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Pickups – LFF 2017 Review

Pickups is the third collaboration between actor Aiden Gillen and writer/director Jamie Thraves. Back in 2000, Thraves give Gillen one of his first big roles in the indie Low Down and the two have kept in touch between the former’s work in commercials and music videos and the latter’s perfor-mances in TV series like The Wire and Peaky Blinders.

Pickups is a frustrating mix of meta-fiction and character study where Gillen plays a variation on himself – Aiden, a famous actor preparing for his next challenging role as a serial killer. The film is keen to de-glamorise the world of the jobbing thespian by showing Aiden shuttling between a dreary flat in Dublin, a home in London he hasn’t been able to sell and a cottage where he clumsily tries to be the cool dad with his teenage son from a failed marriage.

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Gemini – LFF 2017 Review

Gemini makes the most of its low budget and largely unknown cast thanks to its Los Angeles setting and neo-noir storyline. This is Aaron Katz’s fifth feature and it deserves to be the film that breaks him out of the film festival ghetto his work has largely circulated in.

Lola Kirk is Jill, the wise, long suffering assistant to Zoe Kravitz’ Heather Anderson, a young star whose mercurial temperament makes the life of her agent, lawyers and directors hell. She needs some “Me” time with her secret girlfriend, Tracy, played by Greta Lee and has turned down a juicy film role. Something goes horribly wrong during this critical moment and Jill finds Heather gunned down in her cooler than thou Riad-style house in the Hollywood hills. Jill is now the prime suspect of the investigating detective, portrayed with urbane calm by John Cho.

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Film Review: Kingsman:The Golden Circle

After the more recent incarnations of 007, James Bond fans must be mourning the loss of the once-compulsory gadgets. The good news is that they’ve not gone away, they’ve just been moved elsewhere. To another franchise that treats them with even less reverence.

They’re now housed among a group of spies masquerading as an upper class gentleman’s outfitters, who made their first appearance a couple of years ago in Kingsman:The Secret Service. A title with everything you need to know. Its follow-up, Kingsman:The Golden Circle, has a more cryptic name, but the idea is still very much the same. In fact, even more of the same.

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Film Review: Borg Vs McEnroe

In the summer of 1980, one of the greatest tennis matches in the history of the game took place when two of the most accomplished players met in the Wimbledon final. In Borg McEnroe, Director Janus Metz brings the story of the two men to life in this beautifully crafted biopic and takes a look at the dynamic which existed between them on that fated fortnight. Staring Shia LaBeouf in the McEnroe role, and Sverrir Gudnason as the great Björn Borg, the film not only does a fantastic job in keeping the suspense going till the very end, but also manages to recreate the era almost perfectly, right down to the dodgy haircuts and questionable fashion sense. And it is even better if like yours truly, you had no idea who had won the infamous match all those years ago.

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Film Review: American Assassin

Directed by Michael Cuesta (Homeland, Six Feet Under) and staring Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien, American Assassin hopes to bring a new action hero a la James Bond or Jason Bourne, but sadly lacks the charm and humour of the first and the subtlety of the latter. Written by Stephen Schiff and adapted from Vince Flynn’s popular 2010 novel of the same name, the film tells the story of hot-headed CIA black ops recruit operative Mitch Rapp, who under the instructions of cold war veteran Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton) must learn to control his own anger and emotion in order to defeat his country’s enemies and those who personally wrong him.

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Film Review: The Vault

Directed by Dan Bush (The Signal, The Reconstruction of William Zero), The Vault is a fast-paced, violent and at times simply baffling heist movie with a twist. Mixing the supernatural with the usual heist narrative fodder, the film attempt a new approach to this tried and tested formula, but ultimately falls at the first hurdle by its inability to offer a compelling or coherent enough story.

James Franco, Taryn Manning and a whole host of brilliantly talented young Hollywood actors are wasted on this deeply confused small budget production, which sadly for its makers can’t quite decide what it wants to be and ends up looking messy and rather confused.

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Film Review: Insyriated

Belgian director Philippe Van Leeuw may not seem like the most obvious person to direct a film about the Syrian war, but then again the same could have been said about Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo and his seminal film about the the Algerian war of independence, The Battle Of Algiers (1966), a film which remains to this day one of the most powerful features ever made on the subject. Set inside a solitary apartment in a building in Damascus, Insyriated is certainly not for the fainted hearted, but remains nevertheless essential viewing for anyone wanting to make sense of the horrors taking place daily.

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Film Review: mother!

Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! introduces us to one of those golden couples lauded in social media, entertainment news and slavish profiles in Vanity Fair, Vogue or countless colour supplements. Javier Bardem is a celebrated poet trying to crack writer’s block as his new and younger wife, Jennifer Lawrence, works to renovate and redecorate their country house. Into this domestic Eden, disorder arrives in the form of a dying fan, Ed Harris, and his vivacious partner played with a delicious frisson by Michelle Pfeiffer. What happens between this quartet rapidly accelerates into a mash-up of Rosemary’s Baby, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Discreet Charm of The Bourgeoisie and liberal dashes of Pinter, Beckett and Ionesco for any absurdist theatre fans in the audience.

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