A critical look at cinema

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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.

Oscars.
So who will clean up at the Oscars? Nobody, most likely
By Ryan Gilbey - 27 February 15:32

If I had my way, David O Russell's complex, sublime American Hustle would sweep the board - but the fact is no single film is likely to take the whole haul, and the smart money's on the earnest and populist.

Richard Linklater's Boyhood leads the pack in Berlin
By Ryan Gilbey - 14 February 15:23

As the Berlinale draws to a close, Ryan Gilbey savours a couple of gems, while questioning how some films earned their spots at the festival.

Unknown pleasures at the Berlinale, the young upstart of the film festival world
By Ryan Gilbey - 14 February 13:00

Ryan Gilbey reports from the Berlin Film Festival 2014, where a viscous thriller about a soldier separated from his unit in 1970s Belfast rubs shoulders with a tender comic-drama starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina.

Spike Jonze’s Her and Alain Guiraudie’s Stranger by the Lake: intimacy issues
By Ryan Gilbey - 10 February 11:46

They may seem like an odd pairing, but Spike Jonze's film about a man who falls in love with his operating system and Alain Guiraudie's tale of a murder at a secluded cruising spot show the lengths people will travel to forge a connection.

Dallas Buyers Club: the unwilling drugstore cowboy
By Ryan Gilbey - 07 February 13:00

Tipped for Oscars success in the US, this humanistic portrayal of two Texans importing HIV medication from Mexico is played expertly by Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto.

Louie CK's 1998 film Tomorrow Night: a portrait of the comedian in black and white
By Ryan Gilbey - 31 January 16:33

Louis CK's early film Tomorrow Night has been made available for $5 on the comedian's website - and it's well worth checking out.

Jai Ho: Bollywood bizarre at the multiplex
By Ryan Gilbey - 30 January 17:35

The theme of an ordinary Joe, or Jai, fighting bribery and political corruption permeates Indian action cinema.

Christian Bale in Out of the Furnace: a rotten enterprise
By Ryan Gilbey - 29 January 10:15

The film aspires to mimic the qualities that make a movie stand out during the pre-Oscars rush - but despite a highly qualified cast and credible producers, it falls well short of the mark.

The good, the bad and the Coen Brothers: Inside Llewyn Davis
By Ryan Gilbey - 23 January 13:19

The smug and stylish directors suffer from a tendency to promote mood over story. Their best films are a canny pairing of the two, but their worst are whimsical and affected.

Margot Robbie and Leonardo DiCaprio.
The Wolf of Wall Street: Beyond the boiler room
By Ryan Gilbey - 17 January 11:30

Leonard DiCaprio's "bestial, carnivalesque performance" dominates The Wolf of Wall Street - Martin Scorsese's flashy indictment of corporate culture, with a disappointingly two-dimensional supporting cast.

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