Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review

Saturday, 26 November 2016 22:58

If there’s one thing Hollywood loves more than anything right now, it’s a big franchise, and they don’t come much bigger than Harry Potter. It’s no surprise then that five years after JK Rowling’s epic saga ended, we’re in spinoff territory with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. With Potter regular David Yates behind the camera, Fantastic Beasts picks up where the latter films in that series left off tonally and visually, but with its 1920s New York setting, it opens up a whole other world of wizarding possibilities.


Arrival Review

Tuesday, 15 November 2016 15:38

From its opening minutes, Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival marks itself out as something different from your average alien invasion movie. We’re alerted to the arrival of the aliens not through a crash-bang-wallop action scene but through the chirps of text messages, as linguistic professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) finds her class interrupted by the sudden and shocking news. From that point on, the film handles this event in a grounded and realistic way, examining both how humanity would actually deal with something like this but also broader themes of language, time and grief in a film that is both stunningly relevant and devastatingly human.


Nocturnal Animals Review

Saturday, 12 November 2016 23:18

Opening with an unexpected and startling array of flesh, it’s clear from the off that with Nocturnal Animals, director Tom Ford is exploring very different territory to the warm melancholy of his debut A Single Man. Though it is equally tailored and designed to within an inch of its life, that’s where the similarities end. This is a cold, cruel psychological drama that ambitiously weaves three stories together to form one tale of love, loss, regret and revenge. It has taken Ford seven years to follow up his accomplished bow but Nocturnal Animals is well worth the wait.


The Accountant Review

Tuesday, 08 November 2016 23:10

It turns out Batman isn’t the only superhero Ben Affleck has played this year. In Gavin O’Connor’s action thriller The Accountant, he plays Christian Wolff, a high-functioning autistic accountant who moonlights as a highly skilled vigilante with a very particular moral code. He even has his own Batcave in the form of a trailer hidden away in a non-descript storage container. The film is as bizarre as that premise suggests, with about three films worth of plot thrown into one problematic, confusing and wildly entertaining film.


Doctor Strange Review

Thursday, 03 November 2016 23:18

Doctor Strange - the 14th entry in Marvel’s ongoing Cinematic Universe – is both one of their most inventive and one of their most safe films. Directed by Sinister helmer Scott Derrickson, the film introduces magic to this universe and does so in spectacular fashion, with visuals that are unlike anything else we’ve ever seen in this universe. Everything else on show here, however, is well-worn territory for Marvel.


I, Daniel Blake Review

Sunday, 30 October 2016 15:08

Even at eighty years-old, Ken Loach’s fire is still burning. Fifty years on from his acclaimed TV play Cathy Come Home, about the failings of the British welfare system, the legendary filmmaker returns to the subject to Palme D’or winning effect with I, Daniel Blake. Sadly, what he finds is that nothing has changed and there are still people living in abject poverty, on the brink of homelessness, thanks to a system designed to shame them and wear them down rather than help them.


Ouija: Origin of Evil Review

Thursday, 27 October 2016 22:21

Back in 2014, Ouija somehow made it to over $100 million worldwide despite being a limp, cliché ridden and unimaginative slice of wishy-washy PG13 horror. In a world where we have studio horrors as good as James Wan’s Insidious and The Conjuring franchises, something as inept as Ouija just doesn’t cut it. It seems Blumhouse - the production house that specialises in low-budget/high profit horror flicks – knows that too and enlisted Mike Flanagan, the smart director behind the likes of Oculus and Hush, to rejuvenate this series with a prequel that banishes the spirit of its predecessor, while summoning the kind of slick mainstream scares that Wan has made the new standard.


American Honey Review

Thursday, 20 October 2016 21:39

Inspired by a New York Times article about groups of youngsters travelling the US selling magazine subscriptions, Brit director Andrea Arnold decided that should be the basis of her first American film. With a cast largely populated by non-professionals and barely any plot, American Honey is a beautiful, sprawling mess of poverty, sex and copious amounts of trap music as its teenage heroine Star (Sasha Lane) leaves behind her hardscrabble life to go on the road with a “mag crew”.