Perhaps it’s the promise of a ‘brawl’ in the film’s title? Or maybe it’s the sheer, immediately iconic, presence of a head-shaven and cruciform-tattooed Vince Vaughn in the barren wastelands of suburban America? Whatever the root, there’s something about the opening to S. Craig Zahler”s latest work that brims with the tension of suppressed fury from the off. With this broiling tone established, a glacial pace proves the perfect foil to one deeply grisly plot in an exploitation feature of consistently surprising empathy.
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She might be your little pony, but My Little Pony is one big brand for Hasbro. With retail sales of over $1bn annually, is it any wonder that this seemingly immortal marshmallow of a franchise has landed in cinemas for the first time since Michael Joens’ 1986 box office bomb? While the latest My Little Pony feature sure ain’t going to win over any new fans, it’s hard to imagine that it needs too. It’s not even…that bad.
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A dream cast is only one microcosmic gene in the biology that makes Netflix’s new offering, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), a joy to behold. Frances Ha director Noah Baumbach’s pottering dramedy is an exquisite and densely scripted minefield of humour and poignancy that, whilst never exactly being relatable, feels beautifully true to life.
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Just as a critic is ready to stop preceding praise for a Lego Movie with the adverb ‘surprisingly’, the franchise delivers a dud. The Lego Ninjago Movie is every bit as commercially dominated as you were sure that The Lego Movie was going to be but wasn’t. Yes, for fans of its two surprisingly great predecessors, this latest $70m advert is every bit like stepping barefoot on a rogue brick. Not quite a total shambles, it may already be time to call it a day on Lego cinema.
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The list of things that Battle of the Sexes isn’t really about is one longer than an Isner/Mahut game. For one, it’s not really about tennis. It’s also, in a funny way, not really about the battle or even the sexes. From directing duo Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, here is a film about lost souls on the margins of society and how they deal with the rough road that life has thrown their way. Fundamentally, this is a film about equality for all sectors of society and a reminder of just how far from over the struggle really is.
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By the time the opening titles of Loving Vincent come to a close, and the film itself begins, somewhere in the region of 1500 hand painted oil canvases, produced by professional artists and animators over the equivalent of perhaps 15-20 months will have glanced and glimmered across the screen. The result is, simply put, astonishing.
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There were two available avenues down which The Glass Castle, Destin Daniel Cretton’s adaptation of Jeannette Walls’ likewise-titled memoir, could have traveled. On the one hand, a ‘glass castle’ is symbolically suggestive of fragility, insecurity and hollow grandeur; on the other, it is a image that conjures nostalgic ideas of the fairytale ‘far, far away’s of childhood tales. In hindsight, it is a shame that Cretton leant to the latter. His Glass Castle is a film of many isolated successes, which are sadly let down a misjudged and inconsistent tone.
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