James Joyce's Ulysses


Directed by Adam Low

Arena: James Joyce’s Ulysses ★★★★ Barbara Ellyn, The Guardian

Arena: James Joyce’s Ulysses ★★★★ Carol Midgley, The Times

"A must-watch for anyone with a passing interest in or deep fascination for Joyce's Dublin epic, Adam Low's film is a fine and stylish celebration of Ulysses in its centenary year....

ADAM Low's new documentary James Joyce's Ulysses serves as a thoughtfully composed and scrupulously researched tribute to the infamous novel, which celebrates its centenary this year, and also as an engrossing point of access for those thus far defeated by the Irish literary maverick's most formidable and controversial tome."

David Roy, Irish Times

"We are about to be swamped by tributes for the Platinum Jubilee but surely none will capture the resilience, tedium and absurdity of the Queen’s 70 years on the throne as wittily as Roger Michell’s documentary. The last film the urbane director of Notting Hill and My Cousin Rachel made before his death last year at 65, it’s engaged without being fawning, nostalgic but rarely indulgent, and unafraid to have the odd gentle joke at the royal expense.

It’s telling that the editor, Joanna Crickmay, is credited first at the end, having rummaged through almost a century’s worth of film. Some of the montages are hypnotic — the Queen saying “My husband and I” over and over again across the decades, riding dozens of horses, watching scores of tribal dances.

This was Michell’s last act, being essentially finished the day before he died in September. Like many of his films, it’s insightful, mischievous and assembled with panache."

Ed Potton, The Times

"It’s a willfully idiosyncratic movie that feels like a strangely fitting final film, since it amounts to Michell’s cockeyed tip of the hat to the monarchy and what it means. You could have a good debate about what, exactly, he’s trying to express in “Elizabeth,” but what I saw is a level-headed adoration that is neither fussy nor old-fashioned, since it’s cut with an acerbic awareness of the absurdity of royalty in the contemporary age. Sinking into these fleetly edited clips for just under 90 minutes, you take in Elizabeth through Michell’s eyes, and it’s hard not to like what you see.

Michell, working with the splendid editor Joanna Crickmay, keeps ruffling time, inviting us to compare and contrast Elizabeth through the ages."

Owen Gleiberman, Variety


A Portrait in Part(s)

Directed by Roger Michell

Seamus Heaney and the Music of What Happens review – this stirring tribute is poetry in motion

With insight from those closest to him, this moving film celebrates the great poet’s life and extraordinary works

, The Guardian

Sat 30 Nov 2019 23.15 GMT

I thought about Seamus Heaney and the Music of What Happens (BBC Two) long after the credits had passed, and not just because it is a gorgeous, almost luxurious documentary about one of the all-time greats. While it stands as an excellent tribute to the man and his work, it acts, too, as a history of the second half of the 20th century, laying out the Troubles through anecdote and verse.

Hearing his poetry read by him, with the voices of the people they were for or about woven through, is stirring. More than once, I had to choke down a tear.

This is a beautiful film. When Longley talks about the heartbreak at the loss of his old friend, he says, simply, “I thought we were all going to go on forever, you know.” Two days after Heaney died, 80,000 people attended the All Ireland semi-final at Croke Park, and a picture of him was put up on the screens. “I can think of no other country where a football crowd will have a minute’s silence and cheer a poet,” says Marie. By the end of this long, loving tribute, I went straight back to Heaney’s poems, another way, I suppose, of cheering a poet.

Seamus Heaney and the Music of What Happens


Directed by Adam Low

The 50 Million Dollar

Art Swindle

Directed by Vanessa Engle

“The $50m Art Swindle had one of the best openings to a documentary I’ve seen. It was a great TV moment when Cohen sat down and quietly gave his name. This was splendid TV: a detective story and arty film in one.”
The Times

Nothing Like a Dame


Directed by Roger Michell

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Dench, Smith, Eileen Atkins and Joan Plowright engage in a round-table war of theatrical anecdotes in this outrageously funny film.

The laughter and pure hysteria are infectious in this wildly enjoyable film. I can’t for the life of me think of any other recent documentary in which I have laughed pretty much all the way through. It is nothing more nor less than an acerbic round-table chat between four of British theatre’s most famed dames: Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, Eileen Atkins and Maggie Smith, which takes place at the country home Plowright shared with her late husband, Laurence Olivier (I seem to remember it being the site of Melvyn Bragg’s South Bank Show special on Olivier in the 80s).

This is basically an Avengers: Infinity War of theatrical anecdotery: outrageously camp, with sensational stills and archive footage and very brisk assessment of the past – utterly unsentimental. Why is it when female stars of this calibre appear in a fiction feature together it’s always a horribly twee ordeal – when this shows they can be brutally funny?