GREEN ROOM

★★★★ Dir: Jeremy Saulnier, (2015) With Blue Ruin Jeremy Saulnier made a quiet yet somehow screaming thriller. Macon Blair and his vengeful drifter slow cooked the film to near perfection and Saulnier showed the indie movie world that noir was alive and well in backwater America. By letting scenes of angry contemplation and harrowing violence …

MIDNIGHT SPECIAL

★★★★

Dir: Jeff Nichols(2015)

The wonderful Jeff Nichols expounds on his work with Shotgun StoriesTake Shelter and Mud to create a beautifully blended science fiction film which takes much from his beloved 70’s auteurs; Many have already cited the lens flare nostalgia of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind and not at all unfairly. Midnight Special is a brisk road movie love letter to Mr. S; A compelling and sweet a tale penned by young director driven by new fatherhood.

As Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton frantically transport a young boy (Jaeden Lieberher) through the night it’s unsure exactly when this classical good versus evil film is set. Nichols places rotary phones, a timeless wardrobe, old cars and bad wallpaper front of frame as we slowly begin to understand why this special little guy and his protective eye wear are being pursued across country by the FBI and members of an ominous cult. Adam Driver shows his brilliant vulnerable side as an agent tasked with locating the child, solidifying his charismatic aura as one of the sure staples of American indie (and now blockbuster) cinema. Shannon and Edgerton fight it out for the strong silent type trophy with Kirsten Dunst mostly playing second fiddle to the brooding manliness of it all until the final beautiful conclusion.

Midnight Special isn’t without its pacing flaws but you’ll get a real kick out the nostalgic pangs for a time when you sat cross-legged in front of the television with a bowl of popcorn in your pyjamas watching E.T for the 50th time.

 

GOODNIGHT MOMMY

★★★★ Dir: Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala, (2015) This cold, calculated and rather nasty but incredibly effective Austrian horror film focuses on the paranoia of twins Elias and Lukas when their mother arrives home, completely bandaged, neck-up, from facial reconstructive surgery. Susanne Wuest, the fine actress behind the swarths of cloth is subjected …

THE GREEN INFERNO

★★ Dir: Eli Roth, (2015) Horror whiz-kid Eli Roth might have dropped the ball more than a few times after a pretty dazzling debut. The Green Inferno expands (somewhat) on his anti tourism angle this time attacking the anti corporate, Tinder swiping, hunger striking, slacker environmentalists with very little chutzpah. Inspired by the notorious …

THE GIFT

★★★ Dir: Joel Edgerton, (2015) The Australian actor/writer/director Joel Edgerton goes for the triple threat in this smarter and tighter than you might think psycho thriller which harks back to many schlocky 1990s star vehicles with a joyfully cold and keen eye. Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall are new in town; They …

THE WITCH

★★★★★ Dir: Robert Eggers (2015) … or The VVitch, if you like, is 33-year-old director, Robert Eggers‘ staggering debut. This is a horror film with hardly a jump scare in sight. A horror film which manages to loudly scratch against the grain and live quietly behind your eyelids as you lay down to sleep. A horror …

HIGH-RISE

★★★ Dir: Ben Wheatley (2015) J.G Ballard‘s “unfilmable” futuristic societal rap on the knuckles finally gets its comeuppance in Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump‘s brilliantly designed High-Rise. Wheatley’s 70s influenced pathos  in film making really comes into its own here; We are shown right from the get go that things aren’t going …

THE SURVIVALIST

★★★★ Dir: Stephen Fingleton (2015) The Survivalist in Stephen Fingleton‘s rather green post apocalyptic debut kills to survive. After the films bleak, graphical introduction (a blue line representing diminishing oil supplies and a red line representing our earth’s population) we are thrust into a lush livid landscape spattered with blood somewhere in …

JUNUN

★★★ Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson (2015) The American master Paul Thomas Anderson documents the making of Junun; An album which Jonny Greenwood and Nigel Godrich helped play and record in an old fort/castle in Rajasthan with Israeli composer-singer Shye Ben Tzur. Anderson picks up his first digital film and first straight documentary with an austere but enjoyable …

HUSH

★★★★ Dir: Mike Flanagan (2016) Stellar low budget horror favourite, Mike Flanagan, turns to a tired sub-genre and makes a cracking tension filled home invasion movie with Hush. Its set up might start some eyes rolling with a bare bones home invasion plot but the director and co-writer/star Kate Siegel have crafted a …

QUEEN OF EARTH

★★★★ Dir: Alex Ross Perry (2015) Last year’s Listen Up Philip was a film which certainly divided; A talky, complicated study in the life of an abrasive author and his destructive narcism which was as funny as it was bitter. With Queen of Earth writer/director Alex Ross Perry refocuses his influences through Ingmar Bergman’s …

HAIL, CAESAR!

★★★★ Dir: Joel & Ethan Coen (2015) American legends Joel and Ethan Coen have hardly put a foot wrong since their first family and friends funded noir Blood Simple. Their fiercely independent spirit and single-minded vision has really only wavered slightly with even their most die-hard fans with the slightly average one …

BONE TOMAHAWK

★★★ Dir: S. Craig Zahler (2015) Author S. Craig Zahler has created a very strange beast with this rather mental and gruesome genre bender. A classic searching western which looks at how the the wild west was lost and a vicious horror film which gleefully spills the red stuff between long rambling conversation. A fine cast …

THE REVENANT

 ★★★★ Dir: Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu (2015) Torture porn? No. Torturous? Definitely. From its lengthy, ambitious production, to rumours of grizzly bear rape, pissed off actors and crew and the “not for women” comment by Jeffery Wells addressed beautifully by Catherine Shoad; Many claims, myths and down right lies have been levelled at Alejandro …

LOVE

★★ Dir: Gaspar Noé (2015) “I want to make films out of blood, sperm and tears” says Love‘s wannabe on-screen director, Murphy (Karl Glusman); The unflattering, jealous, pompous and all round unlikable alter-ego for Gaspar Noé. The Argentinian provocateur has left behind the unsettling technical violence of Irreversible and I Stand Alone to expand on the …

99 HOMES

 ★★★★ Dir:Ramin Bahrani (2015) Ramin Bahrani‘s excellent morality thriller sees a hard-working handy-man employed and seduced by the very man who evicted him, his son and his mother from their family home. We’re in Florida where the stone faced real estate broker, Rick Carver (played with a chill and a wink …

SPOTLIGHT

 ★★★★ Dir: Tom McCarthy (2015) This paced and shockingly true newsroom story puts us behind the desk with a small team of investigative journalists at the Boston Globe who broke the story of rampant child molestation with the city’s Catholic church. The 5th film from the excellent Tom McCarthy sees his journalists driven by their …

THE DANISH GIRL

★★★ Dir: Tom Hooper (2015) Academy Award winner Tom Hooper‘s latest handsome, formalistic drama examines the true life struggle of Lili Elbe, formerly Einar Wegener, a pioneering transgender painter from Denmark who became one of the first gender reassignment patients in the 1930s. Eddie Redmayne and Elicia Vikander play Einar and Gerda; Jobbing artists and husband and wife. Gerda, perhaps slightly …

JOY

★★★ Dir: David O. Russell (2015) With Joy, David O. Russell gives us one of the strangest Oscar contenders of recent memory; The story of Joy Mangano who made her fortune by inventing a self wringing mop to sell on a late night shopping network is a bizarre, but undeniably sweet platform …

THE GOOD DINOSAUR

★★★ Dir: Peter Sohn (2015) Pixar‘s latest drops the emphasis on the adult themed undercurrent which has made them a talking point with us grown ups to tell a staple animated story for our children. The Lion King, Bambi and other Disney heartbreak and growing up tales are pilfered deeply here as we’re …

MISSISSIPPI GRIND

★★★★ Dir: Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck (2015) Ben Mendolsohn and Ryan Reynolds have a fantastic chemistry in the old school 70s influenced touring, dice happy Mississippi Grind. Half Nelson writers and directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck wrangle Robert Altman’s California Split and George Roy Hill‘s The Sting into a seriously enjoyable cross country …

ANOMALISA

★★★★★ Dir: Duke Johnson & Charlie Kaufman (2015) The universes of Charlie Kaufman‘s masterful screenplays come loaded with dizzying layers of fiction and reality. The zany dream like quality of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind only adds to a deeply sad story of love and loss and healing. The exceptional Adaptation miraculously takes …