Warning: contains spoilers
With its opening sequence providing a modern twist on the old-school Hollywood musical dance number, it looks like La La Land will be an impressive film. But hang on, is that singer’s voice a bit weak, is the choreography a bit less than exacting? It’s all done in a much more naturalistic style than we’re used to from blockbuster musicals and this is surprisingly difficult to adjust to. In one way, it’s refreshing to see people behaving in a way we could hope to emulate but, on the other hand, is that the kind of escapism we go to the cinema for? It’s actually a little disconcerting, disappointing even – but that’s a challenge thrown down by the filmmakers. Continue reading
23 October 2016, Arts Picturehouse Cambridge
Keen to see the latest Jim Jarmusch film, Paterson, following a recent DVD refresher binge of his earlier works, I was delighted to find a late-night showing as part of the Cambridge Film Festival. It’s a gentle, slow film admiring and appreciating the minutiae of everyday life. It also considers the importance of art in life, not as something reserved for self-styled “artists” but as a necessary creative outlet for everyone. Continue reading
08 September 2016, Arts Picturehouse Cambridge
For the first few minutes, I idly regret buying a ticket for what resembled an art student project with deliberately awkward cuts and out of focus pans. But this film’s whole conceit is the process of coming to terms: director and crew struggle to get to grips with their 3-D camera, artist struggles to find his voice after a seismic tragedy. Continue reading
The Revenant is an emotionally and visually bleak film. In the panoramas of immense, empty snow-bound landscapes and in the raw, blood-and-guts close-ups, the utter harshness of this world is made abundantly clear. Continue reading
The mind of Yorgos Lanthimos must be an unsettling place. Dogtooth and Alps were wonky, transgressive and darkly amusing allegories of our times: life reflected through warped glass. His first English language film, The Lobster, is just as wonky, and absurd, and satirical. Like looking at the world lying sideways on the floor, it’s recognisable but somehow very different. It’s also very, very funny and thought-provoking.
In this dystopian world, being single is a crime punishable by being turned into an animal of their choice if no suitable love match can be found within 45 days. Singles are sent on retreat to meet prospective partners. Continue reading
From the astonishing opening line that raises a guilty half-laugh (should I have found that funny?) to the shocking closing scene, Calvary is an intense and intensely moving film. The dialogue is consistently razor sharp, intelligent and often blackly funny; the acting strong throughout. Continue reading
Maybe it’s just the trio of Greek films that I’ve seen in recent times (Alps and Dogtooth being directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, who also appears in Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Attenberg), but there are definite stylistic similarities between them.
This version of the 2000AD comic strip seemed much truer to its original spirit than the rather more campy, cartoon action hero portrayed by Stallone. So why didn’t I like it more? Continue reading
Ralph Fiennes both acts and directs in this fascinating adaptation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, superbly updated to the setting of a modern war zone. Filmed largely in Serbia, where the real scars of war are still visible, the setting complements the play magnificently, serving only to highlight the contemporary relevance of much of the text. Occasionally, references to the original Roman context seem slightly jarring, but overall it’s a successful and original re-imagining.
It’s an intelligent update that works well, with the advisers playing the media to sway public opinion and some visceral action scenes.
The acting is uniformly good, with a very credible Aufidius from Gerard Butler, but I have to single out Vanessa Redgrave who’s impassioned Volumnia is simply outstanding.
Another stunning performance by Juno Temple, adding to what’s turning into a very strong body of work. Matthew McConaughey, especially, is a real revelation. His role here is textbook Woody Harrelson psycho territory and McConaughey is possibly more usually regarded as a lighter actor. Nonetheless, here he turns in a seamless blend of charm and sadism that’s both believably human and brutal. Continue reading