Gone But Never Forgotten – Remembering 2016

2016 has been a rather brutal year around the world outside of people’s individual lives. There’s been a huge amount of tragedy and upheaval from the continued war and deaths in Syria to the countless shootings in the USA. In the world of politics the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, the impeachment of Brazil’s first female president Dilma Rousseff and Britain’s vote to leave the EU has left many rattled and the state of affairs unpredictable as we enter 2017. There have been a number of scandals that have further tarnished 2016’s reputation including, but not limited to, Samsung’s phone & Hoverboard product recalls after they started catching fire whilst on charge, the Panama papers and the Zika virus outbreak. On top of all this, this year has been noted for a huge number of celebrity deaths. Many icons have passed away this year and according to the statistics, 2016 will be just the beginning of this grisly affair.

Having discussed such bleak topics, it seems difficult to find a modicum of optimism but it’s important to do so. Hope may have been described as the last evil to leave Pandora’s Box and Love is complicated at best but really they are important things to hold on to in darker times. Hope is the light that guides us to open land and, to quote “The Future” by the late and great Leonard Cohen, love is the only engine of survival. We may have lost some great starts of the big screen but it’s worth remembering their work and be glad they existed at all. In that vein, here is a list of film recommendations featuring people who’ve died this year.

Labyrinth – David Bowie – Lee-Ann Pawley

Labyrinth (1986) Directed by Jim HensonShown: David Bowie

Celebrity deaths rarely touch me in a significant way I have to admit. But I cried over David Bowie. And I think it was because of this film. I watched it so many times as a child/teenager/adult that Bowie’s voice and mannerisms are forever etched in my minds eye. And his junk. Jareth’s tight tights were my sexual awakening. In general this film is still amazing. Puppetry is an art form when it’s done right, allowing you to suspend reality and really believe a cockney worm could invite you in for a cup of tea. Watching Bowie interact with his goblin subjects I am sure he felt the same. When Bowie announced all those years ago that he was taking the lead in a children’s film, he was laughed at. What came of it, however, was one of the most iconic performances ever for those who grew up in the 80s/90s. To all those still mourning the loss of this idol, remember: it’s only forever, not long at all.

Sense & Sensibility – Alan Rickman – Jennifer Drewett


When trying to recommend a film to remember Alan Rickman by, one is so spoilt for choice that a decision is difficult to reach. You could actually have a proper movie marathon based on this actor’s work and enjoy yourself silly. If I really had to choose one film that I would recommend seeing Rickman in (and for the sake of this list, I must), I whole heartedly suggest watching Sense and Sensibility. The adaptation of the Jane Austen classic novel sees Rickman play the caring yet complicated Colonel Brandon, a military man who falls for the passionate Marianne Dashwood (played by Kate Winslet). The gentlemanly hero that make audiences swoon isn’t the kind of role people usually would think to put Rickman in but he nails the role. This role gives him ample opportunity to show how versatile and nuanced he is as a performer. One moment he’s a smouldering brooder trying to reconcile his difficult past, the next he’s acting as a selfless ally to the Dashwood family and then he is the bold hero who rescues his love interest from succumbing to cold in the pouring rain. He’s the ideal man: someone who is respectful of women and their boundaries at a time when that wasn’t an entirely popular notion. Rickman performs him so well it’ll be difficult to find anyone who could do as good a job at the role.

Green Room – Anton Yelchin – Sarah Cook


Losing a star so young is a tragedy. With a career blossoming and acclaim coming their way, to be torn from the world so brutally is unfair and fills everyone with sorry. The tragic loss of Anton Yelchin this year has hit us all. The Russian born 27 year old was involved in a car accident at his home and died due to his injuries. The actor whose career started young and was cemented in the reboot series was mourned by Hollywood and fans alike, many noting his good humour, inquisitive nature, and wise personality. He left behind a legacy of terrific and unparalleled performances that are now too small a collection of an actor in his prime. But I urge you, to see him at his prime, you have to watch him in Green Room. Ever since watching Green Room a month ago, not a day has gone by where I haven’t thought about the film. Directed by Jeremy Saulnier, the film is an immersive, heart-thudding thriller that doesn’t skirt around the grim elements either. Yelchin stars as Pat, the lead singer of a punk band who unwittingly play for Neo-Nazis who later trap them in the titular room after they witness a murder. The claustrophobia is rife here and Yelchin’s wide-eyed, scared Pat is wrought with anguish, courage, and strength. Yelchin uses his boyish charms to develop this panicky troubled guitar player into the hero of the piece, and greatly so. Spouting one of the best monologues in cinema, he is engaging, gut-wrenching, and his will to survive completely intense.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Carrie Fisher – Jennifer Drewett


When the news hit that Carrie Fisher had passed away, many were quick with complimentary words referring to her as Princess Leia but much like fellow writer Anne Thériault I believe Fisher’s performance to remember in the Star Wars saga came from The Force Awakens. She’s the leader of the Rebellion as she was destined to be. She has remained steadfast in her duty to save the rest of the Galaxy throughout everything including the loss of her son to the Dark Side, the disintegration of her relationship with Han Solo and the disappearance of her brother Luke. She is clearly affected by what happens to her but she doesn’t let it stop her work for the Rebellion. She’s the epitome of the strong female character we should all aspire to be like much like the woman who made her a legend. Fisher’s death was irrevocably sad and we can all do her legacy some good by practising some honesty, humour and compassion.

Singin’ In The Rain – Debbie Reynolds – Jennifer Drewett


There’s barely a musical film in existence as legendary as Singin’ In The Rain. Whilst many will rightly point out Gene Kelly’s performance as a highlight, Debbie Reynolds as the leading lady really stands out. This role was her breakout and it rightly made her a star. She strikes the right balance as the sweet fan of her love interest (played by Kelly) and the strong and talented woman determined to achieve her dreams. She was a more than capable leading lady and her determination wasn’t limited to the roles she played. Reynolds faced adversity many a time during her life but her unique sense of honesty always seemed to see her through which passed on to her beloved daughter, Carrie Fisher.

What were your favourite roles of the stars who passed away this year?

Let us know in the comments.

Best Films of 2016

2016 comes to an end today, and thank goodness. We’ve sat through a lot of bullshit to get to where we are today including Brexit, Harambe, Trump, and Batman v Superman. 

The best thing we can do, as film lovers and obsessives, is to remind ourselves how much greatness we’ve had on the big screen. Here’s the best of 2016 chosen by our writers.

Swiss Army Man – Sarah Cook

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With acapella music, some impressive film references, and a genuine spirit that develops greatly throughout, Swiss Army Man is a triumph of components making it impossible for you to forget and urges you not too.  Despite the sheer lunacy of premise, the greatness comes from the beguiling humanity and undercurrent of sadness that babbles within the tale like the animated corpse of Manny trying to create a tune. The friendship throughout the film is unparalleled in cinema, of course, and yet manifests in a stirring and enchanting way. The abandoned Hank finds solace and development within the undead Manny who is striving to learn about the life he forgot when he snuffed it the first time. Though your mind, conditioned against the weirdly wonderful, would cause you to scoff, especially as flatulence is crucial here, the urge to lean into the tale causes you to uncover the most stirring relationship. On top of the friendship, the arc of understanding life and love in all its splendour and horrors is so achingly pure that it allows you to fall straight into the seat of strangeness. Which, by the way, is a stellar takeaway from the film.

Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano have an enthralling charm and rapport that keeps you invested in the rare goings-on, happily meeting your investment with a joyous and outlandish film.

Take heed in a truly original film created by Dan Kwan and Dan Scheinert and push yourself beyond your comfort zone. After all, that’s what the directors did and, for your amusement, they have masterfully created one of the best films of the year.

Our Review

Sing Street – Sarah Cook


John Carney is a cinematic and musical genius and her furthers his portfolio with the completely rambunctious Sing Street. Revolving around a boy who, to escape his public school bullying and divorcing parents, starts a band to woo the affections of a local girl he has fallen for.

The energetic happiness that beams throughout you as you skip merrily from the screening is unparalleled in this year’s collection of gritty superheroes, damned dramas, and the misery in between.  Certainly, that spirituous effervescence that waves excitable and determined emotion through you way past the credit roll is unique to Carney’s cinematic portfolio. Not without the ebbs of devastation flowing underneath this inspirational ditty, Sing Street is a power song, a fist pump, and a charge for something greater than the one life has given you. It’s hope and courage; rolling with catchy tunes and a beating heart that makes the world a little bit brighter…

Our Review

Florence Foster Jenkins – Georgia Sanders

Unable to play the piano since contracting syphilis and damaging the nerves in her hands, Florence – played by the ever-perfect Meryl Streep – takes to singing as an outlet for her musical passions; despite her lack of skill in the area. A combination of her wealth, large entourage of friends, and tirelessly devoted husband, St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), ensure that she never receives an honest word’s feedback – that is, until her ambition gets the better of her, and she books herself in to perform at Carnegie Hall.

Rarely does one come across a film that is filled with such overwhelming joy and yet such devastating sadness. The quippy and soulful script leaves us both laughing and ugly-crying within moments of each other, with classy comedy – sometimes in as little as a masterful look from Grant. Enveloped in all of the glamour and wonder of the era, Florence Foster Jenkins beams with laughter, tears, new friends and inherent solidarity. It is an utter joy to witness – and like the very real quote from both Streep, and the real Florence herself states – “they may say (she) couldn’t sing, but they’ll never say (she) didn’t sing.

The Nice Guys – Robbie Jones


Here’s a question: Why do that people complain all the time about superhero films, reboots and remakes, sequels etc. polluting cinema, yet when an original, excellent independent film comes their way, no-one watches it? That was the case with Everybody Wants Some!!, and it’s the case for The Nice Guys. The Nice Guys is one of the year’s most delightful films; it’s rich in humour, brimming with excitement, beautifully shot and lovingly crafted in every way, and has two stand out central performances from Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, who honestly offer some of their best work. Not only that, but young Angourie Rice steals the show too as Gosling’s young daughter, proving that she’ll be a name to watch out for in years to come. The Nice Guys is a film that gets everything right, and deserved to do far better than it did.

Our Review

Hell or High Water – Robbie Jones


Never underestimate independent cinema, folks. Time and time again, it delivers some of the world’s most magnificent work, and Hell or Highwater is no exception. Director David Mackenzie already proved himself a worth director a few years back with his stunning British prison drama Starred Up, and now he raises the bar a little higher with this new film; a sleek, fast paced neo-Western drama with outstanding central performances from Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges and especially Ben Foster. It’s an atmospheric, visually stunning piece of desperation and greed, amongst so many other well seeded themes that shine in this unforgettable cinematic experience.

Our Review

Notes On Blindness – Lee-Anne Pawley


Notes on Blindness surprised me. And that is why it is my top film this year. I read the premise, I watched the trailer and yet I was not prepared for the spectacular visuals or the sheer ingenuity behind the piece. Simple yet brilliant. Follow a man as he loses something most of us take for granted, hear him describe it in his own words and see the sensation of blindness. Contradictory, perhaps. Stunning, most definitely. I don’t want to give too much away – like I said, it will surprise you. And that’s the best part.

Our Review

I, Daniel Blake – Robbie Jones

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It’s amazing how refreshing a bit of realism can be. Superheroes are fun, and there’s nothing wrong with a bit of melodrama, but there’s something so nice about seeing something that feels real.  Saying that, there’s nothing about the reality of I, Daniel Blake. Ken Loach’s latest masterpiece examines the issue with benefits in our country, and the way it affects ordinary people like recovering carpenter Dan (Dave Johns) and single Mum Katie (Hayley Squires). This is a film that makes you feel in so many ways; sometimes, it’s actually quite hilarious, but for the most part, it’s harrowing. It’s a thought provoking and important film that offers you no rewards and no satisfaction, just the plain cold truth, but one that needs to be recognised.

Our Review

Room – Sarah Cook

In the sublime Room, Joy’s story, told through the round eyed innocence of her son Jack, is the endurance through kidnap, rape, and confinement and then, the preservation of her son when he is unwantedly born.

Director Lenny Abrahamson demands the excavation of the human soul in this twisting and the ferocious director encroaches from whilst the young Jacob Tremblay, who, during press junkets and red carpet shenanigans became our adoptive son this year, is a revelation and can tackle the arc of wonder and frustration tremendously well. Earning Brie Larson an Academy Award, this is a defiant role for an actress who has been captivating in all of her career. Here, she is able to layer Joy with the realist emotional changes that her vitriol and rage as well as hope and courage are all utterly believable.  Larson takes a role that could’ve been wrongfully enhanced by melodrama and, instead, quietly hurts. Surprisingly, it’s a performance louder than most.

Room is a marriage of Emma Donoghue’s story with these superb talents and it lifts into this powerful and superb feature.

Our Review

Hunt for the Wilderpeople – Alli Kett

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From the director of the excellent mockumentary, What We Do in the Shadows and the up-coming blockbuster, Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi has brought forth his next great hit.

The odd couple/outcasts on the run from the authorities is a well worn movie arc. This, however, is a fresh and laugh-out-loud adaption of Wild Pork and Watercress written by Barry Crump.

After hallucinatons of food and being a grumpy git, we find people accidentally forging new connections in the greenery that LoTR left out.

Sam Neil is delightful as the grumpy adoptive dad, Hec, to Ricky. Played by newcomer Julian Dennison, Ricky is a city boy living the skuxx life, he is equal parts annoying as only a teenager can be, and as vulnerable as a boy being shuffled around foster homes can be. Rachel House as the Terminator from social services is played perfectly from a place of love and hard knocks. No child left behind!

Improvised on the day of filming is s sweet rendition of Happy Birthday that will have you singing it for days.

These are heart-felt performances grounded in reality. The outcasts are running from their problems, but they’re also bringing sharp, dark Kiwi humour and jet packs.Hopeful & funny with flashes of sadness and reality. A delightful family friendly film, no schmaltz here, only silly dance moves

Our Review

Midnight Special – Anne Hunt

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It’s a plot that we’ve seen before, back in the classic 80’s sci-fi government chase films like ET and Close Encounters but writer/director Jeff Nichols infuses it with enough heart that it becomes somewhat of a love letter to vintage Spielberg rather than a rip off. Some would compare Midnight Special to Nichol’s other acclaimed supernatural feature Take Shelter, but this one puts that element to the forefront to drive the story rather than it being a backdrop.

Despite the science fiction component, the exploration of the limits a parent goes for their child is what really propels this film alongside fantastic performances by Michael Shannon. There are some memorable spectacular scenes including what seems to be a meteorite shower at a petrol station and the breath-taking visuals in the crescendo of the final act. Amid a tirade of superhero films, sequels and reboots at the moment, Midnight Special is a breath of fresh air, a welcome piece of genuine art and labour of love.

Love & Friendship – Jo Johnstone

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As someone who spends the majority of her time in a cinema or just in front of a screen it is great to be surprised. That happened drastically this year when I saw Love and Friendship. The film, which is a Jane Austen adaptation, should have been straight forward. Victorian setting, marriage as advantage and love as major themes revolving around a feisty heroine. The film indeed has all these elements but displayed a story and central character far different to anything Miss Austen had given us before.

Scandal, trickery, humour, manipulation and deceit are all weaved into this brilliantly told drama and propelled by its astounding lead Kate Beckinsale. For those of us used to seeing the actress leather-clad in the Underworld series or as the beautiful love interest it was a reminder of what a phenomenal actress she really is. Beckinsale delights as the central Lady Susan who plays the characters off around her while exuding charm with ease. An Austen work unlike any other and a marvellous outing for an underrated actress.

Our Review

Arrival – Graham Osborne

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There has been a smattering of science fiction films that have come out this year, some have been good, many more have been bad, but only a couple can hold a candle to Arrival, possibly the best film about a first encounter with an extra-terrestrial race to come out in a very long time (and definitely the best one to come out this year, thank you very much Independence Day: Resurgence.)

The big draw of Arrival is its focus on establishing contact through alternate means that don’t involve the army wading in their most powerful weapons/super-secret experimental technology that they’ve been working on since the fifties. Instead it chooses to address the subject of establishing communication between the two species and ascertaining why the aliens have chosen Earth as their destination. Another point of distinction sees the film giving its protagonist role to Amy Adams, instead of one of the many male actors out there. It’s things like this that gives the impression of hope that Hollywood is slowly coming to terms with the modern world and is losing the fear that they’ll end up bankrupt if someone other than “Mr. Handsome-White-Guy” is at the helm of their cinematic blockbusters.

Our Review

The Neon Demon – Sarah Cook

The Neon Demon is an experience that begs for your pound of flesh and then some. Set against the backdrop of the opulent hues and aching skyline of LA, Refn has developed a horrid fairytale for the beautiful age. Three witches set upon a young virtuous girl and spice her with wanting and hellish powers, looking to twist her naivety into their own darker cause. Soon they will reap upon the young girls being, consuming her blood, body, and beauty to satisfy their whims and desires.

As smoke glides across mirrors, as does The Neon Demon puff with a vapid and unforgiving nature. At times, the enlarged egos and extremities in front of you coerce titters of either discomfort or disbelief, and whether or not Refn had intended this to be the case is left to interpret. The feature is definitely not Refn’s most accessible (though definitely his least original narrative) but that is part of the enjoyment. With an utterly masterful score by Cliff Martinez, another triumph by the composer, the feast beckons you to dive further into the meat of the story and the palpable tendons and grizzle will linger long upon your taste. Digest it, savour it, and become it, The Neon Demon beckons steely stomachs and hungry eyes for what is easily the most complex, unusual, yet completely phenomenal film of the year.

Our Review

Your Name – Gloria Daniels-Moss

If you want spine-tinglying magic, with a slight dash of heart tugging romance then Your Name is the one for you. For a Japanese film, let alone an animation to be selected for London Film Festivals competition is quite the achievement and director Makhoto Shinaki provides us with a film that simply ‘wows’. Yes, this does re-hash the old familiar body-swap, Freaky Friday formula, yet this is a tantalisingly touching tale of so much more than meets the eye. With comforting Studio Ghibli tropes and animation so sublime you forget you aren’t watching live action, Your Name tops the charts in 2016, simply for originality. Finally, something that isn’t a slapstick comedy or a possession horror with children. Forget everything you have seen or heard about cheesy, over the top Japanese anime and embrace this mesmerising tale. To state the exact reasons why this film is outstanding would be near impossible – the sheer amount of emotions that will undoubtedly flow through your being at an alarming rate should be enough for you to interpret for yourselves. If you are stuck and want something different to sink your teeth into then sit back and consume this whirlwind of an adventure and step into the shoes of high school city boy Taki or is it country bumpkin Mitsuha?

Our Review

Everybody Wants Some!!! – Robbie Jones

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As much as I love Richard Linklater, I was never a huge fan of Dazed and Confused. Granted, it’s been a while, and I’d probably enjoy it more if I watched it now, but at the time, I thought Dazed and Confused was merely okay largely because it was nothing but people drinking and talking. So the question is, why do I love its spiritual sequel so much, even though it’s pretty much the same? There’s something so charming about Everybody Wants Some!!; every word that comes out of these characters’ mouths feels like poetry. Not in the sense that it’s beautiful or full of meaning, but in the sense that it all flows so wonderfully as thought it rhymes, everything feels so natural and right. It’s got that great 80s atmosphere to it, a cast that were destined to work together, and is easily one of  the best films of its kind.

I Am Not A Serial Killer – Sarah Cook

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In Billy O’Brien’s masterful and drawling indie horror, two figures stalk a sleepy town where murders arise, played insatiably well by Max Records and Christopher Lloyd. For a young actor, Records has mastered character portrayal well. Really well. Superb even. He has strong ability to transform an easily one-note disassociated murderous teen into an amiable anti-hero who tries his best to control his emotions and sickening thoughts. Though he is clearly a sociopath, he has hopes beyond his mind-set. Matched with Christopher Lloyd’s shuddering mysterious elderly gentleman, Records proves he has skills beyond his years. And, it’s moot to describe Lloyd as amazing because he is brilliant in everything he does. Here he moves and possesses this character with distinct duality that I cannot and must not elaborate on for fear of removing your enjoyment of the twisting story.

I Am Not a Serial Killer is a thoughtful meditation on the extremities of mental illness whilst balanced with a creepy and engrossing killer flick. Max Records and Christopher Lloyd are an insatiable on-screen pair with a dark and brooding chemistry. While it may falter in place, the gripping actors sublimely convey a sinister yet brilliant movie.

Our Review

Captain America: Civil War – Jennifer Drewett

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In an age where superhero movies reign supreme in Box Offices around the world, it’s difficult to be a superhero movie that stands out. It must be of intense annoyance for the production companies of films that stood out for being rather unpopular with audiences and critics. For me, the best film of 2016 is a superhero movie that managed to be remembered for everything the bad superhero movies failed to do: it had breath taking cinematography, interesting themes that brought up ethical issues, great character development and a story that continued on an epic saga. I’m of course talking about Captain America: Civil War. This brilliantly made film is a great addition to the mega successful Marvel franchise that has such suspense and twists that even the most cynical of audience members like myself were moved.

Our Review

Deadpool – Graham Osborne

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The shiny glamour of superheroes on the big screen has started to lose its sheen with me. It was fun in the beginning, but now it’s starting to look like the seams are showing in the same way my jeans were after Christmas dinner. As such, I was incredibly disillusioned with the idea of the fourth-wall breaking Deadpool making his way to the big screen. Under so many circumstances, it would have been far too easy to make it a tired parody of every superhero trope out there, much in the same way of the Not Another… series of films.

Fortunately, what we were treated with was a riotously funny, slightly gory story that took great joy in poking fun at its brethren as well as itself and plenty of other film genres too. It’s because of this that we’re now starting to see several Marvel and DC films getting announced with 15 ratings instead of the more universal 12A, whether this is a good or bad thing will only become apparent when they reach the cinema in the next few years, but it does shine a light of hope that we’ll start seeing some more exhilarating superhero stories in the near future.

Our Review

Tale of Tales -Sarah Cook

Fantasy movies have dried up into sequels or over-stretched books and yet filmmaker Matteo Garrone has reinvigorated his genre with the beating heart of a sea monster. Intertwining three different stories about a jealous mother, a kidnapped Princess and her flea obsessed father, and a King trying to woo an old woman, Garrone has masterful and sublimely worked the tales without overbearing them.

With such evocative images that capture the essence of Baroque black wit and sumptuous performances by the likes of Vincent Cassel, Shirley Henderson, and Salma Hayek that create this stellar film. Tale of Tales is enchanting and powerful, pulsating through you until the very end.

Our Review

Green Room – Sarah Cook

Following on from Blue Ruin, Jeremy Saulnier creates his most devastating film yet. Starring the late Anton Yelchin and Patrick Stewart, the film revolves around a punk band who unwillingly play for a bunch of Neo-Nazis. Things get worse when they witness a murder and are trapped by the gang who wish to dispose of the witnesses. With phenomenal performances by Yelchin and Stewart (you’ll never look at Picard or Xavier in the same way,) Green Room is an utterly compelling and visceral thrill ride.

With Green Room, Saulnier curves into the fear and relishes the thick unease, juxtaposing the quick attacks against the slow and agonising wait the survivors have to take which enhances the experience completely. Pulsating with fear and glorious revulsion, Green Room is this year’s ultimate thriller.

Our Review

Moana – Robbie Jones

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This year has been one of two extremes for animated films. When they were good, they were really god, like Zootopia, Finding Dory, Your Name, Kubo and the Two Strings etc. and when they were bad, they were really bad, like Ice Age 5, The Secret Life of Pets, Norm of the North (The urge to kill rises with every mention of that film), but the stand out amongst all of them was Disney’s latest, Moana. An exceptional tale of courage and destiny, Moana is every kind of wonderful that exists. Dwayne Johnson is his usual amazing self, but it’s titular star Auli’i Cravalho in her break out role who truly shines. Seriously, her singing voice is out of this world, and she brings so much life to, as my friend puts it, “the most realistic Disney princess”. The animation is stunning, the script hilarious and heartfelt, and the soundtrack is pure genius. Moana is the best Disney film this side of 2000, and just one of their best in general.

Our Review

Nocturnal Animals – Scott Gentry

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Indiewire’s Eric Kohn recently argued in a particularly persuasive article, that movies aren’t dying, they’re just getting smaller – and that’s a positive thing. With a budget of $22.5 million, Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals most certainly ticks the box – not only in relation to budget, but narrative scope. Led by a supremely talented ensemble cast (Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon), this idiosyncratic revelation successfully merges art-house intellect with B-movie thrills, to present a film which never trades its focus for soulless thrills. Instead, Ford dazzles with his meticulous craft and a fascinating comment upon society’s representation of masculinity and the dangers of obsession.

Our Review

Embrace of the Serpent – Sarah Cook

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The undeniable transcendent black and white film is the tale of two stories, separated by time, but slither and coil around one another in an enriching and devastating film. The movie revolves around the last Amazonion Shaman, Karamakate, who wishes to tell his story to two foreign scientists as they hunt for a rare and exotic plant to save the life of one, ravished by illness.

You’ll be hard pushed to find another movie with such finesse and perfection. The whole cinematic outing knows how to silently and gently move you then throw you completely into madness without a single pause. The tender yet brutal thoughts on colonism and the loss of culture bound throughout the film, rolling through your mind long after the credits, themselves, have rolled on. Embrace of the Serpent is an evocative movie experience and one that will stay with you long after viewing.

Make sure you go submerge yourself in this commanding film, give it the audience that it deserves.

Our Review

High-Rise – Sarah Cook

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The film certainly divided audience members and critics which always denotes thematically thick and plentiful film that resonates completely. Long after viewing, you’ll be toying with your thoughts: The captivating scenes will roll constantly through your mind, the rage-filled eyes of Evans will lock with your transgressive soul, and the thought of humanity going berserk over power outages, a tin of paint, and a few cases of wine will never truly leave your mind. Not without out it’s darkly comic moments either, High-Rise is an experience in every sense of the word.

Is this the director’s masterpiece? Uneasily (as I have so much appreciation for Sightseers that I dare stray from my favourite,) I’d say it’s his most accessible yet complex movie to date, where all the elements slot in a crooked manner. As grandiose as High-Rise is, it certainly solidifies Ben Wheatley’s stance in the film industry – a bold and daring filmmaker refusing to bow his films to critical consensus.

Our Review

One More Time With Feeling – Alli Kett

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Framing Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds 16th album, Skeleton Tree, my favourite film of the year is a painful portrait of catastrophic grief and love.

Director, Andrew Dominik has been sporadic since his electric debut, with Chopper (2000). Here, he gives us a chance to see how he crafts film. We see scenes being reshot, cameras being pulled into focus, complimentary still photos and the meta acknowledgment of several cameras. The stilted interview style becomes grating. However, when the conversations become freer, they are an insightful and graceful. The hypnotic circular filming of the band playing Girl in Amber, is visually charming. It’s haunted, beautiful and narratively satisfying.

Love, loss, death, the inevitable question of moving on. The big questions that don’t end in 42. If you’re unaware of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the band, these are best left to the unravelling of the film. There’s no pity here. This making of is a record of gut-wrenching catastrophe and heartache.

The big question, did I buy the album? Absolutely, yes.


In Memoriam: Debbie Reynolds

Debbie Reynolds is the latest to join the cast of what promises to be an excellent film in the afterlife, as 2016 robs the realm of the living of its best and brightest.

Heartbroken at the death of her daughter and the world’s princess, Carrie Fisher, Reynolds is thought to have had a stroke – ultimately dying of a broken heart.

But I don’t wish to focus on the tragedy her family has endured this week. We should instead be thanking the universe for giving us such a wonderful woman in the first place.

Reynolds was strong and utterly devoted to both her family and her craft, as well as remaining level headed for the 65 years she spent in the public eye – despite some very public personal trials.

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Let’s look back to where she began. Much like her daughter, she was not so much thrust into the public eye at the age of 19; but rather burst into it with a smile, a song, and waving her jazz-hands. Before she even hit her 20th birthday, Reynolds was cast as the talented wannabe-actress Cathy Selden in the immovable Singin’ in the Rain (arguably the best film ever made – though admittedly this argument is made predominantly by me as I fling open the bedroom curtains every morning singing ‘Good Morning’ at the top of my lungs.)

It’s the ultimate feel-good movie, and chances are you watched it on Christmas Day along with countless other people who get that warm and fuzzy feeling from such a glorious colourful spectacle – and one that was way ahead of its time in terms of post-modernism back in 1952.

But don’t let the wholesome figure of Cathy Selden fool you into thinking Reynolds was the same helpful sidekick type; nor was she the ‘love interest’ type. Reynolds was the leading lady of her own life, with a wicked sense of humour that she passed on to her children. An example of this is her alleged offer to forge co-star Gene Kelly’s autograph for a fan of the movie after he’d passed away.

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In her 2013 autobiography, Unsinkable: A Memoir, Reynolds let her sense of humor shine: “These are my recollections. If you remember things differently, send me your version — but only if it’s funnier.”

Given the decade she was born, her contribution to feminism is like most things in her life: ahead of its time. She told The Express in 2015 that marriage isn’t the answer to happiness – and that her craft was always her first love. “The truth is I loved an audience,” she told the paper. “I loved music and dance and that was exciting to me. I wouldn’t care to be married again.”

Through her heartbreak and struggles, Debbie Reynolds was the epitome of a great performer. A stunningly talented actress, singer and dancer – the original triple threat – she devoted her life to her performances, and to her children, whom she cared about above all else. When her daughter’s mental illness surfaced, she became an advocate for those mental illnesses, whilst simultaneously doing everything she could to ensure her daughter’s happiness and health.

One sees so many false idols in show business these days, and sadly one as honest, real and talented as Debbie Reynolds is ever so rare. If Carrie Fisher was the world’s princess, Debbie Reynolds truly was our queen.

Lost in Florence – Brand New Trailer!

Going by the latest trailer, Lost in Florence looks to be a rather uninspiring and unimaginative film.

Stop me if you’ve heard this plot before; Man gets engaged to attractive girl, man can’t put his time playing sports in school behind him and loses girl, man discovers brand new sport that he can get interested in and starts playing, man encounters new love interest and must win the new sport to prove that he is better for her than her current boyfriend (who is very possessive of her.)

That’s roughly where the trailer ends, but let’s assume that what isn’t shown involves the protagonist nearly losing, then rallying the rest of his team to win by a minuscule margin and not getting the shit kicked out of him by the love interest’s ex.

Truly, this is a tale as old as time, and we will sing the praises of something so unique and eloquent that there will be no need to continue making movies any more, as the world will be content to watch this timeless classic over and over again.

Lost in Florence is out in 2017!

The Best Of…Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson, undoubtedly one of the best action stars of recent years. All you have to do to be successful is put him on the poster holding a gun and your film will make millions. Of course, it’s not all he’s capable of, having taken a range of roles over the years, from a lion in The Chronicles of Narnia,to a Parisian fugitive in Les Miserables, an Irish gunslinger in A Million Ways to Die in the West, and a Greek God in Clash of the Titans. The man has range, and is perhaps one of the most talented actors working today.

On New Year’s Day, he is starring in A Monster Calls and Silence. So to celebrate, we’re looking at the best of Liam Neeson.

Batman Begins (2005)

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Kicking off our list is the film that rejuvenated the Batman franchise and introduced a darker tone following Joel Schumacher’s 90s travesties. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), a billionaire businessman orphaned at a young age, turns to fighting crime, taking on the role of Batman, a mysterious hero protecting Gotham. As his war on crime begins, the caped crusader must face off against The Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy), Ra’s Al Ghul (Neeson) and The League of Shadows. It’s not often we see Neeson play a villain, but he pulls it off perfectly in Christopher Nolan’s reboot. His transition from stern mentor to vicious villain is fantastic, and works well in Nolan’s new style of direction.

Love Actually (2003) 

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Now for something a little lighter, it’s Richard Curtis’ Love Actually. With an all star British cast including Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy and so many other talented British actors, Love Actually is the interwoven stories of several citizens and friends living in London as they celebrate Christmas or pursue romantic interests. Neeson plays Daniel, who is struggling after the death of his wife and is left to look after his stepson Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster). When Sam reveals he has a crush on an American class mate, Daniel sees to it that he is successful in his romantic quest. Love Actually is a sweet film, not only one of the best Rom-Coms of all time, but also one of the best Christmas films too, as it always makes for nice viewing over the festive period.

Taken (2003)

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And now the film that solidified Neeson’s status as an action star, it’s Taken. When his daughter (Maggie Grace) is kidnapped whilst on a trip to Paris, former CIA operative Bryan Mills takes it upon himself to use the skills he learnt with the agency and set out to find his daughter’s captors and bring her to safety before its too late. Of all the things Taken accomplished, above all it proved that Neeson was badass. The film is awesome, one of the best modern action films. However, like a lot of modern action films, it garnered a lack lustre sequel, with a third on the way. Oh dear…..

The Grey (2012)

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I don’t think many have seen this film, which is an utter shame considering it’s a great one. Neeson plays John Ottway, a depressed oil worker living in Alaska, whose job is to kill wolves that threaten the oil drilling team. After a plane crash leaves them stranded in the snow, Ottway tries his best to lead his co-workers to safety, taking on several obstacles, as the men lose grip of their lives and their sanity. As we mentioned during Oscar season that year, this underrated 2012 flick should’ve earned Neeson his second Oscar nomination. He is absolutely riveting, most notably for the film’s chilling and terrifying final scene (Psst, stay for the credits. You’re welcome).

Now you’ve probably been reading this and thinking “Hold on, they’ve missed out an obvious one! Why, it might just be the best film of his entire career!” and I’m here to say don’t you worry, because I haven’t forgotten about. Of course, we couldn’t possibly leave out…..

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

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Yes, this sci-fi masterpiece that kicked off the Star Wars prequel trilogy. An utter brilliant two hours of action, comedy and romance, with hilarious characters like Jar Jar Binks, and a stunning performance from Liam Neeson, perhaps the best of his career. Honestly, how was Jake Lloyd snubbed for an Oscar? Its unebeliv-… you’re not falling for it, are you? Damn. Oh well, it’s about time we closed this article with perhaps his best film to date…

Schindler’s List (1993)

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It’s hard to say to you guys “You HAVE to watch this” considering the film’s run time and subject matter, but there is nothing to be said about Schindler’s List that hasn’t already been said. Liam Neeson plays Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees by employing them in his factories. Neeson gives the stand out performance of his life, and the film itself is a masterpiece. Steven Spielberg’s three-hour Best Picture winner is considered by many to be one of the greatest historical dramas of all time, with its amazing direction, cinematography, harrowing scenes, undeniable emotion and a stunning cast.

A Monster Calls and Silence are out New Year’s Day!