• Me and Me

    Me and Me

    ★★★

    Could've done a spoiler-laden review trying to fit the pieces together - but the truth is I can't make sense of this movie, so I'd just be giving stuff away for no reason. Feels like it deliberately shifts from its (splendid) high-concept premise to a more opaque, more frustrating strategy of actually trying to evoke the slippery - and painful - experience of losing one's identity, going for a more poignant endgame, though if so it's almost ruined by the…

  • Notturno

    Notturno

    ★★★½

    A subject (Syria, the Middle East, the betrayal of the Arab Spring in general) that's too big, Rosi knows it's too big - so he offers an oblique take, not necessarily scaled-down (like in El Sicario, Room 164, where one bad man in a small room represented Mexico's collapse into anarchy) but indirect, turning the subject this way and that. Sometimes we look at it head-on (the traumatised Yazidi kids), other times it's there in the background - like the…

  • All Hands on Deck

    All Hands on Deck

    ★★★★½

    "How can people joke around and have babies, with what's in store?" asks a mopey Extinction Rebellion type, consumed by the thought that his kids (if any) will "see the apocalypse" - and maybe it's the state of the world that makes this so cherishable, an affirmation that joking around and having babies (or at least looking for a mate) is still a worthwhile pursuit, despite everything. Brac is still in summery Treasure Island mode, a celebration of play -…

  • Eyimofe (This Is My Desire)

    Eyimofe (This Is My Desire)

    ★★★

    Worth it for the rich, warm colours, design details and views of Lagos (also the cultural quirks, unusual greetings - "How now?" - and pidgin English); MVP is probably Belarus-born cinematographer Arseni Khachaturan, who also did Beginning, though that does suggest a certain exotic, ethnic-tourist view of Nigeria. Poverty porn and victim cinema are other obvious pitfalls, so kudos to the plot for de-emphasizing those: 'Folks have dreams, life has other plans' is about the size of it, trying for…

  • Malignant

    Malignant

    ★★★½

    What a weird movie! Comes on like a ghost story, but it's not. (The 'ghost' is shown too early, for one thing.) Works as a slasher for a while. The killer-as-electric-current concept is borrowed from Shocker. Has some cheesy moments - "I'm adopted!" - and totally owns them. Goblin-like giallo music comes in (that's the most appropriate genre, probably), playing a tricked-out riff on 'Where Is My Mind?'. There's some unexpected comic detail. There are murderous visions - but then,…

  • Old

    Old

    ★★★

    "I'm an actuary"... "His name was Giuseppe"... "The kids are reacting to something they ate"... "I'm sorry you were on this beach. But this is my family"... Shyamalan has a knack - if that's the word - for bad-movie dialogue, lines so wooden they take you right out of the action; he's definitely an auteur, then again so was Ed Wood. His films are hard to rate because he clearly has a lot on his mind but the execution doesn't…

  • After We Fell

    After We Fell

    ★½

    Sweet generic English-major girl and scowling, psychotically jealous bad boy officially set up house together, bicker, mature, grow as people, do anal. Does throw in some properly toxic behaviour, to be fair, but it's just melodrama by the end, also what is funnier than a tasteful sex scene where the moment of climax is represented by cutting to a shot of a whistling kettle? Nothing. Nothing is funnier.

  • The Killing of Two Lovers

    The Killing of Two Lovers

    ★★★

    Vivid sense of place here, also a huge, bearlike man stuck in a boxy 4:3 Academy frame is a pretty good visualisation for frustrated rage. The writing lets it down, though, the often-hackneyed dialogue and beats in general, the thin characters made to work overtime (I don't get the Other Man's behaviour in his pivotal scene, though I see how that's partly the point; the wife's reactions seem generic too, considering she's the only person in the scene who knows…

  • Candyman

    Candyman

    ★★½

    Half of this wants to be straightforward BLM metaphor, the wronged (and invisible) Black man taking revenge, enlisting Candyman - who appears if you Say His Name - for the movement; the other half wants to complicate things, making the Black artist something of a parasite exploiting the urban legend, at least till he gets possessed - artists are parasites in general, swooping down on gentrified ghettos because of the cheap rents - and raising the spectre of collective guilt…

  • Man of God

    Man of God

    ★★½

    Real old-fashioned Sunday School / Lives of the Saints stuff (aimed at the Greek diaspora? it's in English, anyway), hard to take for a long time but ultimately about asceticism and turning the other cheek, which - if nothing else - are unfashionable virtues. (Are they even virtues? Our hero seems downright masochistic.) The low budget shows, scenes often come without cutaways, the dialogue thuds - "You're the real deal!" St. Nektarios is told - I giggled when the young…

  • Monster Hunter

    Monster Hunter

    ★★★

    "Things might get kinetic" - and they do, with chaotic (sorry, kinetic) editing, swooping shots, awesome fights and Milla being Milla. The slow drift from badass action to Rowling-esque fantasy, Fantastic Beasts with their own little quirks ("Remember: They're weak just before they breathe fire!"), is very cute, also liked the echoes of other monster movies: a 'Sam Jackson in Deep Blue Sea' moment (fortunately not as permanent), testing the ground by dropping a rock - and the underground monster…

  • Short Vacation

    Short Vacation

    ★★★★

    Very much the Korean-schoolgirl Stand By Me, albeit without the tween melodramatics and truth bombs. Does get a bit conventional in its final stretch but the filmmaking always tries to complicate things, see e.g. the scene where the girls sit exchanging giggly in-jokes and confidences - but the only one facing the camera is the quiet girl, the newcomer, who doesn't really know what they're talking about and follows the chatter with a puzzled frown. Charming babble, stray insights, unselfconscious…