Kiki’s Delivery Service

1989

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Words – Christian Abbott

In film circles you will often hear the phrase “every frame a painting”. An experience, both poetic and practical, used to describe the inherent beauty of cinema. Cinematography, lighting, editing, and more, all can come together to create some of the most striking images in artistic history.
When it comes to animation, perhaps this phrase takes on a slightly different meaning, but from the same place. It’s even more literal, especially when used for the 2D world.
When describing the work of Miyazaki and specifically describing the film Kiki’s Delivery Service, there is perhaps no more an amp description.

Following a young witch in training, we see her move to a small seaside town alone (but with her talking cat), for one year as is tradition for all aspiring witches. While there she learns how to fly her broom and decides to capitalise on this advantage – by opening up a delivery service.

This is perhaps in many ways one of the more straightforward of premises for a Miyazaki film, it strips back on grandiose plots and intricate locations. Instead, we follow a young girl opening up a small business in a smaller town. Looking beyond the witch aesthetic and flying household appliances, this captures the joys of everyday life, and celebrates some of the little details within it that we may now just take for granted.

Yes, this is a Miyazaki film through and through, the same sense of wonder and imagination permeates the film in each and every frame, but this is a more intimate affair. Miyazaki would later go on to produce increasingly grounded stories and characters, but this is perhaps the finest balance between grounded and up-in-the-air fantasia. An excellent jumping-off point for the Miyazaki uninitiated.

With witchcraft there can be an underlying darkness beneath the surface of the story, but Miyazaki never allows that to weigh down the film, he keeps it firmly tucked away and out of sight. The focus here is a sense of uplifting joy in a way that this filmmaker has become so beloved for.
Escapism is often seen as a dirty word in cinema, a sort of piffy dismissal. Though, sometimes, given the right film and right talent behind it, it can be the perfect way to describe a story that wonderfully embraces escape. From Kiki coming to a new town to us as an audience getting lost in it, there is no better place to escape to.

 

 


 

 

Robocop (1987)

1987

Director: Paul Verhoeven

Starring: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer, Ronny Cox, Daniel O’Herlihy

Words – Nathan Scatcherd

In today’s increasingly terrifying, existentially crippling, corporate-controlled, bought and sold disaster of a world, Paul Verhoeven’s viscera-splattered satirical masterpiece feels like it could have come out last week.
Robocop retains an incredible power today, it extends a razor-sharp middle finger to mindless consumerism and the vapidity of the media, snorting derisively at the kind of reprehensible ultra-capitalist sociopaths who run the planet while still functioning as a perfectly paced, blackly funny example of peak 80s sci-fi action goodness.

The setting is a dystopian future Detroit. After being brutally murdered by a gang of criminals led by the very hissable Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith), cop Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is rebuilt by the nefarious Omni Consumer Products corporation as a new type of law enforcement officer; the titular Robocop.
OCP are just as villainous as Boddicker and his gang (and in fact are working with them directly), representing the type of bloated, unfeeling, self-interested hideousness inevitable in big business as their executives scramble over each other in an attempt to manipulate this new crime deterrent to their own ends. Meanwhile, Murphy’s wiped memories begin to resurface in vague flashbacks to his life as a flesh and blood man, complicating his stringent programming as an agent of OCP.

The film’s extreme violence and black humour led to it being commonly somewhat misunderstood upon release – contemporary reviews tend to praise the special effects and costuming while missing the anti-corporate social commentary – but in the years since, the film has of course become one of the definitive go-to examples of satirical sci-fi cinema.
Its withering shots at the venality and ridiculous macho idiocy of boardroom culture resonate throughout the decades, and it also mines more philosophical ground, using its central character to pose questions of identity and humanity, exploring the divide between autonomy and slavery to the ideals of avaricious privatisation.

Of course, the special effects and costuming are legitimately impressive. The film boasts some excellent practical gore effects, and the simultaneously ridiculous and intimidating ED-209 robots that act as Robocop’s prototype predecessors – and eventual antagonists – are achieved through the wonders of stop-motion.
The Robocop suit was a fully functional costume attached to Weller in multiple parts, giving a verisimilitude to the physicality of his performance. Today it is of course iconic; an instantly recognisable marriage of form and function, without any extraneous VFX enhancements (or, indeed, any need for them). Robocop is old-school in the best way, while still dealing with themes that feel ripped from current headlines. I’d buy that for a dollar.

 

 


 

 

The Evil Dead (1981)

1981

Director: Sam Raimi

Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor, Betsy Baker, Theresa Tilly

Words – Oliver Innocent

One of horror cinema’s most iconic titles, The Evil Dead succinctly sums up the genre’s key themes; a preoccupation with darkness and death. It’s short, snappy and memorable. With a title like The Evil Dead you know exactly what you are in for.

Sam Raimi’s cult classic more than lives up to its title, delivering scares and gore aplenty. However, it does betray its rather exploitative, basic title with a wittiness and imaginative flare rare in such an unrelenting bloodbath. It is this adhering to the basic principles of the genre while simultaneously tearing up the rule book on how to employ said principles, that has led to the film’s classic status.

With its almost schizophrenic adherence to and breaking of the genre’s conventions, The Evil Dead perfectly bridges the gap between the nihilistic grimness and grindhouse aesthetics of the ‘70s, and the over the top humour and slapstick gore of the ‘80s.
Made in 1981, its debt to ’70s indie horror classics like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre can be seen in its handcrafted, rough around the edges charm and unnerving atmosphere of impending doom. The purpose of The Evil Dead is to shock, and it will do this by any means necessary, with the unique strangeness the film exudes with demonic possession.

Where the film breaks away from its forebears is Raimi’s injection of goofy humour and an almost slapstick approach to violence. Raimi’s love of slapstick comedy legends The Three Stooges is no secret, most of his oeuvre paying homage to his comedy heroes. Even in this, his most pure horror and debut feature, his appreciation still shines through.
In fact, the scene where lightbulbs fill with blood and pipes explode with fountains of gore was directly inspired by The Three Stooges short A Plumbing We Will Go.

The Evil Dead’s horror pedigree, however, cannot be denied. The standard genre set up of a group of youngsters trapped over the course of one night in a single location is made more intense with copious amounts of blood and guts. Probably one of the most bloody movies ever made at the time, its meagre budget and handmade effects remain impressive to this day.
Even when some of the bodily fluids look suspiciously like a mix of common household products, they still retain a DIY charm now sorely lacking in the digital age. Others, like the pencil in the ankle gag, retain their power to make viewers wince.

The sound design also deserves recognition. There’s a playful building of tension and audience expectations as moments of near silence are drawn out for as long as possible. The viewer obviously knows something is going to happen, but as the silence is drawn out a few seconds longer than your average horror flick, when that loud jolt of music does come you are guaranteed to leave your seat.
It can also be more subtle. The constant background noise of eerie howling wind seeps into the audience’s subconscious, maintaining a constant unsettling ambience. This ensures that even when nothing particularly scary is happening the viewer remains on edge.

Raimi’s strikingly fluid yet chaotic camerawork ensures the film impresses visually too. This is in evidence right from the off as the camera – acting as the demonic force in the wood’s POV – awakens and prowls through a swamp before hurtling through the trees towards its intended victims. It’s certainly some of the most unique, exciting camerawork to be found in the genre.

The Evil Dead can also be thanked for introducing the world to the cult icon that is Bruce Campbell as our severely unlucky hero, Ash. Over the course of the franchise with cult follow up/comedy re-telling Evil Dead II (1987), Army of Darkness (1992), and the critically-acclaimed but sadly short-lived TV series Ash vs Evil Dead, Ash is tormented by demons, driven insane and coated in all manner of multi-coloured bodily fluids, as he becomes the wise cracking, demon slaying, chainsaw-handed, boom-stick wielding, but still bumbling action hero we now know and love.
Sadly, Campbell announced he had officially retired playing his most beloved character, but has since teased that there are more stories to tell in the Evil Dead universe. Whatever form these new stories take, let’s hope they do the franchise proud, but while we eagerly await further news, let’s take this time to revisit one of the best horror films ever made, the ultimate experience in gruelling horror, The Evil Dead.

 

 


 

 

Friday The 13th (1980)

1980

Director: Sean S. Cunningham

Starring: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Jeannine Taylor, Robbi Morgan, Kevin Bacon, Harry Crosby, Laurie Bartram, Mark Nelson

Words – Oliver Innocent

Comprising of eight films between 1980 and 1989 (and a further four entries in the decades that followed), Friday the 13th is one of the defining franchises of the ’80s.
Rivalled in popularity only by the Nightmare on Elm Street series, the Friday movies perfectly encapsulate ’80s horror with teen-friendly tales of sex and violence, groundbreaking practical effects, cool soundtracks, and a truly iconic villain. This closely adhered to and extremely reliable formula would ensure fright fans flocked to see the latest entry year after year.
Indeed, the original Friday the 13th plot of teens getting slaughtered in inventive ways in the woods and cabins of the supposedly cursed Camp Crystal Lake would be repeated in almost every sequel with little to no variation. Rather than being a hindrance, this lack of variation is perhaps the series’ biggest asset.

Kicking off the decade in style, the first Friday the 13th scared up big business at the box office, thanks to its successful appropriation of John Carpenter’s slasher granddaddy Halloween and its stalk and slash/teens in peril formula, coupled with more extreme scares and gorier murders.
Courtesy of effects maestro Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead), the over-the-top slayings (knife through the neck, axe in the face, decapitation by machete etc) laid down the blueprint for the series’ penchant for penning more and more elaborate (read; ridiculous) ways of offing people.

Backed by major studio Paramount, Friday the 13th is an odd mixture of independent exploitation-style gratuitous sex ‘n’ violence and straightforward, mainstream-friendly Hollywood scares. To be sure, despite the fact there’s plenty of blood and gore on display, there’s nothing exceedingly grim or nasty about the film when compared with one of its contemporaries like The Evil Dead.
Neither too offensive nor too bloodless, Friday the 13th strikes just the right balance to endear it to both hardcore horror fanatics and more mainstream audiences looking for a fun thrill ride. A surprisingly effective cocktail that not only allowed it to take the box office by storm, but also engendered a pop cultural phenomenon that helped define ’80s horror.

The direction’s pretty solid, the characters – although obvious stereotypes – are fun, the scares work, it has a classic horror score, and Camp Crystal Lake is a memorably creepy setting. There’s no denying it’s effectiveness as an entertainment machine. It also features a very young, pre-fame Kevin Bacon.

These are the kind of horror movies you put on if you just want a fun easy watch that’s sure to cheer you up – the comfort food of horror, if you will. You don’t have to think, you don’t have to concern yourself with any socio-political metaphors, you just have to sit back, grab your popcorn, turn out the lights, and take a trip to Camp Crystal Lake – and see the beginning of one of the most famous franchises in horror movie history…

 

 


 

 

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

1976

Director: John Carpenter

Starring: Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston, Laurie Zimmer, Martin West, Tony Burton, Charles Cyphers, Nancy Kyes

Words – Joe H.

A director synonymous with horror, John Carpenter earned his prolific status with films such as Halloween (1978), The Thing (1982) and They Live (1988), inspiring and influencing generations of countless filmmakers. But before the landmark horror film of Halloween ripped through cinema screens and popular culture, was for many the director’s first standout feature – the 1976 classic Assault on Precinct 13.

We ride along with Lieutenant Ethan Bishop, as he is sent to oversee an LA police precinct in the final stages of closing down – now occupied only with a handful of staff.
Simultaneously, members of the notorious LA gang ‘Street Thunder’ swear a blood oath to take revenge in retaliation for the police having killed some of their members. While they cruise the streets of LA, an act of senseless violence drives a man seeking justice against them to the precinct in the process of shutting down.
Just as Lieutenant Bishop takes charge of the situation at hand, a prisoner transport, which includes death row convict Napoleon Wilson, must take temporary refuge at the nearest police station when one of the prisoners becomes ill.
At this moment, the pursuing LA gang converge on the precinct, and all hell breaks loose, as the handful of law-enforcers and law-breakers at the station find themselves under siege – with the power and phone lines cut, now in a desperate battle to survive the night.
The tension begins to rise, as Lieutenant Bishop asks himself if they have enough to keep their attackers at bay, and just how much can he trust the prisoners who they’re now forced to work alongside, in order to help defend against the ferocious attack that looms large from the increasing gang presence outside in the dark of night.

As the gang close in, the tension escalates to boiling point – accentuated by one of John Carpenter’s most iconic film scores.
From the opening title sequence – as a deep, eerie synth-driven score takes hold – an ominous tone builds, as the soundtrack almost acts as a warning of an approaching danger.
Known for his soundtrack work alongside his feature films, John Carpenter has produced music that has become so recognisable they take on a life of their own beyond the confines of the film, with his score to Assault on Precinct 13 being considered among the best of the directors work.

With elements of a classic Western – as the lone officer upholds the law and defends against a gang of outlaws – and the jeopardy of a Zombie feature – battling to survive the night until dawn breaks or help arrives, as wave after wave of criminals burst in through doors and windows – Carpenter produced one of the most effective exploitation movies of the decade.
A brutal and unrelenting cult classic, full of tension, desperation and memorable performances, Assault on Precinct 13 still ranks as one of John Carpenter’s finest.

 

 


 

 

Uncut Gems

 

Directors: Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie

Starring: Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, Eric Bogosian, LaKeith Stanfield, Kevin Garnett, Judd Hirsch, Idina Menzel

Words – Christian Abbott

When venturing into the Safdie Brother’s work, the filmmakers behind Uncut Gems, it can be a disorientating experience for the uninitiated. But don’t let that fool you, their seemingly shotgun approach to filmmaking is an illusion. From the frantic camera work, pulsating techno scores and overlapping dialogue, their films are meticulous and detailed. Placing Adam Sandler in the eye of this cinematic tornado, the path of destruction that follows is glorious.

Writing, directing and even acting for over a decade now, Josh and Benny Safdie have built an esoteric filmography that is distinctly their own. Across documentaries, short films and theatrical, they provide narrative experiences with a gut-punch ferocity.

Now they have drawn their focus on the world of diamond dealing, debt collecting and a man that just can’t catch a break. The latter is familiar territory, their previous film Good Time, starring Robert Pattinson and Benny Safdie himself, tracked a thief’s night in hell trying to free his brother from prison, from mistake to mistake. That rollercoaster of bad choices can be found right here, with Adam Sandler’s Howard Ratner, consistently betting against the men he owns money to, and continually regretting it.

From the very opening it is clear that the line between the naturalistic and the heightened-reality of the Safdie’s would be present here. Going from scene to scene across Manhattan while the stakes just continue to build is relentless. There will often be three of more conversations happening at once, all circling Sandler as the sequence of events quickly descend upon him like a ton of bricks.

The throbbing hues of neon blues, reds and greens permeate every frame, with the persistent beat of Daniel Lopatin’s (Oneohtrix Point Never) synth sounds. It all sounds like an intense meltdown, and it is, but the way the Safdie’s manage to create a flowing and even poetic plot from all this is astounding. The balancing act of bringing this grounded sense of reality together with the cranked-up visuals is often attempted but never realised to the heights here.

Yet, it is Sandler that carries this burden on his shoulders, the one constant in a film of continual change. Often over-looked as a lowbrow comedy actor, he shows us once again what a real talent he is. His on-brand rage is present here, but re-purposed, weaponised and deadly. He is nothing less of a joy to watch and an absolute triumph.

This is perhaps the Safdie’s most accessible film yet, and for those dipping their toes, now is the time to jump into their manic world(s). Often nail-biting in its intensity and shocking in its delivery, it all builds toward a conclusion that will stay with you long after staggering out of the cinema.

★★★★★

 

 


 

 

Must See Movies: January

At Reel Steel we want to make sure you’re getting the most of your cinematic enthusiasm, so each month we put together our short list of some of the best new releases, from popcorn munching explosion fests to the often weird and wonderful.
Take a look at the trailers below and see this month’s recommendations…

 

Jojo Rabbit
in cinemas from January 1st, 2020

From director Taika Watiti, who has been steadily amassing fans with What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Thor: Ragnarok, comes an anti-hate satire.

Jojo is a young German boy living through the final days of World War II, whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic.
Aided only by his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (played by Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism and go to war with his own conscience.

 

Uncut Gems
released Friday January 10th, 2020

Howard Ratner, a charismatic New York City jeweller, is always on the lookout for the next big score.
When he makes a series of high-stakes bets that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime, he must perform a precarious high-wire act, balancing business, family, and adversaries on all sides, in his relentless pursuit of the ultimate win.

This recklessly audacious, thrill-ride of a film cements directors the Safdie brothers as the next big things in American cinema (following on from their standout 2017 thriller Good Time), and presents an incredible, exhilarating turn for Adam Sandler’s career.

 

The Lighthouse
released Friday January 31st, 2020

From Robert Eggers, the filmmaker behind the standout modern horror The Witch, comes this hallucinatory tale of two lighthouse keepers on a remote and mysterious island in the 1890s.

As he arrives to work under lighthouse keeper Tom Wake (Willem Dafoe), Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) quickly finds his time ahead will be tending to the more demeaning and punishing tasks of the building.
As the dynamic between the two becomes increasingly tense, Ephraim learns of the mysterious events which lead to him taking the place of Tom’s former assistant, as paranoia begins to creep in.

With extraordinary performances from Dafoe and Pattinson, The Lighthouse is a hypnotic and truly original piece of cinema.

See our film review from the 2019 Leeds International Film Festival >here<.

 


 

 

Little Women

2019

Director: Greta Gerwig

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, Bob Odenkirk

Words – Carly Stevenson

Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel treads similar terrain to her previous film Ladybird (2017) – a tender coming-of-age story that centres around a close mother-daughter relationship. Similarly, the bond between ‘Marmee’ (Laura Dern) and her four daughters in Little Women is integral to the narrative, in that her selfless love and guidance are the anchoring forces that helps the March family endure the losses and hardships of genteel poverty.
Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, Little Women follows sisters Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Meg (Emma Watson), Beth (Eliza Scanlen) and Amy (Florence Pugh) as they navigate the threshold between childhood and adulthood. Headstrong and fiery-tempered, Jo is a compelling protagonist and Saoirse Ronan captures her defiant spirit perfectly. Equally notable is Florence Pugh’s performance as Amy, the youngest and historically the most disliked March sister. Rather than emphasising Amy’s bratty and materialistic tendencies, as previous adaptations have done, Gerwig offers us a fully rounded characterisation that gives expression to the complexities of girlhood. More than simply a foil for Jo, Amy is her sister’s equal in brightness and ambition. In addition, Amy is arguably depicted as the most practical of her siblings: in one of her most memorable scenes, she indignantly tells her childhood friend Laurie (Timothée Chalamet) that she is not ashamed to pursue a rich husband because she acknowledges that marriage is ‘an economic proposition’ for a woman with no independent income.

Marriage is, of course, a recurring theme in Little Women and Jo’s aversion to matrimony contrasts absolutely with Meg’s enthusiasm for it. Rather than condemning Meg’s choice to settle into a life of domesticity, Gerwig takes care to show us that there are different kinds of happiness for women, and one path is not necessarily superior to another. As Meg says to Jo: ‘just because my dreams are different to yours doesn’t mean they’re unimportant’.

Jo’s dream of being a writer remains constant throughout the narrative, which deftly blends the past and the present in such a way that tragic events are mitigated by rosy scenes of childhood. This structure is echoed beautifully in the colour palette, which alternates between autumnal hues and soft, springtime pastels (with the exception of a few snowy Christmas scenes).
Rich in detail, Little Women lovingly evokes Alcott’s novel with its authentic New England scenery and period costumes, which fit each character perfectly: Jo’s unfussy, tomboyish attire sharply contrasts with the elegant gowns worn by Amy during her travels in Europe with Aunt March (Meryl Streep) and Meg during her debutante period, while Beth is generally seen in muted colours to match her quiet and gentle nature. As Alexandre Desplat’s classical yet contemporary score emphasises, Gerwig’s adaptation galvanises the source material, whilst respecting its brilliance.
By restructuring Alcott’s novel and introducing a metafictional element that enhances the original ending, Gerwig succeeds in making the story of Little Women as vital and relatable today as it was in 1868.

★★★★★

 

 


 

 

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (spoiler-free review)

2019

Director: J.J. Abrams

Starring: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Kelly Marie Tran, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Greg Grunberg, Shirley Henderson, Billie Lourd, Dominic Monaghan, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams, Joonas Suotamo, Ian McDiarmid

Words – Josh Senior

You won’t find any spoilers in this review…

We’re finally here, nine movies, the end of a cycle (well this current cycle, the wheels of endless sci-fi commercialisation roll ever on)… and with the Rise of Skywalker, the narrative that George Lucas first laid out inevitably draws to a close… sort of.

It’s been four years since the release of The Force Awakens and in that time Disney have squeaked out an entire trilogy of new films as well as side stories Rogue One, and Solo: A Star Wars Story. Generally, up until now, the results have been pretty good, with 2017’s The Last Jedi being a personal favourite. But the fun stops here, The Millenium Falcon is out of juice.

The essential problem with Rise of Skywalker is politics, from boardroom level down.
Star Wars is the hottest commodity in the cinema industry, and with so many people having such a vested interest in how this final piece fits into the wider Star Wars landscape, we’ve got something oddly misshapen. A horse designed by committee will always be a camel, and where Disney could have gone out with a bang, they’ve produced a wet armpit fart of a movie.

Where previously Disney have let their filmmakers harness their skill and joy effectively, we’ve been given the best movies. JJ Abrams was allowed to give his simplistic yet polished take with The Force Awakens, and Rian Johnson was let off the leash with The Last Jedi, but director firings and creative clashes have marred Disney over the last four years leading to muted critical responses. Fear set in, and they bolted at the first sign of trouble. In the final hour reinstating JJ Abrams to wrap up the trilogy on a reduced timeline. He managed to finish the film, but that feels like the only goal, because given more time, surely he could have done better?

Rise of the Skywalker isn’t a film in the traditional sense. It isn’t someone telling a story for the love of telling that story. It lacks nuance, intrigue and most damning of all, spectacle. It is a film designed to answer problems, to tick boxes and try to tie the threads of many dangling narratives. It does none of these things. It doesn’t actually “end the saga” as its marketing campaign would suggest, leaving some strange side stories open for future developments (or simply just leaves characters hanging with nothing) and nor does it do justice to the previous two movies.

You’ve got to feel bad for poor Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Issacs) doing the best they can with their strange on-screen bromance, only to be left looking on as other people get to do the really heroic stuff. Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) take their shot at the Shakesperian showdown, but are hampered by poor pacing and even worse dialogue. Bizarrely, the character given the most emotional range is Anthony Daniels’ C3-PO, who gets a genuine moment of pathos, but then has it all snatched away as all the drama is sucked into a bad pun. The only highlight throughout is being able to see Carrie Fisher on screen again.

There isn’t much of a narrative either, the film starts during a high speed chase, and continues like that for 141 minutes. Rey and co. have to go to one planet to pick up a MacGuffin which then leads to the next planet, and then each time they’re caught up by Kylo and his muted goons, The Knights of Ren – much teased over the last two movies, who literally do nothing in this one. Rey and Kylo clash lightsabers quite a bit, and then they reach their end goal, their big standoff with one Emperor Palpatine. There is no innovation, no time for pause or reflection, it feels like you’re slowly being pushed towards the cinema exit the whole time… “yeah that’s it, we finished it now, let’s all forget this happened, bye…”

From odd cameos, to bad jokes and space horses (sorry that’s kind of a spoiler), through many hokey alien costumes, poorly placed flashbacks and finally ending with a homage so predictable, Rise of Skywalker is quite simply a catastrophic failure.
Leaving aside the issues of fandom, and cult status, it’s just a poorly thought out film in every sense. A bad story that a great bunch of characters didn’t deserve.

Maybe we all just need a break from Star Wars for a bit?
And I REALLY LOVE Star Wars.

 

 


 

 

Best Films of 2019

2019 has been a great year for cinema – from stories of relationships, to horror and coming-of-age journeys.

This year, instead of putting together an(other) arbitrary end of year list ranking the films of 2019, we’ve simply selected 10 films we feel stood out this year.

Listed in alphabetical order, each film has stood out in 2019 in a different way
click on the film title to see our review.

 

Avengers

Avengers: Endgame

The end to over a decade of storytelling, succeeding as a celebration of every Marvel film before it.

 

HONEY BOY

Honey Boy

A personal story of a fractured relationship.

 

In Fabric

In Fabric

An audacious and darkly comic film.

 

joker

Joker

Touching on societal issues, one of the most talked about films of the year.

 

MarriageStory3

Marriage Story

A story about breaking up, while trying to keep it together.

 

Mid90s 5

Mid90s

A coming-of-age story with a documentary-like authenticity.

 

MONOS

MONOS

A visceral, cinematic and hypnotic thriller.

 

TheNight

The Nightingale

A film that is not only haunting and powerful, but vital.

 

TPBF

The Peanut Butter Falcon

One of the year’s most enjoyable, charming and emotional pieces of cinema.

 

Seahorse

Seahorse

A standout documentary, telling a phenomenal story about what makes us who we are.

 


 

 

An honourable mention goes to the films which have had UK screenings at film festivals in 2019, but aren’t due to have their cinema release until 2020…

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

The Lighthouse

Colour Out of Space