List Film

Reviews & features: Reviews

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return

20 May 20142 stars

The latest family fantasy incarnation is a cynical, charmless cash-grab

The Kingdom of Oz is a complicated one from a copyright point of view; while the rights to many of L Frank Baum's books and characters have expired, many of the details of the 1939 MGM film remain tightly controlled by studio lawyers. So without any…

Run & Jump

20 May 20143 stars

A slightly-too-rose-tinted heartwarmer starring Maxine Peake and Will Forte

This charming, if slight Irish dramedy marks the debut of American director Steph Green, who was Oscar-nominated for her short film New Boy. Working from a script she co-wrote with Ailbhe Keogan, Green fashions a film whose positivity and romance is…

In Secret

20 May 20142 stars

An unimaginative adaptation of Emile Zola's Therese Raquin, starring Oscar Isaac and Elizabeth Olsen

Emile Zola's tale of love and betrayal in Therese Raquin has traditionally been cherished by those without imaginations of their own, making it one of the most overused plot-lines in cinema; this risible film takes inspiration from a play adaptation by…

Made in America

20 May 20143 stars

Ron Howard directs a behind-the-scenes look at Jay Z's titular music festival

In 2012 hip hop mogul Jay Z hosted the inaugural Made in America music festival in central Philadelphia. Calling on his celebrity friends Ron Howard was on hand to film the two days of rap, indie, rock and dance music. However this is more of a…

X-Men: Days of Future Past

15 May 20143 stars

Bryan Singer's directorial return is triumphant but may leave non-fanboys scratching their heads

Where most superhero movies strive to win ever more fans by reinventing themselves with each new sequel, X-Men: Days of Future Past is content to reward the loyalists. Not only does it mark the return of co-creator Bryan Singer (for the first time since…

Grace of Monaco

14 May 20143 stars

Nicole Kidman stars as Grace Kelly in this featherweight not-quite-a-biopic

There’s been much written already about Grace of Monaco, and director Olivier Dahan’s clashes with US movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, a man notorious for getting his own way in the cutting room. Quite whose version we’re seeing here is hard to say, but…

Godzilla

13 May 20144 stars

Gareth Edwards delivers a visually stunning, if emotionally flawed, monster-sized blockbuster

Having impressed with his low-budget debut Monsters, British filmmaker Gareth Edwards now delivers a visually stunning, if emotionally flawed, monster-sized blockbuster with Godzilla. A self-confessed Godzilla geek, Edwards has stayed true to many of…

Postman Pat: The Movie

13 May 20142 stars

A serviceable kids film undermined by grating tribute to Simon Cowell & idyllic Royal Mail nostalgia

Turning classic children's TV shows into full-length features appears to be all the rage at the moment, what with a big screen outing for Paddington due in November and this adaptation of Postman Pat out in May. Created by children's author John…

Concussion

13 May 20144 stars

A well-observed indie drama with unusual things to say about gay marriage and female sexuality

If you have a resistance to stories about privileged individuals suffering mild dissatisfaction with their too-smooth lives, this likely won’t be for you. These characters are rich. They are successful. They are, in the grand scheme of things, only very…

Fading Gigolo

13 May 20143 stars

John Turturro's latest is an old fashioned sex comedy from a decidedly male perspective

While his acting career has thrown up a number of memorable turns, notably through collaborations with the Coen Brothers (Barton Fink, The Big Lebowski), John Turturro’s own films as director (Mac, Romance and Cigarettes) have tended to over-egg the…

Venus in Fur

13 May 20144 stars

A whip-smart, outrageously entertaining battle of the sexes from Roman Polanski

There's plenty of sizzle in Roman Polanski's whip-smart, outrageously entertaining adaptation of David Ives’ play (which in turn was inspired by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's novella). Venus in Fur is part feminist morality tale, part satire, part fevered…

The Two Faces of January

13 May 20144 stars

A nicely sustained, old-school thriller starring Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac

Almost 20 years after her death, Patricia Highsmith's work continues to be a rich source of inspiration for contemporary filmmakers. Todd Haynes is currently filming Carol with Cate Blanchett, and now screenwriter Hossein Amini (Drive, The Wings of the…

Heli

13 May 20143 stars

A mixed-bag Mexican drama that leavens its undeniable bleakness with moments of love and humour

Films about the hardscrabble side of life often make a point of denying their audiences hope. They invite us to care, only to hammer home that there was absolutely no point in our doing so; the authorial attitude taken is one of nihilism rather than…

Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist

13 May 20143 stars

An artfully-constructed sport doc that fails to find its focus

The death of Italian road race champion Marco Pantani in 2004 was a key moment in the history of cycling; a folk hero to millions, Pantani was a troubled individual who styled himself as ‘the pirate’ but ended up being hounded from the sport he loved by…

Touchy Feely

13 May 20142 stars

Lynn Shelton's latest mumblecore dramedy feels sluggish and insubstantial

Lynn Shelton's blossoming career as the brightest graduate of the mumblecore school takes an odd, unsatisfactory turn with Touchy Feely. The writer / director of Humpday and Your Sister's Sister revisits familiar themes of dysfunctional families…

The Canyons

9 May 20142 stars

Lindsay Lohan stars in this seedy noir plagued by cardboard characters and flimsy dialogue

It seemed like such a good idea at the time: the author of American Psycho meets the writer of Taxi Driver for a Kickstarter-funded Los Angeles tale of sex, murder and intrigue. But The Canyons is largely set to go down as an embarrassing footnote in…

Sabotage

9 May 20142 stars

Arnold Schwarzenegger's presence weighs down what should have been a gritty thriller

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s post-governorship acting comeback appeared to be heading in an intriguing new direction when he signed on to star in David Ayer’s gritty thriller Sabotage. But despite some decent moments the film struggles to realise its…

Bad Neighbours

30 Apr 20143 stars

Good performances and plenty of laughs make up for the occassional misstep

If you were to compile a list of potential neighbours-from-hell, an American fraternity would surely be right up there. Especially one whose all-night parties are ‘turned up to eleven’ as they seek to secure their place in hell-raiser history. That's…

Brick Mansions

29 Apr 20141 star

Paul Walker's last completed film is a disappointing, badly made remake of District 13

A remake of parkour-showcasing French thriller District 13 (2004), Brick Mansions is notable for being the final film completed by star Paul Walker before his tragic death in a car crash last year. Sadly, that's the only thing that's notable about it…

Plastic

29 Apr 20142 stars

An appealing young cast can't save this idiotic heist movie

The art of a good con movie is populating it with likeable characters, articulating it with a witty script and having them pull off something ingenious. It should also make you forget that what’s unfolding on-screen is actually illegal! Unfortunately…

Willow Creek

29 Apr 20144 stars

Well-honed horror from former stand-up Bobcat Goldthwait

They say there are no second acts in American lives – then there's Bobcat Goldthwait. A stand-up comic most famous for playing helium-voiced punk Zed in Police Academy 2 (1985), Goldthwait has since been busy making sly, often filthy, indie films such…

The Other Woman

24 Apr 20142 stars

Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton are a likeable but poorly served trio in this weak comedy

A romcom with what seems like a refreshing sisterly twist, The Other Woman sees a trio of wronged women team up to get their own back on a real weasel of a guy. So far so fun, right? Unfortunately Nick Cassavetes' eighth film squanders its subversive…

Blue Ruin

21 Apr 20144 stars

Backwoods thriller mixing Gothic melancholia with artfully foreshadowed bursts of violent action

A big hit of the festival circuit, writer/director Jeremy Saulnier’s backwoods drama is a twisty thriller that sits somewhere in the jet-black hinterland between Winter’s Bone and the less showy Coen brothers films like Blood Simple or Fargo. The…

Tracks

21 Apr 20143 stars

Blends the hallucinogenic beauty and horror of the desert

Australian cinema has frequently explored the lure of the outback, from 1970s classics like Picnic At Hanging Rock, Walkabout and the just re-released Wake In Fright to more recent films like The Proposition and Wolf Creek. Now, director John Curran…

The Wind Rises

21 Apr 20144 stars

An engaging, deeply moving and mature Studio Ghibli film that exudes intelligence and compassion

Studio Ghibli founder Hayao Miyazaki has taken a few curtain calls in the past; if his final film is to be The Wind Rises, then he’ll be going out at the very top of his game. A beautifully animated study of Japanese aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi…