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  • Pitch Perfect 2012

    ★★ Watched 19 Apr, 2014

    I really wanted to give this a chance; truly I did. But as soon as the singing started it was lost to me. Pop music is almost invariably soulless drivel - and acapella vocal reworkings of said drivel deserve a circle of hell all of their very own.

    Really then, it is some kind of miracle that Pitch Perfect managed to squeeze two bloody stars from my stony heart. That is purely down to a very likable cast giving it…

  • Scream 4 2011

    ★★ Watched 18 Apr, 2014

    Was there anyone at all who was genuinely excited when this was announced a few years back? Anyone who reacted other than 'Really?' Was Neve Campbell owed a favour? Courtney Cox? Did it feel weird for her to have to do a scene in bed with David Arquette?

    Clearly churlish questions, but when a film franchise has it's head up its arse to fractal levels then I think it's okay to ask these questions. I have no problem with postmodern…

  • Bananas 1971

    ★★★ Watched 18 Apr, 2014

    Perhaps the strongest of Allen's 'early, funny ones', Bananas is still Woody erecting a fairly skeletal framework of a plot to hang his inventive verbal and physical gags on. It's not until later that he begins to get the balance right.

    That is not to say that there isn't plenty to like here. Anybody that can combine adept Marx Brothers goofery with knowingly highbrow nods to miserablist Danish existentialist Søren Kierkegaard without the whole thing disintegrating at the seams is…

  • The Patience Stone 2012

    ★★★½ Watched 14 Apr, 2014

    Atiq Rahimi's adaptation of his own novel, The Patience Stone would make a very interesting double-bill with Haifaa al-Mansour's Wadjda, as both deal with different aspects of feminine experience in the contemporary Middle-East.

    However, while Wadjda is a playful work that uses the innate willfulness and independence of its 10 year-old protagonist as a means of questioning the patriarchal religious order in the relative stability of Saudi Arabia, The Patience Stone is a far angrier work that examines ideas of…

  • Wadjda 2012

    ★★★½ Watched 13 Apr, 2014

    Irrespective of the qualities of Haifaa al-Mansour's film, Wadjda is an important work as the first feature film shot entirely within Saudi Arabia. It was a five-year labour of love for Mansour as she struggled to find funding and actually shoot the film, forbidden as she was to mix with the male crew while out shooting on the streets of Riyadh.

    What is surprising first of all, is how enchanting the film is. There is steel there, and an undeniable…

  • The Double 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 06 Apr, 2014

    It's always easy to imagine that someone else is living the life you should be living. Someone else is getting all the breaks, the progression at work, having all the fun, all the sex, and generally being popular and wonderful.

    Shy and introverted Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg) discovers this to be a literal truth when the new boy at work, James Simon (Eisenberg again) is his doppelgänger. A popular, ambitious, and sexually successful doppelgänger.

    Richard Ayoade takes the Dostoevsky novella…

  • The Great Beauty 2013

    ★★★½ Watched 05 Apr, 2014

    The Great Beauty is a film that makes a virtue of inertia. Paolo Sorrentino's Rome, as seen through the eyes of aging playboy Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo) is a gorgeous swamp of stagnation: moral, cultural, and spiritual.

    Jep is a famed writer still dining out on a classic novella published in his twenties. Having just celebrated his sixty-fifth birthday he is asked why he hasn't written another book since. "Rome makes you waste a lot of time," is his response.…

  • The Way, Way Back 2013

    ★★★½ Watched 02 Apr, 2014

    Jim Rash gets mega brownie points from me just for being the Dean in Community. That he was involved in the writing of The Descendants as well marks him down as a serious talent.

    The Way, Way Back doesn't quite hit the heights of The Descendants, or the most easily comparable film of last year The Kings of Summer. That's not to say there is anything wrong with The Way, Way Back beyond the slightly irritating title. There isn't. The…

  • Blue Jasmine 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 30 Mar, 2014

    Do you ever get the feeling Woody Allen doesn't like people very much? Or doesn't like himself very much, and scatters his flaws and neuroses over his characters like some rancid confetti?

    Blue Jasmine is a bitter pill after the melancholy whimsy of Midnight in Paris and the touristy portmanteau of To Rome with Love. It leads us down the same relationship rabbit holes that the likes of Hannah and her Sisters and Husbands and Wives, and replaces the neurotic…

  • Calvary 2014

    ★★★★★ Watched 30 Mar, 2014 2

    "I was seven years old when I first tasted semen."

    This is the startling first line of the nameless man who sits down in the confession box to be heard by Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson). The man goes on to tell of systematic abuse by a now-dead priest. He then tells Fr. James that he will kill him a week on Sunday as he is a good man. Killing a bad priest would be nothing. Killing a good one?…

  • In a World... 2013

    ★★★ Watched 29 Mar, 2014

    There are certain occasions when a film with some fairly serious flaws can get by on sheer charm and goodwill alone. Lake Bell's directorial debut In a World... is one of those.

    I like the central idea - a young woman struggling to make her name in a male-dominated industry, in this instance the voice-over industry - and it is competently if unspectacularly made. The main problem is that, for a comedy it is only sporadically amusing and there are…

  • Once Upon a Time in the West 1968

    ★★★★★ Watched 28 Mar, 2014

    I watched this before I went out for a few drinks. Before I left I immediately whacked some serious Morricone onto my phone and pretended I was a badass cowboy as I swaggered into town with the score for this in my ears. I was that blown away by this.

    Apparently, Sergio Leone adopted a magpie approach to the making of this film. Once Upon a Time in the West is made up of bits and pieces that reference many…