‘Inxeba’ – Distilled

Bergman-esque in its intensity, the South African film Inxeba – The Wound – has rightly won praise and awards around the world, along with the usual quota, for a film that speaks openly, and painfully, about homosexuality, masculinity, homophobia and ‘traditional culture’ in an African community, of threats and vitriol. In Cape Town, supposedly a…

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‘Detroit’ – Distilled

‘Detroit,’ it could be argued, is the story of race and racism in America, bursting onto our screens at a painful moment in America’s painful history. Think Charlottesville, think of Trump’s pardoning of Sheriff Arpaio, think of – how many? – black motorists in towns across the US pulled over and shot for some (sometimes…

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‘Dunkirk’ – Distilled

A technical tour de force but an artistic failure, ‘Dunkirk’ contrives to combine cheesy dialogue and cardboard characterisation with the terror and immediacy of war and violence. You are in the cockpit of a stricken Spitfire as it swerves towards the grey greasy  Channel and ditches; trapped in the cockpit, you struggle for breath as…

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‘Loving’ – Distilled

Richard marries Mildred, and that – in another place and era – would be an end of it. But not in Virginia, in the fifties, not when Richard Loving is white and his beloved is African American. Miscegenation – in the pejorative language of the time (a language I remember all too well as a South…

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Sully: Distilled

How do you make a movie worth watching about an event that everyone has seen already, in countless TV and internet images and stories? The story is ‘the miracle on the Hudson,’ the extraordinary landing by Captain Chesley Sullenberger of an Airbus A320 on New York’s Hudson River, after a bird strike crippled his aircraft…

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‘Last Cab to Darwin’ – Distilled

The journey as meme or trope, the road trip as its modern, especially American manifestation – these are familiar from Homer onwards. In ‘Last Cab to Darwin,’ an Aussie film set in Broken Hill, Darwin and the great outback, a cab driver (Rex)  traverses the landscape, human, physical, and metaphorical, picking up travellers, adventures and…

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‘The Innocents’ – Distilled

A cloister is no sanctuary: at the end of World War Two,  novices and nuns in a convent in Poland are raped and abused by their Russian ‘liberators.’ The pregnancies that result – the children who are brought into the world – as a consequence of this violation raise moral and existential questions, including questions…

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’45 Years’ – distilled

Time strips us bare. In ’45 Years,’ the truths and assumptions that underpin a relationship are called into question when the ground – quite literally – crumbles beneath the feet of a long-married couple. The past is always with us, Faulkner told us – it isn’t even past. Director: Andrew Haigh. Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay.…

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‘Brooklyn’ distilled

It’s the ‘fifties again, folks – like ‘Carol’ which I’ve just reviewed, a nostalgic look in the rearview mirror. Irish girl leaves poverty and the Old Country to find a new life and love in America – after a suitable quantum of struggle, of course. Beautifully shot – but whereas the visuals in ‘Carol’ are…

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‘Carol’

America in the ‘fifties. Two women – one older, wealthy and sophisticated and on her way to a divorce, the other an ingenue shopgirl, begin a relationship. Complications inevitably arise. There is a slow-burning interiority to the movie, and moments of incandescence that are utterly convincing. Director: Todd Haynes. Cate Blanchette, Rooney Mara Verdict: Still…

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