enter the void

Popular Reviews

Sofie Gråbøl and Troels Lyby in Accused

Accused aka Anklaget

Finally being given a wider release to capitalise on Sofie Gråbøl’s profile, courtesy of Scandi-crime series The Killing, this Danish drama about a man accused of incest is a brooding drama with an unusually tight focus and a real knack for cranking up the tension. Having mentioned Gråbøl, I must now immediately jump in and point out that she is not the star. And good though she is, the focus of this intense drama is Troels Lyby, who is great as you watch him. In retrospect you realise just how great. I am using words like “brooding”, “intense”, “tight” and “focus” because that is the entire point of the film. From start to … Read more
Saoirse Ronan and Kate Winslet

Ammonite

After a few years of doing mostly voice work, Kate Winslet has been coaxed back into a leading role in Ammonite, the follow-up to Francis Lee’s powerful breakthrough debut as a director, God’s Own Country. The 2017 movie told the story of forbidden love between two men on the wild and windy moors of Yorkshire. It’s tempting to see Ammonite as a remake – forbidden love on the wild and windy shores of Dorset – but is there more going on here than that? Winslet plays real-life 18th-century fossil-hunter Mary Anning – a huge Wikipedia page on her awaits if you know nothing about her. To boil it down: she lived in Lyme Regis … Read more
John Steed

The Avengers: Series 3, Episode 1 – Brief for Murder

Whoop de doo, it’s season three of The Avengers and to celebrate its continuing success, the opening credits have been given a bit of a makeover – they’re much more Saul Bass now – there’s more money being spent on the production, the camerawork is more filmic and the editing is noticeably snappier. Brian Clemens has also arrived as a writer. In fact Clemens had contributed two scripts (his first, Brought to Book, co-written with Patrick Brawn) for the first series but those episodes have now disappeared, so this is his extant debut, if there is such a thing. And Brief for Murder has the Clemens fingerprints all over it – a tricksy plot, misdirection … Read more
Samuel L Jackson in Coach Carter

Coach Carter

“Inspirational coach” movies come in many shapes and sizes. This one comes in the shape of Samuel L. Jackson, the tough talking, clean-living paragon of virtue who comes into a troubled school and turns around the basketball team in the teeth of indifference from pupils, teachers and … sorry, am I boring you? There’s a little more to Coach Carter than the usual sports movie fare. To whit: it is based on the true story of the coach who insisted his players properly knuckle down. He made them sign contracts. Controversially, he also insisted they got good grades in their other classes otherwise they were off the team. And outrageously, he closed the … Read more
June and Diego

All Sorts

At the Raindance film festival, London, UK, 27 October–6 November 2021 You’re either a fan of the wacky, the quirky and the whimsical or you’re not. All Sorts is all three and yet manages to avoid the trap of believing that zaniness trumps everything else, and that it’s a licence to ignore the other considerations of film-making – like crafting a decent a plot. Not everyone is Wes Anderson. In fact, sometimes even Wes Anderson isn’t Wes Anderson. The director and writer here is J Rick Castaneda, of the production outfit Psychic Bunny – their 2009 bite-size web series Coma, Period. (still on YouTube) gave Rob Delaney an early starring role, after which Psychic … Read more
Roddy the Rat holds on tight in Flushed Away

Flushed Away

Aardman, the animation house that gave us Wallace and Gromit, announced the ending of their collaboration with DreamWorks (Shrek) just as Flushed Away was released. And watching it, you can understand why. High on sentimentality and laden with backstory, it’s a DreamWorks movie with Aardman touches, rather than what Aardman probably hoped for – an Aardman movie with DreamWorks muscle behind it. A good movie that could have been a great one, in other words, though the good stuff makes it worthwhile. The over-complicated story tells the tale of Roddy St James, a privileged London pet rat (voiced by Hugh Jackman) who gets “flushed away” down the toilet and into the sewers, where … Read more
Anatoliy Sononitsyn as Andrei Rublev

Andrei Rublev

A film about an icon maker called Andrei made by a film maker called Andrei. Any read across from 15th century painter Andrei Rublev to 20th century auteur Andrei Tarkovsky is entirely deliberate, though the surprise of watching what’s often described as Tarkovsky’s master work is how little Andrei Rublev actually features in it. He’s the bystander, the observer, in his own story, which is actually more the story of the times Rublev lived in, as recreated by Tarkovksy in, remarkably, only his second film. How at this stage in his career Tarkovsky got the funding from an avowedly anti-God communist regime to make a film about a man of God is one … Read more
Cora is wooed by Anthony Mallare

The Scoundrel

The Scoundrel is a gift from two great writers to Noël Coward, a chance for the playwright, screenwriter, director, actor and impresario to do his thing in a Hollywood setting for a change, rather than on the stages of Broadway or London’s West End. A highly epigrammatic, almost drawing-room dramedy, it’s high in tone from the opening credits onwards, with the spirit of Oscar Wilde (still a living memory to many in 1935 when this was made) hovering waspishly over the entire production, the tale of an utter scoundrel (Coward) being served. It’s Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur writing, producing and directing. Two of the very greatest screenplay writers, Hecht and MacArthur wrote … Read more
Grant Rosenmeyer, Ravi Patel and Hayden Szeto

Come As You Are

In 2006 a Leeds-based American man called Asta Philpot visited a brothel while on holiday in Spain. He got laid. Nothing unusual there, except Asta was born with arthrogryposis, a condition that means he could barely move. Having enjoyed himself and suddenly realising that he didn’t necessarily have to live the sort of chaste life that seems to be a disabled man’s lot, Philpot decided to organise a trip back to Spain with two friends, one legally blind, one paralysed after an accident, for more of the same. The BBC went along for the, er, ride, and turned the trip into a documentary, For One Night Only. This formed the basis of a … Read more
James Mason and Joan Bennett

The Reckless Moment

Melodrama lush and silk-wrapped in The Reckless Moment, a typically opulent film from Max Ophüls, billed almost inevitably as Max Opuls in the four films he made in the USA, of which this was the last. He’s best known for Lola Montes and La Ronde, and for a strange fascination with female characters whose name began with the letter L (it was Léocadie, played by Simone Signoret, in La Ronde, no prizes for guessing who it was in Lola Montes). Lucia is his L of a gal in The Reckless Moment, Joan Bennett showing what an all-rounder she was in a role that’s several rungs up the social ladder and a moral universe … Read more
Neil Young on stage in Jonathan Demme's Heart of Gold

Neil Young: Heart of Gold

Jonathan Demme’s Talking Heads film, Stop Making Sense, is one of the best concert documentaries ever made. Now he’s done the same favour for Neil Young, who was just recovering from a brain aneurysm when he delivered this two-part country set in Nashville. The title itself is something of a misnomer, or a hard sell (take your pick) since the first part of the concert is Young’s Prairie Wind album in its totality. It’s only in part two that Young gets the back catalogue out, mostly songs from Harvest, After the Gold Rush and Harvest Moon, his slight return to the acoustic-y banjo-y style of Harvest. As with Stop Making Sense Demme starts … Read more
Steve Coogan and Rebecca Romijn in Lies and Alibis aka The Alibi

The Alibi

Also known as Lies and Alibis, this is one of those “who’s zooming who” comic thrillers – a bit of Tarantino dialogue, some swish Soderbergh camerawork, a twisty LA Confidential-ish plot. And Steve Coogan’s in it too. Yes, that does seem like a slightly odd casting decision – a Brit actor best known in the UK for his portrayal of gauche local DJ Alan Partridge. As with the best Coogan performances there’s a touch of Partridge in his portrayal of Ray Elliot, the head of a company which provides alibis for players in the game of sexual infidelity. Ray’s only rule is that his company won’t provide an alibi if a crime has been … Read more

Popular Posts