Son of Saul recasts the Holocaust as Bruegelian nightmare

5 Stars (5 / 5)

 

In Son of Saul, first-time director László Nemes gets us right up in the face of Saul Ausländer (poet-turned-actor Géza Röhrig).

Saul’s powerful features and dark eyes give him a sharp, watchful look. As a Hungarian Jew, and member of a Sonderkommando work unit at Auschwitz, it pays to be watchful.…

Spotlight digs deep and finds light in the darkness

5 Stars (5 / 5)

 

Spotlight opens at a police station circa 1976 where representatives of the Church, in conjunction with an Assistant DA, are participating in hushing up one such incident.

“I guess the Father was ‘helping out’”, a stocky old-timer wryly comments to a redheaded rookie as a likely sex offender is ushered into the back of a snow-frosted black sedan and away from prosecution.…

Carol is a transcendent plea for kindness and beauty

With sapphic romantic drama Carol, Todd Haynes confirms himself as a master of forbidden love.

In 2002’s Far From Heaven, stylized as a Sirkian ‘50s melodrama, he doubled down on issues of race and sexuality. Here, however, it all comes down to a single relationship between black-bobbed shop-girl Therese (Rooney Mara) and reluctant socialite Carol (Cate Blanchett), whose eyes meet across a crowded store one busy December morning.…

I loved The Falling

5 Stars (5 / 5)

 

How do we categorize ambition in a film?

It has to mean more than scope or scale — Avengers: Age of Ultron is big and bold but what new does it attempt in terms of storytelling, apart from maybe giving Hawkeye something to do?…

It Follows is a brilliant, terrifying paean to the Carpenter tradition

5 Stars (5 / 5)

 

Is there any genre that has defined a decade as much as horror defined the ‘80s – and visa versa, of course

From The Thing to Day of the Dead, they brought psychological insight to a form otherwise defined by B-movie schlock.…

Whiplash might be my film of the decade

5 Stars (5 / 5)

 

A tense, astonishing drama about precision, obsession, and determination, Whiplash seizes you from its opening moment – a snare drum, like a quickening heartbeat, over black – to the final crash of cymbals.

Miles Teller stars as Andrew Neyman, an awkward drumming prodigy who finds himself thrown in at the deep end when he’s invited to join a band led by conductor Miles Fletcher.…

Foxcatcher is a frigid masterpiece about the pursuit of championship

5 Stars (5 / 5)

 

Of all the things to confront in life, failure is perhaps the hardest.

How it reflects on us, and we on it, and our desperation to avoid it are universal facts of human existence. Foxcatcher is the second title to feature at this year’s London Film Festival that can be aptly summarized as a “psychotic coach drama” – the first being Whiplash; though the two films are in many ways polar opposites.…

Locke shows that all you need for a great film is an engine

5 Stars (5 / 5)

 

The shadowy interior of a BMW, the sallow yellow glare of a streetlamp; road markings, overpasses. “You have a call waiting”.

As premises go, Locke’s is rivetingly simple: Ivan Locke, a foreman on a construction site, has had to make a last-minute trip from Birmingham down to London.…

Under The Skin gets to the heart of what it means to be human

5 Stars (5 / 5)

 

For a film that features Scarlett Johansson as a skin-stealing alien seductress, there’s nothing remotely titillating about Under the Skin.

Based on a book by Scottish immigrant Michel Faber, it’s Jonathan Glazer’s first film since Birth back in 2004.…

12 Years a Slave is a stunning and necessary reminder of the insidious evils of slavery

5 Stars (5 / 5)

 

12 Years a Slave is the tale of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejifor), a free black man and professional violinist in the mid 19th Century northeastern United States who, in 1841, was kidnapped and sold into slavery.

The third film of Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave feels, from the off, like a more mature approach to “the problem” of slavery than either of its two most immediate predecessors.…