‘Shape ofWater’, ‘Three Billboards’ in London crix noms

Announcement today by the  Film Critics Circle, of which I am a proud member.

LONDON, 19 DECEMBER 2017: The UK’s leading film critics today announced the nominations for the 38th annual London Critics’ Circle Film Awards presented by Dover Street Entertainment. Martin McDonagh’s drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was out front with seven nominations, including Film, Director, Screenwriter, Actress for Frances McDormand, and Supporting Actor for both Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson. In addition, as a British production the film is nominated for British/Irish Film of the Year. Continue reading

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FILM REVIEW: Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Blade Runner 2049’

By Ray Bennett

LONDON – ‘What if?” movies provide some of the most entertaining and thought provoking moments in cinema and there’s a good deal to enjoy in the sci-fi sequel “Blade Runner 2049” but its key “what if?” question gives it a hollow core.

Like Ridley Scott’s 1982 original, based on Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, it’s set in a grim, dystopian future where human beings interact with hybrid robots called replicants. In the first, the job of grizzled detective Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is to hunt down androids who threaten to outlive their designated use-by date as they tend to become dangerous. Continue reading

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FIMUCITÉ concert: ‘Stephen King’s Night Gallery’

By Ray Bennett

TENERIFE – A celebration of music from screen versions of stories by the world’s most popular horror writer, which  closed Fimucitê on Saturday night, featured world premieres of cues from the much-loved 1990 TV adaptation of “It” by Richard Bellis and the current hit feature film by Benjamin Wallfisch. Continue reading

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FIMUCITÉ concert: ‘Sword & Sorcery’

By Ray Bennett

TENERIFE – Movie composer Trevor Jones (below left), whose credits over an almost 40-year career include “Labyrinth”, “Angel Heart”, “Mississippi Burning”, “The Last of the Mohicans”, “Brassed Off!” and “Notting Hill”, was celebrated for his scores for fantasy films in a Fimucité concert titled “Sword & Sorcery: Symphonic Chronicles of a Legendary Era” at the Auditorio de Tenerife Adán Martín in Santa Cruz on Friday night. Continue reading

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FIMUCITÉ Concert: Warriors From the Silver Screen

By Ray Bennett

TENERIFE – “Exceptional!” That’s the word used by maestro Diego Navarro – the superstar of the Fimucité Film Music Festival, who knows a thing or two about great orchestras – to describe the performance of the festival’s Youth Symphony Orchestra at a concert of famous scores from action movies Thursday night. Continue reading

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TIFF FILM REVIEW: Scott Cooper’s ‘Hostiles’

By Ray Bennett

TORONTO – Scott Cooper opens his muscular Western tale “Hostiles” with a horrifying sequence of slaughter and he sustains a palpable level of dread as a group of travellers journey hundreds of miles through some of the most gorgeous landscape in America. It’s a constant reminder that the most dangerous element of wilderness can be human.

Handsome and intense, the film tells of a small unit of cavalry officers ordered to escort an imprisoned Cheyenne family north from New Mexico to Montana so their dying chief may be laid to rest in traditional burying grounds. It’s 1892 and the Indian Wars are mostly over although renegades haven’t given up the fight. The U.S. Army and the region’s Native Americans have gone at each other with equal savagery and the scars show on both the soldiers and their tribal foe. Continue reading

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TIFF FILM REVIEW: Aaron Sorkin’s ‘Molly’s Game’

By Ray Bennett

TORONTO – Aaron Sorkin’s “Molly’s Game” assumes that to watch obnoxious rich men play the most boring form of poker is actually entertaining. Its story of a glamorous woman whose attempts to exploit the bad behaviour of bullies and weaklings with a gambling habit is redeemed only by the poise and subtlety of star Jessica Chastain in the title role. Continue reading

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TIFF FILM REVIEW: ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’

By Ray Bennett

TORONTO – “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is so full of surprises that when Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand), carries an open bottle of wine across a restaurant toward a table where her ex-husband sits with his pretty young girlfriend, there’s no way to tell if she will pour them some wine or smash them in the face.

Tormented by sorrow and guilt, Mildred is in furious despair following the rape and murder of her teenaged daughter Angela. Frustrated by the lack of action by local authorities, she vents some anger and stirs more in others when she rents three billboards on the road where Angela died and covers them with provocative protests. Local reaction is mixed except among law officers who feel insulted with predictable results. Continue reading

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TIFF FILM REVIEW: Joe Wright’s ‘Darkest Hour’

By Ray Bennett

TORONTO – Gary Oldman is an unlikely choice to play Winston Churchill but his portrayal of the iconic British statesman in Joe Wright’s ‘Darkest Hour’ is masterful and bound for all the major awards. He is supported by a strong cast who with good pacing by director Joe Wright overcome the script’s mawkish nostalgia and jingoism to hold it all together. Continue reading

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TIFF FILM REVIEW: Armando Iannucci’s ‘The Death of Stalin’

By Ray Bennett

TORONTO – Having savaged British and American politics on television with “The Thick of It” and “VEEP”, Armando Iannucci turns his wickedly satirical eye on Russia with a perceptive and hilarious depiction of what might have happened when the Soviet Union leader had a stroke that led to his death in 1953.

Drawn from a graphic novel written by Fabien Nury, the film mines the truly grim realities of life in a wantonly brutal dictatorship for comic gems that reveal the craven ruthlessness of the ruling cabal. A cast of fine comedic actors use a range of mostly British accents to convey the essential drabness of the characters and the banality of their evil. Continue reading

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