• Judas and the Black Messiah

    Judas and the Black Messiah

    ★★★

    Handsomely constructed and often striking to look at. But ends up feeling more like a meticulous imitation of a great crime epic, rather than one that earns the classification in its own right. While there's little to fault in the performances themselves, there is a lack of complexity and detail to the screenplay's characterisations - critically Lakeith Stanfield's Bill O'Neal - that inhibits the drama.

    Shaka King evidently feels a heavy burden in faithfully retelling Fred Hampton's story, a figure…

  • Nomadland

    Nomadland

    ★★★★½

    Following in the tradition of Stroszek and Paris, Texas, other outsider's visions of the American road movie, with their own unique form and rhythm. A perspective that can only come from those who have never been through the ideological carwash of a Stateside upbringing and education.

    Chloe Zhao treats the frontier's infinite vistas with fresh resonance, as well as showing deep affection for her many non-professional performers. Reclaiming a sense of Romantic era wonder to these landscapes, in the context…

  • Minari

    Minari

    ★★★★

    The receding horizons of a father's single-minded obsession to claim his stake in an American era of prosperity that's already begun to fade; no matter the personal cost, or damage inflicted on those around him. If you look beyond the ethereal aesthetic and oddball sense of humour, Lee Isaac Chung's film actually holds many thematic parallels with There Will Be Blood.

    Both texts similarly laden with an abundance of religious parable. Where the kooky, superstitious natives' warnings are never taken…

  • City Hall

    City Hall

    ★★★½

    An awe-inspiringly comprehensive overview of just about every conceivable function of local municipal government: From parking ticket disputes, to fire safety inspections, to controlling flows of rush hour traffic, to rat extermination, to overseeing a community meeting over the opening of a medical marijuana shop - Easily the film's stand out sequence.

    While it's almost never dull; the monumental length, coupled with the absence of a voiceover, mean that Frederick Wiseman's invisible hand has a tendency to render the long,…

  • Can't Get You Out of My Head: An Emotional History of the Modern World

    Can't Get You Out of My Head: An Emotional History of the Modern World

    The stand out moment comes in the final episode, where the sonorous dream-pop sounds of Phospherescent's Song for Zula play over the mind's eye of an AI computer seeing nothing but an infinite kaleidoscopic stream of dogs. The last vision of a dying world, as the DMT floods through its brain and the ECG machine goes: ‘beeeeeee...’; in the final moments everything dissolves into a canine-faced ocean of smooth, pain-free bliss. There's an absurd sort of tragedy to a computer…

  • Framing Britney Spears

    Framing Britney Spears

    ★★★

    About as informative as you could ever expect it to be without the direct participation of the key players. But still falls short in its wishy-washy diagnosis of the cultural sicknesses in American celebrity culture that have led to this point. Lacking enough prolonged interrogation into the more sinister aspects of this world, like the paparazzi. While maintaining an uncomfortable journalistic remove, which always seems afraid to argue an actual point of view, leading to a lack of complexity that…

  • David Byrne's American Utopia

    David Byrne's American Utopia

    ★★★

    You can see the logic behind Spike Lee's decision to have his camera, as well as his editing remain mostly unobtrusive guests at this party. Though as a result, for all us watching from our living rooms, the boundless mood of euphoria onstage does seem always just out of reach, as though trapped behind a pane of glass. While there isn't quite enough variety to the performance overall to justify the 105 minute runtime.

    There's no doubt David Byrne has…

  • Mayor

    Mayor

    ★★★

    One man band director/producer/cinematographer/editor David Osit does get some extraordinary footage in his time following Musa Hadid, the mayor of Ramallah; though as the credits roll over the fizzled out non-ending, it remains unclear what intention this documentary was meant to serve.

    Too remote to work as an emotionally revealing character study of a seemingly decent man crushed in a vice by monumental political challenges; too hesitant on whether to fully embrace the tone of an Armando Iannucci grand farce; too thin on detail and perspectives to provide much new insight into the Palestinian Occupation.

  • Fargo

    Fargo

    ★★★★★

    Nothing about Jerry Lundegaard encourages you to feel any sympathy for him; to say nothing of the multiple innocents who die as a result of his profoundly stupid plan. Even by the Coen's standards, this man is a true goofus. Despite speaking almost exclusively in salesman's clichés, he can never seem to sell anyone on anything. Excluded from playing the role of provider to his own family, by his wealthy father-in-law and boss:

    "This could be a really good thing…

  • Vitalina Varela

    Vitalina Varela

    ★★★

    Probably a vulgar, philistine, westerner opinion, but for something this resolutely uneventful that speaks with such a dry monotone voice, going over two hours is really pushing it.

    With a camera frozen still as though petrified to move, thick black shadow vignetting, and improbable biblical lighting, Pedro Costa does create some pretty astounding imagery of a grief-stricken world plunged into permanent darkness; inhabited by grim-faced shuffling apparitions who seem to have been abandoned here by the living. Underlined by the…

  • Possessor

    Possessor

    ★★½

    While I do enjoy the idea of Cronenberg and Son's as some sort of Mom-and-Pop's family business who forgo cutting keys or fixing boots, in favour of making disgustingly violent existential horrors. This story - as with Antiviral - has a fascinating conceit, but in execution feels too amateurish and devoid of insight to stand up to scrutiny.

    Brandon Cronenberg does everything through a stubbornly abrasive tone that's hard to get along with. The alternate 2008 retro-tech setting is a…

  • Ema

    Ema

    ★★★★

    Makes you yearn for the days when a femme fatale's plan was as simple as seducing some poor schmuck to murder her husband for the life insurance payout. City life, ambition, sexuality, family, art. Those things sure seemed easier to make sense of back then...

    Visually resplendent and stylised to within an inch of its life, Pablo Larraín's film often skirts the suspicion that underneath its explosive energy, at its core, the entire exercise is all just a little too…