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Good Time (LFF)

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Directors Josh and Benny Safdie clearly have very little concern for the stress levels of their audience. Their new crime thriller Good Time is an incredibly intense, full on experience that contains some of the most visually impressive action sequences in cinema. It is the breakneck tale of a heist carried out by Connie (Robert Pattinson) and his vulnerable brother Nick (Benny Safdie). When the heist falls apart and the brothers are torn apart, Connie is left to pick up the pieces and try to reach Nick.

Pattinson gives an inspired performance as Connie, one of the more dislikable protagonists I've seen in a long time. Highly explosive, cruelly exploitative and in general just pretty damn scummy, he is the absolute driving force of the film, remaining undeniably fascinating throughout all his awful antics. While I admittedly haven't seen Pattinson in many of his previous roles, though him being the only redeeming part of Cronenberg's turgid Cosmopolis does stand out, he is …

Beach Rats (LFF)

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Beach Rats opens with a dark room, lit sporadically by the harsh flash of a camera, by which we see brief glimpses of a naked torso, a flexing arm. This is our introduction to Frankie, a hyper-masculine teen growing up in suburban Brooklyn whose struggles to come to terms with his sexuality prove tortuous for him and forms the central narrative of the film. I say narrative, but the film is more a portrayal of Frankie's life as he struggles with his disintegrating family and meets up with older men online. 

Harris Dickinson is absolutely sensational in the title role, bringing to the forefront Frankie's internal conflict with stunning clarity. His total immersion in and embodiment of the role means he is at once completely cryptic but strikingly readable, his long gazes and often grim-faced expression speaking volumes. It's an incredibly complex performance that reminded me in many ways of Johnny from the recent British film God's Own Country; both are moody and at times…

Blade Runner 2049

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Blade Runner 2049 is a gorgeous creation with stunning visuals, incredible cinematography, great performances, a brilliant score and jaw-dropping effects. Ryan Gosling is excellent as protagonist K and standout supporting roles from Robin Wright and Ana de Armas help to elevate proceedings, while an early appearance from Dave Bautista adds much to the opening of the film. Nearly every component of the Blade Runner sequel, released 35 years on from the original, is perfect. But here's the stinger... I was left underwhelmed and more than a little disappointed. 

For all the stylistic flourishes and gorgeous landscapes revealed throughout the film, it felt like there was very little depth to what was going on. The story, without revealing anything, is rather slim, especially when stretched over a near three hour running time. And this is 2049's biggest problem.  

It is a hugely bloated beast with so much padding in the middle stretch that it had pretty much lost me by the time the c…

Brigsby Bear (London Film Festival)

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Brigsby Bear is a film that, at its core, is about child abduction. But wait! It is also one of the most surprising and unexpectedly humorous films you will see all year. Fronted by SNL regular Kyle Mooney and with a very talented team behind the project, it is ultimately an incredibly upbeat and uplifting experience that isn't afraid to tear up the rule book altogether. 

Mooney's excellent work on SNL shines through in his performance as James, providing a wonderfully innocent energy to the film and instantly winning over the audience. He rightfully gets the lion's (or should that be bear's?) share of the best lines, delivering a number of great jokes that I wasn't quite expecting from a film like this. 

The film also packs in a surprising amount of quality supporting performances from Greg Kinnear, Claire Danes, Mark Hamill and a certain ex-Lonely Island member (hint hint). The standout though is Matt Walsh as Greg, providing many of the film's punchy emotional…

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 …