A Ghost Story (David Lowery, 2017)

Following his breakthrough feature in 2013, the (sorta) neo-Western Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, director David Lowery took an unexpected career turn in helming a – very good – remake of Disney’s Pete’s Dragon last year. His next move after that is somehow even stranger. A Ghost Story confirms him as one of the trickier rising star American filmmakers to get a definitive hold on: bar recurring collaborators, one may struggle to find much in common with the filmmaking of A Ghost StoryAin’t Them Bodies Saints and Pete’s Dragon.

A Ghost Story is definitely an actual ghost story (no misleading title here), but, while it’s haunting, it’s certainly not a horror film. Instead, as its rather perfect poster tagline posits, it’s all about time…

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Baby Driver (Edgar Wright, 2017)

From his ‘Cornetto Trilogy’ (Shaun of the DeadHot FuzzThe World’s End) to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, some of the best recurring elements in the films of writer-director Edgar Wright are his memorable musical cues, often during action where the choreography is perfectly timed to the chosen song – think Shaun’s pool-cue-whacking of a zombie in sync with Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now…

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Edgar Wright on car chase thriller ‘Baby Driver’

“I was going to say I’ve not been offered a musical, but that’s not true. I think if it was the right thing and I thought I could do it well, then, yeah, of course.” British writer-director Edgar Wright is speaking to us down the phone from LA. The current topic: how his movies, particularly Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and new film Baby Driver, often take on some of the cinematic language of musicals. “The thing about it with this movie,” he continues, “is doing some of that work in a completely different genre. Baby Driver is not a musical per se, but it’s completely powered by music…

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In praise of Dwayne Johnson’s performance in ‘Pain & Gain’

With the release of Baywatch, Dwayne Johnson ventures into raunchy comedy mode, as the much belovedremembered TV show gets an affectionate piss-take update. Word of mouth on the reboot may be mixed, but that certainly isn’t a reflection of Johnson’s comic abilities. Cocksure humour was a key component of his wrestling persona, The Rock, while the star’s finest film performance to date came in one of the more grotesque (and interestingly so) studio movies of recent times: Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain, in which he plays an amalgamation of three other men involved in one of the strangest true crime stories of the ’90s.

Pain & Gain makes up one third of 2013’s unofficial ‘American Dream, Y’all’ trilogy, which also includes Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers and Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring – each a high-stakes crime tale that takes a satirical stab at, among other targets, narcissism and commodity fetishism. All were divisive works upon release, but Pain & Gain is by far the most misunderstood, perhaps due to the disbelief that director Bay could actually possess the self-awareness to skewer the kind of half-witted machismo that features in so many of his films…

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How ‘The Lost World’ taught me that films can be cruel

Twenty years on from its summer ’97 release, any reverence for The Lost World: Jurassic Park is largely restricted to people holding up for it as the best of the franchise’s sequels. Which is perhaps fair and certainly understandable, especially given that directors Joe Johnston and Colin Trevorrow, the series’ most recent torch bearers, have not managed to deliver a set-piece as thrilling as anything from Steven Spielberg’s predecessors.

Speaking as someone who has seen the film many times over the last 20 years, I can’t make the case for The Lost World being an overlooked classic. But it remains a fascinating film; essentially dino-based riff on Howard Hawks’ 1962 safari movie Hatari!, it abandons the wonderment of Spielberg’s original in favour of a more macabre and cynical worldview. Growing up, it had an unexpectedly profound effect on me…

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Detour (Christopher Smith, 2016)

There are two possible effects that come from lifting the title of a respected movie classic: on the one hand, it can be perceived as an audacious, assuring wink to savvy viewers that you’re aware, as a filmmaker, of your movie’s debt to hallowed classics of the medium; on the other hand, it can serve to accentuate how much more desirable revisiting older, better films would be, than to sit through a pretty bad new one.

If we’re being generous with regard to Christopher Smith’s neo-noir runaround, Detour, it almost fits into both of the above. Edgar G Ulmer’s not-so-neo-noir of the same name, from 1945, is without doubt the superior movie, but it doesn’t really have all that much in common with this film’s story, which owes a bigger debt to such ’90s throwbacks as Tony Scott’s roistering crime caper, True Romance

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Writing by Josh Slater-Williams