It’s safe to say 2018 is racing by and so far has offered up a great variety of new cinematic releases to feast your eyes upon.
As is tradition in June, we take a look back at the first six months of the year and pick out the six films that we enjoyed the most…
so here goes…
A Quiet Place
John Krasinski surprised audiences the world over with the release of his horror film A Quiet Place earlier this year, and it rode into cinemas on a tidal wave of positive reviews.
The hype was justified as this is a smart and punchy feature that uses its concept of silence to perfection, where in the hands of others it may have felt unrealistic.
We join a family, post-apocalypse, striving to survive without making sound, at risk to predatory monsters that strike at the slight hint of noise, with the Mother of the family (Emily Blunt) due to give birth. The tensions here grip you throughout the run-time, barely giving you time to draw breath and relax. The narrative jumps from one incident to another as the threats from outside begin to escalate.
Perfectly viewed in a cinema just to see the effect that the horror on screen has on a captive audience, and the nerve shredding silence it induces.
Streaming services vs. Cinemas debate aside, Annihilation is a transcendent work of cinema from writer/director Alex Garland, who builds on from the excellent Ex Machina with this stunning, visual and surreal work of science-fiction.
This tale of a group of female scientists who venture into an alien environment that is slowly absorbing the Earth, is a shocking and twisted ride into a complex mixture of body horror and geopolitics. Annihilation balks at the conventional and utilises its setting to great effect, disposing of narrative conventions at the door and offering you a chance to experience something from beyond the realms of your own imagination.
Garland is consistently creating films that push the boundaries of genre, and he has truly hit the ball out of the park with this one.
Pixar continue their dominance in the animated movie arena with Coco, probably one of their strongest offerings so far and a film to rival the likes of UP and Inside Out.
In this film Pixar tackle heavy themes such as life after death, inheritance and ancestry in touching and gentle ways that will appeal to audiences of all ages. A great musical spectacle but also an important social statement by Pixar, a film that focuses in on a specific nation’s culture and celebrates it in bold and riotous fashion. Miguel’s adventures in The Land of The Dead provide more than hijinks and laughs, and instead have that incredible effect of being able to reach from the screen and repeatedly pull on your heart-strings. Coco is more than just a family adventure and is cinema functioning in its purest of forms.
On the whole A24 make great films, and Hereditary is no exception. The studio that brought us The Witch certainly know how to back horror projects that provide new ways of conveying scares in line with their bold and exciting release strategy.
Ari Aster has crafted a story that is unsettling and head-twisting, a film that constantly leaves you guessing, only revealing its secrets at the very end. Toni Collete is on fine form as a mentally crumbling matriarch who is attempting to hold her family together after the death of her own Mother. The seismic effect that her repressed grief has on her and her husband and two children leads to a shocking, and at times viscerally gruelling series of events.
It’s a film that revels in shifting its audiences perceptions and uses an array of cinematic techniques to frighten and confuse.
Justin Chon’s debut directorial feature is a true work of thoughtful and well observed cinema.
Shot in glorious monochrome we follow two Korean brothers, Eli and Daniel, who run a women’s discount shoe store in Central LA, during the 1992 Rodney King riots. The film offers up an interesting look at racial prejudices in America; as African-Americans are being oppressed by the government, our two protagonists are in-turn oppressed for their racial background and appearance by the majority of their neighbours. The film is also rich in its character studies, offering up years of tensions and emotions that all bubble to the surface in the wake of King’s trial. The violence in the streets effecting all the characters in one way or another.
A truly sublime piece of film-making from Chon, and one that deserved to play in more than the four cinemas it appeared in during its theatrical release.
You Were Never Really Here
We end our list with Lynne Ramsay’s latest film You Were Never Really Here, an enticing and pulse-racing thriller helmed by the ever-wonderful Joaquin Phoenix.
We follow Joe, a hitman who specialises in the tracking and punishment of child kidnappers. He is a man riddled with anxiety and regret who doesn’t revel in his violent nature, in fact he is more afraid of what his hands and body can do. When a job goes wrong Joe has a narrow window of time to rescue a young girl while forces from all sides conspire against him, pushing him to the very limits of what he feels capable of.
Probably the best film released so far in 2018, You Were Never Really Here is a modern masterpiece from Ramsay, and expertly scored by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, a combination of visuals and sound that can only be applauded.
(click the titles below to read reviews of some other great films to have been released in 2018 so far)