FILM REVIEW: Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’

By Ray Bennett

Martin Scorsese’s puerile veneration of low-life thugs and violent sociopaths reaches its apotheosis in his leadenly dull crime picture ‘The Irishman’, available now on Netflix.

Over nearly three-and-a-half tedious hours, he takes a hoodlum named Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro, top with Al Pacino) at face value as he makes dubious and unsupported claims about the number of men he murdered including the disgraced union mobster Jimmy Hoffa. Continue reading

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TIFF FILM REVIEW: Chinonye Chukwu’s ‘Clemency’

By Ray Bennett

TORONTO – Alfre Woodard gives a profound and memorable performance in writer-director Chinonye Chukwu’s ‘Clemency’, a moving examination of the personal tolls exacted by the death penalty.

Most such stories focus on the victim and the condemned but Chukwu takes a rare look at the people whose job it is to carry out capital punishment. In particular, it’s about Warden Bernadine Williams (Woodard), who carries out her grim duties with a calm authority that belies the increasing doubts and tumult inside her. Continue reading

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‘The Go-Between’ and ‘The Criminal’ restored for Blu-ray

By Ray Bennett

LONDON – Blacklisted American film director Joseph Losey was a major force in British cinema in the 1960s and ’70s and two of his best pictures – ‘The Go-Between’ and ‘The Criminal’ – will be released on Blu-ray on Sept. 16 as part of StudioCanal’s Vintage Classics collection. Continue reading

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Restored classic western ‘High Noon’ in UK debut on Blu-ray

By Ray Bennett

LONDON – Fred Zinnemann’s Oscar-winning 1952 western ‘High Noon’ will be released for the first time on Blu-ray Disc in the United Kingdom on Sept. 16 by Eureka Entertainment. Continue reading

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BAFTA to keep theatrical eligibility and add casting prize

By Ray Bennett

LONDON – BAFTA announced today that, following what it calls a “broad consultation”, eligibility rules regarding the theatrical release required for a film to qualify for the EE British Academy Film Awards will not change for 2020. It also said there will be a new award for casting and the Original Music award will be renamed Original Score. Continue reading

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FILM REVIEW: ‘Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood’

By Ray Bennett

Quentin Tarentino’s ‘Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood’ is a lazy, self-indulgent and violent story about the unrequited love of a movie stuntman for a two-bit action star. Set in 1969, it’s a laboured bromantic comedy in which Cliff Booth, played by Brad Pitt, swans about trying to catch the eye of his employer, Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), who is too self-involved to see. It’s as if Richard Gere doesn’t notice Julia Roberts in ‘Pretty Woman’. Continue reading

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TIFF19 announces first galas and closing film ‘Radioactive’

By Ray Bennett

LONDON – Working Title’s 19th-century biopic “Radioactive”, starring Rosamund Pike (pictured) as Nobel Prize-winning scientist Marie Curie, will have its world premiere at the closing gala of the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 14.

Organisers announced a first raft of 18 galas and 38 special presentations including 29 world premieres and six international debuts for the 44th TIFF, which runs Sept. 5-15. Continue reading

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Robbie Robertson and The Band doc to open TIFF 2019

By Ray Bennett

LONDON – The documentary feature ‘Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band’ will have its world premiere at the Opening Night Gala of the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 5, TIFF announced today. Continue reading

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Sidney Lumet on high comedy and great acting

By Ray Bennett

LONDON – American filmmaker Sidney Lumet, who was born 95 years ago today and died in 2011, made a series of fine and gripping social dramas from the 1950s through the 1980s but he was a big fan of high comedy and the performers who could carry it off.

He told me, “I think there’s a large underestimation of high-comedy. For years, they kept saying, oh, Cary Grant, he’s charming but he can’t act but, by Jesus, that’s acting, let me tell you. It’s very hard acting, it’s wonderful acting. People equate seriousness with quality and that isn’t so.” Continue reading

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‘Under Fire’ with Nolte, Cassidy and Hackman new on Blu-ray

By Ray Bennett

LONDON – Great news! Roger Spottiswood’s excellent  1983 political thriller ‘Under Fire’ starring Nick Nolte, Gene Hackman, Joanna Cassidy,  Ed Harris and Jean-Louis Trintignant is out today on Blu-ray Disc in the U.K. from Eureka Entertainment. Continue reading

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