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Category: Reviews

Film Review: Hurricane

Reviewed by Lee Hill

World War Two is the safe space for a great deal of recent British film, television and theatre. Last year, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and Joe Wright’s The Darkest Hour went mano a mano to prove that while our present Oxbridge brain trust in Parliament and other corridors of power may have difficulty deciding on a latte order, times were different during the Blitz. If you dash, you can also catch actor David Haig’s play Pressure in the West End, a reconstruction of the nerve-racking planning and brinkmanship that prepared Britain for D-Day. And pub bores, particularly those whose history of cinema often begins and ends with Pulp Fiction, would lose much of their material if Band of Brothers hadn’t nailed a certain type of haunted gaze/grace under pressure/male weepie to the mast.

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Film Review: Columbus

Reviewed by Lee Hill

It is one of the curious ironies of cinema history that many great films deal with characters in near static moments of transition. Something life changing has just happened or perhaps, more poignantly, characters are waiting for signs of the life they are meant to lead to finally appear. You could have a very provocative film season with such investigations of the space between (Tokyo Story, L’Avventura, The King of Marvin Gardens, Breaking Away, Diner, Kings of The Road or Lost in Translation come to this writer’s mind).  With his impeccably shot, sensitively acted and unapologetically meditative debut, Columbus, the Korean-American video essayist, Kogonada, would be a welcome participant in such a season .

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Film Review: Cold War

Reviewed by Zoe Margolis

Paweł Pawlikowski’s Cold War is a story of two people whose paths cross and their hearts become entangled forevermore. At its core, it’s an epic romance, but also a social commentary of post-war communist politics, sumptuously shot in exquisite black and white cinematography (Łukasz Żal).

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Film Review: The Children Act

Adapted by Ian McEwan from his acclaimed novel, based on the 1989 UK law of the same name, The Children Act asks the question: should the laws of a society, or the rules of a religion, take precedence? Set in London, around its central law courts, Emma Thompson plays Justice Fiona Maye, a High Court Judge who works on some of the most morally challenging cases, with literal life and death consequences; we are reminded of the real-life Charlie Gard, and Alfie Evans, and the public opposition those cases attracted. Early on, Fiona is tasked with rendering a ruling on the separation of conjoined twins, both of whom will die if not separated, but only one will survive if they’re parted. Faced with critical media coverage, and a heart-wrenching decision, Fiona still maintains calm as she issues her verdict; her ability to distance herself from emotion and issue a ruling show how clear-headed she is about these issues, and how seriously she takes her work in family law.

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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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