Get us in your inbox

Ian Freer

Ian Freer

Articles (9)

Ya vimos Bob Marley: One Love. Esto nos pareció

Ya vimos Bob Marley: One Love. Esto nos pareció

Bob Marley: One Love es una extraña mezcla de lo auténtico y lo vulgar. El retrato de la superestrella del reggae, realizado por el director Reinaldo Marcus Green —King Richard— en medio de una nube de humo, está lleno de intenciones sinceras, pero con demasiada frecuencia cae en lo trillado. En algunos sentidos, se parece más a Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) en su inclinación a contar su historia con los trazos más obvios y torpes —cuando un personaje acude a Marley pidiendo redención, se corta al cantante tocando "Redemption Song"—. Pero, afortunadamente, al igual que Bohemian Rhapsody, se ve redimida por una gran interpretación central, esta vez de Kingsley Ben-Adir, que encuentra una gran verdad en Marley, que el guión y la dirección no consiguen. La película empieza con fuerza. En la cima de su fama, en 1976, Marley, políticamente neutral, acepta encabezar el concierto Smile Jamaica, un intento de calmar las crecientes tensiones del país provocadas por los conflictos entre el gobernante Partido Nacional del Pueblo y el Partido Laborista de Jamaica. Dos días antes del concierto, Marley sobrevive a un intento de asesinato, pero decide subir al escenario de todos modos. Es un acto de compromiso y convicción que parece el final de una película y no el principio de una. Marley decide marcharse de la ciudad y se traslada a Londres —donde tiene un encontronazo con la policía por culpa de los leones de Trafalgar Square en lugar de Zion— para grabar su álbum Exodus, que a la postre ser

The best Italian movies of all time: from ‘Bicycle Thieves’ to ‘The Great Beauty’

The best Italian movies of all time: from ‘Bicycle Thieves’ to ‘The Great Beauty’

There’s a reason Martin Scorsese has dedicated part of his life to championing Italian movies – and it’s not just to keep his nonna happy. It’s the national cinema that gave us Fellini, Visconti, Rossellini, Pasolini, and De Sica – where one minute you can corpse to the slapstick silliness of Commedia all'Italiana capers and the next, have your heart smashed into tiny pieces by a human drama about an old man and his dog. Where dodgy politics spawns angry thrillers and seismic historical events are tackled in sweeping epics. And where Clint Eastwood chewed on a cheroot while dispatching bad guys, and Argento and Bava gave us the lurid shocks of giallo. It’s flamboyant, glamorous, jaded, shocking and sexy – sometimes all at once.  And it’s not just sexy people standing in fountains, either. Rome’s famous old Cinecittà Studios powers on, the Venice Biennale is the world’s coolest film festival (sorry, Cannes), and modern-day moviemakers like Alice Rohrwacher, Matteo Garrone, Paolo Sorrentino and Gianfranco Rosi keep offering up fresh slices of la dolce vita (or its darker sides). With the BFI celebrating the work of the Taviani brothers in February and neorealism in May-June, a ‘Cinema Made in Italy’ season running at London’s Ciné Lumière in March, Rohrwacher’s La Chimera and Garrone’s Oscar-nominated Io Capitano coming to cinemas soon, not to mention a cinema re-release of Rome, Open City in May. There’s plenty of Italian films to sample out there. Allow us to add 50 more to t

The best movies of 2023

The best movies of 2023

Don’t call it a comeback, but 2023 was the year audiences came back to the movies. That’s a quantifiable fact: in North America, total domestic box office hit the highest marks since before the pandemic. But even if you didn’t look up the hard numbers, movies just felt bigger than they have in a long while. Barbie and Oppenheimer led the charge, of course, becoming not just the biggest movie event of the year but maybe the most significant pop culture happening behind Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. By itself, that’s major – any time a black-and-white biopic about the inventor of the atomic bomb and a garishly coloured satire of a 60-year-old toy franchise become inextricably linked, that’s a good sign for cinema’s resurgent health. But it wasn’t just Barbenheimer. Across the Spider-Verse gave the flagging superhero genre a shot in the arm. Martin Scorsese dropped another masterpiece, M3GAN reinvented the killer doll movie for the A.I. era and went mega-viral, while small-time charmers like Theater Camp, Scrapper and Rye Lane reasserted the vitality of indie filmmaking. Even in the wake of the writer and actor strikes, it seemed like there was a spark at the multiplex again. These are our picks for the best. RECOMMENDED: 🫶 The best movies of 2024 (so far)📺 The best TV and streaming shows of 2023🎥 The 100 greatest movies ever made

The 100 best TV shows of all time you have to watch

The 100 best TV shows of all time you have to watch

‘The idiot box’. ‘The boob tube’. ‘The opiate of the masses’. For decades, television was maligned as one of the lowest forms of entertainment available, a conduit for hypnotising slop was actively making the populace dumber. Was that perception justified? Maybe, at times. The fact that it was being beamed directly into your home, and you had little choice in what to watch, made it seem worse.   Now, 70 or so years after it became widely available, other mediums are having to play catch up. The best shows compete with movies for cultural positioning, while elite filmmakers make movies for the small screen. The premiere of The Sopranos in 1999 is credited as the big bang that changed TV’s reputation, and the advent of streaming has made it so viewers actually have more to watch than anyone could possibly consume in an entire lifetime.   That makes selecting the 100 greatest TV shows much more of a challenge than it would have been 20 years ago. For that reason, we elected to limit the field a bit, leaving off talk shows, docuseries, variety shows and sketch comedy, instead focusing on scripted, episodic dramas, comedies and miniseries. Even then, it proved to be an exhausting task – after all, television has been popular since after World War II. While this list is dominated by 21st century programs, there are hundreds of shows from the pre-Sopranos era that deserve credit for pushing TV forward into its current golden age. Here’s what we chose as the best of the best. Recomme

The best films of 2019 (you probably didn’t see)

The best films of 2019 (you probably didn’t see)

‘Avengers: Endgame’, ‘Joker’ and co ruled the box office but there were plenty of smaller gems that didn’t get the same airtime or budgets but offered quieter wonders. Here’s our pick of the indies and arthouse films that stood the test of time in 2019.

Classics Corner: William Friedkin talks ‘Sorcerer’

Classics Corner: William Friedkin talks ‘Sorcerer’

Why did you want to remake ‘The Wages of Fear’?‘I don’t consider it a remake. The characters are different, the situations are different, the beginning and the ending and maybe everything in between, with perhaps one exception, are different from [director Henri-Georges] Clouzot’s great movie. I thought the story by Georges Arnaud had a tremendous shelf life and it hadn’t been widely seen in America when it came out in the ’50s – and that was a butchered version. The whole ending of Clouzot’s film had been changed. I thought of it as a timeless story that could be filmed once again in a completely different set of circumstances.’ What did you respond to in the material?‘There is an overriding theme: four strangers having to co-operate in taking two loads of dynamite to put out an oil-well fire, which is clearly a metaphor for the world. Unless countries can find a way to co-operate, they will all blow up together. ‘Wages of Fear’ is a kind of metaphor for co-operation or destruction. That seemed to me to be a valid theme – even more so today.’ Is it true it started life as a small movie while you were waiting to direct the big budget ‘Devil’s Triangle’? ‘No, it started it life as the way it was intended to start life. Almost all of the stuff in it had not been done before. The essential events that make up the journey. What I did – what had not been done in the novel or Clouzot’s masterpiece – was [include] back stories for the four guys. It started life as the script that wa

Five Han mysteries we want ‘Solo’ to solve

Five Han mysteries we want ‘Solo’ to solve

1. How did Han get his go-it-alone surname?We know that Han is an orphan from the planet Corellia, who briefly tried to join the evil Empire but dropped out to find his childhood love, Qi’ra. But how did he earn that strangely specific surname? 2. How comes he speaks Chewbacca’s language?‘Solo’ reveals that our hero met his furry bestie Chewbacca in a mud fight, just like 1980s female wrestlers. But how did he became fluent in Shyriiwook, the Wookiee language? Did he take an online course or just pick it up between TIE Fighter attacks? 3. What’s the deal with Lando?Han has always been frenemies with fellow hustler Lando Calrissian – last seen played by Billy Dee Williams in ‘Return of the Jedi’ – though it’s a rivalry based mostly on who’s coolest. The correct answer, of course, is Lando – especially now with Donald Glover, aka hip hop star Childish Gambino, donning his cloak. A rumour that he raps ‘This Is Cloud City’ while stormtroopers quell a riot is sadly unfounded. 4. How did Solo get the Millennium Falcon?We know Han won his iconic spaceship from Lando in a card game. But how exactly did that showdown play out? The ship is in good nick in ‘Solo’: it has a nifty bar, walk-in wardrobes and pristine corridors. We know from the beaten-up Falcon of ‘Star Wars’ that this doesn’t last. Does Chewie throw a keg party? 5. What happened on the Kessel Run?For the uninitiated, that’s the hyperspace route used to smuggle narcotics from the spice mines of Kessel. (Best to just go w

The best films for kids this Easter

The best films for kids this Easter

At Easter there are only so many egg hunts and chocolate-eating sessions kids can take over one bank holiday. And while there are heaps of activities for kids happening, you can't go wrong with a trip to the movies. From pesky rabbits to battling superheroes, operatic fairy tales to time-travelling fantasy, this holiday there’s a bumper crop of new family-friendly film releases to keep kids of all ages occupied during the school break.  RECOMMENDED: Crack open the full guide to Easter in London

Six London locations with ‘Star Wars’ history

Six London locations with ‘Star Wars’ history

We scoured the galaxy – well, Greater London – for half a dozen locations that have helped make the ‘Star Wars’ franchise what it is. Pack your virtual Oyster card and join our tour de Force...

Listings and reviews (20)

Bob Marley: One Love

Bob Marley: One Love

3 out of 5 stars

Bob Marley: One Love is a strange mixture of the authentic and the broad. Taking place in a perma-fug of ganja smoke, director Reinaldo Marcus Green’s (King Richard) intermittently engaging portrait of the reggae superstar is shot through with sincere intentions, but too often leans into the trite.  In some senses, it most resembles Bohemian Rhapsody in its inclination to tell its story in the most obvious, ham-fisted strokes (when a character comes to Marley asking for redemption, cut to the singer playing ‘Redemption Song’). But happily, also like Bohemian Rhapsody, it is (ahem) redeemed by a great central performance, this time by Kingsley Ben-Adir (One Night in Miami…), who finds a truth in Marley the writing and direction can’t.  The movie starts strong. At the height of his fame in 1976, the politically neutral Marley agrees to headline the Smile Jamaica Concert, an attempt to diffuse the country’s rising tensions brought about by conflicts between the governing People’s National Party and the Jamaica Labour Party. Two days before the concert, Marley survives an assassination attempt, but decides to take to the stage anyway. It’s an act of commitment and conviction that feels like it would provide a satisfying end to a movie as opposed to the beginning of one.  Marley decides to skip town and moves to London (cue a run in with coppers over the lions in Trafalgar Square rather than Zion) to record his ultimately groundbreaking album ‘Exodus’. At this point, One Love sink

Werner Herzog: Radical Dreamer

Werner Herzog: Radical Dreamer

4 out of 5 stars

‘A good soldier of cinema’ is how German filmmaking legend Werner Herzog self-identifies and documentarian Thomas von Steinaecker’s portrait makes a highly enjoyable case for the description. Ultimately, Herzog’s life is far too big and untameable to be contained in a 90-minute profile, but Radical Dreamer is an excellent study of a true visionary. It nimbly doubles as delivering new food for thought for long-time Herzogheads and an accessible primer for anyone looking to get into his committed, uncompromising, occasionally bat-shit crazy worldview. Compared to his subject, von Steinaecker is timid in his filmmaking approach, exploring Herzog’s career in a linear, formally traditional fashion. But he assembles an excellent cast of talking heads – Wim Wenders, Volker Schlöndorff, Nicole Kidman, Chloé Zhao, Christian Bale and Robert Pattinson – and the source material is so rich, the film doesn’t have to try too hard. For the drama and hoopla surrounding Herzog’s life consistently throws up docu-gold; the time he walked in a straight line from Munich to Paris to visit his ailing mentor Lotte Eisner; the time he ate a boot; the time he is shot with an air rifle while talking to Mark Kermode and continues talking like nothing happened (‘It wasn’t that serious a gunshot wound,’ he says simply). If nothing else, Radical Dreamer is a never-ending stream of great anecdotes. The sections that deal with his filmography, from his days as a pioneer of the New German Cinema movement of th

The Boys in the Boat

The Boys in the Boat

3 out of 5 stars

Let’s be fair, there isn’t a great movie about rowing (Marriage Story is a terrific film about rowing but that’s a whole other thing). While its cinematic zenith might have come in David Fincher’s The Social Network, the sport has yet to spawn its defining masterpiece, a Raging Bull on water or a Hoop Dreams with oars. Frankly, The Boys in the Boat isn’t it. Based on Daniel James Brown’s popular 2013 book, George Clooney’s ninth film as a director turns the story of a 1930s underdog collegiate rowing team into a predictable, anodyne but likeable and well-meaning retread of every cliché in the Sports Movie playbook.  Bookended by a saccharine Saving Private Ryan-esque framing device that sees composer Alexandre Desplat at his most twee, the action proper takes place in Seattle, Washington in 1936. Joe Rantz (Callum Turner, low-key but engaging) is a dedicated but poverty-stricken student at the University of Washington who discovers the only way he can earn money and put a roof over his head is to make his way onto the college rowing team.  Negotiating some strangely flat training montages, Joe makes the final eight, a team of square-jawed, greased-back-hair have-nots. In typically Clooney-esque social crusading mode, they not only take on the posh kids at elite schools but later go up against the might of the Nazis at the Berlin Olympics (look out for a squirm-inducing meeting with Jesse Owens, and Hitler spitting feathers as the Yanks do their stuff).  A predictable but lik

One Life

One Life

3 out of 5 stars

From 1973-94, That’s Life! was a BBC TV magazine show that bizarrely toggled between consumer affairs and a so-called ‘sideways’ look at life (basically vegetables that resembled genitals). Perhaps it’s only worthwhile, deeply poignant moment – one that does the rounds on social media roughly every 4 months – features an elderly man, Nicholas Winton, who is gobsmacked to discover he is sitting in the studio audience surrounded by some of the now grown-up children he rescued from war-torn Czechoslovakia some 50 years earlier. James Hawes’s One Life – the title is drawn from the Hebrew scripture: ‘He who saves one life saves the world entire’ – dramatises Winton’s story with a restraint that is at once admirable but perhaps hamstrings its effectiveness as a drama. Winton is often called ‘the British Oskar Schindler’. Held back by a more conservative aesthetic and emotional approach, One Life comes nowhere near the power and veracity of Steven Spielberg’s film. But it does have an ace in the hole in Anthony Hopkins, whose performance delivers a subtle but profound gut-punch. The screenplay by Lucinda Coxon (The Danish Girl) and co-writer Nick Drake flits between 1938, just after the annexation of the Sudetenland, and the sedate surrounds of 1980s Berkshire. In the pre-war sections, ‘Nicky’ (played with gusto by Johnny Flynn) is a London bank worker – dogged and good with paperwork – who is drawn into the refugee crisis in Prague and forms the British Committee for Refugees to ev

Typist Artist Pirate King

Typist Artist Pirate King

3 out of 5 stars

Sounding for all the world like a Thom Yorke solo album, Typist Pirate Artist King is actually a fanciful biopic of neglected artist Audrey Amiss (the title comes from her listed occupation in her passport), played with maximum vim and vigour by the ever-brilliant Monica Dolan (W1A, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa). For the uninitiated, Amiss is a Sunderland born painter who studied at the Royal Academy during the 1950s, suffered a breakdown and was in and out of institutions for the rest of her life. Taking a job as a typist, she continued to produce a constant flow of unseen sketches detailing her everyday life and compiled a stream-of-conscious journal, augmented by found objects (Frosties packets, Maltesers wrappers). Writer-director Carol Morley (Dreams of a Life, The Falling) discovered the treasure trove of Amiss’ work at the Wellcome Collection archive and used it as a jumping off point for a sensitive, enjoyable, slightly aimless but perfectly performed portrait of a cantankerous woman on fire. Morley has reimagined Amiss’s life as a road trip after the artist cajoles her long-suffering psychiatric care worker Sandra (Kelly Macdonald) to drive her to a local gallery to see if it will exhibit her work. What the canny Audrey doesn’t initially reveal is that the gallery is local to her hometown of Sunderland, drawing Sandra into a London to Tyne and Wear trek in her yellow hatchback (named Sunshine), Audrey dubbing her driver Sandra Panza to her Don Quixote, another itineran

Strange Way of Life

Strange Way of Life

4 out of 5 stars

Strange Way Of Life is a much more muted, melancholy flick than the notion of a Pedro Almodóvar western suggests (if you were hoping for the camp of Lust In The Dust, forget it). The Spanish filmmaker’s second English language flick (after Tilda Swinton short The Human Voice), and his first period picture, is just 31 minutes long, but mines deeper reserves of feeling than films four times its length. Turning a queer eye on the historically straight-shooting guy, Almodóvar’s film centres on the reunion of old friends Silva (Pedro Pascal, effortlessly charismatic) and Jake (Ethan Hawke, flawlessly taciturn and grizzled). Silva rides into – Symbolic Name Alert – Bitter Creek, the town Jake now presides over as Sheriff. The pair catch up over stew and wine and end up in bed together, Almodóvar eschewing explicit sex for suggestive detail (the men pick out clean white underwear together the following morning). In flashback we learn Silva and Jake’s backstory – a vino-fuelled tryst that blossomed into a two-month affair – and here the film does get physical. But it transpires Silva has a secret agenda beyond rekindling previous passions.   It mines deeper reserves of feeling than films four times its length The short is a collab with fashion house Saint Lauren – Pascal sports a mint green jacket ripped straight off James Stewart’s back in Bend Of The River – but never feels like a lame-o promotional effort. Shot in the Spanish town of Almeria where Sergio Leone made his Dollars tr

The Innocent

The Innocent

3 out of 5 stars

There’s a scene in The Innocent where Clémence, played by Noémie Merlant, is sitting in a bland diner and orders a ‘Coke Zero with sugar’. That doubles as a pretty good descriptor of co-writer-director-star Louis Garrel’s likeable, frothy fourth flick as a filmmaker, a movie that mashes up crime film tropes with family drama, an under-seasoned romance and bits of farcical comedy into a watchable, but not completely satisfying, confection.  The stupidly good-looking Garrel —who, as a performer, has worked for Bernardo Bertolucci, Xavier Dolan and Greta Gerwig in Little Women — plays Abel, a widower trying to come to terms with his actor mother Sylvie (Anouk Grinberg) marrying Michel (Roschdy Zem), an ex-con she met teaching theatre in prison. After Michel sets up Sylvie with her dream flower shop, Abel begins to get suspicious and, with the help of Clémence, a pal of his late wife, starts to investigate. Cue broad, entertaining scenes of inept surveillance and sleuthing that recall the heyday of Jacques Clouseau — a scene involving a stakeout in a parked car is priceless.  As a filmmaker, Garrel shows some imagination: the aquarium Abel works in is beautifully lit, split screens and silent film iris effects pop in and out, and the French synth-pop soundtrack provides extra zip. Crucially, though, you never feel he has a complete grasp of tone. The film swings from car chases to navel-gazing conversations but never coalesces into a controlled, coherent feel. There’s a haphazard

Little Richard: I Am Everything

Little Richard: I Am Everything

4 out of 5 stars

‘I’m the emancipator and the architect!’ says Little Richard in archive footage at the start of I Am Everything. ‘I’m the one that started it all!’ Lisa Cortés’ conventional but exciting, enthralling documentary makes a compelling case that Richard was not only the architect of rock ’n’ roll as we know it but also an outlier in infusing Black-gay attitude and aesthetics into popular culture.  Mixing direct to camera reminiscences from titans such as Mick Jagger and Tom Jones with more telling contributions from African-American/queer academics (Zandria Robinson, Jason King), the portrait is as good on the electrifying music (‘Long Tall Sally’, ‘Lucille’, ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’, and ‘Good Golly, Miss Molly’) as it is on why Richard was a pioneering but complicated figure. His flamboyant, sexually fluid persona paved the way for the likes of Bowie, Elton John, Prince and Harry Styles. Perhaps even more importantly, he inspired John Waters’ pencil thin ‘tache.  Cortés sketches Richard Wayne Penniman’s life in chronological order, from his tough upbringing in Macon, Georgia, to hard-earned success, drugs and orgies, then giving up rock ’n’ roll to study theology and renounce his homosexuality. But certain themes recur: the sense that he (understandably) felt hard done by over the royalties he never got, the respect that was never forthcoming; and the lifelong internal battle between his religious faith and gender identity. To Cortés’ credit, rather than pure hagiography, I Am E

Beau is Afraid

Beau is Afraid

4 out of 5 stars

At one point in Beau is Afraid, we are treated to the once seen, never forgotten sight of a gigantic prosthetic cock and testicles. A metaphor for its hero’s sexual anxieties and hang ups, it’s also a literal manifestation of the ballsiness of the filmmaking on offer here. After elevating genre cinema with Hereditary and Midsommar to new heights of horror, Ari Aster’s third feature is even more ambitious, sending a deeply passive protagonist to visit his mother that transforms into a 179-minute odyssey (read: oddyssey) of increasingly nutzoid misadventures. It’s Aster back on his frazzled-families bullshit but this time swaps terror for a twisted kind of black humour and ultimately finds new notes not present in his work to date. For most of us, the only thing we have to navigate visiting our mothers are train strikes and interrupting Countdown. Timid, balding depressive Beau Wasserman (Phoenix), has to contend with a neighbourhood beset by anarchy, a killer spider, aggressive lethal medication, a lack of cash, an unruly mob in his apartment and a naked serial killer named Birthday Boy Stab Man. In perhaps the most impressive filmmaking of his career, Aster piles on brilliant dark vignette after brilliant dark vignette. The result is a thrilling opening stanza, every twist and turn escalating Beau’s neuroses in funny, bravura, increasingly dizzying ways. The upshot of the perfectly staged shenanigans is that Beau misses his flight. As he goes to re-book, he learns his mother

Subject

Subject

4 out of 5 stars

If you’ve ever wondered why anyone would open themselves up to a documentary crew, Subject will cause you to ponder the question even further. Camilla Hall and Jennifer Tiexiera’s insightful flick pays equal attention to the personal costs and the broader implications surrounding ‘reality’ filmmaking. The fascinating result makes you glad your life isn’t so dramatic that it warrants the daily attention of a bearded man with a beanie and a fluffy microphone. Hall and Tiexiera’s MO is to sketch compassionate portraits of the ‘stars’ at the centre of some of the most notable documentaries of the last 20 years, concentrating on the often problematic aftermath; Margaret Ratliff, the grief stricken child who watched her father face the death penalty in The Staircase; Arthur Agee, the genius 14 year-old wannabe basketball star of Hoop Dreams; Jesse Friedman who spent 13 years in jail for sexually abusing children, a verdict challenged by Capturing The Friedmans; Mukunda Angulo who was imprisoned in a New York apartment by his coercive father in The Wolfpack. These people have had their lives turned upside down by putting their stories in someone else’s hands, mostly for the worse. ‘It messed up me and my sister so bad,’ admits Ratliff about The Staircase. The film is at its best exploring the knotty issues that infuse documentary practices, be it notions surrounding duty of care, filmmakers entering communities that are not their own or debating whether subjects getting paid for the

Damascus Cover

Damascus Cover

2 out of 5 stars

There are a lot of potentially interesting movies hiding inside ‘Damascus Cover’, based on Howard Kaplan’s 1977 novel, but unfortunately, none of them comes close to fruition. Part espionage thriller, part action flick, part character study of a man consumed by the spy life, Daniel Zelik Berk’s film doesn’t deliver the compelling subterfuge, political complexities, high-octane set-pieces or human dimensions to satisfy. Instead, it’s a mechanical retread of familiar spy tropes that does little to surprise or grip. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is undercover Israeli agent Ari Ben-Zion, who undertakes a dangerous mission in Syria, smuggling a chemical weapons scientist and his family out of Damascus. Posing as German carpet salesman Hans Hoffman, his sortie takes in Jürgen Prochnow’s former Nazi, a mysterious figure called ‘The Angel’ and USA Today photojournalist Kim (Olivia Thirlby) who reminds him of a life beyond deception. Cue double crosses, close calls and third-act reveals that shock no one. Still, the rugs are pretty. In lieu of elegant depictions of spycraft, ‘Damascus Cover’ serves up a hodge-podge of tired espionage tics from tin-eared dialogue (‘Follow that white car!’) to clichéd Middle Eastern musical cues to the well-worn idea of an undercover agent who doesn’t know who he is anymore. When it comes to the action, there is little bravura (or budget): the shoot-outs underpowered, the fistfights sub ‘Bourne’. John Hurt, in his final role, adds an elegiac note as Ari’s Mossad

Spitfire

Spitfire

3 out of 5 stars

A biography of the iconic fighter plane, ‘Spitfire’ mixes interviews with the last surviving pilots, remastered archive footage and beautifully shot, if over-used, footage of a Spitfire in flight. It’s traditional in form – Charles Dance delivers Stentorian commentary 101 – and adds little new to the story but it gets by on the powerful, touching, funny reminiscences from the pilots themselves. ‘Spitfire’ starts a biography of a machine, tracing its journey from designer’s RJ Mitchell drawing board (an icon of British resistance, it interestingly had design influences from Germany), but soon gets caught up in a retelling of the Battle of Britain itself. Cue Churchill speeches, things being pushed around on maps and people mentioning ‘the Hun’ a lot. A section detailing the plane’s role in North Africa feels different – the wing-mounted footage is exhilarating – but mostly the film delivers a familiar sortie into WWII documentary territory. ‘Spitfire’ is at its best when it gives the stage to the pilots, at once self-deprecatory (‘Being shot down didn’t appeal to me’) and honest (‘I can’t help it. I enjoyed it’). It also shines a light on the female pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary who flew the planes up and down the country between airfields, at one point touchingly granting 100-year-old Mary Wilkins the chance to fly in a Spitfire again. It does little to puncture the mythology surrounding the plane – we don’t hear from Luftwaffe pilots who faced it – but on the centena

News (1)

10 reasons why you need to see a Powell and Pressburger movie (on the big screen)

10 reasons why you need to see a Powell and Pressburger movie (on the big screen)

‘A reminder of what life and art are all about.’ That’s how Martin Scorsese describes the filmmaking partnership between Kent’s Michael Powell and Hungarian émigré Emeric Pressburger – arguably Britain’s greatest ever filmmaking partnership. Nominally Powell directed and Pressburger wrote (under the collective banner of The Archers) but their collaboration blurred standard distinctions forming a singularity of voice that remains magic. As the BFI launches a major retrospective, here is a primer for their unique brand of cinematic alchemy.   Photograph: BFI/Park Circus 1. They’re made on an epic scale P&P films are ambitious on every count; narratively, emotionally, cinematically and intellectually. ‘The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp’ charts the lifelong friendship of a British army office and his Prussian counterpart (perhaps a thinly veiled version of Powell and Pressburger themselves). ‘A Matter Of Life and Death’ tells the story of a RAF pilot on trial for his life in the afterlife (the escalator to heaven is iconic). Black Narcissus is built around a community of nuns in the Himalayas aroused by the arrival of a handsome stranger. Typically, these works are marked by wit, experimentation and maximum audacity. 2. They’re full of wonder P&P could also work in a smaller register. Shot in shimmering black and white, ‘A Canterbury Tale’ relocates Chaucer from the 14th century to World War II Britain. ‘I Know Where I’m Going’ is an intoxicatingly imaginative story of mystic

Tuning into the Academy Awards? Play along with our Oscars night bingo game

Tuning into the Academy Awards? Play along with our Oscars night bingo game

Oscars night is but a sleep or two away. You’ve filled in your ballot sheet, stocked up on snacks, and, depending on your timezone, stockpiled caffeinated beverages. What, you’re probably wondering, is still to be done in preparation for Hollywood’s gala event? Now more than ever, the Academy Awards seem to promise new and exotic forms of televised mayhem, it’s important to expect the unexpected. But there’s a few things we can be reasonably sure of this year: a very, very long standing ovation for Tom Cruise for officially saving cinema; an extended riff on the beach football scene in Top Gun: Maverick, probably involving Seth Rogen; someone getting played off as they’re in the process of dedicating their award to a late parent; and the ‘RRR’ song to blow the roof off the place. Meet our cut-out-and-keep Academy Awards night bingo card, an easy way to play along as the craziness unfolds. Simply take a pencil and cross the following moments off as they unfold. There are no prizes. Good luck! Photograph: Time Out Filling in your ballot? Here’s what we think will win at Sunday’s Academy Awards.How to have the ultimate Oscars-themed weekend in Los Angeles.