The sexist Black Widow joke salvaged by Nicole Holofcener

Scarlett Johansson’s assassin/spy Natasha and her younger counterpart in Florence Pugh’s Yelena find common ground in their shared traumas and forge a way forward, while surviving in a world that would use their womanhood against them. As Shortland recalls, “[Holofcener] said, ‘We don’t take it out – we’ll get the girls to answer it.’ She was punching things up by not diminishing the politically incorrect stuff, but saying, ‘Let’s get the women in there and get their hands dirty, too.’ That was fun, and made the film more robust, and…

Lingui – first-look review

Published 9 Jul 2021 Share this Amina begs Maria’s headmistress not to expel her, tries in desperation to drive a better bargain over the cost of the abortion. This isn’t particularly suspenseful or imaginative plotting, and that may be the point. But Amina’s bitterness won’t last long. Amina (Achouackh Abakar Souleymane) is introduced cutting up tires and extracting their belts, which she weaves into stoves and sells. (You might also say the same thing about last year’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always, a film about another country with a third-world healthcare…

Fear Street: 1978

Cindy (Emily Rudd) is the older one, an ostensible ‘goody-two-shoes’ counsellor, working hard alongside her sweet boyfriend Tommy (McCabe Slye) and some more rebellious teens from Shadyside (the camp also hosts kids from neighbouring Sunnyvale). The 1994-set first part of Leigh Janiak’s RL Stine trilogy saw teenagers stalked by several undead mass murderers from their seemingly cursed town’s history. The second film’s framing device sees her friends turn to the only local who might believe them. The character roster and body count are bigger, and while not everyone gets the…

Everything Went Fine – first-look review

There is another daughter, Pascale (Géraldine Pailhas), who is slightly jealous of their intimacy, and a permanently depressed sculptress mother in Claude (Charlotte Rampling). Initially furious, she comes round and looks into the legalities aided by Pascale and the family lawyer. Disconsolate with living, he lights up like a Christmas tree when discussions turn to his imminent demise. Flashbacks to Emmanuèle’s childhood reveal that he always was something of a rogue, yet the love his daughters feel for him is never in question. The chemistry between him and his long-suffering…

After Yang – first-look review

They live in a serene suburban house with lush greenery and plenty of natural light. At the start of the film, Yang suffers a serious malfunction, and the family are devastated by their loss. How is a memory formed? The opening credits sequence is a burst of whimsy, and Farrell’s Werner Herzog impression while he tells Yang about Les Blank and Gina Leibrecht’s All in This Tea manages to be charming and significant in one breath. After Yang – first-look review Kogonada’s sci-fi-tinged family drama confirms its writer/director as one…

Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac spar in the Scenes From a Marriage trailer

But if you’re going to do it anyway, you’d do well to start off with two of the most talented, accomplished thespians of their generation. Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac spar in the Scenes From a Marriage trailer Ingmar Bergman’s masterpiece, said to increase Sweden’s rate of divorce, is getting a second life on TV courtesy of HBO. The starring pair take the torch from original cast members Erland Josephson (portraying a malcontent psychology professor named Jonas) and Liv Ullmann (as the career lawyer Marianne), though it has yet to…

The Worst Person in the World – first-look review

They bicker constantly and scold each other for their perceived flaws – they are complex and frustrating but unfailingly human. From a riotous shrooms trip to an awe-inspiring romantic sequence with shades of magical realism, it’s as messy and unpredictable as love itself. The events depicted in each chapter are disparate; some amusing, others tender. The soundtrack is a mix of Trier’s regular composer Ola Fløttum and Harry Nilsson deep cuts, underscoring the sensation of familiarity and uncanniness. The trio of central characters are perfectly realised, with Reinsve sharing great…

El vino did flow – How The Office achieved sitcom perfection

After leaving XFM and embarking on a production course at the BBC, he enlisted the funniest man he knew to take part in a short film entitled Seedy Boss; from the second Merchant pointed a camera at his friend and invited him to improvise as David Brent, it was clear the pair were on to something. I’m just watching.” That is a pun deserving its own 20th anniversary retrospective when the time comes. The wheel was not reinvented overnight. There were precedents, of course. The US version spawned shows like…