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April

Film Review: Death Wish, by Michael Winner
summary/excerpt

I went into Death Wish expecting a laugh a minute, but in that respect, I was disappointed. For all its faults, the movie was never meant to be a joke. It’s far too earnest, and it even tries to have a little bit of heart. The story arc follows a path so direct it could [...]

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March

Fiction Review: Harvest of Changelings, by Warren Rochelle
summary/excerpt

Warren Rochelle’s second novel, Harvest of Changelings, is about a group of outcast children with magical powers. Faced with terrible challenges, they band together and find solace and strength in each other. It’s a wonderful mix of Lord of the Rings, fairy lore, and coming of age story. The novel posits a reality in which [...]

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January

Film Review: The Golden Compass, by Chris Weitz
summary/excerpt

Let’s get on thing out of the way: I can’t imagine a much better adaptation of Philip Pullman’s novel Northern Lights. The Golden Compass has plenty of flaws, but they’re the flaws of Pullman’s clever, imaginative but often nonsensical book, and while Weitz could be criticized for being too faithful to source material which was bound to be nigh-impossible to translate, that criticism seems unfair. Weitz was always going to be between a rock and a hard place.

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December

Film Review: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, by Andrew Dominik
summary/excerpt

It’s not just that The Assassination of Jesse James is slow; it’s that it’s obstructively slow, in a way that serves no purpose except to make Dominik look terribly smart and artistic. It plods from one gorgeous, pointless set-piece to another, saying little, and worse giving no insight into a character that has become a cliché over the years, namely that of James himself.

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Film Review: American Gangster, by Ridley Scott
summary/excerpt

With films like Inside Man, The Departed and Zodiac all performing well in the last few months, the crime movie appears to be undergoing something of a renaissance. One element of that comeback is a return to the kind of smart, thoughtful crime films that flourished in the seventies. American Gangster follows that trend, not only on the obvious level that it’s set in the seventies, but with its grim urbanity, its muted colour palette, and its attempts to say something intelligent and to reach outside the specific sphere of crime and punishment to make wider social and political points.

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Film Review: Blade Runner, the Final Cut, by Ridley Scott
summary/excerpt

Blade Runner is one of the greatest films of the last century, and perhaps the greatest science-fiction movie of all time. Writers Hampton Fancher and David Peoples rifled through Philip K Dick’s magnificent, subversive novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, tacked on a dose of the emerging cyberpunk ethos and layered it all in a sheen of Chandler and Hammett. Then director Scott, having cut his sci-fi teeth in style with Alien, took those varied allusions and ran with them, creating in one fell swoop a new aesthetic of the future…

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Film Review: The Darjeeling Limited, by Wes Anderson
summary/excerpt

Anderson seems increasingly happy to wrap a group of devoted fans around himself … and which group you fall into depends on whether or not you get the joke. But at least with his previous films there was a joke to get. If there’s one in The Darjeeling Limited then either I missed it completely or (my personal theory) it just wasn’t very funny. Of course that criticism only holds up if you choose to think of it as a comedy, and often it’s hard to tell.

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November

Film Review: Brick Lane, by Sarah Gavron
summary/excerpt

An hour into Brick Lane I was all set to hate it. It seemed to be trying to sell me a brand of moral that I associate more with Disney films, where the most important thing in life is to be true to yourself, as long as being true to yourself means being white and middle class, or if you’re not, behaving like you are. But – though I’m still not certain there isn’t some element of truth in that – it recovers so drastically and so effectively in its last half hour that it’s hard to care.

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Film Review: 30 Days of Night, by David Slade
summary/excerpt

Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith’s 30 Days of Night did a lot to revitalize horror comics, largely thanks to a great and simple premise – a tiny town in the farthest reaches of Alaska is besieged by vampires through the length of a single month-long night. As anyone who remembers my review of odd Swedish chiller Frostbiten a few months back will know, I’ve been looking forward to this film adaptation for quite a while. So if you detect a note of crushing disappointment in the rest of the review then you know why.

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Film Review: Elizabeth The Golden Age, by Shekhar Kapur
summary/excerpt

Apparently Cate Blanchett was always on board with the idea of a second film, and the only reason for the considerable wait was her insistence on being a suitable age to play the Elizabeth of the script. It’s a nice idea, scuppered slightly by the fact that Blanchett is in her thirties, while Elizabeth was in her fifties when the events of the film occurred. Unfortunately for anyone who worries about such things, this level of inaccuracy is more the rule than the exception.

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