Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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A third adaptation of Somerset Maugham's short story, 'Rain', with Rita Hayworth following in the hallowed footsteps of Gloria Swanson and Joan Crawford. Rita's at her fiery best during the film's musical numbers, and Jose Ferrer is creepily effective as her moral nemesis. But the original story is bowdlerised by the censorship of fifties Hollywood, and a lame romantic subplot doesn't help either.
This movie starts by giving Carole Lombard a black eye, and doesn't improve from there. Lombard is always worth watching, but her leading man, Preston Foster, lacks charm, and while the story has a few funny moments, there is a rather nasty, sexist undertone.
A heartbreaking film, and a devastating portrait of life in Britain today. I wouldn't say this was quite up there with Loach's finest work (Cathy Come Home, Kes), but at times it comes close. For me, the film's highlight was the brilliant performance of Hayley Squires as single mum Katie, recalling Loach's long line of tragic heroines dating back to Carol White. In 'I, Daniel Blake' the message transcends the medium - it should be mandatory viewing for anyone who has ever sneered at those less fortunate, and I hope the Palme D'Or won at Cannes will be only the first award it attains.
Another masterpiece from Andrea Arnold - a bleakly beautiful ode to the open road, and what it is to be young in 21st century America.
Starring two of my favourite actors - Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino - and helmed by one of my favourite directors, Nicholas Ray - I had high hopes for On Dangerous Ground, and it doesn't disappoint. Beginning as a fairly routine crime picture, it suddenly transforms into a kind of rural noir, and the outcome is incredibly moving.
I'm not a fan of superheroes, sci-fi, special effects or blockbusters in general, but I've always had a soft spot for Star Wars. I was 5 years old when the first movie (although some insist on calling it the fourth) came out. So taking my kids to see the latest instalment (not a prequel) almost 40 years later was going to be emotional. Director JJ Abrams has achieved a near-impossible feat, paying homage to the Star Wars legacy but also bringing it up to date. 'The Force Awakens' is thrilling, magical - all that a blockbuster should be, and by some distance the most purely enjoyable film I've seen this year.
Slow-burning exploration of the fragile relationship between a heroin-addicted jazz musician and his devoted teenage daughter, set in 1970s LA. John Hawkes and Elle Fanning are superb, with support from Glenn Close. Director Jeff Preiss builds on all the senses, from sumptuous visuals to layered jazz sounds.