Movie Review – Limbo

Limbo (2021)
Written & Directed by Ben Sharrock

Cinema is always a tension between aesthetics and narrative. Sometimes the two gel together perfectly so that tension is barely felt. Other times you find movies veering wildly in one direction over the other. I personally will always enjoy a picture where the narrative is most in focus, but having well-crafted visual sensibilities at work can’t hurt. Limbo has a striking visual look, nothing too ornate, but immaculate focused cinematography. Comparisons to Wes Anderson or Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite) will be immediate. However, the picture is not merely a copy of someone else’s work. Limbo presents a very human story in an incredibly isolated place. The way images are framed intentionally keeps us at arm’s length, just as the characters in its story would to others. But as the film goes on, we are drawn in closer.

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Movie Review – Spencer

Spencer (2021)
Written by Steven Knight
Directed by Pablo Larrain

I can’t say I was ever enamored with Diana. I was very aware of her as a child and into my teens, but the whole English royal family thing just wasn’t all that interesting. I still find it odd that even ceremonial monarchies still exist. What a terrible drain on the people to keep funding such a meaningless thing. I was interested in this movie because it is helmed by Pablo Larrain, who directed the fantastic Jackie, a biopic from Jackie Kennedy’s POV. I think Larrain does an excellent job of centering women who, while seen as iconic, are often not given a voice in their own narratives. They are often the spouse of X rather than a person unto their own. So I was looking forward to seeing Diana fleshed out as a multi-dimensional person.

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Movie Review – Last Night in Soho

Last Night in Soho (2021)
Written by Edgar Wright and Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Directed by Edgar Wright

Edgar Wright has consistently delivered good movies with broad appeal to audiences. From Shaun of the Dead to Baby Driver, I certainly respect Wright’s work while not my favorite films or my favorite filmmaker. Last Night in Soho is a different turn for Wright, his first female protagonist and an homage to giallo & Hitchcock. I wouldn’t say this is my favorite of his catalog of films, it’s certainly not bad, but I wasn’t drawn in that strongly by the story. This has been a common trend I’ve noticed with his last few movies, they are technically fantastic and visually inventive, but I feel cold to the characters.

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Movie Review – Censor

Censor (2021)
Written by Prano Bailey-Bond & Anthony Fletcher
Directed by Prano Bailey-Bond

As the home video market grew in the late 1970s and into the 1980s/90s, the United Kingdom clamped down on horror and pornography films they deemed harmful to society. This came as a result of significant film distributors keeping away from that market out of privacy fears. The gap was filled by an avalanche of low-budget content. The British Board of Film Censors employed people to watch these movies and determine a rating, and also, if they were so beyond the pale, they should have prosecution brought against them. These films would garner the nickname “video nasties.” It’s against this moral panic over movies that the film Censor takes place.

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TV Review – Starstruck

Starstruck (HBO Max)
Written by Rose Matafeo and Alice Snedden
Directed by Karen Maine

As we continue with me watching things, you might be looking at this and wondering ‘another romcom?’ and my answer would be: If you pay me (link to patreon), I might consider something else, but for now, mama’s gotta do what feels right.

Starstruck is a BBC-Three show picked up by HBO, starring Rose Matafeo as Jessie and Nikesh Patel as Tom Kapoor. It feels like one of those fan-fics you would encounter on Tumblr while bored one night, except Jessie would be either ‘you’ or Y/N (your name) and has less sex in it.

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Movie Review – Caveat

Caveat (2020)
Written & Directed by Damian McCarthy

Lynchian is a term that gets thrown around a little too liberally. It’s meant to denote that something is reminiscent of the work of filmmaker David Lynch, but it is often applied to either tv shows set in strange small towns or for media that is esoteric & quirky. The Lynch aesthetic is much more specific from my perspective, a way of telling stories in abstracted settings brimming with emotion & passion. People often behave in strange ways, and stories have elements of melodrama that take bleak turns. Not much I’ve seen has genuinely reminded me of that, but Caveat is actually a movie that lives up to the term. I won’t say Caveat is as masterfully delivered as Lynch’s films, but it is a decent horror movie that builds a unique atmosphere.

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Movie Review – Saint Maud

Saint Maud (2021)
Written & Directed by Rose Glass

Religion and horror seemed tied together since the very beginning. Christianity has its fair share of dark & horrific elements. Just sit down and read through the Old Testament, and you’ll come across multiple gruesome stories about the wrath of God. Religious dogma in the hands of mentally unstable people can be a volatile combination. You can look across the American landscape and see a little under half the population caught up in a fervor fueled by a distorted understanding of the Bible. While filmmaker Rose Glass may not be living in the heart of the United States’s current madness, she certainly shows an understanding of how this particular poison can be so enticing to a person who is alone and unstable.

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Movie Review – His House

His House (2020)
Written by Felicity Evans, Toby Venables, and Remi Weekes
Directed by Remi Weekes

In the 19th, 20th, and now 21st centuries, Africa’s history is a testament to colonialism’s evil. There are constant think pieces published in the papers and magazines of note in the United States & Europe attempting to figure out what went so wrong for the continent. Recently, I saw one blaming it all on the tsetse fly. Colonists will do everything in their power to not accept their role in creating the horror inflicted upon the African people through the rabid extraction of resources. Sudan is an oil-rich country, and therefore massive conflict exists. Many people from Sudan and refugees that settled there having fled conflicts in their own regions have taken the dangerous trek up the Atlantic with dreams of possibly reaching Europe and the United Kingdom. His House is the story of two of these refugees and the horrors they face in their new home and those they bring with them.

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Movie Review – Education

Education (2020)
Written by Steve McQueen & Alistair Siddons
Directed by Steve McQueen

During the 1970s, it was discovered that some London councils were secretly following an unwritten policy to push Black children out of mainstream schools and into “subnormal” schools that were underfunded and poorly staffed. This practice was exposed by Bernard Coard, an education activist from Grenada who worked as a teacher in England. He found that this policy had a long-term effect of making children “neurotic about their race and culture.” This was yet another in a long line of exposure of systemic racism in Western culture directed at Black minds & bodies.

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Movie Review – Mangrove

Mangrove (2020)
Written by Steve McQueen & Alastair Siddons
Directed by Steve McQueen

The summer of 2020 was a season marked by the continued spread of COVID-19 and a massive civil unrest movement that came out of a reaction to the state-sanctioned murders of a growing number of Black people in America. What followed in major cities across the country were all-out police riots with hordes of uniformed officers revealing what brutal thugs they indeed were. The media narrative pushed was that there were riots, but in hundreds of videos released across social media, anyone could see that these attacks from police were made on peaceful demonstrators who were being very direct about their thought on law enforcement in America. Steve McQueen reminds us that this is not merely an American phenomenon or even something specific to our point in history. Police and the justice system are inherently racist, and they cannot be engaged in good faith.

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