‘This Much I Know To Be True’

A companion piece to the earlier 2016 film One More Time With Feeling, director Andrew Dominick returns to the studio to explore the creative partnership between Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.

Austere and graceful with a focus on the lyrics and transportative music, Dominick (Blonde, Killing Them Softly), shooting predominantly in a stripped back palette, allows his film to record and unfold. As cameras track and glide in circular motion band members and backing singers, so Cave’s vocals soar. Interspersed is the occasional reflection by the two men of that creative relationship – and a (short) guest appearance by Marianne Faithful.

It’s cathartic, it’s mesmerising, it’s hypnotic – enigmatic yet revealing, intimate but public. Beautiful and, like the earlier film, majesterial.

Rating: 80%


With 15 million viewers per midweek episode, Crossroads was a British soap opera phenomena for more than two decades between 1964 and 1987. But, in Nolly, not all is well with the production company and the star of the show, Noele Gordon.

A three part miniseries, Nolly looks to the end of the contract between ATV and Noele Gordon (Helena Bonham Carter). A woman who defined daytime television, hosting more than 2000 episodes of Lunchbox in the 1950s including the first woman to interview a sitting prime minister, Noel Gordon was a tour de force. Beloved by the Crossroads cast and crew of more than 18 years, Nolly was no shrinking violet when it came to management and the men who controlled the network. Did she push them – and producer Jack Barton (Conn O’Neill) in particular – too far?

From queen bee to persona non grata, Nolly navigates the last days of her contract, supported by fellow cast member Tony Adams (Augustus Prew) as they window shop in Birmingham city centre or travel on buses basking in the glory of recognition and idolatry. Manchester had Coronation St but Birmingham had Crossroads. Rehearsals, internal bickering and aspirations, management confrontation, Nolly incorporates them all and, in three 45 minute episodes, paces itself to never outstay its welcome.

Capturing the colour palette of its time, shot lovingly on the high-tech end of low budget values (thus capturing the spirit of the original Crossroads with its wobbly sets and error-prone scripts) and presented on the discreet edge of camp, Nolly is an entertaining romp through the demise of this particular soap opera. It has its moments of serious navel gazing but producer Russell T Davies (Queer as Folk, It’s a Sin) keeps the wheels spinning forward so as not to dwell too long on any one given moment. And Bonham Carter is a delight.

Rating: 69%


A star vehicle for Sandra Bullock as a scientist who finds herself alone in space.

With medical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock – The Blind Side, Speed) on her first shuttle mission, veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney – Money Monster, Syriana) keeps an eye on her. But whilst on a routine spacewalk, waste debris destroys their shuttle – and leaves the teethered two stranded in space.

An overly intrusive soundtrack (Steven Price – My Policeman, The Aeronauts) jars but glorious cinematography from Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant, Burn After Reading) lays the foundation for director Alfonso Cuarón (Roma, Children of Men) to create a thrilling survival story full of intimate tension and faulty technology.

Nominated for 10 Oscars in 2014 including best film and best actress, won 7 including best director, cinematography, soundtrack, visual effects, editing.

Rating: 78%


A wonderfully elaborate series of hoaxes keeps the audience engaged and entertained as thousands and then billions of dollars slip through grasping hands.

Character by character we are introduced to the players in Benjamin Caron’s feature film debut (but with several episodes of The Crown and stage to screen collaborations with Kenneth Branagh, we’re in experienced hands). From the gentle bookstore owner Tom (Justice Smith – Jurassic World: Dominion, Paper Towns) to his despised stepmother, Madeline (Julianne Moore – Far From Heaven, Still Alice), nothing is as it seems as hedge funds, endowments, Manhattan real estate all form part of the equation of an elaborate hoax. Coincidences are few as old hand Max (Sebastian Stan – Captain America – The First Avenger, The Devil All the Time) plays the field – with support from PhD student Sandra (Briana Middleton – The Tender Bar, Augustus).

It’s a myriad of hoaxes that draws us in with Julianne Moore on form among a top rate cast that provide an entertaining ride.

Rating: 71%

‘The Good Doctor’ by Damon Galgut

Taut, sparingly written, The Good Doctor is a melancholic parable as a young South African doctor comes to terms with his position at the almost forgotten hospital clinic in the virtually deserted capital of what was once, during apartheid times, a Bantu homeland. Now, no-one cares about what was once a so-called nation-state. Passion (for or against such travesties of black home rule) has been replaced by indifference.

Frank Eloff is a young man escaping his failed marriage after his wife left him for his best friend. But that was many years ago with a promised promotion that never materialised. His boss, Dr Ngema, has never moved on and, in spite of her constant innovation and change mantra, little has changed with the exception of the slow denudement of the clinic itself. Few patients, few medical staff, a closed-off wing of the building, it’s all something of an irrelevance. So the arrival of recent graduate Laurence Waters, keen, enthusisatic and blind to limitations, is wholly unexpected, particularly as, in spite of the emptiness of the clinic, Dr Ngema decides he is to share rooms with Frank.

The two men are essentially different sides of the same coin. Cynical and disenchanted Frank can only watch and judge as an enthusiastic Laurence looks to take the hospital to the people – schemes involving the medics travelling into the bush to remote African villages. He’s a man on a mission, oblivious to the indifference around him – so much so he alienates himself from others, particularly Frank (but Waters being Waters, he’s even oblivious to this). A visit from African-American girlfriend, Zanele, adds to the uncertainties of the new doctor – she shares his political idealism but there’s a noticeable lack of intimacy between the two.

As Frank struggles, his old habits in the local township take on new meanings – particularly with the arrival of a regiment of men from the South African army. Incursions across the nearby border means tighter security. Frank recognises the major in charge from his days as a conscript – a brutal and sadistic Afrikaner responsible for the torture of numerous black prisoners and who is now employed by the new government. The sinister old dictator, now much diminished, who once ran the homeland also reappears having assumed to be dead. He’s to be found squatting in the old ruin of the presidential palace, tending to the gardens.

Incorporate a Cuban couple working in the hospital along with the unqualified Tehogo as a male nurse (and who is likely to be responsible for the diminishing equipment in the hospital) and Galgut offers us a snapshot of South Africa past and present – or at least a country in transition from the past into the present. Cape Town, Johannesburg are distant edifices as far as The Good Doctor is concerned – bureaucracies where decisions are made that impact the clinic without any connection to place.

The past and the future are dangerous countries; I had been living in no man’s land, between their borders, for the last seven years.

Like the wreck of the homeland capital, Galgut explores the promise of the new from the ruins of the old. But with the ghosts of the past partially incorporated into the present, with a level of apathy and indifference towards progress when family and tradition are the norm, what does it all mean? As the ex-president confides to Frank – but who will cut the grass?

The Good Doctor is a thoughtful, engaging slow burn of a novel shortlisted for 2003 Booker Prize (but lost out to DBC Pierre and Vernon God Little).


A gentle, understated exploration of an emotionally scarred U.S. Army Corps of Engineers veteran who struggles with returning to the mundanity of civilian life.

Suffering a brain injury, the result of an ambush in Afghanistan, Lynsey (Jennifer Lawrence – Don’t Look Up, Joy) finds herself Stateside and in her home town of New Orleans to recuperate. With an emotional distance in her relationship with her mom (Linda Emond – The Unforgivable, Gemini Man), it’s an uncomfortable homecoming. Slowly, through befriending car mechanic James (Brian Tyree Henry – If Beale St Could Talk, Widows), a man with his own emotional demons, Lynsey comes to terms with her immediate world and want to redeploy.

A slow grower from director Lila Neugebauer (TV’s Maid, The Sex Lives of College Girls), Causeway is a nuanced narrative of family, shared pain and experience with a warm, natural chemistry between the two leads.

Nominated for 1 Oscar in 2023 – best supporting actor.

Rating: 64%

‘The Black Phone’

Unexpectedly engaging, The Black Phone works by weaving psychological fears with the supernatural as 13 year old Finney finds himself imprisoned in the basement of a child killer.

Director Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) sets the scene of a slight, bullied Finney (Mason Thames – TV’s For All Mankind, Walker) struggling at home with an alcoholic father and a tough, younger sister, Gwen (Madeleine McGraw – American Sniper, Ant-Man and the Wasp) who has visions. Young teenagers are disappearing from the delapidated neighbourhood. Eventually, The Grabber takes Finney. Alone in the basement, a disconnected black telephone provides a connection with previous victims.

It’s a chilling narrative as Finney must find a way (quickly) to survive whilst his sister tries to tap into her visions to find him. More insight into The Grabber and the duality of personality would have helped provide depth but The Black Phone is ultimately about the relationship between the two siblings and the boy’s confinement along with more than a passing social commentary.

Rating: 61%

‘Independence Day: Resurgence’

A macho strut sequel to the earlier space invaders of Independence Day, part two is little more than a rehash of the original – only everything is exponentially bigger.

Some 20 years after the original invasion, as predicted the aliens are back and bringing with them the mother ship carrying the egg laying queen. New defence systems have been built – but will they hold? Scientists David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum – The Fly, Jurassic World: Dominion) and his dad Julius (Judd Hirsch – The Fabelmans, Independence Day), along with the rest of the world, certainly hope so. But if it gets a little too close for comfort, there’s always pilots Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher – The Banker, Shaft), son of the first film hero Will Smith, and Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth – The Hunger Games, Poker Face) waiting in the wings. And just to ensure there’s an element of gender balance, Maika Monroe (Honey Boy, Significant Other), daughter of former president Whitmore (Bill Pullman – Dark Waters, The Coldest Game), is more than a dab hand flying jets.

A trashy, overblown, big budget sequel to a film that didn’t need a sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence, directed by Roland Emmerich (The Day After Tomorrow, 10,000 BC), a director known for trashy, overblown, big budget features is an almost joyless (Goldblum’s humour the exception) tedium.

Rating: 38%

‘American Factory’

With General Motors closing its factory in Moraine, Ohio in 2008, more than a thousand people lost their jobs. A Chinese billionaire purchases the boarded up site some six years later looking to employ a mix of Chinese and Americans working side by side.

A decimated post-industrial Moraine welcomes investment from Fuyao Glass and the employment of locals – so much so it receives incentives from the State. But the honeymoon period is soon over as the culture clashes between Chinese expertise and local expectation create tension. With the skilled Chinese workers bought across from China, six or even seven day weeks are the norm with the assumption that working-class Americans would be the same, putting time with family second to the needs of the company. Health and safety is virtually non-existent, employment unsecured and wages are low.

American Factory is a sobering fly-on-the-wall documentary directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert (9to5: the Story of a Movement, Making Morning Star). With access to workers, management, board meetings (China and Ohio), unions, it provides an insight not only into a US-versus-China story but first hand unravelling of the age-old capital versus labour. Problem is that American Factory is repetitive and, in spite of its scope, feels somewhat minor and parochial. The result is flat and strangely uninvolving.

Winner of the 2020 Oscar for best feature length documentary.

Rating: 54%

‘A Quiet Place II’

An unquestionably tough act to follow up on the original A Quiet Place, the equally intense second part sees the Abbott family forced to move on from their home and face the terrors of the unknown.

With the teenage Regan (Millicent Simmonds – A Quiet Place, Wonderstruck) leading the family to the fabled island sanctuary, mom Evelyn (Emily Blunt – Sicario, A Quiet Place) is as wary of the threat to their safety by human survivors as by alien creatures. Teaming up with an initially reluctant neighbour Emmett (Cillian Murphy – Inception, 28 Days Later), they look to survival in a world determined by silence.

Director John Krasinski (The Hollars, A Quiet Place) picks up where he left off as the family unit treks across the unfamiliar of the once familiar facing threats to their lives. A sense of ominous foreboding exists in a narrative that, unlike its prequel, has a sense of achievable closure. The result is a film that almost equals the innovative A Quiet Place but its plot veers towards the predictable post-apocalyptic adventure. But it remains darn good storytelling.

Rating: 69%