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  • Maps to the Stars

    Maps to the Stars 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 18 Feb, 2015 2

    The esteemed members of the Academy probably breathed a collective sigh of relief after Julianne Moore also appeared in Still Alice. It's a role that I imagine they would rather award than her Cannes-wowing performance in Maps to the Stars.

    David Cronenberg's latest is a scabrous and satirical take down of Hollywood and the bloated egos within. It's vicious and wickedly funny and laced through with his usual psychoanalytical preoccupations, studded with a tremendous cast.

    Moore is probably the standout…

  • Soulmate

    Soulmate 2013

    ★★ Watched 19 Feb, 2015

    Soulmate is the first full-length film by Axelle Carolyn and is a slow, delicate and deliberate ghost story in the filmic style of The Others and also owes a debt to the literary tradition of MR James.

    Anna Walton plays Audrey, a young musician, who moves to the remote Welsh countryside after the death of her husband and a failed suicide attempt. She discovers that the cottage she is staying in is home to the spirit of Douglas (Tom Wisdom)…

  • Cold in July

    Cold in July 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 17 Feb, 2015

    Jim Mickle is certainly becoming an interesting figure in genre cinema. I was impressed by the vampire drama Stake Land and his re-imagining of the Mexican horror We are What We Are after being frankly underwhelmed by the original. Cold in July is a twisty and violent thriller that has an unpredictable and schizophrenic feel that makes it very hard to categorise.

    Richard Dane (Michael C. Hall) is a resplendently mulleted family man in the late ‘80s who shoots an…

  • Fifty Shades of Grey

    Fifty Shades of Grey 2015

    Watched 14 Feb, 2015 4

    I did try. Honestly I did. I did my very best to approach Fifty Shades of Grey with as open a mind as possible. To give it a fair crack of the whip, as it were. Of course, it couldn’t possibly be amazing; and the reviews had been sniffier than a hay fever convention, but I was hoping for it to be gloriously awful, like genuinely, gleefully Showgirls bad. I wanted it to be in such outrageous poor taste that…

  • The Guest

    The Guest 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 13 Feb, 2015 2

    Adam Wingard is becoming quite the established genre director. I was quite taken with You’re Next, an assured and witty take on the home invasion shocker, and had every faith in his ability to do something good with exploitation thriller The Guest when I found out he was the man behind the camera.

    I’m pleased to say that I wasn’t disappointed. Right from the off, Wingard is adept at establishing the scene. Within ninety seconds in fact. A middle-aged woman…

  • Before I Go to Sleep

    Before I Go to Sleep 2014

    ★★★ Watched 08 Feb, 2015

    You know that feeling when you wake up after a heavy night? That one fixes a clamp round your heart as you frantically try and piece together the events of the evening? It’s usually followed by a moment of relief as you scrabble about and realise that your phone, keys, and wallet are all present and correct (although the contents of the wallet are often fairly depleted), and more often than not, you are actually in your own bed.

    Imagine…

  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 30 Jan, 2015

    I can't help but think that the titles of the two 'Planet of the Apes' prequels have been mixed up. Surely the events of the first film would be the 'dawn' of the planet of the apes, whereas this sequel charts their 'rise' as they become the dominant force on Earth at the expense of beleaguered humanity?

    Nomenclature nit-picking aside, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes carries on the fine fettle of its predecessor, and apart from Guardians of…

  • Begin Again

    Begin Again 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 24 Jan, 2015

    John Carney's follow-up to Once covers again, the theme of the healing power of music and it's ability to bring people together.

    This time heart-broken singer/ songwriter Keira Knightley, and dishevelled and disillusioned A+R man Mark Ruffallo are drawn together as he hears her song at an open-mic evening.

    Like Once, the plot is streamlined to an easy synopsis. Carney is content to let the music, and the easy chemistry of his leads speak for themselves.

    Sadly, despite the terrific…

  • Boyhood

    Boyhood 2014

    ★★★★★ Watched 24 Jan, 2015 2

    The irony of Boyhood is that it has had grand words lavished upon it for such an understated work. It invites superlatives while being staunchly mundane. It’s not about people of renown or fame. It doesn’t aim for heightened drama or great emotional epiphany. But you will end this film with a real and genuine affinity for its subject, and his family. You will be moved, and you will have laughed, maybe cried (I did), but you will have connected.…

  • Tom at the Farm

    Tom at the Farm 2013

    ★★★½ Watched 24 Jan, 2015

    He's a bit precocious this Xavier Dolan isn't he? Tom at the Farm was the Qubecois wunderkind's (or enfant terrible might be more appropriate) fourth film by the age of twenty four. That's some going.

    I haven't seen any of his previous three (or his most recent, Mommy) but on the basis of this I'll definitely be tracking them down. Tom at the Farm is a taut, spare adaptation of Michel Marc Bouchard's stage play of the same name. Dolan…

  • What Maisie Knew

    What Maisie Knew 2012

    ★★★★ Watched 20 Jan, 2015

    This is a film I’ve had floating around on my watchlist for a while. It always seemed that there were other films that were taking precedence, but thanks to some unexpectedly good reviews on this hallowed site I decided to give it a go.

    I’m very glad I did.

    What Maisie Knew is about the breaking up of a marriage seen through the eyes of the titular six year-old. Her parents (Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan) are irresponsible and feckless…

  • Mood Indigo

    Mood Indigo 2013

    ★★★½ Watched 19 Jan, 2015

    Whatever Michel Gondry does in the future, he has a free pass from me purely for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, easily one of the best films of the 21st century so far. Even with slightly middling reviews I was looking forward to Mood Indigo.
    I mean, this is some checklist:

    Michel Gondry and his inimitable visual flair
    Audrey Tautou (*sigh*)

    The ever-dependable Romain Duris and his long-standing screen chemistry with the above object of my adoration

    Omar Sy’s…