mystery

Arrival

November 18, 2016
Amy Adams in Arrival. Photograph: Jan Thijs

Anyone who enjoyed Independence Day (1996), or some similar tale of alien invaders trashing Planet Earth, would be well advised to give Arrival a miss. For those who feel an evening’s cinematic pleasures to be incomplete without two full hours of Armageddon, Denis Villeneuve’s cerebral, atmospheric sci-fi flick will be a massive disappointment. For the … More


The Witch

March 23, 2016
Anya Taylor-Joy in 'The Witch' (2015)

Robert Eggers’s directorial debut, The Witch, is a horror movie that will appeal more strongly to arthouse types than to viewers weaned on a diet of ‘shock and gore’. It’s undeniably creepy but most of the director’s energy has gone into the creation of atmosphere and period detail. The entire film seems to have been … More


A Bigger Splash

March 23, 2016
Tilda Swinton in 'A Bigger Splash' (2015)

Ten years ago Ralph Fiennes was the model of a stiff-upper-lip character actor, the epitome of English reserve. There was, however, another persona biding its time until it could be unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. This Fiennes has given us a brutal warrior in Coriolanus, a sparkling portrait of Charles Dickens in The Invisible Woman, … More


10 Cloverfield Lane

March 17, 2016
Mary Elizabeth Winstead in '10 Cloverfield Lane' (2016)

Would you like to wake up and find yourself locked in a bunker with John Goodman? In 10 Cloverfield Lane this is exactly what happens to Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who plays Michelle, a young woman who leaves her fiancée and heads off on a road trip. After a car accident she regains consciousness chained to … More


Hail, Caesar!

February 24, 2016
George Clooney in 'Hail, Caesar!' (2016)

“Comedy deserves to be taken seriously,” wrote Aldous Huxley, in 1924, before going on to denounce those “lesser exponents” of the genre who specialise in “triviality, ugliness and vulgarity.” Three years later The Jazz Singer ushered in a new era of ‘talkies’ that would change the way Hollywood made comedies, as slapstick and sight gags … More


The Dressmaker

October 29, 2015
Kate Winslet in 'The Dressmaker' (2015)

There has been an 18-year gap between The Dressmaker and Jocelyn Moorhouse’s previous film, A Thousand Acres (1997), with a promising career being derailed by family matters. Although Moorhouse had intended to make an earlier comeback, with an adaptation of Murray Bail’s novel, Eucalyptus in 2005, this project turned into a shipwreck with as much … More


The Gift

September 5, 2015
Jason Bateman in 'The Gift' (2015)

Most boys from the western suburbs of Sydney would be content with the life of a Hollywood actor, but Joel Edgerton has recently revealed an exceptional talent as a writer of screenplays. Now comes The Gift, his debut feature as a director, and it’s an impressive achievement. Not only has Edgerton written the script and … More


Irrational Man

August 29, 2015
Joaquin Phoenix in 'Irrational Man' (2015)

“Our time, said Max Scheler, is the first in which man has become thoroughly and completely problematic to himself.” The line comes from William Barrett’s Irrational Man (1958), a book often credited with introducing Existentialist philosophy to an American audience. I have a well-thumbed paperback, and so does Woody Allen – one imagines. In Allen’s … More


Self/less

August 1, 2015
Ryan Reynolds in 'Self/less' (2015)

Tarsem Singh’s Self/less is another movie that strives for profundity but has no qualms about including the special effects, car chases and combat scenes discerning viewers seem to expect nowadays. Even allowing for these concessions to public taste the film has copped a hiding in the United States. It may have something to do with … More


Mr. Holmes

July 25, 2015
Ian McKellen in 'Mr. Holmes' (2015)

One of the most enduring characters in popular literature, Sherlock Holmes has been played by several generations of actors. Basil Rathbone (1892-1976) remains the archetypal Holmes, setting a lean and angular standard perpetuated by most of his successors. Robert Downey Jr. is the exception, although his two Holmes movies could never be expected to please … More