Their Finest (LFF Day 9)

4 Stars (4 / 5)

If the BFI were determined to kick off LFF 2016 with a best-of-British film, they should have picked Their Finest.

True, director Lone Scherfig is a Dane and A United Kingdom has more of a social message; not to mention an irresistible title.…

Finding Dory is a whale of a time – at least two of them, in fact (sorry)

4 Stars (4 / 5)

 

The second box-office smash out this past week starring an amnesiac, Pixar’s Finding Dory shows how to find new and affecting resonances in an old story. Fish gets separated from family, fish goes in search of family, fish makes friends along the way.

Pete’s Dragon is a golden, timeless folktale

4 Stars (4 / 5)

 

What is it with Disney and orphans?

It’s an age-old adage in storytelling that if you want to create a sense of danger you stick a kid somewhere dark and scary, possibly a forest, and take away all parental supervision.…

The Lady in the Van is a chip (in the sugar) off the old Bennett block

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

For a man widely regarded as Britain’s best-loved living playwright, Alan Bennett sure does have a fixation with old ladies.

It’s a perception Bennett himself laments in The Lady in the Van. He claims he’d much rather be writing about spies.…

Love & Peace is a charmingly inconsistent monstrosity

3 Stars (3 / 5)

 

You never know quite what you’re going to get with Sion Sono.

The cult Japanese director’s most recent film, Shinjuku Swan, was a live-action adaptation of a manga about a young talent scout’s forays into the red light district; the one before, Tokyo Tribe, a futuristic gang warfare film featuring almost literal “rap battles”.…

Pete Docter proves just the tonic for Pixar with Inside Out

4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

 

Say what you want about the superhero genre, over the past twenty years Pixar has turned our childhoods into a cottage history.

From the animated playthings of Toy Story to the night terrors of Monsters, Inc., with the occasional sequel and prequel thrown in, no studio has displayed such consistent inventiveness and insight into the processes of growing up.…

Paddington gets right more than the bear necessities

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

How exactly do you go about adapting a classic children’s character to the big screen?

Stay too true to the source material and you’ll miss out on the audience of hyperactive tweens; stray too far, however, and you end up with a soulless “product”.…

How To Train Your Dragon 2 soars high but carries little weight

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

When it comes to computer-animated family fun, the only real contender is Pixar.

Their main rival, Dreamworks, has been mostly reliant on a number of franchises: Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda. So far, though, they’re yet to produce anything to rival the artistry of Toy Story.…

Everything is awesome with The Lego Movie

4 Stars (4 / 5)

 

Brand movies are notoriously not good.

Generally reliant on a calculated blend of nostalgia and big-budget cheesiness, they are essentially vampires of good will, and however much money they do make, it’s never quite enough.

Who, for instance, authorized a $200 million adaptation of Battleship, a children’s guessing game?…

Saving Mr. Banks is self-serving nostalgia from the House of Mouse… It’s also great, hugely feelgood fun

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

Try to think of an occasion on which you’ve seen the celebrated Mr. Walt Disney portrayed in film.

Simply put, you can’t: the Disney corporation has fiercely guarded the image of their founder, almost as fiercely as their iconic mascot.…