Studio Ghibli, that powerhouse of Japanese animation, stirred panic among certain cineastes back in 2014 when they announced that When Marnie Was Here would mark a temporary hiatus in production to coincide with the retirement of co-founder Hayao Miyazaki. Three years on, Miyazaki has thankfully resumed his position to direct one more feature – hoorah! In the meantime, to whet our appetites, Michaël Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle marks a excitingly potent co-production between Ghibli and European distributor Wild Bunch.
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Of the five films to gain nomination in the category of Best Animated Feature in February’s Academy Awards, one only just gaining its UK release this week is Swiss-director Claude Barras’ My Life as a Courgette. An utterly delightful stop motion animation, with an older audience in mind, this is a micro-feature of mesmeric perfection. I left charmed, heartbroken and thoroughly alive.
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The stakes have never been higher. Billions are at risk. The Universe needs a hero.
No, this is not the plot of Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, Hollywood’s first ever female-directed Summer tentpole blockbuster. This is the state of Warner Bros’ DC and their Extended Universe as Gal Gadot brings to life the origins story of Diana Prince (aka Wonder Woman) as never realised before on the big screen. Thankfully, after three serious duds (Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Suicide Squad) for the anti-Marvel franchise builders, Wonder Woman is a delight. A thoroughly entertaining ride which may just prove to be the savour DC so desperately needs.
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Four sequels and fourteen long years on from Gore Verbinski’s brilliant swashbuckler, The Curse of the Black Pearl, the Johnny Depp fronted Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has definitively shipwrecked. The signs of shallow waters have been lingering for a while now but Salazar’s Revenge (known as Dead Men Tell No Tales in some regions for some reasons) is a mess through and through. No buckles are successfully swashed and my timbers remained wholly unshivered.
Continue reading Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge | Review
As premiere features go, erstwhile short film-maker Hope Dickson Leach’s The Levelling marks a startlingly good debut for the first time full-length film director. Perfectly framed, and shot with masterful panache, this is a work charged with emotion, understatement and an awareness for its cinematic predecessors.
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The film that lures Goldie Hawn, last seen with Susan Sarandon in 2002’s maligned The Bangor Sisters, back to the limelight ought to be a special one. Likewise, the new feature starring Amy Schumer, a comic surprisingly divisive based on her most recent turn in Judd Apatow’s terrific Trainwreck, should easily be a hoot. Jonathan Levine’s Snatched, penned by The Heat and Ghostbusters writer Katie Dippold, is however neither special nor, more’s the pity, anywhere near to being a hoot. That the talent’s on board is without a doubt; it’s just hard not to expect so much better and want for so much more.
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Few opening credits feel quite so redundantly unnecessary as the appearance of ‘a Guy Ritchie film’ does at the end of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword‘s preluding five minutes. Already, by this early stage in what can only be described as a bonkers romp into the thickets of Arthurian legend, Ritchie has slam dunked a checklist of his signature motifs. Whilst giant elephants and villainous Magi stampeding on a pseudo-medieval castle, led by bad-egg wizard (Volde)Mordred, may not be typical of the Snatch and Sherlock Holmes director’s oeuvre, a flippant attitude to real time motion and laddish vibe are both very much present and correct.
Continue reading King Arthur: Legend of the Sword | Review