Here’s the rundown of what we saw in the past 30 days with whoever reviews it getting the right to bestow a star rating. Some obvious things missing being The Tribe and The Dead Lands.
More chat on some of these in the latest podcast:
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Note: This list is of course by no means complete, we’re only rankin’ wot we seez.
Note 2: Where two films get the same rating they’re ranked alphabetically
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night – ★★★★½ (NW)
With strong performances, a fantastic look and a solid story Amirpour has really announced her arrival on the global independent film scene. Her follow-up, the Texas-set cannibal story The Bad Batch with Keanu Reeves, should be a real treat.
The Canal – ★★★★ (PMcG)
Only inhabitants of Ireland will recognise the scenery as the film makes it very deliberate not to give the story a location which will hopefully open the film to a wider audience abroad. The film fools you into a standard ending just before one last shock – like all good horror should.
Get Up and Go – ★★★★ (PMcG)
For once an Irish film that isn’t caught up in being Irish. It concerns a group of twenty somethings who are deciding what the hell to do with their lives. Sweet and touching and full of poignant real life dilemmas, Get Up and Go didn’t get nearly enough credit when it was first released.
Peter Coonan and Killian Scott do an excellent job at playing two man boys adrift in that horrible limbo of youth and responsibility. It’s nice to see them casting off their “Love/Hate” shackles and spreading their wings.
Girlhood – ★★★★ (NW)
Girlhood is Céline Sciamma’s film about a teenage girl who is struggling to define herself in suburban Paris. Karidja Touré is incredible in the lead role as Marieme, being bestowed the gang nickname Vic.
It’s a film about race, inequality and gender but more than anything it’s about gaining enough confidence to just be yourself and is the sort of work that could become mandatory viewing for in girl school’s transition year curriculums.
Unfriended – ★★★★ (PMcG)
An original horror film. Hurrah.
Laura Barns committed suicide due to an online public shaming. A group of friends who may have been involved suddenly get an unwelcome guest on their group Skype chats and it soon becomes clear it’s Laura back for revenge.
Good jumps and scares and some interesting deaths make this stand out – and hopefully it won’t succumb to a franchise.
Clouds of Sils Maria – ★★★½(NW)
Juliette Binoche plays an aging actress who decides to go back and swap roles and play an older woman role in the play that made her career as a young actress 20 years ago.
It’s a truly mystifying film with big ambitions but one which will stay with you and get you thinking if all is as it seems. The ending can be read in a number of different ways, so if you fancy a head-scratcher then you’ve found one. Also featuring a wonderfully nuanced performance from resident sulk Kristen Stewart as Binoche’s PA.
Mad Max: Fury Road – ★★★ (PMcG)
George Miller is back with the fourth film in his post-apocalypse creation. It also feels like this is finally the film he always wanted to make with all the bells and whistles. Tom Hardy takes on the role of Max with Charlize Theron playing Furiosa and between them they must try and overthrow the dictatorship that has come to pass under the stewardship of Immortan Joe.
The film deserves to be seen on the big screen as it has without question some of the most visually striking scenes you’re likely to see this year. Max has little to do or say making it the perfect female vehicle for Theron to shine and shine she does, as a no nonsense character with proper depth. The film is very light on plot and dialogue, leaving the car chases and explosions to do all the talking. If the Mad Max films are your thing than this will be right up your alley.
Pitch Perfect 2 – ★★★ (NW)
The gang from the first film are all back together as the acapella group The Bellas are on a path to retribution after Fat Amy embarrasses them at a performance for Obama when she rips her pants. Meanwhile Beca (Anna Kendrick) is thinking about life after college by interning with some production work for Keegan-Michael Key (of Key and Peele fame, also in Tomorrowland) who is doing some tunes for Snoop Dogg.
Overall it’s silly and frivolous and isn’t nearly as good as the original, but it’s still very worthwhile entertainment and has some great set-pieces, none better than the David Cross-hosted sing-off featuring some well-known comedy faces (and some actual Green Bay Packers).
The only worrying thing is that the ending really felt like a big attempt to set up a third film in a franchise by anointing Hailee Steinfeld as the new key Bella… Time to wrap it up girls.
Big Game – ★★½ (NW)
A movie that sees Samuel L. Jackson playing the American president and having his plane shot down in the Finnish wilderness should have been more memorable than this… Director Jalmari Helander certainly knows how to make a beautiful film but you’ll enjoy the mountain scenery more than the action.
Tomorrowland – ★★½ (NW)
OK, so every originally scripted blockbuster – not a franchise or a sequel – should be applauded in this day and age, right? Well not when it turns out like this. Unfortunately director Brad Bird and dreamer screenwriter Damon Lindelof spend a bit too much time on spectacle and world-building and forget about the main thing you need – a decent bloody story.
The whole optimistic American 1950’s ideals are brilliantly depicted, but you get the sense midway through that if Pixar alumni Bird had made the film as an animated feature with all the script deliberations and processes they’re forced to go through, the whole thing would have been much better.
Man Up – ★★½ (PMcG)
Lake Bell, the star of In A World, plays Nancy a 34 year old London-ite who is sick of trying to find Mr. Right and would much rather sit in her hotel room watching old movies. She happens upon Jack, played by Simon Pegg, who mistakes her for his blind date and she decides to go with it.
The remainder of the film is played out over the course of a night and has enough laughs and cringey humour to warrant a viewing. It’s only let down by its descent into cliches.
Heaven Adores You – ★★ (NW)
Nickolas Dylan Rossi’s love-letter to Elliott Smith is a tolerable look at his musical adventures, but spends no time trying to develop the darker themes around his life – the drugs, the depression and of course the “was it suicide, could it have been murder” rumours.
It’s impossible to watch the film and not feel like Rossi is just skirting around the big issues, perhaps the cooperation of Smith’s family meant he was afraid to really offend anyone.
San Andreas – ★★ (PMcG)
Big special effects with little focus on real characters make San Andreas fall a little flat. The senseless carnage and skyscrapers tumbling like dominoes become quite tiresome.
Paul Giamatti’s character is pretty redundant with it almost seem like two separate films as he doesn’t converse with Dwayne Johnson once. The focus is on the family and how Dwayne tries to get them back together with some trial and tribulations along the way you are never in any real doubt about the outcome.