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  • Paddington 2

    Paddington 2

    ★★★★½

    After A Very English Scandal and Paddington 2 Hugh Grant is my new favourite actor (also fabulous in Florence Foster Jenkins). He’s on his own version of McConaissance right now (Grantaissance?) and I’m as surprised as you are to learn that he’s actually an outstanding actor. He’s completely coming into his own with age and is a revelation. More versatile and surprising roles for Mr Grant please.

  • The Death of Stalin

    The Death of Stalin

    ★★★★★

    Those who dismiss this movie on the grounds that mass executions cannot be the subject of comedy, miss the point of black humour. It is a coping mechanism against fear, despair and anger. And don’t you doubt it, this movie is angry as hell. Just watch the Beria execution scene and the superb credit sequence.

    The Death of Stalin has first-rate writing, unbelievably good acting across the board, excellent pacing, editing, clever mise en scene. But what is most impressive…

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  • The Firemen's Ball

    The Firemen's Ball

    ★★★★

    I want to praise The Firemen’s Ball for things it’s not often praised for. All too often it gets trapped in its historical context, which is understandable. It was the first colour production of the prominent member of the Czech New Wave and already well established director Miloš Forman. A few months after the film’s completion, Soviet troops marched in, cracked down on the remaining bits of freedom, and the film was not just banned but “banned forever”. It would…

  • Calvary

    Calvary

    ★★★

    There are two immediate hooks in the opening scene of 2014 Irish drama Calvary. The first one sets up the central suspense that will quietly hang over the rest of the film, and will go almost unmentioned again until its dramatic resolution at the very end. The second hook, and arguably the more powerful one, is Brendan Gleeson’s face. The marvellously expressive wrinkles, the beautiful beard - almost unlikely in its tameness and softness - the sad, tired and infinitely…