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Review: La La Land

Posted by Matt Looker at 08:00 on 12 Jan 2017
La La Land
Please let's not ruin this. We have a great thing here: La La Land is the rare kind of spellbinding, wonderful film that has reviewers like me tripping over themselves to find new superlatives for describing it. It's simply flawless. But that means that there'll be an unholy inclination by some #hot-takers to put it down; to chip away at the film's perfect sheen just to say something "interesting". But can we just not, this time? Can't we just have this one? Don't we deserve to enjoy something this sweet and pure and lovely just for once? It certainly feels like it's been a while.

101 reasons 2016 wasn't quite as shit as we all thought it was

Posted by Ali Gray, Matt Looker, Becky Suter, Ed Williamson, Rob Young at 20:00 on 30 Dec 2016
101 reasons 2016 wasn't quite as shit as we all thought it was
It's almost over. You almost made it through. You survived 2016. You deserve a medal, but that medal would probably strangle you. We can all focus ahead now on 2017, a year which cannot feasibly be any worse than the 12 months that came before it, at least until that new Keith Lemon & Paddy McGuinness TV show airs on ITV. But le...

Flowchart to help you decide what is and isn't a "Christmas film"

Posted by Ali Gray at 16:38 on 24 Dec 2016
Flowchart to help you decide what is and isn't a "Christmas film"
With the year's Ghostbusters argument well and truly won by masculine internet men, they need something new to protest against. It seems the new issue facing Men's Rights Activists the world over is this: is Die Hard a Christmas movie? Choke on that, Christmas: I've taken your polite festive holiday and I've thrown a swearing Bruce Willis in it! But is it technically a Christmas movie? The only way to tell is with this flowchart, which uses science to determine exactly which films qualify as Christmas films.

Review: Passengers

Posted by Ali Gray at 23:00 on 19 Dec 2016
Passengers
Passengers is a sci-fi with an easily adaptable premise: what if, on the 120-year journey through space to colonise another planet, you were the only person on your spaceship to wake up? You can imagine dozens of versions of this movie. The Werner Herzog version is slow and considered and intimate and depressing and everyone dies. The Michael Bay version is huge and costs a billion dollars and has bikini models in zero gravity and it turns out the spaceship is evil. Nestling uncomfortably in the halfway point between the two is Morten Tyldum's Passengers, a shiny spin on Jon Spaihts' screenplay that can't decide if it's a blockbuster or a character piece and ends up being neither.

Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Posted by Matt Looker at 23:00 on 14 Dec 2016
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
For all the criticism aimed at Marvel, the thought of a 1-star or 2-star MCU movie these days just seems like an impossibility, and you'd like to think that we could expect the same for all forthcoming Star Wars instalments. Surely there are just too many talented stakeholders invested in the process to allow for any major misfires? And yet, there are valid reasons to fear for Rogue One: it's the first standalone spin-off, consisting of almost entirely new characters; director Gareth Edwards still has much to prove; rumours around the reshoots weren't kind; and of course the recent memory of the prequels is still hanging around like a clingy, irritating Gungan. So does Rogue One give us reason to believe that Star Wars will now always be in safe hands? Or is it just another hollow, unmemorable blockbuster facsimile? Is it a new hope, or just the latest attack of a clone?

Review: The Birth Of A Nation

Posted by Matt Looker at 12:46 on 12 Dec 2016
The Birth Of A Nation
Can you separate the art from the artist? Is it fair that a film with high hopes of awards potential is now being overlooked because of behind-the-scenes controversy? And should we let a 1999 rape charge brought against filmmaker and star Nate Parker affect how we view his depiction of rape in this film? One thing's for sure, film reviewers everywhere are grateful for being handed an easy opening paragraph before never mentioning the ethical dilemma again for the rest of the review because it's all a bit (*sharp intake of breath*)

New poster released for Christopher Nolan's Dunk Irk

Posted by Matt Looker at 22:04 on 12 Dec 2016
New poster released for Christopher Nolan's Dunk Irk
Critics are already calling it "Inception meets Space Jam".

Review: Snowden

Posted by Matt Looker at 23:00 on 10 Dec 2016
Snowden
There is a terrifying truth presented in Snowden, and I don't mean one of the obvious ones about misuse of power or unlawful global surveillance. It's one that comes early in the film and is only hinted at, but it is confirmation of a deep, dark, universal suspicion: that the incompetency you see in some of your work colleagues is a common problem that exists all the way up to the top. Like when Patrick from Legal doesn't process your request because he doesn't know the difference between an Excel spreadsheet and a Google doc. That kind of thing could very feasibly still happen at a top government level. Goddamn you, Patrick. Goddamn you, all the Patricks.

Review: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

Posted by Matt Looker at 19:00 on 06 Dec 2016
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
At a time when every superhero, toy, 80s cartoon character, board game and emoji are fighting for enough space at the box office to create their own movie 'universe', J.K. Rowling's work is already done. Her wizarding world of Harry Potter is well established and still ripe for further exploration, which is pretty much the perfect environment in which to churn out money-making tie-in movies of lesser returns. And yet, instead, a far greater challenge has been undertaken: birthing an entirely new franchise of films set within the same universe. Somehow, audiences are going to have to get invested in a new story that - we can assume - will never be as important as the one we have already seen. So those beasts had better be pretty bloody fantastic.

Review: Bleed For This

Posted by Ed Williamson at 23:30 on 04 Dec 2016
Bleed For This
Trouble with all boxing films: they aren't Rocky. Rocky not only set the benchmark, but the template, out of which no one's really managed to break: guy has to overcome adversity, the other boxer is a metaphor for his life, and his real opponent is himself. True-lifer Bleed For This is a bit different. But not that different.
Out this week
+La La Land (12A)
Our review
+Manchester By The Sea (15)
+Live By Night (15)
+Underworld: Blood Wars (15)
+The Bye Bye Man (15)