cinema

Film review: Flag Day

 As an actor, the talent of Sean Penn has rarely been called into question yet behind the camera, his work has been known to divide audiences. His previous effort was infamously met with a chorus of boos at Cannes Film Festival five years ago, but he’s back in the director’s chair once again for family drama Flag Day. Based on the memoir Flim-Flam Man: A True Family History by author and journalist Jennifer Vogel, it tells the true story of troubled con artist John Vogel (Sean Penn) and how his crimes impacted upon his relationship with his daughter (Dylan Penn), who is working through issues of her own.

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cinema

Film review: Memoria

Fantasy drama Memoria marks the English-language debut from acclaimed Thai writer and director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who was adamant that his latest should be seen only in theatres, not at home. Tilda Swinton stars in the beguiling arthouse piece as Jessica Holland, a Scottish woman running a flower market in Medellín, Colombia. When visiting her sister Karen (Agnes Brekke) in Bogotá, she is awoken in the dead of night by a strange, almighty sound. Unsettled by the mystery around the cause of this, she begins an investigation that leads her out of the hustle and bustle of the city, deep into the country’s verdant wilderness.

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cinema

Film review: Licorice Pizza

 Acclaimed writer and director Paul Thomas Anderson gets nostalgic in his latest feature Licorice Pizza, set in 1970s San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles where he grew up. The hangout romantic comedy follows confident teen-actor Gary (Cooper Hoffman) and 20-something photographer’s assistant Alana (Alana Haim) after they cross paths on high school picture day. After some unrequited flirtation, the pair strike up a friendship and begin an entrepreneurial partnership selling waterbeds.

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cinema

Film review: Belfast

Of late, there has been a resurgence of a movement in which filmmakers bring their own stories to life for the big screen. The latest visionary to follow the trend is Sir Kenneth Branagh, writing and directing coming-of-age drama Belfast. Inspired by his childhood during the beginning of The Troubles in the late 1960s, the semi-autobiographical plot centres around mischievous nine-year-old Buddy (Jude Hill) as he navigates school, religion, and his first crush. As hostility descends onto his close-knit working-class street, his ‘Ma’ (Caitríona Balfe) and his ‘Pa’ (Jamie Dornan) struggle with the rising tensions and are faced with a potentially life-changing decision for the family.

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cinema

Film review: C’mon C’mon

Inspired by early interactions with his infant son, writer and director Mike Mills tells a contemplative tale with latest feature C’mon C’mon. The tender drama centres around Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix), a journalist of sorts travelling state to state conducting philosophical interviews with the youth of today about their future. When his sister Viv (Gaby Hoffman) is called upon to care for her mentally troubled ex-husband, she asks if Johnny will look after his nephew Jesse (Woody Norman) for a while. Despite their obvious gulf in age and life experience, the mismatched pair learn a lot from one another during a trip to New York City.

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cinema

Film review: King Richard

Venus and Serena Williams are undeniably household names in tennis, and across sport in general, but King Richard, the latest drama from director Reinaldo Marcus Green tells the lesser-known tale of their controversial father. As well as producing the film, Will Smith stars in the eponymous role as Richard, raising his five daughters with wife Brandy (Aunjanue Ellis) in Compton, California. His unorthodox methods in priming Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton) for success see him butt heads with charismatic coach Rick Macci (Jon Bernthal) and many others along the way.

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cinema

Film review: The Card Counter

Writer and director Paul Schrader has explored masculinity and redemption throughout his career, going way back to when he penned the script for Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver in the 1970s. Revisiting these motifs once again, his latest crime drama The Card Counter treads the complex path of William Tell (Oscar Isaac), a mysterious ex-con who turns to betting after a stretch in prison. On his travels, he takes troubled youngster Cirk (Tye Sheridan) under his wing and when presented with a lucrative opportunity by new friend La Linda (Tiffany Haddish), he embarks on a poker-playing mission in an attempt to atone for his sins.

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cinema

Film review: Dune

Others have tried and failed at successfully adapting Frank Herbert’s acclaimed science fiction novel for the big screen, most notably in 1984 when surrealist filmmaker David Lynch released a version to an almost universally poor reception. However, with impressive genre credits such as Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 to his name already, writer and director Denis Villeneuve has stepped up to the challenge of Dune.

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cinema · LFF21

Film review: Spencer

Departing from making movies in his native tongue, Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín directed his English-language debut five years ago with a Jackie Kennedy biopic, zoning in on the mournful days following the assassination of her husband, JFK. His latest feature Spencer follows another woman married into a hugely powerful family, with the beloved Princess Diana (Kristen Stewart) taking centre stage during a festive break with the Royals. Arriving at Sandringham Estate on Christmas Eve to a frosty reception from eagle-eyed equerry Alistair Gray (Timothy Spall) but greeted with warmth by her dresser and confidante Maggie (Sally Hawkins), she must face up to her failing marriage whilst struggling with an eating disorder.

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cinema · LFF21

Film review: Bull

Writer and director Paul Andrew Williams takes on the classic tale of revenge in his latest feature Bull. Neil Maskell stars as the eponymous protagonist who arrives back in his neighbourhood after ten years away. It is unclear exactly where he’s been for the past decade but there’s no mystery around the reason for his return; to get his own back against those that have wronged him. His unsuspecting targets include his crooked father-in-law Norm (David Hayman), old pal Marco (Jason Milligan) and his ex, Gemma (Lois Brabin-Platt), and he’ll stop at nothing short of total retribution.

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