drama

Beatriz’s War

July 19, 2014
Irim Tolentino as Beatriz in 'A Guerra da Beatriz' (2013)

Having finally managed to see Beatriz’s War, I almost wish I hadn’t. This first-ever feature from Timor-Leste is a rite of passage; a catharsis for the wrongs endured during the Indonesian occupation. One suspects it will be a long time before the East Timorese are producing comedies and musicals. There’s too much pain and trauma … More


Charlie’s Country

July 19, 2014
Charlie (David Gulpilil) in a scene from Rolf de Heer's 'Charlie's Country' (2014)

In the international arena Charlie’s Country is enjoying success as an arthouse movie, but no film could be more brutally realistic in its depiction of contemporary Aboriginal life. Perhaps any story without car chases and explosions is now automatically consigned to the realm of art, but it’s obvious that Charlie’s Country could never be mistaken … More


The Lunchbox

July 12, 2014
Irrfan Khan in 'The Lunchbox' (2013)

India is by far the world’s largest producer of feature films, but very few of them make their way into our cinemas. For westerners it seems surreal when a Bollywood drama suddenly erupts into an elaborate song and dance routine that would leave Busby Berkeley gasping. For Indian audiences the opposite applies. Without the songs … More


Calvary

July 5, 2014
Brendan Gleeson in 'Calvary' (2014)

Calvary arrives with a big rap, and a raging battle between fans and detractors. In England it has been hailed as possibly the greatest ever film from Ireland, but there are plenty of Irish cinema-goers angered by John Michael McDonagh’s savage parody of a broken, disfigured society. Either way, it’s compulsive viewing, thanks to a … More


Yves Saint Laurent

June 28, 2014
Pierre Niney in Yves Saint Laurent (2014)

Behind every great man, as we learn in Jalil Lespert’s Yves Saint Laurent, there’s a great man. More than any designer of the 20th century, Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008) revolutionised the world of fashion, but his genius for haute couture may never have been fully realised without the business acumen of Pierre Bergé. This conventional, … More


Frank

June 21, 2014
Michael Fassbender & Domhnall Gleeson in 'Frank' (2014)

Frank is a movie that makes a fiction out of a difficult truth. The model for the lead character, who spends almost the entire movie walking around with a large papier-maché head lodged on his shoulders, was Frank Sidebottom, the creation of Chris Sievey (1955-2010), a wannabee rock star who found that wearing a different … More


The Rover

June 21, 2014
Guy Pearce in 'The Rover' (2014)

After the success of his debut feature, Animal Kingdom (2010), David Michod should have been in a position to make any film he liked. One imagines promising scripts and stories piled high on his desk; offers and ideas arriving by post, phone and email. Or maybe not. The movie industry seems glamorous to outsiders but … More


Grace of Monaco

June 7, 2014
Nicole Kidman in 'Grace of Monaco' (2014)

In every photograph, French director, Olivier Dahan, is shown wearing a hat. Sometimes it’s a beret, but more often a baggy, brimmed affair that makes him look like a fashion-conscious engine driver. Although I’m no style guru, it seems a rather silly affectation. In theory a director’s dress sense shouldn’t have any relevance to the … More


The Trip to Italy

June 7, 2014
Rob Brydon & Steve Coogan in 'The Trip to Italy' (2014)

Four years ago, Michael Winterbottom had a hit with The Trip, a six-part television series, in which British comedians, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon drove around the Lake District, supposedly writing a series of restaurant reviews for the Observer. The series was condensed into a feature film that seduced audiences around the world. The Trip … More


Under the Skin

May 31, 2014
Scarlett Johansson in 'Under the Skin' (2013)

Michel Faber’s novel, Under the Skin (2000), was that rarest of beasts: a science fiction story with real literary merit. I say that as a reader who has dipped into science fiction for decades and identified only a handful of authors – notably Philip K. Dick and Stanislaw Lem – that ever made me feel … More


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