Film Reviews by Alphaville

Welcome to Alphaville's film reviews page. Alphaville has written 794 reviews and rated 751 films.

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Black Adam

Unadulterated rubbish

(Edit) 28/03/2023

Nothing to see here unless you’re a Marvel/DC fanboy devoid of any critical faculties. Dwayne plays a one-expression ‘flying magic man’ as one character calls him, but most of the time he’s replaced by a cgi avatar to deal with the usual cgi flash-bangs. Neither Dwayne nor even normally reliable director Jaume Coillet-Serra can do anything with this tripe.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Watcher

Standard stalker fare but well realised

(Edit) 28/03/2023

This stately but beautifully realised film gains from its fish-out-of-water setting as our bored American housewife heroine is pursued by a stalker through the streets of Bucharest. Its unsettling and watchable throughout, even though you wonder what she’s doing with that uncaring husband of hers. So why only three stars? Because there’s nothing new here, it’s instantly forgettable and if you’re looking for scares there are none.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Moonlight

Achingly boring

(Edit) 11/03/2023

Lacking creativity, you want to make an autobiographical film about a black kid growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in a depressed neighbourhood beset with crime? Great! No-one’s ever done anything like that before! He’s gay as well? Even better! Lacking imagination, you want to set it in the actual neighbourhood, film it documentary-style and use non-actors? Even better! We’ll throw money at that! No white critic would dare give this a bad review. It might even win an Oscar (Best picture, 2017).

You know where it’s going right from the start. It opens with a black man singing “Every n-word is a star”. Presumably he’s a black man because in today’s Orwellian world only certain people are allowed to use certain words. Of course, being black, he doesn’t have to use the euphemism “n-word”. If he had, now that might have been the start of something interesting. As it stands, this vanity project of a film has its heart in the right place but not one iota of cinematic interest to engage the viewer.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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Wild Tales

Tame and forgettable

(Edit) 09/03/2023

Portmanteau films of unrelated tales are rarely successful and this Spanish set of six throwaway revenge tales is no exception. One of them – a Duel-type set-to between two motorists is scenically set in the mountains – but the rest are talky, boring and instantly forgettable.

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Bones and All

Overlong but keeps you watching

(Edit) 07/03/2023

Slow-paced road movie about a young couple who meet and go on a road trip across America. What makes it unusual is that they’re cannibals. They don’t want to be, but what can you do? Instead of mining the theme for horror or laughs the film puts us on their side as victims of their genes. Cue lots of soul-searching and a soundtrack of ditties so melancholy it’s hard not to laugh anyway (especially at the end). It keeps you watching, but at 130mins its overlong and lacks the power of Raw, the French film on which it’s based.

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Aftersun

Dire, simply dire, home movie

(Edit) 04/03/2023

If you decide to watch this (beware the trailer that adds poignant music to lure you in unsuspecting), do keep some paint handy in case you decide to watch that dry instead. A man and his young daughter go on holiday to Turkey and we follow their naturalistic day-by-day activities from one inane scene to another. Nothing against the two actors (take the money and run), but they’ve got no chance with someone behind the camera who has absolutely no idea how to shoot a film. With no redeeming visual quality whatsoever, it seems interminable even after you’ve resorted to FF.

It beggars belief that the BFI and Screen Scotland are wasting government and lottery money on this kind of drivel.

5 out of 9 members found this review helpful.

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The Old Way

At last a good old-fashioned Western

(Edit) 03/03/2023

After years of wokeism and revisionism it’s good to see a new old-fashioned revenge Western like they don’t make ‘em any more. There’s little more here than in a 50s B feature, but it’s heartening to see goodies face off irredeemable baddies against wide Montana landscapes with not a hint of pandering to snowflake viewers. Also, for once, Nicolas Cage underplays rather than overplays his part, sometimes to the point of comatose, but tough and silent’s ok. At a pacey 90mins it rattles along, the climax doesn’t disappoint and there’s some unexpectedly poignant moments thrown in for good measure. If you miss the old westerns, this well-titled film is worth a look. NB Avoid the tell-all trailer (why do they do that?).

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Where the Crawdads Sing

Simply gorgeous

(Edit) 28/02/2023

Impeccably mounted, beautifully paced, directed and acted, heartfelt and intense tale like they don’t make ‘em any more. Ignore reviews by critics weened on superhero flashbangs and gross-out comedy. This tale of abandoned girl Kya growing up in the Carolina swamps pulls you in right from the start and never lets go until its final shots. You’d need a heart of stone not to be enchanted and moved by it.

It’s part murder mystery, part survival story and part romance, but what really raises it out of the ordinary is Olivia Newman’s faultless direction. She understands that film is about images, not talking heads. Show Don’t Tell. Many of the most gorgeous and poignant scenes in this film, captured by Newman’s roving camera, are silent, especially early on, where child actress Jojo Regina is a revelation as young Kya.

Newman cut the film from 3½ hours to 2 hours. It would be good to see what was omitted at some stage (some omitted scenes are teasingly in the trailer). It’s one of those rare films nowadays where you can just sit back and wallow in the story and images.

3 out of 5 members found this review helpful.

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The Banshees of Inisherin

Flip-side of Father Ted

(Edit) 25/02/2023

On a period backwater Irish island called Craggy Island (sorry, Insherin Island), the best friend of nice-but-dim Father Dougal (sorry, a different nice-but-dim man) stops talking to him. Why? That forms the basis of the first half of this film’s underwhelming plot. Then, like a flip side to “Father Ted”, something grotesque but unbelievably silly happens to inject some much-needed dramatic tension into affairs. Unfortunately, it’s not funny enough to be a black comedy and the plot has nowhere to go after that.

That’s not to say there’s nothing to enjoy here. There’s some spicy dialogue and Martin Mcdonagh is an accomplished director who knows how to frame and film a shot. He keeps you watching, but there’s just not enough of interest going on to warrant a near 2hr run-time. Eventually it just peters out. Vastly over-praised by reviewers who’ve invented all sorts of deep meaning lurking beneath the surface, this is best viewed as Oirish whimsy.

5 out of 5 members found this review helpful.

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Belle

Being beautiful in parts isn’t enough

(Edit) 25/02/2023

The good? The real world of rural Japan is as beautifully rendered here as in any Ghibli animation. The bad? Our sad teenaged heroine gets lured into an online virtual world where her avatar becomes a glammed-up star singer. Not a great message. The childish online world of sparkling pixels, anodyne ballads and a misunderstood dragon that does martial arts (yep, it’s Beauty and the Beast) is one big bore. In all, a mixture of the good and the bad that had this reviewer’s finger poised over FF.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Anaïs in Love

As charming as only the French can make ‘em

(Edit) 21/02/2023

Shot in the Loire and on the Brittany coast, this is one of those French films that makes you feel as though you’ve been transported to the French countryside for a summer break. Channelling the spirit of Eric Rohmer, the title (in the original French: The Loves of Anais) says it all. Even though nothing of consequence happens, it’s warm-hearted, sweet, beguiling, erotic and even quite profound. A guile-less lead performance from Anais Demoustrier adds to its appeal. Why is it only the French who can make films like this? Warning: avoid reading spoiler CP reviews above and watching the trailer, which is a giveaway précis of the whole film.

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Emily

Another Clichéd Tell-don’t-show Costume Drama

(Edit) 07/02/2023

Dry, clichéd, slow-paced biopic of Emily Bronte, author of Wuthering Heights, with an equally dry clichéd score. Plinky-plonk piano? Tick. It might be better as undemanding Sunday night TV fare or even a radio play as the accent is on dialogue rather than the visual medium of film. If, like this viewer, you get bored watching talking heads, you’ll soon be reaching for FF.

2 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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Don't Worry Darling

Never a dull moment

(Edit) 04/02/2023

Florence Pugh and Harry Styles live in an idealised 1950s desert community, Palm Springs style. He goes to work, she tends the home, Stepford Wives style. Something is obviously amiss and we follow Florence as she begins to question her existence. There may be nothing new here and it may not hold together in the cold light of day, but it’s immensely watchable.

It’s well-paced, gets creepier by the minute and builds to a rousing climax that even includes an exciting car chase in the desert. Unlike most actor/directors, who plonk the camera down in front of actors acting, Olivia Wilde knows how to shoot film. It won’t win any prizes but the journey, set in gorgeous Californian desert scenery, is a blast.

0 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Phantom Thread

One long drone from start to finish

(Edit) 04/02/2023

Ralph Fiennes is a fastidious tailor. He does fastidious tailoring things, shown in great detail. He falls for a young woman, tailors her fastidiously then treats her badly (fastidiously). That’s it, really. The end. All this to an incessant and incredibly irritating plinky-plonk piano score. Truffaut once made a film called Shoot the Pianist. I now know how he felt. To call this film measured (no pun intended) would be a gross understatement.

0 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris

Nothing new here

(Edit) 27/01/2023

Charming, uplifting, heart-warming? Or facile, contrived, clichéd? Bland direction, competent acting, nice colours… lacking one iota of cinematic imagination. If you like cosy, easy-going, Sunday night TV drama, here’s another of which the British film industry seems to have an endless supply. The trailer will tell you all you need to know. If you wish the British film industry would up its game, watch and weep.

0 out of 2 members found this review helpful.
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