'You Were Never Really Here' Review
Just under 90 minutes. That’s all the brilliant Lynne Ramsay needs to construct here frenzied cinematic figurine in ‘You Were Never Really Here’, which harnesses a mood evoking Nicolas Winding Refn's 'Drive' whilst strongly channeling Scorsese’s 'Taxi Driver'. At its core lies a painful longing for innocence in desperately hellish times examined on the canvas of a hitman thriller.
'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' Review
I’m a little envious of kids today. Judging by the fifth Jurassic movie, 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom', it's clear they are unlikely to wake up drenched in sweat and palpitating after being hounded by a T-Rex or a Raptor. When did the T-Rex become our friend? When did we get to a point where a Raptor swoops in to save the day? I guess this is the point that separates the last two Jurassic movies from their predecessors. 2015's 'Jurassic World' set the new tone and 'Fallen Kingdom' doubles down on it.
Alex Garland’s 'Annihilation' is tapping into the highest echelons of science fiction, so much so that its distributor, Paramount, wanted nothing to do with and all but jettisoned into the hands of a streaming service. Adapted from a novel by Jeff VanderMeer, 'Annihilation' is overdosed on ambiguity and an intellectual vortex that transports us into a puzzling dimension. It provides one of the few pure cinema experiences of 2018 so far, even if to try to decipher its hypotheses is a mind-bending exercise in futility. But I’m going to try.
'Black Girl' (1966) review
To immerse yourself in Ousmane Sembene’s 1966 film, 'Black Girl' (La Noire de…) is to time-travel to ground zero of African Cinema. Sembene’s extremely lean but layered first feature film was the first by sub-Saharan African, earning him the mantle of the "father of African film".
'Avengers: Infinity War' review
'Avengers: Infinity War' is the most star-studded blockbuster in the history of cinema. Probably the most expensive too. It’s an over-crowded family reunion of epic proportions presided over the big bad Thanos (Josh Brolin), as was promised. It delivers a mammoth high for the masses who have accepted the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the cinematic narcotic it is. For others like myself, It's almost an exercise in self-harm. We fold our arms, pout and tweet begrudgingly about how the Lord of the Rings films balanced fun, adventure, scale, spectacle, stakes, pathos and basically the very best cinema had to offer.
We are introduced to Scott Cooper’s ‘Hostiles’ with a solemn quote from D.H. Lawrence, assuring me that I was about to immerse myself in one of my favourite things in cinema – the Western that attempts to cut to the core of man’s tortured existence. What follows D.H. Lawrence’s affirmation of man’s marriage to violence is a prologue that lays the groundwork for this story.
'Ready Player One' review
'Ready Player One' is much more than the love letter to gaming culture some corners of the internet would have you believe. The earlier suggestions from some that this could be the “Black Panther for gamers” were ridiculous. Whilst its director, Stephen Spielberg, has admitted his affinity for the 80 with regards to the influences of this film, I viewed it as more as an affirmation of the timelessness of certain aspects of popular culture that draws not only on video games but also on cinema. Within this affirmation, however, is the painful reality of the dysfunctional romance we as audiences have with some of these iconic totems of gaming and cinema.
There is a not quite explained comic charm behind the Nigerian accent. 'Gringo', a dark comedy directed by Nash Edgerton, is the latest film to support that hypothesis. Just before this, Black Panther gave us Winston Duke’s M’Baku, who has emerged as an unlikely breakout star and fan favourite. Just like you go for a European accent to enforce some level of iniquitous ill intent – on a scale from British to Russian, the Nigerian accent; unreserved, vivacious, and tailor-made for pantomime sensibilities always seems like a sure bet to keep your average low-hanging fruit comedy afloat, even if barely in the case of 'Gringo'.
'The Cloverfield Paradox' review
There is an ideal dimension out there where all films get released in the manner of horror Sci-Fi film 'The Cloverfield Paradox'. You wake up one day and hear X studio has its film screening in theatres or streaming on demand. No exhausting hype (*cough Black Panther*), no spoilery trailers, minimalist marketing controversy. It’s all about the art and the desire to consume it. It then becomes a shame that the film at the end of this stunt was woefully underwhelming. The basic narrative now is that the powers-that-be at Netflix and Paramount felt the Julius Onah-directed ‘Cloverfield Paradox’ was so much of a bust that just dumping it after the Super Bowl was a prudent option. I don't blame them.
Every now and then, I come across a film operating outside the conventional constraints of the horror genre that leaves me in a state of distress. The anxiety served up in Denis Villeneuve's 2013 film 'Prisoners' readily comes to mind. It made the idea of caring of caring for one's kids a terrifying prospect evoking this strong sense of paranoia. The 2004 Oscar-nominated South African film ‘Yesterday’ left me in a similar space, with respect to the hellish confluence of poverty and travails for medical care.
'Braven' marks the first real turn of interest from Jason Momoa; the first time I’ve seen him play something resembling benign and vulnerable. It’s also the first time I’ve seen him with a shirt on and his strapping biceps covered for most of a film. Director Lin Oeding, in his debut effort, goes for nostalgia and grants Momoa the opportunity to play a character that channels heroes from action films we may have seen in the ‘80s and ‘90s as domesticity and drug runners collide in an otherwise peaceful woodland near the Canadian border.