FILM REVIEW: Moonlight

Very, very occasionally, a movie like Moonlight will come along, a movie which renders the practice of film criticism pretty much moot. How do you put into words the experience of watching something so sensory, an experience which almost seems to transcend language?

It’s a movie that is not overt in its brilliance, so after first viewing it’s natural to wonder why, exactly, it is so good. Why is it so affecting? There seems to be something going on beneath the surface, some method of delivery director Barry Jenkins is employing to elicit such a strong emotive response in his audience.

moonlight2Moonlight is the story of Chiron, a young black man growing up in a rough neighbourhood of Miami whilst coming to terms with who he is, and who society expects him to be. The story is told in three parts, chronicling three stages of Chiron’s identity; as a…

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FILM REVIEW: It’s only the End of the World

It’s Only the End of the World is one of those polarizing films; critically, it seems to have been panned and lauded in equal measures following its release, with reviews ranging from “deeply unsatisfying” all the way up to “brilliant”. It was reportedly booed at Cannes, yet went on to win the prestigious Grand Prix award at that very same festival. What on Earth is it about this film that fosters such a deep divide in audience opinion?

It’s a tricky one to review because, to be honest, I can’t even decide if I enjoyed it or not. I was impressed, engrossed even, for approximately the first 45 minutes, then somewhere in the middle of the runtime my reaction seemingly 180’d. By the time the credits rolled I felt as though a ‘boo’ or two could definitely have been justified. The experience of watching It’s Only the End of the…

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FILM REVIEW: Free Fire

Ben Wheatley is UK cinema’s nerdy and offbeat cousin, and kind of a tricky filmmaker to pin down; it’s impossible to predict what he’ll cook up next, or how you’re likely to feel when you leave the cinema after watching his latest release. When it comes to genre he’s a mad scientist, inventing his own potent combinations and seemingly making up his own rules when it comes to writing the screenplay with his wife and writing partner, Amy Jump. The conventional three-act structure is nowhere to be found in his hodgepodge oeuvre.

FreeFire1

This is refreshing. He’s the sort of filmmaker that the UK needs. Wheatley marches to his own beat and follows his passions wherever they may lead him. You get the sense that every single frame, every line of dialogue belongs to him and Jump, unequivocally. And with Free Fire it feels like he is really, finally, blossoming as…

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‘Shadow’

 

The winter sun is always low.

Long angular strips of brilliant yellow squeeze through the gaps in the railings like witch’s fingers, reaching across the playground concrete and tickling the trees.

Boxes of dense shade cast by the school buildings yield to the rhythm of the day’s dying light. Standing inside their squared eclipses, patches of matte blackness that foreshadow a frosty night, produces a shiver in my spine. The trees seem to whisper to the sky.

A shutter on the side of the sports building appears loose, and I climb in after prying open the boards with numb hands. Inside, the air is airless; the day has long drawn its final breath. A reverberation of years of noise has left a lasting impression, carved into the emptiness like Sanskrit; the unruly echo of children’s laughter; the clatter of hockey sticks and squeak of rubber plimsolls against the concrete floor; the metallic clang of locker doors slamming shut.

A sink’s tap emits a rusty creak as I turn it, and I skim my fingertips against the water as it slowly heats. Warmth prickles across my skin as I form my hands into a pallid pail, letting the froths of liquid fill every swirl and lap at the forks of blue veins in my wrists.

In the classrooms, half-finished equations and sentences underlined linger in powdery lettering on the chalk boards. I survey the tarnished wood of each desk, striding between them as if I am the teacher, issuing stern looks, hands on hips.

Breaking the weight of silence, suddenly, is the sound of a door opening. I stand solidly to attention, as frozen as the railings, as quiet as the concrete.

Through the glass pane I peer at a hollow stretch of hallway. My eyes strain large in the dim of the dark.

A beam of light springs from his office, and he exits, standing there with briefcase in hand, a hefty silhouette framed by a rectangle of yellow. Time grinds to a grave halt, and I wait.

And wait. Entire universes are created, amassed and obliterated in the time it takes him to move.

The angles of his face have become deformed by the play of shadows. His eyes are shrouded in black. The light snaps off.

With a raspy cough, he shuts the door and moves away, his small footsteps retreating into the night. When I am sure he is gone, I sprint through lengths of corridors, breathless.

 

By day, I sink into the primary coloured crowd, the mass of children pressed against the gates, the shrieks and whispers and laughter and secrets.

By night, I merge with pools of obscurity, flitting in the empty halls; they are the narrow space between night and day, portals to the protection of darkness.

Nobody sees me.

 


 

[012] Social Science Interviews: Georg Loefflmann, on the Pentagon vs. Aliens

Social Science Talks Science Fiction

It’s conference season, and we dispatched our one-man-army Matt to interview a series of scholars studying science fiction at the British International Studies Association 2015 conference in London. This time it’s Dr. Georg Loefflmann, on the Pentagon vs. Aliens.

Contributors
Matthew Campbell
Dr. Georg Loefflmann

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Homer Simpson: The Greatest TV Dad?

Bad Pasty

By Jade O’Halloran

The average Simpsons viewer probably wouldn’t describe Homer Simpson as multi layered; ‘couch potato’ is what initially springs to mind when describing him. Homer goes against the traditional ideals of ‘fatherhood’, especially vintage sitcom fatherhood – the model of a strong, intelligent and capable role model and provider who will take charge of his family. Homer is an ‘everyman’: he can’t really solve problems, he’s lazy and dumb and although he’s a provider, he hates his blue-collar job and would rather spend his days in front of the TV. He’s wholly imperfect, but it’s his imperfections and subversion of the unattainable ideal that makes him such an interesting study in satire.

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The Room: The Best Worst Movie

Bad Pasty

By Jade O’Halloran

When reviewing the latest misguided attempt byJohnny Depp to appear whimsical, 2015’s atrocious Mortdecai (“delivering enough bad acting for at least four movies”), Peter Sobczynski of rogerebert.com said of bad movies: “in most cases, their badness is fairly self-explanatory in that you can quickly grasp what went wrong with them.”

But I think anyone who has seen The Room, the ‘Citizen Kane of bad movies’, as it has come to be known, will agree that on first viewing, any attempt to understand or theorize exactly what went so colossally ‘wrong’ with the film will result in some form of head explosion on a par with that scene in Cronenberg’s Scanners.

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