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In terms of new releases seen at home or in the cinema, October was a pretty diverse month: a quick look back tells me I watched a superhero blockbuster, four wildly different documentaries, an Iranian horror film, a western, an American crime drama, a road movie and a Palme d’Or-winning slice of British social realism from Ken Loach.

The superhero blockbuster was Doctor Strange, which I quite enjoyed even though it doesn’t exactly re-invent the wheel (though I’ll freely admit it seems churlish now to expect any of the Marvel movies to offer something that’s truly unique and groundbreaking). The Iranian horror was Under The Shadow, an excellent, low-key, Tehran-set chiller that seems to have been largely ignored, sadly (at least in the UK; perhaps it will fare better internationally). The western was the remake of The Magnificent Seven, a kind of par-for-the-course effort that’s enjoyable enough but ultimately does very little to enhance the credibility of any of the main players involved. The crime drama was The Infiltrator, which again won’t really blow anyone away who is familiar with the genre, but it’s not a bad film, and it contains a pair of entertaining performances by Bryan Cranston and John Leguizamo. The road movie was Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, which I loved very much, and will almost certainly be high-up in my list of favourite films of 2016, though I do accept it’s a meandering piece and I’m not surprised that it has tested the patience of some vocal detractors. And the Ken Loach film was, of course, I, Daniel Blake, which I think has elements within the story that are questionable, at the very least, but given that my political opinions are largely in line with Loach’s I’m willing to look the other way and am happy to celebrate the film as a force for good.

It’s no surprise to me that Adam Curtis’s HyperNormalisation has been picked apart by some critics, but I think it is a fascinating work that packs an incredible amount of ideas and information into its near-three hour running time. Just as impressive is Zhao Liang’s Behemoth, a beautifully-shot study of the effects of heavy industry in China (I’ll have a review up for that one shortly), and I also enjoyed Werner Herzog’s latest film Lo And Behold: Reveries Of The Connected World (again, short review up in the next day or two). I was a little disappointed by Michael Moore’s Where To Invade Next, though, but it’s certainly not a bad film by any means (another short review forthcoming).

I’ve also been catching up on a number of 2016 releases during the month, most of which you can read about in these two posts. I won’t go into any detail here but the ones I think are worth highlighting (and watching) are I Am Belfast, The End Of The Tour, When Marnie Was There and Queen Of Earth. My ‘blind spot’ for this month was City Lights, which was excellent, but I also sat down and watched the likes of Spellbound, Battleship Potemkin, Touch Of Evil, Mirror and We Need To Talk About Kevin for the first time, most of which you can read a paragraph or two about in the two posts linked to above. So that just leaves me with a film of the month to pick, and quite predictably given what I’ve said above it’s American Honey (though hey, I’d urge people to check out Behemoth, Under The Shadow and I, Daniel Blake, too).

In this action thriller spoof Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele – hitherto best known for their Comedy Central sketch show Key and Peele – play a couple of mild-mannered ‘ordinary’ guys who become embroiled in gang-related crime. This happens because a drug dealer named Cheddar (Method Man) steals the cute kitten (the titular Keanu) that turned up at the door of recently-dumped stoner Rell (Peele) and … whatever; the point is two vaguely-nerdy friends aren’t gangsters but they must walk the walk and talk the talk in order to infiltrate Cheddar’s crew and get the cat back.

Keanu is smarter than the average comedy – though otherwise it shares the same limited technical ambition that has recently blighted the genre – and I’m led to believe it’s much funnier than many other recent movies with similar fish-out-of-water concepts, such as the Will Ferrell/Kevin Hart vehicle Get Hard (which I haven’t seen and probably never will see). Writers Peele and Alex Rubens play around with racial stereotyping and identity politics in an arch and witty fashion, they incorporate warm homages to a variety of different well-known movies and there are some good jokes relating to Key’s character’s love of George Michael, though the whole thing starts to run out of steam 30 or 40 minutes from the end. Keanu‘s first hour is entertaining, though, helped along by the main duo’s chemistry and some game supporting performances (including cameos by Keanu Reeves and Anna Faris, both playing versions of themselves).

Directed by: Peter Atencio.
Written by: Jordan Peele, Alex Rubens.
Starring: Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Method Man, Tiffany Haddish, Will Forte, Luis Guzmán.
Cinematography: Jas Shelton.
Editing: Nicholas Monsour.
Music:
Steve Jablonsky, Nathan Whitehad.
Certificate:
15.
Running Time:
100.
Year:
2016.

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[Note: this is the eighth film in my 2016 Blind Spot series. For a list of the other well-known or well-respected films I’ve already watched or I’m going to be watching for the first time this year, see this post.]

John Badham’s Saturday Night Fever is well known for being one of John Travolta’s two musical star-making turns, although it’s very much the yin to Grease‘s yang. The film’s simple story – written by Norman Wexler and based on an article for New York Magazine by Nik Cohn – concerns the teenager Tony Manero, a kid who lives for the weekends, alleviating the mundanity of his day job and the negativity of a raucous family by entering a more colourful, uplifting world of music and dancing in a Brooklyn disco club. Manero and his various dancing partners move together in sync, running through a series of pre-rehearsed moves, and for just a few hours a week he’s the king of the dancefloor, fawned over by local girls and admired by guys for the flap of his shirt collar, which at one point is a striking deep black contrasting against his bright white suit. After closing time, however, Tony’s back to being a nobody, arguing with his family and hanging around with his immature, homophobic, racist, sexist and violent friends, who seem to constantly drag him into troublesome situations.

The dance sequences and the songs featured here have rightly become iconic, and their cultural significance shouldn’t be underestimated, even if the fashion on display elicits chuckles today. The Bee Gees feature heavily on the soundtrack as performers and writers, as everyone knows, but there are lesser-known gems by MFSB and David Shire in there too, among others. It became the biggest selling soundtrack of all time, with canny marketing types trailing the film with a couple of Bee Gees songs several months before its release. In fact it’s hard to think of a film from the late 1970’s that’s as reliant on its music than this one, even when considering the likes of Grease, All That Jazz and New York, New York; it shows you how important disco was to many New Yorkers at the time, even though there’s a constant sense throughout that a more interesting disco scene lies just a couple of miles away in Manhattan, while history also dictates that a more interesting scene full stop was unfolding at the same time in The Bronx.

Perhaps the film has been misremembered because of all those clips of Travolta throwing shapes, or (more likely) because it was subsequently re-cut and re-released with a PG rating, but the original R/18-rated version is a street movie with plenty of edge, with some unexpected dark moments, most notably a gang-rape (with the victim cruelly described as ‘a cunt’ by Manero after the event). So it’s quite a nasty, downbeat film at times, which has presumably surprised a lot of people over the years who were expecting two hours of saccharine, Bee Gees-sponsored good times (or indeed anyone who initially watched the ‘kid-friendly’ version before later catching the original, uncut ‘adult’ version). Even the ending, which could easily have been structured around a victory in a disco dancing competition or something similar, is decidedly gloomy; there’s just a small amount of hope cast Tony’s way amid a whole lot of rejection, unhappiness and bluster-dampening. Yet some light shines through, and there’s genuine warmth from some of the supporting actors, such as Sam Coppola (Tony’s boss at the paint store) and Donna Pescow (the club girl who has fallen for Tony). Travolta is magnetic throughout, and not just on the dancefloor, though all the good work was undone in Sylvester Stallone’s terrible 1983 sequel Staying Alive.

Directed by: John Badham.
Written by: Norman Wexler.
Starring: John Travolta, Karen Lynn Gorney, Barry Miller, Joseph Cali, Paul Pape, Bruce Ornstein, Donna Pescow, Sam Coppola, Val Bisoglio, Julie Bovasso, Martin Shakar, Lisa Peluso.
Cinematography: Ralf D. Bode.
Editing: David Rawlins.
Music:
The Bee Gees / David Shire / Various.
Certificate:
18.
Running Time:
118.
Year:
1977.

2 Comments

Touted as a spiritual sequel to 1993’s Dazed And Confused, Richard Linklater’s semi-autobiographical Everybody Wants Some!! pretty much picks up at the point in teenage life where the earlier film ended; there’s a gap of five years or so between the two periods depicted and the characters are different, but the tone is similar and Linklater has again cast a number of unknown or barely-known actors. Where the mid-70’s-set Dazed And Confused ended with several high school seniors about to enjoy their summer – and heading off on the open road to pick up Aerosmith tickets – the 1980-set Everybody Wants Some!! begins with main protagonist Jake (Blake Jenner) college-bound and pumping The Knack’s My Sharona through his car stereo; a clear and intended segue between the two movies. He’s a pitcher with a university baseball scholarship, and he’s placed into one of two ‘baseball’ houses that are next door to one another, sharing with the other members of the college team. Some, like Jake, are freshmen, while those with a year or two of college experience under their belts aggressively attempt to assert their dominance over the new kids. We’re introduced to a dozen or so of these characters in a breathless opening passage, and though it’s initially confusing each one is distinguishable enough via personality traits or their appearance, becoming fairly familiar soon thereafter.

What we have here is a fraternity-style college comedy, though given the writer/director involved it’s no surprise that it’s a cut above most of the films you’ll find lurking within such a genre. The timeline covers the first weekend before classes begin, and there’s plenty of booze and drugs and partying and the kind of behaviour that seems wild or silly at the time, but Linklater’s focus on machismo, competitiveness and male insecurity lends a little heft to a film that would otherwise be nothing more than an entertaining but throwaway callback to the post-Animal House era. As Jake and co get to know one another their interractions are full of putdowns, insults, tricks and refusals to back down, while their desire to best one another at any sport or game (knuckle-rapping, aggressive darts, table tennis, baseball, etc.) is an amusing and sharply-observed skewering of a particularly masculine character trait. Of course not everyone in college is a jock with an iron will to win, and Linklater knows full well that not every jock matches the stereotype of bullying, heavy-drinking sexist either. Some of the characters in Everybody Wants Some!! fit that bill, as one or two did in Dazed And Confused, but it’s when the differences between the guys begin to manifest that things get interesting. Jake goes along with some of the bullying (particularly of his less-intelligent roommate), but Linklater and his lead are determined to imbue him with a softer, quieter side, which captures the attention of the film’s only female character of note, Beverly (Zoey Deutch). Elsewhere within Jake’s house there are certain other characters who stray far enough from the stereotypical jock model, such as Wyatt Russell’s Californian stoner, Temple Baker’s affable dumbass and Glen Powell’s entertaining guru-like bullshit merchant (this film could provide a springboard for Powell’s career in much the same way that Dazed And Confused did for Matthew McConaughey’s). Their various individual leanings are complemented by some material about the common practice of picking an off-the-shelf identity upon arrival at college (Kerouac-reading pipe smoker, punk, theatrical outsider, etc) and they shift chameleon-like between certain social groups accordingly. A few of the more alpha, aggressive characters also make an impression, such as Tyler Hoechlin’s swaggering and unpleasant team captain, Ryan Guzman’s second-in-command prettyboy and Juston Street’s amusingly over-the-top potential psychopath.

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Body language ahoy in Everybody Wants Some!!

Linklater films most of the women on campus as sex objects – which is how his characters view them as they cruise past in their cars – directing the camera toward their backsides. The discussions about women that these men enter into can be described as ‘unreconstructed’ at best, and spending time listening to their constant bragging and pick-up lines begins to wear thin over the course of the four evenings depicted. Deutch’s appearances in the film are fleeting until the final act, when extended conversational scenes between her character and Jake serve as a breath of fresh air after all the bro-bonding and sexism that has gone on. However, I don’t want to give the impression that sitting through the laddish behaviour that colours the majority of the film is a chore. Linklater brings warm-hearted, effervescent exuberance to the nightclub and party scenes, which are a whirl of amusingly-choreographed disco dancing, bucking broncos, downed drinks, punk moshing, and more. There are a number of highly enjoyable and utterly disposable scenes that do paint some of the guys in a slightly better light, too, such as the one in which five of them sing Rapper’s Delight as they roll around campus (a throwaway moment that left me smiling as much as I did when Wayne, Garth and friends took on Bohemian Rhapsody all those years ago); all of which is to say there are scenes here that I’d run a mile from in real life, and a few that I’d quite happily be a part of.

Like Dazed And Confused it’s the little details that inform the milieu: the lingering, lusty shots of cars, the sighting of a Reagan/Bush banner, the brief discussions about or references to bands of the era, the vinyl, and the clothes and physical features of the characters, which make some of them look as though they’ve just stepped off a gay porn shoot. In fact there’s an in-the-closet undercurrent throughout the film, manifest through the way some of the characters initiate awkward physical contact, and also the fact that one or two are clearly trying to cover-up their sexuality by over-emphasising their (fabricated) experiences with women. There’s much more going on in Linklater’s latest than your average college frat comedy, but it’s also quite successful as one of those too, so it’s like you’re watching a film in a bizarre alternate universe in which a stoner Whit Stillman has written Porky’s. The Texan director is at his best when dealing with teenage growing pains – though fans of the Before series may argue otherwise – and although Everybody Wants Some!! is unlikely to be remembered quite as fondly as its mid-70s spiritual predecessor, there’s still plenty of fun to be had as Linklater lets his film meander in a similar fashion.

Directed by: Richard Linklater.
Written by: Richard Linklater.
Starring: Blake Jenner, Glen Powell, Tyler Hoechlin, Quinton Johnson, Zoey Deutch, Temple Baker, Ryan Guzman, Wyatt Russell, Will Brittain, Forrest Vickery, Tanner Kalina, Austin Amelio, Juston Street.
Cinematography: Shane F. Kelly.
Editing: Sandra Adair.
Music: Various.
Certificate: 15.
Running Time: 117 minutes.
Year: 2016.

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The American socialite and amateur operatic soprano Florence Foster Jenkins may have gained notoriety for her terrible singing, but she was unquestionably a lover of music, and extremely generous with her money during the early part of the 20th Century. Her patronage of musicians and concert venues in New York was appreciated by many, but taken advantage of all the same; yet it also enabled her to perform at some of the city’s prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall. Live recordings of these concerts reveal that her style was a startling mixture of enthusiastic shrill shrieking and bum notes, while on some you can clearly hear the chortling of audience members; the few studio recordings that exist are not much better. This affectionate biographical comedy-drama by Stephen Frears – written by Nicholas Martin – is an account of Foster Jenkins’ later years on stage, first in musical theatre and then as a singer (it’s the second film in the past few months to be inspired by Florence’s life, the other being the French drama Margeurite, which reimagined her as a performer in Paris). Here Meryl Streep plays the titular warbler, with Frears milking her wonky performances for laughs before ending on more touching, melancholy notes: this is a film that cares for its protagonist every bit as much as it makes fun of her follies, and Streep walks the line between butt of the jokes and tragic heroine skillfully. I chuckled away during the scenes in which she sings out of key, especially as Frears includes numerous reaction shots of those around her, which range from deadpan refusals to acknowledge that anything’s wrong to people bent double with laughter; and I was also ever-so-slightly moved by the tender – if unconventional – relationship she has with husband and manager St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), as well as Florence’s own struggles with insecurity and illness.

As well as Grant – who does good work and amuses during a wild-eyed dance sequence – Streep is joined by The Big Bang Theory‘s Simon Helberg, who adds more laughs as Florence’s accompanying pianist Cosmé McMoon, his face constantly twitching as he tries to second guess the direction her voice will take next. McMoon starts out as an unemployed piano player and composer, and is grateful for the generous money Foster Jenkins pays him, but he’s understandably reticent when it comes to performing in public with the singer. As their relationship develops the pianist becomes more and more loyal, the character recognising Florence’s harmlessness and the need for someone to support her in front of an audience. The rest of the cast members – save perhaps for Bayfield’s mistress, played by Rebecca Ferguson – are incidental to the main story, though a couple add colour, such as Nina Arianda as a flirtatious woman married to a meatpacking magnate. There’s plenty of attention to period detail in terms of the interior sets, while Liverpool and neighbouring peninsula The Wirral serve as effective stand-ins for New York and its environs (and as a Wirral lad myself I can assure you I never thought I’d be typing such a thing, although Central Park’s landscape architect was influenced by the layout of Birkenhead Park on The Wirral; the producers of Florence Foster Jenkins missed a link there). The humour’s silly and gentle, while the comic performances are on the money, but I didn’t take to it as much as the older members of my cinema audience seemed to, or indeed in the same way that most newspaper critics in the UK have done. Funny and moving at times, though, which I guess is everything it’s intended to be.

Directed by: Stephen Frears.
Written by: Nicholas Martin.
Starring: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson, Nina Arianda.
Cinematography: Danny Cohen.
Editing: Valerio Bonelli.
Music: Alexandre Desplat.
Certificate: PG.
Running Time: 110 minutes.
Year: 2016.

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[I’m aware that this film hasn’t been released in some countries yet, so I’ve tried to keep this review spoiler-free.]

Let’s hope Zack Snyder’s watching, as this is a superhero film that successfully manages to balance its well-thought out action sequences with weightier concerns. Captain America: Civil War contains all the balletic, multi-hero set pieces you’re probably expecting (including the one teased by the trailer), and it also pays heed to the political and moral ramifications that arise when modern comic book heroes smash buildings, cities and imaginary states to smithereens (thereby killing thousands of imaginary, innocent people along the way). It’s a post-Man Of Steel, post-The Avengers none-more-2016 fad, I guess, and as with Snyder’s recent Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice the principal question asked here is whether anyone should be watching the watchmen. As such Civil War‘s superheroes argue and fall out, with some strongly believing that their hero cabal should continue to self-regulate and others feeling that submitting to NATO control is the way forward. Yet where Snyder’s film floundered as it tied itself up in knots while addressing similar issues, this blockbuster by Joe and Anthony Russo – who also directed 2014’s entertaining Captain America: The Winter Soldier – tackles the political and moral side of things in a light, uncomplicated fashion, and by doing so it doesn’t allow any portentous soul-searching or hand-wringing to overtake the main aim of the film, which is to entertain as wide an audience as possible. The conflicting opinions of the characters central to this story are set out clearly and concisely, but ultimately the Russo brothers have recognised that Civil War is…y’know…for kids (of all ages). And the fact is the majority of kids (of all ages) want to see Robert Downey, Jr’s Iron Man and Chris Evans’ Captain America batter the living daylights out of one another.

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Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) gets busy

Evans and Downey, Jr are the clear stars here, but as both actors have appeared in so many films as their two characters it seems pointless to discuss the performance of either actor. I suppose at the very least I should say they are consistent with earlier turns, and that I’ve gradually warmed to Evans’ portrayal of the world’s most earnest, uptight man. There are several returning characters, too, with those currently without their own standalone movies (played by Don Cheadle, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie) all benefitting from the extra screen time. Needless to say anyone watching this who hasn’t seen any of the previous Avengers or Avengers-related films will be irrevocably lost. And as the trailers revealed, the film introduces two further additions to the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Tom Holland’s fresh-faced Spider-Man amusing far more than he irritates and Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther making an equally-strong impact. Given the sheer number of characters that appear the pre-release concern from some quarters was that the Russos would not be able to do justice to all of them, but somewhat triumphantly the film never seems overstuffed, and only a couple are given short shrift. (I guess the longer-than-average running time helps in that respect.) Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man is one; in the space of 15 minutes he threatens to steal the film from his more illustrious co-stars, a fact that the Russos seem to have taken into account, as he doesn’t get too much screen time after an initial cameo. You’re left wanting to see more of Rudd and his character, which I guess is a good thing. Lastly, Daniel Brühl is perfunctory as the scheming (Baron) Helmut Zemo, a Marvel comic villain who will probably be unfamiliar to most viewers, but he’s slightly more interesting than many that we’ve seen in this series of films to date.

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Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) in Captain America: Civil War

But really we’re not here to see villains, or their dingy underground bunkers, where they seem to do little other than inject musclemen and women with brightly-coloured liquids. We’re here to see superheroes blast and kick and punch and chase and swoop down on one another, and Captain America: Civil War builds up to the kind of spectacular free-for-all that was popularised by expansive crossover Marvel titles such as Secret Wars (though Civil War itself has been very loosely adapted from Mark Millar’s similarly-named comic). The majority of superhero movie fans will sit through this six-on-six dust-up with a smile on their face, and to the credit of the directors it’s not at all chaotic, or difficult to follow the action. The exchanges and mini-scraps that occur within the larger pitched battle are filled with zingers, surprises and even compassionate, friendly exchanges between former colleagues who have temporarily taken opposite sides, though it’s the central fight between Iron Man and Captain America that packs the biggest punches, and which seems laced with the greatest animosity.

I’ve moaned about superhero movie fatigue on this blog – though I’ve also repeatedly admitted that it’s not as if anyone’s holding a gun to my head and forcing me to watch these films – but the fact is there have been a few releases that have seemed completely unnecessary or poorly written – Thor 2, Iron Man 3, for example – and I still dislike the feeling that I’m on a cinematic treadmill: one thing these films do – Civil War included – is hit the same notes over and over again, for better or for worse. There have been a few breath-of-fresh-air exceptions (Ant-Man, Guardians Of The Galaxy), but it’s the Russos who have made the two best recent installments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here they’ve cranked out a multi-hero film that’s a lot of fun, if utterly silly, and I genuinely feel sorry for anyone non-plussed by the experience. Look, ultimately it’s just another Marvel film, and by this stage you probably know what’s in store, but it’s a blast nonetheless and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Directed by: Joe Russo, Anthony Russo.
Written by: Christopher Markus, Steven McFeely.
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Daniel Brühl, Chadwick Boseman, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Tom Holland, Emily VanCamp, William Hurt, Martin Freeman.
Cinematography: Trent Opaloch.
Editing: Jeffrey Ford, Matthew Schmidt.
Music: Henry Jackman.
Certificate: 12A.
Running Time: 147 minutes.
Year: 2016.

7 Comments

I had a week away at the start of April, in County Cork and Norfolk, so I’ve been playing catch up for the rest of the month, and unfortunately haven’t seen several films that I wanted to catch in cinemas. Jacques Audiard’s Cannes-winner Dheepan, the first two Arabian Nights films by Miguel Gomes, The Brand New Testament, Louder Than Bombs…these have all eluded me as I’ve not been into London much, and they’re not yet available to stream (as far as I’m aware). However, being limited to the local multiplex does have an up side, and I’ve caught a few new releases this month that have surprised me by being better than I expected, including Eye In The Sky, The Jungle Book and Captain America: Civil War. Despite the week off I still managed to watch 25 films this month, of which 12 were new releases. In that respect I’ve been posting two reviews a day here and there, so thanks to those who are managing to keep up and retain an interest in whatever chuff I have to say.

So, I’ll start by quickly running through those 12 new films. Aside from the three mentioned above, which are well worth seeking out (even though The Jungle Book‘s director Jon Favreau seemed a little reticent to use the songs at his disposal), I also caught the fascinating documentary Speed Sisters, the one-take technical marvel that is Victoria and the French thriller Disorder (aka Maryland), all of which I’d also recommend. I liked Jeff Nichols’ latest, Midnight Special, and the new film by Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda, Our Little Sister. Wildly different, but both worth a watch. Later in April I was disappointed by Nasty Baby and Bastille Day – I can’t believe the latter has received some positive reviews, it’s very poor, bar one or two decent action sequences – and ultimately underwhelmed by Couple In A Hole, which never quite delivers on its intriguing premise. However the month ended well, with the aforementioned Captain America: Civil War successfully managing to deliver big-screen fun in spades, and Son Of Saul, which is my film of the month and possibly the best film I’ve seen in 2016 to date.

Uh…what else? I caught up with a few other recent releases, including The Witch, Sherpa, Sunset Song, Blind, Future Shock! The Story Of 2000AD and La Famille Bélier, with the first four of those making strong impressions. Eskil Vogt’s Blind in particular is a film that I already want to watch again. Talking of re-watches, I saw Eden again, which was my film of the year last year, and enjoyed it just as much the second time around. I also caught a couple of older films I’ve seen a few times before, The Dirty Dozen and The Running Man, as well as Penny Woolcock’s brilliant coastal documentary From The Sea To The Land Beyond (second review to come, so here’s a link to the first). Last, but by no means least, I finally caught up with J.C. Chandor’s impressive debut Margin Call, John Patrick Shanley’s well-acted Doubt, and for my April blindspot I watched Shane, one of the great 1950s westerns.

So, it was a really good month for me overall, and despite missing a few films at the cinema that I’d wanted to see I can’t complain. As stated above my film of the month for April, in terms of the new releases that I’ve managed to see, is Son Of Saul, the harrowing Holocaust drama that won the Best Foreign Language Film award at the Oscars earlier this year. It’s incredibly powerful, as you’d expect, and well worth your time and money.

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