List Film

Reviews & features: Drama

Interview: Jeff Baena discusses new film Life After Beth

19 Sep 2014

Director talks suburbia, working with his girlfriend and the psychology of smooth jazz

Life After Beth stars Dane DeHaan as Zach, an affluent suburbanite moper whose girlfriend, Beth (Aubrey Plaza), has recently died. Luckily for Zach, it turns out she’s not gone for good. We had a sit-down with director Jeff Baena (and, briefly, his star…

Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival 2014: Film highlights

19 Sep 2014

The annual arts fest features screenings of Ana Ana, The Crash Reel and Silver Linings Playbook

How’s your mental health? There is every chance you might have a lengthy answer to that question; and no less chance that you’d like to keep it to yourself. Mental health issues are vastly prevalent, but carry a stigma that can make them a good deal…

TIFF 2014: The Drop

15 Sep 20144 stars

James Gandolfini's swansong is a satisfying thriller co-starring Tom Hardy

Tom Hardy is steadily proving to be one of the most versatile actors of his generation, constantly extending a range that stretches from Batman baddie and Bronson swagger to the gentle tour-de-force of Locke and now, in this tough Brooklyn thriller, he…

Magic in the Moonlight

15 Sep 20143 stars

Sparks fail to fly between Colin Firth and Emma Stone in Woody Allen's latest

Woody Allen waves his wand for the 44th time (a figure worthy of a sharp intake of breath) and the result is rather less bewitching than its twinkly title suggests. The promising premise involves one professional swindler attempting to unmask another…

The Riot Club

15 Sep 20144 stars

Lone Scherfig's appropriately nasty drama features a star turn from Sam Claflin

Adapted by Laura Wade from her own play Posh, The Riot Club violently disabuses us of the notion that those who rule us might do so from a good place. Wade and director Lone Scherfig knock the uber-privileged off their pedestal by turning puffed-up…

TIFF 2014: The Imitation Game

15 Sep 20144 stars

Stirring drama featuring a brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch as tortured code-breaker Alan Turing

The story of how Alan Turing and the Bletchley boffins defeated the Enigma machine is one of the most stirring of the Second World War; the British David conquering the Nazi Goliath by virtue of superior mathematics and intellectual daring. The…

The Giver

15 Sep 20142 stars

Disappointing adaptation of Lois Lowry's YA novel with Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges

The pile of unwanted, underwhelming young-adult adaptations is rising. From The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones to The Host via Ender’s Game, the search for another Twilight or The Hunger Games has ransacked the bookshelves of many literate teens.

20,000 Days on Earth

15 Sep 20144 stars

This eclectic pseudo-doc paints a fittingly askew portrait of the musician Nick Cave

20,000 Days on Earth spins the seductive, semi-truthful story of Nick Cave. It's an existentialist pseudo-documentary, taking in love, death and memories as well as the art of song-writing, storytelling and performance. With its theme of self…

Wish I Was Here

15 Sep 20142 stars

Zach Braff's disappointing, Kickstarter-funded second film features Kate Hudson

Like the struggling protagonist of Wish I Was Here, unemployed actor and father Aidan Bloom, writer-director Zach Braff’s follow-up to Garden State has considerable baggage. The easy charm and comedic melancholy of Braff’s 2004 debut created a cult…

TIFF 2014: Men, Women & Children

12 Sep 20143 stars

Jason Reitman's conservative comedy drama features a nicely understated Adam Sandler

Jason Reitman's cautionary, state-of-the-nation mosaic starts off with the promise of something Altman-esque like Nashville or Short Cuts, but winds up closer in tone to something written by Richard Curtis. Perhaps it is the fault of the extensive…

TIFF 2014: My Old Lady

10 Sep 20143 stars

Maggie Smith and Kevin Kline excel in a witty, sophisticated drama from Israel Horovitz

Israel Horovitz should be considered a source of encouragement for anyone in the autumn of their lives. A vastly prolific playwright, occasional screenwriter (Author! Author!) and father of Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz, he has now made his directorial…

Pride

8 Sep 20143 stars

Bill Nighy and Dominic West star in a fizzy, feel-good take on an inspiring 80s campaign

Imelda Staunton rolling around a bed with a red dildo laughing is one of the gleeful high points of Matthew Warchus’ unashamedly fizzy, cheering take on the 'Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners' campaign which involved a unique coming together of two…

TIFF 2014: The Judge

8 Sep 20143 stars

Corny but watchable drama featuring great performances from Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall

The Judge is a corny, shamelessly manipulative wallow of a film made surprisingly watchable by the sheer charisma of acting heavyweights Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall. Both veterans are cast according to type but lend conviction to even the…

The Hundred-Foot Journey

1 Sep 20143 stars

Helen Mirren is on fine form in a sentimental culinary culture clash drama

Swapping cocoa for curry powder, Lasse Hallström’s latest is a culinary tale based on the book by Richard C Morais with a screenplay by Steven Knight (Locke, Eastern Promises). Recalling his Juliette Binoche-starrer Chocolat, Hallström again wants us to…

Profile: Kelly Reichardt, director of the Jesse Eisenberg-starring Night Moves

27 Aug 2014

The eco-activist drama also stars Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard

Name Kelly Reichardt Born 1964, Miami, Florida. Background Reichardt is one of the most celebrated directors working in indie cinema today, having directed Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy and Meek’s Cutoff. Her work has received nominations for both…

Interview: Robert Rodriguez, Eva Green and Jessica Alba talk Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

26 Aug 2014

The director and stars are making a return to Frank Miller's graphic neo-noir universe

If there’s been one question Robert Rodriguez has faced over the past nine years, it’s this: When are you going back to Sin City? ‘To have a movie that people chase you down about to get a sequel for. That just doesn’t happen,’ nods the 46-year-old…

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

26 Aug 20143 stars

Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's sequel favours style over substance

Nearly a decade after Robert Rodriguez teamed up with graphic novelist Frank Miller to bring Miller’s celebrated Sin City to jaw-dropping life, their follow-up navigates the same schlocky, sweaty path of bloody crime and bloodier retribution. Like…

Million Dollar Arm

26 Aug 20142 stars

Jon Hamm stars in a bland, predictable baseball drama based on a true-life tale

The many admirers of Jon Hamm's work in the iconic television show Mad Men may feel like they could watch him in anything; Disney’s two-hour plus biopic of a sports agent offers a tough test of that. Hamm's charm works well playing a debonair scoundrel…

If I Stay

26 Aug 20142 stars

Chloë Grace Moretz stars in this conceptually interesting but mishandled and mawkish drama

If I Stay finds a teenage girl plunged into existential limbo after a car accident, with her spirit self pondering whether the life that awaits her is worth fighting for. Director RJ Cutler (best known for documentary The September Issue) fashions his…

Mystery Road

26 Aug 20144 stars

An atmospheric, expertly controlled modern western starring Aaron Pedersen and Hugo Weaving

Writer-director Ivan Sen's flinty, slow-burning murder mystery is a western wrapped in the trappings and clichés of a modern thriller. Aaron Pedersen's Stetson-wearing detective Jay Swan is just as much of an outsider as John Wayne's Ethan Edwards in…

FrightFest 2014: Wolfcop

20 Aug 20143 stars

Fun, furry retro horror from writer-director Lowell Dean

Some films take on a life of their own before they are even released, with the internet going into overdrive before anyone's seen the first frame of footage (recent examples being Snakes on a Plane and Sharknado). Wolfcop now joins these illustrious…

FrightFest 2014: Creep

20 Aug 20144 stars

Tense two-hander written by and starring Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice

Mark Duplass and debut writer-director Patrick Brice breathe new life into the found footage horror film with this incredibly tense two-hander which is hilarious and terrifying in equal parts. Duplass's indie beginnings (particularly Baghead, on which…

Interview: Dardenne brothers discuss their new film Two Days, One Night

19 Aug 2014

Jean-Pierre and Luc discuss their inspirations and choosing Marion Cotillard as a leading lady

What was the inspiration for the film? Luc: The original idea came 12 years ago, when we read about a real-life case in a big French factory. There was a worker whose production output wasn’t good enough for the other workers to get their bonuses, so…

Lucy

18 Aug 20143 stars

Insane but entertaining sci-fi actioner from Luc Besson, starring Scarlett Johansson

With ambition coming out of its ears and ideas coming out of its arse, Lucy is the wayward brainchild of French writer-director Luc Besson. We've recently seen Scarlett Johansson fight alongside superheroes and assume the guise of a curious alien adrift…

Two Days, One Night

18 Aug 20144 stars

Marion Cotillard stars in a compassionate drama from the Dardenne brothers

Two Days, One Night has jokingly been described as the Dardenne brothers' version of High Noon. You can see why as an individual is set apart from a community and faces a ticking deadline towards a moment that could mean life or death. The threat here…