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  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters

    Godzilla: King of the Monsters

    ★½

    Watching Godzilla: King of the Monsters is way more of a chore than that title suggests, especially since it wouldn't take much to fix it up. Make it a little more camp, write out a few of the fist-clenchingly bad one liners (largely delivered by poor old Bradley Whitford), introduce some less relentlessly stoic characters and you'd have a big, dumb monster movie. It'd sure make the villains moustache-twirlingly unconvincing plan feel a little less exasperating. I want to chew…

  • Crazy World

    Crazy World

    ★★★½

    Crazy World gets by on sheer exuberant enthusiasm for schlock action, but that's a great ace in the hole to have, especially in an industry increasingly defined by a shrugging apathy. If the bloat of Disney's various slick action properties has got you feeling glum, Crazy World is a very cooling glass of water indeed. The budget is non-existent, the plot is similarly barely there, but damn if it doesn't have some great shots of kids kicking people in the…

  • Shadow

    Shadow

    ★★★½

    If there's one thing that Shadow makes clear, it's that Zhang Yimou has an eye. Yin and yang seep into everything here - the monochromatic colour grading, the deep focus which frames characters as distinct but entwined, the porous mirroring of the hanging scrolls in the king's throne room - and yet it never ever feels more than a surface understanding of what such duality means. For an overblown wuxia, that wouldn't be an issue, but Yimou spends much too…

  • The Pleasure of Being Robbed

    The Pleasure of Being Robbed

    ★★★

    The best parts of the Safdies' debut are the moments surrounding the main plot. A man bumbles into a bar proclaiming all drinks are on him...before quickly regretting it and turning tail. A hunched over table tennis player shouts while flailing his ill-fated sandwich around. For unknown reasons a man accidentally coats himself in a particularly foul smelling cologne, and spins around incredulously—isn't there someone around to help him? It's these vignettes, if you can call them that, that suggest…

  • Water Lilies

    Water Lilies

    ★★★★

    In water, people are simultaneously exposed and conjoined. The crystalline waters of a public pool connect orbiting bodies as much as they distort them, a breeding ground for shared hormones and illusions of simultaneous existence. If a woman's sexual readiness is often defined brutishly in terms of wetness, a body of water is a template for freedom.

    That's all to say that Water Lilies, the debut by French auteur Céline Sciamma, is a deviant entry into the coming-of-age canon. Sciamma…

  • First Love

    First Love

    ★★★★

    First Love is absolutely, positively gleeful, without totally sacrificing for substance. There are some clear parallels from the off with Pulp Fiction—a boxer becomes embroiled in a criss-crossing crime caper centring on a singular bag—but this is a far consciously sillier film than anything Tarantino has ever made. Even if the character are cartoonish, the titular lovin' manages to bring the madness all the way back down to earth

    One thing that's worth noting is Miike's approach to sexual violence.…

  • The Parent Trap

    The Parent Trap

    Based on Three Identical Strangers I feel like latter-day Lindsay Lohan is what happens when twins get separated at birth.

  • Fighting with My Family

    Fighting with My Family

    ★★★

    Must we pretend that Florence Pugh isn't beautiful and is some sort of dorky outsider? Must we!?

  • The Wild Goose Lake

    The Wild Goose Lake

    ★★★★

    After an initial viewing at Cannes last year marred by a consistent lack of sleep, and a high amount of unmet anticipation, I was excited to return to The Wild Goose Lake. Yinan is a really exciting prospect as a filmmaking; a bold, uncompromising auteur who revels in comedy so dark it's almost camp, wincing violence that's often quite silly, and stark depictions of social inequality. He's striking without lacking of self awareness, and when he lets loose here it's…

  • Have a Nice Day

    Have a Nice Day

    ★★★½

    It's hard to ignore the craft involved in certain films, even if art should never rest on context alone. With Have a Nice Day it's harder to ignore, however, since this is so clearly a labour of individual love. Directed, written by, and mostly animated by Liu Jian, what should be a pretty standard postmodern tale of lost mob money and the various interested parties attempting to collect, becomes something mildly more thanks to the idiosyncrasies of its delivery.

    What's…

  • Ran

    Ran

    ★★★★½

    A remarkable, timeless feat of cinematic ingenuity, even if it lacks the goofy heart of Kurosawa's smaller-scale epics. There's a sense with Ran that Kurosawa is beholden to King Lear, and thus must follow the archetypal shaping of his forebears; save for the comic poetry of the most recognisably Shakespearean character, the jester, too often the characters are a collection of duplicitous motivations rather than three-dimensional emotive beings.

    Still! The interpersonal conflicts are rendered expertly, as the court of Lear…

  • Big Daddy

    Big Daddy

    ★★★

    Why reinvent the wheel when it runs so damn smoothly? Big Daddy has no pretences of being anything other than an Adam Sandler vehicle, but, as with all his best work, it doesn't let the leash hang too loose. Yes, he's playing a slacker slob, yes he frequently spills over with a close-to-scary amount of chaotic rage, and yet his defining trait is still, remarkably, paternal warmth. There's nothing here that's particularly amusing or witty or distinctive, instead playing like a slice of straight-down-the-middle '90s nostalgia; a hangout film for those with stunted emotional growth.