Film Review: Cop Secret (2021)

Cop Secret (or Leynilögga) is the Icelandic gay cop spoof movie you didn’t know you needed

“What’s up Bussi boy?”

What does the former goalkeeper for Iceland’s men’s football team do in his spare time? Why, make films of course, including the video for Iceland’s 2012 Eurovision, and has now released his feature debut which is a buddy cop movie with a queer bent. Hannes Þór Halldórsson is naturally my new hero and Cop Secret ain’t half bad as an occasionally wryly amusing comedy.

Bússi and Hörđur are rival hotshot detectives from neighbouring city districts in Reykjavík who, in time-honoured fashion, can’t stand each other and yet are forced to work together when a series of bank robberies in which nothing seems to be stolen perplexes everyone. But as Hörđur is a pan-sexual muscle Mary and Bússi is a closet case, their animosity can’t disguise their attraction. Continue reading “Film Review: Cop Secret (2021)”

Film Review: The Ones Below (2015)

A pyschological tussle between two pregnant couples makes The Ones Below a chilling and excellently acted watch

“In London, you never know your neighbours”

David Farr’s The Ones Below may be relatively short and self-contained but it manages a lot within that slow-burning space. Justin and Kate are a well-to-do upper-middle-class Islington couple expecting their first. Teresa and Jon have just moved into the flat below theirs and are nominally in the same position, though their pregnancy has been much more hard-fought. 

But as they straddle the lines between neighbours and friends, working out if they actually like each other, a tragic turn of events entirely resets this relationship. And the small differences – in their social standing, their attitudes, their own marriages – suddenly becomes magnified as they find themselves diametrically opposed in a psychological battle for the sanity of one of them. Continue reading “Film Review: The Ones Below (2015)”

Film Review: Death on the Nile (2022)

Kenneth Branagh returns to Poirot with Death on the Nile but for all its starry cast, it does feel rather hollow

“Mother doesn’t approve of anyone born outside of Mayfair

With Maggie Smith, Bette Davis and Angela Lansbury among the company in the 1978 film version, Kenneth Branagh was always going to be up against it in remounting Death on the Nile. But even as he assembles the compelling (Sophie Okonedo, Annette Bening), the curious (Dawn French AND Jennifer Saunders) and the controversial (Armie Hammer and Letitia Wright both having their own issues post-shoot), the end result is something quite trite.

I wasn’t much of a fan of his Murder on the Orient Express and there’s a number of the same issues that recur here. A heavy reliance on CGI is painfully conspicuous throughout which really flattens out so many scenes. And it is all very well gathering an all-star cast but if they’re not given the material to work with, then it is hard not to feel like it is a waste of their talents. Agatha Christie may bear a little responsibility in gathering such a disparate motley crew here but Branagh show no interest in helping to create more rounded characterisations. Continue reading “Film Review: Death on the Nile (2022)”

Film Review: The Last Duel (2021)

Much more engaging than it ought to be, medieval drama The Last Duel intrigues with its multiple points of view starring Matt Damon, Adam Driver and Jodie Comer

“There is no right, only the power of men”

Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel copped its fair share of bad headlines when its box office performance severely underwhelmed, so I had fairly limited expectations. But whilst it might not be the most subtle of films, this rape-revenge epic is interestingly conceived as it presents the perspective of its three main protagonists in three distinct chapters.

Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s screenplay is based on Eric Jager’s book The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France. And follows France’s last officially recognised judicial duel between noblemen Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris when the former’s wife Marguerite reports a rape by the latter. Continue reading “Film Review: The Last Duel (2021)”

27th Critics’ Choice Awards – winners

Best Picture
Belfast
CODA
Don’t Look Up
Dune
King Richard
Licorice Pizza
Nightmare Alley
WINNER – The Power of the Dog
tick, tick… BOOM!
West Side Story

Best Director
Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza
Kenneth Branagh – Belfast
WINNER Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
Guillermo del Toro – Nightmare Alley
Steven Spielberg – West Side Story
Denis Villeneuve – Dune Continue reading “27th Critics’ Choice Awards – winners”

Film Review: Eternal Beauty (2019)

Sally Hawkins is scorchingly good in Craig Roberts’ Eternal Beauty, as effective a screen portrayal of mental illness as there’s ever been

“Mike reckons I’m better than Céline Dion”

With films like Eternal Beauty on her CV, it is hard to understand why Sally Hawkins isn’t feted as one of our absolute finest actors. She may have two Academy Award nominations under her belt but it doesn’t feel like she’s celebrated anywhere near as much as her talent dictates it should.

It may be that her role as Jane here could be seen as challenging. As a young woman rocked with mental health challenges, the immersion into the strange contours of her world is certainly startling. Haunted by past events and hobbled by an appalling family, it is little wonder she’s retreated into herself. Continue reading “Film Review: Eternal Beauty (2019)”

Film Review: Misbehaviour (2020)

Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Jessie Buckley lead a fabulous ensemble in the highly entertaining Misbehaviour

“The only other forum in which participants are weighed, measured and publicly examined before being assigned their value is a cattle market”

As far as films set in the world of beauty pageants go, Miss Congeniality will always take some beating but Misbehaviour makes a good stab at joining it on the podium. Director Philippa Lowthorpe and screenwriters Rebecca Frayn and Gaby Chiappe nail the Britflick vibes of this true story from the 1970 Miss World competition and how the nascent women’s lib movement managed to hijack it.

It does that with the kind of ensemble cast that makes pretty much every scene of the movie a delight. Lesley Manville! John Heffernan! Amanda Lawrence! Jo Herbert! And with Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Jessie Buckley in starring roles, the main thrust of the film is a winner too as it takes a light-hearted look at some very much not light-hearted issues. Continue reading “Film Review: Misbehaviour (2020)”

Film Review: Never Let Me Go (2010)

Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley all impress in the muted tones of this adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go

“Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time”

It is years since I first watched Never Let Me Go and it’s kinda interesting to look back now and see it capturing an early(ish) career moment for three young British actors who all now boast 2 Oscar nominations to their names. Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley have all done pretty well for themselves and this film is an interesting, offbeat showcase for them all.

Adapted from the Kazuo Ishiguro novel by Alex Garland, it takes a sci-fi concept and removes all of the futuristic, tech stuff from it, leaving bare a stark tale of humanity. The trio play Kathy, Tommy and Ruth who all attend the same boarding school in an alt-reality Britain where their health and wellbring is being prioritised above all else, but for a grimly chilling purpose. Continue reading “Film Review: Never Let Me Go (2010)”

Film Review: Dead in a Week Or Your Money Back (2018)

There’s some cracking talent here – Nigel Lindsay, Marian Bailey, Christopher Eccleston – but the tone of Dead in a Week Or Your Money Back can’t help but feel a tad misjudged

“You’re only alive because I haven’t killed you yet”

After a whole lotta Killing Eve in preparation for its new series, a pal recommended Dead in a Week Or Your Money Back for a slightly more light-hearted take on the assassin genre. And Tom Edmunds’ 2018 film is certainly that, if a little too casual perhaps in the cavalier way it deals with its main theme of suicide. 

Aneurin Barnard plays William, a severely depressed young writer who has had little success in getting published and equally no success in taking his own life. Whilst failing at attempt #10, he’s approached by hitman Leslie (Tom Wilkinson) who offers to do the job professionally for him. William books him in but then of course, gets a call from a hot young publisher who has taken an interest in both him and his book. Continue reading “Film Review: Dead in a Week Or Your Money Back (2018)”