comedy

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


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


The Interview

February 20, 2015
Seth Rogen & James Franco in 'the Interview' (2014)

I’d never felt much sympathy for the despotic regime in Pyongyang – until I saw The Interview. We know the late Kim Jong-il was a movie buff who went so far as to kidnap South Korean director, Shin Sang-ok and his actress wife, Choi Eun-hee, to help improve the quality of his propaganda films. One … More


What We Did on Our Holiday

February 14, 2015
Billy Connolly in 'What we Did on Our Holiday' (2014)

Viewers who have come staggering, glaze-eyed, out of Selma or American Sniper, and are looking for a change of pace, might appreciate the whimsical charms of What We Did On Our Holiday. This comedy-drama by British writer-directors, Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin, is a spin-off from the popular BBC comedy series, Outnumbered. The actors may … More


Mortdecai

February 7, 2015
Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai' (2015)

Mortdecai is one of those films that would have had me surging towards the exit after about 10 minutes if I didn’t have a professional obligation to hang around. I could only watch with envy while members of the audience filed out at regular intervals. As an attempt at a brand of screwball or ‘caper’ … More


Birdman

January 17, 2015
Michael Keaton in 'Birdman' (2014)

Mexican director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, has a reputation for dark and difficult films but Birdman is a philosophical black comedy that holds us from first to last. It’s a story about the theatre that examines the changing nature of fame, the difficulty of human relationships, the splendours and miseries of the actor’s life. It’s also … More


St. Vincent

January 10, 2015
Bill Murray in 'St. Vincent' (2014)

Sentimentality looms dangerously over Theodore Melfi’s comedy-drama, St. Vincent, which tells the tale of an aging misanthrope who becomes baby-sitter for a precocious little boy. I can hear the alarm bells ringing already. “It’s not that snotty little creep from Love Actually, is it?” Fortunately, no. The boy, Oliver, is played by 11-year-old Jaeden Lieberher, … More


Annie

December 20, 2014
Quvenzhané Wallis in 'Annie' (2014)

This time of year the main choices for a critic are between movies for children and movies for childish adults. I’ve yet to see the film about Paddington Bear the Asylum Seeker but I’d recommend going soon before Scott Morrison slaps a ban on it. That leaves Annie – a film of wasted opportunities. The … More


Folies Bergère

December 13, 2014
Isabelle Huppert in 'Folies Bergères' (2014)

Isabelle Huppert has the rare ability to conjure up a character while remaining almost completely impassive. Some actors undergo an expressive transformation from one role to the next, but Huppert’s style is that of a minimalist. The straight face gives an impression of hidden depths, and this may be why – although far from conventionally … More


My Old Lady

November 15, 2014
Maggie Smith in 'My Old Lady' (2014)

Some films betray their stage origins too easily, some employ an all-star cast to paper over the cracks in a script or a story. My Old Lady might be found guilty on both counts. As the directorial debut of well-known playwright and occasional screenwriter, Israel Horovitz, it suggests the transition from theatre to cinema can … More


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