Song To Song Review

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Actors in Terence Malick films have always had to be prepared to have their roles excised from his final edit. His masterful Thin Red Line completely cut out Mickey Rourke and left George Clooney on screen for all of two minutes, and he’s only got more ruthless with his cast in his modern output. Yet, where Malick’s wandering eye once produced gorgeous and profound mediations on nature and man’s place in it, his post-Tree of Life work has found him stuck in a self-indulgent rut, creating films that are nothing more than disconnected tone poems about the alluring emptiness found in wealth and beauty. With Song to Song, it finally feels like Malick has become everything his critics have always accused him of – slow, uninterested in character, and maybe even pretentious. Continue reading

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Alien Covenant Review

Covenant

If you thought Logan might end up taking the crown of 2017’s most violent blockbuster movie, then here comes Ridley Scott to re-prove who the king of fantastical gore really is. Alien Covenant is a vicious and gruesome sci-fi horror, incredibly effective in that aim, but also possessing far loftier ambitions that elevate what is already a brilliant thriller. Scott has already returned to the splendidly terrifying universe he created in 1979’s Alien, with the shaky 2012 entry Prometheus, but Covenant is his first true reunion with the monstrous Xenomorph that made his name nearly 40 years ago, and he clearly relishes every second.  Continue reading

Assassin’s Creed Review

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Hollywood’s relationship with videogames has always been a difficult one. Game-based films are pretty much uniformly terrible, partly due to a fundamental misunderstanding of the medium by the film industry. While movie kids still play games from the ‘80s, producers put films based on games like Uncharted or The Last of Us into motion. Given that these games are essentially already interactive movies, an adaptation seems utterly redundant. Justin Kurzel’s Assassin’s Creed manages to dodge enough of the obvious pitfalls. Taking inspiration in premise from the game series, it also tells a new story set in that world that doesn’t rely on prior knowledge of the games’ plots. It’s hardly going to be an awards contender, but it’s an improvement on its game-based predecessors.  Continue reading

Macbeth Review

Macbeth

There is very little in mainstream western literature with such a streak of nihilism as Macbeth. The lead character is an irredeemable monster, created by his overly ambitious schemer of a wife, and the legacy he leaves is of a barren, wasted Scotland. The kingship Malcolm (Jack Reynor), son of the murdered Duncan (David Thewlis), inherits is hardly desirable, and that is never felt more keenly than in the final act of this new adaptation. As Macbeth (Michael Fassbender) and Macduff (Sean Harris) fight to decide the future of their homeland, it becomes clear that whoever wins will govern not a nation, but an extension of Hell itself.  Continue reading

Steve Jobs Early Review

Steve Jobs

One of the most high-profile biopics of the year, Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs seems like one of the ‘sure things’ of this year’s awards cycle. Featuring a bevy of Oscar-friendly performances, a snappy and funny screenplay with some key highlight reel Big Quotes, this account of the divisive tech figurehead is bound to feature in many of the major award categories. Yet, there is also something missing at the core of Steve Jobs and whilst the individual parts of the film are rarely less than good and quite often excellent, it doesn’t really coalesce into essential viewing. For Apple geeks, this detailed look at the rocky history of some of the company’s products would most likely make for fascinating viewing, but for everyone else, it’s an effective prestige piece that is never quite the sum of its parts.  Continue reading

Slow West Review

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Despite its wane in popularity in recent years, the Western remains a genre which can bring out the absolute best in filmmakers. From the Coens with True Grit and No Country For Old Men to Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, by way of Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James, the last decade has brought a spate of utter masterpieces set in America’s lawless west. The debut feature from The Beta Band’s John Maclean, Slow West, continues this proud tradition with a wonderfully weird, funny, and tragic tale of immigrants and lost love, one of the highlights of 2015 so far.  Continue reading

X-Men Days of Future Past Review

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Given that the X-Men franchise is now 14 years old, the fans of the film series have certain expectations by now of what they’re going to see. These include, but are not limited to; Hugh Jackman snarling, a slightly more than platonic love between Magneto and Professor X and parallels between the plight of the mutants and the real world plight of the civil rights/sexual equality movements. Days of Future Past (featuring the return of original director Bryan Singer) delivers on all these fronts in a major way (Wolverine is featured throughout, both incarnations of the opposing mutant leaders appear, the 70s occur) as well as boldly charting a new path that separates it from its predecessors, basing its story on a run from the comics involving time travel and mutant near-extinction. Newcomers may feel unwelcome, but the long-term fans should feel rewarded.  Continue reading