All Is Lost
dir JC Chandor; with Robert Redford 13/US ***.
Shot with an astounding attention to detail, this film puts us right in the middle of a life-or-death situation with its only character, a sailor whose boat founders in the middle of the Indian Ocean. But Chandor's remarkable skill as a director is slightly undone by a plot that piles on too many disasters... FULL REVIEW >
dir-scr Nicole Holofcener; with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini13/US ****
With her usual style of off-handed honesty, writer-director Holofcener gives the rom-com formula a welcome grown-up twist. And even if the story is somewhat simple, the characters bring out layers of insight in every scene. It's smart and often very funny, with brittle, flawed people we can easily identify with... FULL REVIEW >
The Zero Theorem
dir Terry Gilliam; with Christoph Waltz, Melanie Thierry 13/Rom ***
Terry Gilliam updates the look and feel of Brazil to the digital age with this lively and raucously imaginative adventure-drama. So it's a shame that the plot runs out of steam about halfway through, leaving us unable to piece together the big ideas that flood through every corner of the script... FULL REVIEW >
dir Jafar Panahi, Kambuzia Partovi; with Kambuzia Partovi, Maryam Moqadam 13/Irn ***
Banned filmmaker Panahi continues to work by making movies with other filmmakers and distributing them outside Iran. Packed with clever ideas, this feels more like an expression of his frustration than a fully formed feature. After an intriguingly provocative first half, it turns surreal and far too metaphorical... FULL REVIEW >
dir Matt Wolf; with Jena Malone, Ben Whishaw 13/US **.
An odd hybrid, this film mixes authentic newsreel footage with fictional re-creations to explore the concept of the teenager, which didn't exist before World War II. But ultimately the film merely traces American and European history from 1904 to 1945, only offering a flash of insight in its final moment... FULL REVIEW >