Cinema
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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Nicholas Murgatroyd

Encounters at the End of the World (2007), dir. Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog’s new film is a documentary about workers on a scientific research base in Antarctica. It has many of the hallmarks of his previous documentary work, including stunning panoramic shots, the vaguely creepy off-camera voice that sounds like it could be enticing Hansel and Gretel to come into the gingerbread house, and, of course, […]

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Jo Nightingale

Duplicity (2009), dir. Tony Gilroy

With a name like Duplicity and two big Hollywood leads, this film makes no secret of its genre. A spy thriller aimed squarely at a mainstream audience I approached it with some apprehension, being renowned for my failure to follow recent Bonds, Bournes and even Batmen. A couple of encouraging reviews and the fact that […]

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Nicholas Murgatroyd

The Burning Plain (2008), dir. Guillermo Arriaga

There are some writers whose work is identifiable within the space of a couple of sentences. Guillermo Arriaga makes his directorial debut with The Burning Plain, but it’s a film that’s also almost instantly identifiable, bearing as it does the same hallmarks as the numerous films he’s written. Anybody who’s seen Babel, The Three Burials […]

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Nicholas Murgatroyd

Let the Right One In – Låt den rätte komma in (2008), dir. Tomas Alfredson

For many years, two things associated with Sweden – the prospect of assembling flat pack furniture, and anything to do with ABBA – have been enough to make me break out into a cold sweat. So I approached the Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In with some trepidation, especially as the average horror […]

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The Manchester Review

L’Empreinte de l’Ange – Mark of an Angel (2008), dir. Safy Nebbou

L’Empreinte de l’Ange is due to be released in the UK on May 22nd this year, but it was shown on 16th March as part of Bradford International Film Festival’s programme of Premieres and Previews. Billed as ‘one of the coming year’s outstanding French dramas’, the film features outstanding performances from Catherine Frot (The Page […]

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The Manchester Review

Mother, Mine (2008), dir. Susan Everett

Mother, Mine is a short film by Leeds-based director Susan Everett. In November, it won the ‘Best Yorkshire Short Award’ as part of the Leeds International Film Festival. Now, it is showing at the Cubby Broccoli Cinema in Bradford as one of six films shortlisted for the Shine Short Film Award (part of the Bradford […]

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Ian Pople

Three Monkeys (2008), dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan

On the eve of an election, politician Servet (Ercan Keysal), falls asleep at the wheel and kills a pedestrian. He asks his driver, Eyup (Yavuz Bingol) who wasn’t with him at the time, to take the fall. So Eyup goes to gaol with the promise of his salary paid every month, and a lump sum […]

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Jo Nightingale

Revolutionary Road (2008), dir. Sam Mendes

With Revolutionary Road, director Sam Mendes returns to the territory in which he made his name in film: the polished surfaces and angst-ridden interiors of picket-fenced suburbia. Unlike 1999’s American Beauty though, this film depicts the dark side of the American dream when it was ostensibly at its shiny newest, with protagonists Frank and April […]

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Nicholas Murgatroyd

Che: Part One (2008), dir. Steven Soderbergh

In Walter Salles’ road movie The Motorcycle Diaries, Gael Garcia Bernal portrayed the young Che Guevara as a well-meaning medical student developing a sense of social justice as he rode through South America. In Steven Soderbergh’s Che: Part One, Benicio Del Toro tackles the arguably much more difficult task of portraying Guevara as the iconic […]

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Ian Pople

Slumdog Millionaire (2008), dir. Danny Boyle

There would be little point in using a space such as this to review a film that is being touted on the sides of buses, were it not for the overwhelming desire to correct the impression that is given on the sides of those buses. This is not a ‘feel-good’ movie! This is not to […]

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Ian Pople

Quiet Chaos (2008) dir. Antonio Luigi Grimaldi

While Pietro (Nanni Moretti) and his brother Carlos (Alessandro Gassman) are playing a keenly contested game of beach tennis, they hear cries from the sea. Ignoring advice from men on the shore that the sea is too dangerous, they plunge in and save two drowning women. When they return the women to the beach, the […]

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Ian Pople

Jar City (2006), dir. Baltasar Kormakur

Scandanavian crime writing may have been initiated by Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow but it’s now a complete industry from the phenomenally successful Henning Mankell through to Ake Edwardson, Arnaldur Indridason and others. Indridason’s novel Jar City has now been in adapted for the cinema by the director Baltasar Kormakur. Kormakur had some success with […]

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