Film

Review: Fantastic Mr Fox

By Jonathan Foreman, October 22, 2009

You could be forgiven for believing that we live in a golden age of animated film. Only two weeks after the release of Disney’s Up, Twentieth Century Fox has brought us Fantastic Mr Fox, Wes Anderson’s extraordinary adaptation of the classic children’s story by Roald Dahl.

Visually and technologically the two films could hardly be more different. Where Up achieves its gorgeously shaded effects using the latest computer wizardry, Fantastic Mr Fox is a hand-made labour of love using “stop- motion” techniques and beautifully crafted puppets.

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What movie boycott? The Israelis are coming

By Nick Johnstone, October 15, 2009

Israeli films have been showered with international praise over in the past 18 months. Jellyfish, The Band’s Visit, Waltz With Bashir, Beaufort all won prizes or huge acclaim, and most recently, Samuel Maoz’s Lebanon won the Golden Lion Prize at the Venice Film festival. So anyone surveying the jam-packed, barmitzvah-themed 13th UK Jewish Film Festival programme, will be casting bets on which of the 15 feature-length and short Israeli films are destined for the big time.

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Review: Up

By Jonathan Foreman, October 8, 2009

One of the less enjoyable aspects of reviewing films is having to watch the movies that are made for children today. For the most part they feel like mere products. Even when they are drenched in treacly sentimentality they reek of commercial calculation and cynicism. Sometimes they are made insufferable by condescending efforts of the filmmakers to seem “cool”. Even more irritating is their tendency to follow the tiresome Hollywood convention according to which kids have to be shown as smarter than their parents.

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Review: The Invention of Lying

October 1, 2009

Even if you’re not as huge a Ricky Gervais fan as he is himself, this comedy where, as the only person able to lie in a world where everyone tells the truth, he finds fame and fortune and wins Jennifer Garner, is gently amusing if ultimately unmemorable.

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Review: District 13: Ultimatum

October 1, 2009

Adrenaline-surging action and gravity-defying stunts are the raison d’etre of writer Luc Besson’s and director Patrick Alessandrin’s exhilarating thriller — a sequel to the acclaimed French actioner Banlieue 13. David Belle and top cop Cyril Raffaelli are unleased against corrupt characters hoping to raze the eponymous racially mixed ghetto to the ground.

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Review: The Soloist

By Jonathan Foreman, September 24, 2009

Of all the lionised new British directors who have made it to the international big league in recent years perhaps none may be as overrated as Joe Wright.

He was he who made Atonement, adapted from Ian McEwan’s celebrated novel. His latest effort, The Soloist, is, by contrast, a mostly true story based on a book by Los Angeles Times journalist Steve Lopez.

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Interview: Samuel Moaz

By Stephen Applebaum, September 17, 2009

Last year, a film about Israel’s 1982 Lebanon war, directed by a former IDF soldier who fought in the conflict, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. The critics’ praise was lavish, but not sufficient for the judges to award Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir the festival’s top honour, the Palme d’Or.

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Review: Dorian Gray

By Jonathan Foreman, September 10, 2009

When Duncan, the doomed King of Scotland in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, despairs that “there’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face”, he is citing ancient wisdom. Yet perhaps because the evil characters in fairy tales are ugly and the good ones all handsome or beautiful, most of us tend to grow up believing that external beauty is a reflection of internal loveliness. This is a forgivable error, not least because the very good looking do have an easier row to hoe and can often afford to be nicer and more generous human beings.

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Review: District 9

By Gerald Aaron, September 3, 2009

This extraordinary science fiction film follows the fate of alien refugees forced to live in Soweto-like squalor in Johannesburg where their space ship, still hovering over the city, brought them. In a telling reference to apartheid, the government forces them to move, triggering violent opposition. Superb special effects bring the despised aliens, called “prawns” by the locals because of their giant crustacean-like appearance, to vivid life, but the power of co-writer-director Neill Blomkamp’s drama is as much in what it evokes as what it depicts.

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Review: 500 Days Of Summer

By Gerald Aaron, September 3, 2009

“The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Especially you, Jenny Beckman. Bitch.” This “author’s note” sets the sardonically charming tone of this wry riff on the perennial “boy-meets-girl” saga. Skittish Zooey Deschanel is Summer, Joseph Gordon-Levitt her suitor Tom. He believes in true love. She does not. Debut director Marc Webb does a fine job, eliciting charming performances.

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