The Party Review

Party

‘A little party never killed nobody’, or so goes the song. In Sally Potter’s biting new film, it’s an adage that is proved utterly, utterly wrong, as seven people tear each other’s lives apart in one evening meant to be a celebration. The Party is familiar in as far as we’ve seen the useless hypocrisy of the upper middle class on film plenty of times before, but rarely does it prove so swiftly disastrous, starting out as a classy dinner and drinks, descending into divorces, fistfights, and even a gun being pulled in the space of just 71 short minutes.  Continue reading

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Mudbound Review

Roots

To get a truly great performance in a film, the actor, director, writers, and casting department all have to be spot on. To do what Mudbound does and get probable career-best performances from almost the entirety of its huge ensemble cast is pretty much miraculous, and evidence of a top-flight casting department and director Dee Rees at the absolute top of their game. From Garrett Hedlund to a transformative Mary J Blige, these actors have been gifted with an exceptionally rich and deep set of characters, as they try and make their way through war, racism, and, yes, a crushing amount of mud.  Continue reading

Amant Double Review

Amant Double

If one were to think of the way, say, Family Guy would make a mocking parody of a French film, the end result of that thought experiment probably wouldn’t look too different from Francois Ozon’s Amant Double, adapted from the Joyce Carol Oates novel Lives of the Twins. Fronted by androgynous ingénue Chloe (Marine Vacth), this most stereotypically French of protagonists works at a modern art museum while engaging in explicit affairs with two identical twin psychotherapists, Paul and Louis (both Jeremie Renier). The only way it could feel more like a joke at its own expense would be if it were in black and white.  Continue reading

The Meyerowitz Stories Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

First Robert Redford, and now Dustin Hoffman, Netflix’s impressive run of form in 2017 movies has attracted some of the biggest stars of the ‘60s silver screen to films that will be seen by most on a laptop. It’s a sign of the changing times, but far from signalling any sort of death knell for cinema, the streaming service’s increasing commitment to producing and distributing original films making up ground lost by nervous studios, reluctant to take risks. If a Netflix release is what it takes to get a comedy as excellent as The Meyerowitz Stories released, then I’m all for their expanded presence in the industry. Continue reading

Wonderstruck Review

Wonderstruck

It’s rather trite to call a movie ‘a film of two halves’ at the best of times, but when said film actually takes place in two different time periods? That’s just downright lazy, which is why it pains me so much to say that it is the most fitting possible descriptor for Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck. Set in both the 1920s and 1970s, the gulf in quality between the two segments means that Wonderstruck is an inventive and warm-hearted film that can never cohere into a more remarkable whole.  Continue reading

Good Time Review

Good Time

A bank heist thriller with two brothers pulling off the robberies together might not seem on paper like the best recipe for originality, but under the watchful eyes of the Safdie brothers, Good Time is a unique, sickly blast of neon-drenched adrenaline that never shies away from how ugly and stupid crime can be. An oppressively immersive experience of the longest night of one criminal’s life, it’s part farce, part gritty crime drama, and all excellent.  Continue reading

Breathe Review

Breathe

Most actors’ first forays into directing are contained, character-driven dramas, allowing them to focus on what they know best – performances – as they learn the ropes of the more technical sides of things. Andy Serkis is no conventional actor, a true pioneer of the discipline who also has plentiful experience in advisory and second-unit directing roles. That his directorial debut, Breathe, fits the expected pattern is simply due to a production delay in his high-budget live-action Jungle Book (not the Disney one). Studio faith in Serkis as a visual director is clearly well-founded, with a sharp eye for striking, original images elevating Breathe above its rather generic script.  Continue reading