Get us in your inbox

Our latest movie reviews

Read our latest movie reviews

Advertising
  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Film
  • Horror
Revisiting the miseries of lockdown and adding a demonic twist made a lot of sense in Brit director Rob Savage’s spiky, scary 2020 Zoom horror Host. Made for loose change and with a game cast and some terrific DIY shocks, it was both genuinely scary and a handy reminder that, however boring they are, at least your Zoom meetings don’t end in ritual slaughter.Second time, not so much. Savage’s messy, chaotic Dashcam tries to repeat the trick of using a single lens – this time via a dashcam and iPhone – and filling the frame with shaky and ever-increasing bloody chaos. It’s unrelenting – and not in a good way. The set-up has real-life LA musician Annie Hardy playing a version of herself as a vlogger who spouts conspiracy theories and improvises raps to her livestreaming audience of mostly MAGA types. She skips out of town and flies to London to impose her facemask refusenik views on her old musician mate (Amar Chadha-Patel) and his disapproving girlfriend (Host’s Jemma Moore).In short order she’s stealing his car, ruining his job and unwittingly opening the car door to greater horrors. You have to hope that Hardy is not this annoying in real life, because by the time Dashcam’s supernatural menace reveals itself, you’re firmly on Team Blood-Spewing-Zombie. Maybe that’s the point. It’s hard to tell.  It’s unrelenting – and not in a good way There are a few laughs along the way – Dashcam is not entirely in earnest about all of this – but the random shocks wear thin and none of it
  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Film
  • Documentaries
It’s not a-ha’s fault that they’re Scandinavian and that since they became mega-selling global music sensations (in the early ’80s)‚ the connotations of being Scandi have changed quite a lot. At the time, being from Norway seemed properly exotic. Unlike, says ABBA, they looked like actual rockstars. Leather jackets and the lot (plus some knitwear). They had the looks, the musicianship and the teen appeal.These days, a-ha look like an advert for avoiding the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. The lads, especially too-handsome-to-be-a-real-human frontman Morten Harket, are terrifyingly well-preserved and still enjoying being in a band as much as ever: i.e. not at all.    This doc, four years in the making, celebrates their 40th anniversary ‘together’ and is full of fan-pleasing footage from those early years, as well as cutesy childhood home movies that look like they were commissioned by Nudie jeans. But four decades on, a-ha’s airbrushed Nordic cool smacks of over-privilege and the kind of ‘issues’ that populate endless Nordic noirs. Guitarist Pål and keyboardist Magne have the air of men with many stored-up grievances, only they involve ancient touring incidents (Morten’s hogging of hair products evidently still rankles: ‘He’d use house paint when he ran out of spray’) rather than unsolved murders or missing children. They’re still enjoying being in a band as much as ever – i.e. not at all On one level, this is almost a really intriguing study of a very particular kind of first-world
Advertising
  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Film
Never has the road to the priesthood been paved with so many drunk drivers, foul-mouth outbursts or nasty motorcycle collisions than in Mark Wahlberg’s partly self-funded real-life drama. After succumbing to a serious injury, Stuart ‘Stu’ Long (Wahlberg) turns his back on a patchy amateur boxing career and sets his sights on becoming a Hollywood leading man. Executing this unlikely plan begins with a job as a supermarket butcher – because even talent-spotting producers enjoy a good steak, right? Instead, there’s a chance encounter with a Catholic Sunday school teacher (Narcos: Mexico’s Teresa Ruiz) that leaves him smitten. She, less so. Forever punching above his weight, the reformed bad boy attempts to woo her by attending Mass, but it isn’t until surviving a near-death motorcycle accident that he finds his true calling to become a priest; a decision that is met by staunch resistance from his family and the Church. It gets stuck in a purgatory of daddy issues and Sunday service pamphlets Accompanied by a colourful rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack, Wahlberg takes to his trademark role of misfit with a heart of gold like a clenched fist to a 12oz Everlast glove. Around him, though, is an uneven gumbo of religion and family turmoil. There are a few effective scenes where Father Stu’s life-battered hero inspires those around him, but too often it reduces him to second-fiddle to the one-liners and tired monologues of his estranged father (Mel Gibson) and sceptical mother (Jacki Weaver).
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Film
  • Action and adventure
Not just the best of the best but now also the oldest of the old, Tom Cruise’s Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell is back in the cockpit in a follow-up that will thrill every Top Gun fan. There’s a bit in the middle that sags, but, honestly, your neck will need the respite. The rest of the movie soars – a reminder of how good Hollywood can be at popcorn entertainment when it sets its mind to it (and Cruise is involved).   Maverick is three decades older and looks about one of them, but for all his still-boyish looks and perma-pearly grin he’s now a relic of a test pilot who’s about to be put out to pasture by Ed Harris’s A.I.-championing rear admiral, aka ‘the Drone Ranger’. But what’s that? There’s an illegal uranium processing planet in an unnamed rogue state and an impossible bombing mission to carry out? Soon Mav is reluctantly being sent back to Top Gun Academy to train a new batch of young F-18 hotshots. God help us, etc. The opening alone – a rule-breaking test mission at Mach 10 – is eye-wateringly exciting: a homage to The Right Stuff that finds unexpected soul on the edge of space. From then on, the beats are very familiar: there’s a ball-busting ranking officer (Jon Hamm) itching to sack Maverick; a gun pilot with no sense of teamwork (Glen Powell with a scene-stealing grin); and a lot of bickering about hard decks. There’s even flashbacks to the first movie, a bar singalong, some sweaty ball games on the beach, and a blast of Kenny Loggins for the oldies in the crowd. Ther
Advertising
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Film
  • Drama
A glidingly elegant, emotionally ransacking story of queerness, repression and the past – in other words, a Terence Davies film – this Siegfried Sassoon biopic reaches out beyond the war poetry to carry on its shoulders a gay artist forced to hide his true nature. The excellent Jack Lowden (Mary Queen of Scots) plays Sassoon as a man haunted by the trenches, who bed-hops around the Bright Young Things of the ’20s but finds joy and peace elusive. Peter Capaldi plays the older, embittered version, who turns to religion for meaning. The film belongs more to the former than the latter, but the pair’s performances synch up neatly: the seeds of the older Sassoon’s jaundiced nature, manifest in his cutting relationship with his grown-up son, are sewn in the young poet’s disenchantment with post-war life, heartbreak and a hint of survivor’s guilt. Those scenes yield some of the sharpest lines in a film blessed with dialogue that wouldn’t be out of place in an Evelyn Waugh novel. The pin-sharp script is a welcome reminder of just what a great writer Davies is. ‘Your poetry has gone from the sublime to the meticulous,’ arch songwriter Ivor Novello stingingly observes of Sassoon. His film he balances heavy themes of trauma, sexuality and faith with the champagne fizz of a London society that just wants to forget everything. It's blessed with dialogue that wouldn’t be out of place in an Evelyn Waugh novel Thanks to Lowden’s clever and subtle performance, you can feel Sassoon’s self-aware
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Film
  • Drama
A collaboration between maverick filmmaker Gaspar Noé and giallo master Dario Argento should have you hiding behind the sofa – and Vortex certainly does, though not in the way you’d expect.  Argento plays Lui, the ailing film-critic husband of retired psychiatrist Elle (Françoise Lebrun), whose dementia ebbs and flows across a couple of days. The pair share a Parisian apartment, cluttered with his books and papers, and well stocked with powerful medicines. While he still has ambitions for the future and big plans to write a book, her lucid moments are consumed with guilt and self-recrimination. Maybe, she mutters distractedly, suicide would make life easier for them all. To add a further medical Damoclean sword to the scenario, Lui has a heart condition.  This tough situation is compounded by the tricky dynamic with their fortysomething son, Stéphane (French comedian Alex Lutz). His well-intentioned attempts to coax a practical solution out of his parents is given further urgency when it’s revealed that he’s a recovering junkie, as well as a single dad to a moppet of a son. Noé’s material is less brutally in-your-face than usual but the gut-punch impact remains Noé has built a singular rep for pushing at the boundaries of arthouse cinema, whether via Irreversible’s shuddersome violence or the magnificent Enter the Void’s (very) extreme close-ups. And while the material here is less brutally in-your-face than usual, the gut-punch impact and experimental edge remain. Vortex i
Advertising
  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Film
  • Horror
Why is the grass around the English country house where Harper (Jessie Buckley) comes to stay after the death of her ex-husband (Paapa Essiedu) a hallucinogenic shade of chartreuse? No reason, except for aesthetic shock value. Overly-produced, emotionally empty images dominate a film that makes broad gestures towards the subject of toxic masculinity, while failing to land a single point in meaningful detail.  Buckley is an all-in performer and her grounding presence enables Men’s promise to linger for the first act. She humours her temporary landlord, Geoffrey (Rory Kinnear), an affable country posho whose odd comments are framed as somehow loaded. In the time-honoured fashion of folk horrors like The Wicker Man, exploring the local countryside reveals Strange Goings On – not least a satyr-like nude in the corner of a field. Harper notices him, but does not notice that every single man and boy in the village has the same face. That face belongs to Rory Kinnear, pulling off enough roles to rival Alec Guinness in Kind Hearts and Coronets, Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove, or, if you want to get really granular, Dick Van Dyke in the ‘Inheritance Death’ episode of Diagnosis Murder. This casting choice, though entertaining, scans like a cheap gimmick. As a bloody spectacle, it’s absurdly kitsch rather than exhilarating Garland builds expectations by creating a suggestive atmosphere that, as the horror and home-invasion elements kick in, leads to an anticlimax. Harper’s traumatic b
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Film
  • Drama
Goa-Gunggari-Wakka Wakka Murri filmmaker Leah Purcell has walked a long and winding road from relishing a beloved bedtime story read by her late mother, to the big-screen debut of bush epic The Drover’s Wife. The classic short tale of a harried bush woman who fiercely guards her young children while her husband is away on business, by bush poet Henry Lawson, stuck in the back of Purcell’s mind as a wriggling niggle needing to be unpicked. Many years later, in 2016, she would star in the Helpmann Award-winning stage play that she also penned. Rewriting the narrative through an anti-colonial, Black and feminist lens, Purcell bestowed a First Nations background and the moniker Molly Johnson on Lawson’s unnamed protagonist. Delving deeper into Molly’s troubles in the novel of the same name, this film marks her third spin at the material. It’s still riveting.  Writer-director Purcell once more inhabits Molly’s skin. A strong and proud woman, she holds her own against those who encroach on her hardscrabble land. When escaped convict and traditional storyteller Yadaka (a charismatic Rob Collins) turns up at her door in broken chains, he doesn’t receive the warmest welcome. The weight of history that this soulful man brings with him digs up trauma from her past that’s half-glimpsed in the film’s startling opening sequence. Disturbed by the shadow of a great huffing, puffing bull, his impending death at the end of Molly’s shotgun sparks a flashback of another terrible incident. These
Advertising
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Film
  • Fantasy
Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness is a solid reminder of what we love about Sam Raimi’s brand of moviemaking: both superhero (Spider-Man 2) and horror (Evil Dead II). While Benedict Cumberbatch’s original solo outing, directed by Scott Derrickson, delivered a cerebral LSD trip with a sinister inflection, Raimi’s penchant for gore is executed to euphoric effect. His nose for those old Spidey themes of responsibility and power, meanwhile, manifest in the three suitably weighty central performances. Screenwriter Michael Waldron has to pick up from multiple story threads left over from multiple other Marvel shows and movies, but does a solid job in delivering a mostly self-contained adventure. The story sees Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wanda Maximoff (aka Scarlet Witch, aka Elizabeth Olsen) coming to terms with the magical choices they’ve already made: his, in saving the world through his actions in Avengers: Infinity War; hers, in the false reality she conjured out of her grief in WandaVision. Non-MCU devotees might get lost amid all these callbacks, but at its heart, this is a simple tale of whether the price of happiness is worth the moral cost. (And they probably won’t be sitting through a Doctor Strange sequel in the first place.) There’s a couple of McGuffins in the form of two magic books representing good and evil, and a lot of wacky interdimensional travel, as Strange tries to track them down to prevent his universe collapsing with his new kinda
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Film
  • Science fiction
The multiverse is clearly having a moment. After Marvel gave us several Spider-Men and Doctor Stranges in its last two movies, we now have director duo ‘the Daniels’ (Kwan and Scheinert, Swiss Army Man) exploring the same meta-territory of parallel worlds, but in their own ultra-idiosyncratic way. The concept is a doozy, ripe with comedic juice and packed with visual thrills. The inhabitants of another universe have discovered a way to jump into the minds of their alternative selves and absorb their skills (similar to how Neo could download kung fu in The Matrix). They can achieve this by doing something very specifically unexpected, like suddenly eating a stick of lip salve or professing love for someone they barely know. This kicks open the door for a manic, 139-minute episode of madcap action. It requires Michelle Yeoh – as losing-at-life launderette owner Evelyn Wang – to gamely toggle between several identities. These include a martial-arts action star not so different from her real-life self; a teppanyaki chef who discovers that her colleague is secretly controlled, Ratatouille-style, by a talking raccoon; and a woman with hotdogs for fingers. The Daniels juggle silly gags and weird visuals like cackling Dadaists  The Daniels juggle silly gags and weird visuals like cackling Dadaists. But while the film over-indulges itself a little with an inflated runtime, it never totally comes off its hinges. The heavy concepts (nihilism and existentialism) are lightened by their
Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising