Oscars 2017 (Electric Shadows podcast)

Rob Daniel & myself do an early morning post-Oscars review after staying all night to watch the ceremony. The highs, the lows, the biggest gaffe in Oscar history, we chat all about it here. Jimmy Kimmel did a great job, the (possibly staged) Celebrity Zoo was a bizarre misfire, and damn… that ending.

Hidden Figures: three women, one important historical course correction

4 Stars (4 / 5)
Progress comes in many forms, both self-evident and obscure.

For every grand act of public heroism or defiance that makes it into the history books, seeking to set up a new beachhead of progression, there are million moments of quiet, often unacknowledged toil; individually chipping away at the bedrock of prejudice.…

Fences: a sturdily constructed acting masterclass

4 Stars (4 / 5)
Denzel Washington is not a man who chooses his projects lightly.

Even a consistent run of by-the-numbers actioners – 2 GunsThe EqualizerThe Magnificent Seven – have, in recent years, served as vehicles for his charm and gravitas; only helping to ensure his elder statesman status.…

My 16 Best Films of 2016

Releasing your film as close as you can to the Oscar deadline may keep it fresh in the mind of Academy voters, but it does make it tricky to keep a track of for your more casual viewer.

Throw in the time delay between US and UK releases and even the most fervent cineaste could be forgiven for forgetting exactly when their favorite film was released.…

LFF Day 3: La La Land & Manchester By The Sea

Rhapsodic Hollywood dreaming and glacial Massachusetts misery on London Film Festival Day 3.

 

4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone soar in Damien Chazelle’s radiant love letter to the Golden Age of Hollywood musicals and those who dare to follow their dreams in the City of Angels.

A War loses sight of its dramatic conflict amid the haze of moral relativism

2 Stars (2 / 5)

 

Few scenarios lend themselves to dramatization better than the battlefield and the courtroom.

The blood and chaos of the former; the eloquence and order of the latter. What Tobias Lindholm’s recent Best Foreign Language nominee, A War, does is reveal the paradox of trying to impose the process of law after the fact.…

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.…

Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s latest, The Revenant, is a bit of an endurance test

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

Okay, so I have a problem with The Revenant.

It’s not the same issue I had with Argo back in 2012 (a decent retro thriller, not a Best Picture) or even with The Theory of Everything or American Sniper last year (good performances, not much else — also by no means indispensable).…

Trumbo is a barnstorming triumph of cinematic liberalism

4 Stars (4 / 5)

 

From Sunset Boulevard to Argo, Hollywood has always been in the business of self-mythologizing.

It’s not often, though, that the industry takes its licks for the mistakes it’s made along the way.

Writ large among them is, of course, the blacklist, which saw scores of talented, Left-leaning film-makers left out in the cold as the paranoia surrounding Communism reached fever pitch.…

Creed has boxing and cinema in its blood

4 Stars (4 / 5)

Few film series have taken the beating in their time that Rocky has.

After a triumphant first bout that launched Sylvester Stallone into the big-time, the series steadily descended into cheesy self-parody. After the judge’s decision of Rocky IV — great villain, hilarious overuse of musical montages — and the knockdown loss of Rocky V — which ended with the Italian Stallion beating some ginger lout in a street brawl — Rocky Balboa allowed the former champ (both the title character and Stallone himself) to make a semi-graceful exit.