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  • Review: Knives Out is a modern-age murder mystery that absolutely kills it

    Movie Review | Matt Looker | 4th December 2019

    Traditional murder mysteries must be the hardest stories to write, because audiences are always second-guessing everything, desperate to work out the twist before the genius detective. Writers have to seed important details among their pool of suspects without giving the game away, whilst also offering red herrings that have to feel like they could still be relevant. Meanwhile their audience is constantly reading too much into everything, determined not to be outsmarted. So a film like this one is already at make-or-break point for each viewer. If they don’t guess the killer and the motive, and the reveal still makes sense, then they can be satisfied with the thrill of being outplayed. But if they solve the mystery before the end, it’s "Nah, that’s rubbish, mate. I saw it coming a mile off". And audiences are actively rooting for the latter. They’re the ones with the knives out.

  • Review: The Knight Before Christmas in excuse for rambling film article

    Movie Review | Luke Whiston | 1st December 2019

    Ahh Christmas; the season of feelgood movies, peace and love to all, chestnuts roasting by an open fire, dressing gowns and comfy slippers, aisles of biscuit tins in Wilko, the excitement of the first snowflake, glitter, novelty plastic tat destined for a landfill, forcing yourself to like disgusting M&S sandwiches, family arguing about Brexit, splinters going up in the loft, more glitter, Boris Johnson what a character eh, tears as your wife's antique bauble gets smashed, fighting back consumerist guilt, the bulbs don't work, splinters coming down from the loft, kids screaming, lies upon lies about Santa, THE BULBS DON'T WORK AND SOMEONE NEEDS TO GO TO THE SHOP AND THERE'S GLITTER EVERYWHERE. It's December 1st.

  • Review: Earthquake Bird: who is he, what is his net worth, who is his wife?

    Movie Review | Luke Whiston | 25th November 2019

    If making lots of one thing is an objective measure of goodness, then Netflix are really good at these thrillers where the protagonist is having a tough time clinging on to reality. Yes I know sometimes they just buy the distribution rights. This year alone we've had Fractured, The Perfection, In The Tall Grass, and several more; it's as if their recommendation engine is stuck in a feedback loop. The 'unreliable narrator' I believe the gimmick is called, and it's a solid framework for building mysteries - just add a setting, a creepy secret, a few dead women, et voila: cinema. Well, the Netflix equivalent.

  • Review: The King is a noble effort, if not majestic, rings Hollow, etc.

    Movie Review | Luke Whiston | 20th November 2019

    To my shame as an Englishman I am not well-versed in the works of William Shakespeare. I know the gist of Romeo & Juliet, and that there's a character called Bottom in another one. But if you put me on the spot and told me to write an analysis of The Taming of the Shrew, you'd probably walk in on me on the toilet half an hour later watching YouTube tutorials on how to hypnotise small mammals. Not that I don't appreciate the plays - their effect on the world's culture is undeniable - just beyond my school years I've struggled to find the enthusiasm and time to really get into them. Don't ask me why I can recite Congo word-for-word, though.

  • Review: Le Mans '66 is great Oscar fuel. It has real drive. It's wheelie- ok I'll stop

    Movie Review | Matt Looker | 15th November 2019

    I’ve come to realise recently that I don’t like car chases. Sure, some are ok, like when they’re used to actually tell a story, as in, say The Italian Job, or when they involve big stunts, like when a fast and/or furious launches Vin Diesel at a Godzilla or whatever. On the whole though, they just seem like endless pedal-pushing and an ever-increasing number of gear shifts designed, I imagine, to provide lusty material for those that just really get cars. I am not one of these people, so you can forgive me for going into Le Mans ‘66 having previously prepared to pretend that the whole film is just about Bruce Wayne test-driving a new Batmobile.

  • Review: Last Christmas has everything she wants if you watch without prejudice

    Movie Review | Ed Williamson | 12th November 2019

    What's it going to be for George Michael, then? The Bohemian Rhapsody-style rock biopic? The Rocketman stylised musical? The Yesterday excuse to bump the songs up the list on Spotify a bit? Well, none of the above, really. Last Christmas is something a bit different: a festive romcom where his songs are there but largely non-diegetic, even though he himself is present in the form of posters on walls and in characters' conversation, so more of a tribute that informs a story. It's an affectionate and funny one too, and the kind that you recognise a fair bit is wrong with, but gosh-darn it, everyone's singing and having a lovely time, and it's Christmas, so just pour yourself a nice tall glass of mulled shut-the-hell up juice and go with it.

  • Review: Doctor Sleep feels like a lot of work for very little play

    Movie Review | Matt Looker | 11th November 2019

    There’s a lot to be said about the context surrounding Doctor Sleep. About the impossibly high benchmark set by The Shining, about the challenge of reconciling Stephen King’s vision and Stanley Kubrick’s execution, and about choosing which source material to honour most. But honestly, ignoring all of that for now, my biggest takeaway from this film is... fuck, it spends a lot of time driving in a car. Every pre-set-piece scene is spent hauling across road for hours and every post-sequence respite is spent hauling back again, usually at night-time, usually while someone is asleep in the passenger seat. I have spent more time in cars while watching this film than I have on actual road trips. It seems Danny Torrance simply swapped one purgatory for another. Come drive with him. Forever... and ever... and ever...

  • Review: Dolemite Is My Name is a rose-tinted celebration of flawed ambition

    Movie Review | Luke Whiston | 5th November 2019

    Is Eddie Murphy back? Judging by the last few months he's made a great deal of effort to distance himself from his 1980s sexism-laced standup routines, so he's definitely trying to come back. You can be cynical about it and say this is housekeeping in an attempt to reinvent his image for the new age of woke comedy, or you can accept he's genuinely trying to make amends and move onwards and upwards together into Liberal PC Heaven, where there are no guns and all the Pokemon you can catch. Whatever it is I'm not sure the best way to do it is via a celebration of blaxploitation; a genre laced with sexism.

  • Review: Terminator: Dark Fate can't bear to suffer an Arnie-less future

    Movie Review | Ali Gray | 2nd November 2019

    It's hard out there for the Terminators. You hate to see it. For three whole sequels - Rise of the Machines, Salvation and Genisys - the all-powerful killer robots from the future have suffered embarrassing losses in increasingly shitty movies, to the point where you wonder why they keep trying to enslave us at all. The Terminators, bless their hearts, must have done some serious soul searching, because they're back for more punishment, perhaps inspired by their motto (I am imagining "Absolutely do not stop ever until they are dead" written in "live laugh love" style wall-print cursive) and with a brand new plucky underdog status that it only earned through repeated failure. In a victory of sorts, Dark Fate manages to scrape an above average grade by clinging closely to the Terminator tropes with the kind of white-knuckled death grip that only three failed sequels can inspire.

  • Review: Fractured won't exactly change your world, but has a good try

    Movie Review | Luke Whiston | 29th October 2019

    One of my favourite subgenres of horror is the one where there's a huge build up to something tragic, and then you tag the 'sad trombone' sound effect on the end, rendering it hilarious. Like at the end of The Mist when Tom Jane euthanises a car full of survivors because they think the monsters are coming and there's no escape, but when he steps outside it's the army rumbling down the road to rescue them. Sad trombone dot mp3! Fractured is like that but every scene.