2019 Film Reviews – 38: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse [dir. Bob Persichetti & Peter Ramsey; 2018]

This alternative take on the Spider-man franchise – in which several Spider-heroes from parallel universes are brought together to battle the Kingpin – certainly offers a feast for the eyes. The Lichtenstein-inspired drawings – confidently using bold lines and textured dots – pop with life and vitality, propelling the action from one frame to another (sometimes literally: the film makes frequent use of comic-book-style frames … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 38: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse [dir. Bob Persichetti & Peter Ramsey; 2018]

2019 Film Reviews – 32: Amazing Grace [dir. Alan Elliott & Sydney Pollack; 2018]

Aside from the impassioned music and Aretha Franklin’s unquestionably powerful vocal skills (although personally, I can take R&B warbling only in small doses) what’s most remarkable about this footage of the recording of the much-lauded, 1972 Amazing Grace album is the casualness of the whole set up. Franklin herself wanders on with little fanfare. The audience move around the auditorium, dancing, clapping and singing as … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 32: Amazing Grace [dir. Alan Elliott & Sydney Pollack; 2018]

2019 Film Reviews – 31: High Life [dir. Claire Denis; 2018]

There’s a great deal I could write about Claire Denis’ first English-language film, but the one-para rule must be obeyed, so suffice it to say that High Life effortlessly earns a place in the canon of thoughtful, elliptical sci-fi movies such as 2001, Solaris and Blade-Runner. Aside from some almost laughably clunky exposition at the start, this dreamy, fecund presentation of life on a spaceship … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 31: High Life [dir. Claire Denis; 2018]

2019 Film Reviews – 27: Mission: Impossible – Fallout [dir. Christopher McQuarrie; 2018]

Having missed several entries in the series, I can’t make an educated assessment of how Fallout rates in the Mission: Impossible canon. But I do know that it doesn’t come close to eliciting the devilish, lip-smacking enjoyment I felt when watching Brian De Palma’s version from 1996. Yes, the plot centres on all the usual globe-trotting shenanigans and there are a few absorbing, budget-bloating set … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 27: Mission: Impossible – Fallout [dir. Christopher McQuarrie; 2018]

2019 Film Reviews – 25: 3 Faces [dir. Jafar Panahi; 2018]

I’m not sure how a director banned from making films succeeds in creating not one, but several pieces of work since the restriction was imposed upon him, but there we are — Jafar Panahi is back with another characteristically elliptical effort. This time he tels the tale of an actress and a director who feel compelled to travel to a remote village in their native … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 25: 3 Faces [dir. Jafar Panahi; 2018]

2019 Film Reviews – 23: Shoplifters [dir. Hirokazu Koreeda; 2018]

It’s interesting to consider whether Japanese social-realist cinema is currently at the same stage as the kitchen sink dramas of 1960s Britain. As he did in Nobody Knows, director Hirokazu Koreeda certainly displays a commendable willingness to take the veil off the refined exterior of modern Japanese life with this tale of a poverty-stricken band of thieves who one day adopt a neglected child. But … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 23: Shoplifters [dir. Hirokazu Koreeda; 2018]

2019 Film Reviews – 22: The White Crow [dir. Ralph Fiennes; 2018]

If nothing else, The White Crow deserves praise for being a biopic that pretty much stays faithful to the bio. Some would argue that by choosing to end with Rudolph Nureyev’s defection in Paris in 1961, it omits the more tempestuous elements of the man’s life, but at least what’s there is fairly accurate, as far as one can tell. However, even though the climax … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 22: The White Crow [dir. Ralph Fiennes; 2018]

2019 Film Reviews – 19: Everybody Knows [dir. Asghar Farhadi; 2018]

In A Separation – and, to some extent, About Elly – Asghar Farhadi displayed an exceptional talent for creating full-bodied characters – possessed of lucidly delineated motivations – and weaving them into a story that flows with the organic inevitability of life itself. There’s no doubt that his skill is in evidence within the sun-baked, Spanish setting of Everybody Knows: as its tale of a … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 19: Everybody Knows [dir. Asghar Farhadi; 2018]

2019 Film Reviews – 18: Green Book [dir. Peter Farrelly; 2018]

I relented. Having read several pieces of convincingly damning criticism of this tale of an Italian-American racist’s journey to open-mindedness – following a stint as a chauffeur and bodyguard to an acclaimed, black musician – I decided my pennies would be better spent on other cinematic fare. But then came that Best Picture Oscar and I felt duty bound to see the thing for myself. … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 18: Green Book [dir. Peter Farrelly; 2018]

2019 Film Reviews – 17: Capernaum [dir. Nadine Labaki; 2018]

Despite a few frustrating problems, Nadine Labaki’s Capernaum is a must-see. With admirable fearlessness, her Lebanon-set story of a young boy who decides to run away from home in protest at his parents’ decision to marry off his underage sister, paints a harrowing picture of 21st century poverty not often seen in contemporary, narrative cinema. This is a world of starvation, homelessness and constant, physical … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 17: Capernaum [dir. Nadine Labaki; 2018]