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mother!

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In his past work, acclaimed director Darren Aronofsky has crafted stunningly surreal and often shocking films that seek to push boundaries and challenge audiences. With mother!, he has taken this formula and pushed it to the extreme, delivering a nightmarish and powerfully intense experience that has been criticised by some for going to far, including a review from the National Review calling it perhaps "the vilest movie ever released by a major Hollywood studio."

While mother! is very graphic in places and definitely deserves it's 18 rating, it is hard to describe how much of an overreaction many have had towards the film. Yes, it's brutal. But it's also an absolute thrill-ride of a film that is completely captivating in its increasingly outrageous and daring style. 

Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence excel as expected as the central couple of the film, with Lawrence being the absolute focus of the proceedings and the eyes through which we see the story unfold. H…

In Between

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The debut feature film of female director Maysaloun Hamoud shows she is clearly not afraid of confronting hot-button issues. In Between takes on themes of oppression and backwards ideology head-on, shining a vital light on the lives of oppressed women. The central three characters each suffer differently from the restrictions of their culture and Hamoud expertly balances the focus of the film between the leads, with each character given ample room to develop. 

The most affecting thread follows the shy and religiously devout Noor (Shaden Kanboura), who moves in with Leila (Mouna Hawa) and Salma (Sana Jammelieh), two free-living and rebellious friends who couldn't be more different to Noor. While this initially leads to a number of amusing clashes, Noor's story takes a darker turn as the issues between her and her fiance lead to disturbing clashes, addressing themes of patriarchy and abuse. 

But by sharing the story with Leila and Salma, the film also offers a vital view on famili…

It

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Let me make this clear straight away: this film is definitely not for the faint-hearted. It is by far one of the most horrifying experiences I've had in a long time and, even though it gave me stomach cramps from trying to sink further and further into my seat, I absolutely loved it. Delivering some of the best established scares in years while maintaining an adventurous spirit and a brilliant cast of teen actors, it is pretty much the perfect Stephen King adaptation. It's Stand by Me with a demonic terror thrown into the mix. What more could you want?

As much of the film is centered around a group of teens, who style themselves as the "Loser's" club, it's such a pleasant surprise to see a film that for once nails teen dialogue without descending into a cringey embarrassing mess. The teen cast are all spot on in their performances, with Finn Wolfhard as Richie and Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie getting many of the best lines. In fact, motormouth Richie often ends …

Terminator 2: Judgement Day 3D

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There's little to say about James Cameron's action masterpiece that hasn't already been said countless times. Managing to one-up the already brilliant original with a perfectly paced story, an ingenious character flip (bad guy Arnie becomes good guy Arnie), and some of the best action sequences to this day, it still remains Cameron's best (in my opinion, it is superior to Aliens). 

The major difference with this re-release however (one that Cameron has been fighting for for years) is that it has been converted into the infamous 3D format (something that Cameron played a huge role in making mainstream with 2009's Avatar). 

I have extremely mixed feelings on this decision. On one hand, it is clear that a lot of love went into the conversion process and it is admittedly used more sparingly and in a far less invasive manner than I've previously experienced. I will also admit that, despite being a long time cynic of the format, it does add something to a number of sho…

A Ghost Story

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[Yep, this is going to be another one of those reviews. One where I urge you not to see the trailer, not to read a plot synopsis. You just need to see this film, as soon as possible. Trust me.]


A Ghost Story may have been one of the riskiest films for an established director to make. David Lowery, fresh from directing last year's remake of Pete's Dragon, returned to his indie roots to make a film featuring Casey Affleck walking around under a sheet 90% of the time and Rooney Mara eating a whole pie, uninterrupted, for 5 minutes. This could have been the death knell of his career. 

It actually turns out to be the complete opposite. This may in fact be Lowery's defining work. He has crafted a film so potent, so powerful, so overwhelming that it's subheading should be Existential Crisis: The Movie. Its deep probing of mortality, humanity's response to grief and the bleakness of the human life cycle may hold similarities with much of Terrence Malick's work, particula…

Dunkirk [IMAX]

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To call Dunkirk immersive is a major understatement. The latest project from blockbuster king Christopher Nolan, who has consistently pushed the boundaries with films such as the Dark Knight trilogy, Inception and Memento, tells the story of one of the defining moments of World War II in extraordinary fashion, throwing the viewer headfirst into the horrors of the conflict with every gunshot and explosion having a brutal impact. In this way it is in fact the perfect war movie, a film not so much about war but a film that literally is war. Add to this the fact that it was shot with IMAX in mind and this is truly, like Nolan described it himself, "virtual reality without the goggles." 

In terms of structure and storytelling, this is without a doubt Nolan's most barebones film to date. Divided into three intersecting parts, land, sea and air, we follow the efforts of the British soldiers, the RAF and the sailors as they struggle to evacuate the beaches of Dunkirk with the Axi…

The Big Sick

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To call the Big Sick a rom-com is to do it a huge disservice. The genre is seen in general as a low effort money machine, with only a handful of gems usually ending up lost amongst the trash. Kumail Nanjiani's film soars far above the genre, crafting the perfect balancing act between razor-sharp comedy, raw emotion and an overwhelming amount of charm. Produced by Judd Apatow, the Big Sick is smarter and funnier than any of Apatow's previous films, landing every single one of its cleverly crafted punchlines without pulling any of its punches when it comes to emotional weight.

Based on Nanjiani's own personal experience, he plays himself as a middling stand up comic in Chicago, with Bo Burnham and Aidy Bryant delivering excellent turns as his comedian buddies. Kumail meets Emily, here played by the endlessly charming Zoe Kazan (who stole the show in 2013's What If), and the connection is clear straight away. But a large barrier facing their relationship comes in the shape…