Review in Brief: Dune (2021)

At long last we finally have Denis Villeneuve’s dream project of DUNE, or at least half of it. It’s unwieldily and hard to penetrate like Frank Herbert’s novel, but it’s a tactile, rich and essential big screen experience as well. Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) travels with his family’s noble house to planet Arrakis to take over the Imperium’s precious spice industry, all the while suspecting a trap has been laid by their mortal enemies the Harkonnens. Soon Paul finds himself wandering the inhospitable desert avoiding colossal sand worms and seeking an alliance with the nomadic Fremen, for whom he may be their prophesied messiah. This is a formidable ensemble cast, standouts being Rebecca Ferguson as a fragile Lady Jessica, Josh Brolin as a growly Gurney Halleck and Javier Bardem as a dignified Stilgar, and with all three characters’ most interesting moments still to come in Part 2, it’s an exciting prospect indeed. Allow the magnitude and uniqueness of this sci-fi epic story draw you in then let the visuals transfix and the soundscape envelop you. SSP

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Original vs Remake: Let the Right One In vs Let Me In

https://www.thefilmagazine.com/let-the-right-one-in-vs-let-me-in/ SSP

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Review in Brief: Freshman Year/Shithouse (2020/21)

SHITHOUSE is a much better name, why’d they have to ruin our fun for the UK release? For anyone who has gone to university in the last decade or so, this ceaselessly honest portrayal of uni life – the highs and lows, but mostly the lows – will hit particularly hard. Sensitive kid Alex (Cooper Raif) is homesick and struggling to make a meaningful connection with any fellow students until he has a frank nightlong conversation fuelled by wine with Maggie (Dylan Gelula). But how will Alex process this formative experience if this turns out to be a one-night-only deal? Writer-director-star Raif makes all this look pretty effortless and natural and has a really good match in Gelula, both teasing out layers in this story of different experiences of growing up. As a whole the film brings a pleasingly meandering, unexpectedly profound mix of cringe comedy and heartfelt drama, peppered with welcome touches of mild surrealism. SSP

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10 Great Australian Horror Films

https://www.thefilmagazine.com/10-great-australian-horror-films/ SSP

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Review in Brief: The Last Duel (2021)

Ridley Scott still does this kind of thing incredibly well. In a brutal and unflinching story, Lady Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer) accuses Jacques Le Gris (Adam Dtiver) of rape, causing her husband Sir Jean (Matt Damon) to call for trial by combat to determine the truth. The battles are bloody, the performances (especially from Comer and Driver) excellent and both the literal and symbolic exploration of Medieval women being seen as little more than property along with land and horses, hits hard. The script (from Damon and Ben Affleck among others) is a little clumsy at times and the RASHOMON style retelling of events doesn’t always work, but overall THE LAST DUEL is an effective and depressingly timely historical drama. The stakes of the final act deciding the ultimate fate of Marguerite in addition to the death of one of the combatants certainly makes you care more which of these awful Medieval bastards wins. SSP

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Review in Brief: The Most Beautiful Boy in the World (2021)

In 1971, child actor Björn Andrésen starred in Luchino Visconti’s DEATH IN VENICE and was proclaimed by the director as “The most beautiful boy in the world”. Andrésen’s experiences making that film and his subsequent catapulting to worldwide fame changed his life, but not for the better. Now in his sixties, Andréson looks back on this formative and traumatic period of his life, what lead to it and what has happened to him since because of it. As you might expect, TMBBITW often isn’t an easy watch as Adrésen recounts how he was manipulated and taken advantage of at such a young age, and seeing how unhappy and troubled a man he has grown into now breaks your heart. We see him revisit Tokyo where he had a second career as a singer, he investigates his unknown father and his long-missing mother and he films a small but key role for MIDSOMMAR. It’s an affecting documentary that makes you think twice about the draw of stardom. SSP

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No Time to Die (2021) Review

https://www.thefilmagazine.com/no-time-to-die-bond-movie-review/ SSP

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Review in Brief: The Green Knight (2021)

David Lowery’s Arthurian epic THE GREEN KNIGHT, the most visually stunning film of the year, is finally here for British audiences to experience. In this retelling of the epic poem complete with rhymes, symbolism and ornate medieval inter-titles, Gwain (Dev Patel) quests to the Green Chapel, home of the enigmatic Green Knight (Ralph Ineson) after he answered his chivalric challenge a year before. For Gwain struck the Green Knight’s head from his shoulders and must now submit to an answering blow, the many challenges faced on his journey teaching him lessons about life, death, time and honour. The Green Knight is the kind of film you have to submit to, to just go with the languid pace and sometimes impenetrable ambiguity. But if you’re in the right frame of mind and spirit you will be rewarded with a gorgeously designed, vividly atmospheric mood piece that will doubtless inspire debate for years to come. SSP

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Review in Brief: Shorta (2020)

Slickly executed, punchy and almost unbearably tense, SHORTA really makes an impact in a world where a frankly insane amount of people from minority communities are still losing their lives to police brutality. After a botched arrest in a Danish ghetto leads to the death of a young Arab man, two cops involved that sensitive case are tasked with keeping the peace but end stranded and fighting for their lives in the same deprived area as the site of their shame. Jacob Lohmann, Simon Sears as cops Mike and Jens and especially Tarek Tyat as Amos, a young victim of stop and search swept up in their predicament all deliver excellent raw performances and the direction from Frederik Louis Hviid and Anders Ølholm is tightly controlled and never loses momentum. Nothing the police get up to is made to look glamorous or cool, but a sweaty, dirty nightmare that just goes from bad to worse, typified by a half-obscured brawl in a flooding bathroom. SSP

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Delphine’s Prayers (2021) Open City Documentary Festival Review

https://www.thefilmagazine.com/delphines-prayers-2021-documentary-review/ SSP

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