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Category: Reviews

Film Review: The Touch

Reviewed by Lee Hill

The reissue of the rarely seen 1971 film, The Touch, Ingmar Bergman’s first collaboration with an American studio, is part of a retrospective now playing at the British Film Institute until the end of March. Whether seen separately or with other Bergman films (the BFI is also promoting Persona, The Seventh Seal and The Magic Flute with targeted campaigns), The Touch, despite its problematic history, confirms the director’s reputation as a compassionate, albeit unsentimental explorer of men and women in intense states of joy, despair, loss, love, hope and grief.

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DVD Release: Brimstone

Reviewed by Nadia Bee

Out of all the imaginable Wild Wests, director Martin Koolhaven has conjured up, in Brimstone, a world where fear and resistance meet overwhelming sadism. Scenes of intolerable cruelty unfold in visually sumptuous settings, with music -by Junkie XL – to match. Meanwhile the lives those scenes depict are harsh, dour, and almost entirely without respite. This is a grand film, with an ambitious story and an exceptional cast. Every frame looks beautiful.

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Film Review: The Nile Hilton Incident

Reviewed by Rachael Kaines

Tarik Saleh delivers with The Nile Hilton Incident a compelling and taut thriller, that manages to remain engaging and unpredictable right up to its end. The transportation of the specific Scandi thriller style, with all its preoccupation with corruption and mistreatment of unseen minorities to Egypt works very well. A lot of the issues this type of thriller tends to deal, corruption and accountability for crimes, with are tangible and pervasive in the pre-revolutionary Cairo in which the film is set.

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Film Review: Loveless

Reviewed by Lee Hill

For international audiences, Andrey Zvyagintsev is THE Russian director in the way that Andrei Tarkovsky was in the 80s. Since his astonishing debut in 2003, The Return, he has found a way to combine portraits of individuals in crisis with wider examinations of Russia’s inability to move away from totalitarianism. In his last two films, Elena (2011) and Leviathan (2014), relationships between men and women are severely disrupted if not shattered by the social, economic and political dysfunction of Putin’s Russia. Zvyagintsev views the citizens of his fractured homeland not just with the eye of a poet, but a clinician’s knack for making sense of the fragments and the grim reflections of what is left.

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Film Review: The Square

Reviewed by Lee Hill

In his 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language, George Orwell said: “…if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation, even among people who should and do know better.” Clear thinking, common sense, open debate and reason face new threats from the grip that marketing, branding, spin, “fake news” and other forms of intellectual cheerleading now have over our lives. The extent to which this corruption can infect even the most progressive nations, organisations, communities and individuals is one of the many themes of The Square, Ruben Östlund’s problematic follow-up to his 2014 arthouse hit, Force Majeure.

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Film Review: Phantom Thread

Reviewed by Rachael Kaines

Not quite the harrowing experience some might be expecting, Phantom Thread is closer to a perverse romantic comedy than a serious or dark drama. If the idea of watching people throw beautiful barbs at each other over a breakfast table sounds appealing, then Phantom Thread is your film.

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Film Review: Den Of Thieves

Reviewed by Freda Cooper

There are two Gerard Butler films around at the moment. One sees him explaining Scottish slang. The other is Den Of Thieves.

This is a movie that’s bursting to be something else. With its chases and gunfire, it fancies itself as the DeNiro/Pacino face-off, Heat (1995), but its ambitions don’t stop there. It also sees itself as something of a Sicario (2015), especially when a gun battle takes place in a queue of stationery traffic. But most of all, it really wants to be an updated The Usual Suspects (1995).

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Film Review: Native

Reviewed by Lee Hill

For an independent filmmaker, a first feature, without access to the near unlimited technical and financial resources of a major production entity or studio, is always a gamble. It is one thing for a new director and company to argue that “less is more”, but another thing entirely to pull off this aesthetic if one small, but significant aspect of the project misfires. It’s no surprise that a lot of first features are set in a contemporary present and deal with relationship problems. Sans big bucks, a savvy filmmaker just needs good actors, locations that evoke character and a crew that is technically experienced enough to get the sound and image right. However, it takes a filmmaker with a rare (and possibly crazy) mix of daring and ambition to take on certain genres – the historical epic, biopic, war film, or science fiction – and emerge with something visionary.

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Film Review: The Commuter

Reviewed by Linda Marric

Sticking to what he does best, this week sees the return of Liam Neeson in yet another action packed thriller which is as ridiculously outlandish as we have come to expect from this most unlikely of action stars. Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Non-Stop, Orphan, House of Wax), The Commuter is the kind of production which doesn’t seem to care about convincing story-wise, nor does it seem to be bothered about coming across as a bit silly and needlessly violent. And for that reason, you’ll find yourself hooked to its story from start to finish without even a hint of judgment. 

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