Film

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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Review: Tricks

By Gerald Aaron, September 3, 2009

Six-year-old Damian Ul seeks the father who abandoned his working-class family years before in a Polish comedy drama set during summer in a provincial town. The film benefits strongly from Ul’s attractive natural performance and engaging characters, notably Ewelina Walendziak as his feisty sister. While Tricks is stronger on atmosphere and characterisation than on plotting it is gently entertaining nonetheless.

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Review: Inglourious Basterds

By Jonathan Foreman, August 20, 2009
Quentin Tarantino’s new film stars Brad Pitt as Lieutenant Aldo Raine, the Gentile, part-Apache leader of a commando team of Jewish-American soldiers parachuted into occupied Europe to terrify the Third Reich with guerilla attacks and acts of spectacular cruelty. The Germans call them “the Bastards”; the misspelling is some kind of Tarantino in-joke, perhaps designed to show that the film is not really a remake of Inglorious Bastards, a 1978 Italian B-movie whose Italian title meant “That Damned Armoured Train”.

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