“The Wolfpack” (2015)

YOU DO WONDER what sort of man keeps––or perhaps I should say imprisons––his children in a flat for the bulk of their young lives and yet somehow has the gall to claim he did it out of love. But Oscár Angulo, the father of the immensely likeable siblings of Crystal Moselle’s The Wolfpack, is not […]

‘Tale of Tales’

IN THE OPENING FIFTEEN minutes of Tale of Tales, a hunched old man in a black cloak tells a king (John C. Reilly) and a queen (Salma Hayek) that in order for the pair to conceive, they must kill a sea monster and have a virgin cook its heart. And without any further ado, the […]

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

IN A DIESEL-punk dystopian desert, white-faced ‘war boys’ huff spray paint and drive weaponised coupés, tankers and bikes across the wasteland as if the most savage travelling circus ever conceived is coming to town. It’s a Shangri-La for sociopaths and sadists, and a nightmare for everyone else, and it’s here, after three decades in development […]

“Ex Machina”

THE CASUAL FILMGOER MAY never have heard of Alex Garland. If they have, they might see him—unfairly—as a sort of side-kick to Danny Boyle, Garland having written the scripts for 28 Days Later, The Beach (based on his novel) and Sunshine among countless other successful films. It is ironic, really, because Garland––novelist, screenwriter, producer, video game […]

“A Most Violent Year”

ITS NAME ISN’T EXACTLY misleading, but if you went to see A Most Violent Year in the hope that you would see two hours and five minutes of violence, you might leave sorely disappointed. J.C. Chandor’s excellent period crime drama is a gripping and solemn account of an honourable man’s attempt to maintain his integrity against a backdrop of corruption and […]

‘The Drop’

APPARENTLY, THERE ARE bars in parts of Brooklyn that function as drop points for a given night’s mob money, which is bound to cause all sorts of problems for the poor souls who work there. In Michael R. Roskam’s lean and atmospheric thriller The Drop––based on Boston crime scribbler Dennis Lehane’s short story––those poor souls […]

“Valley Uprising”

‘YOU CAN’T JUSTIFY rock climbing,’ someone says during the preamble to Peter Mortimer and Nick Rosen’s Valley Uprising. ‘It doesn’t pretend to be anything useful.’ This, you feel, is probably quite true of all sports before they turn professional. But rock climbing, for various reasons, still hasn’t taken that step completely, and as a result […]

“Particle Fever”

AT SOME POINT during Particle Fever, one of the CERN scientists involved in the first round of experiments at the Large Hadron Collider describes the finding of the Higgs boson or ‘God’ particle as having equal importance to the first moon landing, which might strike anyone who has stared into the sky at night as […]

“Mitt”

IT MAY WELL BE the case that Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and one-time presidential candidate, will be remembered for his denunciation of Donald Trump as “the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss” as much as for his unsuccessful run for president in 2012. Romney is, to […]

Vlad Yudin’s “Generation Iron” (2013

EVERY SO OFTEN, among those who care about this sort of thing, you hear someone or other describe the 1977 docudrama Pumping Iron as “the best film about bodybuilding”, which is of course true but also something of an understatement. After all, George Butler and Robert Fiore’s adaptation of Charles Gaines’s book had the effect, […]