Jasper Rees

The gloves will come off

You know where you aren’t with director Yorgos Lanthimos. The Greek allegorist creates parallel worlds which superficially resemble our own. In Dogtooth an overweening patriarch incarcerates his three adult children in a state of infantilised innocence. The Lobster punishes those unable to find a mate by transfiguring them into animals. His acerbic commentaries on flawed

Football focus

The early 1970s was football’s brute era of Passchendaele pitches and Stalingrad tactics. The gnarled ruffians of Leeds United — wee hatchet man Billy Bremner, the graceful assassin Johnny Giles, Norman ‘Bites Yer Legs’ Hunter — embodied the age. Not that you’d guess this from the badge on the club’s shirt: the letters LU were

Unhappy days

Scriptwriters love to feast on the lives of children’s authors. The themes tend not to vary: they may have brought happiness to millions of children but their stories — sob — were fertilised by unhappiness. Saving Mr Banks: Mary Poppins author was a bossy shrew because her alcoholic father died young. Miss Potter: Peter Rabbit

Made in Port Talbot

Port Talbot, on the coast of South Wales, is literally overlooked. Most experience the town while flying over it on the M4, held aloft by concrete stilts planted in terraced streets. From that four-lane gantry, the only landmarks are the dockyard cranes and belching steelworks. Over Easter in 2011, National Theatre Wales staged a piece

Farming today

There are bigger entities landing at your local multiplex this week. An ancient indestructible franchise is re-re-(re-)booted in Alien: Covenant. In Jawbone, it’s seconds out for yet another boxing movie. Miss Sloane is that non-staple of the repertoire, a glossy feminist thriller about public relations. Something there for almost everyone. But there’s also a low-budget

Parting shots

Gurinder Chadha’s modern comedies have fun with cultural divides. Girls kick footballs in Bend It Like Beckham. A gaggle of Punjabis hit Blackpool in Bhaji on the Beach. Jane Austen goes to Bollywood in Bride & Prejudice. In all these films (we may discount Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging), Indians and Britons grapple with the

No peace, no pussy

The bizarro concept of a ‘President-elect Trump’ came to pass despite the wishes, clearly stated on the stump, of the entertainment-industrial complex. They all came out for Hillary — Queen Bey, the Boss, Jay-Z, J-Lo, SJP, Kimye, Madge, Meryl, Gaga, Lena D, old uncle Team Clooney and all. How the alt-right cackled when this star-spangled

Heaven knows they’re miserable now

The Light Between Oceans is one of those films that comes issued with a handy how-to-use manual. Shudder as hero arrives on remote Australian island to man lighthouse. Cheer when in swift dash to mainland he secures hot bride to join him. Grimace when her womb proves incapable of holding anything in for a whole

Red hot

Everything about Julieta feels totally Almodóvarian. It’s a family saga that smoothly blends tragedy and levity, with exquisite performances from a company of passionate actresses. It looks carefully ravishing. Many of the director’s abiding themes are here: terminal illness, sudden death, a mother’s love for her child, men hanging about the fringes. And yet it

Paean to the Starman

On 11 January 2016 Paul Morley was awoken by an urgent voicemail from the Today Programme. Could he talk about the life and — news just in — the death of David Bowie? (The researcher apologised if this was how he’d heard.) Resistant to gnashing his teeth for a few minutes of radio rent-a-commentary, Morley

Dahl by Spielberg

Nobody who witnessed it can have forgotten Mark Rylance summoning giants to his aid in Jerusalem. As Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron, drug-dealing roustabout threatened with expulsion from his little patch of Eden, Rylance roared and drummed until the theatre shuddered with the sound of gigantic stomps approaching. That colossal performance brought him to international — as

Punchlines and punches

Regular filmgoers must be losing count of the Rabelaisian revelries they’ve been invited to of late. You may recognise the type of do. The camera ushers you through a door and, wham, the music’s strafing your eardrums and everyone’s letting their hair down along, often, with their underwear. There’s usually a white horse grazing by

‘Do black movies really not sell?’

The musical biopic is a staple of the Hollywood economy. Like an Airfix model kit it comes with the necessary parts presupplied: sex, drugs and a soundtrack. All the director need do is glue them together. Actors are keen too, as portraying musicians is like prospecting for Oscars: in recent years the lives of Edith

Bitter sweet

The French master film-maker Jacques Audiard has never been anywhere near Hollywood plot school. His films contain gathering menace — something somewhere is going to go horribly wrong — but where the menace will come from, and who will get hurt, is anyone’s guess. In his astonishing prison drama A Prophet the threat to its

Touching the void | 18 February 2016

Scholarly filmgoers may recall a movement that sprouted from Danish soil called Dogme 95. It worked to a Spartan set of rules and regs. In Dogme titles there could be no lighting and no soundtrack, no locations pretending to be other locations. Hell, there were probably no Portaloos on set and actors fixed their own

The still point

Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song is the best-remembered title of a short career. Born in 1901, he was dead by 1935. The novel hymned the rhythms of rural life in north-east Scotland in prose that to modern ears sounds as if it comes from a museum of Grampian folklore. At its heart is Chris Guthrie,

The man who wouldn’t be king

Not that long ago the BBC trumpeted a new Stakhanovite project to big up the arts in its many and various hues. And praise be, this it is jolly well doing with all sorts of dad rock docs, homages to painters and poets, while Sralan Yentob (as he surely ought at the very least to

Speech impediment | 1 October 2015

Who goes to big-screen Shakespeare? Not theatre-goers much, and with reason. Apart from the odd corker by Kurosawa, arguably Olivier and Orson Welles — and let’s bung in Zeffirelli for those with a sweeter tooth — the Bard is a better scriptwriter when the words are dumped and the plots he nicked from elsewhere are

There will be blood | 17 September 2015

If you don’t want to spend hundreds of euros on a good seat, the best place to watch the Palio di Siena is by the start. For my first time — decades ago — I arrived early in the apron-shaped Piazza del Campo and sweated out the long afternoon as a tide of tension rose.