“Prevenge,” directed by Alice Lowe

Movie, 2016 Decidedly offbeat slasher revenge film, in which a foetus instructs its mother to despatch a number of people involved in her father’s death. A film which is, in parts, quite disturbing and comedic, in which gore and an unhinged narrative push things along, with little let up. While there are a few plot issues and while the focus of the film feels quite … Continue reading “Prevenge,” directed by Alice Lowe

“Whisky Galore!” directed by Gillies MacKinnon

Movie, 2016 Curiously lifeless remake of the old Ealing comedy, set on a Scottish island where a whisky draught in wartime is solved by a shipwreck and skill of the islanders in keeping their stash away from the authorities. A film without all the effects and trappings of a blockbuster is always welcome, though despite some reasonably decent performances, the film as a whole is … Continue reading “Whisky Galore!” directed by Gillies MacKinnon

“Hidden Figures,” directed by Theodore Melfi

Movie, 2016 The story of the struggle and contribution of black women to the NASA space programme, concentrating on the early 1960s, when Soviet supremacy was putting pressure on the Americans. A well-paced story, which blends its three strands in well and plays elements and nods to the civil rights and segregation issues prevalent at the time. The period detail and space centre shots feel … Continue reading “Hidden Figures,” directed by Theodore Melfi

“Arrival,” directed by Denis Villeneuve

Movie, 2016 A Close Encounter-tinged movie, in which a Language Professor is tasked by a gruff and not-too patient military, to translate alien messages. This basic framework, in a film which is darkly lit and mumbled, uses many sci-fi tropes and devices to inject significance and tension. A film, really, which tries too hard and doesn’t quite deliver, with everything about if feeling old-fashioned and … Continue reading “Arrival,” directed by Denis Villeneuve

“My Name is Lucy Barton,” by Elizabeth Strout

Novel, 2016 Powerful, effective account of an estranged mother and daughter, catching up and trying to understand and reconcile their lives and their relationship when the mother sits and looks after her child in hospital. The focus on the relationship excludes other family ties and characters, with the shadows cast by husbands and children filled, to some extent, with nurses and idealised doctors, but this … Continue reading “My Name is Lucy Barton,” by Elizabeth Strout

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”, directed by Tim Burton

Movie, 2016 Beautiful looking Gothic adventure, featuring themes of outsider children, magical powers and the struggles against darkness and evil. All very Tim Burton territory, but put together a little awkwardly, so that while personal fights and relationships feature heavily, they’re a little undone by all the special powers of each of the peculiar children of the title. The result is a little flat and … Continue reading “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”, directed by Tim Burton

“Captain Fantastic,” directed by Matt Ross

Movie, 2016 A father brings his home-schooled wilderness children to mourn their mother’s death and comes up against a hypocritical and hateful society seemingly set on bringing him in line with the establishment. For most of the film, the struggle between viewpoints and ways of living is a little lopsided despite the portrayal of the shortcomings of the family. It’s all a little blunt and … Continue reading “Captain Fantastic,” directed by Matt Ross

“Mindhorn,” directed by Sean Foley

Movie, 2016 Daft, likeable comedy mixing all sorts of approaches and genres and meshing them together in a sentimental, but silly and never over-slushy love story. Essentially, this is, or feels like a vehicle for Julian Barratt and the writers’ love of old television. Mindhorn has a very British feel, enhanced by the cast, the use of the Isle of Man as location and the … Continue reading “Mindhorn,” directed by Sean Foley

“Manchester by the Sea,” directed by Kenneth Lonergan

Movie, 2016 A study of family tragedy, focused around a psychologically exhausted main character whose life is dragged this way and that, but who finds any kind of emotional engagement already burned out of him. This film is pretty much all set-up and no resolution; hope is offered at the end, though there’s no all out cheer or direction – the same path leading to … Continue reading “Manchester by the Sea,” directed by Kenneth Lonergan

“A Cure for Wellness,” directed by Gore Verbinski

Movie, 2016 A film full of stunning visuals and great ideas, which takes too many opportunities to show as much. A film, then, in dire need of an editor. The overall feeling of confusion may, in fact, be a result of there being too many themes, tropes and plot lines, which build and dilute any central thrust at the film’s core. But still, horror and … Continue reading “A Cure for Wellness,” directed by Gore Verbinski