'El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie' review
One night six years ago I went to bed after the Breaking Bad finale ‘Felina’ knowing Jess Pinkman was free. There was a level of warmth and enduring satisfaction that reminded me Jesse was always the heart of the show, taking the mantle from Bryan Cranston’s iconic Walter White, who was dragged into the abyss by the show's coda.
“We are all clowns.” It’s one of the defining statements of Todd Phillip’s grim take on an iconic fictional villain. It’s a message that transcends the screen and, one level, reminds us that the world got crazier as we droned on in oversized shoes. On the other hand, it’s almost an incendiary call to action for the disenfranchised; a call to embrace the craziness with torched intensity.
'Rambo: Last Blood' review
John Rambo was a totem of my childhood and an institution that cast a large shadow over action cinema for decades. Over the course of four films, the character crystalised by Sylvester Stallone morphed from a tragic and affecting portrait of a casualty of the Vietnam War to a slice of fun ‘80s pulp pro-American propaganda (save the fourth entry where Rambo takes on the Burmesse junta).
'Ad Astra' review
I’ve calmed down a bit since I rushed out of my 'Ad Astra' screening to Twitter to all but declare it my film of the year. As the excitement simmered away and I organised my thoughts for this piece, sanity prevailed and ‘Ash is the Purest White’ resumed its place atop that list pending 'Joker' and 'The Irishman' and whatever surprises come my way.
'Ready or Not' review
The year is 2019 and the uprising against capitalist scum is being led by a bloodied bride in a ripped wedding dress in a pair of worn Chuck Taylors. Running at a cool 95 minutes, ‘Read or Not’, also known as ‘Fucking Rich People’ is a class satire that never shies away from caustic punch lines and perverse thrills. It’s all pulp and minimal depth but with enough relentlessness to keep us on edge for most of the film.
'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Review
It’s fitting that the first Quentin Tarantino film I saw on the big screen, the first of his films I have seen with a crowd, was one about Tinseltown. The novelties in Tarantino’s ninth film extend to the makeup of the film, which, for the most part, swaps the swagger and gratifying pulp his fans savour with much more depth and introspection than expected.
'The Kitchen' review
Allow me second to wipe this clown makeup off. Your boy thought 'The Kitchen' was going to be 2019’s Widows. Why the high expectations? Maybe its because it was adapted from a DC Vertigo comic. Or maybe it was just the cast which included three exciting actresses; Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss and Melissa McCarthy, who I expected to bring varying degrees of excellence to the table. 'The Kitchen' is also a 1970s New York crime flick so what could go wrong? Everything, apparently.
'I Am Mother' Review
It’s always a great sign when piece of sci-fi cinema leaves you with chill-inducing ideas to mull over. Netflix's ‘I am Mother’, the largely contained feature debut from filmmaker Grant Sputore, gets a load of credit on this front. On the flip side, 'I Am Mother' also leaves you with fists clenched because of the frustrating lack of restraint keeping it from rising to something resembling exceptional.
My first impulse after ‘Anna’ was to dismiss it as entirely trash. Then I calmed down, slept on it for a day and decided most of it was merely bland leaving the screenplay as the sole disastrous component. Even though I had set my bar right in the core of the earth’s crust, somehow this aggressive troll job of a film found a way to be clotheslined into my 2019 pit of shame; where ‘Glass’ longed for some company.
'Godzilla: King of the Monsters' review
Of my many cinematic regrets, not seeing Garth Edwards' 'Godzilla' on the big screen towers over my other qualms. Procrastination, always a thief of time, can also be a thief of joy. Edwards' 2014 film angles the titan as an awe-inspiring deity impossible to comprehend but deserving of our worship. Edwards did not think us worthy enough of the full splendor of Godzilla, feeding him to us in bits with an infectious sense of sweeping wonder heightened by Alexandre Desplat's majestic score.
'John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum' review
There is a poetic coda to 'John Wick Chapter 2'; which sets the thrilling agenda for the third entry in what must be, pound for pound, the pinnacle of action cinema. Our hero, the perpetually zen merchant of death John Wick (Keanu Reeves) has just been made aware he has an hour until an open contract is put on his head and all the worlds assassins are on his trail. His response: “tell them, tell them all. Whoever comes, whoever it is, I'll kill them. I'll kill them all". This feels like a line from the most violent children’s book ever written. But it's an iambic declaration of violence from a man set to make his last stand.
'Avengers: Endgame' review
'Avengers: Endgame' says thank you to comic book movie fans for over a decade of support by milking more bundles of cash from them. I’m sorry but I had to give my inner Grinch some air. The essence of ‘Endgame’ is something I tend to reject; the idea of cinema becoming product and placing fan service over art.
'Hotel Mumbai' review
If I had bet the house on the most upsetting thing in a film about the Mumbai terror attack in India being the atrocities depicted, I would be homeless. 'Hotel Mumbai' packs a harrowing punch, strong enough to engage emotions in the manner Paul Greengrass does as he recounts the mass murder committed by Anders Behring Breivik in ‘22 July’. But distasteful garnishes of levity sour a reflection on a bleak moment in recent history.