John Wick 3 – Parabellum – Review

John Wick has been a surprising popular franchise. Well, that’s a silly statement to kick off a review with. Of course, John Wick sparked off immense popularity. It is a film where everyone’s favourite Keanu Reeves kills people in highly imaginative ways over the sad death of his dog. The first outing saw a tremendous amount of fans which carried on to the explosive sequel. And now we are truly in the endgame as John Wick concludes his epic fur-venge journey. But does the finale conclude in an explosive yet satisfactory manner?

Yes, yes, and thrice yes.

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John Wick 3 – Parabellum follows directly from the shocking end of John Wick 2 – the titular assassin has been excommunicated from the underground of top-notch killers, meaning he doesn’t have any help from the organisation or anywhere to hide. To make matters worse, he killed a member of the High Table, meaning there is a high bounty on his head. With all of the world’s professional hit-men keen to get that prize and to get rid of Wick, is all lost for the killer?

Yeah, we’re thinking it’s not.

One of the biggest distinctions that John Wick 3 has comparatively to any other action film is it’s absolute style. The contemporary Gothic  that frames the fights is lavish and gorgeous. The classic architecture of gold and red anointed theatres, the opulence of colours in the deserts of Morocco, and the cool glass modernism all make impeccable set-pieces for blood to be spilt. As for the beating heart of the film, The Continental combines all these different elements into one bombastic and spectacular finale. The set design and dressing is made even more palatable by Dan Lausten’s moody cinematography that drenches each frame in beauty.

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Keanu Reeves has truly made this stoic yet surviving hit-man. As he struggles without his support network, it’s interesting to see how he’ll get out of his predicament – how will he outlast with the whole assassin network after his head? It’s a terrific performance that continues to be as engaging as it is thrilling. There are familiar faces such as Ian McShane and Laurence Fishbourne but Halle Berry makes a superb new addition who can fight just as well as John (and cares about dogs just as much.)

Of course, the fight sequences are still absolutely phenomenal. If you thought you’d seen all the ways in which one man can kill another, then you’d haven’t seen anything yet. Perfectly choreographed and timed, its heart-racing stuff.

John Wick 3 falls short in complete story-telling, leaving threads open (one suspects for another outing) and really dragging out a somewhat simplistic plot (action man is on the run) over two hours means there are moments of lag between the fights and slaying. Yet John Wick never truly disappoints. Part tense Western, part blood-thirsty action, part operatic drama, Parabellum is poetic.

John Wick 3 – Parabellum is out in cinemas now

Madeline’s Madeline – Review

Films as dynamic and different as Madeline’s Madeline showcase how art can truly push boundaries of performers, emotions, and story-telling.

This experimental film by Josephine Decker revolves around the young titular character. Enamoured by a local drama group, Madeline gets swept up into the world of the stage. However, tensions between the hyper-aggressive Madeline and her wrought and over-attentive mother, Regina, reach breaking point, spilling over into her performance on-stage. Madeline’s teacher Evangeline uses and begins to abuse that spark…As art blends into reality, Madeline herself is pushed to the edge of her imagination and emotion.

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Madeline’s Madeline is an experimental slice of cinema. It is a film that starts in a cacophony of frustration and confusion. A combination of adolescence fantasy and heated drama that sets-up the films flit between Madeline’s dreamlike method acting and her traumatic emotions involving her mother. Decker explores the suffocating relationship where the seemingly meagre Regina is abused by her somewhat aggressive Madeline. Their tentative relationship is put on display where you never truly know who is in the wrong with Regina suffocating her daughter to the point where Madeline lashes out. In turn, the audience is given an initial irritating beginning but that’s part of Decker’s ploy – to have you puzzling over Madeline’s world.

Then you add Evangeline to mix who believes she has found herself a terrific performer and is willing to do anything to further her play. Madeline’s Madeline adds this teacher who is willing to use Madeline’s wrought story to further her artistic endeavours. When Madeline is pushed, she begins to break and it culminates in this dazzling finale.

Upon revelation of the final third, Madeline’s Madeline is an enchanting spectacle of pure art ripples with emotion. It questions the very beating heart of the film come to a dizzying head and the film captivates you. Exploring the line between how artists can break boundaries in order to push something towards a satisfying conclusion. When people question the ethics of this, the film explodes with every repression and every bit of rage becoming this palpable piece.

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This is captured in Helena Howard’s phenomenal performance. The young actress is absolutely electrifying her who can absolutely dig into the heart of Madeline. As the character, Howard is able to dig into adolescence villainy whilst also feeling sympathetic to her relationship with her mother. Flanked by her false matriarch Molly Parker and her real yet affecting one Miranda July, Howard is able to reach into her complex emotions, mental health, and illness that impacts herself and those around her.

Josephine Decker delivers a feverish contemporary movie exists to irritate and charm, to ruffle and repel as well as attract and assuage. A pulsating, refreshing, and incredible somewhat thriller whose drama explodes in a magnificent manner, Madeline’s Madeline is a different yet must-see movie.

Madeline’s Madeline is available in cinemas and on MUBI!