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  • The Last Tree

    The Last Tree

    ★★★★

    The fields of Lincolnshire are lensed in a golden light by Shola Amoo in his semi-autobiographical sophomore feature, The Last Tree. A group of young boys is playing, shouting and running with only each other to entertain and worry about. Their smiles are huge. One of these boys is Femi (as a child played by Tai Golding; as an adolescent by Sam Adewunmi), a British boy of Nigerian heritage living happily in foster care, laughing freely in the place he…

  • The Goldfinch

    The Goldfinch

    ★★

    Donna Tartt’s emu-sized, hyper-acclaimed book drills deep into the inner life of Theo, a young man who loses his mother and illicitly gains a famous painting when a bomb goes off in a New York art gallery. John Crowley’s adaptation struggles mightily to translate the novel’s ambition to the screen. Both as bespectacled teenager (Oakes Fegley) and bespectacled twentysomething (Ansel Elgort), Theo is a blank canvas and a deathly bore.

    We know that he has an addiction to prescription drugs,…

  • Hotel Mumbai

    Hotel Mumbai

    ★★★

    Hotel Mumbai, the debut feature from short filmmaker Anthony Maras, puts you right in the heart of the darkest days of modern Indian history. Over a three day-period in 2008, ten Pakistani terrorists occupied the opulent Taj Mahal hotel, shooting at random in the name of Islam. Well acted and impressively shot, Maras’ film does a great job in making you feel the heat of the moment, but doesn’t have the depths or insight to do any more than that.…

  • Rambo: Last Blood

    Rambo: Last Blood

    ★★

    An end credits montage of old Rambo movies at the end of Rambo: Last Blood is a sad reminder of how far Sylvester Stallone’s secondary franchise (after Rocky) has devolved. Ever since Ted Kotcheff’s gritty and gripping First Blood, the Vietnam vet has taken an inexorable slide to the cartoon-y and the irrelevant. The latest, and seemingly the last, is now on a par with his Escape Plan franchise, a sad end for one of cinema’s most engaging anti-heroes.

    The…

  • Ready or Not

    Ready or Not

    ★★★★

    Ready Or Not starts at a terrific pace — a Steadicam-shot chase through the corridors of a spooky mansion — and doesn’t let up. The latest from Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, two-thirds of the filmmaking group Radio Silence best known for the first-person horror segment of V/H/S, mashes up Clue and The Most Dangerous Game and infuses it with dark, nutty energy, gore (the loopy rather than repulsive kind), smart laughs and sharp satire at the expense of America’s…

  • The Farewell

    The Farewell

    ★★★★

    The Farewell begins with a flurry of fibs. Billi (Awkwafina), a young woman living in New York, is walking down a Manhattan street when her China-based grandmother (Zhao Shuzhen), aka Nai Nai, calls for a catch-up. It quickly becomes clear that they love each other deeply, but as the exchange ping-pongs back and forth across the Pacific, the deceit begins. Yes, Billi says, she’s wearing a hat (she’s not). Nai Nai claims she’s snug at home (she’s in a sterile…

  • The Kitchen

    The Kitchen

    ★★

    It might be named for the Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood of New York rather than a room where people whip up meals, but while The Kitchen has all the hallmarks of a dish boasting a lot of the right ingredients, somehow it still comes out tasting blandly unsatisfying. The story, adapted by first-time director Andrea Berloff from Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle’s DC/Vertigo graphic novel, finds wives going full gangster as they look to fill the power and money vacuum left…

  • Hustlers

    Hustlers

    ★★★★★

    Whether you’re a fan of her films or not, it’s undeniable that no-one commands a room quite like Jennifer Lopez. That self-made magnetism that has been finessed over years of performing still has the ability to seemingly slow down time, and writer-director Lorene Scafaria appreciates this more than anyone, rewarding such enigmatic energy with the role of a lifetime.

    Make no mistake that Crazy Rich Asians heroine Constance Wu gets top billing for Hustlers — a con movie with all…

  • Downton Abbey

    Downton Abbey

    ★★★

    If you are already a fan of creator Julian Fellowes' upstairs-downstairs ITV drama, its big-screen debut will likely delight. All your favourite characters are back, and Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess continues to shower us in delightfully acerbic snark. Every character seems to tell someone how proud they are of them, and everyone does their duty, by George. But if you are not already well acquainted with this fine country house and its residents, there’s little in this aggressively gentle nostalgia…

  • Night Hunter

    Night Hunter

    ★★

    Thankfully, nobody has yet come up with the idea of packaging whole seasons of a Peak TV series as a feature film, but if they had, the results might look something like this uneven serial killer thriller, the feature debut of British writer-director David Raymond. It isn't short of ideas, but the relatively brief running time provides little opportunity for any of them to develop into a coherent narrative, to say nothing of any semblance of character development that might…

  • Phoenix

    Phoenix

    ★★★

    Horrible feelings of domestic dread permeate the first part of Phoenix, a small drama about a broken family. Events unfold predominantly through the eyes of Jill (Thedin), who is about to turn 14 and just wants stability and happiness, whatever the reality might be. Her mother Astrid (Maria Bonnevie) is a depressed drunk, and anyone who’s had to deal with someone lost to an unbreakable downward cycle will relate to Phoenix’s effective portrayal of near constant fear, where every minor…

  • Honeyland

    Honeyland

    ★★★★

    A Macedonian bee-keeper may not be the documentary subject you think you need in your life, but this gorgeous and closely observed film makes the case that it is. Playing more like a particularly thoughtful indie drama than the usual carefully narrated documentary, it’s the story of a vanishing way of life, in a forgotten corner of Europe, but also a character study of extraordinary intimacy and feeling.

    We meet Hatidze Muratova on a precarious ledge in the Northern Macedonian…