• Thieves' Highway

    Thieves' Highway

    ★★★★

    Stellar. Overshadowed by others of its ilk like Wages of Fear and Jules Dassin's more well-known Rififi, but no less good - Dassin turns a drama about hauling apples on the open road into something full of tension, white-knuckle thrills and a man against capitalism at its most foul and vile. Really like that the film got the chance to develop Valentina Cortese's Rica as a character here beyond the genre norms; it's a fascinating watch.

  • The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

    The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

    ★★★★

    James Gunn understands the Marvel Comics - Cinematic Universe pipeline better than just about anyone else working on it, really. Tons of heart that it's missed, soul and the right blend of character and understanding of its mission objective. Bautista and Klementieff MVPs of the whole thing, Kevin Bacon wonderfully fun as a guest star (bring him back for Vol. 3) as self-aware as you'd expect the guy in the EE ads to be, and of course the music's good, it's Gunn. By far and away the best thing of Phase 4. Will miss these characters when they're gone.

  • Lost Bullet

    Lost Bullet

    ★★★½

    Very formulaic but tons of fun and engaging from start to finish with some spectacularly crafted action set-pieces and emotional heft where it needs to have the emotional heft. Looking forward to watching the second - if you know what you're getting yourself into you'll have a great time - and sometimes all you need is a good, efficient car chase with one of the best final acts of the last few years.

  • Hunt

    Hunt

    ★★★

    A tightly plotted action thriller from Squid Game helmer Lee Jung-jae; wrapped up in the conspiracy and plotting a bit too much it becomes almost a tad too overwhelming - more Slow Horses than Le Carre, but there's a lot of nice ideas even if it barely has any time to breathe.

  • Living

    Living

    ★★★★½

    Living is something that I went in with low expectations – I missed it entirely at the London Film Festival and only caught up with it on its main theatrical release. A remake of Ikiru? Who needs that? Happy to report that everyone absolutely does need a remake of Ikiru when it’s as good as this, the rare exception to the rule of Kurosawa remakes – joining the likes of The Magnificent Seven in its superb execution.

    Thanks to a…

  • The Menu

    The Menu

    ★★½

    In a year of excellent love letters to the service industry like Boiling Point and The Bear, The Menu can’t help but feel like maybe it had one too many courses. Overstuffed, not weird enough and way too safe - this feels like a major missed opportunity to make anything work at all - the set ups in the first act as a group of rich diners are taken to the meal of their lives are not delivered on to the…

  • Irma Vep

    Irma Vep

    ★★★★★

    “The Ghost of Irma Vep has been haunting cinema ever since.”

    I forgot to say something on this show back when I saw it so adding a log now: In a year of Better Call Saul's near-perfect finale it says something that my favourite television series is a meta-contextual hyper-aware commentary on modern Hollywood and the superhero industrial complex that stages a remake of Les Vampires against the current genre tropes; with Olivier Assayas creating an eight part drama seemingly…

  • Armageddon Time

    Armageddon Time

    ★★★★½

    Armageddon Time exists, to put it bluntly as a warning to the future from the past wrapped up in a display of class, privilege suburbia and the fear of the unknown. Devoid of the nostalgia that haunts 80s set films and television shows, James Gray draws more inspiration from the likes of The 400 Blows, a loss of innocence at childhood, depicting the story between two friends fighting against the weapon of privilege itself - with the shadow of the…

  • Hook

    Hook

    ★★★★

    Since when did we decide that too much Steven Spielberg sentimentality was a bad thing? Convinced I would've have given this the full 5 stars had this been a childhood favourite; I think I prefer Wendy as a magical-realist fantasy, but this is bursting so full of heart and wonder, Robin Williams is just a-grade perfect casting - Julia Roberts has the most fun she's had in what feels like forever, and the heart that Spielberg brings to the table is matched only by John Williams' peerless score.

  • A.I. Artificial Intelligence

    A.I. Artificial Intelligence

    ★★★★★

    Maybe... whisper it carefully, Steven Spielberg's best film? A delight - a Kubrickian/Spielberg fusion and Spielberg's own science fiction take on Pinocchio - a robot's quest to be a real boy. Imaginative and the closest that I've come since to understanding why this director would go onto Ready Player One - obviously, A.I. is leagues better than that - but this has heart, soul and rich imagination in spades - a truly realised world that accomplishes wonders rarely seen on film. Incredibly bittersweet with all the right kind of emotions and soul.

  • Duel

    Duel

    ★★★★½

    Man vs. Machine - the best thing a 24 year old Steven Spielberg could do was make the enemy here faceless, an unstoppable truck, and captures the white-knuckle tension of The Wages of Fear for the American audience with a narrative that has ramifications on the present day. Fast and furious, with all the pacing and structure of a veteran present in this second feature - the signs of greatness are apparent already. Raw, unbridled terror at a hundred miles per hour.

  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind

    Close Encounters of the Third Kind

    ★★★★★

    Spectacular. Spielberg at the top of his game - near unbeatable best; one of the grandest first encounters storyline with a gripping experience that tests our fear of the unknown. Entirely personal for Spielberg pushing his love of the genre into more experimental territory on a wider scale than E.T - large in scope and oh, wow - just what a film. I'm breathless, skilfully avoiding the temptation to go action heavy in favour of a character driven genre triumph. Such a majestic score.