Cinema
The Manchester Review

Loving Vincent, dir. Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman, reviewed by David Hartley

It is testament to the startling depth of film as an art medium that it has so brazenly brushed off all doom-laden interlopers that threatened to sink it – the coming of sound, the collapse of the studio system, the rise of TV, the internet, CGI, 3D, Netflix, and so on. In truth, film is […]

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The Manchester Review

Bladerunner 2049, dir. Denis Villeneuve, reviewed by David Hartley

I admit to a certain level of despair when reboot culture caught up with Blade Runner and this sequel was announced. I’d long held the original close as a piece of cinematic perfection; science fiction at its absolute zenith; a flawed gem, endlessly fascinating and, in its various iterations, strangely mercurial. But in the intervening […]

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The Manchester Review

Bitter Tears: The Films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, HOME, reviewed by Tristan Burke

Bitter Tears: The Films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, HOME, May 7-31. It is well known that the great West German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s work rate was prodigious. In a brief career between 1969 and 1982 he directed forty films and two television series, and wrote twenty-four stage plays and four radio plays. He not […]

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The Manchester Review

CRIME: Hong Kong Style season, HOME, reviewed by Laura Swift and Joel Swann

CRIME: Hong Kong Style season, HOME, February 4 – April 7, 2016 HOME’s ambitious season Crime: Hong Kong Style featured some twenty films over the course of two months, including films ranging from forgotten classics like The Swallow Thief, to international blockbusters such as Police Story, to several UK premieres. The season can be judged […]

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The Manchester Review

Always (Crashing) season, HOME, reviewed by Tristan Burke

Always (Crashing) season, HOME, March 18-31, 2016 The gap in the literary landscape left by J.G. Ballard’s death in 2009 is still very much with us. He was probably the single most important post-war English novelist, and he opened up the scope and style of the English novel far beyond the sentimental, bourgeois realism that […]

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The Manchester Review

CRIME: Hong Kong Style season, HOME, preview and interview with Andy Willis by Laura Swift and Joel Swann

CRIME: Hong Kong Style at HOME, February – April 2016 Chinese New Year celebrations in Hong Kong usually begin and end without making international headlines, but this year was different. On the evening of February 8th, the heavy-handed policing of street vendors in Mong Kok gave rise to the violent stand-offs that are now being […]

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The Manchester Review

The Revenant (2016), dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu, HOME, reviewed by Fran Slater

When you went to see a film at The Cornerhouse you could feel secure in the fact that it had already received an important seal of approval. The Cornerhouse didn’t just show any film. It had to be considered a little bit special, and a little bit different, to make it onto the silver screen. […]

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The Manchester Review

The Hateful Eight (2016), dir. Quentin Tarantino, HOME, reviewed by Fran Slater

The Hateful Eight, dir. Quentin Tarantino, HOME, January 17 2016 Few films receive the levels of interest and attention that a new Quentin Tarantino release does. Over the last couple of months you’ll have seen the images everywhere. Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell standing in the snow with their guns firmly grasped in their […]

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The Manchester Review

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2015), dir. Isao Takahata, The Cornerhouse, reviewed by Peter Wild

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, Manchester Cornerhouse, March 14 2015 Last year, with The Wind Rises, we saw the last film by Hayao Miyazaki, the man responsible (if we can say a single man is responsible) for making the name of Studio Ghibli, the Japanese Disney, a global brand. This year, we see The […]

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The Manchester Review

The Two Faces of January (2014), dir. Hossein Amini, reviewed by Fran Slater

The Two Faces of January is the latest feature film from director Hossein Amini, whose previous works include 2011 hit Drive and 2012 blockbuster Snow White and the Huntsman. The success of both these films has led to increased levels of interest in his latest work. Set in the early 1960s, the film gets off […]

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The Manchester Review

Django Unchained (2012), dir. Quentin Tarantino, reviewed by Janet Rogerson

Two years before the American Civil War, Django (Jamie Foxx), a freed slave turned bounty hunter makes his way to Mississippi to free his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), a slave at the Candieland plantation owned by Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). We have come to expect a highly stylised, postmodern extravaganza whenever Tarantino directs, and we […]

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The Manchester Review

The Impossible (2012), dir. Juan Antonio Bayona, reviewed by Janet Rogerson

The Impossible tells the story of a middle-class British family holidaying in Thailand at Christmastime. Unluckily for them (and many others) their trip coincides with the 26th December 2004 tsunami. The build-up is short: they are a typical family, three boys, one a disgruntled adolescent, played impressively by Tom Holland, (who is destined to learn […]

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Ian Pople

Gangster Squad (2013), dir. Ruben Fleischer

by Ian Pople

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The Manchester Review

End of Watch (2012), dir. David Ayer, reviewed by Janet Rogerson

by Janet Rogerson

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Ian Pople

I, Anna (2012), dir. Barnaby Southcombe

by Ian Pople

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Ian Pople

Once upon a time in Anatolia (2011), dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan

The Jury in Cannes were obviously feeling that films should be on the slow side last year.  Having given the Palme D’Or to Terence Malick’s ‘Tree of Life’, they gave the Grand Jury Prize to this very, very slow, exquisitely shot film from Turkey’s Nuri Bilge Ceylan.  Ceylan’s film lives almost entirely in real time.  […]

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Ian Pople

Coriolanus (2011) dir. Ralph Fiennes

It’s difficult, unfortunately, to sit through the first twenty minutes of Ralph Fiennes’ modern rendering of Coriolanus without distraction. And these distractions do rather shake the whole project. The first distraction is that the shaven headed Fiennes’ looks uncomfortably like his recent portrayal of Voldemort in the Harry Potter films; a look that tends to […]

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Ian Pople

Dreams of a Life (2011), dir. Carol Morley

Dreams of a Life is a mesmerising film. It’s beautiful photography seems almost to belong to a different film, and it’s exquisite pacing and narrative arc show Carol Morley to have an iron control over her film. In part, the film comprises a series of talking heads of the ‘friends’ of Joyce Vincent, whose body […]

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Ian Pople

A Separation (2011), dir. Asghar Farhadi

Asghar Farhadi’s magnificent directorial debut asks one central question; how is it possible to take decisions and not be selfish, particularly in the family? When Simin (Leila Hatami) wants to take her daughter Termeh (Sarina Farhadi) abroad for a better life, her husband, Nader (Peyman Moaadi), won’t go. His father to whom is devoted has […]

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Ian Pople

Attack the Block (2011), dir. Joe Cornish

Attack the Block is that increasingly rare thing; a terrific British comedy. It’s a film that balances a sharp, critical social conscience about life for young London boys with no real male role models, with very slickly handled, alien invasion movie. And if that sounds like Shane Meadows meets ET then try to forget that […]

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Ian Pople

Brighton Rock (2010), dir. Rowan Joffe

Donald Davie described Larkin’s poetry as a ‘poetry of lowered sights and patiently diminished expectations.’ By setting his version of Graham Greene’s novel in the summer of 1964, Rowan Joffe sets the film at a moment when society was moving between that lowered vision, and the newer world of the ‘swinging sixties’. Thus, Joffe pitches […]

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Ian Pople

Uncle Boonmee who can recall his past lives (2010), dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Beloved of Cannes, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s films are deeply arthouse.  Since Blissfully Yours from 2002 won ‘Un Certain Regard’, Weerasethakul’s films have won prize after prize at festivals all over Europe, and Uncle Boonmee won the director the Palme Dor, this year. Weerasethakul is one of those directors for whom linear narrative seems an impediment rather […]

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Ian Pople

Winter’s Bone (2010), dir. Debra Granik

This wonderful film is held together by a mesmerising central performance from Jennifer Lawrence and immaculate direction by Debra Granik. The story is well-known by now. Lawrence as Ree Dolly is the seventeen-year old who holds her family together. Her mother is a catatonic depressive, and Ree has two younger siblings, Sonny, her twelve-year old […]

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Jo Nightingale

Shed your Tears and Walk Away (2009), dir. Jez Lewis

(KinoFilm European Short Film Festival, Manchester) I first visited Hebden Bridge 20 years ago, and was captivated by its gothic remoteness and Victorian charm. Its plethora of book, record and junk shops didn’t hurt either, and I’ve been drawn back to the town every year or two since. If it hadn’t been so distant from […]

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Nicholas Murgatroyd

Perrier’s Bounty (2009), dir. Ian Fitzgibbon

With the summer blockbuster season still some way off, it’s possible that there may yet be a worse film released this year, but they’re going to have to try particularly hard to sink to lower depths than Perrier’s Bounty. Set in contemporary Dublin, this shockingly clichéd film follows Michael McCrea (Cillian Murphy) through 48 hours […]

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Ian Pople

Lourdes (2009), dir. Jessica Hausner

The strapline for Jessica Hausner’s wonderful Lourdes is ‘Nothing tests faith more than a miracle’.  The other issue that’s central to the film is the deeply human ‘Why me?’. Lourdes is set among a tour party to the shrine organised by the Order of Malta. It centres on Christine who suffers from multiple schlerosis;  her […]

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Ian Pople

Shutter Island (2010), dir. Martin Scorcese

Shutter Island is a rather odd film. The script is sometimes very good; its abrupt transitions and elliptical style ensure a good if not great performance from the film’s main star, Leonardo Dicaprio. But elsewhere the script feels stagey and mannered, resulting in rather forced performances from the European players who play the supporting characters, […]

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Ian Pople

Still Walking (2008), dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda

This quiet, lovely Japanese ensemble piece is much haunted. It is haunted by the constant presence of Junpei, the older son whose death by drowning is the cause for the family gathering this film records. It is haunted by the Japanese film maker Yazojiro Ozu and, in particular, his Tokyo Story whose pale but intense […]

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J.T. Welsch

Avatar (2009), dir. James Cameron

According to the inverse law of action movie length vs. depth, every too familiar nuance of this nearly three-hour ‘epic’ can be recounted in a couple of breaths: A disabled ex-soldier is sent in to improve relations with an indigenous population who stand in the way of some economically precious natural resource. Inevitably, he grows […]

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Ian Pople

Katalin Varga (2009), dir. Peter Strickland

Peter Strickland’s Katalin Varga is a revenge tragedy set in a part of modern-day Europe so remote that people still turn the hay by hand, put strangers up for the night and where a lone woman can drive her son on a horse and cart for miles between villages. Yet it is a place where […]

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Nicholas Murgatroyd

Sin Nombre (2009), dir. Cary Fukunaga

With so much debate today focussing on immigration, it seems strange that so few films have looked at the topic. Hollywood rarely goes near it for anything other than a new slant on romantic comedy (remember Green Card?) and Michael Winterbottom’s In this world remains a fairly rare instance in European cinema. Yet the immigrant […]

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Nicholas Murgatroyd

Broken Embraces – Abrazos rotos, (2009) dir. Pedro Almodovar

Ever since taking the best foreign picture Oscar for Todo Sobre mi Madre, Pedro Almodóvar has seen anything he does loved by the majority of his fans, regardless of its actual quality. His films can belabour under ridiculous plots or drift along without even the merest hint of narrative progression, and praise will still be […]

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Jo Nightingale

Jerichow, (2008) dir. Christian Petzold

(Edinburgh International Film Festival) German feature Jerichow made its UK debut at 2009’s Edinburgh International Film Festival on 19 June, and is arguably more appealing and straightforwardly enjoyable than many of the more high-profile premieres screened there so far. Benno Furmann plays brooding ex-soldier Thomas, deep in debt and with few prospects, who moves into […]

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Jo Nightingale

Away We Go, (2009) dir. Sam Mendes

(International premiere, Edinburgh International Film Festival) Coming just four months after the UK release of his last film, Revolutionary Road, Away We Go is something of a departure for respected film and theatre director Sam Mendes. The compositional beauty and sinister, or, at least, restless, undertone for which he is renowned have been replaced with […]

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Ian Pople

Katyn (2007), dir. Andrzej Wajda

The iconic beginning to this film – Polish refugees run from both sides onto a bridge, one side running from the Russians, the others running from the Germans, and the equally iconic, relentless slaughter which end the film, will be well known to anyone who has looked at the reviews of this remarkable document.  Equally […]

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