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Category: Reviews

Film Review: Sicilian Ghost Story

Reviewed by Zoe Margolis

Based on the true story of Giuseppe Di Matteo, the teenage boy who was kidnapped by the Sicilian Mafia in the 1990s, and held captive for two years to prevent his father, another Mafia figure, from testifying against them in court, Sicilian Ghost Story wraps this real-life event into a fictional fantasy involving a teenage girl who is intent on finding the missing boy.

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The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales

Reviewed by Lee Hill

It has become a critical truism in recent years to suggest that the most successful animated films appeal both to adults as well as children. Hasn’t this always been the case? Since Mickey Mouse appeared in Walt Disney’s debut short, Steamboat Willie (1928), Max Fleishman’s Popeye (from the comic strip created by EC Segar) and George Herriman’s Krazy Kat, cartoons have often had a cross-generational appeal tapping into our common need to laugh, indulge flights of fancy and escape into narratives that have the flow of dreams.

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Film Review: Heathers Reissue

Reviewed by Lee Hill

First released in the autumn of 1988, Heathers was the little teen suicide film that could. Produced by New World Pictures, a company founded by Roger Corman to nurture everything from Bergman’s Cries and Whispers to Slumber Party Massacre, Heathers was shot over 33 days for $3 million, and it made Winona Ryder and Christian Slater stars for much of the 90s. Focusing on a clique of beautiful high school girls, all with the same name, the “Heathers” use their good looks, popularity and penchant for sadistic pranks to terrorize their classmates.

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Film Review: Apostasy

Reviewed by April McIntyre

Apostasy: “The abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief or principle” cites the dictionary, which gives audiences a hint at what to expect from director, Daniel Kokotajlo’s debut, an insight into the lives of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Kokotajo, a former Jehovah’s Witness himself for 10 years shines a light on a community about which many know very little.

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Mission: Impossible – Fallout Review

Reviewed by Freda Cooper (@FredaTalkingPix)

Ethan Hunt is back! It’s the sixth instalment of the Mission:Impossible franchise, but let’s put aside the logic that says there should only ever have been one film with that title. The same argument applied to the original TV series and it never bothered them, so why should Tom Cruise worry about it?

After all, this is not a series that demands too much of your thinking time. It’s all about the action, a formula that’s been paying off handsomely since 1996 and increasingly as the years have gone by. While previous offerings have been very much stand-alone affairs, it helps this time round to have seen Rogue Nation, if only to understand the interplay between Hunt (Cruise) and some of the returning characters. His long-running adversary Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) is back and this time Hunt and his trusty team of Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames) have to make sure he’s never let loose on the world again. And there’s the small matter of some plutonium getting into the wrong hands.

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Film Review: The Racer and The Jailbird

Reviewed by Lee Hill

Flemish director Michael R Roskam is best known for his noirish debut, Bullhead (2011), a searing character study of a young farmer caught up in the black market for illegal beef products. Bullhead made Matthias Schoenaerts one of the latest stars of European arthouse cinema to cross over to a global audience. It also established Roskam as a director who could combine character driven drama with suspense. Roskam and Schoenaerts worked on James Gandofini’s last film, The Drop (2014), and have reunited for a third time on this thriller about two seemingly mismatched, but obsessive lovers.

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Film Review: Swimming With Men

Reviewed by Luke Channell

Oliver Parker’s Swimming with Men turns the spotlight on the uncharted world of male synchronised swimming in this amiable yet slightly flimsy British dramedy. The film takes its inspiration from 2010 documentary Men Who Swim which followed a group of middle-aged Swedish men in their pursuit of synchronised swimming glory. But Swimming with Men is most indebted to a tradition of British feel-good films which see melancholic characters finding happiness and purpose through an unlikely source. The Full Monty, Calendar Girls and Kinky Boots are to name just a few, sadly, however, Parker’s film fails to match the sharp scripts and fully-fleshed out characters of these British classics.

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Film Essay: Yellow Submarine 4K Reissue

Reviewed by Lee Hill

Where did the time go? Fifty years ago, if memory serves, when Yellow Submarine first hit theatres, I was mesmerized by the Gold Key comic tie-in owned by one of my neighbourhood pals. My other Beatle memory of 1968 was seeing the fab four on The Smother Brothers when their promotional films for “Hey Jude” and “Revolution” aired. I didn’t get to see the film properly until it began airing on TV in the 70s; by which time The Beatles had broken up and the decade they shook up seemed impossibly distant. However, as much as Beatlemania and nostalgia go hand in hand, the Chekhovian vibe of better yesterdays is kept in check by two things: the music remains as alive and vital as it did in the 60s, and our unending wonder that four Liverpudlians could do so much that was not just good, but great, in the space of eight years.

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Film Review: Terminal

Reviewed by April McIntyre

Director Vaughn Stein has put his own spin on the classic genre in his gritty, neo-noir, Terminal. Margot Robbie heads up this impressive cast, which includes Mike Myers, Simon Pegg and Dexter Fletcher. Aesthetically Terminal does what a neo-noir should do; the chiaroscuro lighting, the anonymous big city, blaring neon lights and a deadly and seductive femme fatale. Unfortunately, that is where it stops and there’s only so far the superficial can take us until our interest begins to wane. Stein does, however keep the audience watching with various loose ends running through the narrative waiting to be tied. Several large twists present themselves, where one would suffice. The film promptly leaves noir territory and settles comfortably into a more routine and predictable Hollywood thriller narrative, that even its hardboiled script fails to anchor in its desired genre.

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