Journey’s End Review

Journey's End

Premiering at 2017 festivals before a 2018 UK release, Journey’s End, a screen revival of RC Sherriff’s classic World War One play, could not be better timed. On the centenary of the final years of that hideously destructive conflict, it’s important to be reminded of the human toll it took on the nation’s youth, as well as to look at the dangers of a divided Europe. Even by the standards of war, WW1 was colossally, atrociously stupid mess, and with very strong performances, Saul Dibb’s adaptation gets this across, even if never quite escapes its own staginess.  Continue reading

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Happy End Review

Happy End

It says a lot about the current state of children’s/tweens’ entertainment that the most unwatchable thing in the new Michael Haneke film, Happy End, is not a daughter poisoning her mother or an old man asking a group of strangers to push him into traffic, but a Youtube vlog. Haneke shows us a full clip of a French teenage Youtuber, ruthlessly refusing to cut away from the inanity, and in doing so crafts one of the most squirm-inducing scenes of the year. The now 75 year old master of punishing cinema shows no sign of being uncomfortable using the latest technological and cultural advances to render his audience a panicky mess.  Continue reading

Battle of the Sexes Review

Battle Sexes

Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton are two of the most loved darlings of the festival circuit, their breakout hit Little Miss Sunshine so successful that it changed the image of both the Sundance Film Festival and American indie movie making as a whole. After the mixed reception to their 2012 follow up, Ruby Sparks, the directing duo are back in more obviously crowdpleasing mode with Battle of the Sexes. A sports film, morality tale, love story, and underdog comedy all in one, this true tennis tale is a (very entertaining) mess, but fantastic performances from Emma Stone and Steve Carell see it past the finish line.  Continue reading

The Florida Project Review

Florida Project

The world of The Florida Project is not one you’d ever want to find yourself in, but by the end of Sean Baker’s wildly funny and tenderly empathetic new film, it’s also one you’ll be sad to say goodbye to. Grounded in a studied reality of Orlando’s hidden homeless, but bursting with colourful style, it’s a bit like Wes Anderson doing Ken Loach, neatly avoiding leaden worthiness or a myopic focus on misery by centring on a gang of six year olds. Baker matches the hardships of poverty with the imagination and joy of childhood, crafting his masterpiece as a result.  Continue reading

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool Review

Film Stars Don't Die Liverpool

With Sherlock and schlocky action films like Lucky Number Slevin and Victor Frankenstein the most famous projects on his resume, director Paul McGuigan might not be most obvious choice for a soft-spoken period romance. Though he brings some neat visual tricks, it doesn’t end up being a good fit of director and material, with Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool a rather turgid effort. There are kernels of a good film here, but even with a strong lead duo, this was not the team to bring this really rather remarkable true story to life.  Continue reading

Call Me By Your Name Review

Call Me By Your Name

Director Luca Guadagnino, only somewhat facetiously, stated that the reason he set Call Me By Your Name where he did was solely due to its close proximity to his home. He may live to regret that decision, with the staggering beauty of the film bound to leave hordes of viewers seeking out its gorgeous locales. This corner of northern Italy a stunning backdrop for a truly stunning film, a story of summer love and self-discovery with career-defining roles for Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer. It’s one of the most sumptuous films of the year, creating a sensual world that you’ll to climb through the screen to live in.  Continue reading

Blade Runner 2049 Review

2049

Forget everything the trailers for Blade Runner 2049 told you. Not to better enjoy the plot or avoid spoilers (far from it, almost nothing of the film’s actual story made it into the marketing), but because this is not the film that was sold. Those trailers suggested a sci-fi actioner, with a mystery to be solved while fighting against a tangible bad guy, and Denis Villeneuve’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s classic is something quite apart from that (though there are secrets to uncover). It’s nothing like any conventional blockbuster and far, far better for it, a magnificent, magisterial masterpiece that easily stands up to its revered predecessor.  Continue reading