Citizen X (1995) Review

An HBO made for TV movie from 1995, “Citizen X” offers a fascinating glimpse behind the crumbling Iron Curtain of the 1980s, into a society where political corruption and ideological hubris led to the deaths of dozens of young men and women at the hands of the Soviet Union’s first identified serial killer. When a … Continue reading Citizen X (1995) Review

All The Money In The World (2018) Review

It's been almost impossible to avoid the publicity surrounding Ridley Scott's polished-to-a-dull-sheen biographical crime drama "All The Money In The World" thanks to the scandal which engulfed its would-be star after allegations of his sexual predation came to light and Scott's swift decision to excise the actor from the movie and reshoot all of his … Continue reading All The Money In The World (2018) Review

Molly’s Game (2018) Review

Coming in to “Molly’s Game”, I had absolutely no awareness of the film or the true life events its based on, a rare enough occurrence these days but my ignorance quickly turned to bliss thanks to this polished production and an enthralling performance from Jessica Chastain. Molly Bloom, driven to succeed from a young age … Continue reading Molly’s Game (2018) Review

Professor Martson And The Wonder Women (2017) Review

It may be that you’d need the Lasso of Hestia itself to separate truth from speculative fiction when it comes to “Professor Marston And The Wonder Women”. Presented as a true story, although much of it is disputed by the Marston family, the origin of Wonder Woman turns out to be as captivating and enchanting … Continue reading Professor Martson And The Wonder Women (2017) Review

Jungle (2017) Review

There’s no doubt that since he graduated from Hogwarts and hung up his wand, Daniel Radcliffe has made a point of searching out challenging and different roles although here, in tackling the remarkable true-life tale of Israeli backpacker Yossi Ghinsberg, he finds himself once again playing a ‘boy who lived’. Available On Demand from Amazon … Continue reading Jungle (2017) Review

The Death Of Stalin (2017) Review

There’s something deeply disturbing about the fact it’s so easy to laugh at “The Death Of Stalin”. Were it not for the fact these events all actually took place, this absurdist comedy from Armando Iannucci could be dismissed for simply being too far-fetched for its own good. When Joseph Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin) suffers a devastating … Continue reading The Death Of Stalin (2017) Review

Borg vs McEnroe (2017) Review

Gripping, insightful and quietly powerful, “Borg vs McEnroe” brings us a thoughtful examination of sporting drive and athletic rivalry at a watershed moment for international tennis. In the run-up to the 1980 Wimbledon Championship, Björn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) contemplates the possibility that he could become the first person ever to win five consecutive Wimbledon titles … Continue reading Borg vs McEnroe (2017) Review

American Made (2017) Review

If you thought off-the-books, quasi-legal internecine government shenanigans were a practice brought to the White House by a tangerine reality TV buffoon, wait until you get a load of what was going on the last time a former celebrity became commander in chief. Telling the mostly true story of Barry Seal, a former TWA pilot … Continue reading American Made (2017) Review

Detroit (2017) Review

With serendipitous timing and real world resonance that borders on opportunistic, “Detroit” arrives in cinemas to emphasise the perilous nature of present day America and it’s far too recent shameful past. Detroit, 1967. The city is in the grip of growing discontent which is spilling over into racially-charged rioting driven by large scale disaffection and … Continue reading Detroit (2017) Review

Deepwater Horizon (2016) Review

If there were such a thing as a ‘True Story’ shared cinematic universe (okay, I guess technically there is), the authorities of that universe would no doubt be monitoring Mark Wahlberg very closely indeed. His presence at the sites of natural disasters or terrorist attacks is becoming so common, he’s almost the Stan Lee of … Continue reading Deepwater Horizon (2016) Review

Dunkirk (2017) Review

Insistent, cacophonous and unrelenting, the pre-release clamour around “Dunkirk” has been enough to give even the most hype-hardened cinema veteran combat fatigue. When it comes to the list of prerequisites, conditions and riders demanded before you even have the temerity to consider buying a ticket, never before in the field of cinema history has so … Continue reading Dunkirk (2017) Review

Churchill (2017) Review

While it no doubt provides a sensational showcase for Brian Cox’s performance as Britain’s most famous Prime Minister, this 90-minute movie covering the 96 hours before the D-Day landings makes you feel the passing of every single hour. In many ways, the film sets out to dismantle the myth of Churchill the great, respected wartime … Continue reading Churchill (2017) Review

Patriot’s Day (2017) Review

It’s been less than four years since the Boston Marathon Bombings and I went into “Patriot’s Day” wondering what the film, made so soon after the saturation news coverage, hoped to achieve. Director Peter Berg, of course, is no stranger when it comes to adapting true life events and, after an awkward opening, he manages … Continue reading Patriot’s Day (2017) Review

Lion (2017) Review

A fascinating and compelling true story of survival and serendipity, “Lion” delivers the best cinematic advert for Google since “The Internship”. Finding himself utterly lost after accidentally falling asleep on an out of service cross country train, five year old Saroo finds himself alone on the streets of 1980s Calcutta. Eventually he is taken in … Continue reading Lion (2017) Review

Hacksaw Ridge (2017) Review

Apparently completing the rehabilitative arc of Mel Gibson’s Hollywood career, “Hacksaw Ridge” is a powerful, if uneven, examination of the horrors of war and the demands of true moral courage. The fact it’s based on a true story just makes it all the more incredible. Desmond T. Doss, a Seventh Day Adventist, decides to enlist … Continue reading Hacksaw Ridge (2017) Review

Sully: Miracle On The Hudson (2016) Review

There’s an inherent challenge in creating films of real life events, especially when said real life events lasted for a total of just under four minutes. The trick becomes one of spinning out the story enough for a film without over padding it with filler. Thankfully, Eastwood’s economical 96 minute retelling of ‘The Miracle On … Continue reading Sully: Miracle On The Hudson (2016) Review

A United Kingdom (2016) Review

Handsomely staged and impeccably acted, “A United Kingdom” revisits and reveals a particularly shameful chapter of Britain’s post-war history and lays bare the callous brutality of 20th Century realpolitik. The film tells the true story of Prince Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo) of Botswana (then Bechuanaland) who met and married Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike) an English … Continue reading A United Kingdom (2016) Review

Eddie The Eagle (2016) Review

Billed as a heart-warming underdog feel-good picture, “Eddie The Eagle” is so trite and twee that it ends up falling well short of even its modest ambitions. The film tells the sort of true life story of Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards, from a young boy inspired by Olympic dreams to a young man determined, against … Continue reading Eddie The Eagle (2016) Review

The Big Short (2016) Review

It’s a very good thing that “The Big Short” tells its story in such a humorous way because if you weren’t so busy chuckling, you’d be crying. Or possibly howling with rage. The story of the downfall of the American housing market and its knock-on effects which are still reverberating around the global economy may … Continue reading The Big Short (2016) Review

The Revenant (2016) Review

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest offering sees yet another story ‘based on true events’ brought to life on the big screen. This time it’s ‘inspired by’ the true story of frontiersman and fur trapper Hugh Glass. When their expedition is attacked, a US Army sponsored fur trapping party look to experienced frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) … Continue reading The Revenant (2016) Review

The Danish Girl (2016) Review

Adapted from David Ebershoff’s 2000 novel, “The Danish Girl” brings us a fictionalised account of the life of Lili Elbe, one of the first people in the world to undergo gender reassignment surgery. The film, like its source novel, is much less an exploration of the prejudices and societal attitude towards sexuality and transgender issues … Continue reading The Danish Girl (2016) Review

Joy (2016) Review

Loosely based on the life of Joy Mangano, inventor of the Miracle Mop, “Joy” offers little more than evidence that David O Russell may be the smuggest filmmaker working in Hollywood today. The dedication of the film to ‘the true stories of daring women. One in particular.’ smacks of the self-satisfaction that permeates the whole … Continue reading Joy (2016) Review

In The Heart Of The Sea (2015) Review

If you created a Venn diagram of the casts of “Harry Potter”, “Game Of Thrones”, “Peaky Blinders” and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the sweet spot right in the middle would read “In The Heart Of The Sea”. Ron Howard’s latest offering is a star-studded retelling of the true story of the whaling ship Essex, which … Continue reading In The Heart Of The Sea (2015) Review

Bridge Of Spies (2015) Review

In these troubled times, America and the world could do worse than to look to the pages of history for some salutary lessons on how to deal with the current volatility we live with. It is serendipitous, then, that Steven Spielberg’s magnificent true life drama “Bridge Of Spies” arrives in cinemas this week to provide … Continue reading Bridge Of Spies (2015) Review

Suffragette (2015) Review

Powerful, gripping, infuriating and heart-breaking in equal measure, Director Sarah Gavron’s “Suffragette” brings a pivotal chapter of British history to vivid life without ever falling prey to feminist diatribe. It charts the story of Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan), a fictional wife and mother who finds herself caught up in the events and activities of the … Continue reading Suffragette (2015) Review

The Walk (2015) Review

Robert Zemeckis’ film retells the true story of French high wire artist Philippe Petit who realised his dream to carry out a daring (and completely illegal) high wire walk between the two towers of the World Trade Centre in New York. As you’d expect from Zemeckis, technical wizardry abounds in this movie, from the judicious use … Continue reading The Walk (2015) Review

Legend (2015) Review

Based on the book ‘The Profession Of Violence: The Rise And Fall Of The Kray Twins’ by John Pearson, Writer/ Director Brian Helgeland’s “Legend” takes a look at the notorious East End gangsters from their ascent to the top of the underworld hierarchy to the events which would prove to be their downfall. Glossy, stylish … Continue reading Legend (2015) Review

Everest (2015) Review

There’s always a question mark that hangs over film adaptations of true events, and when it’s the true story of a tragedy, that question is always more pointed. “Everest” struggles with the same problems that “The Impossible” did: what is the point of the movie, apart from to show the tragic suffering and horrific deaths … Continue reading Everest (2015) Review

Pride (2014) Review

Despite its contentious and still controversial (sigh) subject matter, there’s a winning cosiness to “Pride” that makes sure the themes of human kindness and solidarity don’t get swamped by the angry and inflammatory historical backdrop. That’s not to say this comedy drama doesn’t have teeth, just that care is taken to ensure the film’s bark … Continue reading Pride (2014) Review

Selma (2015) Review

Ava DuVernay’s absorbing account of the real life events in Selma, Alabama may lack the relentlessly vicious sadism of “12 Years A Slave” but it still doesn’t shy away from showing the plain and ugly truth about what went on during those tumultuous weeks in 1965. The cruelty, injustice and violence may not be as … Continue reading Selma (2015) Review

Foxcatcher (2015) Review

Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher” is a film utterly convinced of its own greatness. So convinced, in fact, that it does not feel the need to provide a coherent narrative of the profoundly unsettling story of how two talented wrestling brothers came to be caught up in the twisted machinations of an eccentric and unstable multi-millionaire. The … Continue reading Foxcatcher (2015) Review

American Sniper (2015) Review

After the disinterested and flat direction of “Jersey Boys”, Eastwood seems to have regained some of his mojo with this film which despite a few flaws emerges as a faithful and respectful adaptation of Chris Kyle’s 2012 autobiography. Structured into four chapters to parallel Kyle’s four tours of duty in Iraq, the film makes occasional … Continue reading American Sniper (2015) Review

Puncture (2011) Review

I suspect the worldwide success of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” has something to do with this film finally getting a UK DVD/ BluRay release on 21st July, albeit under the alternative title of “Injustice” and with almost zero publicity. Released Stateside in 2011, “Puncture” tells the true story of Mike Weiss (Chris Evans), a … Continue reading Puncture (2011) Review

The Monuments Men (2014) Review

In the closing years of Word War II, a unit is put together and tasked with tracking down and recovering artworks stolen by the Nazis during their occupation. With the Nazis in full retreat and the Soviets sending their own treasure squads, the Allied team led by Frank Stokes (George Clooney) faces a race against … Continue reading The Monuments Men (2014) Review

Jersey Boys (2014) Review

Jukebox musicals always run the risk of being a little cheesy and there's more than a whiff of Quattro Formaggi about this Four Seasons musical biopic. Telling the story of the iconic pop group, it charts their rise from the Jersey projects, their run-ins with the Mob and ultimately the divisions and rivalries which tore … Continue reading Jersey Boys (2014) Review

Diana (2013) Review

There’s nothing in this flat, uninspired biopic which will change your opinion on the late Diana, Princess of Wales whatever it was: either a precious, much wronged saintly victim of a callous and cruel establishment or an arch-manipulator, all too aware of and willing to use the vast, unquestioning affection she commanded. This overly soapy film … Continue reading Diana (2013) Review

Pompeii (2014) Review

I went into “Pompeii” expecting a disaster movie and ended up getting a pretty disastrous movie, but then what else would you expect from notoriously mediocre director Paul W S Anderson? I do mention the volcano erupts, so *spoilers* ahead, I guess? The film opens with a largely unnecessary and bloodthirsty sequence set in 62AD … Continue reading Pompeii (2014) Review

One Chance (2013) Review

"Once Chance" is a Simon Cowell production. Like all Simon Cowell productions, it’s superficial, sentimental and predictable. Not content with ramming contestants’ sob stories down his dwindling viewership's throat, he's branched out into the ‘sob story: the movie' business. Now, not only will he manipulate the public into supporting and voting for his pre-selected winner, … Continue reading One Chance (2013) Review

12 Years A Slave (2013) Review

The fact this is a true story is heart-breaking and horrifying. As American cinema continues its raw and painfully cathartic recognition of the nation's past, in "12 Years A Slave" it has produced its most unrelenting, brutal and uncompromising pieces of cinema yet. Gone is the scholarly detachment of "Lincoln", the polemic hypocrisy of "The … Continue reading 12 Years A Slave (2013) Review

Dallas Buyers Club (2013) Review

Is there any other actor who has achieved the kind of credibility comeback that Matthew McConaughey has in the past couple of years? Okay, maybe Ben Affleck, but he had to step behind the camera to do it and the recent "Batman" furore shows that while he’s carved out a respected reputation as a director … Continue reading Dallas Buyers Club (2013) Review

The Butler (2013) Review

For some reason, despite my not infrequent visits to the cinema, I’ve no recollection of ever seeing a trailer for “The Butler” and as a result, my expectations were formed mainly by the poster and the few snippets of information I’d been unable to avoid (I was particularly intrigued by the idea of Alan Rickman … Continue reading The Butler (2013) Review

Lovelace (2013) Review

The film “Deep Throat” came out before I was born but it’s still the origin of the phrase I knew first. Before I’d heard of the Watergate Scandal and way before “The X Files”, I knew of its existence as a porno movie. I’d probably heard of it before I really understood what a porno … Continue reading Lovelace (2013) Review

Captain Phillips (2013) Review

When I first saw a trailer for “Captain Phillips”, I wasn’t bowled over. I only had a passing familiarity with the real events the film was based on, and the lacklustre title combined with an underwhelming trailer gave me the impression of a Discovery Channel special with talking heads and stagey reconstructions, stretching out thirty … Continue reading Captain Phillips (2013) Review

American Hustle (2013) Review

What strikes you immediately about “American Hustle” is the hair. Hair and Amy Adams’ cleavage (there’s none of the former on the latter, though). The hair, make-up and wardrobe is so transformative and attention grabbing that it briefly threatens to overshadow everything else going on in the film. And that would be a real shame … Continue reading American Hustle (2013) Review

Saving Mr Banks (2013) Review

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, or so the song goes. And while there’s certainly liberal sprinklings of sugar throughout “Saving Mr Banks”, director John Lee Hancock and star Emma Thompson ensure there’s sufficient bittersweet complexity that the whole mixture avoids becoming cloying or syrupy. The film splits its narrative in two, … Continue reading Saving Mr Banks (2013) Review

Behind The Candelabra (2013) Review

Steven Soderbergh’s last film before his self-imposed ‘sabbatical’ from film making is a useful reminder that we should hope he doesn’t stay away too long. Produced by HBO for television in the United States (because Hollywood studios declined to produce the film for being ‘too gay’ for mainstream audiences) it nevertheless received a theatrical release … Continue reading Behind The Candelabra (2013) Review

The Fifth Estate (2013) Review

When I went to see “The Fifth Estate” last night, the first thing I did was log into Facebook, check-in to the cinema and share where I was and what film I was watching. I’d be lying if I said I did this without an ironic smirk. Wherever you stand on the issues raised by … Continue reading The Fifth Estate (2013) Review

Rush (2013) Review

I'm not a fan of Formula One or motor racing and so had only the vaguest awareness of both Nikki Lauda and James Hunt going into "Rush". What got my backside in a seat was partly the trailer and cast but mainly the identity of the director: Ron Howard. Aside from his flaccid, lifeless Dan … Continue reading Rush (2013) Review

Pain & Gain (2013) Review

The last Michael Bay film I watched was 2011’s bloated, incoherent toy commercial “Transformers: Dark Of The Moon” – a film that sticks in my memory only for Bay’s ability to plumb new depths of unlikeability from perennially offputting ‘star’ Shia LaBeouf. Having seen how poorly he used  $200 million, I was curious to see … Continue reading Pain & Gain (2013) Review