• Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    ★★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Portrait of a Lady on Fire was my first visit to the cinema in 5 months.  I had been awaiting for Mr. Nolan’s surly swashbuckler to welcome me back to the picture house, but boy am I grateful it was Céline Sciamma who received my first post pandemic ticket stub.  

    This film ploughed though me in a way I have not felt since I first saw The Master in 65mm at the ArcLight Dome in Hollywood in 2012.  Portrait

  • Amateur

    Amateur

    ★★★

    A cooky thriller that seems to both revel in and pastiche genre tropes simultaneously.  The dialogue is as punchy as it is hammy, but the cast give it enough gusto that I found myself giggling rather than rolling my eyes.  The story zips along, though at times rather aimlessly.  But the quirky vignettes are enough to protect it from boring deviations, ensuring an entertaining watch all the way through.

  • The World Is Yours

    The World Is Yours

    ★★★★

    Cracking little caper from one of the best music-video/commercial director’s working today.  An anti-Scarface of sorts, The World is Yours is laced with playful humour, without ever falling into parody.  The trials and tribulations of the protagonist meld criminal exploits with more terrestrial obstacles of self-confidence and an over-bearing mother. Hell hath no fury like the family!  A litany of thoroughly entertaining characters jostle around Karin Leklo’s fantastic performance as the antithesis of Tony Montana, constantly at odds with the…

  • City of Ghosts

    City of Ghosts

    ★★★

    Solid reportage from Heineman. It doesn't reach the power of Cartel Land as it is clear that the circumstances were very different. That said, the story is incredibly powerful and you feel glad that such a steady documentarian hand is crafting it. It should be watched as a portrait of journalism and the importance of the free flow of information, rather than an exposé on ISIS.

    I like how Heineman lets his subjects tell their story through their actions, though…

  • Normal People

    Normal People

    ★★★★★

    Beyond special. Never have I seen a story achieve such levels of pure humanity whilst avoiding any hint of melodrama. As honest a portrayal of real emotions and real situations as I have experienced through television. The performances seem as nuanced as they do effortless, Paul Mescal in particular has an uncanny ability to dramatise someone who innately hides their emotions. The direction is subtle but assured, rendering each moment with both verisimilitude and a deeper, emotional truth. The script…

  • Sightseers

    Sightseers

    ★★★★★

    About as black and British a comedy as it is possible to be, and all the better for
    it. A fantastic script executed to perfection by sublimely grounded performances under
    assured direction. The film doesn't get caught-up in its own concept, allowing the
    superbly drawn characters to guide the proceedings always. It's incredible how they feel so odd and yet so familiar simultaneously - a testament to not only Lowe and Oram's writing, but
    also their embodiment of the eponymous Sightseers. This is undoubtedly my favourite flavor
    of cinematic storytelling.

  • HyperNormalisation

    HyperNormalisation

    ★★★★★

    Pertinent viewing in the current times (if anything it seems even more attuned to the world today than 4 years ago).  Curtis is not for everyone, it is long and his voice over is as dogmatic as ever, but I love it.  I struggle to think of a more comprehensive distillation of the human race’s current predicament.  Although not many people make films like Curtis (outside of video-essayists), he still seems to execute them with a unique virtuosity. Plus, the music is as cool as it gets.

  • Da 5 Bloods

    Da 5 Bloods

    ★★★★

    Splendidly enjoyable auteur film making from Spike Lee.  The tone is erratic, but then again, so are the characters the story explores so in an odd way it seemed to fit.  Delroy Lindo turns in a career topping performance, giving a heartfelt and un-clichéd portrayal of PTSD.  There are perhaps a few too many tangents but the pace is lofty enough to carry you through them.  I loved all the needle drops but found that sometimes the score counteracted the tone and tension of certain scenes.  But this is nitpicking an otherwise excellent and thought provoking exploration of war and identity.

  • Spaceship Earth

    Spaceship Earth

    A solid account of a wild and fascinating story. However I felt that the story itself was so large and layered, it could have benefitted from being a series. Certain aspects of the story were interesting enough to warrant a deeper dive but felt at times a little rushed. Definitely worth a watch though!

  • I'm No Longer Here

    I'm No Longer Here

    ★★★★★

    A refreshingly fantastic film out of Mexico.  A perfectly rounded glimpse of a unique world, executed with sincerity and heart.  The casting is incredible and the handling of non-actors put me in mind of a Mexican Shane Meadows.  I was drawn in from the first beautifully composed frame and I was enraptured by the honesty of the performances in an otherwise suitably uncomplicated story.

  • One Cut of the Dead

    One Cut of the Dead

    ★★★★★

    i was so close to switching this off but I’m so glad I didn’t!  A film that purposely diminishes your expectations only to supersede them enormously by the end. An incredibly film en general, but a particular treat for film makers.  The less you know about it the better, just stick with it during the first half hour of thinking “the fuck is this?” and you will be duly rewarded with a painfully sincere and meta depiction of the film making process.

  • Alps

    Alps

    Not my fave Yorgos but still an incredible film. I love how he can make you feel both totally engaged with the characters but also remain feeling distant to them. The uninflected dialogue he adopts so often works perfectly to focus attention on the drama of the actions and gives the unique other-worldly feeling.