Jack O'Connell in '71 (2014)

’71 (2014)

The Troubles (the violent Northern Ireland conflict between Catholics and Protestants) are defined by a moral and political complexity that’s difficult to successfully convey on film. Many of the movies that have succeeded in portraying the era – In the Name of the Father, The Outsider, Good Vibrations – avoid the problems of presenting either…

Miss Julie (2014)

Miss Julie (2014)

I assume that the melodramatic machinations of Miss Julie played like gangbusters in 1890s Sweden, but a century later it all rings pretty false. Bergman acolyte Liv Ullmann sneaks in a reference to Cries and Whispers in the opening flashback and executes an excellent final shot, but otherwise can’t overcome the inherent staginess of the…

Timothy Spall in Mr Turner (2014)

Mr Turner (2014)

Biopics are a much maligned category of film … with good reason. Despite the preponderance of such films – only, ultimately, connected by being about ‘someone dead and famous’ – there are surprisingly few great biographical films. There are a lot of ‘entirely fine’ ones, but I can only think of handful that could be…

Lilting (2014)

Lilting (2014)

Lilting is a sensory experience. Describing a film in this way typically refers to the two expected senses: sight and sound. Hong Khaou’s debut feature film evokes scent; given all the references to smell, I don’t think it’s accidental. It has the delicate odour of clean skin, that sickly sweet smell of warm milk. The…

Alice Vikander in Testament of Youth (2015)

Testament of Youth (2015)

The generations that lived through the ‘Great War’ are, by-and-large, no more, and the stories told about the war begin to become just that, blurring the line between fact and fiction as the war moves from lived experience to history. Testament of Youth is adapted from a testament itself: Vera Brittain’s memoirs of World War…

Timothy Spall in Mr Turner (2014)

British Film Festival 2014

November last year introduced the inaugural British Film Festival, a breath of fresh air in an increasingly stale slate of nation-centric film festivals. It’s not that I don’t have a lot of respect for local festivals like the Italian, Israeli, French etc festivals – I only saw one of my favourite films of the year…

A Long Way Down (2014)

A Long Way Down begins with a potentially promising premise before it falls, well, you know, <gestures vaguely towards title>. For a film that opens with a suicidal quartet meeting atop a London skyscraper on New Year’s Eve, it demonstrates little actual interest in examining suicide, despites its half-hearted feints at undergraduate psychology. Instead A…