Ad Astra review “I feel like I’ve seen this before”

Ad Astra posterAbout half way through director James Gray’s sixth feature film Ad Astra, I began to find myself thinking, ‘hang on, haven’t I seen this bit before?’ ‘In that other film about space?’ ‘And haven’t I heard this voice over before?’ In that film by Terence Malick about the tree?’

This feeling of déjà vu never quite left me as I ploughed my way through Gray’s self-indulgent space epic/Brad Pitt Oscar vehicle, bitterly disappointed as the film revealed itself to be no more than a style-over-substance space odyssey full of threadbare cliches.

Ad Astra is a film of two halves. One is a visually breath-taking science fiction adventure brimming with seamless visual effects, The other is a tepid father/son melodrama that tries it’s damnedest to drag the rest of the film down to it’s yawn-inducing level. Ad Astra looks poised to kick-start the age old debate of substance over style, and I imagine audiences watching the film will find that which camp they fall in will determine how much they agree with critical opinion. Continue reading

Midsommar review “Ari Aster does it again”

Midsommar movie posterWatch the walls. Director Ari Aster’s advice to cinema-goers heading out to see his second directorial feature may seem strange, but it makes sense once you see it. Aster’s Hereditary (2018) follow-up is sunny, funny and so pretty you barely notice the horror.

Our protagonist Dani is reaching the end of a four-year relationship with Christian (Jack Reynor), an uninterested, inattentive boyfriend who wanted to end it months ago but stayed with Dani when tragedy befalls her and her family. Dani joins Christian and his pals Josh (William Jackson Harper), Mark (Will Poulter) and Swedish native Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren) for a nine day once-in-a-lifetime festival celebrating midsommar in Pelle’s hometown of Halsingland. Continue reading

The Best Alternative LGBTQ+ Films of the Past Decade

best alternative lgbtq+ films of the last decadeRepresentation is powerful. Film is by far the easiest way we can expose ourselves to experiences and lives that differ from our own. Film creates empathy and allows us to develop an understanding of both the characters we see on screen and ourselves. For the LGBTQ+ community representation, – and by representation I mean quality representation that represents a multifaceted queer experience – has seen a marked improvement over the last decade.

Films like Tangerine (2015), Moonlight (2016) and Love is Strange (2014) have all brought much-needed representation, as well as portraying a diverse range of queer stories. Whilst we may still have a long way to go when it comes to diversity in all aspects of cinema, we’re certainly light-years away from Rupert Everett’s two dimensional ‘gay pal’ of 1997’s My Best Friends Wedding.

Here are my picks for five of the best alternative LGBTQ+ films to adorn our screens over the past ten years. Adam Brannon will be bringing you his top picks for the top 5 mainstream LQBTQ+ movies very soon. Continue reading

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile review “Making serial killers sexy again…”

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile movie posterDon’t you just love a sexy serial killer? Hollywood certainly does. Recent onscreen depictions have been accused of romanticising men who have committed atrocious crimes because the actors chosen to play them are significantly more attractive. For example, Ross Lynch, the teen heartthrob star of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, played serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer back in 2018; a man who brutally raped and murdered 17 men and boys from 1978 to 1991.

In the same year, former Glee star Darren Criss was cast as Andrew Cunanan, the spree killer who murdered five people during a three month period in 1997.  Now it’s the turn of serial killer and rapist Ted Bundy to receive an aesthetic upgrade in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, directed by Joe Berlinger. Continue reading

Eighth Grade review “Charming and painfully honest”

Eighth Grade movie posterYouTube comedian-turned internet sensation-turned filmmaker Bo Burnham recently described his directorial debut as “an attempt to represent the kids who live their lives online.” To describe Eighth Grade (2018) as merely an attempt would be a true disservice. Burnham feature debut is a exquisitely insightful look into the agony of growing up in the age of the internet.

Hailed by many as a strikingly accurate portrayal of what it means to be a Gen Z-er, Burnham prompts an in-depth conversation about the plight of ‘post-millennials’ who, in his own words, have been “forced by a culture they did not create to be conscious of themselves at every moment.” Yet for all for it’s cutting cultural commentary, Eight Grade succeeds because Burnham has created a universally human story; one that gives you all the laughs and all the feels. Continue reading