Movies Review

Movies Review

Above Suspicion review – stranger than fiction weirdness of FBI murder | Film

In 1989, the high-flying FBI officer Mark Putnam became a gruesome footnote in bureau history by killing the informant with whom he was having an affair: a young woman called Susan Smith. That made her the first murder victim of an FBI agent. It is a bizarre case of corruption and misogyny, and it deserves …

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Unraveling Athena review – a frank serving of women’s lives in tennis | Documentary films

Some sports documentaries use their subject as a portal into another world or as a basis to talk about a broader issue, such as race, class or gender. Some are really about personalities and fan service, and this made for video-on-demand look at female tennis players fits the latter category. That said, the mere fact …

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Relic review – a film that gorges on the terror of forgetting in a feast of dread | Film

Is Australian director Natalie Erika James’ feature debut a haunted house movie? A psychological drama? A Babadookian “horror as metaphor” using ghoulish symbolism to explore mother and daughter relationships? The answer is all of these things and none of them, though – given the story revolves around a physically and mentally deteriorating elderly woman, Edna …

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Arkansas review – buddy crime caper with 90s flavour and 70s clobber | Film

Clark Duke was best known as a peripheral member of that Superbad crew of gauchely charming leading men, along with the likes of Michael Cera and Jonah Hill. As might be expected, he does a better job of utilising his own talents in his directorial debut, a meandering crime yarn, set in and named after …

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I Am Vengeance: Retaliation review – Stu Bennett cries foul and tackles Vinnie Jones | Film

John Gold is back – all 6ft 7in of him. After making his debut in 2018’s I Am Vengeance, the mild-mannered ex-forces hardman played by former WWE wrestler and bare-knuckle boxer Stu Bennett gets a sequel. The first of many, no doubt. This time, Gold is heading up the crew tasked with bringing in a …

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Saint Frances review – wry, tender, taboo-busting drama | Drama films

Reviewing Eliza Hittman’s powerfully understated drama Never Rarely Sometimes Always in this paper recently, I noted that by approaching the urgent subject of reproductive rights through the prism of a coming-of-age story with road-movie inflections, Hittman’s film avoided ever seeming polemical. The same is true of this terrific (and very different) feature from writer and …

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Litigante review – bracing portrait of a Colombian woman on the verge | Drama films

There’s an abrasively realist candour to this Colombian portrait of a woman pushed to the brink by the incremental stresses of her daily life. Silvia (Carolina Sanín) is a single parent, a public-sector lawyer tainted by a brewing scandal, and the daughter of Leticia (Leticia Gómez), an explosively ill-tempered widow who responds to her cancer …

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Landless review – Brazilian land-access doc doesn’t dig deep enough | Film

‘If you can’t cope with the ants, don’t mess with the anthill.” So goes a slogan chanted by the activists occupying land belonging to a sugarcane processing plant in the north-eastern Brazilian town of Santa Helena – one branch of the Landless Workers Movement (MST) that has been battling for land access for smallholder farmers …

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Dreambuilders review – blandly bright family animation | Film

This digimated Danish import might have shifted a modest number of popcorn deals in the days before the coronavirus came to town: it’s bright, derivative of only the most illustrious predecessors, and all over inside 80 minutes. Whether it would be worth corralling everybody in an enclosed public space for that time and thereby risking …

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Ghosts of War review – uneven second world war horror story | Film

A gaggle of American soldiers make their way to a fancy French chateau at the end of the second world war. A typical war movie’s motley crew of contrasting masculinities, the fivesome must confront their own mental fragility and flaws when the grand but ramshackle building appears to be haunted – perhaps by a family …

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