Review: Spiral: From the Book of Saw

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman Stars: Chris Rock, Marisol Nichols, Max Minghella The Saw franchise has evolved (devolved?) over the years. It's easy to forget that the wheels and gears and 60 second timers that typified the later installments were all-but-absent in James Wan's taught first film. Jigsaw himself, John Kramer (Tobin Bell), was killed off at … Continue reading Review: Spiral: From the Book of Saw

Ranked: The Saw Films

After months of lying dormant, biding their time, the nation's cinemas are poised to reopen. And while the awards season giants are queuing up to draw extra revenue following their spurious streaming debuts, there's also a scant smattering of new releases hotting up the listings. Among the most wryly amusing (hopefully) to arrive on opening … Continue reading Ranked: The Saw Films

Review: Mortal Kombat (2021)

Director: Simon McQuoid Stars: Jessica McNamee, Lewis Tan, Josh Lawson For better or worse (worse), the Marvelisation of every franchise property available continues apace. Having seen Kevin Fiege's world-conquering stratagem at work for the past decade-and-a-half, its no surprise that everyone else wants a piece of the action. The latest is this casually watchable remix … Continue reading Review: Mortal Kombat (2021)

Review: Wild Mountain Thyme

 Director: John Patrick Shanley Stars: Emily Blunt, Jamie Dornan, Jon Hamm John Patrick Shanley is a man of multifaceted talents (playwright, songwriter, director) none of which manifest in the unfathomable Wild Mountain Thyme. Every now and then we're gifted a film so bafflingly incoherent, tonally disastrous and casually awful that it reminds us how easily this … Continue reading Review: Wild Mountain Thyme

Review: Nomadland

Director: Chloé Zhao Stars: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Bob Wells Thus far in a relatively brief but exemplary career, Chloé Zhao has shown a tenderness and sensitivity to microclimates that typify the American Midwest. Be it the reservations of Songs my Brothers Taught Me or the close-knit rodeo bonds of The Rider, her approach has … Continue reading Review: Nomadland

List: Top 10 Films Of Every Year, By Year Of Production

I thought I'd keep something I could update on a semi-regular basis on here, showing my favourite films from each calendar year, separated by year of production (differing from my end-of-year lists, which favour UK release). I'm going back as far as 1940 for now, largely because the number of films per year that I've … Continue reading List: Top 10 Films Of Every Year, By Year Of Production

Review: Things Heard & Seen

Directors: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini Stars: Amanda Seyfried, Rhea Seehorn, Natalia Dyer My only prior exposure to the work of directing duo Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini is 2003's American Splendor - one of the finest American indies of that year. It was witty, formally playful and anchored in performance. Evidently much has … Continue reading Review: Things Heard & Seen

Review: Stowaway

Director: Joe Penna Stars: Anna Kendrick, Toni Collette, Daniel Dae Kim I recently watched Al Reinert's extraordinary 1989 documentary For All Mankind, which makes exceptional use of actual video diaries from NASA's astronauts as they make a pioneering journey out of our gravity on a mission to the moon. Landmark moments are captured with the … Continue reading Review: Stowaway

Review: Black Bear

Director: Lawrence Michael Lavine Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Abbott, Sarah Gadon If Aubrey Plaza's against-type performance in festive charmer Happiest Season hinted at her abilities in a more serious role, Black Bear brings that promise to fruition. That she appears here in a three-hander with Christopher Abbott and Sarah Gadon only adds to the film's cache. … Continue reading Review: Black Bear

Review: I Blame Society

Director: Gillian Wallace Horvat Stars: Gillian Wallace Horvat, Alexia Rasmussen, Keith Poulson To what extent is human collateral damage acceptable in the movie business and how seriously is Hollywood really taking the call for reform? Gillian Wallace Horvat's spiky showcase takes aim at both of these meaty questions, suggesting plenty of room for improvement. Casting … Continue reading Review: I Blame Society

Review: Promising Young Woman

Director: Emerald Fennell Stars: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Jennifer Coolidge Part of the established contract of rape-revenge cinema is the catharsis offered when the attackers are confronted and justice is meted out. Having endured the ordeal of her experiences, having suffered with her, we're to be sated by this reprisal, by her violence. In the … Continue reading Review: Promising Young Woman

Review: Malmkrog

Director: Cristi Puiu Stars: Frédéric Schulz-Richard, Agathe Bosch, Marina Palii We've seen the abject cruelty of man rendered on our cinema screens in any number of severe, extreme, button-pushing films. Films like Salò. Films like The Painted Bird. With stifling austerity we've witnessed reflections of our worst instincts and actions, and the films themselves have been … Continue reading Review: Malmkrog

Review: Palm Springs

Director: Max Barbakow Stars: Cristin Milioti, Andy Samberg, J.K. Simmons The time-loop conceit commonly referred to as the 'Groundhog Day' device endures, enough to be credited as a subgenre in its own right. For a time, any TV show with a remotely fantastical element had a go at it (Star Trek: The Next Generation, The X-Files, Buffy … Continue reading Review: Palm Springs

Review: Sound of Metal

Director: Darius Marder Stars: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci Isolation is a persistent concern in Darious Marder's seismic awards hopeful, Sound of Metal - one of the more interesting contenders in this year's crop, as its word-of-mouth groundswell trumps the more calculated prestige trappings of most common contenders. It's the underdog in the mix. The … Continue reading Review: Sound of Metal

Why I Love… #132: Ghost World

Year: 2001 Director: Terry Zwigoff Stars: Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Steve Buscemi I grew up in the rural South West of England, in Devon. Hardly the anonymous middle-America of Daniel Clowes' scabrous graphic novel Ghost World but, also, not totally divorced from that milieu either. I could certainly relate to it. The sense of emptiness … Continue reading Why I Love… #132: Ghost World