On movies.

Page 3

“Blue Jasmine” & others on the verge of breakdown

Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine is a stronger film than most reviewers seem to allow. Indeed, it bears comparison with Girl Most Likely, of which more in a moment. Blue Jasmine has been criticised as being too Woody and not Woody enough. I'd say it is nicely not Woody-self-obsessed, or Woody-neurotic, or Woody-Jewish: it doesn't channel Woody. But it is a convincing and frightening account of a woman's decline, and might have been made by plenty of good directors, or written by plenty of good novelists. It is a particularly American theme, I think. Read more...


25 October 2013

“Hannah Arendt”: a fine movie

This is tricky. I have spent  no  more than half an hour, ever, reading Hannah Arendt and none at all reading about the contemporary reaction to her "banality of evil" pieces in the New Yorker. Nothing daunted, I will risk riffing on the similarities between Hannah Arendt and Ayn Rand, partly because they were contemporaries; partly because both are the subject of bio-pics; but mostly because they seem to touch on the same verities. Read more...


23 October 2013

Bob Marley enigmas & two new movies

Kevin MacDonald's  Marley (2012) and Esther Anderson & Gian Godoy's Bob Marley: The making of a legend (2011) don't really add a lot of new material to the Marley story, I imagine (speaking as an observant fan rather than an informed Marley-sleuth). But the passage of time and advances in two debates - about race and about globalisation - make it easier to discuss the sorts of things which have always lain a little beneath the surface in discussing the man. They would also have forced or encouraged change in Bob Marley himself. Read more...


27 August 2013

“Le Havre” (2011): ****

Watch out: this film is brilliant but you may pass on it on the basis that it is "charming", "deeply humane", "a glorious hymn to the struggles of the working man" and so on, as it is routinely blurbed by admirers. Le Havre is rather better than its fans and possibly even its creators wanted. Read more...


13 February 2013

Margaret (2012): 5 star movie

This is a marvellous movie with all the zippy conversational smarts of a better Woody Allen but some of the florid psychological glamour of an Almodóvar. This if possible trumps Juno. We meet probably the best ever portrayal of a teenager growing into her intelligence and feeling as she plunges into a proper nightmare of circumstance. Don't worry, it's a comic masterpiece too, even if there's barely a belly-laugh in the whole 150 minutes. (The time flies by, contrary to reports that the film is overlong.) Read more...


16 November 2012

“Killng Them Softly” (2012): Four star

Lazy or abstracted, a bit of both, I hadn't researched Killing Them Softly before I schlepped round to a late-evening screening in Belfast. It was a revelation. A little bit The Driver, and a little bit anything by Scorsese (but less posy) and somewhat Gomorrah. Read more...


26 October 2012

“Barbara” (2012): 4 star movie

This is a powerful move: involving, intelligent, scary. A bit of a paint-dryer, and no harm in that. Not quite a tear-jerker, which is good. But why did the man in the urinals say it was sentimental? Read more...


25 October 2012

“Monsieur Lazhar” (2011): ***

This is a seriously touching film: there is plenty of understated acting talent on show; the characters are nuanced; the pacing's right; there is a proper suspense about the events we see. But.... Read more...


07 July 2012

“A Royal Affair”: *** or maybe ****

If you enjoy nice Denmark, you'll probably like this movie. Oddly, if you like Scan-noir, you may also find it fascinating and enjoyable.  After all, one arrives ready for a frock-romp and it turns into something gorgeous but quite bleak. It is another brick in the wall of our outsiders' understanding of child-friendly Denmark.... Read more...


07 July 2012

“Avengers Assemble” is an artistic triumph

I have been nurturing an odd impression that I might really like comics, but it's not one I am giving in to. That is: I haven't gone out and bought any Incredible Hulk or V for Vendetta comics. I haven't even investigated print copies of Maus.  But I do know the force of the genre: as a nine year-old I ran a prep school dorm's library of 64-page war comics, and I get little hits of those pleasures now. This movie gave me a huge blast. Read more...


08 June 2012
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