Wayward Pines: First-Look Review

Wayward Pines: First-Look Review

Twin Peaks + The Prisoner + Lost = ?

Rosewater (2015)

Rosewater Reviewed

Please Release Me

The Salvation (2015)

The Salvation Reviewed

The Good, The Mads And The Ugly

John Wick (2015)

John Wick Reviewed

Point-Blank Range

Force Majeure (2015)

Force Majeure Reviewed

The hills are alive with the sound of an avalanche...

Wayward Pines: First-Look Review

May 4, 2015 No Comments

Reviewed for The List: Wayward Pines is a difficult show to discuss without delving into spoiler territory. In fact, you won’t really know what sort of series — or genre — you’re watching until the fifth episode. What can be revealed, though, is that it is a ten-part mystery thriller. At the centre of said mystery is Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon), a Secret Service agent who is investigating the disappearance of two colleagues. After being involved in a car accident, he finds himself in a quaint, out-of-the-way town, a seemingly […]

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Rosewater (2015)

April 27, 2015 No Comments

Reviewed for Radio Times: In 2009, a London-based, Iranian-born journalist named Maziar Bahari was wrongly imprisoned while covering the general election in his homeland. Accused of being a spy, he was arrested and placed in solitary confinement for 118 days, during which time he was subjected to various forms of torture. The ordeal he suffered is dramatised in this satirical, thought-provoking political drama, which depicts a battle of wills between Bahari (played by Gael Garcia Bernal) and an ignorant, brutish interrogator (Kim Bodnia). The scenes between these two are slightly […]

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Stonehearst Asylum (2015)

April 16, 2015 No Comments

Reviewed for Radio Times: An isolated lunatic asylum is the setting for this gloomy, gothic, twist-laden mystery thriller. Set in 1899, it begins with the arrival of Doctor Edward Newgate (Jim Sturgess), a medical school graduate who is looking to gain some clinical experience. Following a quick tour, he is introduced to the resident superintendent, Dr. Silas Lamb (Ben Kingsley), a man whose methods are extremely unorthodox. Before long, however, Newgate discovers that Lamb and the other employees aren’t actually members of staff — they’re mental patients who have managed […]

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The Salvation (2015)

April 14, 2015 No Comments

Reviewed for Radio Times: A good man is forced to rack up an impressive body count in this stylish, handsomely shot neo-Western. The man in question is Jon (Mads Mikkelsen), a peaceful Danish settler whose wife and son are brutally murdered by a couple of drunken outlaws. After killing both men, Jon discovers that one of them was the brother of Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a merciless enforcer who extorts protection money from the local townspeople. The story that follows is relatively simplistic, but the villains are hateful enough that […]

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John Wick (2015)

April 7, 2015 No Comments

Reviewed for Radio Times: Numerous fight sequences are staged with a great deal of style and skill in this lean, propulsive, action-packed revenge thriller. Keanu Reeves is reliably stoic as the title character, a formidable former hitman who has been out of the game for five years. He is compelled to return, however, when a trio of Russian lowlifes break into his house and kill Daisy, the adorable puppy that was given to him as a final gift from his recently deceased wife. As John seeks retribution, the body count […]

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Force Majeure (2015)

March 17, 2015 No Comments

Reviewed for Empire Online as part of the Glasgow Film Festival 2015: One of the highlights of this year’s Glasgow Film Festival was Force Majeure, a provocative, expertly crafted marital drama that contains one of the most remarkable sequences in recent memory. The sequence in question takes place at a fancy Alpine ski resort, where a handsome Swedish couple — Tomas (Johannes Bah Kuhnke) and Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) — are having lunch with their two children. Sitting on a scenic terrace, they suddenly become aware that a tidal wave […]

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Clouds Of Sils Maria (2015)

March 17, 2015 No Comments

Reviewed for Empire Online as part of the Glasgow Film Festival 2015: One of the most popular films at this year’s Glasgow Film Festival was Clouds Of Sils Maria, an interesting meta drama about ageing, acting and artistic interpretation. Dealing with all this is Maria Enders (the reliably terrific Juliette Binoche), an accomplished, middle-aged actress who is asked to star in a new production of the play that made her famous. The difference this time, however, is that she won’t be playing the young, seductive temptress — she’ll be featuring […]

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While We’re Young (2015)

February 24, 2015 No Comments

Reviewed for Empire as part of the Glasgow Film Festival 2015: Do you ever spend time with people who are noticeably younger than you? If so, are any of them partial to the kind of tightly fitting jeans that resemble denim-coloured leggings? Being honest, does their company tend to make you feel relatively old or depressingly uncool? For those who answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, there’s a good chance that you’ll find plenty to enjoy in While We’re Young, a funny, perceptive, well-observed comedy-drama that pokes fun at […]

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Wild (2015)

January 12, 2015 No Comments

Reviewed for Radio Times: Back in 1995, a troubled young woman named Cheryl Strayed decided to hike 1100 miles in order to find herself. Along the way, she encountered a variety of challenges, setbacks and obstacles, many of which are recreated by filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallee in this episodic wilderness drama. Punctuated by a series of flashback sequences, the film finds Strayed (played by Reese Witherspoon) reflecting on her death of her beloved mother (Laura Dern), as well as the years of self-destructive behaviour that followed. On the plus side, Vallee […]

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Electricity (2014)

December 9, 2014 No Comments

Reviewed for Radio Times: Epilepsy and fractured family ties are two of the main concerns in this naturalistic British drama. The person dealing with both is Lily (Agyness Deyn), a young woman who suffers from the kind of debilitating seizures that make it difficult to lead a normal life. In spite of this, however, she travels to London after the sudden death of her mother, deciding to track down her long-lost brother (Christian Cooke) to ensure he gets his share of the inheritance. Along the way, filmmaker Bryn Higgins does […]

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Life Itself (2014)

November 14, 2014 No Comments

Reviewed for Radio Times: This engaging documentary chronicles the life and times of celebrated film critic Roger Ebert, who sadly passed away in 2013. Accompanied by passages from his own memoir, it traces a path from Ebert’s days as a fledgling journalist to the tragic battle with cancer that robbed him of his lower jaw. Director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) makes great use of archive video clips and talking-head interviews, as well as candid footage of Ebert during the last few months of his life. James doesn’t shy away from […]

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Wish I Was Here (2014)

October 21, 2014 No Comments

Reviewed for The Skinny: How do you know when it’s time to stop chasing your dreams? In Zach Braff’s second film behind the camera, this dilemma is starting to weigh heavily on Aidan Bloom (Braff), an out-of-work actor who relies on his wife (Kate Hudson) to pay the bills. After learning that his father (Mandy Patinkin) is dying of cancer, Aidan begins to seriously re-evaluate his life, while financial problems force him to home-school the kids (Joey King, Pierce Gagnon) for the rest of the semester. The biggest problem with […]

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Northern Soul (2014)

October 13, 2014 No Comments

Reviewed for The Skinny: Back in the 60s and 70s, a generation of music fans fell in love with an underground dance movement known as northern soul. Flourishing in the north of England, it was embraced by disenfranchised youths who sought out venues — such as Wigan Casino — where they could spend all night dancing to obscure tracks that had been imported from America. In Northern Soul, we’re invited into this world via John (newcomer Elliot James Langridge), a reclusive Lancashire schoolboy who, when we first meet him, hasn’t […]

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The Maze Runner (2014)

October 13, 2014 No Comments

Reviewed for The Skinny: The Maze Runner boasts an intriguing, Twilight Zone-style premise. In the opening sequence, a young man (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up in a moving freight lift with no idea of who he is or how he got there. Once it reaches the top, he finds himself in a grassy clearing which lies at the heart of an impossibly giant maze. Greeted by a gathering of young men who’ve been trapped there for three years, he discovers that the only way out is to find a safe path through the maze… From […]

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Life After Beth (2014)

September 29, 2014 No Comments

Reviewed for The Skinny: Life After Beth is a romantic zombie comedy drama. Or, as anyone fond of cinematic abbreviations might say, a rom-zom-com-dram. Dane DeHaan plays Zach, a grief-stricken teenager who is struggling to cope with the recent death of his beloved girlfriend, Beth (Aubrey Plaza). Not long after the funeral, however, Beth turns up at her parents’ house as if nothing has happened, and it soon becomes clear that something isn’t quite right. Beth’s zombification is a gradual process, which is an interesting change to the norm, and […]

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Ghost In The Shell (1995)

September 29, 2014 No Comments

Reviewed for The Skinny: It’s no exaggeration to say that Ghost In The Shell is one of the most influential sci-fi films of the last two decades. Set in a futuristic cyberpunk world, Mamoru Oshii’s anime classic has inspired numerous live-action pictures over the years — including, most notably, The Matrix. Adapted from Masamune Shirow’s manga series, it follows an elite public security agency as they attempt to track down an elusive hacker known as the Puppet Master. In truth, the film is occasionally guilty of clumsy exposition, and the […]

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300: Rise Of An Empire (2014)

September 25, 2014 No Comments

Reviewed for The Skinny: Part prequel, part sidequel (parallelquel?) and part sequel, this belated follow-up to 300 takes place before, during and after the events of Zack Snyder’s 2007 epic. It details how previous antagonist Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) became a towering God-King, but the focus is an ongoing sea battle between the Athenian fleet and the Persian navy. Leading the former is Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton), a war hero who attempts to hold off Xerxes’ vast armada in the hope that the forces of Greece will unite behind him. What follows […]

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Bad Neighbours (2014)

September 5, 2014 No Comments

Reviewed for The Skinny:  What do you do if the neighbours won’t keep the noise down? New parents Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) are faced with this problem in Nicholas Stoller’s latest comedy, as their quiet suburban life is upset when a party-loving fraternity moves in next door. Though both households reach an agreement, relations soon deteriorate and the Radners find themselves waging war with frat president Teddy (Zac Efron) and his booze-chugging brotherhood. The main problem with the various pranks that follow is that they generate […]

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Hellion (2014)

June 24, 2014 No Comments

Reviewed for The Skinny as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2014: Hellion is a low-key family drama that explores grief and responsibility. Former Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul features as Hollis, a boozy single parent who’s been absent — both emotionally and physically — since the death of his wife. The film’s title, however, refers to Hollis’s son Jacob (Josh Wiggins), an angry 13-year-old whose delinquent behaviour has left him one incident away from juvenile detention. As a result of the former’s absence and the latter’s behaviour, Child […]

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Jonathan Glazer Interview

June 13, 2014 No Comments

I interviewed director Jonathan Glazer for Grolsch Film Works about his new film, Under The Skin. The full article can be found here. Under The Skin heralds the long-awaited return of British director Jonathan Glazer, the helmer behind stylised gangster flick Sexy Beast (2000) and underrated reincarnation drama Birth (2004). He’s also responsible for some of the most iconic and memorable ads of the late 90s and early 00s (remember those Guinness commercials with the surfing horses?), not to mention his music videos for Radiohead, Blur and Massive Attack.  Following a nine-year hiatus, Glazer’s third […]

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Mark Kermode Interview

June 13, 2014 No Comments

I interviewed film critic Mark Kermode for The List about his new book, Hatchet Job. The full article can be found here. As the nation’s most recognisable movie reviewer, Mark Kermode is a pretty busy guy. Recently named as The Observer’s chief film critic, he balances writing with his duties as one half of Radio 5 Live’s flagship review show, simultaneously contributing content to Sight & Sound, The Culture Show, Newsnight Review and the BBC. Not to mention, of course, the fact that he spends an unhealthy (read: enviable) amount of time in darkened screening rooms. […]

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Dexter Fletcher Interview

June 13, 2014 No Comments

I interviewed actor-turned-director Dexter Fletcher for The Skinny about his new film, Sunshine On Leith. The full article can be found here. Over the last few decades, Scottish cinema has enjoyed something of a renaissance. Spearheaded by the celebrated films by the likes of Danny Boyle, Peter Mullan, Lynne Ramsay, Paul Laverty and Ken Loach, this resurgence has undoubtedly become characterised by a focus on the grimmer side of Scottish life; 90% of the time these films are accompanied by the adjective ‘gritty.’ Either functioning as gritty gangster dramas or working-class […]

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Joss Whedon Interview

June 13, 2014 No Comments

I was part of a round-table interview with writer-director Joss Whedon as part of the Glasgow Film Festival 2013. The full article is over at Eye For Film. Okay, so you’re Joss Whedon. You’ve just finished The Avengers, a huge, star-filled CGI blockbuster that triumphed with fans while smashing box offices like Bruce Banner having a temper tantrum, but what now? How do you follow that up? What do you do for an encore? Well, as it turns out, the answer is to do something completely different. And by completely […]

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