The last decade of Vegas performer Liberace’s life, from the perspective of his lover Scott Thorsen. A well-played and effective biopic, made with Soderbergh’s customary deftness, getting beyond the camp and rhinestones to explore the frailties of two people drawn to each other out of lack.
Actor Jean Seberg struggles with her personal life, civil rights activism, and the pressures of fearing FBI surveillance. Decent biopic focusing on 1968-1970; a very solid cast and subtle direction help, even if the script doesn’t get us close to the protagonist. Lots to appreciate, not least the production design and performances.
Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles collaborate on a car to take on Ferrari for Ford at Le Mans. Old-fashioned, well-made and undeniably stirring, this is nevertheless a conventional sports drama that can’t quite convince in its attempt to tell an underdog story. Still, it’s fun, has a great if showy Christian Bale performance, and is blokey as hell.
Two mountaineers attempt a re-creation of the 1924 Mallory/Irvine Everest expedition. Generally-effective documentary (with perhaps-recreated scenes as well as some dramatisation) that tells the story of the original attempt while also covering the 1999 emulation; the experiment indicates Mallory and Irvine could have completed the ascent.
A desperate writer turns to forging literary letters. Excellent melancholic comedy-drama, anchored by two great central performances and by sensitive writing and direction. Lots to appreciate, though the tone might be too downbeat for some.
A now-aged mob hitman reflects. A stunning revisiting of themes preoccupying Scorsese throughout his career; gang life, organised crime, Catholic guilt. Sombre and melancholy, and Ellroy-like in its alt-history approach to the American 20th century. A technical, dramatic and stylistic marvel, with fine performances all around, none less than from Pesci, who’s revelatory here. Hugely recommended.
A biography of Rudy Ray Moore, focusing on the making of his film Dolemite. A swaggering movie with a heart, focusing – like its scriptwriters’ Ed Wood – on an upbeat try-hard outsider – with affection for the exploitation underbelly of Hollywood. As a star showcase, it reminds us how good Eddie Murphy is when he’s backed with the right material.
A presidential hopeful’s nomination campaign is derailed by his philandering. Smart observational true-life political drama clearly in love with the likes of All The President’s Men. While it doesn’t quite grapple with its protagonist’s weaknesses, the film is nevertheless professional, skilful and well-crafted throughout. Recommended.
The ageing Laurel and Hardy reunite for a UK theatre tour, hopeful that this will restart their movie careers. Straightforward though handsome and respectful biopic of the black-and-white comedy legends, anchored by two exceptional lead performances and genuine affection for its subjects. Recommended.
The rise and fall of 1970s heavyweight contender and Rocky analogue Chuck Wepner. Well-judged biopic that despite featuring every one of the usual story and character beats, hits every one of them with unassuming skill.