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  • Ex Machina

    Ex Machina 2015

    ★★★★ Watched 19 May, 2015

    Garland's directorial debut is an impressive sci-fi thriller, less concerned with action and (its limited, but stunning) special effects than it is with ideas. It questions and proposes questions on a number of different themes, such as humanity, creation, evolution, surveillance, masks people wear, technophobia, etc. Admittedly, these themes have been covered on numerous occassions in science fiction. However, where it succeeds, is in keeping the viewer questioning and engrossed with its variety of ideas.

    The main protagonists, Isaac (Nathan),…

  • Black Angel

    Black Angel 1980

    ★★½ Watched 13 May, 2015

    Black Angel, a short story from the man who went on to direct Battlefield Earth! But don't let that dissuade you! The story, while slight, is very atmospheric, crafting an ethereal mood with its haunting score and arresting visuals. Its easy to see how this was an influence on Boorman's Excalibur.

    Available on youtube until the end of May - youtu.be/5L8pHKP-vv4

  • The Punk Singer

    The Punk Singer 2013

    ★★★ Watched 07 May, 2015

    The Punk Singer is a conventional, fairly standard, bio doc that utilises the familiar archival footage and talking head format. Charting Kathleen Hanna's beginnings in the riot grrrl movement and her contribution to feminism, to her maturation as an artist and latter day health struggles. However, Hanna is the antisthesis of convention; a force to be reckoned with both onstage and off and its unique subject matter is what sets this doc apart. Hanna's story is compelling and important and…

  • The Guest

    The Guest 2014

    ★★★ Watched 22 Apr, 2015

    I was quite enjoying this 80s homage until it started playing with genres. Around the half way mark (when Reddick turns up), it changes from creepy little thriller and descends into ludicrous action / horror. There is fun to be had inclusive of the silliness though and it has some nice stylistic touches and a cool soundtrack. However, its Dan Steven's Atlas sized shoulders the film rests on, with his menacing death stares and wicked smirks.

  • Records Collecting Dust

    Records Collecting Dust 2015

    ★★ Watched 18 Apr, 2015

    Despite some amusing anecdotes and the chance to see some famous underground artists' influences, it just felt like the wrong format for what it was trying to achieve. Understandably, it probably would have cost a bomb to get the rights to the music but that was what was missing here. I wanted to hear the lesser known records that they were enthusing about; bar taking notes to check out on youtube, which somewhat defeats the purpose of it all. It would have worked better as a publication.

  • Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

    Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck 2015

    ★★★★ Watched 12 Apr, 2015

    First, some pretext. Like many that grew up in the 90s, Nirvana holds a special place in my heart. I was 14 when i first heard Nevermind and its opening track, Smells Like Teen Spirit. Listening to it for the first time, it sounded so vital and felt so essential; it was a powerful experience.

    Obviously, theres been other music i've loved since Nirvana but I don't think i'll ever have those feelings that i had for them replicated again.…

  • Boyhood

    Boyhood 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 18 Mar, 2015

    Boyhood, the story of a normal, everyman, childhood or so we are led to believe. However, bar the major broadstrokes, its not a childhood or even a parenthood i could particularly connect with, which meant a lot of its charms were dulled for me.

    Stripping away most of life's major milestones, it concentrates on the little and the mundane moments. It plays quite a bit on nostalgia and strives to give an understanding of growth and of parents and parenting.…

  • After the Rain

    After the Rain 1999

    ★★★½ Watched 17 Mar, 2015

    A life-affirming humanist samurai tale with a rather slow start. It takes a while to get to the meat and bones of the story but once it does, it engrosses. I'm sure Mr Kurosawa would have approved the final result.

  • Birdman

    Birdman 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 14 Mar, 2015

    For much of the film i had my own little Birdman sitting on my shoulder squawking - 'You should love this, man!'. Unfortunately, the meta reality was not quite as good as my preconceived fantasy and while there were parts i adored, other parts came across preachy and pretentious. The performances (particularly Keaton and Norton), the direction, the jazzy drum score (that adds to the general cacophony and catharsis) and the humour raise it through the clouds, though, its still a long way from the sun.

  • Taboo

    Taboo 1999

    ★★★ Watched 10 Mar, 2015

    Must say, i found Gohatto to be a bit of an unsatisfactory watch. Sozaburo is the central character but its not really about him, more the passion he stirs up amongst his fellow samurai. At the start, his rival Tashiro and their relationship seems like its going to be central to the story and whilst it is to an extent, its never fully explored. Tashiro is cast to the background, as it flits between genres and time-jumps to his other…

  • John Wick

    John Wick 2014

    ★★★ Watched 08 Mar, 2015

    John Wick has a serious case of been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Though it does bring a couple of interesting additions to the table; the Continental Hotel, a reserve for hitmen in-between jobs and the way Wick isn't impervious to the violence being doled out. Theres minimal dialogue and story, which lets face it, is probably for the best. Its the stylish neon visuals, guns blazing, headshots galore, over the top action thats the reason to watch! However, The Raid raised the bar high with regards to action in films and it doesn't quite reach the entertaining levels of Neeson's Taken (1!).

  • Foxcatcher

    Foxcatcher 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 28 Feb, 2015

    Never less than interesting, with impressive performances from its leading triumvirate - birdman Carell, apeman Tatum and the human Ruffalo. However, its relentlessly dour throughout, bar the very briefest moments of levity, and despite the numerous themes at play, it never really gets under the skin with regards character motivations. Reading up on the case aftwards; the condensing and changing of some of the true events didn't feel beneficial either, as well as not displaying how mental Du Pont had actually been - he believed his treadmills were time machines, aliens communicated through his horses and his attempts to kill his wife.