A critical look at cinema


Life of the mind: Sadness, Anger, Fear, Disgust and Joy at the controls
All in my head: Pixar’s Inside Out is full of intellectual energy and emotional daring
By Ryan Gilbey - 23 July 14:47

We might be twenty years on from Toy Story, but Inside Out is proof that computer-animated features can still deliver giddy imaginative crescendos.

Ben Kingsley as Damian finds himself upgraded into a well-muscled 35-year-old body. Photo: Alan Markfield/VVS Films
Farce, philosophy and fantasy: body-swap films have the perfect cinematic formula
By Ryan Gilbey - 15 July 11:25

Body-swap storylines are the perfect premise for filmic fun, so why is the most recent offering in the genre, Self/Less, so disappointing?

Funny peculiar: the young cast of P’tit Quinquin.
Bruno Dumont's P’tit Quinquin is like an austere, French Twin Peaks
By Ryan Gilbey - 09 July 14:05

Dumont isn’t satirising small-town small-mindedness so much as trying to understand how it functions – where it starts, what inflames it.

Tessa Thompson (left) plays Sam in Dear White People.
Dear White People is clever - but too shallow to match the complex reality of race in America
By Ryan Gilbey - 02 July 14:43

Dear White People never exactly loosens up; the screenplay would make a good PhD thesis.

Back to the OK Corral: Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee (right) star in Slow West.
New indie western Slow West is filled with resonant emotions
By Ryan Gilbey - 25 June 14:16

The Beta Band's John Maclean makes his directorial debut with a wry, rootsy love story.

The director Nicolas Roeg in the new BBC Four documentary. Photo: BBC
“This is my time”: why the work of filmmaker Nicolas Roeg rewards a second look
By Ryan Gilbey - 24 June 17:07

A new BBC Four documentary reminds us not to take this director for granted.

A shot of a train from The Darjeeling Limited. Photo: YouTube screengrab
Track record: why trains weave their way through the history of great cinema
By Ryan Gilbey - 19 June 16:20

Films set on trains are some of the best.

Chris Pratt: Jurassic World's "miracle of nature". Photo: Universal Pictures
Even with Chris Pratt and his velociraptors, Jurassic World fails to thrill
By Ryan Gilbey - 11 June 18:20

Ryan Gilbey reviews two sequels: The Look of Silence and Jurassic World.

Cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus founded the Cannon film company. Photo: YouTube screengrab
The Cannon Group: the most disreputable duo in cinema?
By Ryan Gilbey - 10 June 16:35

Looking back at the exploitation enterprise of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus's cinematic output.

The demure bulldozer: Melissa McCarthy stars as Susan Cooper in Spy.
In Melissa McCarthy’s Spy, the Moneypennies trump the Bonds
By Ryan Gilbey - 04 June 11:48

These back-room frumps whisper instructions into the earpieces of tuxedo-wearing spies out on the casino floors, or save them from pursuers by launching strategic missile attacks at a moment’s notice.

Tomorrowland has been a commercial flop. Photo: YouTube screengrab
It wasn't just audiences that caused Disney's George Clooney blockbuster Tomorrowland to flop
By Ryan Gilbey - 29 May 18:44

To look at the campaign for Tomorrowland, you’d think Disney had already decided it was yesterday’s news.

Cruel fate: a victim in Sissako’s drama.
Fade to black: everyday persecution and religious fundamentalism in Timbuktu
By Ryan Gilbey - 29 May 9:35

Ryan Gilbey is left feeling chilled by Abderrahmane Sissako’s remarkable Timbuktu.

Pegg is best-known for comedy, but says he would still like to “do some serious acting”. Photo: Getty
Is it time to take Simon Pegg seriously?
By Ryan Gilbey - 21 May 18:18

The actor’s comments about the infantilisation of culture have caused a storm. Is he right to want to put away childish things?

French twist: Anaïs Demoustier stars as Claire. Photo: IMAGE.NET
Dark comedy The New Girlfriend is a ravishing portrait of a family after death
By Ryan Gilbey - 21 May 15:43

The films of François Ozon are polymorphously perverse.

BOOM! Looking back at the crude, cheapo, scuzzy brilliance of the original Mad Max
By Ryan Gilbey - 14 May 15:42

As Mad Max: Fury Road hits our screens, we look back at the 1979 original exploitationanza.

Ghost-writing: Shelley Hennig in Unfriended
Facetime your fears: Unfriended is a surprisingly up-to-date horror film – set on a laptop screen
By Ryan Gilbey - 30 April 10:29

We’ve seen too many Friday the thirteenth films to buy the sight of teenagers venturing into the deep, dark forest, but the deep, dark internet is another matter.

Avengers, assemble: in Marvel’s latest offering, the camera never stops moving.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is at once too much and never quite enough
By Ryan Gilbey - 23 April 17:20

If the Marvel fan base, like an elephant, is large but easily startled, Roy Andersson's minimalist vignettes in A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence ask the viewer to endure discomfort.

David Mamet in 1992. Photo: Johnny Boylan/Rex
Red flag to a raging bull: David Mamet’s move to the right
By Ryan Gilbey - 21 April 8:46

Ryan Gilbey examines Mamet’s plays for clues to his changing politics.

The Swedish family in Force Majeure witnesses a controlled avalanche.
Force Majeure's manipulative morality feels like a passé dinner-party game
By Ryan Gilbey - 20 April 11:41

The more outlandish the film becomes, the looser its grip.

Matt Smith as Bully in Lost River.
Ryan Gosling's directorial debut, Lost River, proves he isn't perfect after all
By Ryan Gilbey - 08 April 17:04

This film isn’t bad. Worse: it’s mediocre.

Ben Still and Naomi Watts in While We're Young.
Noah Baumbach's While We're Young goes beyond the usual tired hipster stereotypes
By Ryan Gilbey - 25 March 16:31

A Brooklyn-based comedy that's more than just jokes about avocado and almond-milk sorbet.

Moon child: Li’l Bamboo in Takahata’s folk tale.
Small wonders: the simple pleasures of The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
By Ryan Gilbey - 19 March 15:19

Japanese animation ­company Studio Ghibli favours contemplation over manufactured climaxes, and this film is no different.

Girls on film: it's time to celebrate women critics, the liveliest voices in cinema
By Ryan Gilbey - 11 March 11:31

Why has it taken us so long to realise that the strongest, most exciting voices, shaping our opinions of cinema are women?

Desiree Akhavan and Rebecca Henderson in Appropriate Behaviour. Photo: Peccadillo Pictures
More Annie Hall than Girls, Appropriate Behaviour pulses with emotion
By Ryan Gilbey - 06 March 11:36

Writer and director Desiree Akhavan has created an authentic, relatable story – with a heroine we hope will triumph.

Julianne Moore won the Best Actress Oscar for Still Alice.
Selective memory: why does Still Alice pull so many punches?
By Ryan Gilbey - 05 March 11:41

Clever pacing and Julianne Moore's Oscar-winning performance can't disguise the hedged bets and risks not taken.

Fear eats the soul: Hugh (Jake Weary) and Jay (Maika Monroe)
It Follows: a film about a sexually transmitted curse forces us to face mortality itself
By Ryan Gilbey - 26 February 11:23

Ryan Gilbey reviews It Follows, directed by David Robert Mitchell.

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Birdman” took the Best Picture award at the 2015 Oscars. Image: Fox Searchlight
Why the Oscars chose Birdman over Boyhood for Best Picture
By Ryan Gilbey - 23 February 12:40

Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is clearly the superior film, but the Academy isn’t considering long-term trends or trying to make a statement. Like an impetuous child, it just grabs the thing that feels good in that particular moment.

Pablo Larrain with the silver bear for The Club. Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty
Wayward priests and sexual neuroses: highlights from the Berlin Film Festival
By Ryan Gilbey - 17 February 12:00

There was far more to the festival than Fifty Shades.