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  • The Personal History of David Copperfield

    The Personal History of David Copperfield

    ★★★★

    A British fantasia in perpetual forward motion. This is Dickens by Iannucci and Blackwell, filtered through Tristram Shandy and Wild Strawberries, respectful but irreverent, of-the-moment without labouring the point – aside from Patel’s casting, it’s only in Heep’s meltdown that the spectre of Brexit really looms, and that’s done with the lightest of touches. The film is great on class, the loss of innocence, and the pitfalls of living in an upside-down boat, and peopled by an extraordinary colourblind ensemble.…

  • Guns at Batasi

    Guns at Batasi

    ★★★★½

    Dickie Attenborough dominates this terrific film, big and brilliant as a quiveringly uptight sergeant-major trying to deal with a colonial uprising. In a less interesting movie, his barking rectitude would mask cowardice, not a patriotic death-wish.

    This also works much better than a picture like Something of Value because of its surface irreverence – its points made sharply and fast. There isn’t enough distinction between the supporting sergeants, and a romance featuring a debuting Mia Farrow feels tacked-on, but it’s interesting, exciting and agreeably ambivalent, delivering as both a post-colonial snapshot and a properly entertaining film.

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  • Ghost World

    Ghost World

    ★★★★★

    You can take your Juno, your Scott Pilgrim, even your Heathers, and chuck them in a skip, because Ghost World just does it all so much better. Well, all of it that's worth doing. I'm beginning to think this melancholy, bitingly hilarious crystallisation of teen ennui might be the only film I'll ever really need.

  • Sideways

    Sideways

    ★★★★★

    Wine is probably the most boring subject on Earth, so how come Payne’s film about a lonely, bitter best man (Paul Giamatti) taking the soon-to-be-groom (Thomas Haden Church) on a week-long tour of vineyards is so bloody good? Perhaps because of Giamatti’s astonishing characterisation, which imbues an arrogant, self-destructive, self-hating pseud with a completely disarming humanity. Or perhaps because it’s not really about wine at all, but love and friendship and the choices that people make that end up deciding…