Scene from Murnau's Faust

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Joel Edgerton and Tom Wilkinson in Felony

27 October 2014-10-27

Out in the UK This Week Felony (Solo, cert 15, digital) Like an Australian End of Watch, a detective drama that shows cops as “just guys”, guys who get themselves into trouble by over-relying on the privileges of the job. In this case a brave and decent cop with a few drinks inside him, who knocks a kid off his bike on the way home and believes he can cover it up. But the kid ends up in a coma in hospital, and the cop is eaten up with remorse, guilt and indecision as to whether to fess up. Joel Edgerton plays the cop as a flawed tragic hero, and also wrote this … Read more
Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva

18 March 2013-03-18

Out in the UK this week Amour (Artificial Eye, cert 12, Blu-ray/DVD) Whatever you say about the director of Hidden or Funny Games,  no one does “pitiless gaze” quite as well as Michael Haneke. In Amour he takes one of  his standing obsessions, the life bourgeois, and yokes to it a subject rarely covered in film – the loss of dignity and disappearance of the self that happens to most of us as death comes close. Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva are the film’s focus, playing a pair of sprightly retired piano teachers whose quietly tasteful, cultured lifestyle is interrupted when one of them has a stroke. What follows is harrowing but almost inevitable, the … Read more
Chyeon Jeon-myeong in Hansel and Gretel

6 April 2009-04-06

Out in the UK This Week Mike Leigh at the BBC (2 entertain, cert 12) Before heading off on his film career, auteur Leigh did some great stuff for TV. Here’s the pick of his 1973-84 output, including Nuts in May and Abigail’s Party, along with Leigh’s own audio commentary, intelligent interviews and a clutch of shorts. Mike Leigh at the BBC – at Amazon Twilight (Contender, cert 12) The movie adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s Young Adult novels starts here with smart, sylphlike Kristen Stewart falling for Byronically moody vampire Robert Pattinson in a swoony and chaste romance heaving with unrequited girlish longing. Twilight – at Amazon Hansel and Gretel (Terracotta, cert 15) … Read more
Viktor Bout awaiting trial in The Notorious Viktor Bout

13 October 2014-10-13

Home Entertainment Out in the UK This Week Kidnapped (cert 18, DVD/digital) From Spaniard Miguel Angel Vivas a home invasion horror which understands that for the film to work we have to be entirely on the side of the invaded. And also, that we have to feel their shock, disorientation and fear. He achieves both brilliantly in this brutal, relatively short film that takes place over one evening and does a lot with long takes, then switches pace with some excellent split-screen, up-close points of view. It’s the standard family – mum, dad, whingey teenage girl and, eventually, her boyfriend. But it’s far from a standard film. Where Vivas came from, I don’t know … Read more
Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton in Only Lovers Left Alive

15 September 2014-09-15

Out in the UK This Week Only Lovers Left Alive (Soda, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD) Jim Jarmusch arrives in genre territory with this achingly hipsterish take on the vampire movie – finally, one for the grown-ups – full of arch jokes about eternal bloodsuckers. I went into it thinking that surely the Lou Reed of cinema, with the perfectly cast Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as Adam and Eve, a pair of centuries-old vampires, is going to make the film that 1983’s The Hunger should have been. And he has. Keats, Iggy Pop, Franz Kafka and Buster Keaton are all name-checked approvingly in a dry, drole story about Tangier-domiciled Eve responding to an emergency call from … Read more
Ava Gardner and Burt Lancaster in The Killers

22 December 2014-12-22

Out in the UK This Week Are You Here (Lionsgate, cert 15) Here’s a strange formless bromance from Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, a midlife crisis dressed up as a movie and sold winningly by its two stars – Owen Wilson giving off gigawatts of charm as the ladies man TV weatherman and stoner escorting his bipolar toking buddy (a typically whacked out performance by Zach Galifianakis) to his dad’s funeral, where he cops an eyeful of the dead man’s grieving, hot wife (Laura Ramsey). Weiner writes to a TV rhythm, and there’s the strong feeling with Are You Here, as all the characters and backstories start bumping into each other and yet … 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 wears out. American … Read more
Alexandra Holden, Lake Bell and Fred Melamed in In a World

20 January 2014-01-20

  Out in the UK this week In A World (Sony, cert 15, DVD) Writer/director/producer/star Lake Bell’s debut takes a real life event – the death of voiceover king Don La Fontaine (the guy whose every trailer started “In a world…”) – and builds an almost Woody Allen-ish comedic story around it, about the pretenders jostling for his crown. Onto that it bolts a sentimental story of young under-achieving vocal coach Carol (Bell) and her difficult Oedipal relationship with her dad (Fred Melamed), a big noise in the voiceover biz. And off the side it hangs a “will they/won’t they” romance between Carol and studio whizz Louis (Demetri Martin). And then, as if … Read more
Michael Fassbender shaves Kodi Smit-McPhee in Slow West

19 October 2015-10-19

Out This Week Slow West (Lionsgate, cert 15) One of the best westerns for some time, Slow West plays with the tropes of the pulp magazines that first connected the Old West with a reading public – the glamour, the danger, the hardship and the austere beauty are all here in Scotsman John Maclean’s really rather extraordinary feature debut. It’s framed like an odd-couple road movie, with Kodi Smit-McPhee as a naive, priggish kid following Rose, his one true love (Caren Pistorius, a star), from Scotland across the ocean to America, and then across the increasingly wild badlands. Joining him on the journey is Michael Fassbender as a bounty hunter – there’s a … Read more
Margot Robbie and Leonardo DiCaprio in the Wolf of Wall Street

19 May 2014-05-19

Out in the UK This Week The Wolf of Wall Street (Universal, cert 18, Blu-ray/DVD) Scorsese’s best film since Casino also continues his trend towards flabby films. Twenty minutes can, and let’s hope eventually will, be trimmed from a film with a Goodfellas arc – we start with a voiceover of Leo Di Caprio saying, in effect, that for as long as he could rememeber he’d always wanted to be a richfella. And off we go into a roaring rush of the true story of Jordan Belfort, who became a licensed Wall Street broker on the day the market crashed in 1987, then started at the bottom all over again, selling penny stocks to … Read more
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit

8 April 2013-04-08

Out in the UK this week The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Warner, cert 12, Blu-ray/DVD) Having eventually run out of patience with the Lord of the Rings (with the books you could at least skip the endless battle descriptions), I wasn’t expecting to enjoy The Hobbit. I was wrong. Director Peter Jackson has absorbed the humanising touches of the Harry Potter series, the rambunctious sense of fun of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (at its best, I hasten to add. POTC could also be a hell of a drag) and made The Hobbit an immersive piece of storytelling with a lot of energy. Surrender to its flow – enjoy Ian McKellen’s Gandalf, … Read more
holy motors04

28 January 2013-01-28

Out in the UK This Week Holy Motors (Artificial Eye, cert 18, Blu-ray/DVD) From Leos Carax, who only seems to manage one feature film a decade, a unique and remarkable French film that only starts to make sense towards the end, after Kylie Minogue has sung us a song. Like Pola X, his last (in 1999), it’s a highly gothic, amphetamine rave of a movie, a mad mix of situationist vignettes following Denis Lavant (who surely should get some award for sheer physicality) as he works his way through a series of disguises, one of which involves being dressed as a mad tramp and kidnapping a model from a photo shoot (played by … Read more

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