reviews

BETTER CALL SAUL

When Breaking Bad finally wrapped, it seemed unlikely that we were going to see a show as good again for a long time. And then, here comes a prequel/spinoff which somehow manages to not only surpass it, but to actively improve and build on the original series. It’s remarkable. Even… Read more “BETTER CALL SAUL”

BULLET TRAIN (2022)

A wild, bloody, ridiculous action-comedy from the guy behind John Wick and Deadpool 2. It’s assassins on a speeding train, with multiple overlapping jobs, changing objectives and an escalating series of Chekhov’s guns. Feels very antithetical to a lot of modern Hollywood action fare: the edges are rougher, the gags… Read more “BULLET TRAIN (2022)”

PAPER GIRLS // s01

A little janky to start, but otherwise a solid little sci-fi adventure. Four girls on their paper route in 1988 end up thrown across time, on the run, in search of their future selves. It’s a neat little exploration of expectations vs reality, and the possibilty of changing fate. Already… Read more “PAPER GIRLS // s01”

PREY (2022)

A solid little monster film, and probably the next-best Predator film after the original. Proves definitively that the franchise works best when stripped right back to simplicity: take a ruthless alien hunter, drop it in a random time period. They’re slasher films! In this case, it’s the 1700s on the… Read more “PREY (2022)”

THE GRAY MAN (2022)

It’s actually kind of impressive that a movie directed by the Russo Brothers, and starring Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Billy Bob Thorton and Jessica Henwick could be so utterly mediocre and forgettable. Evans should absolutely be playing more villainous roles, he seems like he’s having a ball.… Read more “THE GRAY MAN (2022)”

NOPE (2022)

Another banger from Jordan Peele! If Get Out was his Sixth Sense, then this is his Signs. The trailers are somewhat deceptive as to what kind of movie this actually is, and the film itself is quite cryptic about it for the first half, before properly settling and letting you… Read more “NOPE (2022)”

MS. MARVEL (2022)

Among the better Disney+ Marvel series. Super sweet and charming, plus it’s refreshing to have a completely different perspective in the MCU. Strong emphasis on culture, history and family from a Pakistani/Muslim perspective, made accessible by an extremely charismatic performance from Iman Vellani. There’s a bit of a change-up in… Read more “MS. MARVEL (2022)”

SHINING GIRLS (2022)

Excellent thriller series with … a twist. The cast is fantastic, the pacing is perfect, the mystery is strange and intriguing without overcomplicating itself. To say much more about it would quickly step into spoiler territory, and it’s definitely worth experiencing firsthand. If you have any interest in unconventional procedurals,… Read more “SHINING GIRLS (2022)”

OLD (2021)

Absolutely lives up to its reputation … as one of the worst movies ever made. The writing is staggeringly awful, with characters introducing themselves by name and profession, entirely unprompted. Not a single line of dialogue feels natural, it’s all hilariously stilted and weird, even coming from notably excellent actors.… Read more “OLD (2021)”

THE SEA BEAST (2022)

Excellent seafaring adventure, kind of in the same tonal vein as How To Train Your Dragon. Animation, performances and production design are all top-class, with great action and colourful creatures for the kids, and elements of historical revisionism and imperialist undertones for the adults. Would be genuinely surprised if this… Read more “THE SEA BEAST (2022)”

SANTA CLARITA DIET // s01-03

Finding this post-cancellation was a damn shame, since it fairly abruptly comes to an end while it has so many balls still up in the air. As a comedy, it’s perfectly written. There’s an expert balance with saccharine tone and dark subject matter that really works here — it’s a… Read more “SANTA CLARITA DIET // s01-03”

THOR: LOVE & THUNDER (2022)

Good, but inconsistent. I think this is the first time that an MCU film has been soundtracked by a single band, and Guns ‘n’ Roses fits the 80s Flash Gordon heavy metal kinda vibe perfectly. Probably the most symptomatic of the Marvel “pandemic” phase, where things feel rushed to fit… Read more “THOR: LOVE & THUNDER (2022)”

STRANGER THINGS // s04

The best the show has ever been. Everything on show is bigger, wilder, more ambitious… and dammit if they didn’t manage to pull it off. It’s crazy that they can put together what is essentially an entire season of mid-budget movies and not have the thing collapse into itself like… Read more “STRANGER THINGS // s04”

UMBRELLA ACADEMY // s03

Keeps going from strength to strength, and this was the season that finally tipped me over from just really liking the characters to loving them. Yet again there’s an apocalypse to avert, so yet again the Academy has to work together to save the world. Only this time, they’ve managed… Read more “UMBRELLA ACADEMY // s03”

UNCHARTED (2022)

Who is this actually for? It’s middling as an action film in its own right, and alters so much about the characters and lore from the games that it’s certain to irritate its established fanbase. CG is wonky, performances don’t fit, characterizations are wrong, plot is so full of holes… Read more “UNCHARTED (2022)”

GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE (2021)

There’s not a lot to say, really. It takes a leaf from Stranger Things (literally, if you factor Finn Wolfhard’s casting) by putting the focus on kids chasing a supernatural mystery. It’s most interesting when it’s doing this, and kinda loses steam in the back half when it more or… Read more “GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE (2021)”

OB-EWAN’S KESHOWBI (2022)

Nice to look at, fundamentally pointless. The embodiment of all the the things wrong with modern Star Wars. Rather than take this opportunity to tell smaller, self-contained stories within the broader universe (ala the first season of The Mandalorian), we’re instead given the same tired runaround of connecting every arbitrary… Read more “OB-EWAN’S KESHOWBI (2022)”

DEATH ON THE NILE (2022)

It’s fine. Sure, the CGI is distracting, the cast is a mix of flat and overused or charismatic and underused, and the mystery is eminently guessable from the first few scenes, but… …well, there is no “but”. Much as I like Branagh, his Poirot is at his best in the… Read more “DEATH ON THE NILE (2022)”

ATLANTA // s03

Another cracking season from one of the best shows on television. It’s surreal, hilarious, meandering, thoughtful, unexpected, harsh and subtle, often all at once. Whenever you think you have a handle on things, it just zags around you in really wonderful and creative ways. This season has the primary cast… Read more “ATLANTA // s03”

X (2022)

Every once in a while a film comes along that works as a perfect distillation of a bygone era, and X is just that. Lean, economical horror executed in perfect reverence of 70’s exploitation horror movies, while putting its own spin on audience expectations and overworn tropes on sex in… Read more “X (2022)”

MEN (2022)

Unsettling A24 folk-horror, with fantastic production value and a third act that will split audiences entirely in half with how little it decides to explain itself. Thematically, it’s very plainly about the abuses that men visit upon women and how they trap them, but it’s how it refracts this idea… Read more “MEN (2022)”

MOON KNIGHT // s01

More of an archeological adventure with superhero elements than a straight superhero show. Definitely draws some influence from the 90s version of The Mummy, and the globe-trotting adventures of National Treasure and Indiana Jones. As such, it feels very disconnected from the rest of the MCU, but this only works… Read more “MOON KNIGHT // s01”

RUSSIAN DOLL // s02

Unfocused but nonetheless enjoyable followup to a stellar first season. Natasha Lyonne puts in an absolutely killer effort to a strange, meandering season of an overall great show. She’s a treasure. The emotional through-line resolves itself much later and less clearly than the first season, choosing instead to reach for… Read more “RUSSIAN DOLL // s02”

THE NORTHMAN (2022)

Strap in boys, new hypermasculine ideal just dropped. A bloody, visually stunning Nordic revenge epic. As much as Eggers’ previous masterpiece (2019’s The Lighthouse) was a thesis on masculinity, this is all of that dialled up past eleven. This particular time and place in the world is more brutal and… Read more “THE NORTHMAN (2022)”

OUR FLAG MEANS DEATH // s01

OR: Rhys Darby & Taika Waititi’s Gay Pirate Show It’s great. Takes a few episodes to properly reveal the true premise as a warm, ensemble comedy with strong queer undertones that turn to overtones of self-acceptance. Once it gets going it’s a very sweet sort of romance set against a… Read more “OUR FLAG MEANS DEATH // s01”

SEVERANCE // s01

Brilliant. Four people work in an existentially unsettling office, following a procedure that severs their mind into two separate personas: one that exists within work and one that only exists outside of it. A paranoid thriller that absolutely nails impersonal, hyper-polished corporate aesthetics and culture. The person who made this… Read more “SEVERANCE // s01”

THE ADAM PROJECT (2022)

Above average family action film, but never quite rises to truly exceptional. All the individual elements are well done: the cast is charismatic, the VFX are top notch. But there’s something in Shawn Levy’s execution, same as with Free Guy… they’re kinda flat? A bit too polished and clean, so… Read more “THE ADAM PROJECT (2022)”

LICORICE PIZZA (2022)

More of a dreamlike snapshot of time in the 1970s than a potent story in its own right. Narratively structured around the friendship between a teenager with grand ambitions and a twenty-something with an immaturity streak, and the romance/not-romance developing between them. Mostly it’s a series of moneymaking schemes strung… Read more “LICORICE PIZZA (2022)”

THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH (2021)

A truly definitive rendition of a classic. Stripped back and draped in stark, Expressionist production design, Joel Coen’s adaptation is a loving marriage of stage and cinema—playing off the strengths of both mediums to create something greater than the sum of its parts. Visually stunning, with A-grade performances. A total… Read more “THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH (2021)”

NIGHTMARE ALLEY (2022)

Gorgeously shot, wonderfully acted, ultimately a fairly standard thriller. Maybe I was waiting on a supernatural turn that never came and am judging it based on my expectaions, but I was left a little cold, mostly appreciating its craftsmanship and aesthetics from a distance without feeling any real investment in… Read more “NIGHTMARE ALLEY (2022)”

SCREAM (2022)

Terrible, but in a mostly fun way. Chock full of blunt exposition, awful logic and bad character choices… but that’s kinda what it’s going for? It wants you to be yelling at the screen, wants you to be engaging with its trashiness—it’s explicitly stated in the opening sequence that this… Read more “SCREAM (2022)”

THE BATMAN (2022)

This might be the best cinematic incarnation of Batman ever. More Noir crime thriller in the vein of se7en or Zodiac than your standard action blockbuster fare. That’s likely to turn some people off it, but when that Batmobile roars to life like a godsdamned demon or The Bat walks… Read more “THE BATMAN (2022)”

TURNING RED (2022)

It’s great! An absolute celebration of women, mothers, sisters and friendship — all wrapped in kinetic, vibrant style. The animation is fun, the story’s emotionally resonant, the soundtrack is a brilliantly pastiche of early 00’s boy bands by Finneas/Billie Eilish. Bursting with personality, passion, and charm. Well worth your time.… Read more “TURNING RED (2022)”

THE FRENCH DISPATCH (2021)

Classic Wes Anderson, in the sense that it’s unlike his other films while still being quintessentially a Wes Anderson film. More a series of loosely connected stories hung on a bookend framing device than a singular narrative. Each section is portrayed with Anderson’s distinctive flair, immaculate set design, quirky characters… Read more “THE FRENCH DISPATCH (2021)”

PEACEMAKER // s01 (2021)

James Gunn has an inimitable talent for elevating rejects and burnouts into some of the most compelling, complex characters in modern pulp fiction. Even indicental characters get more development than half the leads of modern blockbusters, in a mix of deep pathos and hilarious irreverence. Peacemaker is no different —… Read more “PEACEMAKER // s01 (2021)”

THE WHITE LOTUS (2021)

Social satire at luxury resort in Hawaii, where we know that by the end of the week one of the cast will be dead. You’ve got bratty rich, workaholic rich, insecure rich, newly married rich, naive rich… and all the staff stuck keeping their vacations as pleasant as possible. Naturally,… Read more “THE WHITE LOTUS (2021)”

ANTLERS (2021)

Solid creature feature with some excellent practical effects and a unique, intriguing premise, based on this great short story: A few moments of weird and convenient movie logic keep it back from greatness, but it’s otherwise very well executed and the creature design is awesome. Well worth a watch if… Read more “ANTLERS (2021)”

THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT (2021)

It’s fine? Weirdly drops its title character entirely in the back half to become The Mandalorian s2.5, and then pulls back to the main plotline in the finale. Star Wars is kind of its own worst enemy — the best parts of it are the things that aren’t really connected… Read more “THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT (2021)”

THE WITCHER // s02

Solid fantasy/action, benefitting from a more coherend (read: linear) arrangement of timelines than the first season. Interesting spins on all sorts of legendary monsters give it a distinct and grounded flavour of high fantasy. Cavill proves again he’s the perfect casting, and the love he has for the role oozes… Read more “THE WITCHER // s02”

STATION ELEVEN (2021)

Post-apocalyptic fiction with a theatrical slant. Switches back and forth between the first hundred days of a world-ending flu virus, and twenty years after the fact—following a troupe of actors circling the Great Lakes of Northern America. For all its waxing lyrical about the power of performance and the pretensions… Read more “STATION ELEVEN (2021)”

THE DEAD DON’T DIE (2019)

Kind of pointless? Great cast, and a director I usually love, but this didn’t do anything for me. Seems like it’s aiming to be a throwback to old-school classic zombie tropes, but doesn’t bring anything new or interesting to the table. Doesn’t even strike a compelling tone, or wring distinct… Read more “THE DEAD DON’T DIE (2019)”

THE SILENT SEA (2022)

There’s been a boon of films lately that feel like they would have been better served as a limited series. The Silent Sea is the opposite. A pretty serviceable sci-fi B movie that is unfortunately stretched too thin over an eight episode runtime. Doesn’t have enough material to stop the… Read more “THE SILENT SEA (2022)”

YELLOWJACKETS // s01

Brilliant. Kicking off with one of the strongest pilots in recent memory, Yellowjackets splits a narrative between a girls’ soccer team whose plane goes down in the mountains during the 90s, and the lives of the survivors in the present day. It’s ominous, foreboding, and gives you enough information upfront… Read more “YELLOWJACKETS // s01”

THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS (2021)

Sadly, no good. Starts out interestingly enough, but the instant it becomes so meta that you expect it to elevate into something wild, it just… stops evolving. The rest of the (very extensive) runtime is filled with dull exposition and mediocre action. Familiar characters return, with some of them swapped… Read more “THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS (2021)”

DON’T LOOK UP (2021)

Your standard Adam McKay biting satire that’s so uncomfortably close to reality as to hardly qualify as satire. This time around, it’s a comet headed for Earth with a 100% guarantee of a planet-wide extinction event, and the absolute trainwreck of a circus that ensues from the media parade of… Read more “DON’T LOOK UP (2021)”

FOUNDATION // s01

It’s long been held that Isaac Asimov’s titanic science fiction book series Foundation could not be adapted. As it stands, it still hasn’t been. There are ten fairly short novels comprising Foundation, the bulk of which are made up of anthologised tales of men in rooms discussing historical events in… Read more “FOUNDATION // s01”

SUCCESSION // s01-03

Arrested Development, if it wasn’t a comedy. Of course, Succession is still actually billed as a comedy, though it’s so massively steeped in its satire while it plays totally straight. The humour comes from just how nightmarishly awful this family is—doubled again because it feels like it could be a… Read more “SUCCESSION // s01-03”

ENCANTO (2021)

Simple and charming little story about a family who are granted magical boons on their coming of age day. Music is unmistakably Lin Manuel Miranda, animation is colourful and lush, characters are fun. Not quite as intensely charsmatic as this year’s Luca, but is still an easy and incredibly endearing… Read more “ENCANTO (2021)”

SPIDER-MAN: No Way Home (2021)

A brilliant conclusion to the Tom Holland/Jon Watts “Home” trilogy, that is almost impossible to discuss without severe spoilers for the back half of the film. Best appreciated knowing as little as possible beforehand, but I’ll still keep from spoiler discussion until after the click-through below. The shortest spoiler-free review… Read more “SPIDER-MAN: No Way Home (2021)”

THE EMPTY MAN (2020)

A pretty solid horror/mystery/thriller with a creepy pretense, good cinematography and an intriguing plot. This is one of those ones that benefits from knowing very little going in and just seeing where it takes you. Not altogether scary, but has its moments all the same. Not sure how strongly it… Read more “THE EMPTY MAN (2020)”

COWBOY BEBOP (2021)

It’s not bad! Look, it’s missing a bit of the punch and slickness of editing and action that made the anime series so memorable, but the cast is great, the soundtrack bops and it’s mostly a fun, silly scifi romp. Not without its criticisms, however. The extension of the villain’s… Read more “COWBOY BEBOP (2021)”

BLOOD QUANTUM (2019)

BLOOD QUANTUM: a measure of the amount of indigenous blood in an individual, expressed as a fraction such as one-half or one-fourth. This amount is used to determine and prove the individual’s tribal belonging and legal rights. During a zombie outbreak, a lone indigenous reservation discovers that its bloodline is… Read more “BLOOD QUANTUM (2019)”

ARCANE // s01

A high water mark for animation, bringing fantastic art design and execution to a rich and detailed fantasy world. From my understanding, knowledge of League of Legends (the game franchise this is based on) is unnecessary, and it certainly seems interested in making itself both accessible and engaging. Action is… Read more “ARCANE // s01”

FORTITUDE // s01-03

Starts out as a prestigiously cast Scandinavian Noir mystery before taking a left turn into body horror, then another left turn into a supernatural conspiracy thriller, and then running right through the wall of credulity and off a cliff into the sea. By the end of the third season it’s… Read more “FORTITUDE // s01-03”

CRUELLA (2021)

Actually pretty fun! Wasn’t expecting this to have a huge heist film element to it, but it was a welcome surprise. Not sure how far it goes to justifying the outright monster she becomes, but it doesn’t seem too interested in trying to do that. So, credit to it. Drops… Read more “CRUELLA (2021)”

MARVEL’S ETERNALS (2021)

So different to the usual Marvel fare that it’s understandable the audience reaction is so mixed. I really enjoyed it though! Don’t believe the haters, there is really something distinct here. A cosmic epic spanning millennia, centering on a group of immortal beings sent as caretakers for humanity to gently… Read more “MARVEL’S ETERNALS (2021)”

LAST NIGHT IN SOHO (2021)

Edgar Wright doesn’t miss! A surreal horror/thriller trip with enough clever twists and misleads to keep you guessing right to the end. Pitch-perfect twin lead performances from Tomasin Mackenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy anchor time-bending shenanigans through a descent into madness, switching effortlessly from the modern day Soho to the 60s… Read more “LAST NIGHT IN SOHO (2021)”

SELF PORTRAIT DAY, 2021

One of these days I’ll take a reference photo of myself where I don’t have crazy eyes.

DUNE (2021)

The granddaddy of modern sci-fi finally gets its (partial) due on the big screen. Yep, it’s probably worth knowing going in that this is very much Part One of a gigantic epic. For all the political machinations and galactic prophesies, it only covers around half of the first book —… Read more “DUNE (2021)”

TED LASSO s02

It’s back! We actually let the season mostly play out before binging it all in the week leading up to the finale — it’s the kind of show that brings such a good mood with it that you want to savour its short run but also hook as much into… Read more “TED LASSO s02”

CANDYMAN (2021)

A modernisation/continuation of the 1992 original, but lacking any of its iconic tone or atmosphere. Tells its themes rather than showing, and kinda wastes a great idea for connection to the first film that really only materialises in the final minutes. A couple of cool looking kills, but let down… Read more “CANDYMAN (2021)”

NO TIME TO DIE (2021)

Flat. Some beautiful shots that prop up a meandering narrative that’s a full hour too long, without any really distinct thrills of its own in a franchise that usually defines itself by unique thrills. There’s no memorable sequence that compares to anything from Casino Royale through Skyfall. There’s nothing here… Read more “NO TIME TO DIE (2021)”

FREE GUY (2021)

It’s fine. The best jokes are things that were clearly thrown into the background by a VFX crew who’ve spent a lot of time in GTAV or Saint’s Row, but otherwise it’s a pretty boilerplate action/comedy/romance that asks you not to think too hard about any of its pretense. Some… Read more “FREE GUY (2021)”

MIDNIGHT MASS (2021)

Mike Flanagan has definitely picked up on Stephen King’s skill with small town communities and horror, giving this the feel of a King tale, though it’s not an adaptation. The trick, of course, being to centre the emotional core each character around the theme of the series — in this… Read more “MIDNIGHT MASS (2021)”

MALIGNANT (2021)

Starts out seeming like THE GRUDGE before taking a couple of left turns into campy, ridiculous, and absurd. Your mileage may vary. It’s definitely entertaining, fantastically shot, and will either intrigue or baffle with its originality. It’s also strangely melodramatic, frequently silly and the actual twist is so hilariously weird… Read more “MALIGNANT (2021)”

PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND (2021)

An absolutely baffling Japanese-American neon Western wherein Nicolas Cage is strapped into a bomb suit to rescue a governor’s daughter who has gone missing and maybe ghosts did it or maybe it’s a curse? There has to be a fascinating story behind the production. This is a hot mess. It’s… Read more “PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND (2021)”

Whatcha been readin’?

Since the pandemic started I’ve been leaning harder into setting wind-down time in the evening aside specifically for reading, and as a result have made my way through around twenty-seven books in the last eighteenish months. A couple of these were re-reads, but of the new ones I’ve compiled a… Read more “Whatcha been readin’?”

BRAND NEW CHERRY FLAVOR (2021)

Part Cronenberg body horror, part Lynchian psychological trip, part weirder-bits-of-TrueBlood. Incredibly well shot and put together with a great specificity of vision that conjures a distinct and uniquely nightmarish take on 90s L.A. drenched in neon and black magic. Some truly disgusting visuals anchored by a fantastic cast of strange,… Read more “BRAND NEW CHERRY FLAVOR (2021)”

BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE (2018)

An abandoned motel straddling the California/Nevada state lines plays host to six strangers with dark pasts. The cast is inspired, the production design is excellent and the stagecraft is fantastic. Cinematography is creative and makes the whole production feel like an elaborate stage play. Soundtrack is stacked with 50s bops.… Read more “BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE (2018)”

VIVO (2021)

A colourful celebration of Latin American music, soundtracked by and starring Lin Manuel Miranda as the titular kinkajou. Skews to a younger crowd, with bright colours and high antics. Some of the designs are honestly pretty ugly but the story has heart and the songs are all original Mirandas, including… Read more “VIVO (2021)”

NARCOS (s01-03)

A little late to the party on this one, sure, but better late than never. The sort of prestige crime drama usually reserved for HBO, it marks a period of Netflix when they were trying especially hard to establish themselves as a viable rival. It really shows. Usually I avoid… Read more “NARCOS (s01-03)”

THE TOMORROW WAR (2021)

It’s… fine? Creature design is fantastic, VFX are A-grade, story is intriguing enough in principle: A war in the future recruits people from the present to battle an unstoppable alien force. Hijinx ensue. However, so much of the overlong runtime boils down to characters moving towards an objective while shooting… Read more “THE TOMORROW WAR (2021)”

THE SUICIDE SQUAD (2021)

Absurdly violent, ridiculously silly and very, very entertaining. The smartest move was definitely to just ignore that they made one of these in 2016 and throw a whole pile of fresh C-list characters into the grinder. Never once takes itself seriously, yet manages to take enough time to bring an… Read more “THE SUICIDE SQUAD (2021)”

BLOOD RED SKY (2021)

Terrorists hijack a plane and unwittingly set off a vampire hiding onboard. If nothing about that premise makes you immediately say “fuck yeah” then I don’t know what more I can tell you to sell it. It’s ridiculous and it’s fun and it takes itself just seriously enough to stay… Read more “BLOOD RED SKY (2021)”

THE GREEN KNIGHT (2021)

A cinematic Arthurian heroic poem, complete with knights, woodland creatures, saints, spirits and mythic quests. Run all of that through the sort of slow-burn style and striking visuals that A24 is known for and you’ve got The Green Knight. Incredibly well crafted, the sort of tone that the fantasy genre… Read more “THE GREEN KNIGHT (2021)”

M.O.D.O.K. — s01 (2021)

Robot Chicken-style supervillain sitcom. What better character to explore the weird supervillains and goons dynamic of the Marvel universe than a gigantic head in a floating chair? Tonnes of in-jokes, Patton Oswalt is perfectly cast, the whole thing is light, silly fun. Recommended.

THE STAND (2020)

Ironic that this released just as the world was dealing with a very real pandemic, so understandable that it was largely ignored or passed over given the circumstances. Stephen King stories are best treated as limited series such as this, as it gives the characters plenty of room to exist… Read more “THE STAND (2020)”

LOKI (2021)

The best of the Disney+ Marvel shows so far. Production design is outstanding, the cast is charismatic and strange. It’s a tight six episodes too, which is a real sweet spot for these series. Feels like the best parts of a Dr Who adventure mashed together with a big budget… Read more “LOKI (2021)”

BLACK WIDOW (2021)

A great standalone spy film that’s biggest flaw is that it maybe came a few years later than it deserved. It’s refreshing to have Natasha reframed and to have her backstory finally filled in, and the supporting cast here is one of the best things about it. It’s a made… Read more “BLACK WIDOW (2021)”

SWEET TOOTH s01

A tremendously sweet and strange tale about a human/deer hybrid boy traversing a post-apocalyptic world. Each episode feels like a chapter from a storybook. The characters are endearing and the cast is great. The connection between the hybrids and The Sick which has ravaged the world is a solid, dark… Read more “SWEET TOOTH s01”

PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN (2020)

CONTENT WARNING: Sexual assault. Billed as a black comedy (and it’s certainly black), it’s the sort of film that seems to be verging spilling into pure revenge fantasy but instead reveals itself to be a story of pain inflicting pain, tangled up in rom-com tropes. There is no moral lesson.… Read more “PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN (2020)”

LUCA (2021)

Possibly the lightest, summeriest Pixar film to date — one that’s thankfully not interested in heavy emotional subject matter but would rather just present a nice, simple story and it delivers a delight. Two young sea monsters sneak up on land to win a triathalon so they can buy a… Read more “LUCA (2021)”

RAYA & THE LAST DRAGON (2021)

Solid family adventure film with the obligatory gorgeous Disney Animated visuals. At what point do we stop commenting on how pretty each new one is, given that the next one will inevitably somehow manage to surpass it? Nonetheless, design aesthetics are fantastic here, and unique among their animated collection. It’s… Read more “RAYA & THE LAST DRAGON (2021)”

MARE OF EASTTOWN (2021)

A-grade small-town murder-mystery with a great supporting cast, twisty plot reveals and a great lead performance from Kate Winslet. Honestly, much more is potentially spoilery so if you got through all those hyphens without already skipping over to look up where it’s available for you to watch then maybe this… Read more “MARE OF EASTTOWN (2021)”

Bo Burnham: INSIDE (2021)

When this whole pandemic situation started we knew that there was terrible art out there being made about it. Just some really dreadful, insufferably thoughtless bad takes. But out there too are some diamonds — pieces of creativity that encapsulate and express the time beautifully. This is the latter. Calling… Read more “Bo Burnham: INSIDE (2021)”

THE DRY (2020)

Small town murder mystery against the backdrop of Australian drought. A well constucted thriller with solid performances, great cinematography and a permeating hostile atmosphere overlaying the modern case with a unsolved death in the town 25 years earlier. The dry, dead isolation of inner coastal Australia is on full display,… Read more “THE DRY (2020)”

ARMY OF THE DEAD (2021)

Y’all, Zack Snyder is not a good filmmaker. I’m sorry if this is how you had to find out. His pacing is awful, his characters are flat, and his one usual exception (that famous eye for dazzling cinematography, usually by filming comic compositions other people designed) is almost entirely absent… Read more “ARMY OF THE DEAD (2021)”

SOUND OF METAL (2019)

A metal/noise drummer suddenly experiences almost total hearing loss and has to deal with a complete upheaval of his nomadic life. This came in with the 2021 Oscar for best sound design, and for good reason. Never treated like a gimmick, the audio design switches seamless from traditional cinematic mixing… Read more “SOUND OF METAL (2019)”

FOR ALL MANKIND (s01/02)

An alternate history drama where the Russians landed on the moon first, kicking off a prolonged, multi-generational space race of one-upmanship sustained by the wounded pride of the United States. It’s bloody great. Moreover, it’s a fascinating exploration of human motivations to greatness and high ambition as well as being… Read more “FOR ALL MANKIND (s01/02)”

INVINCIBLE s01

It’s tough to really discuss what sets this apart from any other coming-of-age superpowered story without utterly spoiling the thing that sets it apart. So more generally I can say that it has fun takes on a lot of well-worn tropes and has a couple of refreshing things to say… Read more “INVINCIBLE s01”

MORTAL KOMBAT (2021)

Is it a bad movie? Yes. Is it the good sort of entertaining? Also yes. Some brilliantly ridiculous action stacked in around long stretches of flat exposition and some weird character choices. The plot’s a mess and the acting’s stilted but it’s also fun when it’s chewing scenery and revelling… Read more “MORTAL KOMBAT (2021)”