The Happy Prince Review

Happy Prince

As far as passion project biopics go, it’s hard to think of a better fit of actor/director and subject matter than Rupert Everett and Oscar Wilde. A ‘90s superstar who was even once pegged as the new Bond, the openly gay Everett found his career stymied by the homophobic studio system after coming out, lending a meta layer of pathos to The Happy Prince. His take on the last few months before Wilde (played by Everett) died, the film explores how Wilde’s disgrace and imprisonment after being convicted of homosexuality shortened the now-immortal writer’s life. As director, star, and writer, this is 100% Everett’s show, but though he truly excels on the performance side, his behind the camera work is less remarkable.  Continue reading

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Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom Review

Fallen Kingdom

When Steven Spielberg first brought Jurassic Park, perhaps the quintessential summer blockbuster, to screens in 1993, everything about it was monumental. From the scope to the music, it remains a first rate scary family adventure, and the truly miraculous dinosaur effects have barely aged in over two decades. But in 2018, after so many record-breaking superhero and Star Wars hits, the ancient lizards just don’t have the same power that they used to. 2015’s Jurassic World skirted this problem largely successfully, thanks to nostalgia and hybrid dinos, but now this follow up, Fallen Kingdom, has to find its own solution, which it only does sporadically.  Continue reading

The Miseducation of Cameron Post Review

Miseducation Cameron Post

After the one-two punch of the deeply distressing The Killing of a Sacred Deer and You Were Never Really Here last year, it would be easy to assume simply from The Miseducation of Cameron Post’s mouthful of a title that Desiree Akhavan’s second feature would be a sombre, serious affair. And though it does deal with some very hefty traumas and social ills, it’s in its kind, funny, warm-hearted humanity that Miseducation finds its true power. Though it may not exactly be revolutionary or even particularly unpredictable, it hits every emotional beat you could possibly want it to with such sincerity and panache that it’s impossible to resist.  Continue reading

First Reformed Review

First Reformed

There’s a sickness at the heart of Paul Schrader’s First Reformed. From man-made pollution of the environment to the creeping cancer in the stomach of its hero, this tale of a devout man’s descent into total crisis balances its spirituality with very real, tangible darkness, anchored by an introspective and intensely compelling central performance from Ethan Hawke. Schrader, no stranger to men of purpose going over the edge, has delivered a deliberately divisive study of faith and big business, and the uniquely American intertwining of the two. It’s a fascinating experiment that doesn’t shy away from weirdness or sincere religiosity.  Continue reading

The Tale Review

Tale

Jennifer Fox has already made a name for herself at the Sundance Film Festival as a superb documentarian, but this year she brought her first narrative feature to the fest, an astonishing, repellent, and utterly essential look at Fox’s own childhood sexual abuse at the hands of an adult man. It’s a potent, needling look at trauma and the stories people tell themselves to survive it and how the intrusion of cold reality on these stories can hurt nearly as much as the trauma itself. The Tale has seared itself into my brain and, if you have the stomach for it, is the best film of 2018 so far.  Continue reading

The Negotiator (Beirut) Review

Beirut

Writer Tony Gilroy is no stranger to suspenseful espionage action, having penned the original Bourne trilogy, but his latest look at the world of spies, The Negotiator, actually has a lot more in common with his directorial debut, Michael Clayton, than those Matt Damon actioners. It’s tense but intellectual, just as willing to provide an excoriating analysis of American institutions as it is to deliver conventional thrills. This time around, Gilroy sets his sights on US foreign policy in 1982 Beirut, just before the Israeli invasion, painting a picture of short-sightedness and corruption, a bold and timely message that elevates The Negotiator above its rather typical genre trappings.  Continue reading

Leave No Trace Review

Leave No Trace

Best known for launching the career of one Jennifer Lawrence with Winter’s Bone in 2010, Debra Granik is back after a very long eight year wait with Leave No Trace, another tale of remote Americans featuring a fantastic breakout turn from a young actress. This time around, Granik puts the spotlight on Thomasin McKenzie, who plays Tom, a 13 year old girl living with her father Will (Ben Foster) in a national park on the outskirts of Portland. Though Foster may be the cast’s big name, and he is of course excellent from start to finish, this is absolutely McKenzie’s film as she skilfully navigates the conflicting feelings of a loyal daughter who needs to start living her own life.  Continue reading