August 4, 2017
CD and Other Review

Review: The Trip to Spain (Michael Winterbottom)

Opens August 3 Genre Comedy/road movie Duration 120 minutes Despite an erratic track record, the director Michael Winterbottom has deservedly earned the respect of most observers of the British film scene. Over two decades he’s established himself as the UK’s most prolific filmmaker, making his films quickly and efficiently on relatively low budgets that make it easier to get the freedom to take creative risks. That said, to mention Winterbottom as a leading European auteur in the same breath as, say, his compatriots Mike Leigh or Ken Loach, is hard, since the themes, stories and genres he tackles follow no obvious patterns while his directorial style changes wildly from project to project according to the needs of the material. No wonder, then, that the results also vary, from the artistic successes like 24 Hour Party People, Wonderland and Genova to failed experiments such as 9 Songs and Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, the latter a bold but largely unsuccessful attempt at adapting Laurence Sterne’s unfilmable novel. That film’s chief legacy remains the first screen pairing of its stars, Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden, as a thrusting and parrying comedy double act. Their obvious chemistry went on to find…

June 22, 2017
CD and Other Review

Review: Una (Benedict Andrews)

Opens: June 22 Genre: Drama Duration: 94 minutes Fifteen years after an adult man initiates an illegal three-month sexual relationship with an underage teenage girl, the victim finally confronts the man responsible in this gripping film set in suburban England, adapted by Scottish dramatist David Harrower from his own acclaimed stage play, Blackbird.  What might have been a simple revenge melodrama becomes a far more subtle and a far more nuanced – and therefore more powerful and haunting – affair in the hands of Harrower and his director, Benedict Andrews, the internationally successful Australian theatre director here making an excitingly accomplished cinema debut. While the play – which I haven’t seen – was confined to the meeting between the two adults, the film flickers back and forth between the present and the past, the former unfolding during a single day. Rooney Mara’s Una turns up to the light industrial warehouse where Ben Mendelsohn’s Ray now works. After serving a four-year sentence as a result of his abuse, Ray has moved to a different area, changed his name to Pete and married.  Interspersed throughout the film are flashbacks showing Una as a 13-year-old (terrific newcomer Ruby Stokes), flattered by the attention from…

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