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Review: Personal Shopper

Posted by Matt Looker at 22:00 on 20 Mar 2017
Personal Shopper
"A brazenly unconventional ghost story" says Time Out's poster quote for this film, presumably because "A profound and intimate exploration of humankind's innate need for existential crisis" didn't do the right job. There’s no denying that Personal Shopper is a ghost story of sorts, but that hardly seems an adequate description. It may begin with some spooky fare about a haunted house and a terrifying manifestation, but this isn't a film of jump-scares and sudden bangs, it's a film that gives the audience the space and respect to ruminate on the very concept of an afterlife. These ghosts don't say "boo!", they say "who?" and indeed "why?" as well as "how does that make you feel? Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Let's talk about that." 

Review: The Love Witch

Posted by Matt Looker at 20:10 on 12 Mar 2017
The Love Witch
By all accounts, The Love Witch is a magical experience; a film that turns the clock back to champion a cult genre and offers a unique take on female empowerment at the same time. But as with all magic, there are always a few dissenters who have to point out the wires or, like those people that are deemed insusceptible to hypnosis, just don't seem willing to buy into it. I'm sorry everyone, but I think I’m one of those people. Not for want of trying - I was ready to be head over heels for this film, but there’s no denying it: I just haven't fallen under The Love Witch's spell.

Review: Kong: Skull Island

Posted by Matt Looker at 22:43 on 11 Mar 2017
Kong: Skull Island
There will surely be a time soon when the film industry decides that monster movies just aren't a good fit for modern cinema audiences. That we have developed a more sophisticated taste for storytelling and an appreciation for nuance, and that therein lies a problem for films that are essentially about giant rage-beasts smashing things up with their clumsy hoof-paws. Luckily, that time hasn't come yet and until it does we still have opportunities like this one to enjoy creature features that are as big, dumb and ridiculous as whatever enormous idiot monkey is causing all the destruction in the first place. That's right, this film is a gigantic fun monster - a stupidly thrilling buffoon baboon of a movie - and we shouldn't want it any other way.

Review: Elle

Posted by Ali Gray at 23:30 on 10 Mar 2017
Elle
As part of a sustained effort on my part to watch more films featuring female leads and more films in a foreign language (an effort which so far has resulted in me seeing zero of either), I found myself at Elle, the new movie from Paul Verhoeven. Given that it fit those two criteria (Isabelle Huppert? Check! French? Check!) I gamely plopped myself into the screening room chair, not knowing what it was about. Some two and a half hours later, I still wasn't sure. I was told this was an exciting and edgy new thriller from the director of RoboCop.

Review: Logan

Posted by Ali Gray at 21:10 on 09 Mar 2017
Logan
There only three things that are certain in life: death, taxes and the fact that someone is hard at work writing a sequel to the X-Men movie you're currently watching. Logan, the third Wolverine standalone movie after X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine, is the exception: it is the last in its series, because Hugh Jackman says so, and not just because they've run out of ways to name Wolverine movies. Buoyed by the success of 15-rated Deadpool and supported by Jackman's desire to leave a lasting legacy for his defining role, Logan is that rare superhero movie that feels like a full stop rather than a comma. Intentionally distanced from the rest of the X-Men universe and its frankly Gordian timelines, Logan stands alone as the best of the series: a bleak, bold and mold-breaking masterpiece of the genre.

Review: Patriots Day

Posted by Matt Looker at 07:00 on 02 Mar 2017
Patriots Day
How soon is too soon? Is it when the real-life victims of a tragedy are still raw from the experience? Is it when artistic licence just isn't appropriate for events that are still fresh in everyone’s minds? Is it when unseemly facts about those involved might detract from their otherwise brave and heroic actions? Or is it when - as is the case here - overcompensating for all of the above results in muddled, mawkish melodrama?

Review: A Cure For Wellness

Posted by Ali Gray at 17:30 on 21 Feb 2017
A Cure For Wellness
A while back, I used the pun 'Shitter Island' to describe John Carpenter's horror comeback The Ward during a Halloween liveblog. As with all my puns, I reserve the right to reuse them whenever I want, so I'm recycling this one in honour of Gore Verbinski's A Cure For Wellness, another cliched asylum-based horror thriller. More like Shitter Island, right guys? Haha, good one Ali.

Review: Sing

Posted by Matt Looker at 22:00 on 24 Jan 2017
Sing
I can't tell you how long I have been waiting to take my two-year-old son on his first trip to the cinema. Well, actually, I suppose I can. It's been two years. Obviously. But that wait finally came to an end with this movie, one which I thought might be an appropriate introduction to the big screen for him because a) it's about singing cartoon characters, and b) it wasn't written by Seth Rogen. Of course, I was still fully prepared for failure. Expecting a toddler to stay still and quiet in a chair surrounded by strangers for nearly two hours? Surely impossible. And yet, that's exactly what he did, while fixated on the movie. So whatever I say in this review from now on, know that my son – easily closer in age to the target demographic than I – rates it 10 out of 10 choo-choo trains or whatever.

Review: xXx: Return Of Xander Cage

Posted by Ali Gray at 23:00 on 19 Jan 2017
xXx: Return Of Xander Cage
One of my New Year's Resolutions for 2017 was to watch more movies I wouldn't normally watch, with the intent of broadening my cinematic horizons. Little did I know, the first invite to plop into my inbox would be for xXx: Return Of Xander Cage, an action movie so extreme that it doesn't even have the time to include the definitive article in its title. I have never walked out of a movie, but the closest I've ever come is during the first xXx in 2002, around about the time Vin Diesel's buff Generation X-er snowboarded down an avalanche on a tea tray. I assumed that in his absence, Cage had been hitting the books, ready to return older, wiser and woke. But then the movie opened with xXx jumping off a TV transmitter and skiing through a jungle, so I guess I'll be putting off the broadening of my cinematic horizons until another day.

Review: Split

Posted by Ali Gray at 22:45 on 19 Jan 2017
Split
Some actors go their whole lives without being offered a role as tasty as James McAvoy's character in Split. You've heard of roles being described as "scenery chewing"? In Split, M Night Shyamalan basically builds his sets out of beef jerky and invites McAvoy to tuck in. It's full-on Willy Wonka. As kidnapper Kevin who suffers from dissociative identity disorder (multiple personalities to you, me and I), McAvoy effectively has free reign of a buffet comprised of equal parts cheese, ham and bananas.
Out this week
+Logan (15)
Our review
+Kong: Skull Island (12A)
Our review
+Elle (18)
Our review
+The Love Witch (15)
Our review
+I.T. (15)