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  • The Return

    The Return

    ★★★★★

    From Russia, another of cinema's great debuts. Andrey Zvyagintsev's "The Return" is another harsh, unsentimental and, I suppose, decidedly Russian look at childhood, (from Donskoi to Tarkovsky Russian cinema has always handled the theme of childhood beautifully). Here, an absent father shows up unexpectedly after twelve years as if out of nowhere to take his two young sons on a fishing trip. What's the reasoning behind it? Where is the connection?

    As he went on to show in his later…

  • 1917

    1917

    ★★★

    Apart from the 'Will it, Won't it win Best Picture', the main talking point regarding "1917" is the fact that it was filmed in a single take, though of course it wasn't. Mendes shot the film in a number of seamless takes that give the impression the whole thing is happening in real time with only one obvious break midway through when the screen goes black to signify the passage of time from day to night; otherwise, all the events…

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  • '71

    '71

    ★★★★★

    In 1971 I was living on the fringes of Derry's Bogside. On several occasions my home was 'collateral damage' in a number of bombings and I remember lying on the floor of my bedroom in case I might fall victim to a stray bullet from one of the gun-battles raging outside. I drank in pubs that would be bombed in time and I was on the march on Bloody Sunday. Things were bad in Derry in 1971 but they were…

  • 12 Years a Slave

    12 Years a Slave

    ★★★★½

    Never before have the horrors of slavery been shown so powerfully, so movingly and so explicitly on screen as they are in Steve McQueen's remarkable film 12 YEARS A SLAVE. This relentlessly grim film is based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man from Saratoga, New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. He is played brilliantly by the British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor and he is virtually never off the screen. It's an incredibly physical…