Film Review: How To Train Your Dragon [dir. Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders; 2010]

Watching How To Train Your Dragon reminded me of how much there is to enjoy about Hugo. Yes, this story of a skinny (which is Hollywood-ese for ‘unmanly’, ‘geeky’, ‘socially outcast’) young Viking who realises there’s more to be gained from trying to befriend rather than kill the dragons with which his fellow villagers insist on going into battle has its fair share of enjoyable moments. … Continue reading Film Review: How To Train Your Dragon [dir. Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders; 2010]

Film Review: Animal Kingdom [dir. David Michôd; 2010]

Crime sagas often work well when they’re told from the point of view of someone on the periphery of the main action. In this case, it’s 17-year-old Josh who’s just become an orphan and turns to his grandmother and uncles for support. Unfortunately for him, they’re heavily involved with violent crime, which compels him to have to decide the direction in which he wishes to … Continue reading Film Review: Animal Kingdom [dir. David Michôd; 2010]

Film Review: Potiche [dir. François Ozon; 2010]

There’s nothing like a bit of political incorrectness to get you chuckling, especially when it’s in French, it features Deneuve and Depardieu and it treats its audience with intelligence. Poking fun at the gender politics (and the clothes!) of the 70s is probably quite easy, but Ozon stops his story from descending into predictability with a well-judged series of gentle twists and surprises. His chief … Continue reading Film Review: Potiche [dir. François Ozon; 2010]

Film Review: Oranges And Sunshine [dir. Jim Loach; 2010]

In a nutshell: amazing story; very disappointing execution. Jim Loach’s debut feature recounts the true incidents that led to social worker Margaret Humphreys’ discovery of a shocking, long-running, UK-government scheme of forcibly relocating poor and/or illegitimate children to Australia. Their parents were told that the children had been adopted and were therefore no longer contactable; the children themselves were told that their parents had died. … Continue reading Film Review: Oranges And Sunshine [dir. Jim Loach; 2010]

Film Review: Senna [dir. Asif Kapadia; 2010]

Ah, the dangers of testosterone. When it’s being useful, the chemical promotes dynamism and fearlessness. But when channelled along more dubious paths, it leads to resentment, rivalry and downright foolishness. The far-reaching effects of the substance – or, to be less abstruse, the various facets of masculinity – are the central theme of this gripping documentary about the career of Brazil’s ill-fated Formula 1 driver, … Continue reading Film Review: Senna [dir. Asif Kapadia; 2010]

Film Review: Le Quattro Volte [dir. Michelangelo Frammartino; 2010]

Sometimes you want to be reassured that cinema hasn’t really sold its soul to the multiplex. Sometimes you want to see evidence that it is still possible to make a film without excessive dialogue, without incidental music and without conventional story structures. Sometimes, you just want to watch something that doesn’t treat you like an idiot. Cue: Le Quattro Volte, a beguiling little gem that’s … Continue reading Film Review: Le Quattro Volte [dir. Michelangelo Frammartino; 2010]

Film Review: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives [dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul; 2010]

Proceed with caution. 2010’s Palme d’Or winner is a mystifying, unfathomable meditation on the twilight period between the conclusion of life and the beginning of death. Without ever quickening its snail’s pace, it presents a series of intriguing tableaux in which the eponymous uncle quietly ends his days surrounded by his nearest and dearest. But the idiosyncracies of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s style won’t be to everyone’s taste. His … Continue reading Film Review: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives [dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul; 2010]

Film Review: The Hunter [dir: Rafi Pitts; 2010]

Rafi Pitts’ latest doesn’t quite deliver on the promises it makes in its first half. With commendable restraint – and a striking use of light and colour – it builds up a portrait of a taciturn night security guard who spends much of his free time roaming the forests outside Tehran. But when a tragic event causes him to commit a crime, the story loses … Continue reading Film Review: The Hunter [dir: Rafi Pitts; 2010]

Film Review: The Arbor [dir: Clio Barnard; 2010]

It’s the sort of idea that almost certainly would have been written off as film-making suicide by a market research focus group: make a documentary about a working class playwright who died when she was 29, but instead of showing the actual footage of the interviews you’ve conducted with her relatives, get a group of actors to lip-sync their words in a variety of settings. … Continue reading Film Review: The Arbor [dir: Clio Barnard; 2010]

Film Review: Submarine [dir: Richard Ayoade; 2010]

Teenage boys struggling with relationships and awkward family situations aren’t exactly under-represented on the silver screen, but Richard Ayoade manages to find a novel way of presenting this familiar subject in Submarine, a film which will surely walk away with this year’s Best Comedic Use Of Laconic Welsh Accents award. In the form of Oliver Tate, the movie gives us a memorable, angst-ridden (and hormone-riddled) … Continue reading Film Review: Submarine [dir: Richard Ayoade; 2010]