Usual guidelines. If you're the first to review a film then reply to the original posting. If not, reply to previous reviews of that film.Do check to see if someone else has reviewed the film. I'm mainly looking at you here, Sara. LOL.
Susan Kelly ● 274d121 Comments
I recall very well seeing Ken Loach’s “Cathy Come Home” directed play on BBC-TV and then not too later in the cinema, “Poor Cow” and “Kes” and appreciating the impact they had. Fifty odd years later with Loach now 87 years of age, it would be expecting a lot for this his latest directed film set in a declining former mining town in County Durham to match those heights, though it does make a fair stab.The story of Syrian refugees being rehoused in the town after being granted UK asylum with the inevitable outbursts of anger, malice and racism by unemployed locals is well depicted capturing the ups and downs of each side’s reactions to the other. The local run-down pub of the film’s title run by T. J (Dave Turner) who strikes up a friendship with an English-speaking Syrian refugee and photographer Yara (Ebla Mari), despite the reactions of his local customers to the refugees’ presence, forms the core of the movie. Maybe it is a case of my seeing too many Loach films over the years but it all felt pretty predictable even down to the closing shots of the annual NE miners’ banner parade. Which is a pity because in parts this is one of the few UK films that I have seen which seemed to try and understand and depict the reality of the post-Brexit “Red Wall” phenomenon. The script (written by Loach’s long term collaborator Paul Laverty) sadly suffers I felt from one too many dollops of socialism, which end up detracting from consideration of this core theme.Whether this is finally Loach’s last film (given he originally announced his retirement in 2014 and has still carried on) remains open based on his own recent comments it seems.
Joe Conneely ● 2d
Oxford graduate Liam is engaged to tutor a teenage boy, Bertie, for Oxford entrance. This involves living in the guest cottage of a mansion with extensive grounds in the middle of nowhere, complete with servants. It belongs to Ted Sinclair, a famous author who has published nothing for 5 years, and his French wife, Helene, an art dealer. They had another son, Felix, who died by suicide. It is not a happy household. Bertie is initially sullen and unco-operative. The parents blow hot and cold, veering between being friendly and bloody rude. Liam is a little like a Victorian governess: neither family nor servant and shunned by both. They are the sort of people who insist anyone who works for them sign an NDA.Ted, a self-regarding monster, has almost finished his latest novel. Richard E Grant always gives good monster and Irish actor Daryl McCormack is making a real name for himself on film and TV. The story kept me intrigued to the end.I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Susan Kelly ● 6d
Supposedly based on Christie's Hallowe'en Party, you have to wonder why given that it's been moved to Venice and the plot changed completely. Poirot is living in Venice, for reasons that are never explained, with a bodyguard, to boot. He reluctantly agrees to look into a case, concerning a Palazzo believed by the locals to be cursed. The present owner, a famous opera singer, lost her daughter to suicide and has asked a medium to try to contact her. Mrs Oliver wants Poirot to see how the medium is cheating. Quite a household are gathered, including the dead girl's former fiancé.Venice at Hallowe'en is immensely atmospheric, overcast and rainy, and there are some nice arty shots of the city. It's 1947 so mainland Europe is still reeling from WW2, be it the family doctor who was with the army that liberated Belsen and has never recovered, or the Hungarian orphans keen to get to America and a new life.The film is pretty much stolen by Jude Hill who was the small boy in Belfast, here sporting an impeccable RP accent as the doctor's son, forced into precocious adulthood by his father's fragile mental state.I enjoyed it enormously.
Susan Kelly ● 15d
This is a hilarious mockumentary about a kids' theatre camp in upstate New York. After the founder, Joan, suffers a catastrophic reaction to some stage strobe lights, her hapless "crypto bro" influencer son steps in to keep the camp running. Meanwhile the teachers plan a musical tribute to Joan whilst the reality of spending their adult lives teaching stagecraft to kids begins to sink in. And a rival camp run by ruthless financiers plots a takeover. I loved it. The writers/directors/leads clearly know what they're doing and create a portrait of a stage school that's both very funny and hugely affectionate. The way they take a dreadful stream-of-consciousness improvised "song" and turn it into a strangely moving showstopper finale is just brilliant.
Norman Redfern ● 22d
It got five stars and an 'impeccable' in The Times this morning. Chacun a son gout!
Susan Kelly ● 24d
I am a great lover of Korean films having seen many over the years but this has to be one of the most pedestrian paced Korean films I have seen even despite over half of the story being set in North America, mainly New York. Susan's synopsis of the plot when seen on the screen all felt pretty predictable to me even down to the closing scene.Koreans clearly have some concerns and issues about children who have left the country to go overseas via forced adoption (as per this year's earlier film "Return to Seoul") or as here the parents migrating with their children to Canada. The inevitable loss of national cultural traits (such as changes to Western names or forgetting how to write Korean) with such children becoming more international is inevitable. But especially when such children later come up against little worldly experienced Korean friends left behind as this film shows, nothing good ensues.I must admit I could not make up my mind which lead character irritated me more - the immature male wuss living on childhood memories and portraying all the sadly too recognisable Asian male traits anyone who has spent time there will recognise, or the worldly Korean female, who could never survive if she had to live back in Korea yet seems markedly insensitive to her American husband's feelings, especially in the long bar scene involving all three main characters towards the end of the film.Definitely a film I would not feel able to recommend though all the critical reviews seem to rave over its values and story!
Joe Conneely ● 25d
Graphic designer Martin lives in Paris with German film director Tomas. It's a fairly open relationship but when Tomas sleeps with primary school teacher Agathe, things start to fall apart. Soon he decides he is in love and moves out to live with her but he doesn't want to let Martin go either, especially as Martin immediately finds a new man. This film has been getting great reviews but I didn't like it at all. It's like a pretentious soap opera. Tomas is toxic: selfish, greedy, has an appalling dress sense and needs a good slapping. Ben Wishaw does his best with Martin but the part is underwritten.It has an 18 certificate because of explicit sex scenes, both gay and straight, which I found quite boring.I can't recommend it but would be interested to hear any alternative viewpoints.
Susan Kelly ● 27d
The Koreans have had an excellent few years for their screen offerings, from prize-winning film Parasite to Netflix's gripping Squid Game. This is an altogether gentler tale.Na Young and Hae Sung are childhood sweethearts growing up in Seoul until Na's parents emigrate to Canada when she is 12. 12 years later, she is living in New York, trying to establish herself as a playwright, when she and Hae reconnect via Facebook. However, it's soon clear that neither is prepared to fly half way round the world to meet in person and the relationship peters out again. Not long after Na (now Nora) goes to a writers' retreat on Long Island and meets Arthur. They marry.12 more years pass and Hae is coming to New York at last. They arrange to meet. The film's title refers to a Korean idea that couples have known each other in previous lives and Arthur is a little unsettled, worried that Hae is Nora's one true love. His more practical wife retorts 'This is where I ended up; this is where I was meant to be'.I found the film slow and somewhat inconsequential but I'm sure many will love it.
Susan Kelly ● 29d
I agree with Joe that this is watchable but nothing to write home about. It's a bit of a mess, plot wise. I found myself sympathising with director/leading man Louis Garrel, a young widower struggling to cope with his more life-affirming mother.
Susan Kelly ● 33d
This is a very slight film and not all the scenes work but it has charm and the central performance by newcomer Lola Campbell as 12-year-old Georgie is impressive. I liked the way peripheral characters spoke directly to camera, giving insights into the story, especially the two gormless social workers who actually seem to believe that the child has an uncle called Winston Churchill!
Susan Kelly ● 36d
A French comedy film that comes with high critical plaudits plus a Cannes nomination. Filmed in a smoky and misty Lyon, the storyline of a mother who teaches drama in prisons and falls for an inmate before his release and marries him, sets off a suspicious and protective son who believes the new spouse is up to no good and starts trailing him. He in turn relies on a girlfriend who can match his mother for craziness and from there the story evolves into a heist that inevitably goes askew.By the film's final third, the comedic element seemed to be flagging for me. However, given how the story is structured from the outset (without giving too much away), the fun is from watching acting scenes within the overall film's acting and trying to guess what is false, given the quality of the performances.A pleasant enough film but I felt not that memorable overall.
Joe Conneely ● 37d
In the 1960s I saw a film with Dirk Bogarde called "Our Mother's House", which impressed me with its story of a family where the mother died and the fatherless children decide to carry on as though she is still alive, to the outside world.This new BFI/Channel 4 release takes a simpler version of the story, Georgie being a 12 years old girl whose mother has recently died but keeps up the pretence to everybody she is now living with her uncle in her mother's home. With her council estate friend Ali, they steal bikes to help pay for her needs. Into this, her father Jason who left after she was born, suddenly appears. The film is then about the battle of wills between a fiercely independent young teenager and her long absent and disconnected father.Filmed on a council estate in Chigwell, Essex, of the type which is now rare in London but still common around the rest of the UK, the simple story works because of the strength of the lead performances, honest and convincing especially in conveying how a 12 year old sees the world. In addition, the creative editing and use of talking to camera by cast outside the main characters, embellishes the underlying humorous mood.As the first feature film by director and scriptwriter Charlotte Regan, one suspects she will go on and enjoy further success.
Joe Conneely ● 38d
The German title is Red Hell which is more evocativeBerlin friends Leon and Felix go to spend the summer on the Baltic coast at a house belonging to Felix's mother. Leon is struggling with his second novel and Felix is an aspiring artist. Their car breaks down and they have to walk the last few miles. Felix's mum has also forgotten to mention that she's allowing Nadja, a friend's daughter, to stay there for the summer too. But there's room for them all and even for Nadja's boyfriend, lifeguard Devid. Wildfires are flaring up but they're 20 miles away and the authorities are adamant that they are under control. Naturlich!Leon is very uptight and it's not easy to see why he and Felix are friends. There's some weird stuff. Leon's publisher turns up from Berlin to read through his MS with him line by line (I've published a few novels and this just does not happen!) The characters feel underdeveloped and the plot twists almost random. I was waiting for the fires to arrive and consume these paper-thin characters. It's not a bad film -- I wasn't bored -- but could surely have been a better one.I saw a preview but it'll be out on Friday.
Susan Kelly ● 43d
Rome in the 1970s. Clara, a Spanish woman, is married to Italian Felice and they have three children. The marriage is clearly not happy with the husband controlling and unfaithful and, let us remember, Italy had only just legalised divorce and it was still frowned upon.The eldest child is Adriana but she identifies as a boy named Andrea. Her parents assume this is a phase she will grow out of. When some migrant workers set up camp nearby, Andrea is attracted to Sara, a teenage girl there. She introduces herself as a boy and the migrants accept that without question.The film is interspersed with song and dance routines by Clara and the children, which jar slightly. The themes are strong for a 12a certificate.Penelope Cruz is compelling as Clara and the young actor playing Adriana/Andrea gives a superb performance as an adolescence who makes no sense to anyone in the 1970s.I saw a preview at the Curzon but it's on release from Friday, including at Act One.
Susan Kelly ● 57d
Such a pretty film. And very Wes Anderson. It wasn't one of my favourites, though I preferred it to the last one.Am always stunned by how many famous actors seem to queue up to play tiny roles in his movies. Which is itself something of an endorsement.I found the end rather abrupt and unsatisfactory, as if the director just wanted to stop. So did.
Sara Nathan ● 62d
I loved it.I loved seeing it in a packed cinema (ActOne - coining it tra la la), with people laughing out loud and just having a good time.I loved how much my OH HATED the patriarchy speech.I particularly loved the "depressed Barbie" advert.I loved Helen Mirren as Narrator, Margot Robbie (always love her) a lot of the script - although not the end so much.I loved the visual quotes from other movies from 2001 to Legally Blonde to (maybe) Reservoir Dogs.All so much so that I am taking a grieving friend tomorrow (her husband won't go and it might cheer her up) and we are trying the new cinema in Ealing.And seeing it twice in ten days is just fine by me.
Sara Nathan ● 62d
If you're put off by the bladder-testing running time (mine held out) or the subject matter, I would say don't be.Despite a sympathy with left-wing causes, Robert Oppenheimer is no communist and is able to assure the military of that fact when he's placed in charge of the Manhattan Project to develop an atomic bomb before the Germans do. He settles a big team in the New Mexican desert, complete with wives and children. He has, himself, a colourful private life with women who challenge him, starting with a hard-line communist who eventually kills herself after he leaves her for Kitty, a war widow but already another man's wife.As history tells us, they developed the bomb and the military dropped it on two Japanese cities, bringing WW2 to an end at last. Oppenheimer is troubled by what he's been part of and starts to campaign to prevent any further escalation towards hydrogen bombs.After the war the US turns on him under the auspices of a man with a personal grudge. He is even accused of having been a Russian spy all through the project. As Joe says, the scene with Truman is a classic, especially the president's parting shot.This is a completely gripping story, which jumps about in time from Robert's youth to the years developing to the bomb to the years after, sometimes in colour and sometimes monochrome. The test explosion in the New Mexico desert is really tense, even though we know how it turned out. Cillian Murphy is on screen almost all the time, sometimes digitally made young, and, at the end, aged up. He holds the screen effortlessly.
Susan Kelly ● 71d
While not a great Christopher Nolan fan (I find his futuristic style films "Tenet", "Inception" & "Interstellar", pretentious I fear) this one benefits from being rooted in the historic facts of the life of Robert Oppenheimer, the "father of the Atomic Bomb". While nearly 3 hours long, it thankfully doesn't drag largely because of the mosaic form of storytelling used with endless time jumps from the outset spanning the early 1930s to late 1950s, all skilfully interwoven. Cillian Murphy in the lead role and the film itself seem set for many awards but the whole cast excels, especially Matt Damon as a driven US general in charge of the WW2 nuclear effort; Robert Downey Jr. as Oppenheimer's ultimately doomed nemesis in the McCarthy era; and Emily Blunt and Florence Pugh as Oppenheimer's two wives.The story captures very well the mood swings of the USA from 30s support in academia of socialist thinking to the Communist Red Scares of the 50s, along the way monopolising the use of Nazi hating Jewish scientists to develop the bomb at Los Alamos. Oppenheimer as the leader and catalyst of managing the many egos to catch up and beat the German efforts at nuclear fusion takes up inevitably the greater part of the film. The subsequent hand wringing when the scientists realise what they have created and naively try to control the politicians is captured brilliantly in a short scene between President Truman and Oppenheimer after the bombs have been dropped on Japan.All the usual Nolan trademarks are on show - high level audio, cranked up music score and iMax style cinematography - but given the nearly full cinema at the midday screening today one suspects that it will enjoy a good box office despite the current competition from "Barbie" and "Mission Impossible".
Joe Conneely ● 72d
Not attracted by Indiana Jones or Asteroid City or the imminent Mission Impossible offerings, I opted for this French drama based on a true story and starring Isabelle Huppert in the lead role.Huppert plays an employee elected union representative in the French nuclear group Areva in 2011. I suppose the UK definition of her role would be shop steward but given French employment laws she has a more powerful board level position and has been very active in that elected role. This is the period of Sarkozy and Hollande as French presidents with new technocrats they appoint trying to shake up French industry. Discovery of a planned deal with the Chinese government and expectation jobs will be lost as well as French technical expertise, Huppert leads a challenge. Failure of management to listen leads to her seeking a meeting with newly elected President Hollande. The day before that meeting she is subject to a grotesque rape attack at her home.Disinterested politicians, sexist bosses, speculative media and disbelieving police create pressure on Huppert to withdraw her story as to the event having ever actually occurred. The French style of showing this gaslighting strategy avoids cranking up the action Hollywood style and instead a much slower paced French police investigation and Court procedure follows over a number of years (which as "St Omer" and "The Night of the 12th" as earlier in the year French releases have underlined is a very different process to what UK audiences might expect).At 2 hours the film felt as if it would have benefitted from trimming but the bitter sweet ending will not surprise anybody I suspect after the comparable political meddling bordering on corruption that we have seen in both France and the UK over the last decade.
Joe Conneely ● 79d
This documentary is on for a week at Chiswick and while not an easy view it is a labour of love being a film shot over four year wrapped into 90 minutes.The Lawanda of the title is a young Iraqi boy born deaf in a country where such children are kept hidden and locked away. His family takes the risk of trying to get to the UK as refugees so Lawanda can have a better life and treatment. While the issue of getting UK residence status and avoiding deportation is weaved across the film the central story is of Lawanda learning from scratch how to communicate via sign language.The film goes to great lengths in its soundscape to try and emulate how it actually feels for someone with his condition - muffled sounds and the slow development in learning sign language after the traumas he has suffered plus subtitles being key to understanding what is happening, though at times the music feels too overbearing.A topic that as with all good documentaries would be nigh impossible to portray as vividly in a fictional version.
Joe Conneely ● 85d
Potentially a topical film given current ongoing events in France. This French film from 2022 does not labour the immigration issue (though it does touch on it towards its end) in its story of an Ivory Coast separated mother bringing her two small children to live in France.Unlike the frenetic and time span packed pace of the recent French film "Full Time", this follows an interesting structure. It covers around 20 years from 1989, in 3 parts with the initial emphasis on the mother who is a true free spirit in how she wants to live her emotional life (with shades of the subtext of the earlier this years French film "St. Omer"). The second part shows how an intelligent older son suffers as a consequence of the mother's floating relationships and the closing third covers the youngest son now matured who despite his problems comes good in sorting out his life but with no empathy with his aging mother.The two decades time span covered is taken at a leisurely pace that across the film's 100 minutes duration does not feel drawn out, though sadly like too many French films, its tendency to have passages of dialogue devoted to poetry or philosophy feels wasteful.One of those films you appreciate (the mother and child actors at all stages of their lives, are excellent) but would not ultimately rave over. A fact underlined by my being the only person watching at an afternoon screening in Chiswick!
Joe Conneely ● 90d
Although the icky, saccharine soaked "Royal Tannenbaums" put me off Anderson for a few years, I've loved everything he's done since then. Until now. Lord, I loathed this film, in which Anderson drains every drop of humanity out of his work and presents just smug, unrelenting style, nothing else. Every line is delivered in the same deadpan monotone, everyone is a dead-eyed puppet against the carefully framed and colour-coded backdrop. Whereas "The French Dispatch" expressed a sheer, kaleidescopic and ingenious love of story telling, this was just a love of Anderson and his "cleverness". I was shocked at how howlingly dull it was, and couldn't wait for it to finish. With this, "The Fabelmans", "The Whale" and "The Son", it looks like I'm heading for a repeat of 2022's disastrous film-going run.
Adam Kimmel ● 91d
We know what to expect: evil Nazi seeks ancient artefact -- in this case a gadget invented by Archimedes which can locate fissures in time -- with a view to going back to 1939 and changing the outcome of the war.Most of the action takes place in 1969, where Indie is living in a dismal bedsit, mourning the death of his son in Vietnam and the consequent collapse of his marriage to Marion, coping with ignorant and apathetic students and being forced into retirement. Then his god-daughter Helena turns up looking for the gadget and soon the two of them are whizzing round the Med pursued by ruthless Nazis.Four screenwriters are credited, which is usually a sign that the script is a mess, and it is, but also hugely enjoyable, though going completely bonkers in the last 20 minutes. It's good to see that 80-somethings can land a devastating punch to the face!
Susan Kelly ● 95d
A new documentary showing at Chiswick Cinema for a week based on the cycling career of American Greg LeMond and largely covering his second Tour de France victory in 1989, which is the narrowest time victory in the Tour's history. Given the subsequent removal for doping of Lance Armstrong's later wins from the Tour's wins records, LeMond remains the only American to have won the Tour, which he did three times.Mainly one for keen cycling fans I fear given the extensive race footage that makes up around half of the film though it is light on team tactics which are a key part of the sport. This action is mixed with current interviews with the key parties with his private life and its tragic elements and his recovery from them being fully covered. I was left feeling that this film probably covers the end of whatever golden age of cycling there was then. While doping had clearly existed in the sport, it was not as prevalent as it subsequently became over the next few decades as one of the interviewees states towards the film's end. .
Joe Conneely ● 96d
Many people love Wes Anderson's films; many hate them. I am agnostic, having liked some and not others. As ever, he has assembled an enormous cast including many A-listers playing very small roles. 1955, the Arizona desert: a group of bright kids are gathered with their families for a science fair. Prominent is Augie, photographer and recent widower, there with brilliant teenage son Woodrow and his three small daughters. In the distance, atomic bombs are being tested. The town (pop 87)'s claim to fame is a meteor that fell 3 or 4 thousand years ago.It looks beautiful: all pastel colours. There is a framing device too, in black and white, where the story is unfolding as a stage play.I thoroughly enjoyed this and found that the time flew by. Unlike, say, The French Dispatch, I didn't start to flag towards the end.
Susan Kelly ● 99d
Travis comes out of prison after a year and returns to girlfriend Candice and daughter Kenisha in Lambeth. Candice works at a supermarket but dreams of being a professional singer so when she's allowed to audition to play Tina Turner in a west end musical, it's as if all her Christmases have come at once. Travis buys her an expensive red dress to wear to audition and she gets a call back. But while she's at work, Travis starts trying on her dress, and then her underwear. Meanwhile Kenisha is being a teenage girl only more so and is being threatened with expulsion from her school.It's an unusual plot and, while the whole family could do with anger management counselling, you also care about them. Well worth seeing. It's good to see films exploring different plots and themes.
Susan Kelly ● 100d
32-year-old Maddy has lived in Montauk all her life, since before it became the summer playground of rich New Yorkers. She has financial problems and when she sees an advert from a mega-rich family for a young woman to help their son, it seems like the answer. 19-year-old Percy is off to Princeton but he's extremely shy, geeky and a virgin and his helicopter parents want Maddy to -- ahem -- make a man of him.She organises a meet-cute. Maddy is not, at first sight, a very nice person and Percy is initially terrified of her but they begin to bond and she opens up to him, allowing us access to the reasons she's so brittle. Soon he's in love and saying that he won't go to Princeton if it means being away from her, which is not quite what his parents had in mind.This had an R rating in the US. It has a 15 here. There's actually very little sex on screen but the idea that Maddy is, in some sense, a sex worker, explains it. I enjoyed this a lot. There's an unexpected sweetness to it. Also some good jokes, like when Maddy asks her Native-American friend if he can imagine what it's like to have new people flooding the area and trying to push him out.
Susan Kelly ● 102d
Julie is a very stressed single mum of two, who lives in a village and works as head chambermaid at a 5-star hotel in Paris. Her ex is late with the child support and not answering his phone and the bank is nagging her about the mortgage and her overdraft. Her ageing childminder can't cope with her hyper-active son, especially as Julie is so often late collecting them. Both her boiler and her car keep letting her down. She is looking for a new job in the field she worked in before having kids but this involves sneaking away from work and lying about it, putting the job she has in jeopardy. France is having a general transport strike, making it almost impossible for her to get to work and back. She's haemorrhaging money -- for an interview suit for the new job, for an overnight in a hotel when she can't get home, for taxis -- and is soon having her credit card declined..It reminded me slightly of one of those misery memoirs which were all the rage maybe 20 years ago. You start to wonder if the writer is ever going to give Julie a break or whether he's going to chuck her under a train if one ever runs. The film is well worth seeing, though, as actor Laure Calamy carries the story magnificently, almost single handed and you keep rooting for her.
Susan Kelly ● 104d
I thought that the Hysterical Historical genre died out years ago but here it is, alive and kicking.We're in pre-revolutionary France where Joseph Bologne, son of a Guadeloupe plantation owner and one of his slaves, arrives to be schooled in France. He is a talented young man, a brilliant violinist and fencer, and is soon moving in the highest circles of Parisian society, being ennobled by Marie Antoinette as the Chevalier de St Georges.Sounds okay, but it's a stodgy film with the anachronistic dialogue which now seems de rigueur (that's your actual French). Perhaps the biggest problem, though, is that Joseph isn't at all likeable: he's arrogant as he rises through society, then turns against it when it doesn't worship him enough, joining the revolutionaries.Can't recommend.
Susan Kelly ● 111d
A film with a story about gardening has pretty much initially the same attraction as a film on classical music ("Tar") for me, given I have avoided gardening since being forced to do it extensively as a child when living in a rural area. However because this is written and directed by Paul Schrader, one knows it would be a lot darker and deeper as indeed proved to be the case.Narvel (Joel Edgerton) is the head gardener on an old Southern USA estate with extensive laid out gardens, where the proprietor Norma (Signourey Weaver, in superb icy matriarch role) runs annual charity events for selling the plants and flowers from her gardens. She orders Narvel to take on her grand-niece Maya, a half caste, as a trainee gardener, given Maya's side of the family from which Norma is long estranged have all died.What is set up as a garden metaphor intensive story however soon falls away. Narvel's background as a body tattooed White Supremacist who committed murders and sent most of his colleagues to jail in return for a state witness protection change of identity (hence his becoming a gardener) faces off Norma's dislike of her grand-niece for her drug and mixed race background. Feeling at times like a rural version of the prior Schrader scripted "Taxi Driver", this film like Schrader's previous two low budget films "First Reformed" and "The Card Counter" follows a man in crisis but has a rare for Schrader films, near happy ending. Just finishing its run at Chiswick cinema and given I was the only person watching the film today, probably reflects its limited appeal!
Joe Conneely ● 123d
It’s a beautiful film full of colour and close ups of gold-thread embroidery which contrasts with the mundane world of Morocco. I could see the ending coming quite a way off, but it was no less poignant for that. As Susan says, much gentle affection but I saw it amongtlst all three of the protagonists with Youssef also developing a loving relationship with Mina in the last part of the film.Slow but charming.
Sara Nathan ● 134d
Thank you for reviewing a film that "The wo/man on the Clapham omnibus" has actually heard of ......... 😆
Rosco White ● 137d
Appreciate that many will not be fans of the MCU but this might be a good place to start if you have been avoiding it up to now.As well as being visually stunning and having the technical brilliance which you would expect given the budget it has a much better script than the previous film in the series (although not quite hitting the heights of the first). It looks and feels like a film of a cartoon, which I would imagine is deliberate but that isn't a criticism.For all the whizzbangery it does manage to make points about experiments on animals and was genuinely affecting at times.Critics have said it was too long but I was disappointed when it came to an end. While ActOne is the venue of choice for most films, I deliberately chose to go to Westfield for this one as it benefits from the larger screens and better sound systems at Vue.
Mark Evans ● 137d
The issue of abandoned babies is one South Korea has struggled with for a long time, especially post the Korean War. The growth in numbers of babies being adopted by overseas families via adoption agencies, especially the USA (the prior route of adopting from orphanages in Ireland having been closed down) is one that has now largely ceased. Yet with a low birth rate and high numbers of unwanted babies still being abandoned (Korea has only recently legalised abortions) it remains a source of much ongoing national debate it seems.The prior Korean film of this year "Broker" addressed the current problem within Korea. This film as others have covered is about the return home of a Korean girl adopted as a baby and taken to France. I found the film's handling of the many emotional conflicts when a baby child adopted overseas returns as an adult and tries to connect with their biological parents with all those emotions, plus a society and language they have no experience of, was handled very well. None of the plot's twists seemed unnatural though they might grate with many viewers who have little experience of the emotions depicted.The film's use of several time jumps worked well in the context of the story and from my limited time in Korea and Asia seemed to capture the conflicts between Korean and most Asian societies with European values very well. While understanding Susan's point about the lead character's selfish nature (towards both her Korean biological parents and French adopted parents plus her other relationships) I think we are seeing more scripts in the last ten years where many if not all the lead characters are unlikeable. The TV series "Succession" takes this to an extreme and the abandoning of the old script structure of protagonist versus antagonist is the outcome it seems.
Joe Conneely ● 138d
I didn't read up on this film until after watching it, so I was astonished to learn that this is the acting debut of Park Ji-min, who plays Freddie. She does an amazing job of playing a woman who is unsure of her identity and constantly reinvents herself as she learns more about the country of her birth and its culture and norms. It's based on the real life experience of a friend of the director who was born in South Korea and adopted in France and gives a fascinating insight into the issue of mass adoption of Korean babies. I thought the film was beautifully photographed and well-acted and the music was great, but it wasn't an easy watch.
Norman Redfern ● 138d
As we know, Japan has an ageing population, with more nappies sold for the elderly than for babies. Not to mention one of the highest life expectancies in the world. In the near future, there have been outbreaks of hate crimes against old people and the government has set up Plan 75, which will allow anyone over that age to volunteer for euthanasia with $1000 grant and a last few days at a luxury spa.The main character is Michi, who is 78. She's had a hard life: an arranged marriage into a family business where she was treated like a serf; a baby dead at birth. Now she's alone in the world, she's been sacked from her job as a hotel cleaner and the building where she lives is scheduled for demolition. No one wants to employ her or have her as a tenant. She has to be a prime candidate for the Plan. The worker allocated to her is a young Filipina, who worked as a care assistant but needs the better pay offered by the government to pay for an operation for her little daughter. Against all the rules, she and Michi meet and go bowling together.It's a quiet, meditative film and I have no patience with lazy critics who reach immediately for the word 'dystopian' and start comparing it to Logan's Run.
Susan Kelly ● 139d
Married couple Halim and Mina run an old-fashioned tailoring shop in Morocco, everything hand stitched by a trained worker, even though people are starting to demand machine-made clothes which are cheaper and quicker to produce. It's a happy affectionate marriage, although Halim is gay and goes to the Hammam to pick up men. When they take on an apprentice -- a gorgeous young man named Youssef -- Halim finds himself very drawn to the boy.Both men have difficult backgrounds. Halim's mother died giving birth to him and his father never forgave him. Youssef's been fending for himself since the age of 8.The film unfolds at a stately pace but is always engrossing. What struck me most is the very real love between the married couple.
Susan Kelly ● 140d
Bruno is the last boy in the village in the Italian mountains, when Pietro’s family rent a flat for the summer. The film is the story of their friendship over decades. Described as a straight Brokeback Mountain by some wag. It’s an absolutely beautiful film and engaging, if a tad long at two hours thirty. Just sit back and lap up the views…
Sara Nathan ● 142d
Freddie is a French woman, adopted from Korea as a baby. She takes an impromptu two-week holiday in Korea, with no intention of seeking out her birth parents. But when the receptionist at her hotel befriends her, she is persuaded to visit the adoption agency. In no time, she has met her father, who seems very needy, despite a lack of a common language, but her mother doesn't want to see her.This has garnered rave reviews but the problem I had is that Freddie is not at all likeable. I found her cold-hearted and she uses people, only to discard them. I didn't see why I was supposed to care about her. For some time I thought that she must have been unhappy with her adopted parents, that maybe something awful had happened in France, but there is no sign of this. She's plain selfish!
Susan Kelly ● 143d
In many ways, this outperforms the real thing. You don't have heads blocking your view and there's all sorts of extra information, such as x-rays of Vermeer's first thoughts before he over-painted them.As Sara says, it's selling out everywhere and cinemas are hastening to schedule extra showings.I shall be looking out for future Exhibition on Screen showings and have already booked for Tokyo from the Ashmolean at Act One later this month.
Susan Kelly ● 146d
Does this count as a film? There’s no plot obviously and it’s not exactly a documentary. Or is it? What’s interesting is that it’s sold out at ActOne and other places do extra screenings are scheduled.It’s a well-done look round the current Rijksmuseum Vermeer fest and quite well done, with lots of time to look at the pictures and mostly sensible comments from people who know their stuff. And it includes the girl with the pearl earring - which had returned to The Hague by the time we saw the exhibition for real last week.Worth seeing whether or not you saw the real thing. But there aren’t many exhibitions I’d go to a screening of instead.
Sara Nathan ● 147d
We went to the 6.30 screening of Coup 53 on Friday. The film is very good and the Q&A was interesting; the moderator was a film journalist and I thought he did a good job and asked some intelligent questions. However, the screening was advertised as sold out but there were quite a few empty seats - maybe 12 - so what’s going on? Are people buying tickets and then just not turning up if they change their plans?
Norman Redfern ● 155d
We were the only people in this screening too - and then the only customers for Aroy Thai afterwards too… so I share the bemusement.Only five of us in Polite Society too (which I thought much more enjoyable.)Am concerned that if this continues, neither the cinema nor surrounding restaurants can prosper…I know times are tough but our local cinema is cheaper than most (especially on Mondays and for concessions- so please buy tickets here
Sara Nathan ● 155d
Another in ActOne's one-off screenings with Q&A following with the director. This documentary on the coup in Iran in 1953 when the Shah was reinstated after the democratically elected government were overthrown with USA and UK involvement and the prime minister imprisoned, has been popular having run for two sold out nights in a row. The film was first released in 2019 after a long production history (original release was planned for 2016) but because of subsequent adverse actions by certain British TV executives against the film, it has struggled. This is despite awards on the film festival circuit and VOD streaming during COVID plus because it is critical of USA and UK actions it has been popular in Iran winning awards and general release!.I found the film fascinating being a subject I have read a fair bit about. The film's key revelation is the greater involvement of the UK under Churchill in events than had previously been known (the UK government has never accepted involvement unlike the USA). Sadly the Q&A which followed and are usually fascinating was a mess because the Iranian director (Taghi Amirani) managed the session. The lengthy film production and struggles faced as mentioned above in getting the film released have clearly taken its toll on him. In addition to his often lengthy answers, many of the audience instead of asking short questions ended up making personal speeches which rather defeated the objective and benefits of such sessions.
Joe Conneely ● 155d
This is the sort of film which could be a delight or cringe-making. With Jim Broadbent at the helm, ably assisted by Penelope Wilton, you incline towards the former. It's very watchable, anyway, and only occasionally twee.Harold is living out a dismal retirement in Devon when he learns that his former co-worker Queenie is dying in Berwick on Tweed, so he sets out to walk there. There are mysteries to solve along the way: how did he let Queenie down 25 years ago? What happened to the only son lost to the psychosis of booze and pills?Harold is ill equipped for this walk, having only set out to walk to the nearest post box. Soon his feet are in shreds and he's carrying a few toiletries in a carrier bag. But people are mostly kind and he gets help along the way. When one man takes a photo he finds himself going viral. He collects waifs and strays, notably a dog and a teenage boy who is, for a while, a surrogate son. Soon he has dozens of noisy followers and things are getting out of hand.Wilton is under-used, mostly staring at her plain walls and looking sad. And I couldn't help thinking that, in reality, Harold would soon be beset by Internet trolls, tabloid journalists and people abusing as well as cheering him.Worth seeing. We have some lovely countryside but also blighted cityscapes.
Susan Kelly ● 155d
This is rather charming and ever so much better than the trail (as is often the way)Two sisters in west London - one wants to be an artist, the other a stunt-woman. But their Pakistani heritage brings complications in the salhape of a semi-arranged marriage for the older one. Can the younger one stop the wedding? And should she?It’s an almost wholly female cast and offers a mash-up of Crouching Tiger, Bollywood and Bend it Like Beckham. Of course it’s not very sensible, but it’s not boring or dark and there are some laugh out loud moments. Plus it features Shepherds Bush market and a really ace sound-track. If you go with low expectations, as we did, you will be pleasantly surprised. It’s fresh and unusual and fun.
Sara Nathan ● 156d
Since I have always felt "The Three Musketeers" whether in book form or prior film versions is tosh, I elected to see this alternative option being screened this week at Acton One.The title pretty much tells you all you need to know - a group of different background US individuals, who each for various reasons want to do something about Big Oil's effect on their lives, congregate to blow up a pipeline in Texas. This will be done in a way that will not cause an eco disaster but will cause problems for oil prices and supply in delivering their message.The film avoids in depth debates on the rights or wrongs of their approach and longer term faults in their strategy. What it does very well is convey how people can be moved to become involved in such a venture, by intercutting the back stories of the individuals with the execution of their plan. While I am not a great lover of the use of flashbacks, it definitely works in this film because of the energetic style of editing and jump cuts employed which keeps the story and action moving from the very start of the film.The script is apparently adapted from a non-fiction book but comes across as an action fiction thriller with a great script and an unforeseen bitter sweet ending in avoiding standard Hollywood characterisations. Plus it has a great techno music soundtrack which as music I avoid but is perfect for the storytelling and edit of this film. Low budget with no big stars and running just over 100 minutes, it felt like those John Carpenter films I enjoyed so much from the late '70s onwards so what was not to like! Sadly there was only one other person in the cinema at the Friday matinee screening.
Joe Conneely ● 156d
Sisters Lena and Ria Khan are the only children of a middle-class Pakistani family in Shepherd's Bush. Lena has just dropped out of Art College and seems a bit depressed. Ria is in the 6th form and wants to be a stunt woman, to which end she practises martial arts. When Lena becomes engaged to Saleem Shah, a handsome doctor specialising in genetics who intends to whisk her off to Singapore after the wedding. Ria is determined to put a stop to it.She tries to find dirt on him, even stealing his laptop. But he seems to be a thoroughly decent bloke if a bit of a mummy's boy.The plot is never predictable, wrong-footing me several times. It's energetic and original.
Susan Kelly ● 157d
Adam, the son of an illiterate fisherman, is awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Al Azhaa university in Cairo. Shortly after his arrival the Grand Imam of the Sunnis dies and a new one must be elected. The president tasks the Security Services, in the form of Colonel Ibrahim, with making sure the right man is elected. Ibrahim already has a spy in the university, a young man named Zizi. Zizi befriends Adam but Adam watches in horror as he is stabbed to death one night.Colonel Ibrahim wants a clean skin -- Adam -- to replace him. He has sticks and carrots and a reluctant Adam is soon forced to infiltrate a small group of students who may have been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood. Trouble is they don't really trust him and Ibrahim is forced to intervene. He has some serious dirt on the most popular candidate and it's now Adam's job to make sure that dirt leaks out. Adam is a naive and decent boy and you worry how he will come out of all this plotting.I do wonder what the Egyptian authorities make of this film as they don't come out of it well, but it's thoroughly gripping.
Susan Kelly ● 158d
There's not been a French language version since 1974, I believe, so a remake was possibly overdue rather than unnecessary.There was only one other person in the screening I went to and I think she was a volunteer. Pity. But everywhere seems oddly quiet at the moment. Met a friend at My Old China after the film and we were the only people eating there and it's usually bustling. Where is everybody?
Susan Kelly ● 159d
I enjoyed it a lot. It’s the kind of film that Hollywood doesn’t make any more: a good old-fashioned action film without irony, in-jokes, pointless cameos etc. The leads are all good, Eva Green makes a great villain and yes, I do want to find out what happens next. And there are some great hats in it!I am always impressed with the quality of the presentation at ActOne but on this occasion I wonder whether their projection was bright enough for the film. We saw it at Chiswick and had no issues seeing what was going on.
Norman Redfern ● 159d
I thought this a dire and unnecessary re-make. We were sad to be the only people in the cinema but, by the end, (actually about 30 minutes in) thought the rest of Acton had made the right choice. There are so many good foreign films we’ve had to travel to see, that it’s particularly trying when such a poor thing has three screenings a day. It’s really hard to tell what’s going on in the murk and behind the beards. The swashbuckling is unconvincing and the dialogue creaks. So does the love interest. It has no elan nor charm. And, honestly, I don’t care what happens next (bit like Dune really)
Sara Nathan ● 160d
1637: D'Artagnan arrives in Paris from Gascony and, as we know, picks a fight with the Three Musketeers, which might have cost him his life ... if they hadn't all been decent heroic types.Athos is framed for murder and may pay with his life, so the others have to risk their lives to help him. Meanwhile his brother is plotting to kill the King.This is a grittier take on the Musketeers than we're used to: everyone looks as if they haven't washed for a while and might niff a bit. There's less sword play and more close combat. It's all quite dark, visually. We have the plot to ruin the Queen and a resurgence of the wars of religion which cost so many lives in the 16th century.Be warned that this is Part One and you need to be prepared to watch Part Two later this year as it ends on a cliffhanger.
Susan Kelly ● 160d
A fisherman’s son gets a scholarship to the famous Islamic university in Cairo. It’s a pretty unGodly place full of informers and plotters - and he learns quickly. Then the Imam dies and who is to take over? The battle between church and state for control, rages. This won best screenplay at Cannes and it’s very good - as is the cast, especially the two leads. Apparently based on the thought of a Muslim version of Eco’s Name of the Rose. The subtleties of Egypt’s governance and schisms is made clear and the dangers that lurks in any political activity.I won’t suggest any of our Egyptian refugee guests see it - too close to the bone - but it does clarify why people might flee somewhere we largely see as a tourist destination.
Sara Nathan ● 165d
Sandra is a young widow with a pre-pubescent daughter. We never find out how her husband died so young. She's an interpreter from German and English into French. Her father, a retired professor of philosophy, is suffering from a rare syndrome, not unlike dementia but affecting the eyes as well as the brain. The time has come when he can no longer cope at home alone and must be found a place in a care home. The family can't afford private, not in Paris, and there's a long wait for a public placement. He's put into respite care and Sandra, her sister and mother have to clear all his belongings from his home.With so much on her plate, it's not the best time for Sandra to start an affair with Clément, an old friend of her husband's whom she runs into in the park. Especially as he's married. But she does anyway. Clément clearly loves her but has no understanding of the stresses she's under, and is unable to decide what he wants to do about his failing marriage.It's a sad story, but absorbing. The actor playing the father is superb.
Susan Kelly ● 165d
Managed to catch this before its run in Acton finishes. As previously reviewed, it is a French crime procedural set around a gruesome murder in provincial Grenoble.It avoids the USA style of such films (forensics a la CSI and staged violence) replacing it with dollops of French style philosophy on crime, murders and women victims.Nothing gets resolved plot wise but the films understated style and pace worked for me because of its very observant script. It captures well the macho mentality of the male detectives; an older deputy whose personal life is disintegrating and he can't separate it from the investigation; and, a young lead detective whose insular private life leads to obsession over this unsolved case, a not uncommon occurrence if the script is to be believed. Most of all the film conveys excellently the interminable report writing and endless cul-de-sacs as the reality of police work in such investigations.
Joe Conneely ● 166d
The Katyn Memorial in Gunnersbury Cemetery (just up the North Circular from Chiswick Roundabout) is well worth a visit. Moving. In fact, the whole cemetery is beautifully cared for and makes a fine walk on a spring day.
Susan Kelly ● 168d
Saw this at special screening at Act One, with Q&A with director afterwards. The film (a UK Indy production) has gone straight to streaming and is on Amazon Prime but one off showings around the UK's private cinemas are happening.Set in 1947 in Bristol, it concerns Polish ex-servicemen and refugees who have within their ranks members who know about the Katyn Massacres when after the Nazi and Soviet invasion of Poland, large numbers of Poles were executed in the Soviet sector. The plot uses some real facts based around a fictitious news reporter picking up on the story. As the ex-TV Polish born UK based director (whose grandfather was executed in these massacres) explained, his aim was to cover more the details of the UK government knowing about the massacres but who have refused to this day to acknowledge any Soviet involvement.Admirable as the film's intentions are, as with many low budget Indy productions a mediocre script and a mix of very good and middling actors means the film is interesting but does not really shine. At the same time, I must admit that having read Robert Harris's book "Enigma" and having seen the Andrez Wajda film "Katyn", I probably came to the film with too much awareness of the details of the tragic Katyn story for it to make too much impact.
Joe Conneely ● 169d
This is quite a sad, elegiac movie about a widowed woman with an eight-year old daughter dealing with the rapid decline of her compelling father of a neuro-degenerative disease. She also falls - complicatedly - in love.It’s very French, Parisian even. And the leads are very good. It’s based on the writer/director’s own family experience apparently… which makes it quite moving. There’s a lot of love…Not a cheerful watch, however.
Sara Nathan ● 173d
Tells the story of how Nike signed Michael Jackson in 1984. Given we all know it did, there is some suspense missing from this movie.But it’s enjoyable for all that: starring, produced by and directed by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon and with a glorious cameo from Viola Davis as Mrs Johnson.It’s basically a board-room picture with, luckily not too much basketball and a sharp script. Limited appeal to a U.K. audience, you would think, but the small cinema was full on a (damp) bank holiday afternoon.
Sara Nathan ● 174d
It seems that in France 20% of murders remain unsolved. This is one of them.Clara, a happy-go-lucky 21-year-old is walking home from a friend's house one night when a hooded man looms out of the night, dowses her in petrol and sets light to her. She dies a horrific death. We know what the police don't: that she seemed not to recognise her killer.Grenoble CID set to work with Yohan as SIO, a decent, intelligent man who dispels stress by cycling in the velodrome. Clara led a busy social life and they interview a number of current and former boyfriends, some with a history of violence against women, but they have no leads and the case is closed without resolution.Three years later, a new Examining Magistrate asks him to reopen the case. He tells her that any one of the men he and his team interviewed might have been responsible 'because there is something amiss between men and women'. They stake out the location of the murder and Clara's grave on the anniversary of her death in the hope that the perpetrator will pay a nostalgic visit.I found this film utterly gripping. It is, as Yohan suggests, a film about violence against women and girls, but it's also about how the police are brutalised by what they have to see and hear in the course of their work. How many of us could cope with the sight of an immolated body? By the end of the film, Johan has a new, brilliant female recruit on his team. She remarks how odd it is that most crime is committed by men and yet it is largely men who investigate it.
Susan Kelly ● 176d
A remote part of Galicia. French couple Antoine and Olga have come to live there, running a small-holding and repairing ruined old houses. At first, it just seems as if the locals are inbred and xenophobic, but we then learn that they want to sell their land for a windfarm and Antoine is holding out, hence the overt hostility and bullying. This is a dying community, with no young people, and the villagers want to start a new life somewhere else.Chief of the locals who have taken against Antoine are middle-aged brothers, Xan and Loren. Loren has learning difficulties following a run-in with a horse when he was a child. As their behaviour becomes ever more obnoxious, such as when they contaminate the well at the farm, Antoine begins to film them on a video camera, but the police will not take the problem seriously and tell him to make peace with his neighbours.For a moment, it looks as if this might be possible. We learn why Antoine came to this hellhole and why every else is so keen to leave this hellhole. But there is no middle way.It's too long, of course, but I found the sense of constant menace compelling.
Susan Kelly ● 181d
Do you remember Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources? Its where Gerard Depardieu came to attention outside France. So think that with wind not water, much less sunshine and no great tunes...Lots of festering resentment and anger and dim-witted peasants who only understand force. I really enjoyed it, especially the emergence of the female lead quite a long way in, though no laughs, but husband found it a bit dull and too long.
Sara Nathan ● 182d
I was underwhelmed by the play too and the trail doesn’t beguile me - so maybe not. Or not yet.
Sara Nathan ● 182d
I agree: ace performances especially from the two leads. But the rape victim seems shoved in and the end is very unsatisfactory. It’s very beautiful, quite miserable and depressing and there are no laughs.
Sara Nathan ● 182d
We are in a small fishing village on the west coast of Ireland, probably in the late 80s or early 90s. Everyone scratches a living from fishing: the men in their boats and the women at the grim factory where the seafood is prepared for market and where Aileen is the supervisor.Aileen is over the moon when her son Brian returns without warning from Australia. But it's not long before a local woman has accused him of raping her. Aileen's maternal instinct is to give him a false alibi. It's not going to end well.The atmosphere of the film is great in its depiction of a poor, miserable community riddled with misogyny. There's a lot of nice detail: we have an early view of a Madonna and child picture to remind us of mothers and their sons; and Aileen's daughter Erin, who is breastfeeding her own son, comments that Irish boys can never be weaned from their mammy's teat.It has a great cast: Emily Watson, Paul Mescal and Aisling Franciosi.The plot, however, is oddly perfunctory and left me unsatisfied. It's as if rape is being used almost as a McGuffin to hang the picture of the community on.
Susan Kelly ● 182d
Definitely one for the "boys" (regardless of their age)! If you have seen any of the prior 3 films in the John Wick series, this is simply a bigger budget (allegedly$100 million) version of the same comic level storyline and at 169 minutes definitely way too long! I suspect there is no more than 45/50 minutes of dialogue scenes with the rest of the time being devoted to non-stop fighting and shooting, much of it nonsensical and looking like a continual glorified computer shooter action game. But I guess that is the business rationale and the global target audience the film is after (there were in fact only five people at the early matinee showing in The Chiswick Cinema where I saw it with my son). The last film of Lance Reddick of "The Wire" fame he sadly gets killed about 15 minutes in; Ian McShane without any six o'clock shadow and a seemingly over curled barnet reflecting Hollywood requirements, has clearly done well out of the series having now been in all four; and Keanu Reeves as John Wick with Donnie Yen as a blind sword wielding and kung fu fighting assassin roll up a body count that is easily into the hundreds by the film's end.The film's whole inanity was probably best summed up when just before the 2 hours point my iWatch alarm went off telling me I was in "Extremely Loud" sound zone and should move to a quieter area (I really couldn't make this stuff up!)
Joe Conneely ● 183d
A Spanish film (set in mountainous Galicia region farming country) with a French middle aged couple who moved there after the husband retired as a schoolteacher to set up eco-farming and repair dilapidated houses in a very poor rural area. Problem is their poor Spanish neighbours want to sell out their lands for wind farms and unexpected wealth they would never get from farming but the French couple's refusal to allow means this will not easily happen.This simple tension of a dispute between neighbours ebbs and flows for 2 hours 20 minutes at a glacial pace and by the end you realise you have been watching a revenge story. Maybe because I come from the Welsh Borders, the bleak countryside environment and farming lifestyle on show throughout was what kept my interest but I suspect most will find the film too long and not that interesting.
Joe Conneely ● 189d
Would be singer is working out his government contract as a teacher and is so hopeless and in-motivated that the department of education sends him to teach for the summer in the remotest school in Bhutan - and probably the world. He pines to sing in Australia - especially when he release that the journey takes about a week - most of it walking…But he connects with the population, the children and the yaks - and realised that other sorts of singing can communicate in ways he never thought about.It’s a completely charming film: beautiful and under-stated.. the audience came out muttering about “a yak for Acton”
Sara Nathan ● 190d
I saw this on stage too and was deeply underwhelmed, so shall be giving the film a miss.
Susan Kelly ● 195d
Really enjoyed this sweet rom com. Infinitely better than its trail, so ignore that.It's as predictable as What's Love Got to do with it....more of a tribute to Richard Curtis: there are some very Notting Hioll scnes.And lots of laugh-out-loud moments. Not just us but a lot of the audience. And the locations were great. I'm sure I went to a Syrian pop-up in one of those arcades... and at least one place I've worked featured in the closing sewquence.Charming!
Sara Nathan ● 196d
Being a frequent theatre goer rather than a film buff I am usually a reader rather than a contributor to this thread but haven’t seen mention of this film yet: Allelujah, the film of the Alan Bennett stage play, which I saw yesterday at ActOne. The film is a different animal to the play (which I saw in 2018): witty, funny (well, it is Bennett) but then kicks you in the stomach. And with a new coda relating to the covid epidemic, which really hits home. It's on until 9 April and I would recommend it - though probably best not to take elderly or frail relatives... the audience yesterday left in silence.
Lorna Dodd ● 196d
I agree Susan. Found the two leads incredibly charismatic and the film - beautifully shot - made me very nostalgic for when I used to hang out in South London more. Maybe one day we'll get 'Acton Lane'!
James Lewis ● 197d
Peckham, the present day. Dom is crying in the lavatories at an exhibition by one of his friends, because his girlfriend of 6 years has dumped him for his best friend and he's had to move back in with his parents. Yaz overhears his distress. She has also been through a recent breakup. The two start to hang out together. She helps him show his girlfriend that he's already moved on; he helps her retrieve a record she's left at her boyfriend's.We know where this is heading but the film is a real gem: clever, witty and sweet; and, at only 80 minutes, is a rare film that doesn't feel that it's outstayed its welcome.
Susan Kelly ● 198d
Title a complete misnomer (it's th name of an amusement park where the theatre Haider works in is I think) as there is very little joy at all. The family atmosphere is really oppressive with no privacy and children in every bed. We did wonder how Haider's wife's baby came to be conceived (and if it was his) Was the man she bumps into at Joyland actually the fathr?It's also about the role of women in a patriarchal society and the importance of paid work. The filming and production are crucial to how you see the film. But it is quite hard work.No laughs.
Sara Nathan ● 199d
I found Alice very irritating. I would have left half way through but I was hoping that her friends would snap and beat her to death with that 'maul'.
Susan Kelly ● 205d
Saw this on Wednesday evening at Acton One with a Q&A afterwards with director Mary Nighy and the Editor. While not underestimating the importance of the subject of abusive relationships and escaping them, I must admit overall I found the film interesting but lightweight.This may in part reflect it being shot at the end of Covid and restrictions applying but I suspect the problem lies with the script.The Q&A revealed that the director spent over a year working on the script after she had been approached by the Canadian producers. It was also clear that a lot of scenes were cut and the pace was changed dramatically in the editing process, proving yet again that films really get made in the edit.
Joe Conneely ● 205d
Kas and Zoe have known each other all their lives as their parents live next door to each other. They're now in their 30s: Kas is an oncologist and Zoe makes documentaries. She is shocked and incredulous when he tells her that he has decided to ask his parents to arrange a marriage for him. Soon, they are off to Lahore for his wedding to a young woman who doesn't seem to have much to say for herself, but is her goodie-two-shoes act just that: an act?Zoe is making a documentary about arranged marriages in British-Pakistani families. Kas tells her that the gulf between their neighbouring homes is wider than she thinks. Meanwhile, her mother is trying to set her up with James, the nice vet.Kas's sister has been expelled from the family for marrying for love -- a non-Muslim man.The film passes the time easily with some good jokes. It's fairly even-handed: we see happy arranged marriages (Kas's brother) and unhappy 'love' matches (Zoe's best friend). It's all a bit predictable.
Susan Kelly ● 209d
To do with arranged marriages at any rate. Documentary film-maker decides to make one about arranged marriages because her mum’s next door neighbour’s family is just going through that.Are arranged marriages more successful and a generally better bet than the western tradition?Stars Lily James and Emma Thompson and written and produced by Jemima Khan (who has some experience of English/Pakistani families/romances/marriages)I can’t understand why there seems to have been no promotions or reviews. The plot is predictable but there are some laugh-out-loud lines, it’s generally very sunny and has some thoughtful points too. And Emma Thompson was having a ball.We all enjoyed it on a cold Sunday evening - maybe because it was better than - from the complete critical and promotional silence - we had expected
Sara Nathan ● 211d
“Do check to see if someone else has reviewed the film. I'm mainly looking at you here, Sara. LOL.”
Sara Nathan ● 211d
Alice lives with Simon who is controlling. He's trying to prise her away from her oldest friends, Sophie and Tess, so she doesn't tell him that she's going to Sophie's family's lakeside cabin for Tess's birthday, claiming that she has a conference. It's obvious that Alice's confidence is being undermined and that she's on the threshold of an eating disorder.Simon hacks into her email and finds the truth, making a big fuss and turning up at the cabin uninvited.There's a young woman missing in the lake area, with search parties out for her. It's not clear what the point of this is unless it's a clunking great metaphor for Alice being missing.This was really rather feeble and I can't help thinking it got greenlit for director Mary Nighy because of who her father is.The good thing about it is that the women actually look like women and not supermodels.
Susan Kelly ● 211d
My history with Belgian films is confined to the grim suburbs of the Dardenne brothers. Here we are in rural Wallonia but director Lukas Dhont isn't into comedy either. Maybe Belgium churns out rib-tickling fayre but doesn't send it to us?Leo and Remi are 13 and have been friends all their lives. they are like brothers, intimate, even sleeping spooned together.When they start big school, some kids start asking if they are a couple. Remi isn't bothered but Leo is uncomfortable and starts to distance himself from his friend, taking up ice hockey -- that most butch of sports -- and making new friends that way. Remi is bewildered and unhappy. Things turn dark but, well, no spoilers.The two boys are superb, totally natural, found, apparently in schools and not drama schools.
Susan Kelly ● 213d
It was very compelling, mostly because Nan Goldin is so powerful in her story and her pictures. I would have liked to know a little more about the drug and how it became so pervasive - the weaving of the stories meant some context about that was lost. But my goodness, she is extraordinary. Shows that campaigns can be successful but they need a huge combination of factors to succeed.The Sacklers remain unfathomably wealthy but now the public don’t benefit from their ill-gotten gains. Was that the desired outcome? And is there any such thing as “clean” money, anyhow?
Sara Nathan ● 213d
As a lover of Korean films it's great to see this as the second such film I have seen on release in West London in 2 weeks - gone are the days of schlepping up to art cinemas in Central London to see such limited release films!Susan's posting has covered the overall story and I found the film a great example of how great films can be made without big budgets but great scripts and acting. While the film was made in South Korea with several well known Korean actors, it was written and directed by the Japanese filmmaker who made "Shoplifters" a few years ago, in many ways a similar story of social outcasts who form unlikely support groupings. I suspect there is a lot of sub-text in the film about Korea's historical issues with orphans and selling of to USA foster parents plus abortions in Korea and the country's very low fertility rate. Maybe it is down to the Japanese directors influence but the wry comedy was an added bonus such as the two policewomen who seem to live in their car and live off take away food plus have changes of clothes delivered.
Joe Conneely ● 215d
Haider lives in Lahore with his wife Mumtaz, his brother and sister-in-law, their four daughters and his bullying father. He's a shy, diffident young man who hasn't had a job for a long time while his wife works as a make-up artist. Then he's offered a job at the local Erotic Dance Theatre (who knew?) as a backing dancer to a trans performer, Bibi.As time goes by Haider and Bibi begin to fall in love. It's clear that he's basically gay so as she prepares for her final surgeries, they're not really what each other is looking for. Meanwhile, his wife is pregnant with the first boy in the family for a generation.I realised that I knew nothing about everyday life in modern Pakistan although presumably this sort of extended family is the norm. The story was an interesting one but a little sad and unfolding more than a little slowly.The film was originally banned in Pakistan but the government has since relented.
Susan Kelly ● 216d
In a provincial Korean city, So-Young leaves her baby son at a baby box, where he's swiftly taken in by the two 'brokers' who mean to sell him to a childless couple. But she changes her mind and comes back to look for him, eventually agreeing to the sale if she can have her cut. Meanwhile, two women police officers are keeping a close eye on the two men, waiting to pounce when they see the boy change hands. Nearby, their colleagues are investigating a homicide in a hotel. Are these things linked?The two brokers are not bad people. The older one is estranged from his own beloved daughter since his marriage broke down while the younger grew up in an orphanage himself, As well as making money, they are keen to ensure that the abandoned babies go to a happy, secure home.It's a simple tale, told without technical folderols, linear, over a few days except for the final scene which is later. It raises good questions about unwanted babies and how society deals with them.
Susan Kelly ● 218d
I found this worth a read:https://www.highonfilms.com/saint-omer-2023-movie-explained/
Susan Kelly ● 222d
The film takes place mostly in a courtroom as Laurence, a Senegalese woman, is tried for the murder of her infant daughter Elise. Laurence is well-spoken and intelligent but has behaved oddly -- concealing her pregnancy from her much older partner, giving birth alone, not registering the birth. She admits to killing Elise and says that is was to make her life easier, but pleads Not Gulity.It's interesting to see a French courtroom, with its inquisitorial system designed to ascertain the facts rather than our own adversarial system with its frequent histrionics. We also have Rama, another African-French woman who lectures, by the look of it, in women's studies and has an interest in woman-shaming and in Medea, who also killed her children. Why is she there? I initially assumed that it was to give evidence for the Defence but there is no sign of this. Rama is also secretly pregnant and, at times, dissolves into tears in her hotel room. Laurence speaks of witchcraft and a curse upon Elise but does she believe this or does she see it as a way of getting off with a much lighter sentence?I found it fascinating, but also frustrating because not enough is explained.
Susan Kelly ● 223d
I appreciate this film was premiered in festival in 2022 and commented on under the 2022 thread but as I have just seen on general UK release, I include it here. If one was looking for a contrast between Hollywood and European filmmaking, comparing this French film and the concurrent release of “Women Talking” (which I have reviewed separately) would certainly provide it. This true event story of infanticide by a Senegalese unmarried mother largely takes place in a French provincial court (the Saint Omer of the title) from the trial’s start to the summing up by her female defence lawyer. Observing the trial is another Sengalese woman, a successful author and herself in the early stages of pregnancy. The two women never talk to each other exchanging just one long glance during the trial but the facts of the case and the accused woman’s history are clearly stirring deep emotions within the author about her own pregnancy and motherhood. Since this is a European film, long silences and small actions by the different characters and minimal dialogue (except for the female judge and the defence lawyer) pervade the whole film. Story links to the Greek tragedy “Medea” and the French post WW2 liberation treatment of women accused of fraternising, ensure this is portrayed as more than just a murder trial. The film avoids being a courtroom drama, helped by the French court system avoiding adversarial cross examinations and the judge leading overall proceedings. By the end, after the key witnesses and the accused have been exposed during their testimonies and a defence summing up that makes for great cinema but feels unlikely to sway the outcome, you are not aware of the final outcome. I admit I came away perplexed but with lots of thoughts, so it was certainly a different cinema experience to usual!
Joe Conneely ● 225d
I saw this on stage at the Kiln in 2019; now it makes it to the big screen. It's a good story, albeit a sad one.Peter has left his wife and son for a younger model and has a new baby. His 17-year-old son Nicholas is struggling with this abandonment: truanting from school and self-harming.It's not much opened out from the stage -- still confined to Manhattan apartments and hospitals. Anthony Hopkins has a cameo as Peter's horrible father, proving the truth of Larkin's poem about what your mum and dad do to you and how it passes on down the generations.There are some nice touches, especially Nicholas's therapist who has a huge dog sitting at his feet, paws crossed, apparently listening intently.It's about the selfishness of parents who put their own needs ahead of those of the children they have brought into the world. You might need a hankie.
Susan Kelly ● 226d
I am possibly a bit too well versed in the effects of patriarchy in enclosed family religious communities when approaching this film, through the novels of Brady Udall and Netflix documentaries such as “Be good - Prey & Obey” and “Sins of our mother”. While they were about Mormons and their sub-sects, polygamy at least does not feature in this story of a Mid-West isolated religious farming community. Instead, continual sexual attacks and rapes of women (married and unmarried) has led to all the men departing for 24 hours to allow the women left behind to agree to forgive them. As is quickly established at the start of the film, the women use this rare freedom to instead review three options: to do nothing (forgive); stay and fight (for revenge or change); or, to leave the community (for exile). The film is apparently based on a true story though one suspects the film script does not follows all the book’s facts. The film avoids graphic violence simply showing the consequences in its different forms. Instead, it becomes an ongoing debate where an all women cast (only one male actor Ben Whishaw appears) go through all the options.The result is numerous monologues and coverage of all points of view, with a heavy religious tone pervading all the dialogue.While not doubting the film’s sincerity, after 90 minutes plus in a largely single set barn location plus a not unsurprising ending, I felt I had seen a cinematic sermon rather than an engaging movie. The film’s Oscar nomination feels more driven by a #MeToo context than the quality of it’s contents.
Joe Conneely ● 226d
Canadian-set though a U.K. film. It’s about coercive control and recognising and escaping it. Which sounds worthy but is actually rather good - largely because the four central characters are so strong and well-played.Directed by Bill Nighy’s daughter.
Sara Nathan ● 229d
I thought this a bit dreary with too much sex.Husband thought it a bit Demerara with too much netball.We agreed on too many showers. And yes, it seems a long time ago. Section 28 is the background but seems to mean little except adding to oppression.Overall a portrayal of a teacher with no judgement (the things she does would be unacceptable practice for a straight teacher too.I thought it quite annoying and not at all amusing.
Sara Nathan ● 229d
The 80s seem so long ago, even to those of us who were already grown-up, with families and careers. This is set in 1988 when the Thatcher government decided that Britain wasn't sufficiently homophobic and brought in Section 28 to prevent the 'promotion' of homosexuality in schools. Jean is a PE teacher in the north-east, and gay. She keeps a low profile at school, helped by the fact that she was once married, but her girlfriend Viv, all tattoos and piercings, doesn't care who knows she is gay.When 15-year-old Lois joins the school, trouble starts. Jean sees Lois one evening at the gay club she and her friends frequent and perceives her as a danger to her closeted life. When Lois is the subject of a false accusation of sexual assault, Jean doesn't stick up for her, seeing it as a chance to get rid of her. It kept my interest as I wanted to know what would happen but it's all a bit worthy -- a bit Play For Today.
Susan Kelly ● 230d
It may be the Netflix “effect” but my watching of documentary films has increased dramatically in recent years. While few get shown on general cinema release, this award winning and now Oscar nominated film is showing in Acton and Chiswick. The film uses historic footage to tell the story of Nan Goldin, a celebrated US photographer who I admit I have never heard of. It weaves together her own personal and very troubled life history alongside the campaign she led to attack the Sackler family of opioid painkiller OxyContin infamy. Her organisation PAIN (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) had a simple aim of having the Sackler’s name and sponsorships (“blood money” as Goldin calls it) removed from several major art galleries around the world (including NY Met, Guggenheim and UK Tate). This was against the background of increasing addiction deaths in the USA especially, where under a typical US approach the Sacklers had avoided major legal actions by cutting an early beneficial settlement deal with the DoJ. The film works well because of the story drivers that Goldin herself was an Oxy addict plus in attacking the Sacklers was putting at risk the galleries who have created her personal fame and fortune. In addition, her family history is of an older sister who committed suicide at an early age that led to her rebellion and being sent sent to foster homes by her parents. Moving later to NY and a bohemian life amongst gays and transexual communities plus her own abusive relationships, the onset of drug deaths and HIV AIDs epidemics creates the backdrop of why the loss of so many friends in the 70s & 80s moved her to take on the Sacklers decades later. A story that would never work if they tried to use actors and a script to tell such a complex history, it left me thinking about the UK comparable situation of the legacy of slavery and what it takes to create deep change. The film also contains a few embedded ironies (Goldin seems to have had a life of addiction to various drugs plus spends most of the film smoking or vaping plus her famous art photos are depicting the types of pain she attacks the Sacklers for later monetising through their drugs). Given I endlessly complain in my postings about films being too long, the 2 hours this documentary lasts did not drag for me.
Joe Conneely ● 234d
Having seen so many negative reviews, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this. The extraordinary prosthetics were almost a distraction from a concentrated film about a man trying to save his beloved teenage daughter (her mother describes her as 'evil') before he died.Claustrophobic, yes, with one set and a period of five days.
Susan Kelly ● 237d
I saw this in a cinema that serves food whilst you watch the film. It was a bizarre experience, watching a man gorge himself to death whilst eating a delicious vegan burger. I agree that Brendan Fraser is outstanding, as is Hong Chau as his nurse, but so much of the film didn’t ring true, it felt contrived to evoke emotion rather than to tell a believable story.
Norman Redfern ● 240d
This is the latest offering from M Night Shamalyan.Andrew and Eric have brought their 7-year-old daughter Wen (adopted from China) to a luxurious cabin in the middle of nowhere for a few days R&R. Then four people turn up, two men and two women, overpower Eric and Andrew and tie them up. They explain that they have all had visions of a forthcoming Apocalypse which will wipe out the entire human race. In order to avert it, the little family must choose one of their number to sacrifice.Naturally Andrew and Eric aren't buying this and try to come up with a plan of escape. But, as their captors sacrifice themselves one by one, the TV news shows: first, a massive tsunami killing thousands along the Pacific seaboard; second, a deadly virus spreading rapidly; third, planes falling out of the sky without warning or time even for a Mayday.I must admit that the plot played out very much as I expected, without the last-minute twist that has often characterised MNS's work.It's a claustrophobic film since, apart from a few initial minutes with Wen in the woods, we are locked in the cabin with the family and the four ... well, psychos or saviours? You decide. I found it very watchable.
Susan Kelly ● 240d
With many festival awards and an Oscar Best Actor nomination, inevitably expectations are heightener for a film. Brendan Fraser as Charlie, an overweight gay and on-line English tutor in Idaho, who is on a mission to destroy himself by over-eating and ignoring medical attention, certainly delivers an acting tour de force of what life is like for such a person, laden with very authentic makeup prosthetics all over his body. Indeed, all the small cast involved deliver strong performances in this film adaptation of a stage play, which with its single apartment set and use of Academy screen ratio reinforces the claustrophobia of a solitary lifestyle spent gorging on junk foods. The main problem seems to be as the story unfolds and the interconnection of the characters is slowly revealed, we end up with a script of caricatures e.g. the angry long abandoned daughter who Charlie wants to reconnect with; bitter ex-wife etc.. And to top it all every time there is a dramatic moment. the string soundtrack cranks up to ensure you are aware of it. Add to that mix endless references to the novel “Moby Dick” and a heavy dose of religious zeal across the film and this was for me a pretty depressing two hour film.I am sure anybody who has seen a relative or close friend self-destruct from over indulging in whatever personal excess they have chosen will relate to the Charlie character. I just felt that for all the accolades about this film that I had read, I came away disappointed. Director Darren Aronofsky has with the same style of story done much better before, notably “The Wrestler” with Mickey Rourke.
Joe Conneely ● 240d
Orchestra conductors have a reputation for being ... difficult and Lydia Tar is no different. She lives in Berlin with her female partner and their little girl but we infer that she has been often predatory in the past. She is emotionally cold but develops a crush on a new cellist, a Russian girl, but there's something a bit off about this young woman. She fails to promote her assistant and the woman turns against her. Soon questions are being asked about the death by suicide of a former protégée -- questions that require legal depositions. When doctored footage emerges of an altercation with a young man who dismissed Brahms and Beethoven as Cis White Men and therefore of no relevance, her life begins to fall apart.I found this riveting after the opening few minutes which consists of a long interview to tell-not-show us all about her. Questions remained unanswered such as what, if anything, the Russian cellist was up to.Like Joe, I know nothing about classical music and found some of the technical terms heavy going (I attended a subtitled screening so at least I could see how everything was spelled and, indeed, what music was playing at any time).Tar is a marvellously complex character who should not be dismissed as merely 'horrible'. One of my favourite scenes is where she threatens a small girl who has been bullying her daughter, adding that there's no point in the girl telling anyone what she has said as 'adults don't behave like that', so nobody would believe her.I won't say that the 2.5+ hours flew by but they certainly didn't drag the way the Fabelmans did.I confess myself puzzled by the idea that it's somehow a horror film but may read up more about it.
Susan Kelly ● 244d
I have to admit that I have seen the trailer for this so many times that I had zero interest in watching the actual movie, which your review confirms!The same situation applies to the imminent release of “Babylon” which has appeared for over a month in the forthcoming trailer sections at local cinemas plus the Pearl & Dean acdvert section!!.
Joe Conneely ● 246d
I found this interminable and just kept thinking 'self indulgent'. It's way too long, very slow and sentimental. I'm sure it'll win lots of prizes. Why? Because it's about films and film-making and Hollywood loves nothing more than itself.
Susan Kelly ● 246d
This was the film chosen to launch ActOne’s second screen this evening and a jolly good choice too.The director Mary Nighy (family having a strong couple of weeks!) introduced it saying she had been very grumpy directing this, her first feature, but wouldn’t have been if she’d known how well received it would be.Tiny woman in Toronto with tall, successful glamorous boyfriend, obviously is having emotional problems. And there’s a likely explanation. But only when she goes on vacation with her girlfriends to celebrate a 30th birthday, does it start (like her hair) to come out. It’s billed as a thriller but really isn’t.Four very strong core performances. A little film and a very good watch.
Sara Nathan ● 249d
I agree with Joe about this film. It would have worked so much better at 90 minutes but really drags at times. I didn't mind the flashbacks to the sweet courtship of Otto and his late wife. It's deftly plotted but, yes, rather predictable.
Susan Kelly ● 249d
I did a lot of online digging straight after watching Tar and now I think I need to see it again to find out whether I agree with some of the theories about the film. Will wait until it’s available to stream but apparently I missed some details or “clues” that were shot in very low light or only appeared fleetingly. Many online reviewers are calling it a horror film so maybe that’s a clue in itself. Anyway Blanchett’s terrific but the initial dialogue-heavy scenes are hard work.
Norman Redfern ● 254d
I must admit to not having a great understanding or appreciation of classical music, so a film based around that subject with extensive classical music being rehearsed or played and a script with extensive dialogue about the music, was always going to be a challenge to watch. This sprawling 2 1/2 hour tale of a top level female conductor (Lydia Tar of the film title, played by the excellent Cate Blanchett) at the Berlin Philharmonic (as portrayed by the Dresden Philharmonic!) with Tar on screen virtually the whole film certainly mines all facets of what it personally takes to be able to operate at that level, both professionally and personally.Blanchett's performance is up to her usual high standard as the calculating female lead conductor, shedding or manipulating people who have helped her ascent to reach a top role in her profession. One can easily see why Oscar nominations are being mentioned. Yet the problem for me was the basic story of an individual being ruthless to succeed before suffering their unique me-too downfall, despite the unique environment in which it is told feels very drawn out. Director/writer Todd Field whose first film in 16 years this is after two films in the early 2000s I have not seen but were widely acclaimed including Oscar nominations, has certainly played with the structure of the movie to maintain interest. End titles are shown at the beginning, chunks of dialogue are delivered in German and French but subtitles are dropped when German is spoken during orchestra rehearsals, and jump cuts are used increasingly towards the end half as though the director knew he needed to speed up the story. I can see why the film has garnered praise and awards to date but admit I would struggle to watch it again.
Joe Conneely ● 255d
1980/81 Hilary is a middle-aged woman working at a cinema in a run-down seaside town. Her boss is a sexual predator. She has a history of mental health problems which include a recent stay at a psychiatric hospital. When Stephen joins the workforce, Hilary shows him round and she is attracted to the much younger black man. On New Year's Eve they watch the fireworks together on the roof of the cinema and they kiss.This got bad reviews, mostly blaming Sam Mendes's script, but I enjoyed it. 1981 is so long ago and yet somehow not. It's a bit flabby. It's not clear what story Sam Mendes wants to tell. Hilary's life is absorbing enough and the racism sub-plot feel shoe-horned in.
Susan Kelly ● 260d
2022 year's films started early on with "Boiling Point", a steamy and realistic drama set in an upcoming Dalston restaurant and 2023 year starts with "The Menu" a film set at the opposite end of the spectrum, about a high end restaurant where rich people go to enjoy dining experiences and food is not eaten but tasted.Set like "Glass Onion" on an offshore island (off the USA coast not Greece), a world famous celebrity chef (Ralph Fiennes) delivers an expensive dining event with unique foods prepared by his well drilled team of chefs and assistants. The guests at this event are a mix of high roller misfits (millionaires, Silicon Valley venture capitalists, high end food critics, declining Hollywood film star) joined for this evening by a sycophantic food lover (Nicholas Hoult) and his date (Anya Taylor - star of Netflix's "The Queen's Gambit").Without I hope giving the plot away, the menu progresses through several courses with Fiennes becoming more acidic and cutting towards his clientele, with the guests' pasts being exposed across the meal before an unforeseen ending. Possibly because my wife watches so many star chef and luxury food cooking TV programmes, I rather enjoyed the whole skewering (no pun intended) of this world. English director Mark Mylod, who most recently directed several episodes of the TV series "Succession", thankfully delivers the whole story in around 106 minutes.
Joe Conneely ● 262d
I'll move over here after January 19th, when the BAFTA voting closes. I'm currently mostly on catch-up for last year and things that passed me by then.Four to see by Friday, but I think all released last year....
Sara Nathan ● 267d
Thanks Sara and tend to agree with your main assessment. I think the reason you are ahead of the rest of us in seeing films such as this and commenting on them then (2022) is you make the effort to attend BFI festival etc (I used to go but not anymore). This is inevitably before general release in the U.K. which is always going to be in arrears. I posted my review here in 2023 because “Till” has just gone on U.K. general release and so anyone can now view at a cinema where showing.
Joe Conneely ● 267d
Also it's told very straight and at great/excessive length.Two good leads and a bit part from Whoopi Goldberg don't quite save it from being a little worthy.(more in 2022 thread)
Sara Nathan ● 267d
Even if you know the history of this story about a 14 years old black teenager (Emmett Till) from Chicago visiting relatives in the Deep South in the 1950s and suffering a brutal death as a consequence of overstepping the deep racial divide then operative by whistling at a white woman, this film is still worth seeing.Told throughout from the perspective of his mother Mamie Till, the film is an acting tour de force by Danielle Deadwyler as the mother and her son played by Jalyn Hall. As a consequence, it largely avoids showing the murder of Emmett and also becoming a subsequent Mississippi court procedural depiction. Instead it centres on mining both the anger which the murder unleashed especially in the mother's actions at her son's murder plus covering the fears of black people at a time when the Civil Rights movement was still in its infancy.If the film has faults it is that firstly the female director Nigerian born Chinonye Chukwu has made a directorial decision to ignore some details (such as the story of Emmett's father, Louis Till's death in WW2 which was mis-used at the time of the trial). More difficult for me however was the music soundtrack that seems to be mixed up way too high, almost drowning out the dramatic impact of a number of crucial scenes.
Joe Conneely ● 267d
I have not seen the Swedish original film or read the book on which that film was based. This lightweight Hollywood remake given the theme of the film is suicide, does not have I suspect their Scandinavian black comedy element but instead finally tries to convey a more optimistic feel good version.Dependable Tom Hanks (for me the James Stewart of the 21st century given the types of roles he plays) is the recently widowed Otto whose failed attempts at suicide in joining his dead wife form the main storyline. A recently retired engineer who lives his life by routine and rules and expects others to comply, Hanks conveys the cantankerous and argumentative lead well.However the real star is co-star Mariano Trevino who at eight months pregnant with her two young children and dumb husband move in as new neighbours to Otto. Her bubbly and love of life personality is the inevitable counterpoint to Otto's grumpiness as the story progresses.At 2 hours I fear it went on too long for me becoming almost plodding, plus many of the plot twists including the ending are easily foreseen. By the end, apart from wishing it was shorter and tighter I was left wondering what a Bill Murray who I find much more adept at conveying frustration and controlled anger would have done in the role.The other problem is that the story relies heavily on flashbacks and if you think this is lazy storytelling if it dominates (as I did after seeing "Knives Out - Glass Onion" recently) then it will not add to your enjoyment.
Joe Conneely ● 268d
You will need to look on the 2022 thread to see if anyone has already reviewed a filmFor instance, my views on Corsage are already over there…Pots & kettles….
Sara Nathan ● 273d
Cologne 1972. Peter is a film maker, living with his wholly silent manservant Karl. He has recently split up with partner Franz and, when an old friend brings round a beautiful young man named Amir, Peter is instantly infatuated and vows to make him a star. It's obvious to everyone except him that Amir is using him and his heart is duly broken a few months later. I must have seen The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant at some point. This is Francois Ozon's take on it, with genders flipped. The film is stolen by Stefan Crepon as Karl, whose face suggests that he has seen it all before and is surprised by nothing.
Susan Kelly ● 273d
1878. Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary is turning 40. She has a son, a daughter and there is a dead daughter in the history. Her marriage to the emperor blows hot and cold and he has his eye on an 18-year-old girl in Vienna (already on her second husband). She resents her duties as empress. She's anorexic. She's rude to servants. She spends a lot of time away from court, including trips to visit her sister in England and her cousin in Bavaria. In a sense, she has no power and yet she is controlling.It's an odd film. People say crass things to her like 'We hear you've been struggling with your weight'. History relates that she was assassinated 20 years later but this story takes another, and unexpected, turn.I found it riveting although I wished I knew more about the Austro-Hungarian empire.
Susan Kelly ● 274d