Scene from Murnau's Faust

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Bella Heathcote and Lily James in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

20 June 2016-06-20

Out This Week Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (Lionsgate, cert 15) And it is literally that… Pride & Prejudice… and zombies. Once the famous preamble – lightly scrambled – was out of the way, and I had been apprised of the fact that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains, it was straight into the tale of Elizabeth, if not the most beautiful then certainly the smartest of the Bennet daughters, and her growing relationship with dark, thunderous Mr Darcy. Lily James and Sam Riley play it straight as Elizabeth and Darcy, and Sally Phillips and Charles Dance also fit so neatly into the traditional roles of garrulous, mercenary Mrs … Read more
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3 December 2012-12-03

Out in the UK this week The Dark Knight Rises (Warner, cert 12, Blu-ray/DVD/Download) The series has been overpumped but Christopher Nolan’s third Batman film is definitely the best of the bunch, a luxuriously long, character-packed comicbook adventure all the better for featuring Christian Bale’s caped crusader very little. The Dark Knight Rises – at Amazon The Bourne Legacy (Universal, cert 12, Blu-ray/DVD/Download) It’s the Bourne Leftovers, with Jeremy Renner taking over from Matt Damon, the taciturn amnesiac superspy now having a memory, a loose tongue and little raison d’etre. S’OK. Just. The Bourne Legacy – at Amazon New Year’s Eve (Warner, cert 12, Blu-ray/DVD/Download) A Love, Actually idea – a parade of … Read more
Asuka Kurosawa in A Snake of June

28 September 2015-09-28

Out This Week San Andreas (Warner, cert 12) A disaster movie like they used to make in the 1970s, with Dwayne Johnson as a John Wayne kinda guy – a helicopter pilot whose extraordinary likeability and bravery is simply a case of “just doing my job, ma’am” (actual line from film). And as with the 1970s, there are also girls being bimbos: Carla Gugino as Johnson’s estranged wife – about to marry smirking, rich architect Ioan Gruffudd (his job a nod to Towering Inferno) – and Alexandra Daddario, hired not because she can easily pass for the minor she’s playing (in fact she’s 28) but because she has Hollywood’s most bounteous rack right now, … Read more
Maika Monroe in It Follows

29 June 2015-06-29

Out This Week Appropriate Behaviour (Peccadillo, cert 15) The New York Neurotics Club – founder member Woody Allen, recent arrivals Lena Dunham (Girls) and Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha) – gets a new member in the shape of Desiree Akhavan, who gives us a smart, self-deprecating comedy about a slightly deadbeat woman struggling in a mumblecore world where everyone else seems to be doing OK. Playing, in Larry David style, a version of herself, Akhavan is Shirin, the bisexual daughter of immigrant parents who can’t or won’t come out to mum and dad, and whose private life is a shambolic mess like the rest of her life. The meat of the film is a chronologically … Read more
Deadpool, Warlord and Negasonic Teenage Warhead

6 June 2016-06-06

Out This Week Deadpool (Fox, cert 15) From the guys who wrote Zombieland, a similarly knowing and smart play in the genre pool, though this time it’s superheroes rather than the undead who get a prolonged playful kicking. The style is Honest Trailers – YouTube fanboys with brains ((“Trailers that tell you the TRUTH about your favorite movies and TV shows”) – and follows Ryan Reynolds as the eponymous hero as he searches … actually, there is no need to recount the plot at all, since that’s why you watch the film, though I should say that it is more than just a mere peg for jokes. And they come in all shapes and … Read more
Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias and Nick Robinson in The Kings of Summer

26 September 2013-09-23

Out in the UK This Week The Kings of Summer (StudioCanal, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD) An immensely smart coming of age film pitched somewhere between Stand By Me and Superbad (ie dark undertow, with jokes). And it’s entirely on the side of the kids, whose decision to go off and live in the woods, leaving their sarcastic, obnoxious, bullying, superior parents clueless as to where they’ve gone, is never presented as the callow act of peeved teenagers. Out in the woods, our junior heroes build a rudimentary house, set about sourcing food (sometimes from supermarket bins), grow wispy beards. Meanwhile the film sets about building a dreamy, trippy, sunny song of summer and innocence, … Read more
Scarlett Johansson has her Matrix Moment in Lucy

15 December 2014-12-15

Out in the UK This Week Lucy (Universal, cert 15) Young innocent Lucy gains access to the full potential of her human brain in one of Luc Besson’s now infrequent bouts of directing. A kissing cousin of 1997’s The Fifth Element, it’s a fun and funky affair, helped enormously by the seven barrels of spunk that Scarlett Johansson injects into it. She plays the innocent abroad who is first forced into becoming a mule carrying a seriously mind-expanding drug for a seriously life-threatening gangster, and then an uberbeing when the drug gets into her bloodstream after she’s given a damn good kicking by a henchman for rejecting his sexytime overture. Well, that’s the last time anyone … 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 has been … Read more
Toby Jones in Berberian Sound Studio

4 January 2013-01-04

Out in the UK This Week Berberian Sound Studio (Artificial Eye, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD) “A dangerously aroused goblin prowls the dormitory” – a line that says it all from the never-seen film that soundman Toby Jones is working on in Peter Strickland’s follow-up to the brilliant, Romanian-set Katalin Varga, a brilliantly overheated, Italian-set homage to 1970s “giallo” horror. Really worth watching with headphones on, this one. Berberian Sound Studio – at Amazon The Imposter (Revolver, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD) One of the most gripping films of 2012, a semi-documentary about how a 20something French juvie managed to pass himself off as a missing 16-year-old from Texas. And why the family bought it. A remarkable … Read more
Tom Hiddleston in High-Rise

11 July 2016-07-11

Out This Week High-Rise (StudioCanal, cert 15) JG Ballard’s dystopian novels – Super-Cannes, Cocaine Nights and High Rise among them – tend to be long on premise, short on follow-through. That’s the case too in this film adaptation by Ben Wheatley, the British maverick director behind Sightseers. Set in an entirely allegorical high rise block, Wheatley’s film follows Tom Hiddleston – dressed as so often in a slightly over-tailored suit – as he arrives to live in the block where the more social status you have, the higher up you live. Just above Tom is foxy Sienna Miller, who is eager to lend Hiddleston her loins once she’s caught sight of his splendid body … Read more
Silje Reinåmo in Thale

4 March 2013-03-04

DVDs/Blu-rays out in the UK this week Thale (Metrodome, cert 15, DVD) This tense fantasy thriller about a Norwegian police clean-up team finding a mythical creature in a hidden cellar is this year’s Troll Hunter. Unexpected, refreshing, atmospheric and tightly plotted, it’s beautifully shot with vivid colours and unusual deep-focus photography, oh the wonders of digital. Even if you hate this sort of thing, it’s worth watching, and if you do hate this sort of thing you’ll be happy to hear it’s only a short 75 minutes or so. I found some comments from its director, Aleksander Nordaas, over on Pirate Bay underneath the magnet and torrent links to Thale, pointing out to … 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

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