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  • Review: The Aeronauts is an uplifting ode to the spirit of discovery

    Movie Review | Luke Whiston | 26th March 2020

    There's something compelling about a singular premise. Gravity and The Martian both made good use of theirs, squeezing every second of tension out of a sequence of continually escalating nightmare scenarios, all in service of one outcome. What those films have in common are protagonists who want to survive not just through a desire to see their efforts validated, but also as avatars of a very human need to prove we can overcome the challenges of nature as a species able to shape the world around us. It's affecting, connective stuff, and rings true on a fundamental level. But whereas Matt Damon's character in The Martian mostly concerned himself with potatoes, if I've learnt anything from The Aeronauts it's to always carry a knife.

  • Review: Spenser Confidential is a bad film so I wrote a bad review

    Movie Review | Luke Whiston | 20th March 2020

    This is going to be one of those reviews that mostly just describes what happens in the film, with no real insight into the plot or themes - not that there are much of either - but it's the only way I can think to get across how monumentally idiotic Spenser Confidential is. Another way would be telling you it's a direct-to-Netflix action movie starring Mark Wahlberg and directed by Peter Berg and letting you make up your own mind, but I had to suffer through it and now so do you.

  • Review: Color Out of Space is high on promise but lands with a bump

    Movie Review | Luke Whiston | 13th March 2020

    Richard Stanley is a tantalisingly distant figure in filmmaking. His filmography reeks of such pure talent you wonder why he's not a bigger name. The answer to that lies in the documentary Island of Lost Souls, which recalls Stanley's involvement in the ill-fated big budget 1990s take on The Island of Dr. Moreau. To say it didn't go well is an understatement, with everything from the elements to his erratic star Marlon Brando working overtime to derail things. Subsequently Stanley left the mainstream under a cloud (literally a cyclone), which is why Color Out of Space is being bandied as 'The Return of Richard Stanley' - given a fresh chance to bring a H. P. Lovecraft short story to life with Nicolas Cage in the lead. With such a dizzying rider it can't possibly live up to the hype, can it?

  • Review: Miss Americana attempts to separate popstar from person

    Movie Review | Luke Whiston | 10th March 2020

    Can you believe the Taylor Swift-Kanye West "I'mma let you finish" VMA awards show incident happened more than ten years ago? That's TEN years. Ten. T-E-N. Taylor Swift was a mere 17 at the time and had already accomplished more with her life and career than most of us ever will, but what's happened in the decade since? The tl;dr answer is she kept on writing songs and performing, eventually conquering the music industry by establishing herself as an independent woman of considerable talent and business acumen. And then she was in Cats. The longer answer is contained within this new documentary, Miss Americana.

  • Encounter at Midpoint: just what the h(olod)eck is going on in Picard?

    TV Feature | Luke Whiston | 6th March 2020

    I'm finding Picard a very difficult show to place - part mawkish reverence, part campy nostalgia, quite a lot of waiting for that classic TNG vibe to kick in. Will it ever settle on a tone? I'm not the hugest Trekkie but back in the day The Next Generation was perfectly timed for getting in from school, doing your homework, then sticking on Sky One to have an adventure with Jean-Luc and the crew of the Enterprise D, hopefully learning something about the nature of humanity (or at the very least a holodeck episode where they're all wearing period costumes). So there's a lot of fondness there. And sure all my friends were out smoking and necking, but who are they going to call on to arbitrate grave matters of existentialism? Probably not me as I've fallen out of contact with many of them in the 20 years since. I wonder if they've ever looked me up and seen I write about Star Trek on the internet now? Oh God, I've wasted my life!

  • Review: The Invisible Man offers dark, intense thrills, sight unseen

    Movie Review | Matt Looker | 4th March 2020

    If you stop to think about it for a minute, the very idea of an invisible person raises some questions and almost all of them are: what happens when they eat or drink or bleed or, yes, shit? At what point does something external to the person start or stop being ’also invisible’? There are a couple of different cinematic approaches to the science: Memoirs Of An Invisible Man takes a cue from H. G. Wells’ original novel and shows food filling a suddenly materialised stomach before being vomited back up again, while Hollow Man just er... never really mentions it. In a similar vein to that creepy, invisible stalker movie, this new film ignores the biological questions altogether because the title character’s vanishing act is achieved with a special suit made of... optics? Cameras? It looks like it probably works a bit like the invisible car in Die Another Day. So that’s just really clear. Good, simple logic. No questions, your honour.

  • Review: Girl on the Third Floor builds a solid foundation, oozes potential

    Movie Review | Luke Whiston | 2nd March 2020

    I'm glad this film came to Netflix because it's given me a chance to talk about one of my obsessions: house sizes in American horror movies. They're so huge! Are all houses over there that big? They all seem to have a basement that goes on forever, and a loft you can stand up in with floorboards and windows. I mean they're perfect for horror - lots of spooky corners for ghosts to jump out of. Here in the UK our houses are tiny and the walls are thin; if you so much as put your cup of tea down too loudly you can hear the people next door tut. So why are American houses so big? Is this what happens when you get to choose between having a larger house or living with a debilitating illness?

  • Review: Parasite delves into the darkest recesses of humanity

    Movie Review | Luke Whiston | 27th February 2020

    Donald Trump gets mentioned way too much on these pages considering his contribution to cinema consists of a handful of production credits and cameos, including the one in Home Alone 2 where he checks out Kevin's bum. But for once the Incurious Orange may have done some good with his big racist gob. By launching a scree against South Korean-set Parasite for having the audacity to win a Best Picture Oscar in a language he can't understand - no doubt due to his brain shrinking down his neck in fright at the thought of reading subtitles - Trump has accidentally made Bong Joon-ho's class examination a talking point outside of Film Twitter. I bet he feels really silly now.

  • Review: Bait is tighter than a duck's arse

    Movie Review | Luke Whiston | 24th February 2020

    My partner made me turn Bait off after two minutes because she said it was "pretentious," so we watched Ru Paul's Drag Race instead. My idiot friends spent an hour trying to come up with wanking jokes in our WhatsApp group because Mark Kermode said the film was a "masterpiece" (master + bait + combined mental age of 12), with predictably disappointing results. But like my mum said when I came home from riding my bike one day and she told me the Under 9s coach had rung to say the rules had changed and teams only fielded ten players now so I shouldn't show up for practice anymore: "It's their loss, Luke, you're brilliant at football."

  • Review: Jay and Silent Bob Reboot is a verbally challenged nostalgia trip

    Movie Review | Luke Whiston | 18th February 2020

    "So you're the target audience for that," a wag tweeted when I expressed an interest in Kevin Smith's first return to the Askewniverse proper since Clerks II in 2006. It's true, I am. And I'm not even that ashamed of it. In fact, Kevin Smith's films have aligned with several formative periods of my life, becoming dashed in parts of my brain like a ship on rocks, so for better or worse I'll always give the guy a chance. Although as much as I'm fond of the silly goof and his sweary adventures, you'll still never catch me in a pair of jorts.