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  • Her

    Her 2013


    For Film4

    Synopsis: Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Where The Wild Things Are) writes and directs this melancholic romance set in the near future.

    Review: Spike Jonze’s Her opens with its moustachioed main character Theodore Twombly (the ever-astonishing Joaquin Phoenix) reading – in voice-over – a letter that he is composing at work. The missive is almost embarrassingly personal in its details – and yet Theodore’s connection to its nominal author and addressee, a couple celebrating their fiftieth…

  • Birdman

    Birdman 2014


    Truth/fiction. Theatre/cinema. Young/old. Actor/persona. Continuity/cut. Levity/gravity. Art/pop. BIRDMAN perches magically on many edges.

  • Interstellar

    Interstellar 2014


    Review first published by Grolsch FilmWorks

    The opening of Interstellar, the latest head-spinning, heart-breaking blockbuster from Christopher Nolan, introduces a paradox. We know we are in an Earth of the future, where humankind is faced with terminal decline as ever more frequent dust clouds and blight devastate the crops that feed the planet – and yet we seem to be in an agrarian past, as the planet's inhabitants turn their backs on progress, officially declare the Apollo moon landings to…

  • Mad Max: Fury Road

    Mad Max: Fury Road 2015


    First published by EyeforFilm

    'Mad' Max Rockatansky has had several incarnations, all unified by the (then) winning charisma of a fresh-faced Mel Gibson, by the mad directing skills and archetype-pimping rides of George Miller, and by some practical stuntwork whose palpably high risks only added to the visceral intensity of the action. In Mad Max (1979), he was a rev-head cop driven to vengeance against marauding road gangs in a collapsing society. In Mad Max 2 (1981), he was a…

  • Whiplash

    Whiplash 2014


    First published by Sight & Sound


    Whiplash is a syncopated Faust (or The Social Network with polyrhythms), drumming away at the wages of elitist education and artistic excellence, while delivering this year's tensest and most exhilarating climax. Here the final rewards are very hard earned.

    Anton Bitel

  • The Wolf of Wall Street

    The Wolf of Wall Street 2013


    Review for Grolsch FilmWorks

    "The world of investing can be a jungle," states the slick corporate advertisement with which The Wolf of Wall Street opens, "Bulls, bears, danger at every turn" – and, underlining this animal metaphor, a lion is shown prowling between the office desks. Once the ad has come to an end, we see a different side of brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont during a bacchanalian office shindig, as whitecollars high on Quaaludes and coke hurl a hired…

  • Boyhood

    Boyhood 2014


    First published as part of a Top Five Films of 2014 list for FilmLand Empire

    Shot over 12 years, Richard Linklater fictionalises young Mason's rites of passage from boy to man while documenting the actual on-screen development of actor Ellar Coltrane and the other cast members. Time and change are the universal themes here, embodied and particularised in Linklater's dramatic study of a divided and mildly dysfunctional family - and although it is called Boyhood, Linklater's democratic approach to event and characterisation ensures that it might equally have been called Girlhood, Fatherhood or Motherhood. This is one for the (and all) ages.

    Anton Bitel

  • Inception

    Inception 2010


    First published by EyeforFilm

    "Once an idea has taken hold in the brain it is almost impossible to eradicate," says Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio).

    He should know. After all, he is an 'eradicator' – an industrial spy whose work involves infiltrating people's brains when they are in a vulnerable dream state and stealing their innermost secrets. His latest assignment is even more challenging – an 'inception', which involves not taking an old idea away, but implanting an entirely new one,…

  • The Lego Movie

    The Lego Movie 2014


    For Film4

    Synopsis: Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs) bring the Lego multiverse to comic life in this animated adventure.

    Review: Lego's interlocking bricks have been around since 1949, their very plasticity and modularity ensuring that they have provided foundations for the constructive imaginations not only of today's boys and girls, but also of their parents and even grandparents. Besides crossing platforms to games and theme parks, Lego has featured in many official and…

  • X-Men: Days of Future Past

    X-Men: Days of Future Past 2014


    X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is a mutant hybrid of ensemble heroics and time travel antics - the former bringing the tag-team action, the latter the TERMINATOR-stye loopy paradoxes. It is full of plot holes - all widened considerably by knowledge of 'previous' entries in the franchise - but upon reflection, those yawning gaps in logic can just about be construed instead as wormholes between alternative universes in an endless war that just keeps repeating itself in slightly mutated forms…

  • Inside Out

    Inside Out 2015


    I'm of a mixed mind on this one.

  • Edge of Tomorrow

    Edge of Tomorrow 2014

    Added 3

    It's a smart, and smartly edited, mash-up of GROUNDHOG DAY, SOURCE CODE, STARSHIP TROOPERS and the best part of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (played on loop) - but the ending that seems to make no real sense does not suddenly make better sense in retrospect, and comes across merely as someone else's idea of crowd-pandering wish fulfilment - which is a problem for a film that realises so very many possible endings. Still, any film that merges the repeat play of video games with the endless nightmare of PTSD is doing something interesting...