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Category: Reviews

Film Review: The Heiresses

Reviewed by Lee Hill

While there is a lot of fun to be had with the new Mission Impossible installment, summer film going is also about counter-programming. And few films achieve this with such calm panache as The Heiresses. This quietly assured debut feature by Marcelo Martinessi won best actress and best film at the Berlin Film Festival, earlier this year. While it does not quite achieve greatness – in part because it captures aging and loneliness all too well to be dramatically satisfying at times – it never feels false thanks to the astute casting.

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Film Review: The Negotiator

Reviewed by Lee Hill

It’s never a good sign when a film first appears at a creative friendly place like the Sundance Film Festival and then undergoes a change of title when it surfaces at your local multiplex. This is the case of The Negotiator, a ripped from “today’s headlines” (well, 70s/80s Lebanon to be exact) thriller, with a hardboiled take on Middle East realpolitk. Originally called Beirut, The Negotiator stars Jon Hamm as Mason Skiles, an idealistic American diplomat in the city circa 1972, whose life is turned upside down during a terrorist attack on his adopted home. Not only does he lose his wife, but he also loses a near adopted son, 13-year-old Karim, who turns out to be the younger brother of a key PLO member on the run.

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Film Review: Sicilian Ghost Story

Reviewed by Zoe Margolis

Based on the true story of Giuseppe Di Matteo, the teenage boy who was kidnapped by the Sicilian Mafia in the 1990s, and held captive for two years to prevent his father, another Mafia figure, from testifying against them in court, Sicilian Ghost Story wraps this real-life event into a fictional fantasy involving a teenage girl who is intent on finding the missing boy.

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The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales

Reviewed by Lee Hill

It has become a critical truism in recent years to suggest that the most successful animated films appeal both to adults as well as children. Hasn’t this always been the case? Since Mickey Mouse appeared in Walt Disney’s debut short, Steamboat Willie (1928), Max Fleishman’s Popeye (from the comic strip created by EC Segar) and George Herriman’s Krazy Kat, cartoons have often had a cross-generational appeal tapping into our common need to laugh, indulge flights of fancy and escape into narratives that have the flow of dreams.

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Film Review: Heathers Reissue

Reviewed by Lee Hill

First released in the autumn of 1988, Heathers was the little teen suicide film that could. Produced by New World Pictures, a company founded by Roger Corman to nurture everything from Bergman’s Cries and Whispers to Slumber Party Massacre, Heathers was shot over 33 days for $3 million, and it made Winona Ryder and Christian Slater stars for much of the 90s. Focusing on a clique of beautiful high school girls, all with the same name, the “Heathers” use their good looks, popularity and penchant for sadistic pranks to terrorize their classmates.

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Film Review: Apostasy

Reviewed by April McIntyre

Apostasy: “The abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief or principle” cites the dictionary, which gives audiences a hint at what to expect from director, Daniel Kokotajlo’s debut, an insight into the lives of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Kokotajo, a former Jehovah’s Witness himself for 10 years shines a light on a community about which many know very little.

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Mission: Impossible – Fallout Review

Reviewed by Freda Cooper (@FredaTalkingPix)

Ethan Hunt is back! It’s the sixth instalment of the Mission:Impossible franchise, but let’s put aside the logic that says there should only ever have been one film with that title. The same argument applied to the original TV series and it never bothered them, so why should Tom Cruise worry about it?

After all, this is not a series that demands too much of your thinking time. It’s all about the action, a formula that’s been paying off handsomely since 1996 and increasingly as the years have gone by. While previous offerings have been very much stand-alone affairs, it helps this time round to have seen Rogue Nation, if only to understand the interplay between Hunt (Cruise) and some of the returning characters. His long-running adversary Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) is back and this time Hunt and his trusty team of Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames) have to make sure he’s never let loose on the world again. And there’s the small matter of some plutonium getting into the wrong hands.

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Film Review: The Racer and The Jailbird

Reviewed by Lee Hill

Flemish director Michael R Roskam is best known for his noirish debut, Bullhead (2011), a searing character study of a young farmer caught up in the black market for illegal beef products. Bullhead made Matthias Schoenaerts one of the latest stars of European arthouse cinema to cross over to a global audience. It also established Roskam as a director who could combine character driven drama with suspense. Roskam and Schoenaerts worked on James Gandofini’s last film, The Drop (2014), and have reunited for a third time on this thriller about two seemingly mismatched, but obsessive lovers.

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Film Review: Swimming With Men

Reviewed by Luke Channell

Oliver Parker’s Swimming with Men turns the spotlight on the uncharted world of male synchronised swimming in this amiable yet slightly flimsy British dramedy. The film takes its inspiration from 2010 documentary Men Who Swim which followed a group of middle-aged Swedish men in their pursuit of synchronised swimming glory. But Swimming with Men is most indebted to a tradition of British feel-good films which see melancholic characters finding happiness and purpose through an unlikely source. The Full Monty, Calendar Girls and Kinky Boots are to name just a few, sadly, however, Parker’s film fails to match the sharp scripts and fully-fleshed out characters of these British classics.

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