"He Never Died," directed by Jason Krawczyk

Movie. 2015 Downbeat, comedic and, in places, moving zombie film, which brings some interesting touches to a well-worn genre. Chief among these is the casting of Henry Rollins and his largely successful portrayal of the film’s anti-hero, particularly in his emotionally compromised interactions with the two main female characters. With a more coherent plot and a few tweaks on the gore and some of the … Continue reading "He Never Died," directed by Jason Krawczyk

"R.I.P." by Nigel Williams

Novel, 2015 Exploration of the unsightly behaviours and undignified actions following the death of the main protagonist. Through George, a retired bank manager’s eyes, a story slowly – sometimes too slowly, especially at the beginning – evolves, exposing a good deal of suburban middle-class rot, which ends up, almost, as a ‘whodunnit’. That the book isn’t a whodunnit, nor magical realism or more straightforward social … Continue reading "R.I.P." by Nigel Williams

"Arab Jazz", by Karim Miské

Novel, 2015 While the settings and particularly the characters in the book are a little off-genre, this book is, essentially, a piece of detective fiction. Nothing wrong with that, and at the beginning of the book, the combination of a fairly familiar form and some more contemporary aspects combine to hook the reader. The power diminishes, to some extent, after a high number of popular … Continue reading "Arab Jazz", by Karim Miské

"Identicals" (aka "Brand New-U"), directed Simon Pummell

Movie, 2015 Science-fiction, which starts with a striking idea and concept, then struggles to develop them. Sadly, when it does, the development is a little muddy and the narrative hampered by unclear pacing and action. Possibly a film to be absorbed and ‘felt’ rather watched purely for enjoyment, but the whole conceit of body swapping and assuming identities may not carry the serious, gloomy tone … Continue reading "Identicals" (aka "Brand New-U"), directed Simon Pummell

"High Rise", directed Ben Wheatley

Movie, 2015 If setting this dystopian drama in the 1970s is slightly puzzling, then it’s a detail in a film which builds effectively before snapping and ratcheting the tension and the incidents. By no means a comfortable watch, this is a blatant and not-so-subtle piece, but one which really gets its hooks in and lays on an effective moral story. Some comic moments and some … Continue reading "High Rise", directed Ben Wheatley

"The Lobster", directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

Movie, 2015 Relentless, surreal film in which single people have forty-five days, under a strict regime in a strange hotel, to find a loving relationship or be turned into an animal. Events unfold and are, at turns, striking and brutal, with a few jaw dropping moments, but more often , an uneasy sense of a fil trying to be too odd and profound. The mood, … Continue reading "The Lobster", directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

"Suffragette," directed by Sarah Gavron

Movie, 2015 Really solid, likeable, worthy though somehow flat film about the women’s suffrage movement leading up to Emily Davison throwing herself in front of the King’s horse on derby Day. There was, however, a lack of a spark in the telling of the story, as if any disrespecting of the narrative or misrepresentation of any of the characters would have caused the movie to … Continue reading "Suffragette," directed by Sarah Gavron

"Macbeth", directed by Justin Kurzel

Movie, 2015 A film which turns the play on its head, from a pacy plot which builds tension, to something pushing style at the expense of substance and in shortening the running time, makes the whole thing drag. An achievement of sorts. While there are some interesting ideas, including the battle scenes, the whole piece feels like a series of disjointed moments and there are … Continue reading "Macbeth", directed by Justin Kurzel

"The Martian," directed by Ridley Scott

Movie, 2015 Man in space film, which is entertaining enough, but falls between too many different areas as it tries to tackle and ends up feeling, at times, like an all singy-dancey feel good film. Fine if you like that sort of thing. On the way, there are special effects aplenty and some interesting debates – how to grow food in space, how to PR … Continue reading "The Martian," directed by Ridley Scott

"Spectre", directed Sam Mendes

Movie, 2015 James Bond as you’ve seen him before, plenty of times. Yes, this is a film which is easy on the eye and there are thrills aplenty, but this doesn’t compensate for the trite references to old films in the series, which come thick and fast. Even the plot’s premise  – the danger of big data and surveillance – feels like something half-baked and … Continue reading "Spectre", directed Sam Mendes