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  • Review: Us is an iconic horror that doppelgängs up on our innate fears

    Movie Review | Matt Looker | 25th March 2019

    Of all the books I read while studying English Literature at university, there are very few that I can say really stuck with me so much that I think about them on a near-daily basis. One that did is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe called William Wilson. If you’re not familiar, it’s a deeply sinister tale in which the narrator describes being tormented throughout his life by infrequent run ins with his doppelgänger, a figure that looks, acts and dresses exactly the same as him, until he is eventually driven mad. The story struck a chord mainly because my professor made a compelling case at the time for how this horror works on a psychological level, but also because he had us analyse the many thematic instances of ‘doubles’ throughout the text. This, he explained, includes William Wilson’s own alliterative initials, which are made up of two 'W's or, rather, 'double-you's. And it was at that point that I thought he was just really reaching.

  • Review: After Life is not deft enough to avoid causing friendly fire

    TV Review | Ed Williamson | 22nd March 2019

    To promote his new Netflix show After Life, Ricky Gervais is out doing the podcast rounds, and telling anyone who'll listen why people who are offended by any of his jokes must have misunderstood them. He's probably right in some cases. But what he never considers, or at least never acknowledges, is that if a lot of people are misunderstanding your jokes, maybe it's because you aren't skilled enough at delivering them.

  • Review: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind soars, is uplifting, etc

    Movie Review | Luke Whiston | 20th March 2019

    Q) What do Titanic, Zero Dark Thirty and The Last King of Scotland have in common? A) They all used real history to tell a story involving fictional characters. In the case of Jack and Rose they were avatars to illustrate class divide. Zero Dark Thirty needed a way to connect the hunt for Bin Laden from beginning to end so they made up a CIA agent. And who even knows what the author of The Last King of Scotland was smoking because I can't think of another story like that at all. It's like they made up a best friend for Hitler. Why would you do that? Honestly. Point is, when you want to stretch history for entertainment you have to be delicate with the facts, otherwise you risk misrepresenting what actually happened or offending those who were there. Although Billy Zane can do what he wants. The man is a gift.

  • Review: Behind the Curve lets us gawp but doesn't offer any insight

    Movie Review | Luke Whiston | 11th March 2019

    It's so sad to hear about Piers Morgan. Oh, nothing's happened to him. I mean just generally whenever he pops up it makes me feel sad that an adult would cultivate mock outrage in pursuit of attention. We should cut him off so he can disappear forever, but he's harmless really - a fart in the wind - and everyone sees the desperation in his tiny haunted eyes. And he's a coward. To properly grab people's attention nowadays you have to go down the alt-right route like Hopkins and Milo, baring your wretched soul fully in a self-immolating endgame; not have a dig at vegan pastries from the safe space of a colourful sofa. He's a rank amateur. What does this have to do with flat earthers? Well, they're the same thing as Morgan aren't they? Poor deluded fuckers confusing passing glances with validation, convinced they're part of the fabric of reality, when really they're touching cloth.

  • Leaving Neverland and our need for chaos

    TV Feature | Ed Williamson | 8th March 2019

    In the summer of 2002 Michael Jackson came to Exeter, my hometown, where I was living again having just finished university. In a series of events that are ludicrous in hindsight, some businessmen had bought Exeter City FC out of administration and installed Uri Geller as a co-chairman. Geller duly brought Jackson and David Blaine down for a public appearance, in which they drove round the pitch in an open-topped car with a load of children.

    I didn't go. But I do remember watching it on TV, noting that, despite the hit his image had taken from the Jordy Chandler trial, he was still surrounding himself with children wherever he went. And thinking: "No one in this guy's life ever pulls him aside and says, 'Listen, Mick: maybe ease up on the kids in public, eh?'"

  • Review: Paddleton is an awkward embrace with fragile masculinity

    Movie Review | Luke Whiston | 6th March 2019

    SPOILER ALERT: You will die. It's just a matter of finding out when and how - and that's only if you see it coming. Many people will wake up this morning not knowing it's going to be their last day on earth. The lucky ones will have some advance notice of their expiration date, and so get a chance to take stock of their lives before deciding what to do with their remaining time. Traditional Hollywood plotting dictates this to be some kind of quest to undo past misdeeds as part of a redemption arc, before slipping away quietly surrounded by loved ones and that hot girl from college. But not in Alex Lehmann and Mark Duplass' Paddleton, in which a pair of friends go on a road trip to commit clinician-assisted suicide after one of them discovers he has terminal cancer. With a wacky setup like that they should have called this movie DEATH RIDE!

  • Review: Captain Marvel is predictably great fun by numbers

    Movie Review | Matt Looker | 5th March 2019

    It seems strange now to consider any new Marvel movie to be a risk. After 20 films, each amassing box office receipts equal to the size of entire national economies, surely a new instalment of the MCU can only ever be a sure thing at this stage? And yet, here we are, with a film that is about risky as Marvel gets now; not because this is its first female-fronted film (Wonder Woman has kapowed that glass ceiling already), but because we are dealing with a character most won’t know, with abilities that are supposed to be more powerful than anything we have ever seen before, played by a still relatively obscure lead actress. Oh and there’s that little thing of presenting her as the Endgame saviour of the Infinity War. Have no doubt, Marvel is rolling the dice here, even if they are safely loaded.

  • Review: Period. End of Sentence. is a so-so doc, necessary conversation starter

    Movie Review | Luke Whiston | 1st March 2019

    It's sometimes fun to imagine what aliens would make of our planet. What would they think of the huge green mass on the left committing a gross act of spiritual harm by putting a smaller orange mass in charge, for instance? Or the ones wearing bowler hats destroying their economy just because the neighbours are into Eurotrance? Madness. And pogs - what the fuck?! But probably the strangest thing to them would be seeing half the planet's population bleeding from their reproductive organs once a month as part of an essential species-prolonging biological function, and the other half going "ewww!" and repressing them since the beginning of time.

  • Marvel's Cine-CHAT-ic Universe: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

    Movie Feature | Matt Looker, Ali Gray, Becky Suter, Luke Whiston, Ed Williamson | 27th February 2019

    Following the low-point (both in terms of the MCU and our attempts at having an insightful discussion) that was Thor: The Dark World, we’re back on track now with Captain America’s first solo sequel. Don’t let that fool you though - we certainly haven’t stepped up our game in any way. The recurring feature of diminishing returns continues!

  • Please enjoy this, shall we say, sideways look at the 2019 Academy Awards

    Movie Feature | Ali Gray | 25th February 2019

    I didn't watch the Oscars. Might as well admit that now, right off the bat. I have kids and I'm just coming off the back of an exhausting weekend in Peppa Pig World, so staying up all night to watch Bohemian Rhapsody win the award for Best Editing wasn't particularly high on my agenda if I'm being honest, nor would it have been if I was lucid. Come to think of it, I've never stayed up to watch the Oscars. Is that weird? I just really value my sleep. Besides, I have Twitter. I have the internet. I get it. I've seen the pictures. I'm familiar with the big talking points so I'm qualified to discuss them and cast a 'wry eye' over the night's proceedings, like Alan Coren or Doonesbury or some shit.