dir Mike Leigh; with Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville 10/UK ****
Even for Mike Leigh, this film feels like a rather subdued slice-of-life in which nothing much really happens. But it's impeccably made at every level, with bracingly sharp performances and a ruthlessly honest script... MORE >
dir Julian Schnabel; with Hiam Abbass, Freida Pinto 10/Isr ***
Inventive camerawork and raw performances bring this powerful true story to vivid life. So it's a shame director Schnabel loses his grip in the final act. It's still an important film, but it lacks the badly needed final gut-punch... MORE >
dir Ferzan Ozpetek; with Riccardo Scamarcio, Nicole Grimaudo 10/It ****
Turkish-born Italian filmmaker Ozpetek branches into comedy with this borderline farce about an estabished family struggling to grapple with the issues of the 21st century. It's bright and smart and ultimately surprisingly moving... MORE >
Microphonedir Ahmad Abdalla; with Khaled Abol Naga, Menna Shalabi 10/Egy ***
Lively and brimming with youthful talent, this Egyptian drama vividly captures the energy of a group of underground artists in Alexandria. The film is a bit long and undisciplined, but it's also well worth seeing as it takes us into the life of three generations of musical and artistic talent and examines how the region is changing and also stuck in its old ways. Even more telling is the way local politics still have such sway over the art world. And while the characters are all likeable and engaging, a more disciplined editor could have shaped the narrative into something more involving.