• Crimes of the Future

    Crimes of the Future

    ★★½

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Definitely a "return" for Cronenberg in that Crimes of the Future circles back to previous obsessions, though with much less clarity. Here you'll find the same overarching concern for the dulling of human experience - and the harmful lengths we go to in order to recapture it (see Crash or Videodrome). But this outing is overlong and so damn muddled.

    It seems to begin as an intriguing exploration of the director's own impact on cinema: making art of the grotesque…

  • Beetlejuice

    Beetlejuice

    ★★★

    As Elfman's galumphing opening track started, I worried this would be the silly film I barely remembered from my youth. Happy to say that, whilst frothingly silly, there's much more imagination and commitment to performance than I recalled.

    Keaton and Ryder shine brightest, sure, but I was entranced watching Alec Baldwin so far removed from everything I know and expect about him. Though watching him now is coloured by recent events, there is something intriguing in seeing him so buttoned…

  • Dune

    Dune

    ★★★½

    By no means a "bad" film, but something of a hollow one. Villeneuve is now the director you call for colossal sci-fi spectacle, and he delivers that with gusto. The texture of each planet, every stitch of every outfit - these have been designed with Kubrickian attention to detail. And there's a detailed approach to character too, with much of the cast turning in nuanced performances.

    Of course, Zimmer's divine score is a topic we could go on about at…

  • The X Files

    The X Files

    ★★½

    Damn. Chris Carter seems to have forgotten how cool and capable Scully is.

  • Last and First Men

    Last and First Men

    ★★★★

    “Listen patiently.”

    Those words open Jóhann Jóhannsson’s first and, sadly, only film. A simple request from Tilda Swinton that acted like an incantation: locking my gaze and dissolving the world around me.

    Last and First Men is a soft but urgent plea to consider our place as a species – who we are in relation to one another, to future generations, and to the universe as a whole. A lot to accomplish in 70 minutes and yet there is not…

  • Barakat

    Barakat

    ★★★

    Besides making me feel horribly homesick, Barakat also managed to portray a community of whom I am ashamed to be so ignorant. It's a tender, moving film that celebrates the beautiful aspects of Islamic culture and community in Cape Town.

    Though predictably plotted and unevenly acted, this is a slice of South African cinema that delivers what our industry so desperately needs. It wants to crack a door open, showing SA and the world at large what permutations a religion…

  • The Thing

    The Thing

    ★★★★½

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    A genius work of creep and gore, making this the first Carpenter film that I admire. Having been put off by the silliness of The Fog and the weightlessness of Assault on Precinct 13, it's good to now know that I'm not just a stick in the mud.

    Sure, there are issues. From the opening credits we know who the last man standing will be, and the scenes between extraterrestrial eruptions are a little bland. But when it goes for…

  • Akira

    Akira

    ★★★★½

    A bewildering, stampeding film that certainly lived up to the hype. Though a game-changing work of animation, I'm surprised that no one mentioned its incredible score and soundtrack to me. As landscapes shift and violence is meted out unsparingly, the sound makes you feel the full weight of those events - indenting your mind and stopping your heart.

    Its influences are quite clear (Blade Runner, in particular), as are its descendants (Chronicle, again in particular). Of course, it is also…

  • La Haine

    La Haine

    ★★★★½

    100 Years of Cinema: 1995

    An unexpected amount of humour in the film - though that seems to dislodge it from any kind of categorisation. I'm trying to remember whether Do the Right Thing - a film to which Kassovitz is indebted - draws laughter with similar frequency. That doesn't mean that La Haine is a walk in the park, though. When it needs to double-down on brutality and make us uncomfortable, it certainly succeeds.

    This 4k restoration emerges during…

  • Gates of Heaven

    Gates of Heaven

    ★★★★★

    100 Years of Cinema: 1978

    Despite being only 85 minutes long, it’s difficult to choose where to start with Gates of Heaven - a peculiarly beautiful insight into the world of pet cemeteries, by seminal documentarian Errol Morris.

    This isn’t a case of a formally bland documentary enlivened by strange and intriguing subject matter, but a film that is fascinating right down to its grammar. Morris makes heavy use of talking heads – the oft-derided staple of documentaries, notorious for…

  • The Squid and the Whale

    The Squid and the Whale

    ★★½

    The Squid and the Whale is interesting on the level of craft and not so much when it comes to the story itself. Populated with intolerable people, Noah Baumbach’s first rumination on divorce and its fallout lacks an empathetic anchor. There is no question that the script is sharply written, with biting lines and wry moments concerning self-delusion. None of that impresses me, though, when I cannot care enough about any of these characters to feel invested in their plights…

  • Ratcatcher

    Ratcatcher

    ★★★★½

    There aren’t many filmmakers who know how to respectfully portray trauma. On that short list, Lynne Ramsay’s name outshines all others.

    It is truly remarkable to see an adult relay childhood with such accuracy and love. From the complex, multi-layered relationship between a son and his father, to the aimless but entrancing joy of kicking an empty Coke can down the street. The world Ramsay has built is so real, so tangible. I believe in every one of these characters…