Five star - Film Reviews

Latest Guardian Film Reviews sorted by Star Rating. Cut the crap!
  1. Amy review – a harrowing account of Winehouse's tragic destiny
    Asif Kapadia’s stunning docu-collage maps out the crushing inevitability of Amy Winehouse’s fate with depth and clarity – and is all the more moving for it
    5 stars
  2. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief review – horribly compelling study of a creepy organisation
    Alex Gibney’s documentary convincingly argues that Scientology’s methods are exploitative, abusive and dysfunctional on a massive scale
    5 stars
  3. The Terminator review – return of the classic 80s action behemoth
    After 31 years, James Cameron’s sensational sci-fi thriller stands up tremendously well with outrageous verve, blistering excitement – and Arnie
    5 stars
  4. The Third Man review – torn between heaven and hell, a classic noir
    Blustering, conceited, charming – Orson Welles is still spellbinding in Carol Reed’s compelling parable of guilt, now rereleased six decades on
    5 stars
  5. The Long Good Friday review – sheer, ground-breaking brilliance
    A superb script and great turns from Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren are the making of John Mackenzie’s classic London gangland thriller
    5 stars
  6. Freaks review – a macabre masterpiece that still shocks
    Tod Browning’s bizarre black comedy about a band of circus performers is a disturbing curio of old Hollywood that has lost none of its power to unsettle
    5 stars
  7. The Look of Silence review – a stunning, unmissable sequel to The Act of Killing
    Joshua Oppenheimer’s second film about mass murders in 1960s Indonesia offers the victims’ families the chance to interrogate the killers
    5 stars
  8. La Grande Bouffe review – a fabulous feast of desire and disgust
    Jaded, crass and drenched in ennui, Marco Ferreri’s perverted nightmare of seedy 1970s sophistications may be a film of its time: but what a time
    4 stars
  9. Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles review – valuable insights
    Chuck Workman’s documentary takes us through Welles’s early glory and disappointing long goodbye, making the case for some of his best forgotten films
    4 stars
  10. The Hunger Games exhibition review – a surprisingly thoughtful taste of Panem
    The wildly popular books and films get a museum-quality show that mixes props, costumes and holograms with discussion of the series’ weightier themes
    4 stars
  11. Going Clear review – chilling and damning
    Alex Gibney’s powerful exposé paints a sinister portrait of Scientology, straight from the mouths of former insiders
    4 stars
  12. Slow West review – a lyrical ode to love on the wild frontier
    Musician-turned-director John Maclean strikes gold with this haunting hybrid of genres in the old west
    4 stars
  13. Minions review – tickled yellow
    The sidekicks of Despicable Me now take centre-stage – to gloriously silly effect
    4 stars
  14. Slow West review – trails and tribulation on a violent emotional journey
    Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee star in an old west tale packed with strange twists and turns
    4 stars
  15. The Marriage of Reason and Squalor review – Jake Chapman's impressively disorienting cinematic oddity
    The artist best known for his work with his brother, Dinos, has turned out an unexpectedly entertaining adaptation of his own novel that is both gruesome and plausible
    4 stars
  16. Mr Holmes review – the old sleuth on the trail of his younger self
    Ian McKellen brings affection and grace to a whimsical portrait of an elderly Sherlock Holmes, struggling with his memory and his myth
    4 stars
  17. A Deadly Adoption review: Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig's superb Lifetime spoof
    Few people can sell a line like ‘You know the dangers of diabetic kitoacidosis’ as well as Will Ferrell – add enormous orchestration, endless cellphone failure and a sinister pregnant hottie and you’ve the mother of all trash movie satires
    4 stars
  18. Les combattants review – outlaw humour meets heartfelt emotion
    Kévin Azaïs and Adèle Haenel bring wit and warmth to this tale of young love and survivalism
    4 stars
  19. Under Milk Wood review - Rhys Ifans in a highly coloured fever dream
    Dylan Thomas’ celebrated radio play has been energetically adapted to the big screen with Charlotte Church among the gallery of fun performances
    4 stars
  20. The Long Good Friday review – classic Brit gangster melodrama
    Bob Hoskins’ ruthless East End geezer has big plans for London’s docklands in John Mackenzie’s prescient 80s tale of hubris and revenge
    4 stars
  21. Gabriel review – Rory Culkin proves fine guide on headtrip through bipolar mind
    Macaulay’s younger brother gives a terrific performance as a 25-year-old struggling with mental health issues in this low-budget gem
    4 stars
  22. Freaks review – ‘remarkable beauty’ in once-banned movie
    If there are ‘freaks’ on display, they are not the versatile performers to whom this 1932 movie’s title appears to allude
    4 stars
  23. London Road review – adaptation of ‘Ipswich ripper’ stage musical
    Uncomfortable truths surface as local residents deal with the media firestorm ignited by the murders of five women in 2006
    4 stars
  24. The Look of Silence review – return to Indonesia’s death squads
    In Joshua Oppenheimer’s companion piece to The Act of Killing, Indonesia’s butchers speak again – but this time, so do their victims
    4 stars
  25. The Misfits review – muscular swansong for Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable
    Two of Hollywood’s brightest stars make their final appearances in this melancholy drama that pulses with sadness and symbolism
    4 stars
  26. Housebound review – horror-comedy that works as both
    Clever low-budget indie thriller about a scowling teen under house arrest, whose house is ‘disturbed’ – but what, or who, by?
    3 stars
  27. Life's a Beach review – affectionate and elegantly brisk
    A picture-perfect documentary detailing a threat to the idyll of an English eccentric
    3 stars
  28. The First Film review – the mystery of a cinema pioneer
    Louis le Prince made the world’s first film, claims David Nicholas Wilkinson, who makes a convincing documentary argument that Leeds is the cradle of cinema
    3 stars
  29. Still the Water review – diverting Zen water-feature romance
    Serene and engaging, if a little indulgent, Naomi Kawase’s feature is a prose-poem about death and love
    3 stars
  30. All-American High Revisited review – amusing 80s time capsule of life before mobile phones
    A return to a real-life Fast Times at Ridgemont High
    3 stars
  31. Station to Station review – new musical express
    A trans-American rail journey, picking up musicians en route, forms the basis for an engaging sound and light show
    3 stars
  32. The Overnight review – the boldest swingers in town
    When an LA couple agree to join another pair on a ‘playdate’, things go from empowering to embarrassing
    3 stars
  33. Bend It Like Beckham the Musical review – West End it like Gurinder Chadha
    With catchy music, fantastic design and great performances, the ebullient musical looks sure to be a hit – but it dodges the hard shots
    3 stars
  34. Knock Knock review – Keanu Reeves may not be all there
    Funny Games meets Fatal Attraction for a high-stakes date in this zeitgeist-tapping erotic thriller from Eli Roth featuring two hot strangers and an Uber-fueled plot twist
    3 stars
  35. The Overnight review – silly swinging fun
    Taylor Schilling, Adam Scott and Jason Schwartzman dabble in the shallow end of sexual manners in this disposable but diverting comedy
    3 stars
  36. Blood Cells review – evocative story of everyday life and psychological nuance
    A drifter revisits his past in this British film studded with the detail and texture of seaside towns and provincial discos
    3 stars
  37. Concrete Clouds review – family and loss weigh heavy in this moody Thai drama
    An accomplished directorial debut features two brothers reconnecting in Bangkok following their father’s suicide
    3 stars
  38. Lauda: The Untold Story review – studious profile of the F1 driver
    The pragmatic Austrian who went to hell and back offers some candid testimony but the post-crash story is played too straight
    3 stars
  39. The Wrecking Crew review – paean to the unsung heroes of 60s pop
    This band of session musicians helped some of the biggest acts of the era – from the Beach Boys to the Monkees – to produce their signature sounds
    3 stars
  40. Station to Station review – artists, musicians and pranksters catch a train
    Patti Smith, Beck, Thurston Moore and others blather about creativity on a coast-to-coast rail journey across the US
    3 stars
  41. Len and Company review – Rhys Ifans rocks out in surprisingly nuanced drama
    Ifans plays a veteran musician holed up in an isolated rural house whose life is complicated when his teenage son and a girl singer disturb his peace
    3 stars
  42. Minions review – boisterous and cheery Despicable Me spin-off
    The Minions provided many of the laughs in the first two Despicable films and get their own hyperkinetic prequel charting their evolution through the ages
    3 stars
  43. Ted 2 review: Seth MacFarlane's sequel has enough grins to bear the sticky bits
    The polarising, foul-mouthed teddy is back, and wants to become a father. Cue semen slapstick, some slightly uncomfortable equal-rights comparisons – and cinema’s first Charlie Hebdo gag
    3 stars
  44. ABCD2 review: Any Body Can Dance but what about if you also have BO and TB?
    Remo d’Souza’s Glee-ish sequel may be gimmicky but the director’s lingering shots allow viewers to marvel at the choreography – and there’s some grit beneath the glitter
    3 stars
  45. The Longest Ride review – corny as hell but with old-fashioned charm
    This adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’s novel about parallel lives and loves is touching despite thick layers of schmaltz
    3 stars
  46. Brand New-U review – unique sci-fi, but not quite in touch with its human side
    Writer-director Simon Pummell goes for both thrills and emotional complexities in the tale of a sinister corporation that replaces humans with ‘identicals’
    3 stars
  47. 600 Miles review – good news for Tim Roth in Mexican crime thriller
    The Fifa film United Passions may have proved an unholy embarrassment for Roth, but this low-key kidnap drama shows he is still an excellent actor
    3 stars
  48. Les Combattants review – slow-burner of a romance from French talent
    Thomas Cailley’s debut, about a college dropout and a young carpenter in northern France, takes its own sweet time about showing its hand, but proves the director is one to watch
    3 stars
  49. Natural Resistance review – rebels and refuseniks of viticulture
    Documentary-maker Jonathan Nossiter revives the debate he started 10 years ago as he talks to the passionate revolutionaries among Italy’s wine-growers
    3 stars
  50. The Burning review – Gael García Bernal takes on bad guys and jaguars
    A man of mystery arrives to save the day as murderous agribusiness representatives prowl the steamy jungle of northern Argentina
    3 stars
  51. Mr Holmes review – Ian McKellen gets more fascinating with age
    McKellen’s impersonation of a 93-year-old Sherlock as a Galápagos tortoise is tremendous, though Bill Condon’s riff on the detective as an old man is flawed and muddled
    3 stars
  52. The Legend of Barney Thomson review – Robert Carlyle's directorial debut serves Sweeney Todd, Glasgow-style
    The opening night premiere at this year’s Edinburgh film festival is a gruesomely comic yarn about a barber caught up in a string of serial killings directed by and starring Carlyle – with Emma Thompson as his mum
    3 stars
  53. Arabian Nights review – Sydney film festival winner a lengthy brain-burst
    Part cinematic endurance test, part intellectual exercise, the butt-crunching 338-minute film from Portugal’s Miguel Gomes is funny, poignant and, at times, befuddling
    3 stars
  54. West review – taut cold-war drama
    Friends and informants become indistinguishable in this intriguing Berlin-set counterpoint to The Lives of Others
    3 stars
  55. The Misfits review – Gable and Monroe’s uneasy swansong
    Cowboy Clark Gable and divorcee Marilyn Monroe team up with Montgomery Clift in this bleak drama of estrangement scripted by Arthur Miller
    3 stars
  56. Secret Cinema: The Empire Strikes Back review - the force is weak with this one
    A galaxy far, far away comes to a London factory with some impressive sets but an extortionate price tag makes it for superfans only
    3 stars
  57. West review – Berlin cold-war drama evokes tattiness of the era
    Not quite a spy thriller, not quite a period drama and not quite a cold war portrait, West is lacking in focus but has atmosphere to spare
    3 stars
  58. Live From New York! review – Saturday Night Live doc only scratches the surface
    Authorised SNL documentary leaves out the drugs and dodgy sketches in favour of breezy, favourable celebration
    3 stars
  59. How to Lose Jobs and Alienate Girlfriends review – banal naval-gazing
    The film-maker is under the delusion that the squabble between him and his subjects are of interest to anyone
    2 stars
  60. Terminator Genisys review: Arnie's back, but the lustre isn't
    ‘Old, but not obsolete,’ insists Schwarzenegger in a return to his most famous role. The truth, heartbreakingly, is quite the contrary
    2 stars
  61. Magic Mike XXL review: like watching pained strippers dryhump
    Our oiled-up heroes are en route to a male stripper convention – but it’s not just the clothes they’ve lost for this sequel. It’s depth, humour, narrative tension and Matthew McConaughey, leaving just a faintly demeaning, penis-free hen night
    2 stars
  62. Sardarji review – Diljit Dosanjh hunts for a funny joke in ghastly ghost story
    A cameo from the Queen and a reject Downton Abbey location are not enough to save this silly ghost-hunting tale that at best exudes a naive charm
    2 stars
  63. She’s Funny That Way review – rom but no com
    Peter Bogdanovich’s screwball comedy fails to live up to its title, with only Jennifer Aniston making an impact
    2 stars
  64. She's Funny That Way review – dated farce not really funny that way
    Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston and a smattering of high-profile cameos can’t rescue this strained offering crammed full of wacky coincidences
    2 stars
  65. That Sugar Film review – Super Size Me-style documentary ends up toothless
    Peppy visual effects and input from Hugh Jackman and Stephen Fry can’t elevate this glib and oversimplified film above high school teaching tool
    2 stars
  66. Everyone's Going to Die review – clumsy, overthought but with watchable leads
    An undercooked script spoils this story of a young woman in a coastal town who forms a friendship with a man returning for his brother’s funeral
    2 stars
  67. Hippocrates review – oddly bloodless French hospital drama
    While UK clinicians will recognise the shonky equipment and form-filling, Thomas Lilti’s film is also suffering from a lack of excitement
    2 stars
  68. Max review: PTSD pup tale should curb the humans and major on the mutt
    Thomas Hayden Church is among the two-legged cast ill-served by this story of a bereaved German Shepherd struggling to adjust after he returns from the Afghanistan front line
    2 stars
  69. The Burning review – plenty of blood, but very little meat
    Impressive visuals and Leone-style showdowns are no substitute for character development in Pablo Fendrik’s jungle western
    2 stars
  70. Accidental Love review – toothless, bawdy and aggravatingly zany
    This Washington farce about an uninsured waitress seeking redress for a workplace injury is never less than annoying
    2 stars
  71. Narcopolis review – noirish techno-thriller that's a useful calling-card movie
    An ambitious debut feature from British director Justin Trefgarne that doesn’t really reach the Blade Runner heights it’s aiming at
    2 stars
  72. Accidental Love review – abandoned political comedy pointlessly revived
    The salvaged footage of David O Russell’s adaptation of Kristin Gore’s novel about an idealistic aide working on healthcare reform is a real mess
    2 stars
  73. Legacy review – salty fun in schoolkids' nightclub caper
    Slo-mo twerking, lots of naked ladies and plenty of sniggering about sex spice up this otherwise anodyne, Hollyoaks-style comedy
    2 stars
  74. Hamari Adhuri Kahani review – laughable melodrama unworthy of swooning
    Glossy Bollywood romance requires a suspension of disbelief – and taste – beyond the ability of most modern audiences
    2 stars
  75. Holding the Man review – memorable performances but a little wobbly
    Directed by Neil Armfield, this much-anticipated film adaptation of Timothy Conigrave’s memoir is sensual yet ultimately unsatisfying
    2 stars
  76. Unhallowed Ground review – Brit teen horror is simply underachieving, rather than atrocious
    It’s no masterpiece, and indeed in parts it’s deeply shonky, but this British horror about pupils at a posh public school being offed still has something
    2 stars
  77. Faith of Our Fathers review – hard to keep the faith in PureFlix's worst film yet
    If the ‘faith and family’ film-makers’ task is to proselytize, they are doing a wretched job with these cheap, risible films
    1 star
  78. Comet review – phoney-baloney sci-fi indie romcom
    One-dimensional LA guy meets kooky one-dimensional gal during a meteor shower, enabling a parallel-time relationship in this laborious, futile film
    1 star
  79. Terminator: Genisys review – Arnie's back, in a cynical franchisebot
    Like a grumpy old retainer, Schwarzenegger lumbers through a witless, pointless, back-to-the-beginning exercise that’s entirely lacking in ingenuity or humour
    1 star
  80. Everly review – sleazy fanboy fantasy
    Salma Hayek endures multiple degradations as an escaping sex slave in Joe Lynch’s self-conscious video nasty
    1 star
  81. Everly review – a gimmick thriller for sociopaths
    Salma Hayek essentially plays a sexy punchbag in this crude, contrived, reprehensible film
    1 star
  82. Entourage review – hatefully unfunny
    Some films satirise the emptiness of Hollywood. This awful TV spin-off, about an overindulged star and his tedious buddies, merely wallows in it
    1 star
  83. Entourage review – smug, unfunny LA bromance
    Still eschewing irony and satire, TV’s bros-before-hos celebration of young guys living the celeb dream reaches the big screen
    1 star
  84. The Longest Ride review – unbearably syrupy romance
    Based on a Nicholas Sparks bestseller, this comfy tale of a young woman discovering how lovable old people are wallows in a wholesome, rosy-hued past
    1 star
  85. Dark Awakening review – a contemptible film that fails on all levels
    This haunted-house movie, directed by makeup artist Dean Jones, is just a cheap assemblage of tired cliches, ignoble shock tactics and soap opera dialogue
    1 star
  86. Age of Kill review – will disappoint the most undiscerning viewer
    This naff remake of Nick of Time is blessed with an obvious plot, ear-scraping dialogue and some toilet stranglings
    1 star
  87. Age of Kill review – truly terrible British sniper thriller
    Laughable dialogue and constant clunking sink this outrageously shoddy Brit thriller about a marksman who is blackmailed into becoming an assassin
    1 star
  88. Beyond the Lights; Force Majeure; It Follows; Cake; Appropriate Behaviour; Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter; What Happened, Miss Simone?; The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel; Jupiter Ascending – review
    Gugu Mbatha-Raw is a star in the making, while a family guy proves flawed in the biting Force Majeure
    unrated
  89. Chimes at Midnight review – Welles’s Falstaff is a messy masterpiece
    Orson Welles does Shakespeare in snowy Spain
    unrated
  90. Bliss rewatched: a dark, controversial but amusing vision of purgatory
    Originally scorned by audiences, director Ray Lawrence’s shocking Kafkaesque comedy starring Barry Otto became an arthouse sleeper hit
    unrated
  91. Hustlers Convention review – a valuable slice of African American cultural history
    Mike Todd’s documentary re-examines the urban picaresque proto-rap album by Lightnin’ Rod, AKA Jalal Mansur Nuriddin of the Last Poets
    unrated
  92. The Tales of Hoffmann review – Powell and Pressburger’s purest work
    Cinema’s great double act deserved more than two Oscar nominations for their dazzling version of a 19th-century opera
    unrated
  93. Fifty Shades of Grey; Blackhat; Blind; Can’t Come Out to Play; Stonehearst Asylum; Dior and I; Orange Is the New Black; Rita – review
    Fifty Shades of Grey is all pleasure and no pain, while Michael Mann’s Blackhat is his best film in years
    unrated
  94. Pure Shit rewatched – a see-it-to-believe-it classic, beset by off-screen debauchery
    Part time capsule, part black satire, part junked-up party pic, the little-known drug crime-caper was called ‘the most evil film ever’
    unrated
  95. Life Moves Pretty Fast by Hadley Freeman review – ‘a more passionate advocate of 80s movies is hard to imagine’
    Dirty Dancing is feminist and Ghostbusters is the best film ever made – Freeman creates surprising angles on what originally seemed to be bubblegum entertainment
    unrated
  96. The Beat Beneath My Feet review – rock star dramedy has too many duff notes
    Luke Perry plays a washed-up hellraiser coaching a geeky kid through a music competition in this corny, badly cast film
    unrated
  97. The Offence review – Connery and Lumet’s starkly naturalistic police drama
    Sean Connery’s tormented police sergeant is riveting, and a long way from 007…
    unrated
  98. Selma; Love Is Strange; Taken 3; Wild Tales; The Green Prince; Far From the Madding Crowd; Umberto D – review
    David Oyelowo produces a career-defining performance as Martin Luther King, while prejudice and ruthlessness collude in Love Is Strange
    unrated
  99. Age of Consent rewatched – Helen Mirren makes her first cinematic splash
    Directed by Michael Powell and set on a remote island in the Great Barrier Reef, Mirren plays beach babe muse to James Mason’s over-the-hill painter
    unrated
  100. Good Girl review - a beautifully shot but flawed insight into mental illness
    Watching Solveig Melkeraaen’s film with a psychiatrist gave me answers the audience are denied in this underexplored self-portrait of depression and ECT
    unrated
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By Gideon Goldberg