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.…

Youth captures some of the mixed magnificence of life

4 Stars (4 / 5)

 

One of the few statements you can make about life as a whole is that it’s much of a muchness— and that it ends.

The counter-intuitively titled Youth sees two older gentlemen, a retired composer and Stravinsky pupil, Frank (Michael Caine), and still-working director (Harvey Keitel), Mick, both coming to terms with this while on holiday at a Swiss spa; a spa inhabited by red-robed Buddhist monks, a Middle Eastern woman in a hijab, a morbidly obese celebrity with a Karl Marx back tattoo and Maradona hair.…

The Lobster is a blackly heartfelt chimera of a romcom

4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

 

You wait for one comedy about men being transformed into animals then two come along at once — a non-mating pair, if you will.

But where Kevin Smith’s Tusk was about a vicious comic forcibly losing his humanity due to a mad experiment, Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster is altogether more social and universal.…

Partisan is a film with allegory issues

2.5 Stars (2.5 / 5)

 

A grey curve of mountain road. A forested valley overshadowed by dilapidated tower blocks. A dog howls, off.

Nonspecific in its exact time and place, though vaguely Baltic in its devastation, the inhospitable landscape into which Partisan immerses us makes a strong case for any sort of alternative, as offered by Vincent Cassel’s Gregori.…

Steve Jobs is a near perfect fusion of functionality and artistry

5 Stars (5 / 5)

 

What is the current fascination with technology entrepreneurs?

From The Social Network to AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, key figures in the PC movement, real or imagined, have grown to legendary status in the public consciousness.…

Desierto is an arid slice of indie thriller

2 Stars (2 / 5)

 

When you come from a Hollywood directing dynasty how do you established yourself as an independent filmmaker in your own right?

Not having a critic mention it in the first line of their review probably helps, but it’s a point that bears reflecting on.…

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.…

Is this the (Brothers) Quay to Nolan’s whole oeuvre?

4 Stars (4 / 5)

 

As arguably the foremost director of high-brow cinematic entertainment on the planet, it seems reasonable that Christopher Nolan might want to take a breather between blockbusters.

After the $165 million universe-spanning epic that was Interstellar you can’t get much more palette cleanser-y than an eight-minute behind-the-scenes of the magical junk shop-workshop of a pair of stop-motion animators.…

11 Minutes has too many lines and too few hooks

1.5 Stars (1.5 / 5)

 

The fundamental question any film must ask itself is, “Why tell this story?”

In the case of 11 Minutes, the twenty-fifth film from Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski, the problem is exacerbated: why tell these stories, any of them?…

Suffragette is a worthy but overly respectable

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

As with The Imitation Game, which kicked off last year’s London Film Festival, Suffragette — another period drama — is a quintessential work of British cinema. It too tells an important story.

Instead of the huts of Bletchley Park, we find ourselves at an East End laundry circa 1913, the workplace of Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan) and dozens of other industrious women.…