A critical look at cinema

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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.

The King and the Mockingbird.
The King and the Mockingbird: the story of an unlikely, elegant, animated classic
By Ryan Gilbey - 24 April 13:26

There is a fascinating backstory to France's first animated feature, but it doesn't need one - all the genius and magic lies in the film itself.

Girl power.
Lukas Moodysson, the Swedish director back from the dead
By Ryan Gilbey - 18 April 9:00

Lukas Moodysson, director of Lilya 4-Eva and Container talks about his new (and most accomplished) film We Are the Best! in which three Stockholm teenagers form a punk bank.

Ursula Bedena as Edwige.
The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears: Giallo shots
By Ryan Gilbey - 11 April 11:00

Husband and wife duo Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani's have created a new giallo film with all the necessary beauty and depravity expected of the genre, but without the intelligence and terror of a classic.

Andrew Garfield.
Thank goodness for Andrew Garfield, saviour of the Amazing Spider-Man 2
By Ryan Gilbey - 10 April 17:22

Fans cannot live on special effects alone. It is Andrew Garfield's super powers, as Peter Parker without the mask, that justify the explosions and non sequiturs that follow as soon as he puts it on.

Man in the mirror: Jesse Eisenberg as Simon/James
A case of homage overload: The Double by Richard Ayoade
By Ryan Gilbey - 03 April 12:30

Two films into his directing career, the former star of the IT Crowd  has yet to exhibit an original voice.

The dog might be a metaphor, but it also has real teeth.
White Dog: Sam Fuller’s gritty, uneasy thriller gets a much-deserved re-release
By Ryan Gilbey - 28 March 12:54

The 1982 film about racism and prejudice is back – and its grittiness and conscientiousness is still there.

Faraway, so close: Bérénice Bejo and Ali Mosaffa in The Past
In Asghar Farhadi’s The Past, it’s only feelings that get hurt
By Ryan Gilbey - 27 March 18:53

The director of the Oscar-winning A Separation returns with a new family drama, this time set in a Parisian suburb.

Scarlett Johannson at the premier of Under the Skin at the Venice Film Festival 2013. (Photo: Getty)
Alien landscape: Under the Skin by Jonathan Glazer
By Ryan Gilbey - 14 March 15:30

Scarlett Johansson stars as the otherworldly, predatory protagonist in this unsettling sci-fi thriller.

Scarlett Johansson.
Isserley, Penélope Cruz and the slow gestation of Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin
By Ryan Gilbey - 11 March 16:47

Jonathan Glazer's new film Under the Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson, took fourteen years to make it to the big screen. Novelist and screenwriter Alexander Stuart recalls the project's early days.

Ring for reception: Tony Revolori as Zero (centre) in Wes Anderson's artfully fake hotel
Travelling light: The Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson
By Ryan Gilbey - 06 March 18:06

Anderson’s style became paralysed around the time of The Royal Tenenbaums and this is no exception.

Orbit Ever After.
Bafta Shorts 2014: Eight small wonders, stocked with infinite space
By Ryan Gilbey - 27 February 16:00

The short film, unlike the short story, is a stray with no home - which is why a cinema release of the eight short films that competed at the Baftas is a joyous subversion of the norm.

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