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  • Wildlife

    Wildlife

    ★★½

    Hmmm. I find it hard to be anything other than tepid on this, though it’s certainly a thought-through and considered project. The direction has a clarity to it that is easy to appreciate, especially since Dano strives to avoid grandiosity save for a few humbling moments. It’s just almost too measured, too self-serious. I found the breakdown of the central relationship immensely believable, I just didn’t feel like I ever really cared.

  • Anima

    Anima

    ★★★★

    An exercise in mesmeric choreography as much as filmmaking, Anima takes a simple meet-cute narrative and twists into somehing decidedly weirder. Paul Thomas Anderson utilises his formalist range in a new framework, turning to the distinctly surreal and abstract to great effect, whilst Thom Yorke gives a game and believable performance as a modern commuter left adrift. Where the latter really excels though is in the music. Dawn Chorus might just be the best song he's penned since In Rainbows, and it's a beautiful capper to this oddball piece.

  • Imbued Life

    Imbued Life

    ★★★★

    A textural take on the nature of, well, nature, and the manner by which perception shapes it. Death and life are given new context through a variety of crafts, but in the end the individual lens is found to feed back into the whole. A really beautiful work that trades in heavy metaphor without hammering its points home.

  • Elvis: Strung Out

    Elvis: Strung Out

    ★★

    There's a kernel of a concept regarding drug use and the weight of celebriry here but it's woefully undeveloped. The sound editing can't hold a candle to what producers were doing even 30 years ago, and the visuals are edited in a manner that's somehow obnoxious in just under 4 minutes. Next.

  • China Not China

    China Not China

    ★★★★

    At times during China not China you feel like you've slipped through a crack in time and space. The human mind struggles to piece together images that seem so familiar and yet buzz with around the edges with a note of the ethereal. It's future, present and past; 100 possibilities unfolding at once. It's repetitive moment-to-moment let alone scene-to-scene, and yet it's frequently genuinely chilling.

  • Zombies

    Zombies

    ★★★½

    Am I willing to overlook some tired and flat technophobia when it's laquered in some rich vibrant hues? You bet your damn ass I am. There's not much substance here, but it toes the line well between feeling lo-fi and curated, with some great costume and production design that's all framed so as to pop the fuck off the screen. The music is central here, though there's some weird mixing between tracks and an overriding sense of just letting it all fly loose. Thankfully it's plenty entertaining as a result.

  • Toni Erdmann

    Toni Erdmann

    ★★★★

    Dad jokes: the movie

    I’m a little late to the ticker tape parade on this one, which perhaps explains my (relatively speaking) lukewarm response. Regardless, Toni Erdmann is a confident comedy that plays its comedic cards close to its chest, never revealing if it’s setting up the tragic fissure of a strained relationship or just a series of absurd lowbrow pranks. The real trick? It’s often doing both.

    Confined to the opening half-hour and the final hour I’d have very…

  • In Fabric

    In Fabric

    ★★★★½

    In Fabric survives on its total idiosyncrasy, acting as a definitive statement by director Peter Strickland on the matter of his auteur status. Yes, that’s partially because he’s returned once more to the well of giallo horror, and yet whilst it trades in familiar oversaturated hues and stomach-winding audio, it never feels like anything other than a Strickland movie.

    What does that constitute exactly? A particularly dry sense of humour, an ability to make the silly suddenly seem incredibly ominous…

  • Berberian Sound Studio

    Berberian Sound Studio

    ★★★★

    Berberian Sound Studio is a patient, claustrophobic study into craft and the thankless work behind it. In many ways it’s a simple film, limited to a narrow selection of locations and a repetitive series of events that loop back and forth much like the tapes Gilderoy obsessively pores over. And yet Peter Strickland exhibits a keen sense of control that elevates the material across the board.

    Rather than a simple homage to Giallo, Berberian Sound Studio is an homage to…

  • The Dead Don't Die

    The Dead Don't Die

    ★½

    Adam Driver saying "ghouls" > Adam Driver pulling up in a smart car > Tom Waits saying "ghouls"

    I honestly, honestly think those are the only elements of this navel-gazing uninspired lumbering tale of the walking dead that I found even remotely entertaining. Jarmusch sets out to create a knowing pastiche of age-old genre films, but inadvertently creates a parody of his worst dead-eyed stoner impulses. As soon as Adam Driver (I won't bother using character names because Jarmusch barely did) explains…

  • Midsommar

    Midsommar

    ★★★

    Midsommar is an unwieldy mess. There are some great passages, but they’re marred by an artistic intention that prioritises cloudiness and a sensation of being lightly (somewhat literally) unmoored. It's at its most effective in the tetchy opening half hour in America when it's full of passive aggression and outright anguish, but the rest of the film coasts between increasingly uninteresting characters and broad folk cult stereotypes. Ultimately Midsommar is a pleasantly paletted, unnervingly scored black comedy that seems to think it’s a lot more than that.

  • Minding the Gap

    Minding the Gap

    ★★★★½

    Minding the Gap is a film structured around emotional narrative beats rather than cause-and-effect forward motion, which plays to its scrappy strengths. Rather than having a central mission statement, you get the impression that first time director Bing Liu was documenting in a true sense, piecing together a fragmentary image of the escapism afforded in a skate park.

    That's why it's not too surprising when what starts as a charming documentary about skateboarding quickly morphs into a wide-eyed look at…