On movies.

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Jessica Chastain’s “Salomé”

Al Pacino's Salomé efforts are really wonderful and  I want to rattle on about all three: the film of the play; the documentary about the filming of the play; and the Stephen Fry Q&A on Sunday 21 September at the BFI. My main point is that Jessica Chastain was the star of all of them. Read more...


22 September 2014

“Out of the Furnace”: *****

Yes, I am sure Out of the Furnace is that good. I think most of the comment from its creators is very interesting, and reassuring in the sense that what they aspire to seems to be what one warms to and feels to have been delivered. The one big reservation one might have is also overcome... Read more...


07 March 2014

“Shady Lady” (2012): a brilliant low-key movie

This summer, I saw Shady Lady: Mission accomplished... running on empty at the Chichester Film Festival and thought it marvellous. I nabbed a DVD of the film on my way out, and some others from Fact Not Fiction Films, and settled on a stormy British winter afternoon to be transported to 1943 and the longest range bombing mission ever then attempted, from Darwin, to  Balikpapan, on the island of Borneo, 1300 miles away. Read more...


25 January 2014

“The Railway Man”: Oddly unconvincing

Most middle-aged people with any sense of history have had plenty of opportunities to try to get to grips with the horrors of the Japanese exploitation of their prisoners of war. On the face of it, the extraordinary real-life story of Eric Lomax's journey from victim to forgiveness would have made a wonderful film. But it hasn't, I think.... Read more...


17 January 2014

“Fill The Void” (2012): 4*+ movie, but questions….

As many reviewers have said, and I think Frank Kermode in the Guardian is about right, this is a richly-involving movie with a decent narrative in which paint-dryer and something close to a domestic thriller are combined. Comparisons with Jane Austen are justified. But there is a question as to political correctness, too... Read more...


15 January 2014

Redford, Hanks and Bullock fight it out alone

Now we have had Redford, Hanks and Bullock battle it out, alone in a survival capsule. Yes, Sandra Bullock has George Clooney in tow for some of her trip, and Tom Hanks has some Somalis to deal with, and as a sort of company. But Captain Phillips casts the Somalis as a sort of buzzing pestilence, more a plague than a set of personalities; and George Clooney has a presence which is  absently jokey when it isn't positively ghostly. Which is the winner?  Read more...


04 January 2014

“Saving Mr Banks”: Disney cubed

As Victoria Coren noted in her TV documentary, Saving Mr Banks is a moving film, and is so even if one supposes that it Disneyfies the creation of Mary Poppins the film, and probably its real creator Walt Disney and possibly the books on which it is based, and maybe even the books' author. Layer upon layer indeed. Read more...


03 January 2014

“Gravity”: *****, all in HD 3D

This movie has some of the make-do-and-mend of Apollo 13, and much of the interiority of Castaway. It has the great merit of not being sci-fi: it has homelier messages. It is built on a very big scale but you seldom feel it is big or even loud for the sake of it. I thought it amazingly believable. It is also beautiful: the spacecraft's parachute, especially, takes on a life of its own. The garrulous old-timer played by George Clooney is a proper old-style hero, and the sad, tough, clever scientist played by Sandra Bullock hardly ever shrieks or hyper-ventilates. Read more...


08 November 2013

“Le Weekend”: a ho-hum *** movie

I wanted to love Le Weekend. It had been discussed as not being a feel-good rom-com or Gerry-romp (even one as good as The Exotic Marigold Hotel, let alone as bad as Quartet), and wasn't. It seemed likely to not make its middle-aged actresses shriek (as in Mama Mia and It's Complicated), and it didn't. But it was dangerously adolescent anyway.... Read more...


31 October 2013
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