The Spectator

Tomatometer-approved publication
Rating Title/Year Author
The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019) Deborah Ross Armando Iannucci's adaptation of Charles Dickens's David Copperfield is a romp told at a lick, and while it's fun and likeable with fantastic casting - Hugh Laurie as Mr Dick is especially sublime - it is not particularly immersive or memorable. EDIT
Posted Jan 23, 2020
East Side, West Side (1949) Virginia Graham If the whole thing seems shinier than real life, it never skids into the unbelievable. EDIT
Posted Jan 22, 2020
All the King's Men (1949) Virginia Graham In short, this story of blackmail, graft and intimidation makes a powerful and interesting film, and much of the honour due to it must go to Mr. Robert Rossen, its director. EDIT
Posted Jan 22, 2020
A Hidden Life (2019) Deborah Ross It does have a certain hypnotic, cumulative power - it may just be all those mountains - if you can stick with it. But there is no guarantee that you will be able to. EDIT
Posted Jan 17, 2020
1917 (2019) Deborah Ross But while it is narratively samey, with jeopardy heaped upon jeopardy, and never strays from dramatic convention - it's a race-against-time thriller, as well as an against-all-the-odds one - it is also urgent and involving and we care. EDIT
Posted Jan 9, 2020
Little Women (2019) Deborah Ross This is an adaptation that is as satisfying as it is intelligent. New generation? Old generation? Who cares? EDIT
Posted Dec 18, 2019
Ordinary Love (2019) Deborah Ross Not very Christmassy, you might think, but it's not a 'cancer story', as has been said in some quarters, it's a love story, told profoundly and beautifully and honestly rather than cloyingly or sentimentally. EDIT
Posted Dec 5, 2019
The Two Popes (2019) Deborah Ross Unquestionably, it is the most papal fun I've had in years. EDIT
Posted Dec 1, 2019
King Lear (2018) James Walton And naturally, with Hopkins on board, the rest of the cast was pretty terrific as well - to the point of unexpectedly turning King Lear into something of an ensemble piece. EDIT
Posted Nov 26, 2019
Marriage Story (2019) Deborah Ross It's certainly not the most fun you'll ever have at the cinema - although it is witty and there are some brilliantly comic lines - but you will see something riveting, detailed, authentic and excellent. EDIT
Posted Nov 15, 2019
The Irishman (2019) Deborah Ross I wasn't bored for a single minute which, given there are 210 of them, has to be a triumph, surely. EDIT
Posted Nov 7, 2019
Love Actually (2003) Mark Steyn Love Actually isn't in love with anyone except itself: it's like watching a practised lounge lizard go through his repertoire. EDIT
Posted Nov 5, 2019
Doctor Sleep (2019) Jasper Rees It's all a bit Scooby Doo with better CGI. EDIT
Posted Oct 31, 2019
Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) Thomas W. Hodgkinson Terminator 6 is a worthy addition to the series, which shows that, whatever that thing is that separates us from machines, and which machines will never be able to fake, Arnie has it. And it still counts. EDIT
Posted Oct 24, 2019
Imitation of Life (1934) Charles Davy Imitation of Life is a long film, full of faithful detail, but often slow and often dull. EDIT
Posted Oct 21, 2019
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019) Deborah Ross Spectacle is no substitute for storytelling and the storytelling is a leaden mess. EDIT
Posted Oct 17, 2019
The Day Shall Come (2019) Deborah Ross It is funny, fitfully, but it asks us to laugh at someone I wasn't sure we should be laughing at, plus it is repetitive and acts like we didn't get the joke the first time, when we did. EDIT
Posted Oct 10, 2019
Judy (2019) Deborah Ross Zellweger captures Garland's jittery, broken-bird fragility (if not the singing voice) and I was often on the edge of my seat. EDIT
Posted Oct 3, 2019
Joker (2019) Deborah Ross A masterpiece, or irresponsible trash? You decide. Or just step away, and spare yourself the grief. That's probably for the best. EDIT
Posted Oct 3, 2019
The Goldfinch (2019) Deborah Ross It is, indeed, beautiful to look at, but it's not layered or textured or meaningful and it plays like a tiresome, empty blockbuster that goes on and on and on. EDIT
Posted Sep 26, 2019
The Farewell (2019) Deborah Ross There are no grand declarations or tear-stained confrontations, as it's not Downton, mercifully. And if you think grandma knows the truth and is fooling everybody else, you will need to think again, as it's just not clichéd in this way. EDIT
Posted Sep 19, 2019
Downton Abbey (2019) Deborah Ross It's critic-proof and the fans will race to see it even though it is, in truth, extremely predictable as well as extremely dull. EDIT
Posted Sep 12, 2019
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) Graham Greene It is a great film, even though it is not a great story, acted by a magnificent cast, so that Capra can afford to fling away on tiny parts men like Eugene Pallette, Guy Kibbee, Thomas Mitchell and Harry Carey. EDIT
Posted Sep 11, 2019
Each Dawn I Die (1939) Graham Greene The picture goes out in a blast of bombs and bullets: odd that it leaves so little impression behind. EDIT
Posted Sep 11, 2019
Never Say Die (1939) Graham Greene But the most enjoyable film for weeks has slipped by un- noticed among the heroic and romantic. Never Say Die is consistently absurd... EDIT
Posted Sep 11, 2019
Kentucky (1938) Graham Greene Kentucky is the first film I have seen which has been made by its colour. EDIT
Posted Sep 11, 2019
The Dawn Patrol (1938) Graham Greene It is quite a good picture, well-directed and in some cases well-acted, but I don't believe it's true-a great deal of self- pity and romanticism have gone to the making of this excellent ham-sandwich. EDIT
Posted Sep 11, 2019
Idiot's Delight (1939) Graham Greene Over-acting could hardly go further... EDIT
Posted Sep 11, 2019
21 Days Together (1939) Graham Greene The brilliant acting of Mr. Hay Petrie as a decayed and outcast curate cannot conquer the overpowering flavour of cooked ham. EDIT
Posted Sep 11, 2019
The Stars Look Down (1939) Graham Greene Since this is the story of a mine disaster his work will inevitably be compared with Pabst's in Kameradschaft : he can bear the comparison. EDIT
Posted Sep 11, 2019
Scarborough (2018) Deborah Ross It is well directed and it is well performed and while certain plot points don't add up... there is a neat twist at the end that you absolutely don't see coming. EDIT
Posted Sep 5, 2019
The Souvenir (2019) Deborah Ross Julie unfolds slowly, as does the film, and sometimes conversations start, stutter, stall, go nowhere. But the leads are both sensational and it's not paint drying, whatever anyone may say. EDIT
Posted Aug 30, 2019
Dolor y gloria (2019) Deborah Ross Pain and Glory, is wonderfully restrained and all the better for it EDIT
Posted Aug 22, 2019
Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood (2019) Deborah Ross I can't say what this adds up to. I can only say I was never bored and while the ending - brace yourself - has proved divisive. EDIT
Posted Aug 15, 2019
Blinded by the Light (2019) Jasper Rees However familiar they may be, it's in these clashes, when everyone stops fixating on Springsteen, that the film feels most visceral and authentic. EDIT
Posted Aug 8, 2019
The Blue Angel (1930) Edgar Anstey There can be few moments in the cinema more truly horrible than the scene when the ruined professor shambles on to the stage of the disreputable tavern. EDIT
Posted Aug 6, 2019
Photograph (2019) Deborah Ross There are some nice touches, and the bustle of Mumbai is always fascinating, and the performances are good all-round, but whatever Batra hoped this would add up to it doesn't. EDIT
Posted Aug 1, 2019
Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love (2019) Deborah Ross Really, it is hard to fathom what the point of this is beyond, say, noting that the Hydra survivors have aged quite badly so, kids, stay out the sun. EDIT
Posted Jul 25, 2019
() Iris Barry Lincoln's life and his character... are on the heroic scale, and this film has excellently recreated both; but more than that, it has an unaffected simplicity and naturalness very much more powerful than any mock-romance. EDIT
Posted Jul 23, 2019
Mons (1926) Iris Barry Mons is a picture in a thousand, one which each single individual should see. It is a purge for apathy and forgetfulness as well as an inspiration. EDIT
Posted Jul 23, 2019
Les aventures extraordinaires de Michel Strogoff (2004) Iris Barry This spectacular film from France, with its surging mobs and bloodthirsty incidents, leaves one with a rather mixed impression. It is not a good film, but it is a little enjoyable. EDIT
Posted Jul 23, 2019
The Big Sleep (1946) Basil Wright It is brilliantly directed and photographed. It moves with breathless speed. The acting is admirable. The dialogue (Raymond Chandler and William Faulkner are among those credited) is of an unusually high level of humour and crispness. EDIT
Posted Jul 22, 2019
L'Atalante (1934) Basil Wright Again, and unrepentantly, I call attention to the purity of Vigo's filmic conception, to his genius for presenting the world to us in subjective terms, in terms of the secret and not the public life of the human being. EDIT
Posted Jul 22, 2019
The Lion King (2019) Deborah Ross You'll want to pluck Simba from the screen and give him a cuddle. EDIT
Posted Jul 18, 2019
Black Eyes (1940) Graham Greene Baur, too, is a great enough actor to lend what might otherwise seem a somewhat grotesque situation genuine suspense... EDIT
Posted Jul 16, 2019
Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939) Graham Greene There is no doubt any longer of Miss Durbin's immense talents as an actress ; any undertones that there are in this amusing, astute and sentimental tale are supplied by her. EDIT
Posted Jul 16, 2019
Les Biches (1968) Penelope Houston The whole film has a sleek, well-fed look to it, as though Chabrol himself were purring with satisfaction at his own dexterity. As well, on the whole, he might. EDIT
Posted Jul 11, 2019
The Red and the White (1967) Penelope Houston After only a couple of films, the landscape of Miklos Jancso is already one of the most unmistakable in cinema. EDIT
Posted Jul 11, 2019
The Queen (1968) Penelope Houston The competition itself is decorous and dull. EDIT
Posted Jul 11, 2019
Wonderwall (1969) Penelope Houston Self-indulgent whimsy, with not a great deal to be self-indulgent about. EDIT
Posted Jul 11, 2019