Money Monster


Director: Jodie Foster           

Screenplay: Jamie Linden and Alan DiFiore & Jim Kouf

Stars: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell

Rating: * * * (out of 5)


Fast, slick, enjoyable – and resonant with you for about as long as yesterday’s stock market movements, Money Monster has the mainstream box-office in its sights as much as it’s targeting the 1%. Jack O’Connell’s financially stiffed blue-collar drone is as mad as hell at George Clooney’s shyster TV pundit, so takes him hostage and straps an explosive vest to Clooney’s designer suit, while Clooney’s producer and Jiminy Cricket-esque conscience Julia Roberts has to keep the show on the air. Clooney’s a fool, sure, but he’s a side-shoal to the real vampire squid squeezing us dry and before you can say Stockholm Syndrome, our impromptu studio co-hosts are out to unmask the real villains, embodied by Dominic West’s grinning CEO.

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American Honey


Director: Andrea Arnold

Stars: Sasha Lane, Shia LeBeouf, Riley Keough, Arielle Holmes

Rating: * * * ½ (out of 5)


A hypnotic state-of-the-underclass-nation address by a great British director who dares to delve into the underbelly of American society that its own filmmakers rarely probe: it’s surely hyperbolic to call American Honey the dread-headed stepchild of The Grapes of Wrath and Spring Breakers, but Andrea Arnold certainly feels like she’s shooting for something that all-encompassing and sensory-overloading here, in her tale of a feral pack of disadvantaged kids on the road selling magazine subscriptions. Arnold’s heroine Star (knockout debutant Sasha Lane, who recalls a mix of Lisa Bonet’s fragility and Michelle Rodriguez’s fight) is a clear transatlantic trailer trash cousin – though lacking even a trailer – to Fish Tank’s council estate Mia, complete with broken home life and dependent younger tots, yearning for a way out. She finds it when she escapes to join Jake (Shia LaBeouf, seizing the chance to channel his more outré leanings) and Krystal (Riley Keough)’s ragtag troupe of outcast; though the cost of independence days and the intoxication of young love comes at a steep price.

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The Hateful Eight


Director-Screenwriter: Quentin Tarantino

Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins

Rating: * 1/2 (out of 5)


Well, we can’t say we weren’t forewarned. The eighth film by Quentin Tarantino, as he himself proudly bills it in the opening credits, is as hateful a movie experience as I can remember. Read more

The Walk


Director: Robert Zemeckis

Screenplay: Robert Zemeckis, Christopher Browne

Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon, Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale

Rating: * * * (out of 5)


The thirty-odd-minute sequence of the actual walk – if that non-descript word is adequate to describe Philippe Petit’s still-scarcely believable 1974 tightrope balancing act between New York’s World Trade Center skyscrapers – in The Walk elicits palpitations and sweaty palms like no other movie this year (particularly if viewed in vertiginous 3D IMAX). But far too much of the preceding hour and a half (along with those climactic moments replete with the film’s worst tendencies) only has you wringing your hands in frustration. Read more


MACBETH (Cert. 15)


Director: Justin Kurzel

Screenwriters: Jacob Koskoff, Michael Lesslie & Todd Louiso

Stars: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine, David Thewlis

Rating: * * * * (out of 5)


Maybe it’s some residue from theatrical superstitions about “the Scottish play” never to be named aloud, but film versions of Macbeth appear far more sporadically than fellow Shakespearean heavyweights, Hamlet, Othello or Romeo and Juliet. This relative absence of potentially the Bard’s most mystical and visceral tragedy is a shame; but also an opportunity, as taken by Orson Welles in 1952 and Roman Polanski in 1971, to make a generation-defining interpretation. Read more

The Martian

The Martian (Cert. 12A)

Director: Ridley Scott

Screenplay: Drew Goddard

Stars: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean

Rating: * * * * (out of five)


Ridley Scott will probably always be defined by his brooding, dystopian, early-career sci-fi classics Alien and Blade Runner (and defiled for the latter day travesty that is Prometheus), but The Martian is, in spirit if not quality, their mirror image: a peppy, bright-eyed, often very funny tale of collective heroism in the face of insurmountable odds. Read more


LEGEND (Cert.15)

Director-Screenwriter: Brian Helgeland

Stars: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, David Thewlis, Christopher Ecclestone

Rating: * *


Tom Hardy is a better actor than either Gary or Martin Kemp, but their 1990 version of The Krays, for all its overwrought symbolism (crocodiles, Siamese twins in formaldehyde), is by far the better film. Legend, as the very title suggests, retells the story of our very own low-rent, mid-century mobsters by hiding behind a heightened fantasy of good-twin-bad-twin (or at the very least, not-so-good-twin-psychotic-nutter-twin) and Hardy’s impressive, if overly emphatic, duality. Imagine Scorsese’s Goodfellas and Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers stripped of all their complexities and innate tensions and you’ve got an idea of writer-director Brian Helgeland’s approach here. That elderly barmaid witness to Ron’s shooting of Geroge Cornell, too scared to testify to what really happened? That’s effectively Helgeland. Read more

Terminator: Genisys

Dir: Alan Taylor
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke, Jai Courtney
Rating: * ½

I’ve never seen a movie sequel as convoluted as Terminator Genisys – and I’ve seen Jaws: The Revenge, the one where a Great White shark follows Chief Brody’s widow from Amity all the way down to the Bahamas, because, you know, revenge. One of the film’s many, many problems, other than complete redundancy, is that it doesn’t just attempt to engineer a new timeline along which to string further franchise instalments; it retroactively destroys the significance and potency of James Cameron’s peerless first two films. If Judgment Day can be infinitely deferred or displaced, and the one key element of the Terminator narrative, i.e. the conception of future resistance leader John Connor, tossed aside, you haven’t rebooted your franchise, you’ve shut it down. Hasta la vista, baby. Read more

Jurassic World


Director: Colin Trevorrow
Screenplay: Colin Trevorrow & Derek Connolly and Rick Jaffe & Amanda Silver
Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins

Rating: * * * ½ (out of 5)

Jurassic World traffics in the repercussions of genetically modified hybrid creations: the perfect alibi, then, to deliberately splice into the film itself a self-aware apology for the inherent urge to manufacture a product, in the words of one character, that’s “bigger, louder, more teeth”, with the very unabashed f/x-driven carnage its audience demands. “No one’s impressed by a dinosaur any more,” we’re told early on, a sentiment soon backed up by our jaded audience proxy, modern teenager Zack (Nick Robinson), who’s more entranced by a cell phone SMS than any resurrected dino-DNA. Even this Meta-saurus Rex. Read more

Valley of Love – Cannes 2015


Director: Guillaume Nicloix
Stars: Isabelle Huppert, Gérard Depardieu
Rating: * *

Watching two icons of French cinema, appearing for the first time together since Maurice Pialat’s Loulou (1980), exude their considerable charisma is the chief benefit of this shaggy, evasive, heat stricken look at guilt and grief. Huppert and Depardieu play Isabelle and Gérard, parallel version of themselves who fictionally married, split up long ago and whose estranged son Michael has committed suicide six months prior – though not before sending each a cryptic letter that he will reappear to them if they reunite and wait for him in Death Valley, Nevada. Read more

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