When hot-headed young singer Rose-Lynn Harlan (Jessie Buckley) is released from prison, she reluctantly returns to her mother’s house to be reunited with her two young children. Nursing a grudge against the world and a burning ambition to make it as a country singer, she struggles to reconcile her dreams with her reality. It’s a … Continue reading Whether or not you’re a fan of country music, Wild Rose (2019) will work hard to win you over.
Available now on Amazon Prime, “Guava Island”, the latest Childish Gambino project, is a joyous, beautiful, bittersweet gem of a movie, balancing a carefree joie de vivre with a pointed, if slightly heavy-handed, critique of the ultimately self-destructive nature of capitalism thrown in for good measure. Guava Island is a paradise but those who live … Continue reading There may be trouble ahead, but while there’s sunshine and music and love and romance…let’s watch Guava Island (2019) and dance.
Hellboy (2019) is notably the movie Ed Skrein got the best notices of his entire career for – and he’s not actually in it. Unfortunately, it’s probably going to be the only good reviews this botched, bad-faith reboot is likely to get. During the Arthurian age, Nimue the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich) is betrayed just … Continue reading Well I’ll be damned. Hellboy (2019) is a special form of purgatory.
*SPOILERS* The ultimate artifice of the showrunners is revealed when yet another of the Short Treks is referenced, this time, somewhat disingenuously, as part of the ‘Previously’ montage. It does all point quite obviously to the explanation why Discovery, its technology and activity has never been referenced in the rest of Trek and also raises … Continue reading Star Trek: Discovery reminds us time is the fire in which we Burnham. S2E13 Such Sweet Sorrow review
Perfectly charming and, as ever, exquisitely animated, the latest offering from Laika Studios (“Kubo And The Two Strings”, “The Boxtrolls”) is nonetheless feels like the lesser of their efforts so far. While it’s acknowledged inspirations include “Raiders Of The Lost Ark” and the stories of Sherlock Holmes, there’s no escaping it’s an almost complete lift … Continue reading Missing Link (2019) is certainly lacking something.
Handsomely produced and atmospherically shot, this re-adaptation of Stephen King’s powerful exploration of grief serves to underline the key message of the original novel: it’s best to let dead things rest. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke), a doctor from Boston, moves to the small town of Ludlow in Maine to enjoy a quieter life and spend … Continue reading Pet Sematary (2019) just goes to show that when it comes to certain stories, sometimes read is better.
Starting with arguably one of the darkest openings of any DCEU film to date, it initially looks like “Shazam!” is charting a path back to the bad old grimdark days of the DCEU but, it’s not too long before someone says the magic word and a brilliant bolt of magical lightning illuminates the path to … Continue reading The Shazam! (2019) movie is the Billy Batson of the DCEU
*SPOILERS* Kicking off what seems to be a loose three-part season finale, we start with a new episode of Michael Burnham’s ‘My Two Moms’ before we plunge right into the action and by action, I mean a meeting. Having decided not to join Georgiou in hunting for Ctrl+Alt-Leland, the crew of Discovery have turned their … Continue reading Yea, though I sat Through The Valley Of Shadows, I will hear no more of time crystals: for thou art peak Discovery; thy plot and thy writing staff they discomfit me. Star Trek: Discovery S2E12 Review
With their recent public ‘conscious uncoupling’ from Marvel, Netflix has had to use search for different source material to satisfy the public’s current thirst for superhero stories and characters. Their first attempt comes from former Good Charlotte emo goth leader Gerard Way in the form of “The Umbrella Academy”. On October 1st 1989, 43 women … Continue reading Ass-Hat enrols at The Umbrella Academy for Season 1
Creepy, disturbing and deliciously, irresistibly open to multiple interpretations, Jordan Peele’s follow up to “Get Out” brings us another mischievously deep dive into the shameful psyche of America with a psychological sci-fi thriller of identity politics through the looking glass. As a young child, Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong'o) wandered away from her parents on the … Continue reading If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make that change. Start with the man in the mirror. Us (2019) Review
There are nice nods to the twee opening of the original “Dumbo” as we’re treated to knowing shots of storks flying across the sky to portend the less romanticised arrival of baby Dumbo but in nodding to the animated classic so soon, this live-action remake tips just how weak its hand is. When circus impresario … Continue reading Dumbo (2019) has a surprisingly metatextual moral for the House of Mouse
*SPOILERS*After the tawdry torture porn of last week's denouement, we open with a flashback to Burnham’s happy childhood where this exceptionally gifted and inquisitive child was apparently completely oblivious to her parents’ line of work in their secret laboratory home. But it turns out it’s only a near-death experience for Burnham as she wakes in … Continue reading Mum’s the word on a tautologically titled episode of Star Trek: Discovery. S2E11 Perpetual Infinity Review
*SPOILERS* The episode opens with the funeral of cybernetically enhanced Lieutenant Airiam, which means that the crew did nothing at all to try to save her once she had been blown out of the airlock. Instead, in a collective attempt to exorcise any guilt over their inaction, we’re treated to not one but many eulogies … Continue reading It’s more meddling and a funeral as Star Trek: Discovery reveals the identity of The Red Angel (S2E10) Review
Relentlessly charming, funny and constantly surprising, “Dave Made A Maze” mixes comedy, horror and fantasy for a richly rewarding, stylistic treat. Dave, an artist who has yet to complete anything significant in his career, builds a cardboard box fort in his living room while his girlfriend is out and finds himself trapped within it. Despite … Continue reading Bill Watterson boxes clever with quirky comedy horror Dave Made A Maze (2019)
*SPOILERS* It's action stations on this week's "Star Trek: Discovery" as the crew prove their fugitive bona fides by immediately contacting a Starfleet Admiral and inviting her to their hiding place. Fortunately, it's our old friend - and notoriously bad decision maker - Admiral Cornwell, who brings news of a sort of Section 31 sponsored … Continue reading Let’s all meet up with Trek’s Hal-9000, won’t it be strange when a background character’s gone? Star Trek: Discovery S2E09: Project Daedalus Review
Pity poor Marvel. Their greatest enemy isn’t Thanos, or the Red Skull, or Loki. It’s not even the whiny bitter minority who somehow take offence at the very idea of a female superhero, or at least one that hasn’t been Zack Synder-approved. No, their mortal foe is Kano and with every passing movie, his model … Continue reading Oh Captain! My Captain? Marvel’s Cinematic Universe re-begins in Captain Marvel (2019)
*SPOILERS* It’s a cute touch with this week’s ‘Previously On...’ recap which takes us back to the pilot and delivers the ultimate Trek re-cap from the very beginning. But before we get too nostalgic, we cut to our modern Pike and it’s impressive just how un-jarring the transition is. Anson Mount really is doing terrific … Continue reading If Memory Serves, I first suggested who the Red Angel could be last week, now I’m pretty sure I know. Star Trek: Discovery S2E08 Review
In a world of ever-increasing mining of existing properties for prequels and spin-offs, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine someone would set out to make a whole movie about the opening sequence of “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier”. Of course, that was fantasy and “Free Solo” is reality and although the climbing … Continue reading The best view comes after the hardest climb. Free Solo (2019) Review
Lightweight, superficial and oddly unfocused, this biopic of celebrated Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg might qualify as a legal brief but it fails to assemble a substantive case despite the abundance of available evidence. The film charts her rise from freshman law student at Yale, through her professorship and advocacy up to her pivotal … Continue reading On The Basis Of Sex (2019) fails to make its case
There’s a gently subversive streak to Netflix’s latest ‘original’ offering “Isn’t It Romantic” as it sets out to undermine the worn-out romcom tropes while simultaneously adhering to the framework of the genre in this bright and breezy comedy that reunites Rebel Wilson and Adam Devine after “Pitch Perfect 3” cruelly tore them apart. Having had … Continue reading Isn’t It Romantic (2019)? Yep, it’s also pretty damn funny.
Hardly the frozen “Taken” we were promised by the marketing, this remake of the director’s own 2014 film "Kraftidioten" has moments of sublime black humour but is too disjointed, derivative and haphazard to do justice to its cast or premise. Hard-working snowplough driver Nels Coxman (Neeson) is a pillar of the community of Rocky Mountain … Continue reading Cold Pursuit (2019) isn’t worth following
*SPOILERS* With confirmation the red angel is a ‘man in a suit’ from the future, there’s a renewed impetus to find Spock so Burnham requests permission to head to Vulcan because she believes her mother may know where Spock is. Meanwhile, the Discovery is tasked with remaining in orbit around Kaminar – not, as you … Continue reading Star Trek: Discovery S2E07 – Light And Shadows involves a space/ time anomaly which transports some of season one’s bad writing into the present day.
*SPOILER* Despite the Admiralty-mandated joinging of forces, there’s a distinct lack of urgency to the search for Spock in this episode. Instead, we’re treated to the origin story of Saru as the first Kaminarian superhero; their Daredevil: the Kelpian without fear. With Saru pondering what the loss of his threat ganglia means for him and … Continue reading That ominous rumbling in the distance is some of Star Trek: Discovery’s bad habits rolling back into town. The Sounds Of Thunder (S2E06) Review
Planting its tongue firmly in cheek, the sequel to 2017’s delightfully peppy “Happy Death Day” takes the timey-wimey slasher story and gives it a decidedly sci-fi twist that sees it play out like an over-caffeinated mash-up of “Back To The Future Part II” and “Russian Doll”. Finding himself trapped in a time loop on Tuesday … Continue reading Happy Death Day 2 U (2019) brings us a happy return to the big screen for Jessica Rothe
Opening with exactly the same set-up and opening thematic point as “Justice League”, Joe Cornish takes the idea of a country and a world which has lost hope and, with a keen eye for contemporary resonance, weaves a wonderfully affirmative and inspirational tale from the ancient cloth of legend and the modern social fabric of … Continue reading The Kid Who Would Be King (2019) pulls contemporary adventure from the stone of legend.
For many years Netflix has desperately sought out a “kooky” dark comedy that is smarter than the sum of its parts and with “Russian Doll” the company has finally succeeded. Created by the exceptionally talented duo of Amy Poehler and Natasha Lyonne, who also stars as the show’s main protagonist; Nadia Vulvokov, comes a tale … Continue reading AssHat is happy to collude with Netflix for repeated viewings of Russian Doll
*SPOILER* Picking up where we left off last week, the episode opens with Burnham doing her best Tom Cruise impression, sprinting down to the lab after learning that Tilly is missing, presumed mushroomed (but not, hopefully, in a “Hannibal – ‘Amuse-Bouche’” sort of way). Despite one of their shipmates being up shiitake creek without a … Continue reading Just when you thought there wasn’t mushroom for more drama on Star Trek: Discovery, the Saints Of Imperfection (S2E05) come marching in!
With our current appetite for true crime documentaries set to ravenous, the chefs at Netflix have served up another mouthwatering main course with "Murder Mountain". This six-part 40-something minute episode documentary charts the rise and fall of the illegal weed farming community of Humboldt County Northern California from its meteoric rise from a hippy commune … Continue reading It’s ‘peak’ AssHat as he returns with a review of Netflix’s Murder Mountain
Coming off the back of the Oscar-winning “Moonlight”, director Barry Jenkins returns to the big screen with his adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel “If Beale Street Could Talk”. In 1970's Harlem, Tish (Kiki Layne) is in love with a young sculptor, Fonny (Stephen James), the father of her unborn child. When Fonny is falsely accused … Continue reading If Beale Street Could Talk (2019) conveys its most powerful messages without using words
Powered by a heartfelt and deeply human central performance from Melissa McCarthy and enlivened by a gregariously louche turn from Richard E Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” delivers a plaintive plea for clemency on behalf the embittered, the flawed and the dismissed. There’s not much about author Lee Israel (McCarthy). She’s stubborn, cantankerous and … Continue reading Accept no substitutes. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2019) is the real deal.
Knowing nothing of the original Manga on which it’s based (the closest I can claim is that I quite enjoy the 2009 animated movie “Astro Boy”, which shares a surprising amount of story with this film), “Alita: Battle Angel” still held a strong appeal thanks to the names behind and in front of the camera. … Continue reading Alita: Battle Angel (2019) slices, dices and occasionally surprises.
*SPOILERS* “An Obol For Charon” begins, as have all season two’s episodes with a Spock-tease as Number One (Rebecca Romijn) visits her Captain to provide an update on her investigations into the unfolding mysteries surrounding Spock’s bizarre behaviour since the red bursts occurred and also grab something to eat. It’s a fun and intriguing preamble … Continue reading I’ll buy that for a drachma! An Obol For Charon (S2E04) buys us Star Trek: Discovery’s best episode to date
There’s a laziness to “Escape Room” that’s hard to shake off. From its cookie-cutter characters to its predictable checkbox approach to disposing of its cast, it can’t seem to find the will to try and differentiate itself from its obvious influences. When six strangers receive mysterious invitations to participate in an Escape Room, they quickly … Continue reading Escape Room (2019) will have you searching for the nearest exit too.
Delivering a satisfying conclusion to one of cinema's most touching and genuine friendships, “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” sees Hiccup and Toothless take their place alongside Buzz & Woody at the pinnacle of animated movie history. As Hiccup nears achieving his dream of a peaceful dragon and Viking utopia, he realises that … Continue reading The How To Train Your Dragon trilogy soars to a triumphant close with The Hidden World
*SPOILER* You’d be forgiven for wincing as this week’s episode begins because it brings back those pointy-clothed buzzkills from season one, the Klingons. Although it’s immediately apparent that something’s different. They’re more mobile, for one, and certainly more hirsute. And while they’re still speaking Klingon, it’s less stilted and Shakespearean now but they’re probably just … Continue reading It’s the return of the braidy bunch as the Klingons finally let their hair down on Star Trek: Discovery. (S2E03) Point Of Light Review
It’s someone disingenuous for something this uninspired to proclaim it's ‘inspired by a true story’ but that doesn’t seem to discourage notorious empty chair haranguer Clint Eastwood from making a film for reactionary old men who like to yell at clouds. It’s a wannabe “Sicario – The Greatest Generation”, or the demographic antithesis of “Black … Continue reading The law may be an ass, but The Mule (2019) is a real donkey.
*SPOILERS* As this season’s grand over-arching plot continues to intrigue, the ‘story of the week’ is so resolutely Roddenberryian that it almost collapses under the weight of its own pure Trekness to form a super-dense Star Trek singularity as science and faith square up for yet another title match. When another red burst is detected … Continue reading Warning! Star Trek: Discovery S2E02 – New Eden may contain more than 200% of your recommended daily allowance of Trek tropes.
*SPOILERS* Closer in tone and intent to “Unbreakable” than its immediate predecessor “Split”, “Glass” sees filmmaker M Night Shyamalan returning to the world of comic book super heroics, not to homage or reimagine them, but to deconstruct them - especially their latest cinematic incarnations. With The Beast/ The Horde/ Kevin Wendell Crumb (McAvoy) still on … Continue reading Glass (2019) sets out to shatter the superhero paradigm.
*SPOILERS* So although “Star Trek: Discovery” and I didn’t part on the best of terms after Season 1 limped to a close, I have to admit I was looking forward to this new season. That’s due in part to the excellent “Short Treks” but also due to the fact the series had, at least, ditched … Continue reading Star Trek Discovery returns having given itself a soft reboot up the backside. Star Trek: Discovery S2E01 Review
There’s something very metatextually Harry Mudd about “The Escape Artist” once you learn that it not only stairs Rainn Wilson but was directed by him too. Although, given the treatment he gets during the first ten minutes or so, it’s a relief to find it wasn't written by Wilson too otherwise, you’d begin to wonder … Continue reading Rainn Wilson writes the theme tune, sings the theme tune of the fourth Star Trek: Short Treks – The Escape Artist Review
*SPOILERS* The third Short Trek brings us a pre-USS Discovery glimpse into the life of one of the series’ standout characters: Saru (Doug Jones). In doing so, it brings to light the weird contradictions in the species’ origins, especially in the Star Trek universe. On the planet Kaminar, Saru feels unfulfilled by Kelpien life, living … Continue reading Star Trek: Short Treks – The Brightest Star reminds us Kelpians are friends, not food.
*SPOILERS* Where “Runaway” felt like an abandoned draft of a promising “Discovery” episode, “Calypso” feels like it could be the pilot for a whole new series of its own. Stretching the format of Short Treks, it tells what might be canon Trek’s most futuristic adventure, set some thousand years after the time of Discovery. After … Continue reading Discovery’s crew shortages reach their apogee in Star Trek: Short Treks – Calypso Review
*SPOILERS* Finally available on Netflix UK (although buried away in the ‘Trailers & More’ section of “Star Trek: Discovery”), Star Trek: Short Treks are intended, apparently, to give the franchise room to explore beyond the realms of its current single incarnation, something I’m sure they’ll get to even if the first crop seem to be … Continue reading It’s alienated vs predator as Tilly battles an invisible menace in the mess hall. Star Trek: Short Treks – Runaway Review
Focussing in on the twilight of their illustrious careers, “Stan & Ollie” pays tribute to the beloved entertainers by taking an affectionate and bittersweet look behind the scenes at their last great collaboration: a music hall tour of the UK while trying to pull together one last motion picture deal. With the collective baggage of … Continue reading Coogan & Reilly disappear into Laurel & Hardy in the gentle biopic Stan & Ollie (2019)
There’s nothing like a good panto to chase away the January blues and in Mountbatten Players’ “Jack And The Beanstalk”, 2019 got off to a glittery, toe-tapping start. The sheer scale of the story of ‘Jack And The Beanstalk’ is such that even the most ambitious of theatrical productions must rely a great deal on … Continue reading Mountbatten Players’ Jack And The Beanstalk defies the January blues with some fe fi fo fun!
Jason Reitman’s dull but dutiful checkbox biopic rakes over the long-dead ashes of the run-up to the 1988 US Presidential election but fails to find anything to really say beyond a milquetoast critique of the current personality politics which dominates American public life. Charting the rise and fall of charismatic Colorado Senator Gary Hart (Hugh … Continue reading The Front Runner (2019) stumbles right out of the gate.
Taking a few liberties with the Libertine life and times of celebrated French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, “Colette” is a sumptuous and sensual but occasionally aimless and indulgent biopic that’s perhaps a little too interested in signposting the contemporary resonances than in providing a wider historical context to its subject’s life. After marrying the famous Parisian … Continue reading Colette (2019) sees Keira Knightly ghostwriting for Willy while enjoying fanny by gaslight.
Move over Bess (and, I suspect, pre-emptive apologies to Margot Robbie) there’s a new award-baiting Queen on the block: oft-overlooked 18th Century sovereign Queen Anne. England, 1708. A frail Queen Anne (Olivia Coleman) occupies the throne, disinterested in matters of state and instead consumed by her various ailments and an ongoing quest for distraction and … Continue reading Yorgos Lanthimos brings a sense of Blackadder to the big screen in sumptuous art house comedy The Favourite (2019)