The Danish Girl (2016)

★★★★☆

“When The Danish Girl trailer was released back in September, the internet was saturated with a two minute tease of Tom Hooper’s hotly-anticipated drama. For several weeks, I associated an Adblock-free YouTube with the flawless faces of Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, smiling then weeping, swept into a delicately shabby-chic world accompanied by soaring strings (though soul-destroyingly, not Alexandre Desplat’s original score). I’d be lying if I said I didn’t watch the trailer over fifty times, often on loop, obnoxiously crying with excitement. But not everyone was so enamoured, with a mild backlash brewing over the casting of a cisgender man in the role of one of the most influential transgender people of the last century. But for all the mixed emotions surrounding Hooper’s film, personal and international, the overall outcome is a stunning mix of equally compelling emotions.”

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The Lady in the Van (2015)

★★★★☆

“When Alan the Liver becomes more aware of Miss Shepherd’s torment – van pushing and harassment from a sleazy Jim Broadbent – he invites her into his drive, an offer met by her feigned indifference. Of course she accepts, and stays for 15 years.”

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45 Years (2015)

★★★★☆

45 years of marriage, to some, would be considered a life sentence. An experience genuinely akin to imprisonment, trapped in the confines of a box, albeit a nicely furnished one, for the best part of half a century. But for Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff (Tom Courtenay), it seems something about the gentle routine of their quiet, paired lives suits them both, pottering in a substantial Norfolk house, the ticking of the grandfather clock a subtle soundtrack, marking each day.

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Spectre

★★★☆☆

This latest instalment is certainly a film of mixed quality. Just when you start to think the excitement and tension are building at last, a flimsy plot device kills the anticipation. Not a cold-dead head shot; more of a wound in the side, preserving some chance of recovery but ultimately weakening the journey.

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Brooklyn

★★★★☆

“While her body is put through the motions, so is her mind. Donning an emerald green coat, Ireland firmly in her heart, she is incongruous to her overwhelming new environment – a four leaf clover in a world of hot dogs and cosmetics. It’s like she hasn’t experienced anything beyond her usual village routine of eat, work, dance, sleep (the ‘50s, somewhat pedestrian Fatboy Slim). Her body is on American soil but her mind is back across the Atlantic, as Eilis so eloquently puts it in a letter to her beloved elder sister Rose.”

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The Lobster

★★★★☆

In a bleak rocky landscape – moors and dark seas – David (Colin Farrell) is single. Sent to the strange, austere Hotel (run by Olivia Colman’s aptly named ‘Hotel Manager’) he has forty-five days to find an appropriate mate. By appropriate, the two partners must have a matching attribute – nosebleeds, a lisp, short-sightedness, the usual. To earn more days, these short-term residents are called for regular hunts in the nearby woods, where the loners reside, their bodies shot with tranquilizer and dragged back to the hotel for an early fast-track to the residents potential fate: to be turned into an animal of their choice.

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Bakkhai (Theatre Review)

★★★★☆

“And yet, I seemed to behold an historic moment, perched on the edge of my aisle seat in the Almeida’s sitting-room-masquerading-as-a-theatre, breathing in this millennia old storytelling. But, however dramatically clichéd such a statement is, I feel daft for doubting otherwise.”

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