Arts & Entertainment

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Film

The Revenant

After the playful, urban and contemporary humour of the Oscar-winning ‘Birdman’, this bleak-faced 1820s-set frontier western sees Mexican filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu return to the darker worldview of his earlier films like ‘Babel’ and ‘21 Grams’. Based on a 2002 Michael Punke novel about real-life folk hero Hugh Glass, ‘The Revenant’ stars Leonardo DiCaprio (gruff, committed, unreadable) as a fur trapper and frontiersman left for dead by his colleagues in a wintry American landscape after he is viciously shredded by a grizzly bear. Glass survives, and he hauls his damaged body through snow, across rivers, up rocks and over plains, driven by revenge. In his sights is John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy, savage with a dash of black humour), the man responsible for abandoning him to die and for forcing him to watch as his young son (of mixed-race parentage) is murdered in front of his eyes. So, no, it’s not a happy tale. But what survives from ‘Birdman’ is a compelling, forward-moving, simple approach to storytelling that grips us through stretches of silence and misery. The film's relentlessness itself becomes magnetic. There are times when 'The Revenant' feels like one long and unforgiving act of sadism, mostly directed at its lead character, but occasionally at us (a warning: the film is long, the dialogue is minimal and the violence is sharp). There are moments, too, that feel like parodies of awards-hungry acting, such as when we see DiCaprio chomping on raw animal organ

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Film

The Big Short

Adam McKay's latest film is a gleeful tumble towards the apocalypse

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Film

Macbeth

At the start of this brilliant, brutal film of Shakespeare’s Scottish Play, Michael Fassbender’s Macbeth lays oyster shells over the eyes of his dead son: an eerie funeral rite before the tiny body is burned on a pyre. Traditionally, the Macbeths have been portrayed as power-hungry. Cutting loose the play’s baggage, Australian director Justin Kurzel (who made the ultraviolent true-crime film ‘Snowtown’) recasts them as damaged. Untethered by grief, ambition fills the void, as Lady Macbeth (Marion Cotillard) lures her husband into dark places, manipulating him into murdering the king. This ‘Macbeth’ is ferociously well acted. Fassbender’s prowling energy electrifies the film. He is utterly convincing as the battle-weary warrior: his face is a map of scars, with the hollowed-out, blank-eyed look of a man who has seen too much death (Fassbender has said he thought of his Macbeth as suffering from PTSD). Lady Macbeth can often be hard to watch, shrill and one-note, yet Cotillard, with that face you could stare at for hours, makes her subtle and human. Admittedly she struggles with the Scots – though, to be fair, she’s not the only actor here with an all-over-the-place accent. Still, both actors risk being upstaged by the natural elements. The wild Scottish Highlands, with its hardness and beauty, is a landscape that seems to have a murderous impulse of its own. And rising-star Kurzel directs this Shakespeare like a western: spare and savage.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Film

Life

This small, well-coiffed and attentively designed film shows us a few weeks in the life of James Dean (Dane DeHaan) on the brink of reluctant stardom in 1955. Robert Pattinson co-stars as Dennis Stock, a Life magazine photographer from New York desperately wooing the farm boy from Indiana to give his own career a much-needed shot in the arm. ‘Life’ continues the current vogue for framing microcosmic snapshots of well-known folk’s lives in the hope that greater truths will emerge. But for every virtuoso ‘Lincoln’ there’s a pedestrian ‘My Week with Marilyn’, and this leans closer to the latter, setting up Dean and Stock’s relationship as meaningful, but in the end offering only a mildly interesting, gossipy window on Dean’s side of the tale as he hovered in limbo between the release of ‘East of Eden’ and shooting ‘Rebel without a Cause’. Director Anton Corbijn (‘Control’, ‘The American’), a photographer himself (and he plays one here in a brief cameo), lends the whole thing a Dean-like careful poise, and DeHaan is good at getting across the actor’s heavy-eyelided, good-spirited insouciance (even if, in the end, he doesn’t have the looks). There’s also a fun turn by Ben Kingsley illustrating studio boss Jack Warner’s control of his stars (‘If you’re not a good boy, I’m going to fuck you til it hurts’). But ultimately Luke Davies’s script, for all its warm observations on the man behind the myth (there are winning scenes back at Dean’s uncle and aunt’s farm), feels like a footn

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Film

The Good Dinosaur

You wait two years for a new Pixar movie, then two come along at once. Hot-ish on the heels of this summer’s ‘Inside Out’ comes this more traditional family-friendly affair set in an alternate reality populated by intelligent dinosaurs (the meteorite that killed them off never hit us, you see). The story follows an Apatosaurus named Arlo who, with shades of ‘The Lion King’, loses his Dad in a sudden accident and wanders off into the wilderness, only to make friends with a human boy. Director Peter Sohn’s only credit thus far is on likeable short ‘Partly Cloudy’, but with a script co-written by Pixar stalwart Bob Peterson, we reckon this one could be a lot of fun.

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Film

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s funny and bruising second movie is like ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ remade for arthouse movie-lovers.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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