Review in Brief: News of the World (2020)

NEWS OF THE WORLD might feel slighter than Paul Greengrass’ very best work but it’s handsome and heartfelt and manages to sneak in some very relevant social commentary to the here-and-now. Tom Hanks plays a retired Army captain traveling the Southern states to read the news to locals but finds a new calling when he encounters a German girl abandoned on the side of the road who has apparently been raised by a Native tribe (Helena Zengel). Don’t expect many spontaneous shootouts – this is one of very few Westerns that acknowledges that you had to turn in your arms on entering a new town, a particular problem when you come across an outlaw-run town whose leader demands his legend is promoted by the smartly-dressed new arrival with a loud voice. The harshness of life in these times comes across even if Hanks’ thoroughly decent star personality seems an odd fit for the period. Episodic storytelling and some contrivance is mostly overcome by the winning chemistry of the leads. SSP

Posted in Film, Film Review, Review in Brief | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Review in Brief: First Cow (2019/20)

FIRST COW is one of those films that drops you into another time and every small detail adds to its palpable authenticity. Nobody films slow and beautiful stories like Kelly Reichardt. Cookie (John Magaro) is a man trying to get by in a harsh time, meeting a fellow survivor, a fellow man without place (Orion Lee) along the way. It is strange how many historical films erase non-white characters but First Cow presents a Northern Territory fort as it would have been – a melting pot of people from everywhere. This may be the tensest film about frying batter ever made – Cookie and King-Lu are making a killing selling their cakes, but inevitably the local landowner (Toby Jones) develops a liking for them and invites the pair to cater for a function, blissfully unaware they are made using milk from his cow, the only one in the Territory. This is glorious filmmaking from a director at the height of her powers. SSP

Posted in Film, Film Review, Review in Brief | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fargo at 25 – Review

https://www.thefilmagazine.com/fargo-25-movie-review/ SSP

Posted in Film, Film Review, The Film Magazine | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Hannibal at 20 – Review

https://www.thefilmagazine.com/hannibal-20-anniversary-movie-review/ SSP

Posted in Film, Film Review, The Film Magazine | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Host Interview with Director Rob Savage

https://www.thefilmagazine.com/host-interview-with-director-rob-savage-it-was-jemmas-fault/ SSP

Posted in Film, Film Interview, The Film Magazine | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Silence of the Lambs at 30 – Review

https://www.thefilmagazine.com/silence-of-the-lambs-movie-review/ SSP

Posted in Film, Film Review, The Film Magazine | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Review in Brief: The Dig (2021)

If it wasn’t on Netflix, THE DIG would be destined for Sunday afternoon TV circulation in perpetuity. That’s not to disparage the craft and passion that went into it, from Simon Stone’s steady direction to Mike Eley’s pristine cinematography and beyond, but it’s a romantic and somewhat cosy take on a key event in British history with good performances and added (honestly unneeded) dramatic tension thrown in. Unless you’re a historian you might not be familiar with the unearthing of the Sutton Hoo treasure in Suffolk just before WWII, but it was one of the biggest archaeological finds in British history and the film makes sure you know that from how preposterously shiny the gold is. Ralph Fiennes, Cary Mulligan and Lily James impress, and the whole thing is well-composed and evenly paced. Giving archaeologist Basil Brown long-overdue credit in a glossy drama film is an admirable aim, even if the film itself won’t change your life. SSP

Posted in Film, Film Review, Review in Brief | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Malcolm & Marie (2021) Review

https://www.thefilmagazine.com/malcolm-marie-levinson-netflix-movie-review/ SSP

Posted in Film, Film Review, The Film Magazine | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review in Brief: Synchronic (2019/20)

Weird sci-fi wunderkinds Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead don’t quite drop the ball with their third feature but it’s certainly a less assured effort than something like THE ENDLESS. Still by no means lacking ideas or visual creativity, but more prone to bad exposition and disjointed storytelling, SYNCHRONIC is flawed but interesting. Surprising absolutely no-one, Benson and Moorhead’s fourth feature film again explores time and perception, with a New Orleans paramedic Steve (Anthony Mackie) experimenting with a designer drug that drops you into a random era of the past for seven minutes. Mackie is good and the budget is stretched hugely creatively, but the themes are lacking the promised deep dive and you keep waiting for an almighty final twist that never comes. SSP

Posted in Film, Film Review, Review in Brief | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review in Brief: Archive (2020/21)

Indie sci-fi ARCHIVE wears its genre influences on its sleeve – MOON, EX MACHINA, SILENT RUNNING an iconic sequence lifted wholesale from GHOST IN THE SHELL. An engineer (Theo James) develops a series of increasingly sophisticated robot bodies to house his deceased wife’s (Stacy Martin) personality and ultimately her consciousness,which is being kept in a degrading hard drive, as well. It all looks good despite the modest budget and it’s by no means short of big ideas. But the film also feels cold, disconnected and too inanimate for you to care much about George or any of his creations, and the perhaps intentional reasons for the way it feels and how information is delivered to you become apparent far too late in the story to make any difference. Archive is a curiosity, but you’d probably be better off rewatching one of the films that inspired it. SSP

Posted in Film, Film Review, Review in Brief | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment