For more details and all the films currently screening in Paris, click here.
Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reunite for a third film, after ‘Before Sunrise’ and ‘Before Sunset’, in Richard Linklater’s occasional series about occasional lovers Jesse and Celine. Only now, the pair’s love is not so on-and-off: the American writer and French environmentalist have been a couple since we last saw them in Paris almost a decade ago. Kids are involved (best keep the plot vague; part of the fun is the discovery) and they’re on holiday in Greece at the villa of a convivial elderly writer (played, intriguingly, by legendary cinematographer Walter Lassally). While the talk of the previous films was propelled by the thrill of a first meeting or of a reunion after many years, what’s there to chat about so incessantly when you’ve been together for nine years, however happy or disgruntled you are? A more muted study in settled silence would have been interesting, but that’s not this film or these characters. And that’s a problem: Jesse and Celine chat non-stop on a long car journey and while walking to a kids-free night in a hotel. It’s as if all the hang-ups and baggage of this time in their lives – a child from a former marriage; a repetitive sex life; an expanding bum – are tabled for discussion on one afternoon. As ever, the energy and sense of spontaneity is enlivening, but there’s a slight air of phoniness that doesn’t sit well with the in-the-now realism of Linklater’s project. ‘Before Midnight’ becomes more interesting in a final section in which Linklater throwsRead more
Much creepy attention has been lavished on photos doing the rounds of Emma Watson pole dancing (Hermione’s legal!) in ‘The Bling Ring’. But the real story here isn’t the good-girl-goes-bad stunt casting; it’s that Watson can act. Against the odds, the Harry Potter star gives a sharp, knowing smart performance as Nicki, one of a gang of spoiled rich Californian brats robbing the houses of celebs who, like, totally deserve it. Directed by Sofia Coppola (‘Lost in Translation’, ‘Marie Antoinette’), this is a funny, sarky, bang-on portrayal of the freakiness of celeb obsession. The story would sound outrageous – if it wasn’t true. Between 2008 and 2009 a gang of high-schoolers, who became known by the media as The Bling Ring, stole more than $3m (£1.9m) in clothes, cash, jewellery and art from the homes of Paris Hilton (who makes a brief appearance), Orlando Bloom, Lindsay Lohan and more. Using gossip sites like TMZ, they calculated when their victims would be out of town and googled their addresses. Easy as. Hilton was even so kind as to leave a key under her doormat. Not exactly criminal masterminds, The Bling Ring took selfies of themselves in designer swag and brazenly posted them on Facebook. In Coppola’s last film, ‘Somewhere’, she depicted the meaningless of celebrity life. Here she nails the cult of celebrity worship. In a disturbingly funny scene, ringleader Rebecca (Katie Chang) stands in Lindsay Lohan’s bedroom smothering herself with Lilo’s perfume, staring at herselfRead more
It’s a cliché followed by a yawn when the makers of comic-book movies boast about how ‘real’ and ‘psychological’ their stories are. Yes, we know, Spider-Man and Batman were just troubled sons with daddy issues. But it’s harder to make those claims for a Superman tale, even when the producer is ‘Batman’ regenerator Christopher Nolan – a man with more backstories than an osteopath. Just how ‘real’ can the story of a genetically-modified baby launched to Earth from a planet called Krypton ever feel? And so it’s no surprise that ‘Man of Steel’ feels both modern and traditional – a halfway house between the broodier Nolan way of shaking things up and the louder, bone-crunching style that director Zack Snyder established with films such as ‘300’ and ‘Sucker Punch’. ‘Man of Steel’ is punchy, engaging and fun, even if it slips into a final 45 minutes of explosions and fights during which reason starts to vanish and the science gets muddy. It opens with a lengthy preamble explaining how Jor-El (Russell Crowe) launched his son Kal to Earth just as his planet was falling apart, and how failed coup leader General Zod (Michael Shannon, a muted villain) was banished at the same time. It’s here, and at the end, that Snyder is at his most baroque: first, he indulges the weird science of Krypton and, later, he enjoys giving America a vicious pounding when Zod tracks down Superman. It’s in the middle section, post-Krypton, pre-showdown, that the film hits its stride. Clark Kent (Henry Cavill,Read more
This scrappy, intense doc is a compendium of voices-off musing on the meaning of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror film, ‘The Shining’ (which will be re-released at Halloween). Have you ever thought the entire film was an apology for Kubrick’s faking of the moon landings? Or that Kubrick really had the Holocaust on his mind? Well, you’re not alone. The ideas – sometimes bonkers, sometimes convincing – flow like the escalating chat round a pub table (we never know, or see, exactly who’s saying what) and are presented over ample footage of the film itself. What’s attractive about ‘Room 237’ is how it demands that we look more closely at films, and think about motives and subtexts. And that’s surely a good thing – even if we don’t actually believe that that’s Kubrick’s face up there in the clouds at the beginning of his movie.Read more
Children learn through repetition, something that Hollywood’s animation studios are taking to heart this year. With sequels to ‘Monsters, Inc’ and ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’ also on the way, the multiplex is a veritable ‘Sesame Street’ of cuddly familiarity. Quite what kids stand to learn from this loud, broad and disjointedly amusing follow-up to the 2010 surprise hit is open to question. But its repetitive qualities are beyond reproach. Every bit as amiable and disposable as its predecessor, it recycles everything from slapstick gags to its own voice cast (Kristen Wiig pops up again, but as an entirely different character). The first film ended with Steve Carell’s reformed Russian supervillain Gru settling down with his sickly-sweet trio of adopted daughters. Here, he’s still trying to go straight, with an unpromising business making jellies and jams in the pipeline. The MI6-style Anti-Villain League, however, has other plans. Enter goofy secret agent Lucy (Wiig) to whisk Gru into a madcap scheme to take down an unidentified despot with dastardly designs on Gru’s cute, cackling horde of canary-yellow minions. Right down to the closing-credits ‘audition’ for their upcoming spin-off feature, the frantic antics of these critters are scarcely disguised as the film’s raison d’être. The human activity, including Gru and Lucy’s appealing but half-baked romance, is strictly to get us from A to, well, A. Youngsters won’t mind. Their parents will be as charmed or annoyed – oRead more
You might not know his name, but if you were a teenage boy any time from the 1970s to the ’90s you may have sweatily fond memories of his magazines – Men Only, Escort and Mayfair. He is Paul Raymond, the man who opened Britain’s first strip club in 1958 – making a fortune in razzle mags and Soho property. In this comedy biopic from Michael Winterbottom, Steve Coogan plays Raymond, who died in 2008, with a hilarious whiff of Alan Partridge: he’s naff, arrogant, narcissistic, a bit pretentious (pronouncing his surname in a vaguely French way, Ray-monde) and kind of irresistible. ‘We’ve got dolphins pulling off girls’ knickers. What’s not to like?’ The script by Matt Greenhalgh (‘Control’, ‘Nowhere Boy’) takes in a big sweep – too big probably – from the 1950s to the early ’90s. We meet Raymond in ’50s Soho, pushing boundaries of taste and decency with nipple-tasselled exotic dancers at his night club (think ‘The Hour’). The tabloid hacks love him. Even his missus (Anna Friel) turns a blind eye to his shagging. When she finally gives him the elbow, Raymond makes his teenage daughter Debbie (Imogen Poots) heir to his empire. The underlying story here is the rise of the porn industry (harder, faster, nastier), fuelled by coke. And it’s Debbie, a failed singer, who’s the casualty in a brilliantly brittle poor-little-rich-girl performance by Poots. The film is Coogan’s brainchild, and you can see the appeal, since his comedy creations often look like exaggerated versions of himselRead more
‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ is a brisk, no-nonsense sci-fi action sequel built around a conflict between the crew of the Starship Enterprise with a slick, slippery new villain, John Harrison (although there’s more to him than meets the eye), who’s played with relish and poise by Benedict Cumberbatch. Director JJ Abrams – recently anointed the new keeper of the ‘Star Wars’ flame – revived the ‘Star Trek’ franchise back in 2009 by taking it back in time (in Trekkie terms, that is; it’s still the future for us), pumping it with wit and style and giving life to younger versions of Captain Kirk, Spock, Scotty and the rest of that space geek’s dream team. Here, the main focus is internal strife, rather than structural revolution, as Kirk and Spock get catty with each other and Harrison emerges as a disgruntled insider bent on initiating spectacles of domestic terrorism. The result is a stop-gap tale that’s modest, fun and briefly amusing rather than one that breaks new ground or offers hugely memorable set pieces. The most striking scenes come without doubt at the start as Kirk (Chris Pine) struggles to rescue Spock (Zachary Quinto) from a volcano on a distant planet. We witness a primitive race – carefully colour-coded all white, yellow and red – as they first lay eyes on a spaceship. It’s a powerful moment, and nothing later matches up to it, even if two episodes of city-bashing (first London, then San Francisco) offer their fair share of wide-eyed 3D viewing. The revived ‘Star TreRead more