Cinema

Back to black: Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow

Avengers: Age of Ultron reviewed - confusing, undramatic, repetitive and loud

Cinema

Avengers: Age of Ultron is the second film in the Avengers franchise, as written and directed by Joss Whedon, and stars Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark (Iron Man), Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson… Read more

Gardeners’ world: Alan Rickman (Louis XIV) and Kate Winslet (Sabine De Barra) at Versailles

A Little Chaos review: Kate Winslet emotes her little socks off

Cinema

A Little Chaos is a period drama directed by Alan Rickman and starring Kate Winslet as a woman charged to design and build a grand fountain garden for Louis XIV at Versailles. The film is, I noted from the poster,… Read more

Ryan Reynolds and Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’

Woman in Gold review: even Helen Mirren is weighed down by the script’s banalities

Cinema

Woman in Gold feels rather like a Jewish version of Philomena as this too is about an older woman seeking justice for what has been stolen from her in the past but, unlike the Jewish version of almost everything, this… Read more

Portrait of a director: Robert Altman

I always think I'm going to hate Baumbach's films and never do: While We're Young reviewed

Cinema

Every time I sit down to a Noah Baumbach film I think I’m going to hate it, but I never actually do. From the French New Wave idiosyncrasies of 2013’s Frances Ha to the growing pains of his semi-autobiographical breakthrough… Read more

Ella (Lily James) with her evil stepmother (Cate Blanchett)

Lily James's Cinderella is more of a doormat than my actual doormat

Cinema

Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella is a Disney film based on a Disney film, so is double Disney, if you like. It is a live-action adaptation of the 1950 animated version, and an entirely faithful retelling. As such, it comes with no… Read more

Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) with his dinner date, Fiona (Gemma Arterton)

The Voices review: a hateful, repellent, empty film

Cinema

The Voices is ‘a dark comedy about a serial killer’, which is not an overcrowded genre, and I think we can now plainly see for why. I was up for it, initially. The buzz around the film had been good.… Read more

French villager Lucile Angellier, played by Michelle Williams, falls for a Nazi soldier

Suite Francaise review: what is this film playing at, when it comes to Jews in attics?

Cinema

Suite Française is being billed as a second world war romance about ‘forbidden love’ and, in this regard, it is handsome, solid, well played and probably fine, if you haven’t read Irène Némirovsky’s novel, but if you have? Then you… Read more

Oscar winning role: Julianne Moore in Still Alice

Still Alice review: you can see why Julianne Moore won an Oscar but the film’s still boring

Cinema

There’s always seemed something masklike about Julianne Moore’s face: she seems walled in by her beauty. When she smiles, the only thing that moves is her mouth; that superb fenderwork of bone remains as impassive as a sphinx. This very… Read more

Jennifer Lopez sets her sights on the boy next door

The Boy Next Door reviewed: a terrible new J-Lo movie that's disturbingly enjoyable

Cinema

Stateside critics, who panned Jennifer Lopez’s new film The Boy Next Door on its US release last month, may be unaware of the ability of the British to enjoy a film so bad it’s almost good. I suspect many Brits… Read more

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Fifty Shades of Grey, review: ‘Use a condom!’ my sister shouted

Cinema

And so, in the end, I went with my sister, Toni, to see Fifty Shades of Grey and we saw it at noon on Valentine’s Day at the Odeon in Muswell Hill. In the audience on that particular day at… Read more

A humdinger of a plus: Alfred Molina and John Lithgow in ‘Love Is Strange’

Love Is Strange review: subtle and nuanced in ways which, I’m assuming, Fifty Shades is not

Cinema

You will be wondering why I haven’t seen Fifty Shades of Grey as this is very much Fifty Shades of Grey week and although I’m as curious and excited as anybody — how has Sam Taylor-Johnson filmed a book which,… Read more

King maker: David Oyelowo in ‘Selma’, the best performance of the year not nominated for an Oscar

Selma review: rich, nuanced, heartbreaking

Cinema

Selma, the civil rights film that stars David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, undoubtedly contains the best and most powerful performance of the year as not nominated for an Oscar. Oyelowo has said this is because Hollywood prefers black actors… Read more

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Trash, review: trash by name, trash by nature

Cinema

Trash is the sort of film one desperately wishes to be kind about — heart supremely, if not burstingly, in the right place and all that — but it doesn’t make life easy for itself. Directed by Stephen Daldry, with… Read more

A Most Violent Year2

A Most Violent Year, review: mesmerising performances - and coats

Cinema

A Most Violent Year is a riveting drama even though I can’t tell you what it’s about, or even what it actually is. (What’s new?) Set in New York City in 1981, against the improbable background that is the heating… Read more

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Wild made me want to puke

Cinema

Wild is yet another film based on a true story, as currently seems to be in vogue for some reason. (See The Imitation Game, Foxcatcher, The Theory of Everything, Testament of Youth etc.) Maybe the film world has run out… Read more

Channing Tatum and Steve Carell

Foxcatcher: piercing, shattering, spellbinding

Cinema

Foxcatcher is a crime drama (of sorts) that has already been dubbed ‘Oscarcatcher!’ as it barely puts a foot wrong. It is tautly directed, deftly written, thoroughly gripping and offers psychological heft as well as sublime performances all round, even… Read more

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Birdman: plenty to see, little to feel

Cinema

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman, which stars Michael Keaton as a one-time superhero movie star (just like Keaton himself), is audacious technically, and so meta it may well blow your mind, but it is also weird, maddening, wearing and exhausting. It… Read more

Agnes Kittelsen as Thor Heyerdahl’s wife, Liv — one of the film’s many blondes

If you like bland films full of blondes, you’ll love Kon-Tiki

Cinema

Kon-Tiki is a dramatisation of Thor Heyerdahl’s 4,300-mile, 101-day journey across the Pacific by balsa-wood raft, which took place in 1947, and was a remarkable achievement, unlike this film, which so isn’t. True, it does what it says on the… Read more

Too lovable: Bill Murray and Jaeden Lieberher in ‘St. Vincent’

St. Vincent: too much lovability and not enough roguishness from Bill Murray

Cinema

Is Bill Murray fit for sainthood? Certainly his fans have him figure as some sort of lesser divinity, maybe one of the more saturnalian Greeks or pagans, with a taste for crashing karaoke parties with a pretty Dutch girl on… Read more

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Paddington review: put your mind at rest - no one gets marmalade up the bum

Cinema

‘Please look after this bear,’ reads the famous label hanging round Paddington’s neck, and this film does that, admirably, handsomely, endearingly, lovingly and not at all sexily. Such a furore, when the film was awarded a PG instead of a… Read more

Hilary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones star in The Homesman

Just because The Homesman has a few women in it doesn’t make it a ‘feminist western’

Cinema

The Homesman, which stars Hilary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones and is set in the Nebraska territory in the 1850s, is being sold as ‘a feminist Western’, which is a bit rich. This is not a bad film. It’s modestly… Read more

Railly, railly posh: Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke

The Imitation Game: a film that's as much in the closet as Alan Turing was

Cinema

The Imitation Game is a biopic starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, the brilliant mathematician who broke the German’s Enigma code during the war, created the blueprint for the modern computer and was then hounded to death by the authorities… Read more

Like Star Trek turned up to 11

Interstellar: like Star Trek – but dumber and more tiring

Cinema

Christopher Nolan’s futuristic epic Interstellar isn’t a clever film, or even a dumb film with a clever film trying to get out. Instead, and no matter what the hype may say, this is a dumb film with an even dumber… Read more

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Mr Turner: the gruntiest, snortiest, huffiest film of the year - and the most beautiful too

Cinema

Mr Turner may be the gruntiest film of the year, possibly the gruntiest film ever. ‘Grunt, grunt, grunt,’ goes Mr Turner (Timothy Spall) as he sketches, paints, gropes his housekeeper, woos a Margate landlady, winds up John Constable something rotten.… Read more

Brad Pitt with the crew of the Sherman tank, Fury

Fury: the men blow stuff up, then Brad Pitt takes his top off

Cinema

Fury is a second world war drama that plays with us viscerally and unsparingly — I think I saw a head being blown off; I think I saw a sliced-off face, flopping about — but is still just another second… Read more

Tissues at the ready: James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan in The Best of Me

The Best of Me is more of a sleepie than a weepie - especially when our old friend No Sexual Chemistry makes an appearance

Cinema

Take tissues to The Best of Me, I’d read, as it’s such a weepie, so I took tissues, being a weeper at weepies — I still dab my eyes whenever I even think about War Horse — but it was… Read more

Poor, poor Effie: Dakota Fanning

Effie Gray can effie off

Cinema

Effie Gray, which has been written by Emma Thompson and recounts the doomed marriage of Victorian art critic John Ruskin to his teenage bride (he refused to consummate it), has a blissful cast. It stars Dakota Fanning, Ms Thompson herself,… Read more

The accused: Ben Affleck stars in Gone Girl

David Fincher plays Gone Girl for laughs - at least I hope he is

Cinema

Gone Girl is David Fincher’s adaptation of the bestselling thriller by Gillian Flynn, a relentless page-turner which I’ve heard people say they read ‘even though it’s not that good’ — you were hooked; get over it; don’t be snotty —… Read more