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  • The Grey

    The Grey 2011

    ★★★★½ Watched 12 May, 2015

    I tried to think of another instance in which I felt moved at the end of an action, or survival-thriller film. Not just engaged or adrenalized, but really strongly, emotionally connected. I think the last time was perhaps The Descent, and this was coincidentally the film that I kept returning to as a comparison while watching The Grey.

    I had completely disregarded Joe Carnahan’s film upon its release, assuming it to be another generic entry in Liam Neeson’s action renaissance.…

  • Avengers: Age of Ultron

    Avengers: Age of Ultron 2015

    ★★★½ Watched 10 May, 2015

    Joss Whedon does well handling this behemoth despite being pulled in as many different directions as the luckless Frank Cotton at the end of Hellraiser. There are even more characters stuffed into the narrative to which screen-time must be allocated, boxes ticked, executives placated, fan boys and girls sated. Fortunately, his A-grade cast doesn’t seem to be full of actors renowned for being drenched in ego. One can only imagine the potential clash were it otherwise.

    Avengers: Age of Ultron

  • Network

    Network 1976

    ★★★★½ Watched 09 May, 2015 4

    “Good evening. Today is Wednesday, September the 24th, and this is my last broadcast. Yesterday I announced on this program that I was going to commit public suicide, admittedly an act of madness. Well, I’ll tell you what happened: I just ran out of bullshit. I just ran out of bullshit.” – Howard Beale

    We’re kind of used to the idea of TV as being some kind of malign force; a seductive demon crouched in the corner of the room…

  • Leviathan

    Leviathan 2014

    ★★★★★ Watched 06 May, 2015 4

    “Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook or tie down its tongue with a rope?” – Book of Job

    The title of Andrey Zvyagintsev’s fourth feature is rich in religious and political allegory, referring to a biblical sea creature and Thomas Hobbes famous polemic on the state as social contract. In his bleak tale of the exercising of small-town corruption going hand in glove with hypocritical religious piety, Zvyagintsev paints a richly allusive picture that is both graceful and…

  • Gone Girl

    Gone Girl 2014

    ★★★★★ Watched 04 May, 2015

    Wow! It’s taken around a week to piece together thoughts on David Fincher’s Gone Girl. Having not read the book and only having a vague knowledge of the story, I was instantly swept up in the whirlwind of bluff and double-bluff, unreliable narrators, and pointed media satire. Adapted by Gillian Flynn from her own novel, it nevertheless carries the imprint of several of Fincher’s previous works: the dark procedural aspect of Zodiac; the tricksy postmodern identity scramble of Fight Club;…

  • Home

    Home 2015

    ★★½ Watched 03 May, 2015

    A passable, yet unspectacular way to spend a Sunday afternoon, Home plays towards the younger end of the spectrum. It's a bright and colourful piece about friendly aliens called the Boov who are adept at cowardice, and colonise the Earth to escape their great enemies the Gorg.
    To do this they relocate all of humanity to Australia.

    One girl (Rihanna) evades the aliens and joins forces with the hapless Oh, (Jim Parsons) an inadvertently renegade Boov, and go in search…

  • '71

    '71 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 29 Apr, 2015

    Jack O’Connell continues his inexorable rise in Yann Demange’s debut film. He plays Gary Hook, a new recruit to the British Army who is stranded in the streets of Belfast on his first engagement during the early days of the Troubles. The film focuses on his attempts to survive the night.

    Unlike say, his inflammatory performances in Eden Lake or Starred Up in which he is plays the driving force, O’Connell has a much more reactive role here as he…

  • Paddington

    Paddington 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 25 Apr, 2015

    The terrifying cautionary tale of an illegal immigrant smuggling foodstuffs into the country, and inveigling his way into the home of a decent, hardworking, aspirational middle-class family where he proceeds to cause havoc. He doesn’t even get himself a job. Shocking.

    I imagine that may have been the review of Paddington that appeared in the Daily Mail, alongside another attack on Ed Milliband’s Marxist father, and another offer for a Princess Diana memorial china plate.

    Paul King’s take on the…

  • Magic in the Moonlight

    Magic in the Moonlight 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 18 Apr, 2015

    It's unlikely to be considered as classic Woody Allen, but Magic in the Moonlight is the filmic equivalent of a day in your dressing gown scoffing ice cream. It's just comforting and soothing.

    The plot is delightful flannel - Colin Firth is a stage illusionist in the 1920s who hears about an astonishing young psychic, Emma Stone, who has completely baffled fellow magician Simon McBurney. Fifth resolves to unmask the young medium as a fraud.

    There are similarities in the…

  • Burden of Dreams

    Burden of Dreams 1982

    ★★★★½ Watched 17 Apr, 2015

    Fitzcarraldo is an extraordinary film. Werner Herzog's customary analysis of madness and obsession is a riveting and audacious work. Les Blanks's documentary, Burden of Dreams is no less gripping.

    Blank films Herzog and his cast and crew during the protracted, Sisyphean task of brining his film to the screen. From funding difficulties to losing his main cast, Jason Robards and Mick Jagger (shown in incredible early filmed footage) to recalcitrant crew and extras, Herzog's usual amiable demeanour and that soothing…

  • Lucy

    Lucy 2014

    ★★ Watched 16 Apr, 2015

    If I was being extraordinarily kind, one could read Lucy as an attempt for one woman to achieve full intellectual enlightenment – actual Nirvana and the negating of the self. I feel that Luc Besson perhaps had a germ on an idea there.

    Unfortunately I’m not feeling kind, and instead Besson has produced some cod-scientific, pseudo-smart bumwash that I was almost on board with (or at least wasn’t actively despising), until one of the most outright ludicrous final acts I…

  • Mr. Turner

    Mr. Turner 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 14 Apr, 2015

    Often regarded as the finest of English painters, Joseph Mallord William Turner was a prolific artist, and Mike Leigh’s portrait of his final twenty-five years does a fine job of presenting the relentless energy with which he pursued his art.

    Timothy Spall plays Turner as a curmudgeonly man who communicates through grunts and snorts for the most part, yet can be called upon to charm with gruff eloquence when necessarily. His brusque demeanour masking an obsessive interest with the world…