Film Reviews by EN

Welcome to EN's film reviews page. EN has written 14 reviews and rated 545 films.

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Attenberg

Fantastic, powerful, heartfelt, first-rate movie

(Edit) 08/11/2018

This film was heart-stoppingly good. It's no wonder Quentin Tarantino was so astounded by it; I couldn't agree more. Equally, I couldn't disagree more with the other reviewer here who for some strange reason thought this film was pretentious. It is not pretentious in the least! It is interesting, original and very, very heartfelt. It deals with grief and loss, and growing up, in the most tender, beautiful, yet funny way. It is a powerful watch, with some unforgettable photography and some incredibly tender performances.

The director and writer of this film, Athina Rachel Tsangari (also a prolific producer of other excellent movies), deserves all the Oscars put together (that instead every year go to mostly some dreary, overblown, unoriginal stuff that gets too much undeserved attention). If there was any rational justice in the film industry, she would be known as one of the most important directors working at present. Her latest film, Chevalier, I can't wait to see after this.

The plot of this film is simple; it is about the relationship between a dying single father and his daughter, a very tender, intelligent relationship, and about the daughter's relationship with her best friend, and also her burgeoning sexuality, as she becomes involved with a lover for the first time in her life. It is a thing of beauty - something very deep to be absorbed and enjoyed and treasured. Very highly recommended to anyone who thinks films can be an intelligent medium of the highest order, that can convey meaning and emotional depth, like the best literature or the best art, and are not just a vehicle for gratuitous violence, tawdry exploitation and tired old stereotypes used as a cheap substitute for authentic emotions. If the other reviewer here had bothered to see the rest of the film, they may have possibly noticed that it gets better and better as it progresses - but I guess they have such a short attention span that this kind of masterpiece just isn't for them.

On a final note - the Greece of this film is also stunning; not the picture-postcard-perfect - island idyll meant as the usual 'meat' to feed the tourist industry, but rather a different side of Greece that is rarely seen. I was grateful to see such a raw and vivid side of Greece, more honest, more moody, that felt very authentic, as though the director wanted to involve the landscape with the emotional impact of the film (at which she succeeds completely); it is rainy and grey, you feel the humidity and the graininess of the salty air, so much water surrounding the land, and the wind too, you basically FEEL the Greek landscape... like I said, a powerful and brilliant film. Watch it and be moved, and amazed.

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Viceroy's House

Outstanding

(Edit) 02/01/2018

Outstanding!, Gurinder Chadha's direction is fantastic here, her movie has authenticity and heart as well as stunning photography, period detail and an old-fashioned epic sweep.

Everyone, Indian and English, is portrayed with humanity and reverence. The acting is uniformly brilliant, with Gillian Anderson standing out in her portrayal of an intelligent, compassionate and resourceful strategist & modern thinker who rises to the challenges of her responsibility within the constraints of her official role, at a very traumatic time in history. A thoroughly enjoyable, sophisticated and unforgettable movie. Very highly recommended.

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Serena

Choose 'In a Better World' instead, or any other of Susanne Bier's FANTASTIC movies

(Edit) 21/11/2017

Even the best directors make a dodgy film every now and then. For example David Lynch (not my favourite director but universally considered a bit of an 'auteur') has for years tried to get everyone to forget the fact that he was responsible for 'Dune', a massively expensive flop, now the object of general derision.... but back to 'Serena'.

I watched 'Serena' purely on the basis that it was directed by the phenomenal Susanne Bier, whose other movies are all simply superb. Unfortunately this is not a great film, as the plot isn't gripping enough, nor can we empathise with the plight of the characters, whose motivations are too conflicting, and by the end I felt disappointed. Even so, I am still giving it three stars as some of the photography is breathtaking, the costumes ravishing, the atmosphere and period detail impeccable, some of the set-pieces stunning (e.g. Serena's falcon training), and Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper are always a pleasure to watch, and the film, while not great, still holds together as a perfectly respectable high-value production. It is not a B-movie, by any standards.

I would strongly recommend ANY other film directed by Susanne Bier: for example, 'In a Better World', which won both the Oscar and Golden Globe for best foreign language film in 2011 (it's in Danish), or 'Brothers' (which was re-made in the US, with Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal, but Bier's Danish original is far superior in every way); or 'Love is all you need', with the wonderful Pierce Brosnan, set in Italy; or her English-language 'Things we lost in the Fire', with the splendid Benicio del Toro and Halle Berry; or why not even choose the excellent series 'The Night Manager', which won Bier a best director Emmy in 2016? Enjoy!

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The Fairy

Astonishing, surprising, a revelation

(Edit) 03/10/2017

This film must be seen to be believed. The only thing I can think of comparing it to is something like the work of Charlie Chaplin or perhaps Monty Python. There is genius here, humour, surrealism; joy and sadness and DANCING - lots of dancing ( of a glorious, supremely theatrical super-humorous type - don't expect contemporary dance nor ballet nor ballroom dancing - it's way, way subtler and more surreal than that).

It all adds up to an oddball mini-masterpiece, an absolute joy. If I say anything else I'll give it away. Invest time in this and you'll be rewarded - be prepared to be immersed in non-sensical, oddball gentleness which will exhilarate and delight. Fiona Gordon, Dominique Abel and Bruno Romy, who wrote, directed and star here, must be a trio of creative geniuses and I only wish I lived in France so I could beg them to teach me to dance like they do.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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The Hedgehog

Exceptionally well-done adaptation of a classic, much loved book

(Edit) 03/10/2017

As the book, 'The Elegance of the Hedgehog' was so good, I was prepared not to expect too much of this film. Instead, I was positively blown over as this delightful, moving, intelligent movie manages to not only do justice to the book but also create a lovely stand-alone piece by itself, worth watching by anyone who hasn't read the book (and those who have, will be well rewarded).

The brilliant director, Mona Achache, has managed to lovingly recreate the Paris atmosphere so well drawn in the novel, so I could instantly recognise it; and to evoke the contradictory sense of simultaneous alienation and belonging experienced by the very bright, very sensitive young Paloma, through whose eyes the story is seen.

All the characters in this film are easy to relate to: the bright Paloma who, burning with creativity at 11 ish years of age does not want to join the cynical, empty adult world she sees around her, made up of posturing characters leading inauthentic, vacuous lives; Kukuro, the stupendous Japanese gentleman with impeccable manners and a glint in his eye who befriends Paloma; and Renee, the curmudgeonly manageress/janitor (the 'Hedgehog' of the title) whose brittle exterior hides vast depths of cultured sensitivity and frustrated passion, who hides her love of music and literature (and huge book collection) from the insufferable middle-bourgeoisie who make up the inhabitants of her building, yet cannot quite fool either the inquisitive, intelligent Paloma, nor the admiring Kukuro, who, detecting her secret, both make beautiful alliances with her. Thus one is treated to a story of tender friendships, hope and love, humour and a gentle dose of French 'je ne sais quoi'... in short, if you like intelligent stories well told, with sensitive characters who find each other in an often alienating world, I think you'll love this beautiful film. Highly recommended.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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The Good Girl

Excellent, sophisticated, a modern classic

(Edit) 26/09/2017

Miguel Arteta's movies are always a delight; quirky, original, entertaining, never predictable, a joy to watch. I can't wait for his latest, 'Beatriz at Dinner' starring Salma Hayek (as of Sept 2017, not yet released in the UK! Very frustrating). His movies remind me of the work of Lisa Cholodenko, Sarah Polley and Rebecca Miller: sophisticated, humorous but never cynical, quirky without becoming annoyingly whimsical, in short intelligent film-making for discerning audiences who don't appreciate being treated like morons, while still wishing to be delighted, stimulated and entertained.

This movie ticks all those boxes as well as giving us one of Jennifer Aniston's best performances; an often - very unfairly - underestimated actress, here Aniston tempers her comic genius in a nuanced performance that doesn't shy from showing the ugliness of feeling trapped in a loveless, listless marriage. Jake Gyllenhaal as her young lover is superb, no wonder he rose to the ranks of Hollywood royalty soon after this film. Definitely recommended.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Going Away

Simply superb

(Edit) 21/09/2017

I watch a lot of French movies, as they are often brilliant. I knew Nicole Garcia's work from her superb 'Place Vendome', so I had been looking forward to seeing this one.

Well, to say the least I wasn't disappointed. Everything about this movie is wonderful; the plot is original and interesting, the location is stunning, not a scene is wasted, the characters are complex and deep (played superbly by sexy leads, it must be added). The very opposite of lazy film-making you see so often, with two-dimensional sketches instead of fully-fleshed individuals; here people have contrasting feelings, complex issues, dreams, and deal with life's problems in their own way. For the two protagonists (he, a temporary teacher, she a jobbing waitress / would-be professional caterer, laden with debt and a young son she'd like to regain custody of; both are drifters, troubled souls), finding each other proves cathartic and transformative - and liberating. The finale is sure to satisfy everyone and left me feeling euphoric for several days. Sometimes, when life seems really hard and problems insurmountable, you just get it right, everything falls into place and you feel you can breathe and taste freedom. And beauty. This is the overwhelming feeling I was left with at the end of this superb movie, which I can't wait to see again and cherish for years. Watch it - it would be impossible to be disappointed by it.

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Louder Than Bombs

Stylish and unique

(Edit) 21/09/2017

Excellent movie, didn't disappoint. Recommended to those who look for something intelligent, stimulating and thought-provoking. Excellent performances all round, especially by the always-fabulous Isabelle Huppert as the celebrated war photographer around whose death the film centres its unusual narrative.

Most interesting is how the strangeness of time and different perspectives are shown in the film, e.g. how past and present fuse, get confused and overlap; how time-delays sometimes make time seem to go backward; and how seeing things from different perspectives often completely flips around something you think you've just 'seen' and thought you understood, only to be completely challenged and shown that what you think you saw was not what you thought. Exciting movie.

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20th Century Women

Brilliant and hypnotic

(Edit) 08/09/2017

Brilliant, hypnotic movie, really summons the feel of the period, all the performances were nuanced and vivid, the plot original and interesting, the dance scenes were electrifying, and the film boasts a fab soundtrack; I entirely agree with the other reviewer here, this is definitely one to watch.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Girlhood

Brilliant movie by a brilliant director

(Edit) 08/09/2017

Although I love this movie, I found Celine Sciamma's prior film, 'Water Lilies', even better; a work of mesmerising beauty, much imitated but never paralleled (or not as yet).

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Water Lilies

Superlative movie-making of mesmerising intensity

(Edit) 08/09/2017

This is probably Celine Sciamma's best work; entirely from the young protagonist's perspective, it beautifully shows her agonising adolescence and confusing feelings of burgeoning sexuality, infatuation, budding ambition, all those impossible-to-articulate feelings of emerging from childhood into adulthood, very reluctantly yet inevitably. It's a stunning movie, all nuances of feelings and moods, painful and sensuous at the same time, introverted yet perfectly clear, an articulation of feelings that's rarely seen. Absolutely recommended, especially to those interested in the mystery of teenage years.

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Wakefield

An introspective tale, told with panache

(Edit) 01/09/2017

Robin Swicord, the director of this movie, a few years ago did a brilliant job of adapting a rather bland book ('The Jane Austen Book Club') and turned it into a passionate, lively, interesting, original, gutsy and astonishingly entertaining movie starring Emily Blunt, Maria Bello and Hugh Dancy at the top of their game.

So - to 'Wakefield'. It's definitely not for everyone, as it is all entirely seen from the perspective of the idiosyncratic protagonist, played with relish by the brilliant Bryan Cranston. You never get to see or hear the points of view of the people he so assiduously spies on for months - his wife, children, friends and colleagues. The film is therefore uncompromisingly introspective, but once this is accepted, then one can appreciate the psychological / spiritual journey this character undergoes; from disillusioned, embittered middle-aged professional having a crisis, to someone who re-discovers a mental freedom through unshackling himself from the trappings of wealth and cynicism. He returns to his loved ones with an innocence and freshness he thought he'd lost but has managed to find again, through a self-imposed hyper-austerity, an ultra-deprived retreat that has given him the chance to reflect on the ultimate existential question: Who am I? Beyond the job, the suit, the status, the money, the marriage, the neighborhood, the 'stuff'... who am I ? The film shows us how he comes to an answer and suggests, gently, that he may well have re-discovered his soul. Original stuff. As with her previous film, Robin Swicord - who writes and directs here - has pulled something of a magic trick once again! Recommended.

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Please Give

Subtly brilliant

(Edit) 01/09/2017

I love Nicole Holofcener's work. This film has her unmistakably subtle, sardonic sense of humour... which isn't for everyone and can easily be missed, I guess, if you are in the wrong frame of mind, or if you like your humour more straight-forwardly served up.

It's 'show not tell', I would say, in that the laughs are not signposted from a mile off, you have to reflect and work out why the situations being shown are hilarious, sometimes painfully so (isn't humour often born out of pain and anguish...). The two main actors, Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt, give suitably subtle, understated performances playing the privileged New York couple who feel guilty about (but still continue to) gain extortionate profits from basically ripping off the recently bereaved (from hoovering up the deceased's furniture and possessions and then re-selling them at rip-off mark-ups in their antique-chic boutique for the moneyed NY style-obsessed elite); this is counter-balanced by their elderly neighbour, a no-nonsense widow full of cranky one-liners and her two adult granddaughters. The plot puts these different people together (no spoilers), with some meditations on redemption, or absence of, and whether it is possible or not. The film is kind to everyone, there are no 'baddies', even the characters of dubious moral character, one is invited to view kindly and un-judgmentally. It's a deeply human movie about quirks and foibles and contradictions, how to navigate morality and narcissism, showing us how, no matter how hilariously difficult life sometimes is, we never stop trying. Subtly brilliant.

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Courted

A Little Gem

(Edit) 22/08/2017

A thoughtful and intelligent French movie, part courtroom drama, part romance unexpectedly blossoming between two sensitive middle-aged professionals, both divorced, he a judge, she a doctor. A film of nuance and style that kept me interested throughout. A pleasure to watch. Recommended.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.