Joker ★★★★☆

 

Following a string of impressive DC releases, we have the latest incarnation of the legendary villain, The Joker. Can Phoenix match Ledger in bring the crown prince of crime to the big screen?

Directed by Todd Phillips

Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz, Robert De Niro



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Yesterday ★★½☆☆

Following an accident, a young musician wakes up in a world where The Beatles never existed. An opportunity arises to make the most of the situation, and our musician sees the chance to write some of the greatest pop songs of all time! Gotta earn that $$$$$ right?

Directed by Danny Boyle

Starring Himesh Patel, Lily James, Ed Sheeran


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Midsommar ★★★☆☆

Following up from the critically acclaimed Hereditary last year, Ari Aster’s latest release sees a young couple join their friends on a summer retreat out in the Swedish countryside. The communal festivities seem jovial until things start to take a sinister turn……

Directed by Ari Aster

Starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor and Will Poulter


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Dirty God ★★★☆☆

Dirty God is a somber look at a young mother who has to suffer from the consequences of an acid attack on the streets of London. The lead, is played by a real life burns survivor, bringing an extra sense of realism to the film.

Directed by Sacha Polak

Starring Vicky Knight, Katherine Kelly


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Tolkien ★★½☆☆

Flying in under the radar, was this look back at the life of the legendary author, JRR Tolkien. Looking back at the events and experiences that shaped his life, which would go on to inspire his to write of books called Lord of the Rings………may sound familiar!

Directed by Dome Karukoski

Starring Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins


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Rocketman ★★★★☆

Freddie Mercury got the big screen treatment last year, now it’s the turn for another musical icon to get on the silver screen. Can Rocketman hit the Oscar buzz? Taron Egerton takes up the role of the iconic Elton John in this flamboyant biopic!

Directed by Dexter Fletcher

Starring Taron Egerton, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard


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Review : Searching ★★★★

We’ve already seen the ‘on screen’ format recently with Unfriended :Dark Web, where the majority of the action takes place on the screen of a characters computer. It’s a unique way of telling a story, which works rather well with the society we live in now. Whereas Unfriended used this method to deploy cheap thrills and deliver an incoherent story, Searching manages to be surprisingly emotional and intense.

Following the disappearance of his young daughter, Margot (Michelle La) , David Kim (John Cho) uses all the methods at hand in order to track down what exactly happened. After tracking her Facebook, Tumblr and other social media activities, things start to turn down a sinister avenue.

Director Aneesh Chaganty manages to weave a captivating tale, even though we only see the drama take place in one place, the desktop of David. The film feels very current, and the tech used are the real programs, giving the film that much more realism.  John Cho puts in a fascinating performance,  he is pretty much in all the scenes, and really has to carry the movie. Though he is commonly known for his comedic talents, his role as a worried dad, willing to do anything to find out the truth is wonderful.

The film makes great use of the mother’s passing, to convey emotion. Especially when David logs into the account of someone who has passed away. It provides an eerie vibe, with small details like an inbox with thousands on unread emails. There are several other small details hidden in the background that makes things so effective.

The film manages to relate to several issues we have nowadays, especially the trend of people trying to bandwagon onto whatever the next trending news is, in order to get some more likes or retweets. How easy it is to talk trash/meme a stranger online. or how people act in real life, as opposed to their online persona. One particular scene is done extremely well, and makes want to yell at the character on screen!

On the negative side, there really isn’t too much to frown upon, the only issue I had was the fact the film’s promotional material, actively mentioned a big twist, which isn’t really that shocking. It was obvious the film would have a twist, and it felt strange that they felt like it needed to be mentioned, especially as the twist felt rather rushed. The film’s trailer also reveals far too much of the story, and would have preferred if they kept more of it a secret!

Searching is by far one of the best movies of the year so far, and is getting the critical praise it deserves (still at 92% on RT!), Cho really turns this film into what could have been a fairly average film, to a great one. It also contains probably one of the most emotional openings to a film since Up! And that’s saying something!

The Foreigner Does Enough

Jackie Chan is not usually seen in a serious tone in his movies over here in the West. Although he may be great as a comedic actor, he is also well known for his more dramatic roles back in the East. So fans were intrigued to see that the latest Chan movie to be released here, was a shift away from the norm here, and places him in a far more melancholic surrounding.

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The Foreigner directed by Martin Campbell, is a fairly typical revenge thriller. Quan (Chan) is a worker, living a simple life in London, but following an IRA terrorist bombing, he loses his teenage daughter (Katie Lueng). Using all his military expertise from days gone past, he sets out on a relentless pursuit for answers, and to find the people responsible. This leads him to the doorstep of the deputy minister for Northern Ireland, Liam Hennessy (Brosnan).

Taken, this isn’t, but The Foreigner is still an enjoyable movie to sit down and watch. It’s far more interesting to see Chan as the broken down father figure, rather than what he  is usually type cast as, and all his scenes carry great intensity. There are several action scenes that make use of Chan, but they are not as vibrant as they usually are, it’s far more visceral and calculated. Brosnan is excellent as the charming deputy minister, bringing a strong gravitas to a film that really isn’t flooded with big names. His witty exchanges with his fellow cabinet members and staff still exude that 007 aura he had, even down to getting his hands messy if needs must.  The cat & mouse interactions between Quan & Hennessy are by far the most fascinating parts of the movie, though Hennessy insists he was not involved, Quan is adamant he must have known something, considering his powerful political position.

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Where the film struggles is the overall story arc, the entire IRA subplot really does slow down the movie, and it gets drowned in a lot of dialogue and conversations.  The plot attempts to be far more intricate and layered than it really should have been. Any scene which does not involve Chan or Brosnan really feels like a drag.  The whole affair plot line has a resolution, but even then, it feels like it could have been written in a much more captivating manner.  Also, there could have been more scenes with Chan, as that really is the film’s strongest points.  Seeing Chan take out elite soldiers in the woods is far more interesting than political power plays. Quan is almost a secondary character compared to Hennessy. As good as Hennessy is, most people would be tuning into this for Chan, and they really didn’t make the most of that factor.

Overall, the movie does seem to drown itself with its plot at times, but the star power of Chan and the charm of Brosnan has enough to make The Foreigner worth a watch.

Molly’s Game Captivates

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Based on the novel of the same name, Molly’s Game is based on the rise and fall of Molly Bloom, who in her 20s, was hosting the world’s most exclusive Poker tournaments in both LA & NYC.  Attracting the biggest names in Hollywood, sports and business, her game was rolling in millions, before inevitably getting the unwanted attention of organised crime & the mafia.

Before taking up her place in law school, Molly Bloom (Chastain) decides to take a year out, taking up part time jobs to support herself. During this time, while working as an assistant, she gets introduced to the world of underground Poker, planning the logistics for her boss’s poker nights. It’s not before long, she uses her wits & smarts to get her foot into this lavish lifestyle, and has her own business running. But after falling foul to the law, she needs to rely on her charismatic defense attorney, Charlie Jaffey (Elba) in order to avoid the full brunt off the law.

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The film has been referred to in the same breath as The Wolf of Wall Street, and in a sense, it is a similar story, they both start from nothing, earning millions, before the collapse of a mighty empire. But unlike TWOWS, where all the activity was clearly illegal from the start, Molly does her best to keep things as legal as possible. Chastain is brilliant as Molly, bringing a certain likability and dynamism to the character. Though the business she takes partakes in, is morally askew, for most parts, she stays on the right side of things. Her monologues are full of wit and sarcasm, which makes her character thoroughly entertaining. Her interactions with Elba are also highly amusing, both characters are intelligent and charming, so their verbal sparring is great fun to watch.  Their characters also avoid the trap of falling into a clichéd romance, which was a nice change for once.

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Jessica Chastain in MOLLY’S GAME

The most captivating parts of the film are obviously all the Poker scenes, where they flashback to the events prior to her arrest. You don’t have to be an expert in Poker to know what is going on, as the movie explains everything in an engaging fashion. Not to mention, the real life addition of a big time Hollywood celebrity (whose identity can be easily found out with a quick search online!) adds an interesting dimension to the story. These are the parts of the movie you’ve come to see, and Chastain carries all of them with supreme grace.

Though most of the film is compelling to watch, the film really suffers in the final act. With her relationship with her father (Kevin Costner) playing a pivotal role. The film grinds to a halt, and adds an unnecessary 20 minutes to the entire movie.  That really is the only real flaw that could be said about a film that for most parts, it’s mighty enjoyable. Of course some liberties are taken from the source material, in order to make the film more enjoyable, but that’s to be expected for any book that is converted for the big screen.

Coming out of New Year, Molly’s Game is a perfect way to start the year at the cinema! Yes the finale is underwhelming, the majority of the movie is riveting.

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