12 Years a Slave
dir Steve McQueen; with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender 13/US ****.
Based on a chilling true story, this film is much more than an account of slavery in America: it's an exploration of the human urge to control and enslave people. And with fearlessly intense performances and director McQueen's artful eye, we are immersed in the story completely... FULL REVIEW >
dir Steven Knight; with Tom Hardy, Olivia Colman 13/UK ***
Essentially a one man show, this pseudo-thriller explores the fallout from a single moment of weakness as our hero tries to salvage his marriage, family and career. The pushy set-up is a little hard to believe, but the film is held together by a terrific performance from Hardy as an essentially good guy who has reached his personal Armageddon... FULL REVIEW >
Stranger by the Lake
dir Alain Guiraudie; with Pierre Deladonchamps, Christophe Paou 13/Fr ****.
What starts out as a subtle drama exploring male sexuality quietly shifts into a Hitchcockian thriller, with big questions about the tension between lust and morality. Set in a gay cruising site at a naturist beach, the film isn't for the faint of heart. But its themes are bigger than the controversial setting... FULL REVIEW >
dir Fabio Grassadonia, Antonio Piazza; with Saleh Bakri, Sara Serraiocco 13/It ***.
With almost no dialog to speak of, this gritty Italian thriller is relentlessly artful, using strikingly skilful photography and a vividly detailed sound mix to tell a story about a heartless young man who has a sudden pang of conscience... FULL REVIEW >
Gone Too Far!
dir Destiny Ekaragha; with Malachi Kirby, OC Ukeje 13/UK ***.
With a strong blast of local humour, this comedy captures the ethnic mix of a South London community using riotous slapstick, knowing dialog and rather nutty characters. It's far too silly to have a proper kick to it, but it's bright and cheeky, and the script touches on some big issues without ever getting heavy about them... [review coming soon]
The Epic of Everest
dir Captain John Noel with George Mallory, Andrew Irvine 24/UK 1h27 *****
In documenting the third expedition up Everest, filmmaker Noel demonstrates a staggering amount of stamina as well as groundbreaking technical and artistic skills. Watching this 1924 film is a mystical experience, revealing the big mountain in ways no one as ever done since. And this digital restoration makes it essential viewing... FULL REVIEW >