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  • The Nightingale

    The Nightingale

    ★★½

    The Nightingale is a film that often touches greatness as a masterwork of revenge cinema. It soars when it is at its most contemplative, melancholic and primal... but loses altitude drastically when attempting to be a thesis about race and feminism, principally through an idiosyncratic, one-note, Looney-Tunes-like portrayal of its horny villains.

    I had problems with the portrayal of indigenous characters in The Revenant... and I have similar issues here in the use of these characters primarily as plot devices…

  • The Terminal

    The Terminal

    ★★★

    Spielberg’s attempt to channel Frank Capra... while it’s a charming and humorous romp, it’s downfall lies in Catherine Zeta Jones’s glorified moron of a love interest. I liken it to Spielberg’s romantic misfire ALWAYS... an experiment in tone and fantasy that succeeds marginally better here but falls victim to whimsical contrivances that are more at home in an Indiana Jones film. Still, it’s remarkably enjoyable and Tom Hanks is one of the only Hollywood actors to pull off a convincing East-European accent.

  • 1917

    1917

    ★★★★

    A visceral Campbellian journey across the apocalyptic wastelands of the First World War, 1917 takes you on a ride that never lets up... drawing you deep into its anxiety-driven set-pieces and adrenaline-charged destruction. 

    The one major drawback is that 1917’s denouement falls a little flat and ends with a whimpering shudder when it should really be climaxing with deep exhalation. Mendes’ work is at its best when it is at its most observational and thought-provoking, but when it drifts into Spielbergian…

  • Last Call

    Last Call

    ★★★★½

    An incredibly effective, heart-wrenching and cinematic tour de force driven by two extremely committed performances - LAST CALL is a film made entirely of two single 80 minute takes both shot live and presented together via split screen. As good as anything you will see this Oscar season - it really  deserves a decent release.


    Having lost two people I cared about to suicide this movie hit me like a ton of bricks. To nail this concept and retain real authenticity is quite an accomplishment.

  • The Farewell

    The Farewell

    ★★★★

    A perfect, heartbreaking yet joyous love-letter to the deep, unabiding love we have for our living ancestors...and how the loss of our connection to them will ultimately discombobulate us as a society.

  • Uncut Gems

    Uncut Gems

    ★★★★½

    If the everyday struggle of the common man to keep his life together without falling apart were a moving expressionist painting, it would be Uncut Gems.

    The pure unadulterated anxiety celebrated in every frame of this film is presented so intimately that it hard-wires to your own personal struggle and most  fears as you watch it. Like you’re receiving your own cinematic colonoscopy. By the way, there’s few directors that can cast as well as these kids. They don’t give a hoot about anything but ugly authenticity.

  • GoodFellas

    GoodFellas

    ★★★★½

    As lauded as Goodfellas is, it doesn’t receive anywhere near enough credit for subverting the language of cinematic storytelling. It’s kinetic, punk-rock use of voiceover, montage, movement, freeze frames, steadicam
    One-ers and framing device paved the way for Pulp Fiction, Fight Club, Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, City of God as well as Scorsese’s very own Casino, Wolf of Wall Street and The Irishman (not to mention a thousand knock offs). Only Scorsese himself was capable of adapting Pileggi’s…

  • Rounders

    Rounders

    ★★★½

    Still as irresistibly charming as it always was. Damon has serious charisma. And it’s ever the joy to see the late great Martin Landau on screen. I never quite remembered Malkovich’s Russian accent being so terrible though. 


    Question: Why did John Dahl decide to focus on being a TV director when he could easily have thrived as a cinematic auteur throughout the 00’s.

  • Monos

    Monos

    ★★½

    Gets two and a half stars for mood, tone and visuals. Loses two and a half for lack of substance, depth of character or anything much to say that hasn’t been said before.

  • Diary of a Country Priest

    Diary of a Country Priest

    ★★★★★

    “What does it matter? All is grace.”

    A perfectly honest, three dimensional portrait of faith, the failings of religion, the mercy of God and a beautifully tragic character study.

    It’s also clearly a huge influence on First Reformed.

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    ★★★★

    Improves dramatically after watching Rise. Knowing Rey is a Palpatine elevates it to a whole new level (while also answering the whole Mary Sue issue). Still leagues better (and yes, more original) than TLJ.

    If you’re angry that J.J. retconned TLJ than you should be aware that Rian Johnson chose to do it first by completely contradicting Han Solo’s explanation for the fate of Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker and essentially forcing a major continuity and logic error into the…

  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    ★★★½

    Finally saw this. Am I as outraged as the rest of my peers seem to be? No. My expectations were in the toilet and as a result I found myself able to enjoy the film for what it was... This trilogy’s Return of the Jedi. After Force Awakens and The Last Jedi effectively attempted to remake New Hope and Empire, were we really expecting anything more? 

    Were there too many mcGuffins and not enough character development? Yes. But for some…