• The Northman

    The Northman

    ★★★

    Sometimes I wonder whether I’ve seen the same film as everyone else. On paper this seems like it was tailor-made for me: a historical epic set in the age of the Vikings; shot in dramatic style amongst the wild, rugged landscapes of Ireland and Iceland, using painstakingly recreated sets and environments; steeped in the surreal imagery of Norse mythology; packed to the brim with bizarre rituals and rabid, unhinged madmen thirsting after each other’s blood. I feel like I’ve been…

  • Cape Fear

    Cape Fear

    ★★★

    The gap between seeing this remake and the original is a little too long for me to accurately comment on how the two versions compare, but my feeling is this lacks much of the suspense and murky intensity that the 1962 classic had in abundance. Much of the original’s appeal came down to the icy exchanges shared between Peck and Mitchum, both of whom put in standout performances—especially Mitchum, who was so sinister as the story’s villain, Max Cady. De…

  • Topsy-Turvy

    Topsy-Turvy

    ★★★½

    Mike Leigh might be one of my favourite period piece filmmakers. His attention to detail is always so meticulous, immersing us in whichever era or setting he chooses as his focus. Topsy Turvy’s vivid rendition of Victorian England—centred around the theatrical partnership of operatic composers, W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan—is no exception, in that it showcases some of the most vibrant and idiosyncratic set and costume designs I’ve yet encountered in a Leigh production. I’d long been intrigued by the…

  • The Batman

    The Batman

    ★★★

    How much more dark and sombre can Batman get? Lots more, apparently. Matt Reeves’ reboot for DC Films is about as menacing and grimy and foreboding as superhero movies get; casting a dark shadow over its titular Caped Crusader that shrouds him in an impenetrable, almost suffocating, aura for the entire runtime. Both visually and thematically, Reeves has sought to take our hero down a path so grim and threatening, it manages to eclipse the already gloomy tone struck by…

  • The King's Man

    The King's Man

    ★★½

    This is totally ridiculous nonsense; but it is entertaining nonsense, at least. Matthew Vaughn, whose filmmaking isn’t exactly renowned for its tact or shrewdness, plays very fast and loose with First World War history here—and that’s to put it mildly. This origin story for the Kingsman series establishes itself in and amongst the various spheres of this global conflict; darting between flashpoint moments in the war, from the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in the streets of Sarajevo, to…

  • The Matrix Resurrections

    The Matrix Resurrections

    ★★★★

    “The sheeple aren’t going anywhere. They like my world. They don’t want this sentimentality. They don’t want freedom or empowerment. They want to be controlled. They crave the comfort of certainty.”

    The above is just one of many such lines of self-referential dialogue from this rebooted Matrix instalment that make a very conscious statement about the mechanical nature of franchise filmmaking, and how it has taken its toll on The Matrix’s own filmic legacy. We’re not even asked to read…

  • Nightmare Alley

    Nightmare Alley

    ★★★½

    As movie remakes go, it’s hard to think of a more faithful example than this latest from Guillermo del Toro. Although this is now the second time William Lindsay Gresham’s novel has been translated to the big screen, it’s clear that Del Toro had Edmund Goulding’s 1947 noir adaptation largely in mind when he crafted this particular take on the material. Del Toro’s reverence for Goulding’s version is very evident, not only in terms of the look and feel of…

  • Ace in the Hole

    Ace in the Hole

    ★★★★½

    “Honey, you like those rocks just as much as I do”

    The very best examples of satire in film are those that, no matter their provenance or age, continue to resonate with audiences for years and decades after they were made. Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole has just passed 70-years-old, yet it covers subject matter that is arguably more relevant now than it ever was when it was released. Oddly, despite Wilder’s already sound filmmaking reputation by this point…

  • Five Easy Pieces

    Five Easy Pieces

    ★★★★

    This had been on the radar for some time thanks to its iconic roadside diner sequence, where a typically gruff and disgruntled Jack Nicholson attempts to go off-menu and order a side of toast, only to be denied by a tetchy waitress who stubbornly refuses to defy her restaurant’s “no substitutions” policy. It’s such a great scene—a memorable “food on film” moment that easily rivals the likes of Jules Winnfield tucking into that Big Kahuna Burger, “Cool Hand Luke” devouring…

  • Roman Holiday

    Roman Holiday

    ★★★★

    Kind of hard not to be charmed by this one. It’s a playful conceit: Audrey Hepburn stars as “Princess Ann” (though not the Princess Anne) the heir to the throne of “a country that shall be nameless” (but surely Britain, right?) who, during a state visit to Italy, absconds from her tiresome royal duties to enjoy 24 unimpeded hours of sightseeing around Rome. Along the way she runs into the path of Gregory Peck’s down-on-his-luck news reporter, who, after clocking…

  • Memoria

    Memoria

    ★★★★½

    After learning that Apichatpong Weerasethakul intended to treat this film like an art exhibition, screening it in one theatre at a time in the US, with an aim to never offer a physical or digital home release of any kind, I thought I better see it at the cinema in case he threatened to follow through in the same fashion for UK audiences. This was the first movie of his I’ve seen, which is perhaps an odd place to have…

  • In the Heat of the Night

    In the Heat of the Night

    ★★★★

    There’s an unfortunate irony here to a film so focussed on race subsequently cooking up an absolute storm come awards season, only to then have its black lead snubbed at the Oscars in favour of his white co-star. Not only is Poitier’s commanding performance in this clearly the superior of the two, he’s also without a doubt the film’s true lead. I don't mean to detract from Steiger's efforts—he is very good—but I can't ignore the fact that he is…