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Abbey Bender

Abbey Bender

Articles (2)

The 100 best thriller films of all time

The 100 best thriller films of all time

Everyone has their favourite genre but we can surely all agree that thrillers are the best. And if you don’t believe us, there’s a suspicious figure in that darkened doorway who’d like a word. From the early classics, like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger or Fritz Lang’s M, to the films of David Fincher and Martin Scorsese, they’re rich in nerve-shredding, adrenaline-pumping rides into the darker recesses of the psyche. Thrillers show us horrors and weave in human dramas, but they use those raw materials to forge something particular: a sense of unease and suspense.  With masterful control of those elements, Hitchcock could manipulate his audiences like puppets on a string, delivering shocks that reverberate through cinema history. Fincher’s Seven and Zodiac have carried on the legacy, while films like Pig, Nightmare Alley and The Card Counter show that the thriller is the genre for all eras. Even superhero flicks, like Captain America: Civil War and  The Batman, have been borrowing liberally from the crime thriller. It is, unlike many of its ill-fated characters, alive and well.  But what are the very best of them? As we’ve done with science fiction, horror films, romances, comedies, westerns and war films, we’ve dusted cinema for prints and taken a magnifying glass to its finest thrillers to boil them down to a tonne of all-timers. On the list? Murder, political intrigue, espionage, conspiracy, manipulation, gaslighting and, of course, crime. Lots of crime. Enjoy – and hold on

The 100 best feminist films of all time

The 100 best feminist films of all time

Slowly, year by year, the dial is moving for female filmmakers and female-led storytelling in Hollywood. The dinosaurs are being shoved out to pasture (or sent to prison), and a more diverse range of filmmakers are gradually being handed the chance to get movies made in one of the most laggard industries in town. This year’s International Woman’s Day throws the spotlight on a drive for full equality that’s been jet-powered in recent times by the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.But it’s important to remember that brilliant women have been making, writing, shooting, editing and starring in brilliant films for the past hundred years. From Daughters of the Dust to The Piano, Agnès Varda to Gurinder Chadha, and Louise Brooks to Linda Hamilton, our list of the 100 greatest feminist films celebrate them in all their glory. This century of movies over the past century weren’t all directed by women, but they’re all feminist landmarks that demand to be revisited and reappreciated.  Written by Abbey Bender, Cath Clarke, Phil de Semlyen, Tomris Laffly, Helen O'Hara, Joshua Rothkopf & Anna Smith. Produced by Hannah Streck.

Listings and reviews (13)

Book Club

Book Club

3 out of 5 stars

Tot i que a estones el seu to pot semblar carrincló, 'Book club' ens ofereix un retrat entendridor d’un grup de jubilades. Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen, Candice Bergen i Jane Fonda encarnen un grup d’amigues veteranes que decideixen animar les seves vides llegint la saga de 'Cinquanta ombres d’en Grey'. La trama és previsible: quatre senyores de certa edat que juguen amb el foc de la passió, parlen de les seves relacions passades i n’enceten de noves, mentre resolen les frustracions amoroses amb ampolles de pinot noir. Però hi ha frases divertides, en especial quan una diu que una vagina desatesa és com una pel·lícula de Werner Herzog, i el carisma de les actrius –en especial Jane Fonda en estat felí i Diane Keaton amb el seu vestuari androgin habitual– aixeca la funció.

Book Club

Book Club

3 out of 5 stars

Aunque a ratos su tono puede parecer viejuno, 'Book club' nos ofrece un retrato enternecedor de un grupo de jubiladas. Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen, Candice Bergen y Jane Fonda encarnan un grupo de amigas veteranas que deciden animar sus vidas leyendo la saga de 'Cincuenta sombras de Grey'. La trama es previsible: cuatro señoras de cierta edad que juegan con el fuego de la pasión, hablan de sus relaciones pasadas y empiezan otras nuevas, mientras resuelven las frustraciones amorosas con botellas de Pinot Noir. Pero hay frases divertidas, en especial cuando una dice que una vagina desatendida es como una película de Werner Herzog, y el carisma de las actrices –en especial Jane Fonda en estado felino y Diane Keaton con su vestuario andrógino habitual– levanta la función.

Nico, 1988

Nico, 1988

3 out of 5 stars

Rock biopics are notoriously hard to get right. How does one dramatize a rock star’s life without veering into cheesiness or excessive poetic license? When there’s a built-in fan base and a real artist (or their estate) to take into consideration, the pressure’s on. Nico, 1988 takes a somewhat novel approach to the subgenre, focusing on the darkest days of a musician who has too often been romanticized as a muse. Director Susanna Nicchiarelli’s strategy is purposefully alienating: Casual fans who know Nico (Trine Dyrholm) only from her association with the Velvet Underground may find the total avoidance of that era to be more frustrating than elucidating. Fans of her later music—the dark period—are well served, although Nico, 1988 doesn’t offer much biographical detail or plot. It’s essentially a road movie following the artist on her final tours. Trine Dyrholm, who does all her own singing, captures Nico’s distinctive drone and drug-addled wariness. There’s no melodrama in this portrait of a tragically fated icon, and Dyrholm isn’t afraid to act prickly. While the film deserves praise for its unglamorous approach to a sad-girl icon, the narrow focus can be tiring, and Nico’s relationships with the other characters, including her estranged son, are frustratingly enigmatic. Even Nico enthusiasts might wish this claustrophobic character study offered a little more breathing room.

Mamma Mia! Una y otra vez

Mamma Mia! Una y otra vez

2 out of 5 stars

Si vau veure la primera 'Mamma mia!', potser ja us podeu imaginar per on van els trets en aquesta segona part, 'Mamma mia! Una y otra vez'. Hi ha paisatges de postal, llum d’hora bruixa, amors sense compromís i moltes cançons d’ABBA interpretades per una colla d’estrelles notables. És l’escenari perfecte per a un 'divertimento' d’estiu. El problema és que el guió és una pífia, amb frases ridícules i situacions inversemblants que li asseguren l’estatus de producte kitsch. És una comèdia sentimental que no s’amaga de les seves influències del teatre musical, i això que en aquest cas el repertori està incrustat en l’argument de manera esforçada i maldestra. El més nou, aquí, és l’ús dels flashbacks. La trama principal es combina amb escenes de la joventut del personatge de Donna, la matriarca bohèmia i divertida a qui va donar vida Meryl Streep, i que en els salts temporals interpreta Lily James, amb lluminosa calidesa. Aquests flashbacks reconstrueixen la història de la paternitat de Sophie, que era el conflicte de la primera pel·lícula, i aporten una mica de ritme a una cinta que, d’altra banda, té ben poc interès. En aquest passat, Donna s’embolica amb tres homes diferents i quan es queda embarassada no sap qui és el pare. És digne de menció el fet que la pel·lícula no la jutgi ni la castigui. Al cap i a la fi, Mamma mia! és un conte de fades sanejat: tothom és optimista, sempre hi ha bon rotllo. Ni tan sols la clàssica figura de la madrastra (paper de Cher, com no podia ser

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

2 out of 5 stars

If you’ve seen the first Mamma Mia!, that most wholesome tale of uncertain paternity, you’ll probably have a solid idea of how the sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, will play. There are postcard-ready landscapes, airy romances, and a whole lot of ABBA songs sung with gusto, if not finesse, by movie stars. It all makes for an intermittently pleasant summer diversion, but a preposterous screenplay filled with wild coincidences and lines like ‘I’m gonna make some memories’ ensures its status as frustrating kitsch. Like its predecessor, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is proudly schmaltzy, wearing its musical theatre influences on its sleeve, but watching all those forced music cues isn’t always fun. The most novel part of the film is its use of flashbacks: The story is threaded with scenes of Meryl Streep’s character Donna, the fun-loving bohemian matriarch, as a young woman. Lily James’s performance as the young Donna is warm, and while the cutting between the present and the past is often cheesy, it keeps the movie bustling along. These flashbacks build up the paternity story that was at the centre of the first movie and it’s noteworthy that while the conceit is built around Donna having affairs with three different men and becoming pregnant and uncertain as to the identity of the father, there’s no slut-shaming here. The film is like a sanitised fairytale: everyone is positive, and the three potential fathers all get along. Even the classic evil maternal figure (as embodied b

Mamma Mia! Una y otra vez

Mamma Mia! Una y otra vez

2 out of 5 stars

Si visteis la primera 'Mamma mia!', tal vez ya os podéis imaginar por dónde van los tiros en esta segunda parte, 'Mamma mia! Una y otra vez'. Hay paisajes de postal, luz de hora mágica, amores sin compromiso y muchas canciones de ABBA interpretadas por un grupo de estrellas notables. Es el escenario perfecto para un 'divertimento' de verano. El problema es que el guión es una pifia, con frases ridículas y situaciones inverosímiles que le aseguran el estatus de producto kitsch. Es una comedia sentimental que no se avergüenza de sus influencias del teatro musical, y eso que el repertorio está incrustado en el argumento de manera esforzada y torpe. Lo más nuevo, aquí, es el uso de los flashbacks. La trama principal se combina con escenas de la juventud del personaje de Donna, la matriarca bohemia y divertida a quien dio vida Meryl Streep, y a quien en los saltos temporales interpreta Lily James, con luminosa calidez. Estos flashbacks reconstruyen la historia de la paternidad de Sophie, que era el conflicto de la primera película, y aportan un poco de ritmo a una cinta que, por otro lado, tiene poco interés. En este pasado, Donna se enrolla con tres hombres diferentes y cuando se queda embarazada no sabe quién es el padre. Es digno de mención el hecho de que la película no la juzgue ni la castigue. Al fin y al cabo, 'Mamma mia!' es un cuento de hadas saneado: todo el mundo es optimista, siempre hay buen rollo. Ni siquiera la clásica figura de la madrastra (papel de Cher, no podía

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

2 out of 5 stars

Quem tiver visto o primeiro Mamma Mia!, realizado por Phyllida Lloyd em 2008, sabe com o que contar neste segundo filme, dirigido desta feita por Ol Parker. O mais interessante acaba por ser o uso de flashbacks de Donna (a personagem de Meryl Streep) em jovem, interpretada aqui por Lily James, mas os cortes entre o passado e o presente acabam por ser um pouco foleiros. De resto,
 é o que espera: há paisagens de postalinho, romances airosos e músicas dos Abba cantadas com gosto, ainda que nem sempre com jeitinho, pelas estrelas. Uma distracção veraneante, a espaços prazenteira, mas frustrantemente kitsch. Por Abbey Bender

El rascacielos

El rascacielos

2 out of 5 stars

Un blockbuster cacofònic, semblant a molts altres que heu vist i segurament evitat. Dwayne Johnson fa de Will Sawyer, líder d'un equip de rescat d’ostatges de l'FBI desplaçat a la Xina amb tota la seva família, on fa d'assessor de seguretat d’un gratacel. No us fem cap espòiler si us diem que l'edifici en qüestió, un monstre fàl·lic d'alta tecnologia, resulta més vulnerable del que semblava. Aquest és l'escenari d'una història previsible sobre un paio que intenta salvar la seva dona i els seus fills d'explosions i paios dolents. No direm que Johnson no tingui sortides simpàtiques, com quan fa ús de la seva cama ortopèdica per defensar-se, però la major part de la pel·lícula no té cap tipus d’ànima. Els nens són bufons, però en l’esquema de l’acció són totalment accessoris. I el personatge de Neve Campbell, que tants bons moments de tensió ens va donar en cintes dels 90 com 'Scream' i 'Jocs salvatges', apareix aquí com una damisel·la en perill. El moment més indignant és la lluita en un saló de miralls digitals, tebi tribut a 'La dama de Xangai'.  

El rascacielos

El rascacielos

2 out of 5 stars

Un 'blockbuster' cacofónico, similar a muchos otros que ya habréis visto o seguramente evitado. Dwayne Johnson hace de Will Sawyer, líder de un equipo de rescate de rehenes del FBI desplazado a China con toda su familia, donde hace de asesor de seguridad de un rascacielos. No os hacemos ningún spoiler si os decimos que el edificio en cuestión, un monstruo fálico de alta tecnología, resulta más vulnerable de lo que parecía. Este es el escenario de una historia previsible sobre un tipo que intenta salvar a su esposa y a sus hijos de explosiones y tipos malos. No diremos que Johnson no tenga salidas simpáticas, como cuando hace uso de su pierna ortopédica para defenderse, pero la mayor parte de la película no tiene ningún tipo de alma. Los niños son lindos, pero en el esquema de la acción resultan totalmente accesorios. Y el personaje de Neve Campbell, que tantos buenos momentos de tensión nos dio en cintas de los 90 como 'Scream' y 'Juegos salvajes', aparece aquí como una damisela en peligro. El momento más indignante es la lucha en un salón de espejos digitales, tibio tributo a 'La dama de Shanghai'.

Skyscraper

Skyscraper

2 out of 5 stars

‘Skyscraper’ is a cacophonous blockbuster, in the Die Hard wannabe (plus obligatory 3D and pricey special effects) mold, the likes of which you’ve probably seen (or perhaps avoided) many times over. Dwayne Johnson plays Will Sawyer, a former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader currently on assignment in China with his family, in his new job as skyscraper safety assessor. It’s no spoiler to say that this skyscraper, a tech-laden, phallic monstrosity, doesn’t turn out to be so safe, and the film quickly turns into an occasionally tense but mostly predictable tale of a man taking risks to save his family from explosions, devious suits and terrorists. Johnson is obviously a bankable star, and his charisma lightens up a few moments, as when he makes creative use of his character’s prosthetic leg to save himself, and has a satisfied reaction. For the most part, though, touches of humanity are largely absent. Sawyer’s two children are cute, but they’re pretty much pawns in the action scheme here, and we know Johnson will serve a big heroic ending. Sawyer’s wife, Sarah, is largely depicted as a woman in peril–which is a shame, given that she’s played by Neve Campbell, who brought such shrewdness to roles in ‘Scream’ and ‘Wild Things’ back in the ‘90s. Campbell is given a couple moments to shine (as when she shows she knows Chinese, to the surprise of the officers helping her), but they’re few and far between. The most egregious moment in ‘Skyscraper’ just might come during a fight scene s

Book Club

Book Club

3 out of 5 stars

The wine-mom film of the year, ‘Book Club’ is a somewhat cheesy but occasionally charming portrait of women of a certain age. Starring Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen, Candice Bergen and Jane Fonda as a group of longtime friends who spice things up by reading the ‘Fifty Shades’ trilogy, it definitely scratches an itch: With Hollywood constantly pandering to the interests of teenage boys, it’s nice to see something targeted to a demographic that’s often overlooked (even if it’s still kind of pandering). The plot machinations are predictable, with the ladies taking risks, assessing their relationships and forming new ones, whether that’s through online dating or a meet-cute with a wealthy pilot (a mischievous Andy Garcia). There’s not a lot of conflict here, which is part of the point. ‘Book Club’ is a piece of Nancy Meyers-esque escapism, in which musing about romantic frustration is only a bottle of pinot and a picturesque view away from being neatly resolved. Given the title and premise, there’s surprisingly little book-clubbing on display. And since the final ‘Fifty Shades’ novel came out years ago, there’s a definite vibe that the movie is arriving past its sell-by date. At the end of the day, ‘Book Club’ is a showcase for its quartet of charismatic actors. Fonda wins laughs with her sassy, sexually frank role (with shiny, form-fitting outfits to match) and Keaton delivers a likable riff on her typically awkward, androgynously-dressed self (a scene in which her friends chid

I Feel Pretty

I Feel Pretty

2 out of 5 stars

During its almost-two-hour runtime, 'I Feel Pretty' doesn’t once achieve the smart and sassy potency of Amy Schumer’s standup routine. The story follows Schumer as Renee, a New Yorker who struggles with low self-esteem and toils away at an unglamorous remote job for a beauty company. Then one day at a spin class, she slips off her bike and a head injury causes her to believe she’s exceptionally beautiful, though her looks haven’t changed at all. The extent to which Renee’s friends, co-workers and dates play along with her newfound perspective is the movie’s plot; ultimately, the lesson we learn – hey, beauty comes from within and confidence is more important than how we appear! – is totally predictable. 'I Feel Pretty' is a curious mélange. Female comedians have been self-deprecating about their attractiveness for decades, but the film’s corporate sheen and feminist lip service feel all too 2018. If the script committed more ardently to absurdity, it could have been enjoyable but, as co-directed by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, 'I Feel Pretty' lacks visual inspiration and runs on the fumes of one not-particularly-funny joke (this regular-looking girl thinks she’s super-hot). Truth be told, it’s a bit depressing. As proven in the early seasons of her TV show, Schumer is a talented performer, and her physical comedy here draws some chuckles (as does Michelle Williams’ turn as Schumer’s helium-voiced ditz of a boss), but 'I Feel Pretty' is consumed by an annoying premise that