Poor Things

Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo

Poor Things, Yorgos Lanthimos’s follow-up to The Favourite, is an act of restitution to Emma Stone, who was the best thing in that movie and yet lost out at awards’ time to Olivia Colman. Queens (as Colman was) trump upstarts. Stone does not lose out this time (in between writing and posting this, she has won the Best Actress Oscar). She is not just the focus of the movie but increasingly its purpose, once Lanthimos’s huge arm-sweep of influences and genres have bedded down. It’s Frankenstein meets Alice in Wonderland in a world styled by Jan Svankmajer and Jonathan Miller (both did Alice movies), Bertrand Bonello at his most decadantly fin-de-siecle (see House … Read more

The Forgiven

The boy's father, David, host Richard and the police

Lush and lovely and slightly empty, The Forgiven is the clockwork toy that fails to march. And it all looks so promising to start with. The opening moments alone really get the hopes up – that saturated colour red of the scrolling credits seems to be offering a vast 1960s-style epic à la Lawrence of Arabia, the North African settings suggest maybe Bertolucci’s The Sheltering Sky and the presence of Ralph Fiennes hints at another The English Patient maybe. Fiennes and Jessica Chastain play the bickering married couple who knock down and kill a young Moroccan fossil seller one night while en route to a party out at some huge swish villa in … Read more

On the Count of Three

Kevin and Val point guns at each other

Like a Butch and Sundance but with no glory days in the rearview, On the Count of Three is the story of two desperadoes riding towards their moment of reckoning, and opens with Val (Jerrod Carmichael) and Kevin (Christopher Abbott) taking aim at each other’s heads, in a moment of pre-planned mutual annihilation. They don’t go through with it. Spoiler. Well, kind of. This flashforward opener catches up with itself within about ten minutes of this film’s running time, leaving the two smalltown American dudes to spin out the rest of the time in an orgy of nostalgia, payback, bucket-list moments and re-appraisal of lives lived almost totally pointlessly. It’s billed as a … Read more

The World to Come

Abigail and Tallie get close

Mona Fastvold’s second film, The World to Come, continues her tick-tocking exploration of timebomb relationships, much as did her first one, 2014’s The Sleepwalker. And like The Sleepwalker, this also toys with the viewer, delaying the explosive payoff until its moment has started to recede over the hill. Has Fastvold been watching Hungarian master miserablist Béla Tarr, I wondered. If so, it might explain the disengaged atmosphere. An early shot, of frontier couple Abigail (Katherine Waterston) and Dyer (Casey Affleck) sitting down to eat a solitary boiled potato, was reminiscent of a scene in Tarr’s final film, 2011’s The Turin Horse, a drama so bleak that it dares you not to titter. Also … Read more

Black Bear

Aubrey Plaza and Christopher Abbott

Aubrey Plaza fans, here’s your film. In Black Bear she plays one, two, three or even four roles, depending on how you’re counting, as an actor/director trying to hash out a screenplay out in a cabin in the woods. From the first instant that Allison (Plaza) arrives at this B&B “for creatives”, as owners Blair (Sarah Gadon) and Gabe (Christopher Abbott) put it, it’s obvious there’s going to be trouble. She, a self-declared “difficult” actress who went into directing because no on would employ her any more, immediately starts that bantering, joshing to and fro with host Gabe which indicates that she fancies him. As they walk up from the main gate, he … Read more


Andrea Riseborough

Stab a human being in a vital area of the body and what happens? In most movies, after one clean thrust a modicum of blood seeps decorously into an item of clothing and the victim promptly drops dead. But this is a Brandon Cronenberg movie and Brandon is the heir to David Cronenberg, king of the body horrror. So when someone is stabbed in the neck in the pre-credits sequence to Possessor, the blood-letting is spumungous, nasty, frenzied and inconclusive – this victim isn’t going down without a fight. Even as he dies he’s summoning all his forces to keep the only show he has on the road. That’s what happens. Remarkably, this … Read more