Review: Cargo (2017/18)


Not doing my bad shoulder any favours: Addictive Pictures/Causeway Films/Netflix

CARGO is not to be confused with Cargo, the not particularly good Swiss ALIEN/MATRIX mashup from 2009. But I don’t think many people saw that one, so the mixup is unlikely. Netflix’s Cargo is, to put it simply, an Australian zombie film. Put not so simply, there’s surprising depth to this particular genre reworking.

Following the outbreak of a highly infectious virus, a couple (Martin Freeman and Susie Porter) and their baby daughter attempt to travel across a zombie-ridden Australia to safety. But how far through the apocalypse can you get with a baby on your back?

The end of the world is no reason to stop passive-aggressively arguing with your partner. I mean, why would you? It’s such a human reaction to the world going to hell in a handcart. Freeman and Porter play this aspect of long-term relationships beautifully and not for a moment do you doubt their affection for each other and passive-aggressive ribbing is coming from a very real place in and amongst all this sci-fi/horror madness. You don’t see babies in zombie movies very often, unless you’re Zack Snyder and you want to do a particularly dark “turning” sequence. Unless you’re a fit and able adult, you’re a bit of a liability in any kind of post-apocalyptic landscape, so Freeman of course spends most of the movie with his infant daughter strapped to his back.

The idea of public health guidance being issued by a government in the event of a zombie epidemic is scarily plausible and a neat new element to the genre’s bag of tricks. Presumably there’s some sort of government in existence in a bunker somewhere, but our perception of this story’s world is kept intimate and hypothetical. Advisory literature with cheerful diagrams, an ominous countdown-to-losing-your-humanity Fitbit, easy-on restraints to protect your loved ones from you and a handy self-euthanasia kit are all included in the government’s zombie goodie bag.

This is a world where the survivors have become used to this epidemic, continuing to live by taking precautions and keeping moving. Unfortunately at some point, you’re going to have to put your baby down and that makes you a target. At some points we even semi-functioning relationships between zombies and humans, family members that don’t, or can’t, let a terminal illness come between them. This is a fascinating (arguably the most philosophically engaging) aspect of zombie mythology that doesn’t get anywhere near enough attention in popular culture. If you lost a loved one to the virus, could you really let go, and how can we be sure they’ve lost everything that’s “them” in the process?

It must be so hard for filmmakers to make zombies feel fresh. Here we have sap-leaking zombies and zombies with their heads buried in the ground like ostriches. They’re certainly different , visually distinctive undead, even if I don’t really understand every aspect of their being or how they exist within this world (not that I don’t think an exposition-light genre film isn’t refreshing).

Despite a lack of explanation, this future makes chilling sense. In a country like Australia, of course the cities would fall first and fast, leaving the Outback, usually seen as inhospitable, the only relatively safe place. Of course people would stockpile not only to survive, but to profit when the going got better. Of course a zombie outbreak wouldn’t affect people’s prejudices one jot.

Finally it’s great to see Indigenous Australians getting to be active and awesome on film: here they become the crack zombie-hunters usually portrayed by white alpha males in films like this. They finally get their moment to charge in and save the day. Cargo is the shot in the heart that zombie movies needed; deeply personal, intimate and from a different perspective, and it marks Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke out as filmmakers to watch. SSP

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Review in Brief: The Florida Project (2017)

I’ve no idea why it took me so long to watch THE FLORIDA PROJECT, one of the best films of 2017. So few films (STAND BY ME and the new IT spring to mind as other good examples) show kids actually behaving like kids. You also never get as naturalistic, unforced performances than if you just give young actors free reign. The behaviour of Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) is excusable because she’s a child, but her mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) isn’t easy to root for, existing in a seemingly permanent state of arrested development and biting down hard on any threat to her fragile idyll. The kindly fleapit hotel owner Bobby (Willem Dafoe, excellent) drops a nice unexpected CHINATOWN reference in his dialogue at one point: “Don’t think I think you’re as dumb as you want me to think”. This is a really dark, grounded drama with a bubblegum palette, perfect to sideline viewers expecting something cheerier! SSP

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Review: The Happytime Murders (2018)


Who wears it better?: Black Bear Pictures/Henson Alternative

A thought kept coming to me while watching THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS: if not for the novelty of sweary Muppets, would this ever be considered good enough? I don’t know whether it’ll end up as one of the worst films of the year, but it definitely doesn’t deliver on anything beyond the most basic level.

Disgraced puppet cop-turned-PI Phil Philips (Bill Barretta) reluctantly re-teams with former partner Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) to unmask a deranged puppet-killer.

I think it was Roger Ebert who used to say (I’m paraphrasing) that when reviewing movies you compare them with similar movies. As such, let’s look at other puppet movies, and to a much lesser extent, other buddy cop movies. All the Muppet movies worked on their own terms but were elevated with the addition of those characters. MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL and MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND are good literary adaptations, THE MUPPETS a good showbiz musical, MUPPETS MOST WANTED a good crime farce. They have string foundations before they even think of adding any felt.

Even compared to other buddy comedies, the writers really aren’t Shane Black, but then again not everyone could write KISS KISS, BANG BANG. They’re not even Gough & Miller, and something like SHANGHAI NOON was a considerably lower hurdle to clear.

The Happytime Murders is mostly just, look what we can make Muppets say and do! I mean, you can’t say that Brian Henson is playing it safe with the direction he’s taking his dad’s legacy (and the creation of a new production company to make more adult-oriented fare suggests more could be on the way) but he might have annoyed many fans of the Henson back catalogue.

I’ll admit I did get a few decent laughs, particularly at the film’s darker asides, like a puppet corpse being fished out of the river then wringed out like a flannel by the cops, the payoff to another gag involving a lot of screaming. But way too much of the humour relies on easy shortcuts, on references to other movies that are too telegraphed (she’s wearing a short white dress in a police interrogation room, I wonder how she’ll manipulate the situation?).

Maya Rudolph and Elizabeth Banks are clearly having the most fun, and get the most memorable moments out of the human characters, but we never really get to know anyone outside the lead pairing, and neither of them are all that interesting. Most of the Happytime gang and all Edwards’ police colleagues barely get namechecked, let alone anything to do.

The best thing about The Happytime Murders is the end credits, not just because it means it’s all over but because the outtakes reel features a glimpse at how the extremely talented puppeteers achieved what they did. The film might prompt the odd smile, but there really isn’t enough to recommend it. If you really fancy a raunchy puppet comedy, just watch Peter Jackson’s MEET THE FEEBLES; it’s darker, wittier and more daring. SSP

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30s Review: The Wizard of Oz (1939)


Only bad witches are ugly, but only good witches invade your personal space!: MGM

A couple of weekends back I attended my first ever outdoor film screening as part of Film 4’s Summer Screen at Somerset House in London. It was a dream-themed double-bill of LABYRINTH followed by what I think most of the audience were there for, THE WIZARD OF OZ. Both films looked stunning projected into the walls of a neoclassical mansion, the wind seemingly dropping picking up again in time with events on screen, and at one point a massive flock of seagulls , highlighted in the night sky by the floodlights below, made a dramatic appearance.

Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) is swept away from Kansas to the land of Oz, where along with her friends the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), the Tin Man (Jack Haley) and the Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr) she quests to the Emerald City for an audience with the Great and Powerful Wizard. Along the way they must all overcome their weaknesses and defeat the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton).

First, Labyrinth-in-very-brief. You really need nostalgia to enjoy this. Despite some imaginative staging (the hand-faces and the Escher stairs at the end) it’s mostly just David Bowie thrusting his package forward, occasionally warbling lesser material and young, wooden Jennifer Connolly playing with less witty Muppets.

From cult curiosity to cinematic royalty. The Wizard of Oz might well be the greatest of Hollywood’s Golden Age output. With spectacular musical numbers (made all the more joyous if everyone sings along), an unimpeachable ensemble of character actors and vaudeville talent and effects that still haven’t aged that badly 80 years on by virtue of being creative (non more so than a stocking around chicken wire standing in for the tornado). The film of course also features one of the all-time great visual gimmicks employed as Dorothy arrives in the Merry Old Land of Oz, the world transforming from agricultural sepia to fantastical Technicolor on stepping through a door. This really is one that has stood the test of time.

Judy Garland is great in almost every way Jennifer Connelly wasn’t in Labyrinth. It’s a joyous performance with such easy chemistry with her co-stars and such natural charisma. Before the Wicked Witch of the West was over-explained and retconned to be simply misunderstood by WICKED and OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL, she was a crafty, cruel force of evil nature in Margaret Hamilton’s hands.

The preeminent exponent of “the power was inside you all along” / “it’s all about the journey” storytelling. Such clichés prompt groans when they’re used today, but in their classic form, as the pure and powerful meaning behind Dorothy’s journey, they really land. It also somehow manages to get away with the “it was all a dream” twist in a way so few stories have, because it’s so thematically essential to this tale.

I think it’s underestimated how influential Oz was on fantasy films in general. I can’t not think of Peter Jackson’s LORD OF THE RINGS aesthetic when we get to the scenes in the Wicked Witch’s castle at the end. On arriving in Oz, the story doesn’t stop dead to give us a load of expository information, but we almost immediately understand how this strange and colourful world works, and we take in the land’s wonders with new eyes just as Dorothy does.

It hasn’t all aged perfectly of course, with the Cowardly Lion’s limp-wristed gesture accompanying his self-description as a “dandy lion” now prompting a wince (though his archaic obvious sexual coding has apparently since been reclaimed by the LGBT community), realising how seriously Margaret Hamilton injured herself in a fire effect or that Toto was paid much more than the munchkins all prompt no small amount of discomfort. Staggeringly, the producers wanted to cut the superlative “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” when they should have probably cut the decidedly naffer “King of the Forest”.

The Wizard of Oz is near-perfect dream-musical extravaganza and has barely aged a day in 81 years. What more is there to say? There’s no place like old Hollywood? SSP

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Review in Brief: Berlin Syndrome (2017)

BERLIN SYNDROME takes simple exploitation film premise, “nice boy you met on holiday turns out to be a kidnapping psychopath” and goes far deeper into the psychological makeup of these characters who could very easily just be archetypes. It portrays an exaggerated, but completely and chillingly believable abusive relationship, with levels of abuse both simple and far less easy to define. It’s a film of fascinating character contradictions. Andi (Max Riemelt) morally judges people but physically and emotionally imprisons women, Clare’s (Teresa Palmer) bids for freedom become much less determined as long as her captor keeps her in relative comfort. Her only question for him is “How did you choose me?” which says a lot about her perspective on life. Director Cate Shortland (a really good choice for the long-anticipated BLACK WIDOW movie) contrasts upsetting material and emotional turmoil with steady, meticulous and beautiful shot construction, moments of stillness allowing you to take a breather from Clare’s waking nightmare and hope things get better. SSP

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Review: The Meg (2018)


There’s always a bigger fish…: Apelles Entertainment/Di Bonaventura Pictures

Keep an ear out for this exchange in pubs over the next few months: ” Did you see that Jason Statham Giant Shark Movie? Yeah, it was alright I guess”. That’s how THE MEG is going to be remembered because let’s be honest, it’s not a catchy title, nor is it a movie that lingers. It’s been a long time coming (adaptation attempts have been floundering for about 20 years) and for what it is the finished product is sporadically fun.

Rescue diver extraordinaire Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is reluctantly called in to retrieve a research team who have become trapped exploring the Marianas Trench, releasing a prehistoric monstrosity in the process. Reaching the surface is only half the battle, and before long a 20 metre set of jaws is heading towards the heavily populated Chinese coastline, fast.

Jason Statham plays Jonas Taylor completely straight-faced, God bless him. He finally gets to play a role that requires extensive swimming and him putting his (actual Olympic-level) diving skills to good use. Shame he doesn’t get to use his martial arts experience on the shark. I think he’s called Jonas because apparently naming him Jonah in a film like this would have been too on-the-nose (though this does come from the book). He does what he does well, but he and everyone else in the cast is acted off the screen by the young Sophia Cai.

While the first half is pretty unremarkable, the second is fun because it gets really silly. Once we get out of the undersea lab and the action heads towards a (very) populated Chinese coastal resort you’ll have to fight back a smile at the trashy entertainment on offer. I’m down for any movie with Jason Statham being dragged behind a boat as a human lure for a giant shark.

The plot, such as it is, isn’t up to much. I’ve no idea what Rainn Wilson’s sleazy billionaire’s business is, or what the science team are actually aiming to do with their aquatic sci-fi lab. At least the boffins in DEEP BLUE SEA were trying to cure Alzheimer’s disease! I’m not going to say an uninvolving story and paper-thin character is fatal to a film like this, but it does help to place it firmly in the junk food film category.

A late-stage emotional outpouring between father (Winston Chao) and daughter (Li Bingbing) lacks impact because their relationship doesn’t seem all that dysfunctional. In fact, they’re open and supportive of each other throughout the film and neither seem to have real flaws. If I were a cynical viewer I’d say it’s because they’re the two most prominent Chinese characters and you don’t want to annoy your co-financiers. It’s possibly the most annoying thing about large co-productions like this, that Chinese stars and the country they represent always have to be spotless heroes.

I completely agree with people who have suggested that The Meg isn’t quite bad enough. That’s not to say it should be bad on a technical level, in terms of film language, but it could have really leaned into its silliness more frequently. The effects and the action are fine, but I found myself perplexed by a relative lack of one-liners. Though I had a lot of fun with portions of the movie, I’m not sure there’s a lot I’m going to remember for the foreseeable. Say what you like about other bad shark movies, at least JAWS 2 offs the shark in a really entertaining way and Deep Blue Sea has the shark turn on an oven containing LL Cool J. Jason Statham being dragged behind a boat just can’t compete. SSP

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Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)


Diminutive Dynamic Duo: Marvel/Disney

Is this going to be Ant-Man’s lot in life, to be the minty Tic Tac chaser for Marvel’s biggest, meatiest and most extravagant releases? The first ANT-MAN blew me away, a jolt of irreverent energy coming straight after the unwieldy AGE OF ULTRON and making a far stronger, more confident impression. ANT-MAN AND THE WASP might not be able to match the stakes of INFINITY WAR or the thematic richness of BLACK PANTHER but it’s still very satisfying on its own terms.

Scott Lang’s (Paul Rudd) long two years of house arrest for his actions as an unregistered superhero are coming to a close, but not quite in time for him to help Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) and her super-scientist father Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) try and bring the long-lost Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) back from the quantum realm. As their secret experiments ramp up, other power players seeking to misuse Pym’s technology enter the field…

This is perhaps Marvel’s most heartfelt franchise, being smaller-scale (thematically and actually) but with big emotions and immediate consequences for characters’ loved ones. Straight out of the gate Scott is back with his daughter Cassie (Abbie Ryder Forston on scene-stealing form again), the fate of the wider world insignificant compared to his need to be there for his daughter. In the first film, Rudd’s dramatic chops proved to be a secret weapon, the pain behind his eyes never quite outshone by his scoundrel swagger, and he really carries over his versatility into the sequel. He’s still funny, Scott employing close-up magic out of sheer boredom and messing with an agent who really wants a friend (the brilliant Randall Park) but it’s the pathos that connects.

Very deliberately, Scott’s Ant-Man suit is on the fritz. All the time. This allows for the Wasp to come forward, to take charge, to, repurposing Mantis’s wonderfully muddled turn of phrase from Infinity War, to “kick names and take ass”. Wasp’s first fight sequence where she makes very short work of a gang of armed henchmen in a lobby and then a kitchen sets the tone and makes it clear she is a deadly force to be reckoned with, and Hope is rarely not the focus this time; it’s her story. The action scenes is general are packed full of gags and laden with invention, particularly in the car chases that involve last-minute miniaturising to avoid obstacles, or popping back to normal size to cause pursuers to crash.

They have a pretty different way of dealing with their villain problem in the end, and wonder of wonders a Marvel film’s final act doesn’t involve an aerial battle or two special effects punching each other. On both accounts Ant Man and the Wasp’s final stretch is weirder and more conceptual than I ever expected, but I don’t want to talk about it in detail and ruin the surprise.

They’ll have to get the de-aging effects right in the (as far as we know) entirely 90s-set CAPTAIN MARVEL, or they’ll break the movie. They’re almost there with Douglas and Pfeiffer playing 30 year younger versions of themselves in flashback, though they still haven’t quite got rid of that doll-like look from certain angles.

Some of the cast are under-served, understandable in a large ensemble of Avengers, but given the downsizing you’d think they’d find more for people to do, with Laurence Fishburne doing a bit of running around in a cardigan and Walton Goggins doing a bit of running around in a nasty cream suit. The “Luis tells a story in his unique style” gag is a lot less funny on repeat as well, despite Michael Peña’s talent.

Ant-Man and the Wasp may be uncomplicated, but it delivers as a thrilling, funny and soulful super-romp. It also helps to set up what will likely be the most interesting phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, its second decade where surely everything will change. SSP

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Review: Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)


The faces of bathroom PSD: Paramount Pictures/Skydance Media

Get excited, but not too excited; MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT is probably only the third best Mission we’ve chosen to accept. While I think I’ll always prefer the self-awareness of GHOST PROTOCOL and the sheer style of ROGUE NATION, there’s still a helicopter’s conveniently detachable payload’s worth to like in this, the series at its biggest and boldest so far.

Following a mission gone very wrong, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team hunt down three nuclear warheads and those who would detonate them wherever they might be hiding across the world. Complicating matters further are CIA guard dog Walker (Henry Cavill) attached to Hunt’s team to prevent further costly slip-ups and the need to deal with a dangerous and influential new player in the world of shady brokering (Vanessa Kirby).

Fallout outdoes itself in terms of the series’ trademark tricksiness. That’s not to say the plot is overly complicated (it’s not) but if like me you always thought the worst part of these movies is the stupid masks (that apparently include extra height to allow Cruise to convincingly become Jon Voight and Philip Seymour Hoffman over the years), prepare to get a little annoyed. If you like that plot device being deployed liberally and unexpectedly, then you’re in for a treat.

Refreshingly, there are finally a few nods to Cruise’s (relatively) advancing age, from taking (slightly) longer to get up after being put down to not really keeping up in a punishing bathroom brawl between three combatants. You also don’t see Hunt receiving serious medical attention very often either, so he is human after all (Cruise or Hunt? Take your pick). Returning writer-director Christopher McQuarrie gets a little bogged down in the M:I grammar, spending a long time on inelegant exposition and throwing so many complications at our heroes you almost expect them to finally concede the mission is indeed impossible this time, but this is par for the course on film number six.

Vanessa Kirby threatens to steal the whole show with only a handful of scenes as arms dealer the White Widow, always brimming with cunning and making the very most of her character’s connection to a previous series power player. There’s still so much joy to be had in watching Cruise playing a superhuman who nearly always screws up and has to bring it back from the brink. It’s also a great deal of fun to watch Cruise lock horns with a hulking Cavill in a rare villainous role, a great scalpel vs lump hammer battle if there ever was one. I’m quite amazed by how long Walker has survived doing what he does, I’m more astounded that he managed to become the CIA Director’s (Angela Bassett) top guy, because he is shown time and time again to be monumentally thick. Elsewhere Rebecca Ferguson doesn’t quite get to be as high-impact as Ilsa Faust this time, despite her having to tie up Rogue Nation’s loose ends in a satisfying fashion (her plot is unfortunately sidelined for a good chunk of the film). Long-standing fans of the series will be delighted to see Ving Rhames and Michelle Monaghan getting proper screentime again, and they ground proceedings considerably in and amongst all the chaos.

The stunts are as amazing as you’ve heard. Competing action franchises can’t really keep up because as bombastic as they might go, as perfect as the action conception or location scouting might be, other ongoing action franchises don’t have Tom Cruise. Fallout’s most eye-popping action sequences are probably the HALO jump, with Cruise doing the skydiving (and SFX putting a thunderstorm around him for good measure), and the helicopter battle at the end, with Cruise doing most of the flying (and SFX allowing for the fight to continue even after the helicopters are reduced to rolling cockpits).

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is one hell of a ride. It might feel unsteady on its feet to start, and suffers from the same niggling doubts as most of the previous franchise entries, but once it has momentum it really doesn’t let up. The stakes couldn’t be higher, Tom Cruise couldn’t be madder, he couldn’t have a more entertaining ensemble supporting him. You almost want Cruise to just leave it here, go out on a high after three pretty stellar entries back-to-back, but you know he won’t. SSP

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Review: The Station Agent (2003)

station agent

A little light reading: SenArt Films/Next Wednesday Productions

THE STATION AGENT is an unassuming but punchy little film well worth your time. Measured pacing, naturalistic performances and the trainspotting subject matter might not seem like selling points, but trust me, they really are.

After the sudden loss of his only friend, train enthusiast Fin (Peter Dinklage) moves into an abandoned station agent’s house to indulge his passion on his own. But try as he might, Fin cannot help but begin to open up to two fellow outcasts, the chattiest snack van guy around (Bobby Cannavale) and an accident-prone eccentric (Patricia Clarkson). 

I relate to Fin perhaps more than almost any other film character I can think of. He’s a thoughtful introvert who, for some reason, is really attractive to extroverts. As a bunch, we don’t want to be rude, but we’d prefer to be left alone if given the option. From personal experience I’ve found that extroverts tend to gradually wear us down and through their sheer persistence they eventually break through, making us better, more balanced people in the process. .

At its heart, The Station Agent is all about alienation, so what better subculture to feature but trainspotters? That’s not me trying to make fun or pick easy targets (all power to you if that’s what you’re in to), but as a passion, it’s a niche one that quite often asks for solitude, or at the very most spotting in pairs. You must spend so much time wrapped up in your own thoughts or focussed so intently on what is front of you or just speeding past on a track, the rest of the world could pass you by.

Dinklage has one of the best “why does this crap keep happening to me?” faces out there. Most casual viewers today just think of him as Tyrion, and I for one can’t wait for the day, in about a year’s time, where he can start to take on more interesting, low-key roles again. The dynamics of the core trio are fascinating, with two introverts in Fin and Olivia and an extrovert in Joe, we see how the balance of conversation, power and comfortableness shifts as any one of the three isn’t around. “I’m not used to having people in my house, especially loud people” grumbles Olivia to Fin as Joe’s voice booms from the next room.

All three friends are going through pain and trauma, Fin from birth (who has become numb to it all), Olivia later (recovering but recurring hurt) and Joe later still (still coming to terms with what is still going on in his life). All they really have is each other and the presence of mind to enjoy the little things.

Fin’s dwarfism is obviously referenced, and it is often a subject of ridicule or fascination to other characters, but the film isn’t really about that. Even in a key scene late on, when Fin confronts a crowded bar over how he is perceived, it’s more about him admitting he is, and always will be, a loner. Arguably, it is Fin’s chosen hobby, associated trappings and general shyness that impact his life more than his stature. “It’s really funny how different people see me and treat me, because I’m actually a really simple, boring person”. This key scene is not saying “Look at me, I’m a little person!”, it’s “Look at me, I’m an introvert!”.

This is one of the best “summer of nothing” movies I’ve seen, and it’s all down to the characters working so well together, even when they don’t seem to be getting on. They need each other and they probably always will, and the realness of it is the sweeter side of bittersweet.

Tom McCarthy tells hard-hitting stories packed to the brim with soul, whether factually true (SPOTLIGHT) or emotionally true (The Station Agent). If this unassuming little gem of a film with a big, throbbing heart has passed you by, The Station Agent is well worth seeking out. SSP

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Review in Brief: You Were Never Really Here (2017)

Well this was a cheerful watch. I say that sarcastically, though apparently some people found this one strangely uplifting. Maybe it’s that whole lost soul thing on a mission thing. Joaquin Phoenix always manages to go the extra mile, to the point where his range of complex characters always end up being compelling but rarely, if ever, end up being sympathetic. I guess it could be argued Joe is a gentle kinda guy (he loves his mum despite their strange, strained relationship) , but he does (thankfully mostly unseen) horrible things in his hunting down of horrible sexual abusers. Lynne Ramsay is a really good actor’s director who doesn’t make enough films, not to mention being bold enough to guide us through dark and distressing material with nightmarish flair. You have to be in the right mood to watch YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE (I’m not sure if I was) but it’s worth a watch for the affecting scenes between Phoenix and young Ekaterina Samsonov alone. SSP

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