Reviews

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      Sicario (7/10)


        The background to Sicario’s story is the premise that the war on drugs cannot be won by playing by the rules. Or even that the war on drugs cannot be won at all, as it it has become a self-defeating prophecy: an endless war with drug lords pursuing ever more creative ways of going underground and at the same time embracing ever more violent ways to achieve their goals. Trying to get some kind of control back over this is not for the weak.


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      10 Cloverfield Lane (8.5/10)


        The basic premise is that Michelle (played by the versatile actress Mary Elizabeth Wnstead) wakes up after a car accident to find herself with a drip in one arm, her leg strapped up and manacled to a basic bed in a locked room. Not surprisingly, this turn of events causes her considerable unease, especially when the intimidating figure of Howard (John Goodman) appears.


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      Brooklyn (5/10)


        Brooklyn has three oscar nominations under its belt: Best Motion Picture, Best Lead Actress, and Best Writing. I can understand why it didn’t win, but I am still scratching my head as to why on earth it got nominated in the first place.


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      The Witch (8/10)


        Set in 17th Century New England (actually shot in Canada for tax reasons), the film tells the tale of William and his family: wife Katherine, teenage daughter Thomasin, son Caleb, two young twins and one baby. The family are banished from their community for a someway vaguely defined crime of biblical interpretation by William, a proud man who is utterly sure of his religious beliefs and will not compromise them in order to fit in as demanded.


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      Hail Caesar! (6/10)


        “Hail Caesar!” is a gentle comedy on the surface, but seems to me more a homage to the glory days of the Hollywood studio system in the 1930s-50s. At that time the “big five” studios (Warner, RKO, Fox, Loew and Paramount) controlled every aspect of film production, from script writing through to distribution. Actors were on contract to a studio, who managed every aspect of their career and their public image.


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      The Lady in the Van (5/10)


        ‘The Lady in the Van’ was Mary Shepherd (Maggie Smith), an elderly vagrant living in her van in the streets of Camden in the 1970s and 80s. She came to live in Alan Bennett’s (Alex Jennings) driveway for some fifteen years. The movie tells the story of how Mary came to live, in her van, in Alan’s garden, and in a slow and roundabout way also discloses how she ended up living her autumn years in that van in the first place.


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      The Big Short (7/10)


        We are still living the (aftermath of…?) the global financial crisis that took the economy into recession starting in 2008. But it didn’t start in 2008 of course. It started over a decade earlier when investment banks found new ways of packaging debt. Then they evolved these new markets further by creating products consisting of funds consisting of bonds consisting of shares in packaged debt consisting of subprime mortgages. And these new markets were just as intransparent as the previous sentence was.


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      Pawn Sacrifice (6/10)


        The life of chess prodigy Bobby Fischer has rich potential for drama. He was a poor kid from Brooklyn who taught himself chess and became the youngest ever US chess champion. In the Cold War era when the Soviets dominated the game, Fischer was the solitary western player who could compete with the Soviet grandmasters. But the line between genius and madness is a thin one, and it was rarely thinner than in the case of Fischer.


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      Creed (5/10)


        Full disclosure: I have never been a fan of any of the Rocky movies. So now we have installment 7 of the Greatest Boxing Legend of American Cinema. It does however have several things going for it before even seeing it: it is the first movie in the franchise not written by Stallone, and Rocky is now only a supporting character rather than the lead.


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      Spotlight (7/10)


        ‘Spotlight’ is the section of the Boston Globe’s paper that looks beyond and delves deeper – work done by the paper’s investigative journalism team led by Robby Robertson (Michael Keaton). In 2001, the newspaper gets a new Chief Editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber). Marty suggests the Spotlight team take a closer look at priest Geoghan, as there have been various stories about accusations against him.


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