1 August 2016-08-01

Jaeden Lieberher in Midnight Special

Out This Week Midnight Special (E One, cert 12) I’m a sucker for a deduction film, and in Midnight Special we are asked to deduce first what’s going on, and then what sort of a movie it is. This being a Jeff Nichols film, Michael Shannon is the star – as he has been in four of five Nichols films to date (Nichols’s latest, Loving, also a Shannon number, has not arrived here yet) – and he brings his brutish compassion to bear on a story that looks, at first, to be an abduction drama. Shannon, we deduce, is the abductor of a child, and on the run from the law and a religious community headed … Read more

25 July 2016-07-25

Lauren McQueen in The Violators

Out This Week Disorder (Soda, cert 15) Like Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Disorder is a love story masquerading as something else – a home-invasion thriller, in this case – and so is the perfect date movie for traditionally minded peeps. The casting is bang on. Matthias Schoenaerts, an expert in beefy angst, is ideal as a security guard with PTSD falling for trophy wife Diane Kruger – Kruger’s “because I’m worth it” ex-model coolness actually being a real advantage here. The bit of posh going for a bit of rough is hardly a new idea, but director/writer Alice Winocour stokes the tension early on, setting many scenes in tight little corners, and even … Read more

18 July 2016-07-18

Catherine Frot as Marguerite

Out This Week Marguerite (Picturehouse, cert 15) The story of the socialite who sang like a scalded cat is also told by the film Florence Foster Jenkins. But this is France, the singer has been renamed Marguerite and instead of Meryl Streep there’s Catherine Frot in the lead role as the rich woman whose wealth buys her the appreciation – grins set to “fixed” – of her retinue of hangers-on in the select musical soirees she finances out of her own pocket. I’ve not seen FFJ, but have heard that it doesn’t go for the easy joke at Jenkins’s expense. If that’s true then director Xavier Giannoli and co have taken the same tack with Marguerite … Read more

11 July 2016-07-11

Tom Hiddleston in High-Rise

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

4 July 2016-07-04

Géza Röhrig in Son of Saul

Out This Week Son of Saul (Curzon, cert 15) How do you make a film about the horrors of Auschwitz without it becoming exploitative misery porn? This Hungarian winner of the Cannes Grand Prix in 2015 does it by turning the horrors of the death camp into a near-pov experience, the militarily choreographed camera of director László Nemes and DP Mátyás Erdély hanging close by the face or shoulder of star Géza Röhrig as he goes about his duties as the member of a Sonderkommando group – Jewish prisoners recruited by the Nazis to do the dirty work (scrub blood away, pitchfork bodies into pits, empty ovens of ash and dispose of it in … Read more

27 June 2016-06-27

George Clooney in Hail, Caesar

Out This Week Hail, Caesar! (Universal, cert 12) To describe the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! as a love letter to Hollywood is to understate the woozy, delirium these two middle aged men must have been in as they planned and put it together. But then their entire career has been marked by a regard, if not obsession, with the golden age. So what’s the plot? Josh Brolin plays a studio fixer trying to find a sword’n’sandal star (George Clooney) abducted by a bunch of blacklisted communists – the Hollywood Ten in all but name. And… er… that’s about it. Clooney is a Victor Mature/Richard Burton composite, a white-teethed naive who’s sculpted a career on his looks, though he’s keen … Read more

20 June 2016-06-20

Bella Heathcote and Lily James in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

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

13 June 2016-06-13

Richard Jenkins and Kurt Russell in Bone Tomahawk

Out This Week Bone Tomahawk (The Works, cert 18) Someone somewhere described this as The Hills Have Eyes done as a western. That’s a good enough as a shorthand, but what that logline doesn’t quite capture is the amount of love and care – set design, locations, clothes, hair and make-up are all exquisite – that have been lavished on what is effectively a horror movie. And it’s off to an immediately strong start as we meet a pair of murdering robbers slitting a victim’s throat before they accidentally wander into an Indian bone cemetery. Bad shit happens in there, but we don’t find out exactly how bad until the film’s end, by which point … Read more

6 June 2016-06-06

Deadpool, Warlord and Negasonic Teenage Warhead

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

30 May 2016-05-30

Marcelo Alonso and Robert Fariás in The Club

Out This Week The Club (Network, cert 18) Chilean film-maker Pablo Larraín’s seething drama is set in a remote safe house where a group of disgraced Catholic priests are living under the steely eye of capable nun Sister Monica (Antonia Zegers). Life is simple and ordered, with the only bit of excitement coming from the racing of the priests’ greyhound at a local track, though the priests themselves are symbolically watching the race from a distance, through binoculars. This cosy life of the exiled pariah changes when new priest Father Mathias (José Soza) arrives and, having been read the rules – no self-flagellating, no self-pleasuring, no contact with anyone outside – he resignedly settles in, complaining … Read more