2019 Film Reviews – 44: Bait [dir. Mark Jenkin; 2019]

It’s not often that a film genuinely manages to present a fresh and surprising visual style, but Mark Jenkin’s Bait pulls of the feat with understated self-assurance. What’s interesting is that it does so by turning to the past. Its story of a Cornish village affected by the decline of age-old industries – and the buying-up of properties by Airbnb-savvy Londoners – couldn’t be more … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 44: Bait [dir. Mark Jenkin; 2019]

2019 Film Reviews – 43: Happy End [dir. Michael Haneke; 2017]

You know you’re in Haneke Land when a film starts with a young girl using some anti-depressants to kill her pet hamster… and then decides to find out what effect an overdose would have on her mother. From that point onwards, it’s bleakness all the way. But I have a lot of time for the director’s acidic vision of the world, because he invariably presents … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 43: Happy End [dir. Michael Haneke; 2017]

2019 Film Reviews – 42: Late Spring [dir. Yasujirô Ozu; 1949]

You watch a film like Late Spring – Ozu’s characteristically quiet, unforced account of the pressure placed on a young woman to get married and leave her stable existence with her father – and you’re struck by how distant the world it portrays appears to be. And then you realise that 1949 was seventy years ago! Plenty of time for social mores and attitudes to … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 42: Late Spring [dir. Yasujirô Ozu; 1949]

2019 Film Reviews – 41: Apollo 11 [dir. Todd Douglas Miller; 2019]

What’s most extraordinary about Miller’s Apollo 11 documentary is that even though you know the beginning, middle and end of the story before you watch the film, even though Nasa’s moon-landing mission was relatively unproblematic and even though the proceedings aren’t character led, you are rooted to your seat and glued to your screen from the moment the movie begins. One event follows another in … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 41: Apollo 11 [dir. Todd Douglas Miller; 2019]

2019 Film Reviews – 39: Inquiring Nuns [dir. Gordon Quinn & Jerry Temaner; 1968]

In late 1960s Chicago, directors Gordon Quinn and Jerry Temaner decided it might be interesting to give two young nuns a microphone and tell them to ask passersby outside a church a very simple question: “Are you happy?” The result is this documentary, which has just been reissued and is available in the UK through Curzon’s On Demand service. Fascinating on several levels, it offers … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 39: Inquiring Nuns [dir. Gordon Quinn & Jerry Temaner; 1968]

2019 Film Reviews – 37: Diego Maradona [dir. Asif Kapadia; 2019]

Asif Kapadia has a facility for showcasing and explaining the skills of talented individuals even to people who aren’t particularly interested in the individuals’ field of expertise, whether it’s Ayrton Senna’s Formula One racing or Amy Winehouse’s trademark modern soul singing. He displays it to full effect again in Diego Maradona, a documentary which makes it clear even to non-football-fans, such as myself, precisely why … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 37: Diego Maradona [dir. Asif Kapadia; 2019]

2019 Film Reviews – 36: X-Men: Dark Phoenix [dir. Simon Kinberg; 2019]

I confess I don’t understand why the critical establishment hasn’t displayed the same warmth towards the X-Men franchise as they’ve lavished upon the Avengers. Both ‘worlds’ rely on predictable tropes, they present stories that are required to hit certain beats and they’re populated by characters whose development wouldn’t exactly cause Ibsen to raise his eyebrows in admiration. The only reason I can think of for … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 36: X-Men: Dark Phoenix [dir. Simon Kinberg; 2019]