Festivals
Moonlight review: completely absorbing

Moonlight review: completely absorbing

My first question on coming out of Moonlight was: who is Barry Jenkins? Who made this beautiful, completely absorbing, and perfectly cast film about a young man growing up gay and in poverty in Miami? From the get-go the cinematography shows the confusion and instability of the world we’re entering. In the first scene, when...
Nocturnal Animals review: cold and terrifying

Nocturnal Animals review: cold and terrifying

If Tom Ford’s first feature, A Single Man, was clearly the work of a fashion designer, his new offering, Nocturnal Animals, displays his real calibre as a director. Elements of his previous work remain, but they are subtler and less superfluous. Here we have a film based on Austin Wright’s 1993 novel Tony and Susan,...
Free Fire review: inventive fun

Free Fire review: inventive fun

Ben Wheatley has kept mostly to high concept fare in his films to date, but with BFI London Film Festival closer Free Fire he’s keeping things simple: 12 men (and woman), a lot of guns, a lot of money, and a single warehouse. The setting is Boston, 1978. The IRA (represented here by Cillian Murphy...
Snowden review: a little too conventional

Snowden review: a little too conventional

You don’t have to be a film buff to guess what Snowden, the latest film from Oliver Stone, is about. Edward Snowden, IT consultant and former employee of the CIA and NSA, made headlines all over the world when he leaked thousands of classified documents to the press, exposing the illegal practices adopted by the...
Your Name review: deserves huge admiration

Your Name review: deserves huge admiration

Your Name, Japanese director Makoto Shinkai’s latest animated feature, bubbles over with far more mirth than most of Studio Ghibli’s collection but nonetheless, comparisons have been drawn between both, as well as between him and the now retired Hayao Miyazaki. Frustratingly it’s impossible not to enter this film with every Ghibli movie swimming around in...
It's Only the End of the World review: touching and explosive

It’s Only the End of the World review: touching and explosive

All families are dysfunctional. But this is a Xavier Dolan family – and therefore about as dysfunctional as they get. It’s Only the End of the World is 27-year-old Dolan’s sixth feature, and, if he proved his maturity with Mommy, his most recent film shows he is definitely here for the long haul. Here we...
The Autopsy of Jane Doe review: masterful horror

The Autopsy of Jane Doe review: masterful horror

After shocking us with the unmissable, one-of-a-kind Troll Hunter, Norwegian director André Øvredal has become a talent you want to keep a close eye on. His new feature The Autopsy of Jane Doe is debuting at the London Film Festival as the Cult gala, and rewards that close attention. While the synopsis warns that this is a...
La La Land review: sure to be a classic

La La Land review: sure to be a classic

It’s satisfying just to see Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling tap dance whilst simultaneously looking for their cars on the gargantuan Hollywood Hills really, but this is far from the highlight of Damien Chazelle’s latest film. The success of his last, Whiplash, placed considerable and not unwarranted expectation on La La Land. Spectacular in style and...
My Scientology Movie review: Louis Theroux breaks the formula

My Scientology Movie review: Louis Theroux breaks the formula

Across his body of work as a documentarian, Louis Theroux has covered a vast array of topics, groups and points of view, but there have been two simple constants: first, his chosen method, to enter groups, families and organisations to get to know the people involved on a personal level; second, his utterly unshakeable politeness....
A United Kingdom review: unapologetically heartwarming

A United Kingdom review: unapologetically heartwarming

A United Kingdom is filled with moments of deep, brittle, and slow-burning tension, as it explores the intertwining of race, class, politics, and love, in a story based on true events in the years following the Second World War. Namely the swift love affair and marriage of Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), a clerk from a...
Their Finest review: a bittersweet wartime tale

Their Finest review: a bittersweet wartime tale

This is another successful film from director Lone Scherfig (An Education), who has adapted Lissa Evans’s book Their Finest Hour and an Half with elegance and talent. Set predominantly in London during the Second World War and in the midst of the Blitz, Their Finest focuses on a film production team that comes up with...
Sing review: marvellous musical medley

Sing review: marvellous musical medley

From the makers of Minions and Despicable Me, with a plot inspired whilst enjoying a pot of tea, comes the musical medley Sing. It’s a movie that stirs a sense of self-determination, sacrifice, taking bold decisions in life, and doing whatever it takes to succeed no matter the challenge. For those of you who enjoy...
Sour Grapes review: entertaining wine thriller

Sour Grapes review: entertaining wine thriller

Sour Grapes screened as part of Sheffield Doc/Fest 2016. Sour Grapes is a tragi-comedy about the love of wine and a young man who decided to fool the world’s richest collectors. But its subtext examines the frankly bizarre surplus of monies the very richest in society has to throw around. During the late ‘90s dot-com...
Behemoth review: 'the most beautiful journey into hell'

Behemoth review: ‘the most beautiful journey into hell’

Behemoth screened as part of Sheffield Doc/Fest 2016. Zhao Liang’s latest documentary is the most beautiful journey into hell. Via truly exquisite cinematography the film examines mining in inner Mongolia, an area rich in natural resources and fast becoming an environmental casualty of China’s rabid hunger for coal. The film begins with a wide shot...
Author: The JT LeRoy Story review: shallow literary doc

Author: The JT LeRoy Story review: shallow literary doc

Author: The JT LeRoy Story screens as part of Sundance London 2016. It started with a suicidal adult woman calling a children’s crisis line. When she began to speak she found herself channelling a teenage boy called Terminator: an HIV-positive ex-prostitute and junkie from the Deep South whose mother turned tricks. Or at least this...
Wiener-Dog review: witty, acerbic, and strangely warm

Wiener-Dog review: witty, acerbic, and strangely warm

Wiener-Dog screens as part of Sundance London 2016. Despite what the title may suggest, Wiener-Dog is not about a dog. Not even a wiener-dog. I mean, it does feature a wiener-dog, and pretty prominently at that, but this isn’t exactly Marley & Me. Instead, it’s a witty, acerbic collection of stories musing on death and...
The Intervention review: frustratingly conventional

The Intervention review: frustratingly conventional

The Intervention screens as part of Sundance London 2016. The Intervention, the writing and directorial debut of actor Clea DuVall, is about love and its struggle to survive within that dreaded encasement: the long-term relationship. It has a perfect structure, the compulsory twists and reverses, recurring imagery and lines that, by the end of the...
Tallulah review: thoughtful and powerful

Tallulah review: thoughtful and powerful

Tallulah screens as part of Sundance London 2016. Tallulah, the opening film at this year’s resurgent Sundance London Film Festival after a world premiere at its bigger brother in Utah this January, is the sort of film that could all too easily gone very, very wrong. Its borderline schmaltzy tale of a young homeless girl...
Ka Bodyscapes review: brimming with rebellion

Ka Bodyscapes review: brimming with rebellion

Some films nudge boundaries and others push against them with abandon. This year the BFI Flare London LGBT Film Festival comes with its fair share of firebrand filmmaking in Jayan Cherian’s follow up to 2010’s controversial debut Papilio Buddha. That film was banned in Cherian’s native India, and there’s a strong likelihood that his new...
Jayan Cherian interview: 'India is in a historical freeze frame'

Jayan Cherian interview: ‘India is in a historical freeze frame’

Documentarian Jayan Cherian’s debut fiction feature, Papilio Buddha, proved so controversial that it was banned in his native India, despite international acclaim. He’s now back with his follow-up, Ka Bodyscapes, which screened last week at the BFI Flare London LGBT Film Festival. We sat down with Cherian to discuss Indian culture, LGBT issues, and his novel filmmaking techniques. Why...
Carmin Tropical review: sun-dappled and bittersweet

Carmin Tropical review: sun-dappled and bittersweet

Opening with a succession of family photos depicting a young man’s transition to young woman, Carmin Tropical is a meditative, slow-burn murder mystery set in south east Mexico’s Juchitan, starring José Pecina as Mabel, a muxe (third gender) woman returning to her hometown following her friend Dani’s murder. There’s something in the sun-dappled and bittersweet...
The Pass review: simple but powerful

The Pass review: simple but powerful

It’s easy to see why The Pass was selected to open this year’s BFI Flare LGBT Film Festival. There’s the fact that it stars Russell Tovey, one of the most in-demand out actors around, especially after his excellent turn in HBO’s Looking. Then there’s its pedigree, adapted for the screen by John Donnelly from his...
Stephen Dunn interview: breaking Closet Monster out of the LGBTQ ghetto

Stephen Dunn interview: breaking Closet Monster out of the LGBTQ ghetto

One of the most interesting debuts that screened at this year’s BFI London Film Festival, it’d be rather diminishing to reduce Closet Monster to yet another coming-out-coming-of-age-tale. Despite the title, this first feature is way more than just queer cinema and introduces the new impressive artistic talent of Canadian filmmaker Stephen Dunn. Confidently shot and...
Steve Jobs review: stylish but self-aggrandizing biopic

Steve Jobs review: stylish but self-aggrandizing biopic

Windows devotees will find much to appreciate in Steve Jobs – slick, stylish and ultimately devoid of much substance, it has much in common with Apple products as described by their fiercest critics. Director Danny Boyle partners with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin for this unusually structured biopic, which captures the Apple co-founder and his entourage in...
Carol review: sumptuous but emotionally empty romance

Carol review: sumptuous but emotionally empty romance

At times during Carol, Todd Haynes’ film adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel, Rooney Mara strikingly recalls Audrey Hepburn. She is captivating throughout and, judged on celluloid charisma alone, deserves a prize for being one of the very few who can outshine the impeccably beautiful Cate Blanchett on screen. Both the aforementioned actors deliver excellent...
My Skinny Sister review: tender eating disorder drama

My Skinny Sister review: tender eating disorder drama

My Skinny Sister tells the story of a teenage girl who discovers her older sister, whom she admires, has an eating disorder. Filmmaker Sanna Lenken, who had already dealt with this topic in her short film Eating Lunch (2013), brings to life the havoc anorexia causes in a family with gentleness and a pinch of...
The Lobster review: a precise and hilarious satire

The Lobster review: a precise and hilarious satire

The Lobster is the bold, striking English-language debut of Greek satirist Yorgos Lanthimos. At once cynical, cutting and violent, it also indulges in moments of sweetness and endearingly off-beat sense of humour. Colin Farrell is David, whose wife has just left him. Now single, he must enter The Hotel, a resort in which he is...
The Witch review: taut, stylish, vicious horror

The Witch review: taut, stylish, vicious horror

The Salem Witch Trials were a shocking demonstration of what happens when fear and suspicion run rampant. The Witch is a shocking demonstration of what happens when that fear and suspicion turn out to be all too well-founded. The directorial debut of Robert Eggers, this Sundance favourite is an intense, unrelenting horror, rich with period detail...
Room review: harrowing and exquisite

Room review: harrowing and exquisite

What do you tell a child born into captivity, confined to a garden shed with ‘Ma’, denied access to the outside world, to all human contact beyond his mother and his captor? For Brie Larson in the astonishing Room, you make sure that he doesn’t even know there’s a world to miss out on. 5-year-old...
High-Rise review: a frustrating, fragmented failure

High-Rise review: a frustrating, fragmented failure

Acclaimed British director has once again brought his stylistic heft to bear in this adaptation of JG Ballard’s 1975 novel of the same name, but beneath the striking visuals and unsettling tone, there’s frustratingly little of substance. Tom Hiddleston is Dr. Robert Laing, the new occupant of a 25th floor flat in a striking high-rise...



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