Don't Breathe Review

Tuesday, 13 September 2016 21:44

Though he made his name with the dull gorefest that was 2013’s Evil Dead remake, Uruguayan director Fede Alvarez showed enough visual smarts to suggest he was capable of something better. His sophomore effort Don’t Breathe is a huge leap forward, milking its simple-but-effective premise for every possible exploitative thrill it can possibly find. Right up until this approach becomes tedious, Alvarez takes both his characters and the audience on a grimy, visceral thrill ride through a haunted house where the ghoul is all too human.

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Cafe Society Review

Tuesday, 06 September 2016 21:15

You know what you’re going to get with latter day Woody Allen. In this latest phase in his career, the controversial auteur has stuck to a familiar template more than ever in his career: upper-class people fall in and out of love in glamorous locations, often in a period setting. His latest, Café Society, is very much in that vein and continues a low-key purple patch for Allen that, barring the awful You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, stretches all the way back to Vicky Cristina Barcelona in 2008.

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The Purge: Election Year Review

Thursday, 01 September 2016 22:20

The idea at the centre of The Purge series – that all crime, including murder is legal for 12 hours every year – is one so rich with possibilities that each film just ends up being a let-down. The series has set out its stall as a violent one filled with pop horror imagery that is more concerned with the chaos and bloodshed of Purge Night than any of the sociological debates around it. That’s not to say the films aren’t enjoyable; they are generally fine and the latest entry, the politically themed The Purge: Election Year, is the best of the bunch so far, but they could be so much more.

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War Dogs Review

Monday, 29 August 2016 22:19

Based on a true story, War Dogs is one of those stranger than fiction tales that is actually all too believable, even if director Todd Phillips has amped up the details for both dramatic and comedic effect. The core of the story is the same though: two stoner bros from Florida become arms dealers, selling increasingly large amounts of artillery to the US government until, inevitably, it blows up in their face.

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Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Review

Sunday, 28 August 2016 16:53

Much like beloved classic This Is Spinal Tap - the granddaddy of music mockumentaries - skewered the inherent silliness of eighties metal bands, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping takes aim at the current pop rap scene and celebrity culture in general. This spot on parody comes courtesy of The Lonely Island, the fake rap group/comedy troupe consisting of Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer, who rose to prominence via their Saturday Night Live digital shorts that both enlivened the flagging comedy series and helped put YouTube on the map.

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Lights Out Review

Tuesday, 23 August 2016 21:54

David S. Sandberg’s 2013 short Lights Out was a deliciously terrifying idea, brilliantly executed: a woman, alone in her apartment, is haunted by a ghostly figure that only appears when the lights are off. It was three minutes of watch-through-your-hands tension but what happens when you take that idea and try to stretch it out to feature length? Well Sandberg has done just that and the result is a flimsy studio horror that entertains but fails to match the simple scares of the short.

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David Brent: Life on the Road Review

Monday, 22 August 2016 17:56

Drawing on the cringe comedy and mockumentary style of Christopher Guest and Garry Shandling, British sitcom The Office was a sensation, spawning a number of imitators and making a star of its creator and leading man, Ricky Gervais. It’s been fifteen years since the last episode of that show ended, so although Gervais has kept his character, David Brent, alive in the meantime, you’d be forgiven for seeing this leap to the big screen as more than a little bit cynical. Thankfully the film is lot funnier and far less desperate than it might seem, proving to be one of the best sitcom-to-big-screen transitions.

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Pete's Dragon Review

Friday, 19 August 2016 22:59

Disney’s update of their 1977 partially animated, mostly live action kids flick Pete’s Dragon is a beast as rare and wondrous as the titular fire-breather itself: a film aimed primarily at children that favours soul over slapstick, a beautiful, lyrical film that transcends the remake label. It may be based on that earlier film but all it really takes is the title and the basic premise of a young orphan boy befriending a dragon. The rest could scarcely be more different.

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