Sleepless | Review

★★

Sleepless is the 2017 remake of Frédéric Jardin’s Nuit Blanche, released six years ago, that you never knew you wanted. This is, of course, predominantly because you didn’t, but that hasn’t not stopped Baran bo Odar from directing it anyway. Isn’t that nice of him. Whilst the first half is fair enough, if not actively good, it is in Sleepless’ second act that the plot swings from banal to bonkers, before finally bombing in boring.

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Lady Macbeth | Review

★★★★

Striking use of colour occupies endless layers of significance within William Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth, a film based on Nicolai Leskov’s socially conscious, nineteenth century novel ‘Lady Macbeth and the Mtsensk District’. From the soul-draining dull brown tones of the house’s interior to the brilliant blue worn throughout by Florence Pugh’s Katherine Leicester, much can be teased, in terms of character and emotional dynamics, through the chromatics of their scenes. Note too, an ensemble cast that is diverse in ethnicity, achieving the balance in a way that feels intelligent, relevant and perfectly appropriate. If anything heralds the success of Lady Macbeth, it is absolutely the uncompromising confidence of its conviction and artfulness of its cleverly cineliterate styling. It is a harmony that, in creating intense disharmony, makes for one highly satisfying experience.

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Miss Sloane | Review

★★★

From the very first to the final frame, Jessica Chastain sells Miss Sloane – John Madden’s thriller about a lobbyist who takes on the masterminds of Capitol Hill to manipulate the pushing through of strengthened gun restrictions in America. Hers is, with delicious irony, an all guns blazing performance of addictive watchability, which proves essential in holding together the film’s increasingly contrived plot. So good is Chastain here that she very nearly manages to lobby you into an assumption that the film is a political masterpiece. It’s not that, but it is good fun.

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A Dog’s Purpose | Review

★★

If you’re among the masses who remain totally convinced that 20th Century Fox missed a trick by not recruiting Werner Herzog to direct Marley and Me back in 2008, Lasse Hallström’s latest, A Dog’s Purpose (aka Nietzsche and Me), is probably the closest thing you’re ever likely to get to consolation.

This may look like cute, canine fun for all the family, but don’t be fooled – that’s what it wants you to think – the reality is a bleak, so-called adventure in which the film’s ‘Marley’ is euthanised within the first five minutes, before being promptly reborn as a Golden Retriever called Bailey, whose later death leads to a further two incarnations. Also tackled here are: the Cuban Missile Crises, domestic abuse, depression and animal neglect; not forgetting, of course, the philosophical question of ‘being’ that drives the plot.

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Rules Don’t Apply | Review

★★★★

When it comes to directing, Warren Beatty is no frequent flyer. By contrast, the muse of the Hollywood legend’s first feature since 1998’s Bulworth, Rules Don’t Apply, is none other than the aero-obsessive, billionaire-businessman, investor and occasional filmmaker, Howard Hughes.

Though the film’s production didn’t kick-start until early 2014, it was Beatty’s 1973 encounter with Hughes, at a hotel in which the tycoon had booked six rooms and four bungalows for ‘the girls’, that initially inspired its forty-four year process from concept to release. Though Rules Don’t Apply is no swan-song masterpiece, within it are swathing tides of perfection which ooze pure pleasure as they flow in and leave debris in their moments of recession. A quite remarkable obsession as produced a generally remarkable film.

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Whisky Galore! | Review

★★★★

When a film spends over a decade meandering in ‘development hell’, with producers abandoning it and its purpose-built production company going into administration, there’s a certain degree of trepidation that inevitably comes with said film’s eventual release. In the case of Gillies MacKinnon’s Whisky Galore! (first touted in the early noughties), the sense of wariness is only heightened by the fact that this particular long-awaited feature is a remake of a perennial Ealing comedy classic, of the sort that really don’t need remaking. Well, naysayers begone, MacKinnon’s adaption – inspired by the 1949 film from Alexander Mackendrick, the Compton Mackenzie book that inspired it, and the true story that kickstarted the chain alike – is a joy to behold.

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Mindhorn | Review

★★★

Enter Mindhorn blind and you might be surprised at just how starry the, Sean Foley directed, production’s cast list is. Without giving away the full roster (including one particularly rib-tickling cameo), Andrea Riseborough – so powerful in Channel 4’s National Treasure – holds a prime billing here, as does Steve Coogan – whose production company, Baby Cow, has associate credits too. From The Mighty Boosh, meanwhile, Julian Barratt takes the lead role of Richard Thorncroft, the washed-up former star of hit eighties, Isle of Man cop-drama: ‘Mindhorn’. Thorncroft’s career, once so promising as to boast merchandise, has hit the rocks since then and his agent (Harriet Walter) has all but given up of him. This is, of course, predominantly due to Thorncroft’s penchant for offending both his co-stars and the entire population of the Isle of Man alike. An infamous interview having proved particularly damning: ‘We’ve never forgotten what you said about us on Wogan’. The epitome of his fall from grace is that he now even suffers from the indignity of having been replaced by John Nettles in adverts for thrombosis socks. To add insult to injury, Thorncroft’s lost weight in his hair and found it in his waist.

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