Highland Film Review

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  • Intolerable Cruelty (2003)

    January 30, 2020 by

    Intolerable Cruelty (2003). Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Starring George Clooney, Catherine Zeta Jones and Geoffrey Rush. ***1/2 George Clooney harnesses the suave, seductive qualities of prime Cary Grant and combines them with the facial flexibility of 90’s Jim Carrey in the Coen’s scattershot, screwball satire on the marital industry, particularly the sheer oddity… Read more

  • What Did Jack Do? (2020)

    January 29, 2020 by

    What Did Jack Do? (2020). Directed by David Lynch. Starring Jack Cruz and David Lynch. ***** Things are about as Lynchian as they can get in this 17-minute-long short film which packs in more laughs and quotable dialogue in its paltry run time than you would find in most studio birthed “comedies”. Taking inspiration from… Read more

  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

    January 25, 2020 by

    Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019). Directed by Jon Watt. Starring Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson and Jake Gyllenhaal. **** Spider-Man’s European Vacation benefits from some thrilling action set pieces and the emotional honesty of its take on Peter Parker’s enforced graduation from friendly neighbourhood hero to Iron Man replacing Avenger. While he would rather just… Read more

  • Ziegfeld Girl (1941)

    January 24, 2020 by

    Ziegfeld Girl (1941). Directed by Robert Z. Leonard. Starring James Stewart, Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr and Lana Turner. ** Robert Z. Leonard’s Ziegfeld Girls finds itself caught between glamorously portraying The Ziegfeld Follies in all their sequined, tasselly glory and constructing a grimy, realist tableau of the impact such short, sharp bursts of adulation and… Read more

  • La Ronde (1950)

    January 23, 2020 by

    La Ronde (1950). Directed by Max Ophuls. Starring Anton Walbrook, Simone Signoret and Simone Simon. ***1/2 Max Ophuls’s adaptation of the Arthur Schnitzler play is as light, frothy, diverting and ultimately as pointless as some culinary foam as he voyeuristically gazes at the revolving carousel of amorous encounters in 1900’s Vienna.  Loosely interconnected vignettes of… Read more

  • Alien: Covenant (2017)

    January 22, 2020 by

    Alien: Covenant (2017). Directed by Ridley Scott. Starring Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston and Billy Crudup. * Please could someone remove Ridley Scott’s tight grip from the reins of the Alien franchise? Or better still just put the whole thing to bed? Since Ridley’s return as creative visionary we have seen the worst two films in… Read more

  • Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese (2019)

    January 21, 2020 by

    Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese (2019). Directed by Martin Scorsese. Starring Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. **** Though it may seem a little meandering and obtuse in the early going, Martin Scorsese’s music-doc quickly turns into a compelling portrait of Bob Dylan at a ferociously motivated, intensely creative part of… Read more

  • Robert The Bruce (2019)

    January 16, 2020 by

    Robert The Bruce (2019). Directed by Richard Gray. Starring Angus MacFadyen, Anna Hutchison and Zach McGowan. ***1/2 Unfairly critically maligned and rather lazily dubbed as a “sequel” to Braveheart, due to Angus MacFadyen’s presence in the title role, Richard Gray’s film has a much smaller purse than Mel’s big-budget, battle-fuelled, rabble rouser and is consequently… Read more

  • Mistress America (2015)

    January 15, 2020 by

    Mistress America (2015). Directed by Noah Baumbach. Starring Greta Gerwig and Lola Kirke. *1/2 What is it about a certain subset of the would-be New York intelligentsia that makes them so damned irritating? Noah Baumbach’s film is covered in a layer of artifice so thick that it is impossible to discern any human truth lurking… Read more

  • Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

    January 14, 2020 by

    Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). Directed by George Miller. Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult. ***** George Miller essentially remakes the third act of 1981’s The Road Warrior, gloriously using modern technology to turn the post-apocalyptic world inhabited by Max all the way up to 11 while sticking with the franchise mainstays of… Read more

  • Dragged Across Concrete (2018)

    January 13, 2020 by

    Dragged Across Concrete (2018) Directed by S. Craig Zahler. Starring Troy Kittle, Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn. ***1/2 Harnessing the strengths of his decidedly uncommercial (almost novelistic) narrative style but also suffering from the pacing and framing weaknesses which make it tricky to fully engage with his work, Dragged Across Concrete evidences the best and… Read more

  • Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)

    January 9, 2020 by

    Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964). Directed by Robert Aldrich. Starring Bette Davis, Olivia De Havilland and Joseph Cotten. ***1/2 Robert Aldrich and Bette Davis do their damnedest to re-bottle the Baby Jane magic in this superior slice of Southern Gothic – a thematic sequel to the 1962 picture although lacking the creative tension that Joan Crawford… Read more

  • The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind (2019)

    January 8, 2020 by

    The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind (2019). Directed by Chiwetel Ejiofor. Starring Maxwell Simba, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Aissa Maiga. ****1/2 Billed as an uplifting story of a boy saving his village from the Malawian famine of 2001 and while it may well eventually be just that the remarkable thing about Chiwetel Ejiofor’s directorial debut is… Read more

  • Wild Rose (2018)

    January 7, 2020 by

    Wild Rose (2018). Directed by Tom Harper. Starring Jessie Buckley, Julie Walters and Sophie Okonedo. **** A troubled upbringing rooted in a working class, Scottish environment proves to be surprisingly fertile ground for the artistic development of an aspiring country musician in this deeply rooted, realistic and inspiring tale of chasing your dreams and becoming… Read more

  • The Red Shoes (1948)

    January 6, 2020 by

    The Red Shoes (1948). Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Starring Moira Shearer, Marius Goring and Anton Walbrook. ***** Ballet on film has never looked as stunning as it does in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s classic cinematic take on Hans Christian Andersen’s story of The Red Shoes.  Creating a potent tale of obsession… Read more

  • The Shape Of Water (2017)

    December 31, 2019 by

    The Shape Of Water (2017). Directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Starring Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Michael Shannon, Doug Jones and Octavia Spencer. **1/2 The Creature From The Black Lagoon meets Amelie by way of glossy Douglas Sirk-lite melodrama in a heavily stylised version of 1950’s Baltimore for a tale which sets itself up as a… Read more

  • Brawl In Cell Block 99 (2017)

    December 31, 2019 by

    Brawl In Cell Block 99 (2017). Directed by S. Craig Zahler. Starring Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Carpenter, Udo Kier and Don Johnson. *** S. Craig Zahler follows up his cracking horror-western Bone Tomahawk with a morally dingy, uber-violent dive into the grindhouse neo-noir prison flick in Brawl In Cell Block 99. Sticking with the same genre-collision… Read more

  • It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

    December 28, 2019 by

    It’s A Wonderful Life (1946). Directed Frank Capra. Starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore and Henry Travers. ***** So intense is the finale of this picture that it is always a surprise to me that the sequence of this movie which everyone remembers – George’s breakdown, wish that he had never been born and… Read more

  • Dangerous Moonlight (1941)

    December 28, 2019 by

    Dangerous Moonlight (1941). Directed by Brian Desmond Hurst. Starring Anton Walbrook, Sally Gray and Derrick De Marney. **** This tale of a shell-shocked amnesiac Polish bomber pilot and ace classical pianist might hang its hat on a particularly melodramatic framing narrative but within that it spins a pretty interesting tale, asking some pretty pertinent questions… Read more

  • Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (2017)

    December 21, 2019 by

    Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle (2017). Directed by Jake Kasdan. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan. *1/2 The beautiful, tactile, textured, hardwood Jumanji board game is traded in – or rather, inexplicably, magically transmogrified into – a rather dull 90’s style video console in Jake Kasdan’s empty, vacuous sequel.

  • The Ward (2010)

    December 19, 2019 by

    The Ward (2010). Directed by John Carpenter. Starring Amber Heard, Mamie Gummer, Danielle Panabaker and Jared Harris. Mad Women in a Psychiatric Hospital would probably have been the title had Roger Corman produced this as John Carpenter returns after a 9 year break from movie-making to create this female-centred supernatural-inflected, psychological horror flick. Working from… Read more

  • Sixty Glorious Years (1938)

    December 17, 2019 by

    Sixty Glorious Years (1938). Directed by Herbert Wilcox. Starring Anna Neagle and Anton Walbrook. Sadly, there isn’t even close to sixty glorious minutes in Herbert Wilcox’s hurriedly made sequel to 1937’s smash hit Victoria the Great, completely in glorious Technicolor this time – although it has to be said that the palette is pretty muted… Read more

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