Capsule Movie Review

Capsule Movie Review: What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

What We Do in the Shadows Vampire Mockumentary | 85 Minutes | 2014 | New Zealand * Vampires on film are best taken seriously. As archetypes, strange and sad figures who permeate given spaces while proving difficult to grasp, they model for us fear, loneliness, and alienation, and are uniquely suited to expressive visual contrasts of light and dark. The great vampire films, Nosferatu (1922),…

Capsule Movie Review: Rams (2015)

Rams (Hrútar) Tragicomedy| 92 Minutes | 2015 | Iceland * * * * * Ageing, unmarried, and unkempt, brothers Gummi (Sigurður Sigurjónsson) and Kiddi (Theodór Júlíusson) work side by side as sheep farmers in a cold and desolate valley in Iceland’s northeast. Each the master of their own flock, they have not spoken for forty years owing to a dispute over their father’s…

Capsule Movie Review: Big (1988)

Big Fantasy Comedy | 104 Minutes | 1988 | United States * * * The last of a cluster of movies, all released within the space of a year between the autumn of 1987 and the summer of 1988, to depict youths turning into or swapping forms with adult men – the others were Like Father Like Son (1987), Vice Versa (1988), 18 Again! (1988), and…

Capsule Movie Review: Virgin Mountain (2015)

Virgin Mountain (Fúsi) Dramatic Comedy | 93 Minutes | 2015 | Iceland * * * * Fúsi (Gunnar Jónsson) is forty-three years old and a virgin, still living at home with his mother. He spends his days working as a baggage handler at Keflavik airport, his evenings wargaming with his friend Mörður (Sigurjón Kjartansson), as together they painstakingly recreate the Battle of…

Capsule Movie Review: The Assassin (2015)

The Assassin (刺客聶隱娘) Martial Arts | 105 Minutes | 2015 | Taiwan/China * * * * * In 9th century China, the weakened Tang Dynasty struggles to retain control over its militarised province of Weibo. Nie Yinniang (Shu Qi) has been trained by the nun Jiaxin (Fang-Yi Sheu) to assassinate corrupt government officials, but though she possesses all of the art, she cannot…

Capsule Movie Review: Risky Business (1983)

Risky Business Coming-of-Age Drama | 98 Minutes | 1983 | United States * * * * Joel (Tom Cruise), a teenager coming towards the end of his time in high school, lives with his parents in a leafy Chicago suburb. He is good-looking and his parents are wealthy, but they are also demanding, and he subsumes a fluent strain of existential angst with worry…

Capsule Movie Review: Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Punch-Drunk Love Romantic Comedy | 95 Minutes | 2002 | United States * * * * * Barry Egan (Adam Sandler) owns a warehouse which manufactures and sells novelty goods – toilet plungers with supposedly non-breakable handles and so on – but channels all of his hopes into one venture: having carried out his research diligently, and as far as the vagaries of the promotion…

Capsule Movie Review: McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)

McCabe & Mrs. Miller Anti-Western | 121 Minutes | 1971 | United States * * * * * In 1902 an inscrutable gambler, John McCabe (Warren Beatty), arrives in the fledgling town of Presbyterian Church in the northwestern United States. A hazy rumour has him as a gunslinger, and McCabe uses innuendo and disorder to quickly assert his position in the town,…

Capsule Movie Review: Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Million Dollar Baby Sports Drama | 132 minutes | 2004 | United States * * Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), from southwest Missouri, has worked as a waitress from her early teens. Stuck in grim poverty, she seeks a way beyond her circumstances, and determines to become a boxer. She turns up at a worn-down Los Angeles gym, owned and run by Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) with the…