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Film

Turning Japanese: ‘Spirited Away’ by Hayao Miyazaki, who has influenced Pixar’s latest offering, Big Hero 6

How Japan became a pop culture superpower

31 January 2015

There is an island nation, just off the main body of a continent. It gained an empire from the force of its military and the finesse of its trading contracts.… Read more

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Trash, review: trash by name, trash by nature

31 January 2015
Trash 15, Nationwide

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… Read more

No Strings

How consumer habits are subject to the law of unintended consequences

31 January 2015

Some time in the 1960s, a group of people in an advertising agency (among them Llewelyn Thomas, son of Dylan) found themselves debating the direction of causation in the purchase… Read more

A Most Violent Year2

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

24 January 2015
A Most Violent Year 15, Nationwide

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… Read more

‘Exceptionally good’: Alicia Vikander as Vera Brittain in ‘Testament of Youth’

Shirley Williams: Saving my mother from the scriptwriters

17 January 2015

Shirley Williams sits at the head of a table in a large conference room in Lib Dem HQ. She will be 85 this year, but still has a finger in… Read more

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Wild made me want to puke

17 January 2015
Wild 15, Nationwide

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… Read more

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Stephen Hawking is a mysogynist. And The Theory of Everything is a whitewash

10 January 2015

Stephen Hawking is a misogynist; and also, quite possibly, a narcissist. You wouldn’t know it from watching The Theory Of Everything, the new biopic from Working Title, in which you… Read more

Chico, Harpo and Groucho Marx (left to right) enjoy a day at the races

What unites Churchill, Dali and T.S. Eliot? They all worshipped the Marx Brothers

10 January 2015

‘I had no idea you were so handsome,’ Groucho Marx wrote to T.S. Eliot in 1961 on receiving from him a signed studio portrait. The Missouri-born Eliot was the Marx… Read more

Channing Tatum and Steve Carell

Foxcatcher: piercing, shattering, spellbinding

10 January 2015
Foxcatcher 15, Nationwide

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… Read more

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Birdman: plenty to see, little to feel

3 January 2015
Birdman 15, Nationwide

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,… Read more

13 December 2014

Marking a century Some things which celebrate their 100th birthday in 2015: 3-D films The first was shown at the Astor Theater in New York on 10 June, featuring the… Read more

‘I wanted my wine to have deeper shadows’

Michael Seresin – from film noir to pinot noir

6 December 2014

Michael Seresin claims, rather modestly, to ‘have no palate’, choosing instead to describe wine with light, colour and form. These are not your typical winemaker’s terms, but they make perfect… Read more

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

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

6 December 2014
St. Vincent 12A, Nationwide

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… Read more

Jack O’Connell in ‘Unbroken’ — out next month — one of the few films today with a star writing team, the Coen brothers

How Hollywood is killing the art of screenwriting

29 November 2014

Writing is dead. Long live writing. What do I mean when I say writing is dead? That’s a whole other article, but in brief: cinema killed the novel, email killed… Read more

paddington

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

29 November 2014
Paddington PG, Nationwide

‘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,… 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’

22 November 2014
The Homesman 15, Nationwide

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… 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

15 November 2014
The Imitation Game 12A, Nationwide

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… Read more

Like Star Trek turned up to 11

Interstellar: like Star Trek – but dumber and more tiring

8 November 2014
Interstellar 12A, Nationwide

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… Read more

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

1 November 2014
Mr Turner 12A, Nationwide

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,… 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

25 October 2014
Fury 15, Nationwide

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… Read more

Timothy Spall as the eponymous painter in Mike Leigh’s new film ‘Mr Turner’

Mike Leigh interview: 'A guy in the Guardian wants to sue me for defamation of Ruskin!'

18 October 2014

Mike Leigh is in a cheerfully bullish mood when I meet him at the Soho Hotel. ‘Have you read today’s Guardian?’ Dammit — I should have seen that coming. ‘A… 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

18 October 2014
The Best of Me 12A, Nationwide
Northern Soul 15, Nationwide

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… Read more

Brian Blessed as Prince Vultan and Sam J. Jones as Flash in ‘Flash Gordon’, part of the BFI ‘Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder’ season

Without sci-fi, there would be no cinema

11 October 2014

Do you know what’s hateful? The snobbery that film fans have to contend with. There’s the ‘it’s only a movie’ snobbery, by which cinema is suitable only for wastrels and… Read more

Poor, poor Effie: Dakota Fanning

Effie Gray can effie off

11 October 2014
Effie Gray 12A, Nationwide

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… Read more

The accused: Ben Affleck stars in Gone Girl

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

4 October 2014
Gone Girl 18, Nationwide

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’ —… Read more