Category: Film

Can music’s charms soothe a savage breast?

Bel
 Canto
 (15A)   Julianne Moore may not be Maria Callas in the singing department but she’s no slouch as an actress. In this ambitious adaptation of Ann Patchett’s acclaimed novel of the same name she plays soprano Roxane Coss. She’s interrupted in the middle of a private concert she’s giving to international dignitaries in a palace…

Anguished final years of a post-impressionist artist

At
 Eternity’s
 Gate
 (12A)   Hollywood has never really understood artists. Kirk Douglas won an Oscar nomination for essaying the role of Vincent van Gogh in Vincente Minnelli’s Lust for Life  in 1956 but his performance was way over the top. Jacques Dutronc presented him in a much more nuanced manner in Maurice Pialat’s Van Gogh in 1991.…

Mother-to-be rocked by fiancé’s arrest

If 
Beale
 Street
 Could
 Talk
 (15A)   Anyone who saw Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight would have been impressed by the quiet charm Trevante Rhodes  brought to the role of the character  called Chiron. (As you may remember, three actors played him  in various stages of his life). Stephan James reminded me a lot of him as Alonzo in Jenkins’ latest opus.…

Ebony-ivory bonding in the segregated south

Green
 Book
(PG)   Dull would he be of soul who could fail to warm to the black and white communion of Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali)  and Tony Lip (Viggo Mortenson) in this feelgood road movie. As a treatise on racism, though, it’s hackneyed. Likewise as a buddy-buddy feature, the tropes are overly familiar. I didn’t admire…

Surprise hits, tired conventions – another film year to remember

Satires, rom-coms, sitcoms, documentaries, cartoons, blockbusters, art movies, actioners, screwball comedies, retro noir dramas, earnest social issue statements, experimental failures and sleeper successes…the year was the usual mixed bag of surprise hits and tired conventions. Two papal films were released: Pope Francis: A Man of His Word and John Paul II in Ireland: A Plea…

Orphan bonds with alcoholic in tragicomic mish-mash

The
 Belly
 of
 the Whale
 (15A)   He dresses like a homeless person. He grunts as if he’s just climbed a mountain. His face bears the scars of 101 bad dawns. Yes, it’s Pat Shortt giving us the flipside of his comic persona in yet another of those down-at-heel roles that have become disarmingly familiar for him in recent years.…

Prodigal daughter returns to world that spurned her

Disobedience
 (15A) Head Orthodox rabbi Rav Krushka (Anton Lesser) stands on the altar of his London synagogue speaking about “the beasts of the flesh”. Then he collapses and dies. His estranged daughter Ronit (Rachel Weisz), a photographer living in New York, is informed of the news by her friend Esti (Rachel McAdams). She had an affair…