Fate of the Furious Review

Fate

The Fast and Furious series started out as a cops vs underground street racers Point Break rip off, and if you’d told audiences in 2001 that it would eventually evolve into The Avengers but in cars, they would most likely have scoffed. Yet, thanks to changing blockbuster tastes and the ingenious addition of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to the team as super-cop Luke Hobbs in 2011’s Fast Five, the franchise’s escalation has ensured that 2017’s Fate of the Furious is exactly that. By a wide margin the most gleefully stupid film I’ve seen this year, Fate’s revelling in its own ridiculousness makes for a highly entertaining two hours.  Continue reading

Raw Review

Raw

When aspiring cannibal Justine (Garance Marillier) is told that her dog is going to have to be put down due to the danger posed by it tasting human meat, it’s hard to stifle a laugh. It’s a fine line in horror between sincere scares and accidental absurdity, and one that Raw, for the most part, walks with black comic precision. An astonishingly assured debut from writer-director Julia Ducournau, this tale of bloodlust, sexual awakening, and humanity’s descent into its animal state is a bludgeoningly powerful piece of work that is occasionally let down by isolated moments of bizarrely sloppy editing and writing.  Continue reading

The Handmaiden Review

Handmaiden

Park Chan-Wook’s The Handmaiden is a lot of things. It’s an adaptation of Susan Waters’ Fingersmith that takes the original Victorian England-set story and moves it to Japan-occupied 1930s Korea. It’s a tale of a budding lesbian romance with already infamously explicit sex scenes. It’s a twisty, turny con artist movie. And, most importantly, it’s utterly bloody brilliant; intricate and densely plotted, beautifully shot and designed, and a ridiculous amount of fun. Starting with rural Korean girl Sook-Hee (Tae-Ri Kim) being sent to a grand mansion to act as the personal Handmaiden of the incredibly wealthy (and, importantly, unwed) Lady Hideko (Min-Hee Kim), it’s not long before we’re deep in the realm of grifts, lies, and triple crosses.  Continue reading

A Quiet Passion Review

Quiet Passion

Cinematic tellings of true stories of an artistic genius can often fall at the all-important hurdle of successfully showing off its subject’s talent and mind without trite catchphrases or montages. A Quiet Passion, Terence Davies’ look at the life of Emily Dickinson (played here by Cynthia Nixon), does not suffer from this problem, and though it may falter elsewhere, its central study of Dickinson’s thwarted ambition and unrecognised genius is intelligently observed and superbly acted by Nixon. Taking in decades of Dickinson’s life, from her time as a young woman in seminary school (where she’s played by Emma Bell) to her eventual untimely death at the hands of kidney failure. Continue reading

Graduation Review

Graduation

Christian Mungiu’s Graduation is set in the present day, but with its story of grubby bureaucratic corruption, filled with old-style rotary phones and the sense of society teetering at the brink, the spectre of the Soviet era hangs heavily over this excellent Romanian tale of exhausted adult compromise. Relentlessly sad, but with enough shining moments to keep hope alive (and audiences interested), Graduation is a mature, nuanced take on what it means to be a parent and a member of a community when the chips are down that also provides plentiful insight for outsiders into how local Romanian society functions.  Continue reading

Ghost in the Shell Review

GHOST IN THE SHELL

In adapting one of the most iconic Japanese manga/anime series of all time into live action film, the white British director of Snow White and the Huntsman might not be the first name that comes to mind. And yet, Rupert Sanders’ take on Ghost in the Shell manages to, thanks to its sincerity and enormous surfeit of style, really work. Picking elements from all across the series’ lore, but most recognisably based on Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 classic anime, it might not end up feeling like the most original film, but in bringing this visionary universe to life, Sanders has given us a cyberpunk epic with surprising soul.  Continue reading

Free Fire Review

Free Fire

‘Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all the excitement, I kind of lost track myself’. This set up to one of the most iconic lines in action movie history plays perfectly as a neat summation of the entirety of Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire. A cacophony of bullets that leaves its characters and audience in a deafened daze, you’ll lose track of how many times an empty gun clicks impotently, saving the life (or, at least, a limb) of its potential victim. A viscerally authentic 90-minute shootout, it does what so few action films even try to do in making guns as scary and unsexy as they really are.  Continue reading