Jul 132016
 

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John Carney (Once and Begin Again) has become the master of the romantic-musical-dramedy, and his irresistible latest film Sing Street, his most personal – mined from his own experiences as a youth – and best to date, is a charming feel-good portrait of ’80s Dublin. With a truly awesome nostalgic Brit-pop soundtrack featuring The Cure, Duran Duran, Hall & Oates and Joe Jackson, likeable, engaging performances from the talented young cast and a poignant examination of teenage romance, brotherly love, and the power of music to provoke creativity, unite, define, rebel and change your life, Sing Street is a joy to behold. Read why it is one my favourite films of the year after the jump.

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Jun 122016
 

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In Jackson Heights is the 42nd film from 85 year-old veteran American documentarian, Frederick Wiseman. Filmed over 9 weeks in 2014, the film paints a portrait of a vibrant, diverse community in flux. Gentrification is lapping at the doors of the largely immigrant neighbourhood, and big business is squeezing out the small.

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May 072016
 

Bad Neighbours 2 (also known as Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising) is not only consistently funny throughout but also proves to be plugged into very-present identity politics and the social zeitgeist. It sets a breakneck pace as the Radner’s (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) find themselves embroiled in a new turf war – one that places the pending sale of their home at risk – and must turn to frat king, and former enemy, Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron), to help them.

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Apr 292016
 

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In Civil War, the thirteenth instalment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the focus shifts back to Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America (Chris Evans). This is his third film as central protagonist, joining Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark with as many films. It seems fitting that these two come to a head here, as Rogers finds his allegiance torn between Stark and The Avengers and his old friend, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), who finds himself the subject of a global manhunt. Joe and Anthony Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) return to direct, again proving to be very competent in their choreography of the action sequences and their ability to find a deft balance of humour as they probe into deep human emotion, and further explore the intense physicality of the characters under pressure.

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Mar 182016
 

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A Bigger Splash, the latest erotic-thriller from Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, is an sexually-charged, sun-baked, stylistically jacked-up erotic thriller loosely based on 1969 film, ‘La Piscine’ starring Alain Delon. Working from a modest budget, a hot cast and the natural splendours of the remote, picturesque Italian island of Pantelleria, Guadagnino’s film is an unusual concoction of tones, textures and dynamics; beautiful people with years of privilege and success, painful pasts and restless passions. Continue reading »

Feb 112016
 

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French filmmaker and quirk-maverick Michel Gondry (The Silence of Sleep, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Mood Indigo) has tackled fresh territory and remained nicely grounded in his sincere new comedy, Microbe & Gasoil [Microbe and Gasoline]. The film has a ramshackle charm, but Gondry mostly sidelines his trademark surrealism. Some weird, ill-judged butt-ins do feel out of place, but this is a very sweet and funny experience-enlightening buddy road-trip with likeable young leads. Sure to warm your heart. Continue reading »

Jan 162016
 

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Veteran American independent filmmaker Todd Haynes (Safe, Far From Heaven and Mildred Pierce) doesn’t make many films, but the master of precision is consistently fascinating on an academic level, and because he works outside of Hollywood, must work hard to source funding. He is celebrated for his cinematic representation of gay people, authentic period reproduction, experimentation with gaze, and his fascinating female characters, whom he offers point-of-view and agency. They are always examined in thoughtful and complex ways, making Patricia Highsmith’s groundbreaking source material, The Price of Salt, a perfect fit for his sensibilities. Haynes has worked with in the past and drawn stunning performances from Julianne Moore (Safe and Far From Heaven) and Kate Winslet (Mildred Pierce), and this is second collaboration with Cate Blanchett (who takes on one of the portrayals of Bob Dylan in I’m Not There).

His exquisite and elegantly restrained romantic drama Carol, which has been on every film buff’s most anticipated list since its première at the Cannes Film Festival (where it won the Queer Palm), is an enchantingly beautiful production. With striking 16mm film compositions, an authentic recreation of 1950s Manhattan, and a lovely score from Carter Burwell – it is a moving adaptation of Highsmith’s transcendent, heart-swelling tale. She is perhaps best known for writing The Talented Mr. Ripley and Strangers on a Train (which have also been adapted for the screen), but due to the book’s homosexual relationship, she wrote The Price of Salt under the pseudonym Claire Morgan. Written for the screen by Phyllis Nagy, it has gone on to be a multi-BAFTA and Academy Award-nominee. The two lead actresses, the faultless Blanchett and the astonishing Mara (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Side Effects), are absolutely radiant, but every frame of the film is a work of art. Continue reading »

Aug 242015
 

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Life, a respectably modest and balanced dual biopic is based on the friendship between Time Magazine photographer Dennis Stock and 50’s Hollywood celebrity James Dean. Under the sure hand of the marvellous director Anton Corbijn (Control, The American, A Most Wanted Man), this is a touching snapshot of time, and remains a very focused study of the psyche of these two very different young men – a reluctant, but effortlessly charismatic star, and an ambitious but battling artist – who learn from one another and grow as a result of their unlikely friendship. Corbijn never goes out of his way to draw much attention to the big dramatic developments, or where each recognisable snap of Dean took place, he simply observes these men as they bond, tell stories and try to grow as both artists and men.

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