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  • Maleficent 2014

    ★★½ Watched 04 Dec, 2014

    Now, this is a novel take on the Sleeping Beauty myth. Did anyone read this as a rape revenge movie? The symbolism is undoubtedly there in the brutal removal of Maleficent's wings after being drugged. After Wicked and Oz The Great and Powerful we're becoming used to revisionist readings of classic tales, but this is unbelievably dark territory.

    I approve of such a brave step to take, but unfortunately it jars with the slightly twee nature of the rest of…

  • The Look of Love 2013

    ★★★ Watched 18 Dec, 2014

    If like me you pity future generations who will miss that joyous moment when they find their first taste of pornography entangled in a hedge (this might be a specifically British thing) then The Look of Love could be the film for you.

    It harks back to more 'innocent' times and follows the life and career of porn baron and entrepreneur Paul Raymond from the late '50s to becoming Britain's richest man in the early '90s. Steve Coogan reunites with…

  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies 2014

    ★★★ Watched 14 Dec, 2014

    Finally, we say goodbye to Middle Earth with a final installment that is like a corpse fished from a river - all empty air and excess bloat. I'm a little angry with myself for being sucked in to going along to the final slaughtering of the cash cow, and finding myself enjoying it despite the myriad flaws and the overwhelming stench of cynicism that has enveloped around this needless trilogy.

    That cloying stench is abated almost immediately by dropping us…

  • Miss Violence 2013

    ★★★ Watched 09 Dec, 2014

    Want a cheery evening's viewing? I'd recommend not watching Heli and Miss Violence as a double bill. I would have put my head in the oven if it wasn't electric.

    At her eleventh birthday party Angeliki wanders to her fourth floor balcony, calmly scales the railing and drops, smiling, to her death. Her family try to proceed with their lives like nothing has happened, for reasons that become chillingly clear.

    Alexander Avranas' film can't help but recall Yorgos Lanthimos' stunning…

  • Heli 2013

    ★★★ Watched 09 Dec, 2014 2

    Writer/ director Amat Escalente's Heli is a raw and brutal examination of the violence and corruption in Mexico.

    After opening with the graphic hanging of a young man (shot in such a matter-of-fact way that is feels almost pornographic) the film coasts along like a slice-of-life drama. Escalante favours long takes, no incidental music and natural performances from non-professional actors. It feel, for the opening forty minutes, a little bit like something by Kiarostami. This makes the violence when it…

  • Noah 2014

    ★★★ Watched 27 Nov, 2014 2

    Darren Aronofsky is mental. That's the only explanation for what he has attempted with Noah.

    First off, it's hard to see who this is really aimed at. It strives for the solemnity and gravitas of a classic De Mille epic, but it is altogether too strange and halucinatory for the faithful that flocked to The Passion of the Christ.

    Weirdly, the film it reminds me most of in places if Jeff Nichols' wonderful Take Shelter. Aronofsky's approach to his titular…

  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 2014

    ★★ Watched 22 Nov, 2014 2

    Oh dear. I was a little wary heading into this, as I feel that Mockingjay is easily the weakest of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy, and I sighed at the decision to split it into two films. I was happy that Francis Lawrence was still in the director’s chair however, as there was a definite pace and verve to Catching Fire that was absent from The Hunger Games. The political edge was ramped up and there were more snatches of Collins’ satirical…

  • Lilting 2014

    ★★★★★ Watched 20 Nov, 2014 2

    I can’t remember the last time a film’s title was such a good description of its feel. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but there is a gentle almost haze to this beautiful film that manages to evoke nostalgia for the love felt by a mother and a lover left behind; and the subtle but very real portrayal of grief they have to deal with in the present.

    Made for a paltry £120,000, Lilting looks fantastic first off.…

  • The Two Faces of January 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 12 Nov, 2014

    Drive writer Hossein Amini’s debut film as director is a twisty adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith novel from 1964.

    Wisely keeping the period setting from the time of the novel’s publication, The Two Faces of January is about a rich con man (Viggo Mortensen) touring Greece with his young wife (Kirsten Dunst). They meet a young tour guide (Oscar Isaac) and after he aids with the clean up after a private detective is killed by Mortensen’s character they seek refuge…

  • Dead Ringers 1988

    ★★★★½ Watched 17 Nov, 2014

    In a lot of ways, Dead Ringers feels akin to David Cronenberg's recent, coldly cerebral efforts like Cosmopolis or A Dangerous Method while retaining similar themes to his more overtly horrific work like The Fly.

    Time has been kind to a film that was perhaps under-appreciated at the time. The at-the-time groundbreaking effects that depicted Jeremy Irons twins onscreen at once still look absolutely seamless. Irons has never been better with a performance of astonishing subtlety that gets across the…

  • War Horse 2011

    ★½ Watched 16 Nov, 2014

    Do you know; if I didn't know any better, I would be convinced that Spielberg actually wants us to fancy this horse. It's the only way I can explain the bizarre devotion that every human character in this sorry mess has to this creature. At the auction scenes they're practically cramming crumpled dollars into the bridle of the coquettish equine tart.

    As horses go, it's alright. It's a horse. A horse that seems to be the kiss of death and…

  • God Help the Girl 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 11 Nov, 2014

    I think my cynicism chip is starting to short-circuit as I get older. It might partly be the influence of my ex who made me a much more tolerant person in the last few years. Perhaps I'm happier generally, more relaxed with myself and my place in the world. Whatever it is, I know that a few years ago, I would have detested God Help the Girl. Now? I was really very charmed by it, despite its manifest flaws.