29 November 2015

The Great Beauty, 2013 - ★★★½

Like a beautiful dream but one that your subconscious is unlikely to produce.

November 29, 2015 at 06:29PM

Assassination Classroom, 2015 - ★★★

A second viewing didn't change my original opinion that this is incredibly funny in places but doesn't stretch out to sustain a two hour film.

November 29, 2015 at 06:21PM

Night and Day, 2015 - ★★★★

A wonderful collection of clips taken from 40 years or archive footage and assembled into a 24 hour cycle. There are so many fantastic and surprising moments.

Available on iPlayer until 22nd December.

November 29, 2015 at 06:13PM

That's Entertainment, Part II, 1976

An improvement over Part I by having Astaire and Kelly reunited for new segments where they sing and dance instead of dryly introduce the clips.

More background viewing so no rating.

November 29, 2015 at 06:03PM

That's Entertainment!, 1974

Not rating this because it was just on in the background and it isn't really a film. There are obviously some great moments but there's an awkwardness (contractually obliged?) to the links.

November 29, 2015 at 06:00PM

Love Is Strange, 2014 - ★★★★

Such a beautiful tender elliptical film.

November 29, 2015 at 05:58PM

Beasts of No Nation, 2015 - ★★★★

It's a shame that one of the most cinematic films of the year will not be seen by many in the cinema. I'm not against Netflix's strategy and I doubt I would have made the effort to see this at the cinema myself but there is a danger that it will go unnoticed.

As for the film, it's really quite brilliant. There are echoes of Apocalypse Now and Lord Of The Flies. It's manages to be sweet, disturbing and terrifying and contains at least two fantastic performances from Elba and Attah. A nightmare of a great film.

November 29, 2015 at 11:11AM

25 November 2015

A Syrian Love Story, 2015 - ★★★

An interesting and (perhaps too) intimate look at how a family is really affected by the revolution and conflict. The documentary is fairly unremarkable though.

November 25, 2015 at 11:41PM

22 November 2015

Steve Jobs, 2015 - ★★★★★

My favourite screenwriter and my favourite director, why did I doubt them? I was actually bracing myself for disappointment, especially after the poor US performance (and low turnout at the cinema). This is Sorkin's film and it's a shame that Boyle's direction doesn't get more opportunities to shine through, but when it does it's fantastic. I was already fully on board but then the film delivers the most subtle sucker punch of an ending that cemented it's place as my favourite film of the year*.

Oh and whilst everybody else is talking about Sorkin, Boyle, Fassbender and Rogen, it's Kate Winslet that's the real standout.

*Whiplash still feels like it was last year's film.

November 22, 2015 at 11:50PM

LIFF29: The Films I Missed

It's never possible to see everything, here are the films I couldn't fit in but still want to see.

...plus 15 more. View the full list on Letterboxd.

November 22, 2015 at 02:44PM

21 November 2015

Bill, 2015 - ★★★

At it's best Horrible Histories worked because it appealed to everybody. With Bill it's hard to know exactly who it's aimed at. The plot is hard to follow and doesn't make much sense for an adult let alone a child. They're also pushing the PG rating with "buggers", prostitutes, sex-dances and cojones which sit uneasily amongst the rest of the child friendly material. It's clever-funny rather than laugh-out-loud-funny but at least it is funny, just not the family friendly Python-esque comedy it could have been.

November 21, 2015 at 08:25PM

The Other Guys, 2010 - ★★½

Very funny in places but it suffers far too much from improvisation out of control. It looks like they had more fun making it and nobody stepped up to make sure it all fitted together.

November 21, 2015 at 05:19PM

Heir, 2015 - ★★½

Watched on Saturday November 7, 2015.

November 21, 2015 at 03:25PM

A Boy's Life, 2015 - ★★★★½

Watched on Saturday November 7, 2015.

November 21, 2015 at 03:24PM

AD 1363, the End of Chivalry, 2015 - ★★★★

Watched on Tuesday November 10, 2015.

November 21, 2015 at 03:23PM

Sry Bsy, 2015 - ★★★½

Watched on Tuesday November 10, 2015.

November 21, 2015 at 03:22PM

Sundae, 2015 - ★★★

Watched on Tuesday November 10, 2015.

November 21, 2015 at 03:22PM

The Reinvention of Normal, 2015 - ★★★★½

Watched on Tuesday November 10, 2015.

November 21, 2015 at 03:21PM

20 November 2015

Carol, 2015 - ★★★

The opening scene of Carol tells you everything you need to know. Like the rest of the film, it's wonderfully performed and when it eventually concludes it's really quite magnificent. Unfortunately there's an overlong flashback in the middle of these scenes which I thought failed to add much. The result is the whole thing feels quite predictable and very familiar.

November 20, 2015 at 12:17AM

The Assassin, 2015 - ★★★

Hard to understand either the 1-star of 5-star reviews, it just seemed very average to me. All films are a series of moving photographs but this is in a different way, with occasional fights.

November 20, 2015 at 12:02AM

Room, 2015

Technical problems meant I only saw the first hour or just after what I imagine is a fairly obvious splitting point in the film.

That first hour was fantastic though and that it's climax still managed to be one of the most tense scenes despite the film stopping and starting every few minutes speaks volumes.

If the second half is anywhere near as good as the first I'll be giving it a five star rating when I eventually see it.

November 19, 2015 at 11:53PM

19 November 2015

Youth, 2015 - ★★★★

I really enjoyed Youth perhaps having low expectations and knowing nothing about it helped. There was a moment (with a monk) where if it had ended I'd have walked out and given a 5 star rating (Letterboxd 4.5). Unfortunately there's another 30 minutes and these are the worst parts of the film. There are moments in the final half hour which work really well and it felt like there was a good ending in there but not the one that was presented.

November 19, 2015 at 11:43PM


The strangest films at 29th Leeds International Film Festival.

These are just the ones I saw, I'm sure there were others I missed.

November 19, 2015 at 11:02AM

Green Room, 2015 - ★★★★½

So it's not as good as Blue Ruin and it's covering similar territory to other films but it still manages to be brutally thrilling throughout. There's a sense that anything could happen which is so rare that just makes this an unpleasant joy to experience.

November 19, 2015 at 12:31AM

Tag, 2015 - ★★★

Lots of really great moments but too loosely strung together. It (perhaps deliberately) comes across as a bad video game and some of the more questionable moments sit uneasily, even in a 'weird' Japanese film. Attempts are made to justify things but it doesn't really change what you've already seen.

November 19, 2015 at 12:21AM

17 November 2015

Home Care, 2015 - ★★★

Not sure where all the festival praise came from, there's nothing particular wrong (although the alternative medicine direction was scarier than The Witch), it just sort of happened. Perhaps I was too tired to appreciate it.

November 17, 2015 at 11:07PM

Nina Forever, 2015 - ★★★★

This is the kind of assured film making that makes the Blaine Brothers filmmakers to watch out for. Tonely Nina Forever is all over the place but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

November 17, 2015 at 10:39PM

Apocalypse Now, 1979 - ★★★★★

Still magnificent.

November 16, 2015 at 10:25PM

15 November 2015

Men & Chicken, 2015 - ★★★★

Starts off as a 5 star film; incredibly funny, dark and full of intrigue. Unfortunately it ends in a rather obvious way but still funny, dark and strange.

November 15, 2015 at 11:44PM

The Idealist, 2015 - ★★★★½

A compelling drama based on uncovering real life cold war secrets. I was fully engaged, if not quite on the edge of my seat, throughout it's running time and would have happily carried on watching a longer version (which is saying something when I think every film is too long).

November 15, 2015 at 11:40PM

Assassination Classroom, 2015 - ★★½

I was looking forward to seeing this but got the feeling I was the only person in a fairly packed cinema who didn't 'get' it. It felt like one joke stretched out over a far too long running time. It's frequently very very funny and certainly strange and perhaps in another mood I would have liked it a lot more.

November 15, 2015 at 11:10PM

Love & Peace, 2015 - ★★★★

A completely bonkers story that jumps all over the place but is all the more brilliant for doing so. Charming, funny, bizarre and a whole lot of fun.

November 15, 2015 at 11:08PM

Deathgasm, 2015 - ★★★½

Very funny, very gory and very slight.

November 15, 2015 at 01:49AM

One Floor Below, 2015 - ★★½

Such a great premise that offers up so many potential stories it's a shame that it really fails to deliver anything better than what you thought could happen. It's a film where nothing happens or things happen for no real reason. Or maybe they do, I was too tired to make any sense of it all.

November 15, 2015 at 01:46AM

Leon: The Professional, 1994 - ★★★★★

In the late nineties I would have claimed that Leon was one of my favourite films but I can't remember when I last watched it. I was slightly nervous about getting to see it on the big screen (possibly for the first time), would it be better left in my memory? It turns out that it is just still as wonderful as it always way and probably always will be. All three main performances are just phenomenal, New York looks amazing and the action set pieces always have an emotional connection that is so often lacking.

November 15, 2015 at 01:40AM

Demon, 2015 - ★★★½

I really only went to see this to fill a gap between other films at the festival and it turned out to be nothing like I was expecting. One of the best (i.e worst) cinema weddings that just happens to revolve around a demonic posession. It's a shame it didn't have a stronger ending because it just seems to fall apart but there's also something wonderfully ambiguous about how it does so.

November 15, 2015 at 01:27AM

Liza, the Fox-Fairy, 2015 - ★★★★

This is the quirky kind of brilliance that comes up time and time again at Leeds International Film Festival. Beautiful, funny, sweet, charming, dark, weird and really just wonderful.

November 15, 2015 at 01:20AM

The Iron Giant, 1999 - ★★★★½

Is this the closest America has come to capturing the magic of the best Ghibli?

November 15, 2015 at 01:10AM

13 November 2015

Sume mumisitsinerup nipaa, 2014 - ★★½

A perfectly fine documentary but not especially cinematic. Unlikely to be that engaging to those without an interest in the subject matter.

November 13, 2015 at 09:17PM

12 November 2015

Grandma, 2015 - ★★★★

A huge amount of fun but lacking a certain oomph to make it really great.

November 12, 2015 at 10:06PM

The Big Blue, 1988 - ★★★★

The Big Blue was one of the first art-house films I saw when I started getting into cinema. It may even be one of the ones that kick started my passion. I can still see why because it's unlike anything else I would have been watching in the early nineties. That's part of the problem watching it now it's all over the place and seems to vary a lot in quality as it almost jumps between different genres. However at its core there's an awful lot to like.

November 12, 2015 at 08:03PM

11 November 2015

Warrior - ★★★★

A charming documentary that highlights some important issues. Perhaps if I'd not recently seen Difret and Next Goal Wins which separately cover the two main subjects of Warriors, it would have seemed more enlightening.

November 11, 2015 at 11:31PM

Nanook of the North, 1922 - ★★★★

Bolstered by a energetic organ accompaniment Nanook of the North is always interesting, often amusing and sometimes brutal. It still feels like a well made documentary, even if it's authenticity has now been questioned.

November 11, 2015 at 11:17PM

Heaven Knows What, 2014 - ★★★★

I found myself wondering why am I watching these people but after a while the film really gets under your skin. It's grubby and unflinching and highly effective.

Initially I thought I'd only rate the film 2.5, for the audience rate I gave it 3 and now only a few hours later it's a firm four.

November 11, 2015 at 11:09PM

10 November 2015

Victoria, 2015 - ★★★

I think I have a problem with continuous takes, specifically I don't always notice them. I didn't notice in Birdman, I didn't notice in True Detective. I find myself wondering why things are dragging on a bit. Perhaps that should've served as a warning that Victoria wasn't going to impress me.

I can appreciate that shooting an entire film of this complexity in a continuous shot is a huge achievement but that doesn't make it a good film. It's also impressive that a lot of the film was improvised but I didn't know that until after I'd seen the film. So should these things change my opinion of what's really just an average film.

It starts good, Victoria comes across as a strong character but she just get's dumber and dumber as the film progresses. Why did she never just leave? Was the emotional climax really believable after knowing these people for only a few hours. The first half is more enjoyable and believable. The thriller side of things just isn't thrilling apart from one scene which reached the kinetic energy I was expecting throughout the film.

A big disappointment.

November 10, 2015 at 11:41PM

Chuck Norris vs Communism, 2015 - ★★★★

A fascinating look at how pirated videos may have brought down communism. Great combination of interviews and reenactment and at times works well as a thriller as well as just a documentary.

November 10, 2015 at 11:27PM

All About Them, 2015 - ★★★★½

Three wonderful characters get mixed up in love in this sexy french farce. It seems obvious that things will go one of two ways but the ending manages to pull of an unexpected outcome that only added to the charm dished out throughout.

November 10, 2015 at 11:18PM

09 November 2015

Lovemilla, 2015 - ★★★

This looked like the kind of bonkers film I've come to expect and enjoy at Leeds International Film Festival. Unfortunately whilst there's lots to enjoy it never manages to come together in a satisfying way. I suspect the TV series would work better.

November 09, 2015 at 11:29PM

The High Sun, 2015 - ★★★★

One of the best looking films of #LIFF29. Three fairly simple love stories combined to tell one big story of two decades of change.

My only problem was I found it slightly distracting having the same actors playing different roles and trying to work out if I'd missed who they were supposed to be.

November 09, 2015 at 11:21PM

Sarusuberi: Miss Hokusai, 2015 - ★★

Disappointingly a muddled mess which failed to truly engage.

November 09, 2015 at 11:14PM

Crumbs, 2015 - ★★★

I'm unsure if the opening minutes would have shed any light on what was happening because I arrived late and had no clue. However I did like a lot of what I did see and there are enough interesting ideas to make it worth watching (and it's only 68 minutes).

Also perhaps the best big-screen appearance of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

November 09, 2015 at 11:08PM

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, 1920 - ★★★½

Apart from the visual style and great organ accompaniment I found little to hold my interest. Perhaps festial fatigue has set in already.

November 09, 2015 at 11:03PM

Son of Saul, 2015 - ★★★★½

Having spent the last few days watching quite a few traditional horror films I'm not sure if my brain really knew how to process this realistic horror. Considering how tired I was, the fact that I was kept fully alert and engaged throughout speaks volumes. It took the drive home to begin to appreciate what I'd just seen. Harrowing seems like the most suitable word to use but I think that only begins to cover things.

As a side note, a brief conversation after the film has made me realise that normally over the next few days my opinion would really form but because I'm in the middle of a film festival and seeing 4 other films tomorrow will I get chance to form my true opinion.

November 09, 2015 at 12:35AM

Tangerine, 2015 - ★★★★

Harking back to personal favourites likes Go, Run Lola Run and even After Hours I found myself liking this a lot but wanting something more to really lift it up. Great soundtrack as well.

November 09, 2015 at 12:22AM

08 November 2015

Sensoria, 2015 - ★★★

Another well made haunted house/ghost movie. I always think it's a shame when a film maker who obviously loves horror uses a list of cliches as a basis for what to include rather than what to avoid and Hallman ticks them off at an alarming (and repetitive) rate. It's a shame the ending doesn't really work because it could've brought everything together in a more satisfying way but instead it just leaves things confused (and not in a good way).

November 08, 2015 at 11:51PM

Taxi Tehran, 2015 - ★★★★

A great way of structuring a number of stories to present a wonderful snapshot of life. Would have like to have seen more, how about a Riding In Cars With Jafar TV series?

November 08, 2015 at 11:46PM

The Case of Hana & Alice, 2015 - ★★★★

Strange but increasingly charming. Once Hana and Alice team up everything comes together to tell a wonderful, funny and beautiful tale.

November 08, 2015 at 01:39PM

Roar, 1981 - ★★★★★

One of the most jaw-dropping and fascinating films I've ever seen. Genuinely tense, frequently hilariously and just amazingly unbelievable that it's all real.

November 08, 2015 at 01:29AM