FILM / Critical Review

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'In the finished movie the 'X' in Malcolm X comes to stand . . . for that characterless all-purpose cypher we use in equations. X for Mr Everyman. X for Take The Cardboard Political Hero You First Think Of and then multiply by four: one for each of the serial guises Denzel Washington adopts as we traverse the stations of the black prophet's cross . . . Malcolm X achieves the remarkable feat of taking a confrontational hero and never really confronting him.' Nigel Andrews, Financial Times

'Always watchable if one can't call it memorable. Like Gandhi, true stature eludes it, except in the structure of its central performance. Sometimes it seems to shout when it needs to whisper and whisper when it needs to shout. But at least it has a voice.' Derek Malcolm, Guardian

'Denzel Washington, hardly ever off-screen gives a solid impersonation, and Lee directs scenes more persuasively than usual: yet in terms of overall cinematic punch, X marks the spot of a corpse.' Geoff Brown, Times


'The whole thing, though supremely well-decorated, is killed stone dead by its fairy-tale presumptions (J M Barrie on acid?) . . .' Derek Malcolm, Guardian

'Laboriously unfunny, stuffed with queasy fantasies about childhood innocence and sex, Levinson's film needs a psychiatrist or an exorcist; anything but a paying public.' Geoff Brown, Times

'Rotten.' Brian Case, Time Out

'The Oscar-nominated costumes and designs steal the show. Not only that: they throw a honking great brick through the flimsy plot and leave a mess of shattered ideals . . . (the message) should say 'Be innocent'. Instead, scrambled by infantilist sentimentality, it sounds more like 'Be winsome, whimsical or retarded'.' Nigel Andrews, Financial Times


'This is intimate drama on an epic scale, peopled with dozens of believable characters and crammed with telling details . . . But it rewards concentration with piercing insights into human strength and fallibility of the kind that you can expect to get only from a masterpiece.' Tony Rayns, Time Out

'Superbly shot, acted out with convincing veracity and impeccably directed, A Brighter Summer Day gathers an extraordinary momentum, showing that you really can delineate the lives of ordinary people in an extraordinary way.' Derek Malcolm, Guardian


'Alan J Pakula, who once made Klute, directed. Matthew Chapman, who once made Strangers Kiss, screenwrote. How are the mighty falled on hard times.' Nigel Andrews, Financial Times