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It Comes At Night (2017)

Trey Edward Shults directs, in what was a highly anticipated psychological cabin fever horror film, It Comes at Night.  Despite quite positive critical reaction, the film has struggled to get that same response from the paying public.  The film opens in a secluded wooden house deep in the middle of a thick forest.  The house is occupied by a small family who appear to know about as much about what is going on outside of that wood as we do: there is a virus that has killed a lot of people, there is only one blood red door in and out of the house, and only one key for it.  They’re suddenly faced with the arrival of an outsider, and contrasting choices: cautiousness, compassion, and ultimately, survival.  Not knowing the whole picture is extremely unnerving, but it’s also not necessary seeing as the film is really about humans.  Why muddle that with the numbers of those that have died, or the genetic makeup of a virus when it can focus in on a few people instead and how they deal with it…
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My Best Films of 2017 So Far - 6 Month Review

As is now a famous Philhelm Scream tradition (ie. I’ve done it once before, last year), approaching the half-way point of the calendar year feels a suitable time to take stock and rank some films. After what was an incredible strong Oscar year, there’s a good showing of the nominees here seeing as each received a January release here in the UK. Fingers crossed July – Dec is just as good!

10. Hidden Figures
I thought it was a bit of a shame Hidden Figures (along with 2016's Hell or High Water) slipped under the best Picture radar a bit this year, while the incredibly dull Lion (2017) and Dev Patel’s hair seemed to get a lot more coverage. The story of the first ever black female employee at NASA, and the struggles she faced to get there was told really well. It’s a proper fist pump of a story, and doesn’t get too bogged down in the boring number crunching that it could so easily have done. The leading trio of Taraji P. Henson, Janelle MonĂ¡e and Octavia Spencer are each brilliant…

Baby Driver (2017)

Shaun of the Dead (2004) is somehow one of my favourite ever comedies, as well as making it on to my list of favourite ever horror films.  Hot Fuzz (2007) is brilliantly funny too (always thought it would make a great cinema double bill with Bigelow's Point Break, the 1991 thriller from which it took a lot of inspiration), but I don’t remember reacting to The World’s End (2013) in anyway near the same way.  While the first two in Wright’s ‘Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy’ heavily referenced films I knew very well to comedic effect, I remember thinking that I would find The World’s End funnier when I’m older… so its terrifying to think that soon may be the time to give that another go.  I'm a huge fan of Edgar Wright’s snappy style and cuts, and there’s actually a great analysis of his visual comedy which I recommend checking out here.  After he backed out of doing Marvel's Ant-Man in 2015, the release of Baby Driver crept up on me a bit this year.  Had I known one of the m…

11 Best Documentary Films

A documentary’s place is often on the small screen where it has the time to carry out it’s investigation in full across a few episodes. Making a Murderer was a great example of that – there wasn’t anything visually grand about the series that was missed having it on my small screen, and it’s run time allowed it to delve deep in to the detail, rather than cramming it all in to 2 hours.  Despite the tendency to find them more on TV, there is a growing trend in documentaries made for the big screen now. What was once an ignored platform is finding an ever growing audience. That’s reflected in my admittedly blinkered list of all time faves, seeing as only one was made outside of the last 10 years. Attention for film docs is getting bigger and bigger, and some of my favourite experiences in a cinema have been sitting through some of the films below.
It isn’t often that audiences will challenge what’s being presented to them when it’s got that ‘documentary’ label, but through the same techn…

Wonder Woman (2017)

You may have heard this already, but Wonder Woman is a bit good.  I've grown pretty tired of the superhero formula and constant revolving door of money machine films in similar packaging, but was really impressed with the freshness of Deadpool (2016) and in particular, Logan(2017). One of my favourite YouTube subscriptions, Nerdwriter, analysed this evolution of the superhero genre in his most recent video and put it much better than I ever could - suddenly, it's an interesting time to be making a superhero movie again. Saying that, until the positive reviews began to stream in I was approaching the release of Wonder Woman with a fair bit of trepidation.  DC film have obviously been really disappointing, drab affairs of late.  Although I caught Man of Steel (2013) and Suicide Squad (2016), I'll admit that it's negative reception put me off sitting through over 3 hours of Batman vs Superman.  It's a shame as although Man of Steel was long and dull, and Suicide Squad …

Alien: Covenant (2017)

As with Quantum of Solace (2008) and The Great Gatsby (2013), Prometheus (2012) is one of those films where I often try to convince myself that I was wrong, and that actually, surely it can’t be as bad as I remember.  Maybe it’s actually pretty good?   Yeah, I’m sure it was actually great – I’ll put it on now.   I might even get as far as lying to myself during the movie, wanting it to be good… right until a biologist thinks it’s a good idea to start toying with a scary space snake, and a geologist suddenly turns in to a zombie after having his face melted off.  Despite it’s entertaining scares and great visuals, it’s around that point where I begin to accept that this was in fact a let-down of a movie.  Aliens (1986) is a superb thrill ride of a war film, but Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) is one of my favourite films of all time.  I love how much of a slow burner it is, cranking up the horror and dread very gradually.   One of Prometheus' biggest criticisms was the huge number of u…

The Birds (1963)

The other week I was walking in to Manchester Central Library for lunch and a spot of people watching when a leaflet caught my eye. On the front was a picture of Tippi Hedren running away from a flock of birds, and it was advertising a 4 week lecture course on Alfred Hitchcock at the library in conjuncture with Home cinema. As well as the four lectures, the cinema was to put on a screening of Hitchcock’s last great film, The Birds (1963). Hitchcock films have caught my imagination since I was a kid. I vividly remember my Mum describing me the plot of Dial M For Murder (1954), and telling me of this fat, funny director, whose films always had a blonde woman in, and you had to spot him in his own films. When I was a little older I was freaked out by an awful waxwork of Janet Leigh screaming in her shower at Blackpool’s Madame Tussauds. Then there was the Universal Studios tour in LA that took in Psycho’s (1960) Bates Motel, and a 3D screening of his ‘best bits’ at the same family …