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Film

The Witch

A striking historical sensibility and a concern with emotions over scares-per-minute allows this 1630’s-set horror to transcend the genre. The plot turns on the classic theme of isolation: excommunicated from his small settlement for excessive religiosity, Ralph Inesey’s Puritan patriarch leads his family out into the wilderness, the extreme edge of what was to become […]

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Film

10 Cloverfield Lane

After the galaxy-spanning The Force Awakens, J.J Abrams’ new project (which he may only produce, but his fingerprints are all over it) is set almost entirely in a tiny, claustrophobic bunker. Not quite a sequel, or even a spiritual successor, his film is more like a distant second-cousin to 2008’s Cloverfield. The similarities, such as […]

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Film

The Searchers – How the Western was Revolutionised

‘We will never come again to the Utah border – Oh, look, look so you never forget!’ In 1912 Zane Grey, a dentist from Ohio, invented the Old West. His pulp novels like Riders of the Purple Sage crystallized in the American psyche the mythos of the frontier; all courteous bank robberies and mannerly gunfights, […]

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Film

Tarantino: director, auteur and first true child of cinema

A story, possibly apocryphal: in 1895, the Lumiere brothers caused mass panic in a Parisian cinema with their film L’arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat, in which a train careens towards a camera, cutting out at the apparent moment of contact. In the apocryphal version, people screamed, ran to the back of the […]

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Film

Bridge of Spies

Steven Spielberg, with his old comrade Tom Hanks as his leading man, has made his best film for over a decade with this Cold War thriller. Hanks stars as James Donovan, a lawyer reluctantly forced to defend a Soviet Spy (Mark Rylance, in fine form), and then sent to East Germany to exchange him for […]

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Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is the second biopic about the Apple founder in the four years since his death. The first (simply Jobs) went unloved by critics and unwatched by fans, despite Ashton Kutcher’s irascible performance. Having made back just half of its budget since the opening weekend, this Aaron Sorkin vehicle seems destined to suffer the […]

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Film

The Martian

After the languorous Exodus; Gods and Kings, and the misguided Alien prequel, Prometheus, The Martian is a triumphant return to form for Ridley Scott. It is as surprising as it is welcome – Scott doesn’t make fun movies, certainly none set in space (observe the chest-bursting horror of Alien, the technological pessimism of Bladerunner). But, […]

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Film

The Gunman

Sean Penn plays Jim Terrier, an ex-killer seeking redemption, in this generic, lifeless action misfire. The Gunman is directed by Pierre Morel, who helmed Taken, and the entire exercise feels like an attempt to do for Penn what Taken did for Liam Neeson. That the film is two hours of ploddingly directed, dreadfully scripted tedium […]