50 Words for Film

Films old and new reviewed in fifty words

Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour

Joe Wright


This portrait of Churchill from becoming prime minister to Dunkirk is infuriating. Gary Oldman is amazing as Churchill. It’s impossible to believe he also played the drug-fuelled DEA officer from Leon and you will leave the cinema singing the latex. But his performance is wasted in this Trump friendly fantasy.


Ingrid Goes West

Ingrid Goes WestMatt Spicer


It would be easy to make a film about the evils of social media, especially if the filmmakers were older and could remember a time before taking our phone to the toilet. That film would be patronising mince. Here, however, is a darkly funny, sympathetic but thought provoking warning. #Issues


The Shape Of Water

The Shape of WaterGuillermo del Toro


A woman falls in love with a creature from the deep, held in a secret government facility. A thousand times better than that premise sounds, this is an exciting, beautiful and curious film. No one gets monsters like del Toro and here he corrects the mistakes of a hundred B-movies.



Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

3 Billboards

Martin McDonagh


There is so much to see here. Grief, guilt and fury inspire Frances McDormand to extreme acts in this smart-tongued drama. It’s easy to picture Three Billboards as a new wave western – there’s a whiff of Bad Day At Black Rock – but the dialogue is modern, creative and funny.



Terry Gilliam


Michael Palin plays the accidental hero in this tribute to dirt, turnips and Lewis Carroll. Gilliam’s love of piss-stained medieval knights began in Monty Python & The Holy Grail. Upsettingly, Jabberwocky’s overlong and dull. If only a few scenes survived, its name would be legend but unfortunately, it’s all there.


The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen

Robert Aldrich


Based on a true-ish story about U.S. army convicts taking part in the most suicidal of dangerous missions, it’s hard to tell what this film wants to say. Is it pro-war or anti-war? It’s definitely bleak. Our heroes are rapists and murderers, and occasionally you feel sorry for the Nazis.

Gun Crazy

Gun CrazyJoseph H Lewis


An all women are bad example of classic noir, Gun Crazy is a simple Bonnie & Clyde inspired story about brilliant shot and kindly faced John Dall falling in terrible love with wicked Peggy Cummins. This is a deceptive film and pretends to be far less creative than it is.




The Thin Blue Line


Errol Morris


Examines a corrupt looking murder conviction in 1970s Texas. When documentaries makers first saw this film they realised, or certainly should have, they had to change. “And then this happened and then some guy did this thing,” would no longer be acceptable. Watching documentaries today you see Morris’s influence everywhere.



It’s A Wonderful Life


Frank Capra


An angel shows a suicidal George (James Stewart) the important things in life, and, if you have a soul, you’ll cry at the end. Based on a, frankly terrible, short story, the acting, the attention to detail and the kindness of this film keep the creeping sentimentality at bay. (Just)


Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Rare Exports

Jalmari Helander


In Finland – no one can hear you sing Jingle Bells. In this pantomime-ish horror comedy the ancient evil Santa is about to be unleashed and his naked old man elves are psychopathically protective. Although genuinely fun, intriguing and tense it feels a little overstretched from its short film roots.


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