Scene from Murnau's Faust

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David Oyelowo in Selma

1 June 2015-06-01

  Out This Week     Selma (Pathe, cert 12) Martin Luther King’s life done as a triumph, not the usual tragedy, the focus being the series of marches King led from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. These effectively rode a coach and horses through the prevailing practice of disenfranchising Negros by making registering to vote all but impossible. Up in Washington DC are two tricky customers – the conniving though not entirely venal President Johnson (Tom Wilkinson, not over-reaching himself) and his homunculus, FBI boss J Edgar Hoover (another eel-like turn by Dylan Baker), while down in Alabama operates the strategically astute, tactically sharp King. Like last year’s Dallas Buyers Club, the … Read more
Matthew McConaughey as astronaut Cooper in Interstellar

30 March 2015-03-30

  Out in the UK This Week   Interstellar (Warner, cert 12) I wasn’t a fan of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films – too long, too much yak, humourless, over-insistent and with a poor grip on action – so I wasn’t exactly warming up a welcome for this much hyped slide sideways into space fantasy. How wrong was I? This is the best “hard sci-fi film” for decades, so grand in scale that it dwarfs Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain and Anne Hathaway. McConaughey is the star, playing the retired Nasa astronaut heading back into space after years kicking his heels on a world heading towards annihilation. There he finds that, out on the edge … Read more
Elijah Wood in Maniac

1 July 2013-07-01

Out in the UK This Week       Maniac (Metrodome, cert 18, Blu-ray/DVD) Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur, the writers of Switchblade Romance, one of the most heart-pounding horror films of recent years, swing bloodily back to form with a remake of a 1980 slasher which takes lovely gentle Frodo (Elijah Wood), casts him as a Norman Bates-style homicidal mother’s boy and then sets director Franck Khalfoun to work filming his exploits as if from the killer’s point of view. Result: another brilliant horror film, touches of Silence of the Lambs, House of Wax, with an electropop sound that just makes it all the grimmer. Maniac – at Amazon   Cloud Atlas … Read more
fs 046 mary ps5 5d 2573

21 January 2013-01-21

 Out in the UK this week       American Mary (Universal, cert 18, Blu-ray/DVD) On their way to crafting a true horror classic the rather weird Soska twins (of Dead Hooker in a Trunk fame) come up with a cracking revenger almost as surgically nasty as The Human Centipede, as gleefully over the top as Dario Argento in his pomp, with hints of 1940s noir and even a bit of Dr Phibes (or was I imagining that?). Front and centre is a great performance by Katharine Isabelle as a sexy-as-hell, cool-as-death med student out for payback. Trash hounds and body modders (they feature in the plot too) will watch this till it … Read more
Michael Parks and Justin Long in Tusk

25 May 2015-05-25

  Out This Week   Tusk (Sony, cert 15) After the wobble of Red State, Kevin Smith seems to have got his midlife crisis out of the way and now roars back to form with a brilliant, and brilliantly discomfiting, grotesque comedy that sees shock podcaster Justin Long surgically turned into a human walrus by mad Michael Parks. The fact that Long has it coming is signified by his douchebag cheating on his superhot girlfriend, played by superhot Genesis Rodriguez, but nothing can really prepare us for the sense of pathos that Long conjures when he cries big walrus tears from out of his big brown eyes on realising his old human form … Read more
Anthony Hopkins and Scarlett Johansson in Hitchcock

17 June 2013-06-17

Out in the UK This Week     Hitchcock (Fox, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD) Stuffed to the gunnels with good stuff, Sacha Gervasi’s biopic about Alfred Hitchcock is nevertheless a disappointment. Nothing wrong with the actors – Anthony Hopkins plays the director as a dead-eyed master of deadpan, greedy for everything – women, drink, food – the greed born of despair. Helen Mirren outdoes him as Alma, Hitch’s wife, screen adapter, muse, fixer, assistant director, wise counsel, editor, warrior queen. And around them spin Scarlett Johansson (as Janet Leigh), Jessica Biel (as Vera Miles), Danny Huston (as lush writer Whitfield Cook) and James D’Arcy (a nice turn as mother’s boy Anthony Perkins – Hitchcock knew … Read more
Keanu Reeves in John Wick

7 September 2015-09-07

Out This Week John Wick (Warner, cert 15) Like some kind of undead film star, Keanu Reeves manages magnificent returns every few years – Speed, The Matrix and now John Wick, a super-sleek bit of badass comic-book adaptation relying heavily on Reeves’s blank persona (no one does it better) for much of its appeal. He plays a retired hitman so frightening that, we’re shown, even incredibly hard hardmen blench when they hear he’s on the warpath – after some damn fool goes and kills the pet dog that was the only reminder of his dead wife. And that’s all you need to know about the plot. The screenplay is incredibly smart, a collection of … Read more
Hayley Atwell and André Benjamin in Jimi: All Is by My Side

26 January 2015-01-26

    Out in the UK This Week     Jimi: All Is by My Side (Curzon, cert 15) Imagine a Jimi Hendrix record without any of his guitar pyrotechnics. That’s the feeling you get from this efficient, workaday biopic about the godlike genius who came and went so quickly, leaving behind enough music for us to know how good he was. The film follows Hendrix’s transformative year in London 1966-67, makes glancing references to his influences and to his ethnicity (as you might expect from a film directed by 12 Years a Slave writer John Ridley). The ethnicity, it claims, Hendrix chose to ignore, which almost brings into focus a man who … Read more
intouchables

4 February 2013-02-04

 Out in the UK this Week   Untouchable (EV, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD) A rich white tetraplegic (François Cluzet) gets lessons in life from a lusty black guy from out of the projects (Omar Sy). Untouchable (Intouchables in French, and the plural is there for a reason) is the most successful French film ever but has generated at least as many accusations of racism as it has five star reviews. But, one joke about Barack Obama apart, this vastly entertaining, hugely feelgood, very funny and brilliantly acted film (Omar Sy’s is a “star is born” turn) touches more on socio-economics than race, unless you’re in the business of being professionally affronted. Either way, see … Read more
Donald Pleasence does the scary in Wake in Fright

31 March 2014-03-31

Out in the UK this week   Klown (Arrow, cert 18, DVD) Spun off from a taboo-baiting Danish TV series of the same name, this comedy sends a couple of mismatched buddies on a road trip, bromance style, with a 12 year old boy in tow. What this dim bulb and his raging egomaniac friend get up to can best be described as shenanigans, with the jokes usually having a sexual focus – I think this has the most audacious and literal sight gag I’ve ever seen. Klown is full of the sort of stuff that you can imagine the writers room on a Vince Vaughn/Ben Stiller movie coming up with and then deciding … Read more
Alice Englert and Iain De Caestecker in In Fear

10 March 2014-03-10

Out in the UK this week     In Fear (StudioCanal, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD) In Fear is a great little movie with a cast of two for most of it, Iain De Caestecker and Alice Englert as a couple who barely know each other but are now off to a festival together in Ireland. He’s driving, she’s wondering, antennae flapping, why he’s booked the pair of them a preliminary night in an out-of-the-way hotel. Except that, no matter how often they follow the signs, they just don’t seem to be able to find the hotel. Taking this as its starting point, director Jeremy Lovering lashes together a titanic raft of increasing creepiness from … Read more
Daniel Radcliffe and Juno Temple in Horns

2 March 2015-03-02

    Out in the UK This Week     Leviathan (Artificial Eye, cert 15) Not to be confused with the clankingly atmospheric 2012 documentary about trawler-fishing, this Leviathan is something like a retelling of the story of Job – a man who has the lot being tested in his faith as he loses it all. As we open, Kolya has a beautiful wife, a lovely beachside property, a teenage son and is respected in his community. Over the next two and half hours we watch most of it being stripped from him – in fact as Andrey Zvyagintsev opens his film there’s already trouble hemming Kolya in on most sides. The question is: which … Read more

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