Listings and reviews (8)
Loosely based on the life of Gustave Eiffel (Romain Duris), the 19th century engineer responsible for the world-famous tower which bears his name, this schmaltzy historical drama poses a what-if scenario. In keeping with Paris’ reputation as the capital of romance, the film proposes that Gustave’s reason for committing to building a 300-metre-tall tower was because of a run-in with his old flame Adrienne Bourgès (Emma Mackey) after 20 years. He’s now a widowed dad, while she’s married to a sour-faced rich guy. But despite the lingering memory of a painful separation, old feelings gradually rekindle. Gustave and Adrienne are quirky idealists bristling against a stuffy bourgeoisie. He’s a man of the people; she’s an inquisitive soul who pores over engineering books. They’re first introduced in flashback, when she’s a teenager arguing with her father over her decision to wear trousers (sacré bleu, a woman in trousers!). Mackey often gets compared with her Barbie co-star Margot Robbie, but here it’s Keira Knightley she calls to mind. As an unhappily married woman she channels Knightley’s turn in Anna Karenina, while flashbacks bring to mind the headstrong Elizabeth Swann from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. It is perhaps unfair on Mackey to make these comparisons but is only because the performances by the two leads are rather rote, while the supporting cast are completely forgettable. Duris is more rousing with his workers than in any of the ostensibly smouldering scenes
After his divisive turn as the Joker in DC’s Suicide Squad, Jared Leto attempts to jump on the superhero bandwagon again as Doctor Morbius in the Spider-Man villain’s first standalone film. Once again, he misses the mark and winds up flat on his face. Michael Morbius is a renowned doctor whose goal in life is to find the cure for a rare blood disease that has afflicted him and his friend Milo (Matt Smith) since they were children. Morbius develops the cure using DNA from vampire bats, but when he tests it on himself he is transformed into a bloodthirsty killer with superpowers who requires human blood to stay healthy. Cue scenes of Jared Leto sucking bags of blood dry like they’re Capri-Suns. The central conflict of the film arises when Morbius denies Milo the cure, believing it to be a curse. In retaliation, an embittered Milo steals it for himself and frames him for murder. Whereas Morbius struggles to refrain from killing people with increasingly ineffective artificial blood, Milo inebriates himself with slaughter. Jared Leto jumps back on the superhero bandwagon and winds up flat on his face Matt Smith seems to be having fun hamming it up as the villain here, gently drawing on the quirky persona he cultivated in Doctor Who. However, his moments stand out more as awkward blips rather than entertaining idiosyncrasies in what is otherwise a suffocatingly serious film. Smith doing a little dad dance over the corpses of murdered cops could have been raucous in an off-the-wa
Peter Dinklage stars as tortured romantic hero Cyrano de Bergerac in a take on the 2018 stage musical adapted by his wife Erica Schmidt. Cyrano believes that his social position as a guard, as well as his physical appearance, automatically bar him from the affections of Roxanne (Haley Bennett). In keeping with previous iterations of the 19th century French play on which the story is based, the poetically-inclined Cyrano ghostwrites love letters for the plodding new recruit that has caught Roxanne’s eye: Christian de Neuvillette (Waves’ Kelvin Harrison Jr). Fans of big movie musicals, like Steven Spielberg’s recent remake of West Side Story, will be disappointed by the relatively muted songs of Cyrano. This is a more traditional telling of the tale compared to the edgier James McAvoy version on stage. However, this version of its bittersweet love triangle is well-served by its three earnest performers – as singers and actors. Dinklage, in particular, stands out with a low, velvety rumble that is tinged with longing and pain in his musical moments. Bennett ably portrays Roxanne as Cyrano’s artistic equal as opposed to a static object of desire, although Harrison’s angelic voice is sadly underused as Christian. Director Joe Wright, of Pride & Prejudice and Anna Karenina fame, continues to deliver cinematic grace notes to otherwise literary fare: a swooping shot there to emulate the giddy thrill of romance; a crackling collage of mirrors here to establish the fragmented nature of
At first promising a noirish twist on the standard talking-head doc, ‘Halston’ gradually settles into a more conventional, warts-and-all perspective on the mono-monikered US fashion designer’s memorable life and career. That noir element comes in the shape of a framing device that has a fictional archivist (played by Tavi Gevinson) going through old tapes and documents to get to the bottom of the man’s life. It’s interspersed with interviews between her and Halston’s actual friends and accompanied by a gumshoe-style voice-over. Safe to say, it’s not exactly what you’d expect from a fashion doc. Sure enough, the archivist’s irksome journey gradually gives way to more conventional devices, including talking-head interviews with famous figures like Liza Minnelli and filmmaker Joel Schumacher. Director Frédéric Tcheng (‘Dior and I’) corrals plenty of rich archival material into a vibrant picture of Halston’s life, with his wild nights at the iconic Manhattan club Studio 54 getting a lusty airing and access-all-areas glimpses of Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball showing the man in his element. It’s a testament to the riches found in the interviews and historical footage that the half-hearted gumshoe gimmick is soon forgotten. By chronicling the career of this volatile and visionary designer through the filthy glamour of post-war New York, ‘Halston’ offers an engrossing look at a rich and rare American life. A passion for fashion is optional.
For a film named after an act of gender subversion, there’s not too much exploration of gender in Jamie Patterson’s odd-couple drama. ‘Tucked’ contorts itself to assure us that terminally ill, 80-something drag queen Jackie (Derren Nesbitt) is a straight man, which is disappointing in a movie ripe for a proper investigation of the lives of British queer people. Jordan Stephens, of Rizzle Kicks fame, showcases his talent as the wonderful Faith, an up-and-coming non-binary queen who Jackie meets at work in Brighton. The older queen takes the young Faith into his home, after learning of their homelessness, and the two form a touching bond. Stephens’s knack for comedy gently lightens the tone of the film and offers a refreshing counterpoint to Jackie’s dirty humour, particularly in one scene in which Faith entertainingly butchers a Nigel Slater recipe.But I couldn’t help think that a more ambitious film would have gone to greater lengths to tell Faith’s story as well as Jackie’s. It’s a notable weakness in a film in which women are sidelined. With only months left to live, Jackie must face up to past regrets involving his late wife and estranged daughter. However, these characters only exist in relation to his story. For a film whose title suggests a theme about gender, the lack of female characterisation in contrast to Jackie is a letdown. It’s a squandered opportunity to speak to a wider audience.
Caring for a relative in their final years is a deeply challenging experience. Its physical demands are compounded by a strange emotional intensity that’s oddly dislocating. Love pours out, emotions are heightened and anxiety is a constant companion. Somehow ‘América’, a moving slice of documentary realness named after the 93-year-old Mexican grandma at its heart, captures all those peaks and troughs in its 70-odd minutes. Filmed over three years by directing duo Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside it’s a poetic but unromanticised portrait of the elderly América as she’s cared for by her adult grandsons, Rodriguez, Bruno and Diego, after her son is imprisoned for supposedly neglecting her. We see them trying their best to look after her, aiding her in the shower, encouraging her to walk, even helping her go to the toilet. Diego’s zippy optimism contrasts with the silent pain on Rodriguez’s face, highlighting the psychological impact this work has on the caregivers. Making their job even tougher is a bureaucracy that only cares whether América is being neglected, while offering no tangible support. This aspect of the film could have made for an angry polemic, but the co-directors instead zoom in on the emotional wellbeing of the family. A particularly heart-rending moment towards the end shows an argument between Diego and Bruno, as the pair succumbs to the pressure on their shoulders. This is a beautifully clear-eyed film. Witnessing the affection between grandmother and grandchi
Cuidar a un familiar en sus últimos años de vida es una experiencia profundamente desafiante. Sus exigencias físicas se ven agravadas por una extraña intensidad emocional que extrañamente se disloca. El amor brota, las emociones aumentan y la ansiedad es un compañero constante. De alguna manera, América, es una rebanada de realismo documental que lleva el nombre de una abuela mexicana de 93 años en su corazón, y captura todos esos picos y depresiones en 70 minutos. Filmada durante tres años, dirigiendo al dúo Erick Stoll y Chase Whiteside, es un retrato poético pero no romántico de América, a quien cuidan sus nietos Rodrigo, Bruno y Diego, luego de que su hijo es encarcelado por supuesta negligencia. Los vemos haciendo todo lo posible por cuidarla, ayudándola a bañarse, animándola a caminar, incluso ayudándola a ir al baño. El optimismo vertiginoso de Diego contrasta con el dolor silencioso en el rostro de Rodrigo, destacando el impacto psicológico que este trabajo tiene en los cuidadores. La burocracia hacen su labor aún más difícil ya que solo le importa si se está descuidando a América, mientras que no ofrece un apoyo tangible. Este aspecto de la película podría haberse convertido en polémica, pero los codirectores, en cambio, se enfocan en el bienestar emocional de la familia. Un momento particularmente desgarrador hacia el final muestra una discusión entre Diego y Bruno, mientras la pareja sucumbe ante la presión sobre sus hombros. Esta es una película bellamente de ojos
Based on the true story of the French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley), Wash Westmoreland plunges us into the literary scene of turn-of-the-century Paris. Almost immediately his camera casts a critical eye on this setting. Rather than a place of vibrancy, he portrays a world of shallow pretension and opportunism, the ideal habitat for Colette’s careerist husband Wily (Dominic West), who publishes her sapphic stories under his own name. The entire film revolves around the relationship between West and Knightley. It is a joy to watch Colette grow in confidence, mirroring the way many young women free themselves from the yoke of mediocre men, and Knightley nails that transition. On the other end of the spectrum, West’s turn as Willy is a surprisingly subtle study of a man who attempts to mask his deep insecurities through a theatrical bluster. West manages to imbue this character with some sympathy without absolving him of his numerous faults. Admittedly it takes a while to rev up, but as Colette begins to explore her identity as a queer woman the film begins to take flight. Knightley, whose career was somewhat defined by the billowy gowns of British period drama, wears her increasingly androgynous wardrobe in ‘Colette’ with a refreshing bravado, and Andrea Flesch’s work as costume designer is easily the highlight.
Disney needs to put up or shut up when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation
It’s good news that Disney is promising to enter a new frontier by introducing a transgender female character into the MCU. But, writes trans writer Cathy Brennan, it’s time to drop the lip service and start delivering meaningful charactersBack in 2019, it was reported that Marvel was planning to introduce the first trans female character into its vast universe of films and TV shows. At the time, there was speculation whether she would appear in Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings or Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. It turns out that the character will be a Black, Latina or Afro-Latina transgender woman between the ages of 18 and 22, and that she will make her debut in the Disney+ series Ironheart. Little is known about the series, which will star Dominique Thorne as genius inventor Riri Williams. This Iron Man-like character will be making her own debut in the much-anticipated sequel to Black Panther. The MCU is the most profitable franchise in Hollywood history, and enjoys popularity across the globe; a crown jewel in the Disney media empire. In a simpler world, the introduction of the first trans woman in this massive cast of characters would be cause for celebration among the LGBTQ+ community. However, the current state of LGBTQ+ politics in the US, Disney’s place in it, and indeed Disney’s own recent history, gives pause. Disney’s promise of representation has become a tiresome performance in which LGBTQ+ audiences are set up for disappointment Every y