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Category: Reviews

Film Review: In the Fade

Reviewed by Lee Hill

As clichés go, “revenge is a dish best served cold” ranks as one of the more vacuous. History is full of countless examples of eye for an eye retribution. Acts of vengeance may simmer. but are rarely far from boiling point. Much of the debate around how to deal with terrorism and its causes strives to get opponents to the negotiating table on the basis that endless retribution is futile. Yet the violence continues, and it is this all too human endgame that makes In the Fade such compelling viewing despite its missteps.

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Film Review: Studio 54

Reviewed by Lee Hill

In the mid-70s, reggae, punk and disco pushed and shoved a complacent rock scene into new musical frontiers. When two Syracuse University buddies, Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell, with the aid of $500k from silent partner, Jack Dushey, converted an old CBS TV studio in mid-town Manhattan into the legendary dance club, Studio 54, disco got a cocaine fueled boost into the mainstream. From 1977 to 1980, the club became mythic as a hedonistic living theater for celebrities, jet setters (or what was not so long ago called Eurotrash), bohemians, gays, die-hard eccentrics and people who just wanted to dance the night away.

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Film Review: Filmworker

Reviewed by Lee Hill

When Stanley Kubrick was alive, little was known about his working methods due to his unwillingness to participate in publicity beyond the release date. As the gaps between films  grew, Kubrick’s reclusiveness added to the mystique that his canon was created in near perfect, seemingly infinite and almost magic conditions of freedom and possibility. Since Kubrick died in 1999, the mythic aura around Kubrick remains, but we now know more about how his films were made. His archives are accessible to students and scholars at the University of London for the Arts and in coffee table book form via Taschen. An exhibition on Kubrick has traveled the world and new DVD releases abound with lavish extras, the most famous of which is Jan Harlan’s A Life in Pictures.

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Film Review: A Cambodian Spring

Reviewed by Lee Hill

On paper, a two hour plus account of a land dispute in Cambodia sounds like a worthy documentary subject, but also like being forced to eat all your vegetables. The reality is that A Cambodian Spring works on the senses like a sly thriller with close to the bone reminders of how many developers flaunt the law and human rights in collaboration with governments ducking responsibility (see also Grenfell Tower Fire). Chris Kelly’s film is a heart-breaking look at how those with the least are driven to super heroic feats of activism. It is also a sobering study of how an unchecked free market drains the souls of local communities and corrupts the legal protections a civil society should never treat lightly.

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Film Review: Revenge

Reviewed by Luke Channell

The rape-revenge genre is a challenging place to start for any new director, yet Coralie Fargeat knocks it out of the park with her super-stylish, blood-splattered debut feature Revenge. It’s scarcely believable that this is Fargeat’s first film, such is the assurance and distinctiveness of her direction. Fargeat’s confidently approaches the often-maligned rape-revenge genre, making subtle but invigorating changes to its tropes. The result is a taut, visceral experience with a refreshingly feminist perspective.

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Film Review: Mansfield 66/67

Reviewed by Lee Hill

After Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield is the other mythic blonde bombshell that haunts Hollywood’s past and present. Her fame mainly rests on her comedic roles in two Frank Tashlin films, The Girl Can’t Help It (1956), arguably the first truly visionary rock n’ roll movie, and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter (1957). Typecast as a well-endowed bimbo, Mansfield tried to do more serious work, but earned most of her wealth as a nightclub performer and in many cases, for simply showing up to be Jayne Mansfield. She was married four times and her third and fourth husbands, Mickey Hargity, a former Mr. Universe and father of Law and Order regular Marisa Hargity, and Matt Cimber, an Actors Studio veteran and film director, are worthy of documentary treatment themselves.

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Film Review: Entebbe

Reviewed by Lee Hill

A glance at the Wikipedia entry for Operation Entebbe, the 4 July 1976 raid by Israeli commandos into Uganda to rescue 106 passengers of a hijacked Air France flight from Tel Aviv to Paris, reveals a depressing number of near forgotten films, made-for-TV movies, documentaries and other fictions inspired-by. The historical record somehow remains unsullied by these attempts at a greater truth (read: mega-box office success and maybe an Emmy or Oscar). Viewers of a certain age – old enough to remember the news reports of the time as well as Hollywood’s unseemly haste to release Victory at Entebbe with Burt Lancaster, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Dreyfuss before the year was out – are forgiven for rolling their eyes at another docudrama about these events.

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Film Review: New Town Utopia

Reviewed by Lee Hill

Christopher Ian Smith’s lyrical documentary looks at Basildon, one of 10 new towns approved and developed to provide innovative as well as affordable housing solutions after the Second World War. In September 1948 MP Lewis Silkin. Minister of Town and Country Planning in Prime Minister Clement Attlee’s government said: “Basildon will become a City which people from all over the world will want to visit. It will be a place where all classes of community can meet freely together on equal terms and enjoy common cultural recreational facilities.” These and other homilies by Silken to a brighter future are spoken by actor Jim Broadbent and provide a poignant contrast to the tracking shots of the worn and faded concrete facades of homes and streets that have seen better days.

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Film Review: ANON

Reviewed by Zoe Margolis

Shot in a monochromatic, desaturated style, ANON offers a dulled vision of a near-future where no one has any secrets, or privacy. Unlike now, where people voluntarily upload personal information to social media platforms (or involuntarily, as is the case with Cambridge Analytica’s exploitation of Facebook content), citizens of this society appear to have no choice as to how their data is accessed. Instead of mobile devices capturing events, human beings have biological computer implants – a “Mind’s Eye” – which work as personal video recorders, enabling others to witness their point of view (POV), similar to Strange Days’ S.Q.U.I.Ds. In ANON this happens without the use of external equipment: the brain itself has become a shareable hard drive. Whilst this means people can return to any moment of their life that they wish to, the recording of every millisecond is downloaded to a vast grid called The Ether which law enforcement can access, so nothing anyone does or says is private.

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