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  • United 93

    United 93


    Ruthlessly economical filmmaking that so effectively illustrates just how unexpected and unfathomable the events of 9/11 were for the passengers and ground crews involved.

    Once past the opening hotel room and boarding gate scenes, the film never strays beyond the walls of the hijacked aircraft or the military and civilian command centres that responded. Director Greengrass provides no explanation — other than perhaps nerves — for the hijackers’ delayed gambit on board, and deliberately downplays most of the day’s iconic…

  • Steve Jobs

    Steve Jobs


    Perhaps this might have benefitted from the approach taken by films like Elephant in never directly linking its leads to their real-life counterparts, but the material covered is too specific to have made it a pure allegory. Yes, it’s contrived and rearranged and heavily dramatised, but its artistic choices are generally strong (including format shifts from grainy 16mm to 35mm to digital between each of its three backstage acts), and despite little-to-no physical resemblance, Michael Fassbender plays to an outsider’s…

Recent reviews

  • The Predator

    The Predator


    Predator sequel as Marvel movie. Not much sign of the clever, snappy dialogue that peppered Black’s early writing career (see Lethal Weapon), but the lazy, misogynist jokes remain. No sign, either, of any meaningful level of suspense, so critical in the original and reprised to a satisfactory degree in 2010’s Predators. Instead we get a tepid, violent, imagination-free caper in a mostly urban setting that feels a lot like a third-rate superhero franchise entry. There’s some good chemistry between some…

  • First Man

    First Man


    Grainy, noisy and claustrophobic, and that’s before we even set foot inside a Gemini module. It took me a little while to warm to Linus Sandgren’s extreme close-up camerawork, but it’s a stylistic choice that serves to reframe any mundanity that was present in the Armstrongs’ home life, and to propel an otherwise traditional narrative along in an unexpected way.

    The mostly male cast is teeming with worthy character actors, many of whom are underused, but only so we can…

Popular reviews

  • Drive



    The tech writer John Gruber is fond of a Kubrick quote about the truth of a thing being in the feel of it rather than the think of it, a phrase that for me perfectly explains the appeal of Nicolas Winding Refn’s noirish adaptation of the James Sallis novel. Right from the first hotel room scene, through a near wordless 15-minute opening stanza, the foreboding atmosphere of an after-hours, back-streets Los Angeles takes hold. The ambient, minimal score by Cliff…

  • Les Misérables

    Les Misérables


    Golden boy director, hot off earnest 2011 Oscar winner The King’s Speech, cashes in open-slather offer for next project by committing to film universally adored hit musical about love at first sight and the redemptive power of student uprisings.

    Loses drunken bet over which member of the Master and Commander cast will play the pivotal role of Javert, and is forced to cast vocally-challenged Aussie rocker, only to have him murder ‘Stars’ and be thoroughly upstaged by pint-sized unknown Daniel…