaire, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and Neill Blomkamp’s underrated Chappie. Patel has become the … More


Florence Foster Jenkins

May 6, 2016
Meryl Streep in 'Florence Foster Jenkins' (2016)

Florence Foster Jenkins (1868-1944) entered my consciousness in the early 1990s when I first heard her rendition of the Queen of the Night aria from The Magic Flute. This shrieking, tuneless performance of one of the most challenging pieces in the soprano’s repertoire is the stuff of high comedy. In 2003 Naxos issued an album … More


Eddie the Eagle

April 29, 2016
Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman in 'Eddie the Eagle' (2016)

Eddie the Eagle may be the year’s most shameless piece of feel-good filmmaking. Many viewers, myself included, usually feel pretty bad at the prospect of another feel-good film, but it would take a special kind of wowser to deny the entertainment value of this tale of glorious failure. What do I mean by a “feel-good” … 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


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