Logan, the second Wolverine film directed by James Mangold and featuring the final performance of both Hugh Jackman as Logan and Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier, is a great film, without caveat or qualification, a grim, near-future Western that’s firmly grounded despite the metal claws and psychic mindquakes. What the film also is is a very definite finish; I don’t see where else the current form of the X-Men film series can go now; Logan isn’t simply a great film, but a series-ending one as well. →
I want to start this piece (which does contain spoilers), by stating my credentials: despite my rock-hard, toffee-glazed exterior, I like musicals. Singin’ in the Rain, An American in Paris, The Little Shop of Horrors, Moulin Rouge, Chicago, The Young Girls of Rochefort, The Nightmare Before Christmas and every goddamn Muppet film except for the one I haven’t seen because it stars Ricky Gervais. I think most TV shows would benefit at least one musical episode, like Buffy’s Once More With Feeling, or the whole of Doctor Horrible, or the musical episode of Lexx, or the karaoke bit in Sense8, or the entirety of the ruthlessly inventive My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, or Mayhem of the Music Meister! from Batman: The Brave and the Bold. I like musicals so much I sometimes regret I wasn’t born homosexual, but, we all have to play the hand we’re dealt, and my hand is, tragically, straight. →
My annual film highlights post, in which I highlight 20 films from all I saw during the previous year. Not all are without their flaws, but I'm very fond of all of them, flaws and all. →
No. 1 Duke Street is the Richmondiest place you can go for breakfast in the whole of Richmond, because while the food is excellent there’s also a tense, uptight feel to the place that no amount of complimentary cucumber water, wicker chairs and deep, soft sofas can mask. Like Richmond in general, No. 1 Duke Street is a place for people who think they’re pretty cool and liberal and trendy but would lose their shit if the coffee machine at Waitrose was out of order. →
Following Captain America: Civil War and Ant-Man, Doctor Strange is the third Marvel film in a row that’s left me feeling vaguely unsatisfied. Not nearly as weird as publicity would have us believe, the film papers over a well-worn story template and bland characters with some kaleidoscope effects and not a lot else. →
Ostensibly a police procedural set in Gotham City before the appearance of Batman, Gotham is a frustratingly difficult series to enjoy or recommend, with a scattershot approach to storytelling that makes trying to keep on top of things pointless, and drifting so far from the source it’s a wonder the showrunners didn’t just make the fully-fledged Batman series they so obviously wanted to. But, credit where credit’s due; there’s a lot here to like despite the flaws. →
I was always going to appreciate No Man’s Sky. The look of the game is pure ‘70s sci-fi trash, all orange clouds and acid rain, the hardware chunky and brightly coloured with just a bit of smudge around the edges. The soundtrack as well matches perfectly, all pop and synth and twang. That’s just the surface, though: to fully appreciate the game, I first had to understand what sort of game it is. →
Notes on a train
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Remembering David Cameron
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On the function of dictionaries
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In defence of Fantastic Four
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Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters
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Duncan Jones’ Warcraft: The Beginning
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Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse
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Captain America: Civil War
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Granger & Co. OttolenghiDaylesford
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Breakfast at The Putney Canteen
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Breakfast at Berners Tavern
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Breakfast at Damson & Co.
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Breakfast at Kopapa
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What kind of a game is L.A. Noire?
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Blinded by the light
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Final Fantasy VII and replaying games
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The secret 3DS player
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Animal Crossing and aspirational living
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- How to Marry a Millionaire: The frothiest, slightest of slight, frothy films from this era, but I begrudgingly had fun watching, so, ok.
- Blink: One of those classy ‘90s neo-noirs from when Madeleine Stowe ruled the cinema and Aidan Quinn was a leading man. No complaints.
- Robinson Crusoe on Mars: Basically The Martian but with Adam West, aliens, dubious racial stereotyping, and a chimp in a spacesuit.
- Sirens: Unremarkable once you get past the nudity. Hugh Grant’s straight-laced fop schtick hasn’t aged well; Sam Neill et al are fun at least.
- Logan: Simply exceptional.
- Raising Cain: Deeply enjoyable Brian De Palma thriller with John Lithgow chewing up the scenery throughout. Ludicrous in the best ways.
- Hellraiser: Inferno: Quite obviously a mediocre supernatural thriller hastily repurposed to include Pinhead. Very poor.
- Little Sister: A perfectly formed little family drama. Just the right balance of sweet and cringe.
- Daylight: A serviceable disaster film, but does nothing you haven’t seen done better elsewhere.
- Seconds: A Twilight Zone-esque story stretched a little too thinly over nearly two hours. Pretty good regardless.
- Loving: Solidly made and solidly performed, but kind of lacking in tension or drama. Charming in its own way, but a bit too sedate.
- Flatliners: Lurid and ridiculous and full of neon and dry ice and 90s rounded spectacles. I love it.
- The Lost Weekend: Billy Wilder’s study of alcoholism can feel a bit preachy by today’s standards, but other than that, this is excellent.
- Kubo & The Two Strings: A beautiful animation but kind of a dull story, boringly told. Felt vaguely educational.
- Hell or High Water: Absolutely exceptional.
- Hulk: As superhero films grow increasingly homogenous and dark, Hulk stands out all the more. Bright and bold and perfectly bizarre.
- Croupier: Dry, dull, and Clive Owen wears the most ridiculous hat, at one point even when he’s in his pyjamas.
- Lost in Translation: If you can get past the creepy age difference and the leads sneering at everyone who isn’t them, this isn’t a bad film.
- The Double Life of Veronique: A haunting and beautiful Kieślowski drama with a moving score and a mesmerising story. One of my favourites.
- The Illusionist (2010): The best Jacques Tati film that doesn’t star Jacques Tati. A beautiful animation, funny and bittersweet.
- Hellraiser: Bloodline: There’s a decent film somewhere in this PINHEAD! IN! SPAAAACE! triptych, but cuts and re-writes drag it to mediocrity.
- The Girl With All The Gifts: A great adaptation of a great book. Tense throughout, strongly performed, and enjoyably bleak.
- The Guyver: Some sterling rubber monster work and Mark Hamill’s moustache. Other than that, like watching a crappy Power Rangers knock-off.
- The Train: Burt Lancaster is the most American-sounding Frenchman ever, but it doesn’t distract from a complex and thrilling WW2 drama.
- Christine (2016): Rebecca Hall is incredible here with a painfully believable portrayal of depression. A grim, intense, necessary piece.