Category Archives: Reviews

Loro (Paolo Sorrentino, 2018)

A partially fictionalised portrait of Silvio Berlusconi in the years leading into his final stint as Italy’s Prime Minister, Paolo Sorrentino’s latest project was released in his home country as two separate features, with a truncated mash-up version making its way to the UK.

About an hour of material is lost in this combined cut, and while this review comes from a place of having only experienced the shorter edit, it is very evident after a certain point that many storylines and arcs established early in Loro will receive next to no pay off…

Full review for Little White Lies

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Cities of Last Things (Ho Wi Ding, 2018)

Taking place across multiple decades, Cities Of Last Things is an inventive triptych narrative movie from Malaysian-born Taiwanese writer-director Ho Wi Ding. It presents three tragic episodes related to one man, in reverse chronological order, so as to examine how these events informed the way his life would develop…

Full review for SciFiNow

The Legend of the Stardust Brothers (Macoto Tezka, 1985)

Some backstory first: the legend behind The Legend, if you will. In the early ‘80s, Macoto Tezka, the son of “godfather of manga” Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy), was a film student with few credits to his name beyond some experimental shorts. In 1985, at age 22, he met musician and TV personality Haruo Chicada, who had composed a soundtrack for a movie that didn’t actually exist yet: The Legend of the Stardust Brothers.

Chicada used his clout to get an adaptation of his fake soundtrack made into a feature-length musical, with Tezka directing. The budget was sizeable and some of Japan’s most famous musicians of the time were on board, while various prominent names in manga were among the assembled crew; Kiyoshi Kurosawa, a director who would become much famous later for films like Pulse and Cure, even has a supporting role as an actor…

Full review for SciFiNow

Coincoin and the Extra-Humans (Bruno Dumont, 2018)

After helming some of the most austere, polarising films in French arthouse cinema, writer-director Bruno Dumont made a surprise swerve into the world of TV in 2014 with P’tit Quinquin, a miniseries that premiered at Cannes in a (still long) film version later released in UK cinemas.

A blackly comic murder mystery, the show starts off as a macabre riff on police procedurals like Midsomer Murders, crossed with kids-up-to-mischief comedies like The Little Rascals, as Van Der Weyden (Bernard Pruvost), a bumbling detective and his deputy, Carpentier (Philippe Jore), try to solve a series of grisly deaths while a group of youths, led by the eponymous Quinquin (Alane Delhaye), watch. What is gradually revealed about the rural southern France setting is the deep prejudices of its residents, particularly towards Arab or African Muslim immigrants, some of whom end up being murder victims. Even the initially ‘good’ leads, the arguable points of identification for the audience, turn out to be belligerent bigots.

Given all of the above, you may be wondering why the sequel miniseries, Coincoin and the Extra-Humans, set years later, is being covered by a genre magazine. One word: aliens…

Full review for SciFiNow

‘American Gods’ Season 2

It’s been almost two full years since the first season of American Gods wrapped up, with major behind-the-scenes overhauls making the news with relative frequency. Firstly, showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green departed after supposed creative disputes, including disagreements with co-executive producer Neil Gaiman, author of the show’s source novel. Then, a couple of key actors from the first season – specifically, two previous Fuller collaborators in Gillian Anderson and Kristin Chenoweth – opted not to return in solidarity with the departing showrunner. Thirdly, replacement showrunner Jesse Alexander, who had worked on Fuller’s Hannibal as a writer-producer, was reportedly relieved of duty late in the production of Season 2, not allowed to oversee the show to completion despite not being officially fired.

Fans of the first season, or even fans of the book who didn’t like the first season, would be right to be worried about the end result of this fraught return to the screen. That said, some may find this clash between conflicting visions of the future strangely appropriate for the narrative’s battle of wits and woe between gods of the old ways and deities of the new ones…

Full review for VODzilla.co

Maiden (Alex Holmes, 2018)

An almost 50-year institution, The Ocean Race is a yacht race around the world held every four years. In 1989, what was then known as the Whitbread Round the World Race was a 32,000 nautical mile sailing sprint from Southampton and back, taking entrants out to sea – with a few stopover ports, of course – for approximately eight months.

This instalment of the race also hosted the first ever all-women crew to enter, and Alex Holmes’ Maiden, named after that crew’s ship, documents the team’s struggles not only at sea but also getting to participate in the first place…

Full review for Little White Lies

Zoo (Antonio Tublen, 2018)

When films open with establishing shots of a city, it’s normally to evoke a sense of place for a story that will, presumably, mostly take place there. When a horror opens this way, it can also be a way of setting up locations for third-act set-pieces.

Zoo, written, directed, edited and scored by Antonio Tublen, disobeys this. It establishes that London is the broad setting for its zombie outbreak story, but the actual film takes place almost entirely within the confines of one couple’s flat. And when it doesn’t, the shots are relegated to the immediate surroundings of their home – e.g. wreckage just across the street or fleeting glimpses of their floor’s corridor. It’s almost as though its characters are confined like animals in a… well, you get the idea…

Full review for SciFiNow