Shame (Dir: Steve McQueen)

Reviewed by Declan Tan Steve McQueen’s second feature is a visually arresting, thematically dense piece of cinema, that may, and probably will, prove to be an important film in years to come. That is, if enough people get to see it. Having been cursed with a NC-17 rating in the US and a limited release … Continue reading Shame (Dir: Steve McQueen)

Take Shelter

Reviewed by Declan Tan From Shotgun Stories writer/director comes a second feature on small town America, another portrait of troubled family which despite its flaws, reaffirms Jeff Nichols’ potential to become an independent cinema mainstay. Michael Shannon is Curtis LaForche, a family man in anytown, Ohio, father to a recently deafened girl, husband to Samantha … Continue reading Take Shelter

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Reviewed by Declan Tan Lynne Ramsay’s deranged adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s equally deranged novel (which Shriver quite garishly lauds on the film’s poster) is a decent stretch of film that concentrates more on the director’s ambition than it does on the novel’s. The result is a sometimes over-stylised but darkly entertaining genre-mix of gallows humour, … Continue reading We Need To Talk About Kevin

Steve Aylett: Lint The Movie

Reviewed by Declan Tan Until recently, the promise of Steve Aylett’s £750 foray into feature-length film productions had seemingly been wandering desultorily around the Internet for quite some time, indulging in some shallow vanishing since 2009, popping up here and there on blogs, before triumphantly reappearing for its premiere in Brighton earlier this year. Followed … Continue reading Steve Aylett: Lint The Movie

TV Eye: Bill Hicks, The Field of Blood and Page Eight

Jacob Knowles-Smith settles down for an original American comic and some not so original British drama It might be a cliché for fans of Bill Hicks to reminisce about the man and wonder what he might have to say about the present day, but it isn’t much of a stretch of the imagination: he wouldn’t … Continue reading TV Eye: Bill Hicks, The Field of Blood and Page Eight

Somewhere (Sofia Coppola)

A radical new direction for the acceptable face of art house cinema? Hardly, says Declan Tan “Let’s open with one of those long, audience-testing shots, yeah, yeah, keep him driving around. Make about ten laps then we’ll cut.” I imagine this is how Sofia Coppola speaks and I imagine this is how she sets up … Continue reading Somewhere (Sofia Coppola)

Route Irish (Ken Loach)

Often something of a cinematic conscience, Ken Loach turns the camera to the Iraq war. Declan Tan reviews Ken Loach’s take on Iraq was always going to be one to look out for. After In Our Name, Green Zone, The Hurt Locker and a slurry of others sent hot and steaming down the pipe of supposedly cantankerous cinema, … Continue reading Route Irish (Ken Loach)

The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper)

Is there anything left to say about The King’s Speech? Declan Tan thinks so Welcome to the throwback film of the century. You already know the story thanks to the BAFTA-soaked hype parade (and the ubiquitous trailers), and you’re vaguely familiar with the history, World War II and all that (though you won’t be too … Continue reading The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper)

Keeping Up with the Jones: Regarding Indiana

Whilst the Star Wars trilogy has embedded itself deep within our cultural mythology, Robert O’Connor wonders about George Lucas’ other classic serial, the Indiana Jones films George Lucas made the first Star Wars movies as a throwback to the classic adventure serials like Flash Gordon. A few years later he did it again with the … Continue reading Keeping Up with the Jones: Regarding Indiana

Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek)

Eight years after One Hour Photo, music video director Romanek steps back in the ring with an adaptation of Ishiguro’s much-touted novel. Declan Tan reviews In 1952, the breakthrough came. All disease and illness were cured, all disability wiped out. By the 1960s, age expectancy reached over 100 years. This is the opener for Never … Continue reading Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek)

Miral (Julian Schnabel)

Julian Schnabel’s switch from painter to filmmaker was one of the more surprising reinventions in contemporary culture. For Declan Tan, however, his most recent effort is a serious anticlimax Julian Schnabel has more than impressed, actually he has excelled in his past features, all biopics of wildly varied personalities and very different nationalities. First there … Continue reading Miral (Julian Schnabel)

The Fighter (David O. Russell)

Is there more to the Christian Bale Method than weight loss and accents? Declan Tan views his ‘return to acting’ As unimaginative and uninvolving as it is, The Fighter still manages to (insert boxing pun) throw a few punches before (here’s another one) the final bell, though admittedly it’s identical to every other underdog boxing … Continue reading The Fighter (David O. Russell)

Exit Through The Gift Shop (Banksy)

Declan Tan revisits Banksy’s documentary on street art and the transformation of Terry Guetta into  ‘Mr. Brainwash’ Pretension is a subject seemingly dear to Banksy. It’s all over his work, from his mordant stencils which inspired a boisterous surge in ‘street art’ popularity, to his grand socio-political satires plastered across the most daring of locations, … Continue reading Exit Through The Gift Shop (Banksy)

Conviction (Tony Goldwyn)

Reviewed by Declan Tan Conviction is a sickly and cynical bit of force-fed fluff, masquerading as serious drama as it squeezes all life out of its once-dignified story, dragging it through the shit heap of Hollywood to exploit its working-class subjects with predictable execution. Not the first, and not the last time this will happen. … Continue reading Conviction (Tony Goldwyn)

West Is West (Andy DeEmmony)

A decade after its hugely successful predecessor, Declan Tan encounters an entertaining but lightweight imitation second time around As the long-awaited sequel to the 1999 breakout hit that was East is East, comes scribe Ayub Khan-Din’s West is West, a continuation of the Salford-set story of Sajid (Aqib Khan), jumping us forward five years to … Continue reading West Is West (Andy DeEmmony)

Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance)

Derek Cianfrance’s labour of love reviewed by Declan Tan If you’ve happened upon any of the interviews with director and co-writer Derek Cianfrance talking about his 12-year project, Blue Valentine, you’ll notice there’s a through-line to all of them. As wearied as his two main characters become of each other, Cianfrance, in his routine exchanges … Continue reading Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance)

Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky)

Declan Tan takes a second look at Aronofsky’s tightly-wound psych-out Recommending this film is not the easiest thing to do. You have those who already know and appreciate the prospect of a new Darren Aronofsky film, granted some of those fans fell off at The Fountain, his most personal and ambitious work, before being pulled … Continue reading Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky)

The Kids Are Alright (Lisa Cholodenko)

Good, great or just alright? Lisa Choldenko’s recent, acclaimed film is a little bit of each for Declan Tan The Kids Are All Right is a film that, like its two main characters, gets stuck in its meandering second half. And although it seems a sincere and even genuine slice of family life at first, … Continue reading The Kids Are Alright (Lisa Cholodenko)

127 Hours (Danny Boyle)

… in which Danny Boyle gussies up the true story of Aron Ralston, adrenalin fiend and extreme sports enthusiast, who got himself stuck under a rock for five and a bit days. Review by Declan Tan The vacant, feature-length hip-hop montage that is 127 Hours begins with an ill-advisedly selected Free Blood track (‘Never Hear … Continue reading 127 Hours (Danny Boyle)

Spork (J.B. Ghuman Jr)

Colourful comfort blanket for social misfits or tacky cult-by-numbers debut? Declan Tan reviews J.B. Ghuman’s debut Getting her nickname from that ingenious eating utensil that blends the undeniable benefits of both a fork and a spoon (for she, you see, is an intersex teenager), the titular character of this high school comedy/musical turns out herself … Continue reading Spork (J.B. Ghuman Jr)

Home For Christmas (Bent Hamer)

Yuletide films are a risky proposition (and reviewing them in summer equally so). Can a Norwegian director of note make his mark? Declan Tan finds out Only a shade darker than your standard Disney snow-and-Santa fare comes Bent Hamer’s latest, a surprisingly uninspired bit of yuletide flakiness from the writer/director who seemed to have adaptations … Continue reading Home For Christmas (Bent Hamer)

Picco (Philip Koch)

Philip Koch’s harrowing prison drama reviewed by Declan Tan When you watch Picco you get the feeling that former-critic and one-time film student Philip Koch knows his stuff. In his feature debut follow-up to the award-winning short Lumen, Koch skilfully blends the theory and artful subtlety that seems to have informed his Nouvelle Vagary from … Continue reading Picco (Philip Koch)

Essential Killing (Jerzy Skolimowski)

Vincent Gallo won acclaim for his silent portrayal and director Skolimowski has the pedigree. Declan Tan assesses whether Essential Killing lives up to its reputation Jerzy Skolimowski (writer of Knife in the Water, writer-director of Deep End, actor in Before Night Falls) is clearly not a bad sort. His credits speak for themselves. And on … Continue reading Essential Killing (Jerzy Skolimowski)

Howl (Friedman and Epstein)

The James Franco-Allen Ginsberg biopic is now available as a DVD. Save your money, reckons Declan Tan As well as telling the story of the 1957 obscenity trial concerning City Lights Books’ publication of the seminal poem, Howl, Friedman and Epstein’s film attempts to navigate the murky juices of Allen Ginsberg’s life and work during … Continue reading Howl (Friedman and Epstein)