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The Handmaiden

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Probably not a movie I would typically add to my watchlist just from the description – but it being directed by Chan-wook Park of Oldboy fame, I thought I’d give it a go. And if you enjoy cinema, you should as well.

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Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

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Never Go Back has very little going for it. With an utterly unremarkable script at the core, and not helped by the directing, cinematography, music or acting, this is a disappointing fail for Cruise, who also produced the movie. Let’s hope he never goes back to Reacher, it’s not worth it.

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Sing Street

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Oh to be young and in love, in 1980s Ireland… How do you win over the girl of your dreams? Impress her! The fact that you’re the lead singer in a band is surely a winner. But hang on, Conor is not a singer, nor is he in a band… Luckily the naive optimism and creativity of youth quickly solves those minor problems, with a bit of help from various random schoolmates and his older brother Brendan on the one hand, and a bit of hindrance from his parents and the school principal on the other. And so his wooing of Raphina begins…

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Nocturnal Animals

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A successful Los-Angeles-based artist Susan Morrow (played by Amy Adams) is sent a manuscript of a novel by her ex-husband Tony Hastings (Jake Gyllenhaal). The story is one of violent abduction and grips her, causing Susan to recall her earlier brief marriage to Tony and the issues that caused it to fail. As the tale unfolds the plot of the novel starts to have subtle parallels with her former marriage…

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Passengers

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A giant starship is on a century-long journey to a recently colonised planet, carrying five thousand colonists plus crew in suspended animation. The ship is highly advanced and is self-repairing and self navigating, so no human crew are required; this ship’s complement will be woken when the ship nears its destination. The film opens when one of them, an engineer called Jim (Chris Pratt) is awakened from his sleep, and quickly discovers that he is not only the only one awake but that there are still ninety years left in the journey. Needless to say, this is unwelcome news…

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Green Room

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A punk-rock band, The Ain’t Rights, aren’t particularly successful, and if they can even get a gig, they still don’t get much of an audience it seems… So when they get a last minute booking somewhere in the Oregon woods to play for a bunch of skinheads, they accept it as it may bring in some cash at least.

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In My Father’s Den

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When you watch a movie like this, you cannot help but think that New Zealand must be full of small towns with frustrated people with limited experience of the world beyond – and they don’t really understand their immediate environment either as that seems to be filled with unspeakable family secrets and other skeletons… Luckily, that can make for an interesting movie.

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Equity

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The financial crisis of the late 2000s has reinvigorated the ‘financial thriller’ genre, and Equity brings a new perspective to this: it is an all-female film – from actresses to director to producers. Yet it is not a very feminist movie; other than claims like ‘it is ok for women to like money too’, the female angle isn’t overplayed in the storyline. This would be a strength if the plot was strong in its own right, but as it isn’t, the movie lacks a bit of a point to make.

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Arrival

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Arrival is a thoughtful science fiction film, about as far from “Independence Day” as it is possible to get, though the special effects are impressive in their own way. The basic premise is that aliens have landed around the world in twelve huge spaceships, but their intent is unclear. At intervals the ships open a gate and admit visitors, and the aliens show themselves behind a huge screen, but what do they want?

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Hell or High Water

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Two brothers rob banks together. But they don’t go for the big vault – they just take the petty cash in the tills. Then they move on to the next bank, and do the same again. As the story unfolds, we slowly find out why Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) are specifically targeting Texas Midlands branches. In the meantime Marcus (Jeff Bridges), a Texas Ranger near his retirement, is slowly picking up on their trail, and together with his sidekick Alberto (Gil Birmingham) starts to catch up on them…

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