Monday, 28 May 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story - Dir. Ron Howard

In the feverishly franchise focussed Hollywood of 2018, the days of a 3-year wait between Star Wars movies are long gone and this fourth film in as many years arrives a fraction over 5 months after the last adventure through hyperspace. Solo: A Star Wars Story brings the earlier years of Han Solo to the big screen with Alden Ehrenreich stepping into the role that Harrison Ford has inhabited for 40 years, which doesn’t sound daunting at all <gulp>.

After being thrown out of the Empire’s pilot academy, a young Han Solo finds himself on the front line of the Empire’s march to bring new planets under its control. Sensing the limited prospects in a future as an infantry soldier, Solo talks his way onto a crew of thieves, led by Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), who have their own orders to follow.

Image via Lucasfilm

Monday, 16 April 2018

Custody - Dir. Xavier Legrand

A late addition to 2017’s autumn festival circuit, Custody went on to pick up awards at Venice, San Sebastián and Miami film festivals on its way to UK cinemas. Expanding his Oscar nominated short, Xavier Legrand writes and directs a story of the bitter fight between two parents and their two children caught up in the torrent of animosity.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

The Third Murder - Dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda

Not content with producing a recent string of deceptively perceptive dramas that any director would be envious of, Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda has changed gear for his latest picture. The Third Murder (a seemingly innocuous but very deliberate title) may technically be a murder mystery but in Kore-eda’s hands, it plays as a much more unconventional take on that familiar genre: a story in which the neatly tied loose ends are thoroughly unravelled.

Factory worker Misumi follows his boss down to the riverbank one evening, a hammer in hand. Once the violent blows have been dealt and the body burned, Misumi is promptly arrested and confesses to the murder. Having already served time in prison for a double murder some years ago, he’s almost certain to receive the death penalty. His defence attorney Shigemori (Masaharu Fukuyama) begins searching for any detail or technicality that might spare his client from his fate, but soon begins to question Misumi’s apparently certain guilt.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Top 20 Films of 2017

To go out on a limb (although all are welcome to join), I would say that 2017 has been the best year of film releases in as long as I've been deliberating each 'year in film'.

Not only in terms of the quality but also in the range of genres, styles and voices. I'll limit myself to 20, but I could've easily gone to 30+ and found films that I have a lot of time for and may have made lists from previous years.

As ever, I've gone by UK release dates (theatrical where available). Full reviews (where available) are linked in each entry.

Monday, 13 November 2017

BFI LFF 2017 - THELMA - Dir. Joachim Trier

A father and his daughter Thelma walk across a frozen lake; she pauses momentarily to watch the silvery fish slinking through the icy water below. Later, a fawn crosses their path; the father raises his rifle to shoot, but turns it towards his daughter just ahead of him. He holds his aim but can’t bring himself to pull the trigger.

It’s a brilliant opening – one of the year’s best – to Norwegian director Joachim Trier’s fourth film Thelma, his first foray into genre cinema. It’s unsettling and gives Trier a blank canvas on which to map out his chilling sci-fi drama; the unexpected should be expected at every turn.