J-Law’s dominating screen presence only deepens the question: is Red Sparrow a feminist triumph or an ’80’s video nasty exploitation flick? Whichever it is, under the skin this is a remarkably old-fashioned Cold War espionage caper with only one twist in the switched female perspective and a cliché-o-meter that goes off the chart. Continue Reading
Imagine what Facebook and Google might become in the near future, with a missionary zeal to compel the entire world to share everything, all the time. That’s what David Eggers did in his 2011 cautionary cyber-‘satire’ The Circle, brought to the screen with director James Ponsoldt and the star power of Emma Watson and Tom Hanks.
Cross The Social Network with a cyber-thriller such as, err, The Net and see an uber-Facebook-Google-Apple tech-giant get carried away with itself with disastrous consequences. Continue Reading
Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of JG Ballard’s 1975 novella is a gloriously black-humoured, retro-sci-fi, dystopian satire. Violent, sweary, trippy and provocative at every turn, the imagined 1970’s self-contained tower block becomes a microcosm of a class system breaking down in the most horrific ways.
A book-end to Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, this should be required viewing for fans of the bankrupt Le Corbusier modernist architecture movement. So there. Continue Reading
Freely adapted from Peter Ackroyd’s Victorian murder-mystery, Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, Woman in Black) does her usual schtick in pushing the lurid, seedy, nasty and downright squalid to the fore in the hunt for a Ripper-like serial killer. To be sure, Victorian London was lurid, seedy, nasty and downright squalid, but this is yet another provocative Goldman script that wallows with perverse delight and glee in all of that.
If, like me, you spotted the killer in the first five minutes, before the full list of suspects was even revealed, then you’re along for an uncomfortable face-slapping with wet red herrings as Bill Nighy’s dour detective re-imagines the crimes with each of his suspects in Hammer Horror-style melodrama. Continue Reading
Seemingly innocent teen Jesse (Elle Fanning – Maleficent) moves to LA to become a model and immediately has to contend with the sleaze and depravity of a town that preys on ambitious young beauties. Attracting a stalkerish makeup artist (Jena Malone – Hunger Games, Donnie Darko), and the enmity of established models Sarah and Gigi, Jesse reveals a harder, darker character beneath her ingenoue persona to join the Women in the Edge of Self Destruction.
Nicholas Winding Refn (Drive, Valhalla Rising) quickly reverts to type to subvert his glossy Indie thriller into something altogether crueller and more perverse, with a shocker of an ending. Continue Reading
As YA-fiction adaptations go, this teen crime drama from Sacha Gervasi (Hitchcock), based on Sam Munson’s 2010 novel, is strictly middle-of-the-road plot cliché, and only star performances from Ansel Elgort and Chloe Grace Moretz save it from bland disappointment.
When the murder of their black, model-student school-friend is dismissed as gang violence, angsty teenage nerd Addison (Eglort – Divergent, Baby Driver) teams up with best friend Phoebe (Moretz – The Equaliser, Fifth Wave) to investigate in snowy Washington DC.
Indie-inflected, or simply under-budget, November Criminals ambles through twin threads of inept vigilantism and dealing with grief. Rian Johnson’s 2005 Brick, this isn’t… Continue Reading
Taylor Sheridan’s left-field, superior detective drama set on a snowy Wyoming native reservation has atmosphere, tension and a terrific cast. Unfairly criticised for its racial politics on release, this is part police procedural, part revenge Western and has some finely nuanced playing from all involved, with Jeremy Renner finally getting to prove his acting chops in a thoroughly understated but dominant performance. Continue Reading