survival

Alien: Covenant

As has been observed before regarding Prometheus, Alien: Covenant is trying to build conceptual sci-fi on the burial grounds of what began as a simple, stylish, terrifying horror story. This alleged prequel to the Alien saga, now in its second

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Alien: Covenant

As has been observed before regarding Prometheus, Alien: Covenant is trying to build conceptual sci-fi on the burial grounds of what began as a simple, stylish, terrifying horror story. This alleged prequel to the Alien saga, now in its second

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One feels like a heroine’s journey has been extracted from something originally conceived for an ensemble cast, leaving us with not quite enough of either. There are too many characters, talking so much about what they’re doing we don’t know what they’re doing.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One feels like a heroine’s journey has been extracted from something originally conceived for an ensemble cast, leaving us with not quite enough of either. There are too many characters, talking so much about what they’re doing we don’t know what they’re doing.

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Westworld (1973)

Michael “high concept” Crichton directs the film of his own screenplay (no novel this time). It becomes very clear where the idea for The Terminator came from as we watch Yuul Brynner reincarnate his The Magnificent Seven character in the form

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Westworld (1973)

Michael “high concept” Crichton directs the film of his own screenplay (no novel this time). It becomes very clear where the idea for The Terminator came from as we watch Yuul Brynner reincarnate his The Magnificent Seven character in the form

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Captain Fantastic

Drop-out survivalists are forced to re-enter mainstream society when a tragedy strikes. They’re like a family of doomsday preppers with a positive, if fortress, mentality and leanings toward Mao and Chomsky rather than the NRA (was this written in the 70s?). The

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Captain Fantastic

Drop-out survivalists are forced to re-enter mainstream society when a tragedy strikes. They’re like a family of doomsday preppers with a positive, if fortress, mentality and leanings toward Mao and Chomsky rather than the NRA (was this written in the 70s?). The

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Steve Jobs

Screenwriters can be typecast, just like actors. With Steve Jobs, Aaron Sorkin cements his reputation as the go-to guy for stories about brilliant young men with personality issues – flawed, obnoxious but dazzling wunderkinds who could, might, or in Jobs’s case actually did

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Steve Jobs

Screenwriters can be typecast, just like actors. With Steve Jobs, Aaron Sorkin cements his reputation as the go-to guy for stories about brilliant young men with personality issues – flawed, obnoxious but dazzling wunderkinds who could, might, or in Jobs’s case actually did

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Sicario

As Sicario overplays its quest to underplay itself, we arrive at a confused portrait of profound dysfunction. That may be an appropriate angle to take on another of America’s unwinnable wars (in this case the drugs and border war with Mexico),

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Sicario

As Sicario overplays its quest to underplay itself, we arrive at a confused portrait of profound dysfunction. That may be an appropriate angle to take on another of America’s unwinnable wars (in this case the drugs and border war with Mexico),

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens

For the first ten minutes or so there is nagging despair, even mourning. It feels like an awkward Star Wars themed high school reunion in a room littered with lifeless artefacts, with Disney and JJ Abrams strutting around bragging “lookit all

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens

For the first ten minutes or so there is nagging despair, even mourning. It feels like an awkward Star Wars themed high school reunion in a room littered with lifeless artefacts, with Disney and JJ Abrams strutting around bragging “lookit all

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Tomorrowland

Conflict being the essence of drama and all that, it’s not easy to pull an entertainment out of a pleasant scenario, unless it’s one under threat. In this case the utopian promise of Tomorrowland is in danger of never arriving. We’re presented with a rampant

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Tomorrowland

Conflict being the essence of drama and all that, it’s not easy to pull an entertainment out of a pleasant scenario, unless it’s one under threat. In this case the utopian promise of Tomorrowland is in danger of never arriving. We’re presented with a rampant

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Mad Max : Fury Road

Max is back. The story hits the road early and stays there. The elevator pitch might be “Ellen Ripley vs Boko Haram on wheels”, with Max as the benevolent Michael Biehn or Lance Henriksen character. Since the second instalment the

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Mad Max : Fury Road

Max is back. The story hits the road early and stays there. The elevator pitch might be “Ellen Ripley vs Boko Haram on wheels”, with Max as the benevolent Michael Biehn or Lance Henriksen character. Since the second instalment the

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What Maisie Knew

Things are poised for the worst when parents divorce, but do not unfold via the expected trajectory  – unless of course you’ve read the Thomas Mann novel upon which this tragi-redemption tale is based. Initially appearing to lack the requisite gravity

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What Maisie Knew

Things are poised for the worst when parents divorce, but do not unfold via the expected trajectory  – unless of course you’ve read the Thomas Mann novel upon which this tragi-redemption tale is based. Initially appearing to lack the requisite gravity

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Only Lovers Left Alive

The perenniality of the vampire genre derives from its capacity for reinvention. Its form mimics its content in similar fashion to the zombie genre, each transcending death. In Only Lovers Left Alive, the immortality of Jarmusch’s vampire couple is a perfect foil

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Only Lovers Left Alive

The perenniality of the vampire genre derives from its capacity for reinvention. Its form mimics its content in similar fashion to the zombie genre, each transcending death. In Only Lovers Left Alive, the immortality of Jarmusch’s vampire couple is a perfect foil

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Inside Llewyn Davis

The Coens tell a story of the man who would not be Bob Dylan with such relentless unapologetic deflation that it actually feels like something out of the end of the sixties, like Midnight Cowboy or Medium Cool or Easy Rider (all

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Inside Llewyn Davis

The Coens tell a story of the man who would not be Bob Dylan with such relentless unapologetic deflation that it actually feels like something out of the end of the sixties, like Midnight Cowboy or Medium Cool or Easy Rider (all

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Noah

God gets a bad rap in Noah, as Darren Aronofsky tries to construe a story that makes no physical, psychological or moral sense. A brood of hapless humans is disgorged out onto what looks like a barren coalfield with no recourse

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Noah

God gets a bad rap in Noah, as Darren Aronofsky tries to construe a story that makes no physical, psychological or moral sense. A brood of hapless humans is disgorged out onto what looks like a barren coalfield with no recourse

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Performance (1970)

An art movie, a drug movie, a Mick Jagger acting debut, Nicolas Roeg’s directing debut, a late, post-swinging 60’s bohemian manifesto, but underpinning all that one of the best British gangster flicks around. It features a foulmouthed, thuggish, head kicking

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Performance (1970)

An art movie, a drug movie, a Mick Jagger acting debut, Nicolas Roeg’s directing debut, a late, post-swinging 60’s bohemian manifesto, but underpinning all that one of the best British gangster flicks around. It features a foulmouthed, thuggish, head kicking

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Pandora’s Promise

This unabashedly pro-nuclear documentary makes a good case, or rather an already well established case, that we need to find, by yesterday, a viable alternative to fossil fuels given the current dangers to human survival presented by combustion power. The

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Pandora’s Promise

This unabashedly pro-nuclear documentary makes a good case, or rather an already well established case, that we need to find, by yesterday, a viable alternative to fossil fuels given the current dangers to human survival presented by combustion power. The

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The Purge

Extrapolated a few degrees sideways into a parallel future, America has undergone some kind of reboot. The ‘new founding fathers’ have reclaimed the night for freedom, the expression of which is an annual holiday where law and order are suspended

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The Purge

Extrapolated a few degrees sideways into a parallel future, America has undergone some kind of reboot. The ‘new founding fathers’ have reclaimed the night for freedom, the expression of which is an annual holiday where law and order are suspended

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Gravity

It’s rare for a movie to sustain a high level of tension for its entire running length. Gravity achieves this feat by playing in real time, or close to it, opening with a set piece that clocks in at 13

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Gravity

It’s rare for a movie to sustain a high level of tension for its entire running length. Gravity achieves this feat by playing in real time, or close to it, opening with a set piece that clocks in at 13

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Blue Jasmine

It seems Woody Allen fans found Blue Jasmine to be the offering that did the most for quite some time to satisfy them, while doing the least to meet their expectations. It is one of the bleakest films in his

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Blue Jasmine

It seems Woody Allen fans found Blue Jasmine to be the offering that did the most for quite some time to satisfy them, while doing the least to meet their expectations. It is one of the bleakest films in his

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Frances Ha

Though brushed by Fame and bearing a translucent overlay of Manhattan and and its Parisian forebears, Frances Ha seems for the most part to have spilled out of Lena Dunham’s Girls-iverse, its female protagonist in an extended tragi-comic freefall toward

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Frances Ha

Though brushed by Fame and bearing a translucent overlay of Manhattan and and its Parisian forebears, Frances Ha seems for the most part to have spilled out of Lena Dunham’s Girls-iverse, its female protagonist in an extended tragi-comic freefall toward

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Les Miserables

With every line sung rather than spoken and much of it internal monologue rather than dialogue, Les Miserables and musicals like it redraw the rules of what is cinematically permissible. Melodrama flourishes while realism diminishes in value almost entirely. In

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Les Miserables

With every line sung rather than spoken and much of it internal monologue rather than dialogue, Les Miserables and musicals like it redraw the rules of what is cinematically permissible. Melodrama flourishes while realism diminishes in value almost entirely. In

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