Scene from Murnau's Faust

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Emily Blunt in Sicario

1 February 2016-02-01

Out This Week Sicario (Lionsgate, cert 15) With Incendies the disruption had its roots in the politics in the Middle East, with Prisoners in American paranoia and with Enemy it was something more internal still, a disrupted psyche. In Denis Villeneuve’s latest intelligent, genre-extending thriller his unsentimental gaze settles on the US government and how its agents actually go about their business (according to this film, at any rate). Working on the Mexico border, where drug cartels are mostly in charge, laconic badasses Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro are joined by seconded cop and audience avatar Emily Blunt, who looks on with jaw at various distances from the floor as the two … Read more
Reese Witherspoon in Wild

11 May 2015-05-11

  Out This Week Wild (Fox, cert 15) Apart from The Young Victoria (which was a hack job done for cash, I suspect), the Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée has had a good run of interesting films since his breakthrough with 2005’s C.R.A.Z.Y, and then more recently with Café de Flore and Dallas Buyers Club. All have showcased his knack for allying music (often 1970s – he loves glam rock) with well crafted images. His lighting, composition and editing are generally exquisite. Vallée is a great storyteller, and uses all his skills brilliantly in Wild, a film that sounds potentially like either a monumental drag – a woman reconnecting with herself on a gigantic trek … Read more
Britt Robertson in Tomorrowland: A World Beyond

5 October 2015-10-05

Out This Week Tomorrowland (Disney, cert 12) When did we give up on believing in the future? Can we believe again? Writer Damon Lindelof sets out to tackle the turn to postmodernism – the most significant philosophical cultural shift in the West for a century – in a big, multiplex popcorn film. George Clooney plays a character who is postmodernity incarnate. When Frank was an eager, inventive little boy he went to the 1964 New York World’s Fair (the high point of modernity and its showcase event) and met a young girl called Athena, was wowed both by her and by the scientific marvels he saw there. Then was wowed some more when … Read more
Gemma Arterton and Fabrice Luchini in Gemma Bovery

8 February 2016-02-08

Out This Week Gemma Bovery (Soda, cert 15) Gemma Arterton plays the English belle getting French baker Fabrice Luchini in a tizz in this adaptation of the Posy Simmonds graphic novel which first appeared in The Guardian as a weekly cartoon strip. And very cartoon-strippy it is too, Arterton all tippy-toes sex appeal as a modern-day version of Flaubert’s hot-gusseted Madame Bovary, Luchini pulling a series of faces that Benny Hill would be proud of as the “no fool like an old fool” looking on haplessly as the new arrival in the French idyll forsakes lovely, broke husband Jason Flemyng and sets her hat at local rotter Niels Schneider. If it all feels … Read more
Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult in Equals

3 October 2016-10-03

Out This Week When Marnie Was There (StudioCanal, cert U) Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, the guy at Studio Ghibli who isn’t Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata, this is Japanese animation studio’s final, so Ghibli say, film. And it’s a typically sweet, anglophile story about a typically bereft child called Anna finding typical solace in the supernatural realm – a ghost, called Marnie, who lives in the big deserted house over the bay from Anna’s aunt and uncle. Adapted from Joan G Robinson’s Norfolk-set classic, it’s slow-moving and less loaded with drama than Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies or Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, but it’s undeniably sweet, and charms with its familiar Ghibli-style animation – 2D, … Read more
beasts 5

11 February 2013-02-11

Out in the UK This Week Beasts of the Southern Wild (StudioCanal, cert 12, Blu-ray/DVD) It’s generated a gazillion column inches, tweets and web-posts, and you are now pretty much obliged to see what is effectively a 21st century Huckleberry Finn story, set in the entirely atmospheric waterworld of the bayou below the levees where hardscrabble folk scratch out an existence, preferring near poverty in the Gulf of Mexico to destitution in the big city. Realism and magic realism aren’t natural stylistic partners – scenes of incoming storms ravaging the bayou sit alongside shots of the mythical beast the aurochs – but director Benh Zeitlin gets them to dance using six-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis … Read more
The Homesman

23 March 2015-03-23

Out in the UK This Week Winter Sleep (New Wave, cert 15) The Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s latest thing of recalcitrant beauty is three hours long and breaks down neatly into three acts, each about an hour in length. In act one we meet Aydin, a progressive baby-boomer with a bit of money, a local luminary, a former actor, a newspaper columnist, a soft touch. Winter Sleep follows him, much in the way Michael Haneke did with Hidden, as that nice liberal carapace is pressure-tested, in Aydin’s case when the son of one of his tenants breaks his car window with a stone. Tenants? Yes, that’s how come Aydin is so comfortable, … Read more

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