A critical look at cinema

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“The Riot Club” is based on Laura Wade’s Bullingdon Club-inspired Royal Court play “Posh”.
If only the lads of The Riot Club were a little less revolting
By Ryan Gilbey - 18 September 13:07

Lone Scherfig’s film adaptation of the 2010 play Posh feels unbalanced: we want to see a bit of naughty fun before the nastiness kicks in.

In The Basement.
2014 London Film Festival preview: French house music, Austrian basements and the British Harmony Korine
By Ryan Gilbey - 05 September 12:17

Our film critic Ryan Gilbey previews the 58th London Film Festival, which opens next month.

Stranger at the door: Dan Stevens as David
Downton to downright nasty: Dan Stevens’s dramatic transformation
By Ryan Gilbey - 04 September 16:46

In The Guest, Stevens plays David, a stranger who pitches up on the doorstep of a grieving American family. He claims to be a friend of their eldest son, who died in combat in Afghanistan but it’s clear to the viewer he’s bad news. 

Eva Green.
Beaten to a pulp: Why the hyper-stylised Sin City is in need of Raymond Chandler
By Ryan Gilbey - 29 August 10:00

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For imagines what 1940s cinema might have looked like with CGI and no Hays Code - but it falls short of that era’s crackling dialogue, smoky characters and emotional pull.

Dogfight proves that a famous name is not the only reason to adapt a film for the stage
By Ryan Gilbey - 28 August 15:15

Dogfight at the Southwark Playhouse shows that a musical using an existing film as its springboard is no more or less likely to succeed than an entirely original work. And rightly so.

Night Moves.
Night Moves: an environmental thriller with an intractable problem at its core
By Ryan Gilbey - 26 August 10:30

Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning star as eco-warriors in Kelly Reichardt’s tense new film, two radicals who plan to blow up a hydroelectric dam.

The Rover.
Sun, sand and sadism: The Rover by David Michôd
By Ryan Gilbey - 15 August 11:00

Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson star in David Michôd’s distopian thriller The Rover: a film with an uncertain mission at its core, like a post-apocalyptic Dude, Where’s My Car?

Robin Williams.
We should remember Robin Williams for his mistakes, as well as his triumphs
By Ryan Gilbey - 12 August 15:21

Robin Williams, who died yesterday aged 63, was a powerhouse performer. He will be remembered primarily for his electric, comic roles, but to appreciate his talents fully we need to look to his mistakes.

Life after death: Christie and Whishaw in Lilting
Lilting shows how language is not always a barrier to intimacy
By Ryan Gilbey - 08 August 16:15

Ben Whishaw stars as a grieving lover in this tale of cross-generational, Anglo-Chinese friendship. 

The Deer Hunter.
After 36 years, The Deer Hunter remains one of the most fascinating films on Vietnam
By Ryan Gilbey - 05 August 12:42

Though the notorious Russian roulette scene looms large, The Deer Hunter is a tender – and even optimistic – depiction of the human capacity to endure.

Snowpiercer.
It's some kind of miracle that Snowpiercer was ever released - and it was worth the wait
By Ryan Gilbey - 25 July 12:34

Despite its occasional longeurs and lapses of logic, post-global-freeze thriller Snowpiercer is an intoxicating mishmash of stunts and ideas which deserves to be seen in UK cinemas.

Andy Serkis as the ape-leader Ceasar.
Monkey business: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is smart, ravishing and bleak
By Ryan Gilbey - 18 July 12:50

The latest addition to the Planet of the Apes franchise is the toughest yet - the transition from playful ape and human interaction to bloody horror comes across as scarily plausible.

Steven Soderberg.
Steven Soderbergh's strange retirement: off-Broadway, brandy and television
By Ryan Gilbey - 16 July 17:58

“Nobody’s talking about movies the way they’re talking about their favourite TV shows,” says veteran director Steven Soderbergh, whose retirement, which isn’t really a retirement, has been stirring up controvesy this week.

The Rutles.
A selection of the best Python projects outside of Monty Python
By Ryan Gilbey - 14 July 13:01

Ryan Gilbey celebrates the best work by individual Pythons outside of their famous collaborations, from John Cleese’s slick Brit-flick A Fish Called Wanda to Eric Idle’s Beatles pastiche The Rutles.

Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his father (Ethan Hawke) in Linklater’s family drama.
In Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, time fades away
By Ryan Gilbey - 10 July 16:29

Made over more than a decade, this is a film that reminds us life is seen by children from a different angle.

Goltzius and the Pelican Company.
The play’s the thing: Peter Greenaway’s Goltzius and the Pelican Company
By Ryan Gilbey - 08 July 13:00

Critics and audiences may have long given up on British painter-turned-director Peter Greenaway, but his sensuous, smart, arty films are asking questions few others would dare to contemplate.

Darth Vader.
Jon Spira's Elstree 1976: memorialising the unseen performers in the first Star Wars
By Ryan Gilbey - 03 July 13:06

Jon Spira's forthcoming documentary Elstree 1976 focuses on the Star Wars cast members time forgot: from voice-artists to extras and wookiees.

The Golden Dream.
The Golden Dream by Diego Quemada-Díez: Freedom pass
By Ryan Gilbey - 26 June 15:30

Four young teenagers face violence and desperation on the road to California in this modern road movie with clear echoes of John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath and Michael Winterbottom’s In This World.

Mrs Brown's Boys.
Why wasn’t “Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie” shown to critics ahead of its release?
By Ryan Gilbey - 26 June 12:34

The trend for distributors to refuse advanced previews for critics speaks volumes about their attitude to the press - but it’s a risky strategy, and doesn’t always mean the film is a dud.

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in "22 Jump Street".
22 Jump Street isn’t just homofriendly – it’s homolovely
By Ryan Gilbey - 19 June 13:21

Time and again this smart sequel turns down the opportunity to make homosexuality the butt of the joke. Instead, it provides a welcome mainstream attack on homophobia.

Family values: Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Dido and Sarah Gadon as Lady Elizabeth Murray in Belle
Race and sensibility: Belle by Amma Asante
By Ryan Gilbey - 12 June 16:00

As the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of an admiral in 18th-century England, Dido Elizabeth Bell’s status is too high to allow her to eat with the servants, yet too low to permit her to join guests for dinner.

Fruitvale Station.
Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station: A hagiography shot on shaky cam
By Ryan Gilbey - 06 June 12:00

Fruitvale Station imagines the last day of Oscar Grant's life - a young black American shot dead by a police officer in 2009. The film may be rooted in truth, but it's a long way from documentary.

Ken Loach.
Ken Loach has got us bang to rights: film critics know nothing about real life
By Ryan Gilbey - 04 June 17:39

The esteemed director joins Kevin Smith and William Nicholson among the ranks of writers and directors who blame critics, and their lack of experience, for disliking their films.

Fading Gigolo: A little John Turturro goes a long way. Too much is plain revolting
By Ryan Gilbey - 23 May 11:45

John Turturro's fifth film as director is remarkable for getting so much wrong. The characters are vacuous, it misfires comically, but worst of all is his choice of leading man.

A Touch of Sin.
Rough justice: A Touch of Sin by Jia Zhangke
By Ryan Gilbey - 19 May 17:00

In A Touch of Sin, the ordinarily placid and reflective Chinese director Jia Zhangke bloodies his hands - creating technicolour violence from real, grisly stories which take aim at social injustice in China.

The cast of 1984.
1984: How theatre is learning from cinema by using live video
By Ryan Gilbey - 13 May 11:00

Cinema has never suffered from anxiety about the "unseen off-screen". Three new London plays, Good People, Let the Right One In and 1984, are adapting to new ways of presenting what is happening off-stage.

Frank.
What does it mean when you hide your leading man under a papier-mâché head? On Michael Fassbender in Frank
By Ryan Gilbey - 09 May 10:20

I'm not saying it isn't Fassbender under Frank Sidebottom's mask, but the playfulness that comes with doubting it adds a chemistry that is essential to the very best cinema.

Arnie.
Why is Arnold Schwarzenegger still allowed to make films? David Ayer's Sabotage
By Ryan Gilbey - 07 May 11:26

Schwarzenegger's mere presence causes the plausibility of a scene to drop by 75 per cent - so it's a mystery why a capable director like David Ayer would cast him in his latest pulpy thriller.

Kirk Douglas.
The two faces of Kirk Douglas: Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole and Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory
By Ryan Gilbey - 02 May 11:12

Two reissues show the actor in contrasting roles, one in Stanley Kubrick’s moral drama set during the First World War, another as a hungry reporter bored witless at a small-town American paper. 

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje in Pompeii.
All you need is lava: Sparks fly in Paul W S Anderson's Pompeii
By Ryan Gilbey - 01 May 16:00

The love story between a slave and a noblewoman is clearly influenced by Titanic, but better described as Gladiator with a topping of molten lava.

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