Archived entries for Film Reviews

Paterson

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With two new Jim Jarmusch releases in cinemas at the same time, Christmas has arrived one month early for fans of the great American independent film maker. After a three year wait since the Only Lovers Left Alive double-running with The Stooges documentary Gimme Danger is Paterson, a story of a week in the life of a New Jersey bus driver.

The title character, Paterson, played by Adam Driver, like many of Jarmusch’s wonderful characters over the years, has an independence about him; but rather than being an outsider on a journey, the spirit of a warm, calm and gently paced film is of a man who has learned to find freedom, escape and pleasure while balancing routine and compromise. Continue reading…

The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight could easily be sold as Quentin Tarantino doing Agatha Christie in the Wild West but it does even more than living up to that mouth-watering billing; it is Tarantino’s most political film to date, set in post-Civil War United States and challenges throughout, with lines that are topically relevant while daring the foolish to laugh at the Punch and Judy violence against women and the throw-away racism; and it is delivered in cinemas in panoramic vision and surround sound, with stunning cinematography and the sounds of blowing blizzards, galloping horses and guns blazing. Continue reading…

Nightcrawler

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Juliet Kidd’s first piece for The Substantive looks at the film Nightcrawler.

Director Dan Gilroy has taken all the bits of LA we never see and simply turned the lights off, creating a further sense of disorientation that mimics the personality of Lou Bloom.

Lou is a loner in his late 30s. His appearance is thin, beige and greasy and there’s an odd intensity about his personality. We see him easily inspired by freelance cameraman taking footage of a bloodied car crash and thats where his obsession starts. Continue reading…

Gone Girl

Gone Girl

Some have said Gone Girl is the story of modern marriage; others, fairly, note feature films including Play Misty for Me, Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction have undertones of misogyny which don’t represent society and wonder if Gone Girl is cut from the same cloth. But it is neither.

In the second Moviedrome Guide that accompanies his introduction to Play Misty for Me in the sixth TV series from 1993, Alex Cox wrote about the above the tendency of those films: Continue reading…

Magic in the Moonlight

magic-in-the-moonlight-movie-Emma Stone poster

Magic in the Moonlight, the latest in Woody Allen’s prolific output, goes back to the idea of a psychic making a living/killing from those looking for a meaning in life, a topic he last examined in You Will Meet A Tall, Dark Stranger. This time the rational voice comes from Colin Firth’s otherwise misanthropic lead character who reminds us early on that the only certainty in life is a visitor in a black robe, words Allen surely wrote himself despite the known license he gives actors to ad-lib in character. Continue reading…

The Broken Circle Breakdown

The Broken Circle Breakdown picture

Made in 2012 but released at film festivals in 2013, the Belgium Oscar Academy nominee for an international language film, The Broken Circle Breakdown, should be up for the main award in its own right; it’s an art-house masterpiece, maximizing the medium of cinema through sight, sounds, brilliant dialogue, symbolism, superb lead performances and great intelligence, bringing to life a story full of impact and big themes.

Continue reading…

Blue Jasmine

Blue Jasmine

Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine starts off as an emotionally detached examination of lives with conflict close to the surface, Mike Leigh style, before a quick glimpse of potential comedy is swept away to concentrate on the mental breakdown of the title character, Cate Blanchett’s Jasmine.

Allen sets the mood instantly of an annoying, overbearing and self-obsessed woman who displays extravagant pretensions, yet is clearly struggling to stay in control of her life, claustrophobic and susceptible to panic attacks. Jasmine is on pills for her nerves, headaches and heartaches, while trying to adapt to a dramatic change in lifestyle and status that leaves her effectively standing alone with only the soundtrack she has adopted to her life, Blue Moon.

It seems a paradox that Allen, who has created many good roles for women since Annie Hall, has two central female characters who allow their lives to be shaped by men, with Jasmine intent on having a certain lifestyle where she is a dormant partner while Ginger, played by an excellent Sally Hawkins, is building a life around a man who rips a phone from the wall when he is angry, as Jasmine noted in one of her greater moments of clarity. Continue reading…

Django Unchained

Django-Unchained

In the nineties, Quentin Tarantino gave an interview with the Independent on Sunday where he spoke about how he would “run” to the cinema every time a new Martin Scorsese film came out. Tarantino himself continues to have the same effect on millions of film goers worldwide who, ever since his debut Reservoir Dogs in 1992, will take the time, effort and pay the money, to see anything Tarantino does on the big screen. And his latest offering, Django Unchained doesn’t disappoint. Continue reading…

To Rome With Love

Earlier this year Robert Weide’s enjoyable documentary on Woody Allen showed a filmmaker who stores ideas on post-it notes he later develops; To Rome with Love, Allen’s latest piece, looks to be a combination of four separate post-it notes of varying strength intercut against a majestic backdrop of Rome.

Starting with a beautiful tracking shot of the Italian capital, the exterior shots of Rome are the only constant to four vignettes, that are more like extended comedy sketches. The cast is naturally strong and includes Allen himself, first appearing on screen , expressing himself like a hypochondriac John McEnroe to his wife, played by Judy Davis. Continue reading…

Batman: The Dark Knight Rises Again

Marta-Emilia Bona was at the Batman Premiere this week. She reviews the film for The Substantive.

As a member of the general public who normally attends screenings of Hollywood blockbusters in a small cinema in Cardiff, it’s difficult not to feel somewhat intimidated when met with thousands of screaming fans and a red carpet as you enter Leicester Square. However, it’s impossible to deny the effect of the pomp and circumstance surrounding the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises (complete with twenty foot Batman mask and flaming bat crest – of course). Not being a huge Batman fan myself – I’m actually somewhat averse to the majority of superhero films – I must admit that even I was overwhelmed by the sense that I was about to experience the end of something big: the dramatic climax to an exquisitely executed trilogy. Continue reading…



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