‘Paterson’ Draws Out the Beauty in a Simple Life: Review

Cannes darling ‘Paterson’ is a plot less, soothing experience, and one of the year’s greatest and most singular achievements.

By Orla Smith

Jim Jarmusch’s latest, the inexplicably lovely tone poem ‘Paterson’, might sound unbearably quirky given its simplest of initial premises: Adam Driver plays a bus driver named Paterson, who lives in a town called Paterson. However, those paying attention to the film’s festival buzz which started back in May at Cannes, could be led to expect the opposite, namely a grounded, utterly realistic observation of real life. That falls most in line with my expectations going in, when in reality the film is somewhere inbetween those opposite poles of whimsy and social-realism. ‘Paterson’ stands comfortably in its own corner, content to be unlike anything else we have, unhurried and unbothered by the noise that surrounds it.

2016 Oscar Prediction: November Edition

By Orla Smith

November saw the US releases of several of these contenders, helping to gauge where they’ll fall. Some will be forgotten – which I fear may happen to Jeff Nichols’ ‘Loving’ – and some are here to stay, like ‘Arrival’ for example. Films like ‘Fences’, ‘Patriot’s Day’ and ‘Hidden Figures’ have been screened to high acclaim, and ‘Silence’ and ‘Live By Night’ are still to come in the ensuing days. By next month, our picture of the Oscar race should be quite clear, and for now it’s already coming into sharp focus.


  1. La La Land

December Film Preview

By Orla Smith

And here we are, at the end of the year. December is never the most exciting of months for film in the UK – excluding the odd ‘Star Wars’ – especially after the storm of quality in November and before the Oscar-centric January. However, most of the highlights come in the form of indie Netflix releases. The VOD platform often takes it upon itself in this month to allow us to see some festival hits that may not have otherwise have gotten a UK release, and we should be glad that they do. There’s a lot to look forward to, and I should note that on that front I only just left out ‘Barry’, a Netflix original chronicling the college years of Barack Obama. There’s also ‘Sully, ‘The Eagle Huntress’ and ‘The Unknown Girl’ to look forward to, as well as an eventual release of the controversial Sundance award winner ‘The Birth of a Nation’. Out of everything, I picked five choices that have the potential to be the shining stars of December.

‘Allied’ Is a Pretty, Air-Headed Star Vehicle: Review

Robert Zemeckis’ latest sees Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard fall in love during World War Two with varying degrees of passion.

By Orla Smith

‘Allied’ is a film built on beauty. It functions on performances by gorgeous people, wearing gorgeous clothes in gorgeous buildings. Marion Cotillard’s hair is styled with such rigorous precision that even in a scene where it’s meant to have lost its shape and devolved into a sweaty, heat-induced mess, each strand is still placed with artful precision. That – in a way – ends up being an apt description of the movie itself: it’s shiny and calculated in its moments of stylised period glamour, but fails because it takes that same approach to intimacy and raw emotion.

‘A United Kingdom’ Tells an Unfamiliar Slice of History with Familiarity: Review

Winning performances from David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike carry this period drama, which suffers from a rushed pace that refuses to linger.

By Orla Smith

At this point, there’s no denying a pattern in director Amma Asante’s work. Concerning ‘A United Kingdom’, her previous ‘Belle’ and the upcoming ‘Where Hands Touch’, she’s very plainly and unabashedly interested in the place of interracial relationships in the typical British period piece, the kind of cinema we’re so familiar with – those handsomely mounted, modestly crafted Oscar hungry pictures that greet us with familiarity each year – and injecting some colour into them.

‘Divines’ Is One of 2016’s Most Welcome Surprises: Review

Houda Benyamina’s fiery and brilliant solo directorial debut is a shining example of what good Netflix can do as a distributor.

By Orla Smith

Kinetic and filled to bursting with youthful energy, Houda Benyamina’s ‘Divines’ is something to behold. It’s one of those films that only come along a few times in a year: a true surprise that barrels out of nowhere and socks you in the gut. Despite their starting off the year on quite a few bum notes, two of those films for me in 2016 have come from Netflix’s young original film division, and both just happened to be strengthened mightily by their beautiful portrayals of female friendships, something too rarely realised on screen with the understanding of ‘Tallulah’ and ‘Divines’. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that both these films were directed by women?

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ Modestly Sets Up an Exciting Franchise: Review

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ feels like nothing more than a prologue to bigger things to come, but its fascinating characters overcome the biggest of its story weaknesses.

By Orla Smith