May 2024

Civil War

– finally, another master work from Alex Garland. Though ostensibly a thriller about an imminent US civil war, it’s perhaps more a study of war photography and the role of journalism in documenting horrors. The four main characters are tropes, to be sure – the embittered old hand, the eager beaver up-and-comer, the alcoholic, and the wise old grandpa – but as a combination they work as effective pillars to prop up the narrative and steer the commentary. It is unbelievably intense and often grotesque; a visceral onslaught. But if that’s your cup of tea, it’s a feast for the senses and a cinematic treat.

Ferrari (2023)

– a carefully composed, mostly understated biopic, with striking performances from its main cast, but it’s too preoccupied with family drama to excite and too measured to entertain. Its focus is near completely on Enzo Ferrari’s personal life, his battles with his wife, and his relationship with his mistress and illegitimate son. The cars, his efforts to revitalise his company, and the racing itself plays a muted second fiddle.

Poor Things

– it has offbeat charm and moments of hilarity and certainly feels original, but beyond the surrealist quirks and eccentricity, the gratuitous sex scenes are over the top and its glib observations far less profound than the writers seem to think.

Monkey Man

– Dev Patel is Batman’s spiritual successor and practically a one man band in his own revenge thriller. It’s slickly produced and quite enjoyable, if not quite as gripping as it could be. A shame that rather than nimble and exciting as the name might suggest, the action sequences mostly turn into heavy fisted slug fests.

April 2024

Freud’s Last Session

– I had imagined a great debate between two intellectual giants but this is an oddly uninteresting biopic. It frames itself as a head to head between science and faith, but really serves as a platform to superficially examine a few landmark moments in Freud’s life through disjointed flashbacks. Anthony Hopkins does some bilious grandstanding and Matthew Goode’s CS Lewis offers disapproving looks but is largely relegated to the role of naughty school boy. Disappointing.

Counter Investigation (Contre Enquete)

– I unintentionally rewatched this 2007 french crime thriller and had next to no recollection of anything that happened. I stand by my original review (2017) in which I wrote ‘The sinister ending is a pleasant surprise’, but it’s an unremarkable experience overall, and clearly a very forgettable one too.


– so terrible I don’t know where to begin. I’d recommend you don’t.

Killers of the Flower Moon

– Massively underwhelming given the runtime, the cast, the director… I expected something so much more electric. It’s drawn out and not even particularly compelling as a narrative. I’m almost disappointed I finished it. Three and a half hours is a long time and, watching this, it feels like it.

Criminal Record S01 (TV)

– engaging crime drama keeps you speculating throughout, with strong performances and an intelligent, culturally relevant script. There are some sketchy subplots that detract more than they add, and it puts a few too many ingredients into the mix. It works best when operating in shades of grey, and thankfully that’s where it spends most of its time.

March 2024

Masters of the Air S01 (TV)

– a wannabe Band of Brothers but for the pilots and crews of World War 2 bombers, this is easy viewing and serviceable enough, but paves no new ground and given its subject matter offers little by way of emotional engagement. Disappointing, but largely because it could have been so much better.


– enjoyable Colombian-set animated musical has some solid jokes and hilariously expressive characters. Didn’t love the cheesy music, but I’m not the target audience.

Dune: Part Two

– a fully immersive cinematic experience: an onslaught of sound and undeniable spectacle; but visuals aside, I do find myself hung up on the lack of nuance and subtlety of its villains, who not only look grotesque, but snarl, bay for blood, are depicted in 1930s-Nazi-rally black and white, and yell things like, “Kill them all!” Given how brilliant the politics and intrigue of the book, the story here feels disappointingly basic. Overall it’s a thrill though, and I’d happily watch it again.


– rewatched for the third time ahead of the sequel and in some ways I appreciated the style and atmosphere even more. The good-evil dynamic is two dimensional though, with the Harkonnens disappointingly caricatured villains, but man, it looks good.

The Beekeeper

– Jason Statham’s latest action thriller is one of his worst. If there’s any spectacle at all, it’s how crap the script is.

February 2024

The Teachers’ Lounge

– gripping, surprisingly taut German thriller about a teacher who decides to unmask a school thief and the fallout among the staff and students as a result. It goes too far in a couple of areas (the young teenage journalists manning the school magazine are depicted like shrewd and savvy journalists at the NYT or somewhere, and a child who starts out being bullied somehow coordinates a massive and implausible rebellion among his peers), but it’s all in the service of creating a unique and interesting school drama.

American Fiction

– thoroughly enjoyed this. It’s both an acerbic, frequently hilarious satire, and a moving family drama. We could do with many more movies that have as much to say and are brave enough to say them.

Land of Bad

– I came to this review a few days after watching this and had to remind myself what it was about. It’s not a great sign when an action thriller is that forgettable. That said, having refreshed my memory, I do recall finding this fairly engaging. It’s all a bit cliché and conventional, but as a by-the-numbers, mission-goes-south-behind-enemy-lines flick it holds up all right. Crowe, particularly, is a fun, surprisingly campy watch.

True Detective: Night Country (S04) (TV)

– very disappointing. I’m unusual in that I preferred season 3 of True Detective to season 1, though I was a fan of both, and while I started season 2, I’ve yet to make enough progress to pass judgement on it. (Perhaps that’s indicative of an issue in and of itself). There are a multitude of problems with Night Country: crap writing, implausible plot twists, an abundance of questions without substantial answers, and its arduously slow pace. I wanted to like it. The setting is enigmatic and the initial conceit intriguing, but when a show is filled with despicable and miserable people behaving in despicable and miserable ways, it would have to be pretty clever to equate to a good time for audiences. This is not clever.

Zone of Interest

– A decade after his last movie, Under The Skin, Jonathan Glazer gives us a plodding Nazi family drama set in the literal shadow of Auschwitz, and juxtaposed against its horrors. It’s interesting to see some of the same directorial manoeuvres used to create unease: headlights in the dark, crying babies, jarring music and colour, and every shot is thoughtfully composed and striking. But even with the best will in the world, the actual zone of interest here is quite small. The point is made within the first few minutes, and the rest of the feature serves to compound it, effectively, but somewhat superfluously. Then again, perhaps we can never be reminded too often, nor too viscerally, of that time, and this is certainly an artful and original depiction.


– has its moments but this is mostly a dull inter-relational drama that sees the film makers apparently operating under the prurient assumption that what makes a musical genius interesting is his personal life. It really isn’t. Perhaps this is a problem endemic to the biopic genre: the existence of fame is not necessarily the tell of a fascinating story, and though celebrity might draw in audiences, they’re liable to be disappointed if the life doesn’t live up to the legend. (On the flip side of this coin you get truly squandered opportunities like Ridley Scott’s Napoleon). No wonder they embraced the faux prosthetics controversy, how else to market something this dry? Everyone acts their socks off to no avail. You could probably take random people off the street and encounter more interesting stories and higher drama.

The Holdovers

– downbeat Christmas themed dramedy has good performances, a sharp witted script, and does work showing complexity and decency in unlikeable people, but it never transcends or resolves the heavy sadness that weighs it down.


– French/ Russian drama always feels on the edge of something more, as though due a twist or story upset, but eventually disappoints. Instead, it’s just a plain and frankly tedious slog.

January 2024

Better Call Saul S06 (TV)

– the series finale of Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad spin-off masterpiece is a suitable, if low key conclusion to Jimmy McGill’s tale. With frame perfect camera work, the usual fastidious attention to detail and a pace that gives every beat time to sink in, this is in turns hilarious, devastating, far fetched and all too believable. It’s a rare thing for a television show to maintain such consistent quality across so many hours and with such a weight of expectation. There may be faults, but they pale in comparison to the achievement.


– considering the legacy of the eponymous legendary tactician and formidable leader, this is a singularly underwhelming and uninspiring depiction of him. It’s not bad, just incredibly lacklustre.


– as Bill Goodykoontz wrote for Arizona Republic: Eileen is a weird little movie. It doesn’t really excel at much, and it’s not especially memorable, but it’s an intriguing and vaguely mysterious experience, refreshing in its refusal to do more or less anything that you expect.


– unoriginal black comedy borrows most of its best ideas. Moments of occasional zany brilliance (particularly thanks to Rosamund Pike who is spectacularly funny) are undone by its eagerness to shock viewers with protracted, gratuitous, explicit, and frankly disgusting scenes. Less is often more, and despite a marvellous cast and incredible competence across the board, by the end, this has gone too far on pretty much every metric.

Vigil S02 (TV)

– definitely the worst thing I’ve seen so far this year, and maybe last year, too. It’s a contender, for sure. Terrible.

Special Ops: Lioness S01 (TV)

– gripping and way above average spy thriller sees a naive US marine going undercover on an off-books kill op. Everyone acts their socks off, and though it’s cheesy in places and unbelievable in others, and though the backdrop is inevitably US-jingoism – oorah! – it’s still great entertainment.

Slow Horses S03 (TV)

– hopefully this season was just a dud, a one-off, not indicative of a permanent slide into farce and mediocrity. It is farce. Comedy doesn’t work as an excuse for silliness unless it’s funny, and this series was trying too hard and getting nowhere. If it wasn’t for universally good performances and investment in the characters established in the first two series, I would have switched off.

Dream Scenario

– captivating, genre bending thriller begins as a black comedy and veers into pretty dark horror. Nic Cage reminds us he can act. I just wish it had something more profound to say or arrived at a more interesting destination.

December 2023

Anatomy of a Fall

– compelling legal drama with universally fantastic performances. It runs too long and moves slightly ponderously, but it’s so rare to get a genre piece this original and stimulating, its flaws are easily forgiven.

Leave The World Behind

– a compelling mystery, in the same way a burning building would be, or piranhas gnawing flesh from a bone. It’s certainly imperfect; much too sweary and more interested in playing with ideas and apocalyptic imagery than using them to saying anything bold, but it touches on enough genres and has a broad enough visual aesthetic that it’ll entertain most viewers.

Play Misty For Me

– hell hath no fury like Jessica Walter, a bad date who slashes her way through Clint Eastwood’s life and long collared wardrobe as the embodiment of the psycho every smooth talking bachelor dreads. She’s too effective, her crazed hysterics skin crawling to watch, and despite the tunes and Clint’s husky voice, it’s a slow, uneven burn to a predictable conclusion.

November 2023

The Creator

– forgettable sci-fi focuses on the most boring, hackneyed elements of its premise, while exhibiting no imagination regarding the technological potential of AGI. These robots sleep while they recharge! Every appliance in my house functions while it’s on charge, and these robots sleep? And at night, too? Why?! Gareth Edwards and Chris Weitz show a 90s, iRobot level understanding of the technology, and no ambition in exploring the vast impacts it would have on the world. We see a civil war between robots and humans where the only apparent difference between the two, in how they behave, work, interact, is that the robots have a cylindrical hole through their heads. Hugely disappointing, particularly given Alison Janney’s involvement. Massively wasted potential.

Liaison S01 (TV)

– I wanted the near universal criticism of this mixed language spy thriller to be unfounded. With a cast like this, it’s hard to see how they could have cocked it up so badly, and the French have a great track record in this genre (Le Bureau, Coeurs Noirs, Black Box, The Wolf’s Call etc.). Well, they did. With scripting. Terrible, terrible scripting. It’s pretty bad in every other respect as well. What a waste.

Coeurs Noirs / Black Hearts / Dark Hearts S01 (TV)

– french language Iraq war thriller falls just short of greatness, stumbling in the final episodes. Even so, it delivers an intense, nail biting Humvee ride into counter terror operations around Mosul and Erbil, where a special forces team are tested with one risky operation after another. It’s slickly directed and edited, with a masterful score and powerful performances. Unfortunately, in a somewhat contrived pivot to tee up a second series, the story loses cohesion and a little credibility, but I’ll definitely be tuning back in.

The Hurricane

– “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” An inspirational and optimistic drama with an immense performance from Denzel Washington. It’s astonishing it’s taken me this long to watch it.

An Officer and a Spy

– French historical drama moves painstakingly slowly yet feels rushed, and includes so much history but still feels uneventful. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that the litigious affairs of the 1890s are distinctly short on entertainment.

Cold Fish

– what begins as intriguingly uncomfortable and offbeat suddenly descends into the starkly depraved. Too grotesque for my tastes.


– downbeat small town drama has the charm you’d expect from this cast and moments of comedy, but it’s not exactly captivating.

The Killer

– despite the trademark polish and meticulous delivery – or perhaps because of it – this is as cold and unlikeable as Fassbender’s dreary killer, like a bullet that passes through you so cleanly you don’t feel anything, except moderate surprise and immense disappointment.

In The Flesh S01 (TV)

– novel take on the zombie genre puts rehabilitated walkers back in the same communities that lost loved ones to the undead apocalypse. Despite some goofiness and the sense it’s all a bit rushed, it has some amazing acting and is genuinely moving.

In The Flesh S02 (TV)

– after an impressive first limited series, this six episode follow up is like watching Neighbours with zombies: soap opera silliness abounds. Especially annoyingly, the whole show was cancelled abruptly, so it ends on a cliff hanger with a ton of unresolved plot strands.

October 2023

The Deep House

– Underwater haunted house flick is somehow both original in its premise and aesthetic, and wholly unoriginal in its execution. It has a b-movie vibe, a forced script and overly theatrical, unconvincing acting, but once the atmosphere kicks in it delivers what it sets out to do with the requisite suspense and a few well placed jump scares.

The Catch S01 (TV)

– Being a fan of Peter Krause ever since Sports Night, I wanted to enjoy this, but even knowing it would be frivolous (as every inch of its marketing conveys), it’s a difficult watch for any viewer who cares about plausibility, plotting, wit, subtext, visual interest – in short, who watches for any reason beyond switching off all their mental faculties. Does it plumb new depths as it goes on? I couldn’t say – I wasn’t willing to complete it.

Lupin S03 (TV)

– Omar Sy is no less charming and the series of impossible heists no less fanciful in Lupin’s third outing. It has that Jonathan Creek-like quality of overcoming its nearly every flaw with hearty warmth and humour. Quite a rare thing these days.


– stark and bleak drama about the disintegration of a Jehovah’s witness family when one member abandons the faith. The madness of it makes it borderline sci-fi.

The Equalizer 3

– For Denzel fans, there’s a certain nostalgic joy to watching him dismantle bad guys with a graceful and near effortless ease, particularly when sharing the screen with Man on Fire co-star Dakota Fanning. For everyone else, this is a conventional two-dimensional action thriller, albeit one with marginally more thought and depth than most.

Full Time

– stressful french language drama sees a single mum struggling with two kids and a long commute to her job as a hotel maid during a major transport strike in Paris. It’s high intensity but exhausting and lacks the visual interest of something like Boiling Point (which is a similar genre).


– bizarrely named low key crime thriller musters a True Detective style atmospheric build up and sustained tension before rushing into an unnaturally curtailed ending. A massive shame that after two hours of up ramp, they couldn’t take a few more minutes to tie up loose ends and fill in some blanks. At the risk of *vague spoilers*: the detective’s partner disappears into irrelevance part way through; his murky history is hinted at but doesn’t play a role (beyond arguably guiding his moral hand); his prime suspect vanishes without explanation; his uncle in law’s MS – diagnosed and revealed early on – plays no discernible role in the story or character building. Was the mother involved? Did the suspect’s father really commit suicide? Given what we learn, why was this detective assigned to the case in the first place? I ask these questions because I’ve been made to care, and that’s a promising start and a testament to the film’s successes, but I do wonder if maybe the scrappy ending was to avoid answering the unanswerable. With a bit more time and thought, this could have been a crime classic instead of an also ran.

The Loudest Voice (TV)

– Compelling mini series starts out slowly, and perhaps too in awe of its subject, but Russell Crowe excels as Aisles, becomes him, and as his transgressions, paranoia and rage grow, it becomes ever more enthralling. Watching history retold through this lens – Fox News and Aisles’ lens, behind the scenes – is like having a magic trick explained to you then watching it performed again: even though you know exactly how it’s done, you still marvel at the success of the illusion.

Land of Mine

– monotonously bleak Danish war drama benefits from amazing performances and beautiful photography but lacks emotional range.

September 2023

Maria Marta: El Crimen Del Country (TV)

– wow, this was a disappointment. Spanish language crime thrillers rarely miss the mark so widely. After two episodes, nearly nothing had happened, no excitement, no humour, no tantalising clues, no likeable (or even unlikeable) characters. It was a flat, dry, and frankly tedious waste of a few hours.


– an excellent film with two issues: it’s too long and it feels like it; and much as there are always reasons to enjoy watching a moody, smouldering Florence Pugh, her story arc in this is the weakest and her entire role feels shoe-horned in by a studio looking to ramp up the sauce and generate some marketing fever (which it did, in spades). Aside from those (admittedly pretty minor) flaws this is a fascinating, enthralling and thought-provoking biopic of J Robert Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project that’s sure to generate lasting conversation.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

– a ludicrous story delivered with tongue in cheek panache, thrills and big insurance bills, and a lot of laugh out loud slapstick. For all its tropes, ham-fisted exposition, and more conventional action set pieces (fights on moving trains, in tight alleyways etc), the franchise still manages to innovate and surprise and Cruise remains equal to the task. A frivolous, wafer thin delight.


– Barbie seems to have succeeded commercially on several fronts: those who love its message conflate that with loving the film, and those who don’t love the film, don’t want to say so, for fear of appearing not to agree with its message. Then there are those who hate the film and the message but still bang on about it (and watched it) because it outrages them so much, and that’s a commercial win too. But it’s possible to be pro gender equality and anti-Barbie; to think every fair point it makes is buried in a jumble of confused nonsense and pseudo-philosophy with the snarky self-assurance and intellectual depth of a teenage gossip mag; to think it could just as easily be a spoof and mockery of 21st century feminism as a ‘manifesto’ for it; and to find its reliance on ‘magic’ to move the plot forwards lazy. Its core premise, explicitly stated in a frustrated monologue, is that: “It is literally impossible to be a woman…You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line…And it turns out in fact that not only are you doing everything wrong, but also everything is your fault. I’m just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us.” Evidently, this is a film designed to inflame and profit from the culture war and, if nothing else, it’s achieved that.


– fast paced thriller shows the French security services in overdrive as they race to catch the Bataclan terrorists. It’s exciting but restrained, playing out like a single long set piece, and all the better for remaining tightly focused on the pursuit, rather than Hollywoodising the tragedy itself.

Fleishman is in Trouble (TV)

– there’s surprising depth to this drama ‘about everything’, given it wears all the trappings of something so superficial. It draws you in with whimsy and light situational comedy, then slaps you about with trauma, marital breakdowns, and general existential misery. It is overwrought, and at times you can hear the narration straining for profundity and sounding more like a fridge magnet or Meredith Grey, but a lot of it lands, the acting is broadly excellent and it’s often moving. It’s a bit of a shame that while one clear ‘moral’ of the story is that everyone has their own challenges and complexities, and certainly that’s demonstrably true for the core characters, all the people at the fringe of their social circles, particularly the wealthier ones, are portrayed as vacuous, careerist clichés. Also, the show attributes many of the difficulties people face in modern, Western life – loneliness, status games, repetition – to their choices and their yearning to be young (and free) again, but it neglects to consider environmental context at all. These depressed people do not exist in a vacuum, but in an economy that demands their constant labour and depends on their feelings of inadequacy and incompleteness to sustain itself. There’s no acknowledgement of this at all, instead, the individuals are mocked as they strive to stay sane, and the conclusion of the piece is that their emotional crises are an inevitable part of growing old. Maybe some are. One can’t help if others are entirely a product of our current way of life.

Extraction 2

– if you enjoyed its progenitor, you might get similar kicks from this, too. Hemsworth bounces back from death’s door to tear up a prison, a train, and then most of central Vienna. Slick, but so brainless as to be boring.

The Crowded Room (TV)

– Everything about this rings false, from its conceit to the costumes and its stagey depiction of the late 70s. Even so, if the twist hadn’t been guessable from the title, the title sequence, the script and the direction of the opening episode, maybe it might have held my attention. Instead, I watched it with boredom and frustration as everything unfolded exactly as predicted. No surprises, no intrigue, nothing to say – not worth watching.

The Crown S03 (TV)

– Claire Foy’s last outing as Queen is a disappointment. The show drops the ball, its focus much more salacious than its predecessors, with a prurient interest in Princess Margaret and other affairs in the upper echelons of society, from JFK and Jackie to Harold Macmillan and Lady Dorothy. The result is a more juvenile and trashy show, a string of non-scandalous scandals framed as high drama but mostly devoid of actual substance or historical interest.

August 2023


– how is a film about a business deal between an athlete and a mega corp even remotely watchable? Well, to start it has a cast of cinematic superheroes (real ones) and is helmed by Ben Affleck, who’s hardly slipped gear since he turned his hand to directing, and then it’s got some damn fine costumes, a hip 80s soundtrack and a script with wit, heart and warmth. It’s basically everything you want in a film. In fact, if it wasn’t about something so mundane, it’d have been even better. But hey, even non-sports fans love a great sports movie, and you don’t have to be an accountant or a marketing guru to recognise the momentousness of the Nike-Jordan deal and enjoy the (no doubt) rose-tinted reminiscence of how it all went down. This is a lot of fun.


– This french language drama might not be novel, but it tells the familiar tale of a chemical company whose pesticides are causing cancer, pitted against the families of people their products are affecting, passionately and convincingly, and the decision to juxtapose the upturned lives of victims against that of the smug lobbyists makes it all the more hard hitting. Would recommend ‘Merchants of Doubt‘ as well/ instead – same topic but documentary.

Night of the 12th (La Nuit du 12)

– french police investigate the murder of a promiscuous young girl in this thoughtful, immersive but frustrating examination of gender dynamics.

The Sixth Commandment (TV)

– depressing BBC drama about Will fraud is incredibly well acted and devastating. They’re such nasty crimes, perpetrated by such a callous and malicious villain, I’d argue the focus should have been less on him and his actions and more on the investigation that proved his downfall, but if nothing else, this is eye-opening.

July 2023

How To Blow Up A Pipeline

– as per the uninspired title, some eco terrorists hook up online and plot to make a bang. If they weren’t all so unsympathetic and annoying it might work as a stirring call for action, instead it plays into all the environmentalist tropes – disgruntled, drug addled, and overeducated middle class kids who think their way is the right way. If it is, it’ll need better ambassadors than this to get people on board.

L’Adversaire (The Adversary) (2002)

– French language crime drama creeps so slowly and with such muted tones as to be near soporific, but the disjointed narrative and sense of impending horror never quite lets you get comfortable enough. Even so, a bit of a slog.

Succession S04 (TV)

– finally the famously offensive, shouty, sweary show is over, and about time, too. While the performances of the entire cast got better and better, the hit and miss humour had started to miss more often, the narrative was tired, and there are only so many false starts and plot resets a show can get away with before it’s just failing to deliver on promises. Succession crossed that line a few series ago, so it’s a relief that in the end, something real and lasting and irreversible actually happened.

Seven Types of Ambiguity (TV)

– engaging Australian drama has excellent performances and an intriguing premise, but after the thrills of its initial episodes, the wind goes out of its sails and it drifts and meanders desultorily, introducing more and more questions about the motives of its increasingly unsympathetic characters without the time or focus spent answering them, such that by the time the brilliantly powerful final scene arrives, it feels long overdue.

Silo S01 (TV)

– engrossing by virtue of its unique dystopian setting and plot rather than through any merit of the production, this sci-fi thriller is unconvincing and feels distinctly ‘made for TV’, but has the same bingeable quality of early noughties hit shows like Lost and Prison Break – each episode ending on a cliff hanger that is swiftly and unsatisfyingly resolved at the start of the next. But while it doesn’t offer quality, it does offer light entertainment, and sometimes that’s all you want as a viewer.

Breaking (2022)

– drab, unremarkable drama is not worth the effort.

June 2023

Missing (2023)

– stretches credulity a little too far and definitely not up to the standard of its predecessor, Searching, but this is nonetheless another creatively directed thriller illuminating the privacy violating, insidious role of technology in our lives. If nothing else, it highlights just how many screens, cameras and notifications are vying for and invading our attention.


– This is some weird juju. It’s a highly original, unconventional revenge thriller plagued (quite literally) by the supernatural. While innovative and strikingly directed – the aesthetic is awesome – it’s too batshit for my tastes.

May 2023

The Wolf of Snow Hollow

– Cummings’ genius is that this is as much an insightful meditation on banalities as it is a supernatural horror. In contrast to the lunacy of the murders, his character’s battles – with alcoholism, his career, his marriage, every member of his family, his insecurities – are mundane, and entirely relatable. As with his other two films, Cummings casts himself (and excels) as a man teetering on the brink, his attention bouncing between his competing responsibilities, and his mood on the boil, bubbling from agitated to unhinged. He constructs or finds comedy in every situation, but never at the expense of the humanity underpinning it all. A fantastic, clever little film. Can’t wait for his next.

John Wick: Chapter 4

– this franchise’s perennial problem is that while a few of the action set pieces are hilarious and innovative in their execution, they’re nowhere near enough to prevent sustained boredom over a three hour runtime. If even a fraction of as much attention was paid to the plotting and dialogue as the choreography, this might have been entertaining. Instead, despite the comedic and explosive gun-fu hustle, it’s a slog.

The Artifice Girl

– Don’t expect fireworks, this is dialogue driven and practically theatrical, not to mention nearly all set in a single room, but it’s a timely, intelligent and engaging sci-fi that transcends its low budget and small scale with a strong cast and thought-provoking script.

To Catch A Killer

– foreboding crime thriller apes the aesthetic and tone of hard boiled detective films from the late 90s and early 00s and does it fairly effectively (despite lots of pseudo-psychoanalytical profiling guff) up until the last 20 minutes or so, with an odd and unsatisfying ending that feels like it was scripted by a different writer. Still, worth watching.

The Diplomat S01 (TV)

– proudly touting Deborah Cahn’s The West Wing credentials, it’s clear from the off that this is a political drama hoping to bridge the gap between politically incisive and conventionally thrilling. Unfortunately, she’s no Aaron Sorkin, and I’m reminded of a story he tells about how executives initially read his pilot script and thought it would be ‘more exciting’ if Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman literally swam out to rescue the Cuban refugees from their rafts. In this, despite highfalutin, quick fire walk-and-talks and political window dressing, the political operatives are embroiled in so much conspiracy it’s laughable. From political assassinations, kidnappings, false flag operations involving the British PM (without informing his foreign secretary), love affairs, CIA stitch-ups – it’s all just so over the top. ‘Trashy’ might be too strong a word, but it’s certainly not realistic. Is it fun though? Mostly. Maybe. Sometimes. Right up until it jumps the shark mid-series, perhaps. I don’t regret watching it, but I’m also not eager to recommend it. A shame it didn’t at least rap up the storyline (or any story arcs), as I’ll be giving Season 2 a miss.

Blue Lights S01 (TV)

– Belfast police drama is very typically BBC, made-for-TV, ham and cheesy, in much the same way Line of Duty was. It has echoes of The Responder (Martin Freeman), but where that show is so gritty it makes you want to wash, this leans more towards soap opera. That’s not to say it’s bad, not at all. It’s engaging, with some funny dialogue and a few genuinely great characters, but it falls firmly in the light entertainment category. Nothing wrong with that.

The Fire Within: A Requiem for Katia and Maurice Krafft

– ponderous biopic documentary contains some magnificent and remarkable footage, but Herzog’s gift for matching imagery to words is undermined by his robotic narration and indulgent operatic score. While modern nature documentaries spoil us with 4K or 8K scenes filmed on lenses that produce mindbogglingly high fidelity footage, it’s only really the audacity of the Krafft’s work that lets it compete, and it still comes up short, unable to sustain awe (or interest) for its runtime.

We Own This City S01 (TV)

– Writer / Creator David Simon’s latest is another Baltimore based slow burner, and albeit not in the same league as The Wire, the parallels are obvious. It doesn’t crackle and excite as that show did, and some of the dialogue is painfully didactic and explanatory, functioning to spell out the politically obvious in a manner that feels a bit patronising at times, but overall it works for the same reasons that show succeeded, shining a spotlight on an unfettered criminal underbelly with a gritty, authentic-seeming approach, genuinely interesting characters, and universally excellent performances.

Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant

– Ritchie’s homage to war interpreters is high tension, gripping and emotionally resonant. He’s overly liberal with his use of slow motion, and the dry bravado and knowing nods of the soldiers is all a bit macho, but the characters are likeable, the scenery and cinematography searing or stark in all the right places, and the soundtrack redolent of OSTs by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, which is to say, brilliantly evocative. I thoroughly enjoyed it despite its minor flaws.

April 2023


– Bill Nighy plays a stiff upper lipped, subservient bureaucrat who realises there’s more to life when he receives a terminal diagnosis. It’s touching in the same way an awkward acquaintance might pat you on the shoulder if you overshare – sincere, but far too restrained and formal. Given the upshot of the premise, I expected something with more gusto.

The Snow Girl (La Chica de Nieve) S01 (TV)

– spanish language kidnap mystery sees a traumatised reporter track down a missing girl. It’s unoriginal, cliché and low production quality. I’d love to offer some positives to balance all that out, but I can’t. Rubbish. Skip it.


– Soderbergh’s lockdown corporate conspiracy thriller, in which a moderator of an Alexa-like smart device hears screams and becomes convinced she’s witness to a murder, is slick enough, but entirely forgettable and not especially exciting in the moment either.

Avatar: The Way of Water

– it’s always disappointing when in the absence of new ideas, a sequel just rehashes the plot of its progenitor. In this case, there isn’t even a new villain. They just bring the psycho Colonel from the last film back from the dead (literally), and send him on the same rampage through Pandora, this time replacing the jungle tribes with water tribes. If I hadn’t been starved of cinematic spectacle this last year or so, I’m not sure I’d have made it to the end, but the sheer scale and beauty of Cameron’s CGI world is at least alluring and immersive, and if nothing else, it has some flashy new nautical visuals to fill the 3hr12 runtime. A pity it’s irredeemably hamstrung by a weak, uninspired story and crap dialogue.

Succession S03 (TV)

– while remaining hugely entertaining, a question mark is beginning to form about to what extent the writers rely on expletives to disguise a lack of genuine wit or imagination. The occasional vulgarity is so farcically, vividly grotesque as to prove hilarious, but much of the effin’ and jeffin’ is neither funny nor warranted by the context, and it seems to be replacing actual jokes. By now, there are a lot of narrative frustrations in general, like the fact that every new series seems to reset the balance of the previous one; that the great upheaval and story twist they each build towards is ultimately dismissed as a trifling inconvenience or hardly commented on again (Logan’s health, Kendal’s betrayal, Kendal’s second, more dramatic betrayal, the Sandy buyout, the Pierce buyout, the Gojo buyout, Tom’s prison time, Tom and Shiv’s on again off again relationship); that scenes which deserve whole episodes (the congressional hearings!) are given a few seconds of screen time. It feels like the writers are copping out. Instead, weird subplots bubble to the surface, seemingly from nowhere – Roman’s obsession with Gerri, Logan’s sudden reliance on Roman and his meteoric, inexplicable rise from starting and bailing on a management training programme to suddenly being in contention for CEO, Tom’s abrupt desperation to have a baby with Shiv and her reluctance, not to mention extravagant birthday party after extravagant birthday party. They feel like ideas thrown around in the writers room in the absence of a proper narrative progression because everyone is too cowardly to introduce a genuine and significant change to the family’s circumstances. It’s engaging, but at this point, it’s engaging like watching a Merry Go Round at night, all sparkles and music and flashing lights, but going nowhere, and going nowhere slowly.

March 2023

Flowers S01 (TV)

– off-beat and weird comedy drama is sometimes hilarious but mostly so silly it’s borderline unwatchable. It follows the lives of a suicidal man, his confused wife and their batshit crazy, dysfunctional twin kids. If Will Sharpe could somehow distill all his genius ideas into something resembling consistency his work would be unmissable, as it is, you need to tolerate a lot of bollocks to enjoy a few moments of magic.

Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre

– maybe Guy Ritchie’s lost his mojo because there’s something soulless and money-grabbing about this shiny, over the top action thriller that’s as glossy and mechanical as the power tool peddling laminated pages of an Argos catalogue and offering similar levels of excitement. Even the script, usually crackling with Ritchie’s wit and acerbic one liners, feels like a first draft pieced together from scraps recovered from the waste paper bin in his office. What happened?

Succession S02 (TV)

– not as strong overall as the first season, particularly with Kendall depressed and in the doghouse and some meandering episodes that drag on the overall momentum. That said, there are enough zingers in the script to land at least a few belly laughs each episode and the show still has the capacity to surprise. It’s buoyed by the magnetic cast of Roys (and Wambsgans) who offer ceaselessly zany performances. Fortunately, too, this time around it ends with the explosive shake up that was long overdue. Season 3 promises excitement.


– Albeit technically a major accomplishment, for such a savagely raucous visual and auditory onslaught, this feels like an epic wasted effort, exhausting and unrewarding. Surprising, given how hard it evidently tries and the extensive talent involved. It’s not a total failure, and its love for the medium of cinema positively explodes from the screen, but the problem is you could watch two better films in the same time frame. I recommend you do.

Holy Spider

– grisly Iranian serial killer thriller is excessively gruesome and nasty – with protracted close up strangulation scenes – and explicit, as prostitutes sordidly practice their craft. The combination makes for uncomfortable and, frankly, unpleasant viewing. Even if I’d enjoyed it, which I didn’t, it would be very difficult to recommend.

The Quiet Girl

– as mild mannered as the name suggests, this is an affectionate, meditatively paced (read: very slow moving) drama. While potentially too dull for some viewers, its warmth and simplicity are charming.

The Last of Us S01 (TV)

– for once, finally, a genuinely impressive and faithful adaptation of a video game, and a brilliant one at that. As a huge fan of Naughty Dog’s series, I was apprehensive about this, but it echoes everything I loved about the games and mirrors the aesthetic almost exactly (practically shot for shot in places). The casting is spot on and the acting, convincing. The script’s entertaining banter and joshing is sometimes lifted verbatim from the games. I’m excited to see how they tackle series two, given that the second game is so much darker and generally more unpleasant.

Don’t F**k with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer

– compelling though this true crime story is – and it is very gripping – the pretext immanent in the title of the doc, that a bunch of “internet nerds” (as they describe themselves) tracked down and helped catch a killer, is revealed to be BS. Ultimately, the police put out a notice on Interpol and the guy was recognised and arrested. Further, the ethical dilemma the series raises about whether it’s ever appropriate to revel in and elevate the stardom of a murderous narcissistic sociopath is presented as an afterthought, and comes after three hours of glorifying, breathlessly excited footage doing just that. This is a show literally interspersing the killer with his favourite films and cinematic icons, it highlights hundreds of posed and aggrandising pictures of him, it plays extracts of his grotesque home videos, it literally spells out his names in capital letters across the screen for added emphasis. It’s insulting then, not to mention offensively hypocritical, for the series to end by insinuating that the viewer is pandering to the fame-seeking desires of serial killers by watching. Though I enjoyed the ride, with the benefit of hindsight, I’d rather have been nudged to read a Wikipedia article instead. Consider this the nudge.

February 2023

Far From Men

– ponderous drama is beautifully filmed and acted, though its meditative, poetic style won’t be for every occasion (or viewer)

Three Identical Strangers

– interesting documentary about triplets separated at birth is a thought provoking conversation starter, though the absence of conclusive facts limits its insight, so the conclusion it confidently draws feels flawed at best and unfair at worst.

The Gold S01 (TV)

– rose tinted bullion heist crime drama is very BBC, the criminals questionably depicted as being class warriors on a mission rather than ruthless gangsters, but with the caveat that it is history rewritten, it proves a spirited six hours of entertainment.

The Specials

– in a similar vein to Intouchables, this is a poignant but amusing French language drama about carers looking after severely autistic people, with excellent performances and a witty script.

Tokyo Vice S01 (TV)

– illuminating and novel as it is to see a stylish, Tokyo-set, Yakuza-centred Western crime drama, this is nothing to write home about. Adelstein’s offensively forward, and on balance, quite unlikeable journalist is improbably fortunate in his every venture, is a magnet for any girl he sets eyes on, and has a more active nightlife than most first year students. His backstory is paid lip service, and the interesting hints of nationalism and racism that he endures in the first episode or two are forgotten entirely as the various plots – involving a hodgepodge of call girls and their patrons – develop. Of the handful of characters the viewer is invited to care about, only Sato the gangster’s story emotionally resonates, and the lack of conclusions by the end of the series is frustrating. At least the core power struggle between rival Yakuza gangs and Adelstein’s mission to document it proves mostly engaging, if not substantive.


– the key to a decent con movie is two fold: stay ahead of your audience and ensure they’re rooting for the conmen. This lifeless heist drama fails on both fronts, though does so with strong performances and enough polish that it’s not a total waste of time.

The Fabelmans

– Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical and semi-entertaining family drama is a heartfelt coming of age movie and certainly a love-letter to his craft, but doesn’t deserve to be such a critical darling; Seth Rogen remains talentless and reliant on his stoner laugh, Dano feels like he could play the role in his sleep, and Michelle Williams character of Mitzi is so ethereal she practically breaks the illusion of the whole film. Thankfully Gabriel LaBelle’s Sammy is a lovable protagonist and his passion along with Spielberg’s inventive camera work just about carry it.

Happy Valley S03 (TV)

– the northern cop drama concludes with the same confident delivery and feisty scripting of the last two series. The acting throughout is superb. Sarah Lancashire is made for the role, and although the menacing Tommy Lee Royce storyline had definitely already run its course by this season (how many times can this dense guy evade the law, pop up and cast a shadow over little Ryan?!), it still proved an engaging and thrilling enough ride. It’s a shame the writer(s) relied quite so heavily on ‘made for TV’ contrivances and rushed the subplots.

Echo 3 S01 (TV)

– CIA action thriller is just a few missteps short of masterful; polished, slickly produced, and with top tier acting and cinematography, particularly from director Pablo Trapero. It comes off the boil towards the end, and there are a few too many contrivances, including at least one that’s borderline insulting, but as an overall package, this is stunning, edge of the seat stuff. I’m not really sure why everyone isn’t talking about it…

January 2023


– unremarkable adaptation of the landmark gaming franchise. A shame, but exactly what you’d expect from a blockbuster title featuring Mark Wahlberg and Tom Holland. Boom and bust.

Black Tide

– there’s definitely a rising darkness from the very start of this somewhat depraved but very engaging crime thriller. Vincent Cassel excels as the grotesque protagonist, but performances are strong across the board, and if you can stomach excessively graphic explicit scenes, this is recommended.

11.22.63 (TV)

– underwhelming adaptation of Stephen King’s time travel misadventure pales next to its source material (which had its own problems) but remains quite fun. The whole thing is shot with a sort of levity that makes it hard to take seriously (in part because Franco is so woefully ill-equipped as an actor) but the flip side is that this slapdash approach facilitates suspension of disbelief, an aid to ignoring the gaping plot holes and bad character decisions. It’s not high end, but is at least moderately entertaining.

The Chalk Line (aka Jaula)

– while the premise is implausible and the obsessive, hysterical characterisation of the lead smacks of sexism, this is quite an engaging spanish language thriller, mainly let down by sloppy direction and a pervasive sense that it could have been so much better.

The Crown S01 (TV)

– surprised to find this is pretty excellent and mostly deserving of its acclaim. It’s frustrating to watch because of the lack of likeable characters, the agonising adherence to tradition and pomp, and the sense that everyone (except Princess Margaret and the Duke of Edinburgh) is buckling under the weight of their duty, history, and misguided, anachronistic morals. It certainly doesn’t do the monarchy any favours overall and it lacks any compelling overarching story to thread each episode together, but it nonetheless works as a brilliantly acted, polished, and useful (albeit spurious) insight into Royal life and politics.

Madre (2019)

– emotionally compelling Spanish / French drama is borderline taboo as a 39 year old grieving mother becomes intimate friends with a 16 year old boy at a beach resort. Although it remains an interesting and engaging work and is disconcerting throughout, its characters never behave believably enough to deliver the emotional punch it intends.


– not sure if I was just feeling especially susceptible the day I watched it, but thought this was extremely powerful and unexpectedly affecting, with beautiful direction by Micheal Pearce and universally excellent acting, including from bit roles like Rory Cochrane. It’s badly named and mismarketed – nothing to do with sci-fi whatsoever – but as a desperately sad drama about parenthood, comes highly recommended.

A Man of Action

– sadly, this spanish language crime thriller feels a bit amateur hour, without much of anything to engage or excite the viewer. It’s not offensively bad, just dull.

Tehran S01 (TV)

– Israeli spy series with comically chirpy music dangles promise in its opening sequence, then deteriorates in quality minute by minute, with unbelievable scenarios and dodgy dialogue. The characters are roundly annoying and mostly unsympathetic, and ‘hacking’ is used, as per usual, like magic. To conclude on a cliffhanger is particularly galling for viewers, like me, who have no intention of continuing to watch but nonetheless would have appreciated a resolution. It’s more than passable entertainment for sure, but the foreign spy thriller bar has been set impossibly high by Le Bureau (a must watch if you’ve missed it until now), and with recent British spy thrillers (A Spy Among Friends) also operating on an elevated level, this just can’t compete.

Woman of the Dead S01 (TV)

– scandinoir does the usual scandinoir shuffle. At this point, finding a decent crime mystery series is like spinning a tombola, liable to leave you disappointed. Mostly they’re a string of increasingly outlandish crime scenes, shady characters with high profile roles in the community and absurdly devious motivations, predictable twists and eye-rolling contrivances. Sadly, this is no different. If you’re desperate for gnarly murders and dour landscapes, this will just about keep you sated, but gone are the lofty days of The Killing, The Bridge and Nobel.

The Beasts (As Bestas)

– Isabel Peña continues her streak of phenomenal work. She’s definitely my current favourite spanish screenwriter. This is an unsettling, powerfully realistic drama, beautifully shot by director Rodrigo Sorogoyen, who also has an impressive track record, May God Save Us and Riot Police in particular, and whose eye for composition bestows even everyday scenes with eerie beauty. It’s heavy going, bleak and uncomfortable at times, not for casual viewing, but definitely recommended.

The Swimmers

– a great story and historic snapshot offering an insight into the refugee journey from Syria to Germany via boat to Lesbos, along with the challenges it entails and the circumstances that motivate people to take the risk. I’m not convinced it’s told as effectively and affectingly as it might have been, in part because it’s not an especially flattering depiction of its protagonists, but that’s a matter of taste rather than any particular misstep on behalf of the cast or director.

The Mosquito Coast S02 (TV)

– The Fox family misadventure falls apart at the seams, with ill conceived and half arsed plot swings, idiotic decision making and each family member dumbed down until their motivations are practically visible as straight lines on a story board. An ignominious exit for the series.

The Menu

– Deliciously outlandish little horror mystery is both a swipe at the insatiable ultra rich and a parody of pompous fine dining. It goes off the boil in the third act, when it reveals itself to be much less clever and less mysterious than initially suggested, but it’s inventive and enjoyably outrageous enough overall to warrant watching.

All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)

– hauntingly beautiful and devastating in equal measure, this adaptation of the classic novel does the source material justice, and deserves a place on every list of great war movies.

The Pale Blue Eye

– director Scott Cooper’s maudlin detective story is elevated slightly above mediocre by its extraordinary cast (seriously, why did they all sign up for this?!) and typically magnificent Howard Shore soundtrack (a score with distinctly LOTR moments). The bleak, ice encrusted setting is eye-catching and the performances are strong, so it’s a shame the proceedings are so drab and slow, and the story so po-faced (pun intended).

Treason S01 (TV)

– lightweight fast food trash, completely unbelievable and frustratingly irrational from start to finish. Classic low effort, low quality content fodder of the kind that populates streaming services with flashy front covers and titillating trailers. Rubbish.


– caved and watched this Nic Cage end of the world thriller on false intel that it’s been overlooked and is underrated. It hasn’t and isn’t. It’s absolute balls. Avoid.

Slow Horses S02 (TV)

– the silly spy drama continues, thankfully as hilarious and engaging as ever. This is one of those once in a blue moon, high quality, light hearted but intellectually stimulating shows. What it lacks in depth it makes up for with a lot of fun. Really pleased it’s been renewed for Season 3.

Triangle of Sadness

– there are moments of brilliance and stark insight scattered in this chaotic and gleefully grotesque satire about a group of money obsessed super rich on a hellish cruise. Unlike Östlund’s last film though, The Square, which got better and better, this one is a mess, vacillating unevenly between situational comedy and utter tedium before eventually getting lost in its own whimsy. If it was shorter, it might be worth the trip, but for a multitude of reasons, this is hard to recommend to a general audience.

Operation Mincemeat

– the genuine surprise is how they amassed such a stunning cast for such a mediocre film. Bland, devoid of excitement of any kind, and additionally burdened with an unnecessary romance.

The English S01 (TV)

– Hugo Blick’s latest is a vengeful love story in the Wild West. The acting is excellent, particularly from the central cast, and wonderfully hammy where appropriate (Rafe Spall excels as the arch villain, for instance). The cinematography, though theatrical and stagey, is striking and darkly beautiful. The issue is that the plot meanders erratically, running either too fast or too slow, with characters introduced to be killed in short order, and verbose, uninspired soliloquies aiming for profundity and landing flat. Ultimately, at only 6 episodes, it is worth watching, but it’s definitely massively overrated.


– superficially heartfelt with that ‘on the sleeve’ didacticism so typical of Hollywood animations. Though technically impressive, this is neither funny nor especially whimsical, its fascistic wartime subplot is arguably too macabre for young kids, and its surrealist metaphorical narrative too bizarre to be compelling.

December 2022

The Photographer of Mauthausen

– mixed german / spanish language World War 2 drama details the efforts of a young photographer to secretly preserve evidence of crimes committed in the prisoner of war camp where he’s detained. It’s not particularly showy or remarkable, and definitely nowhere near genre leading, but it’s a heartfelt, engaging, and dare I say it, slightly uplifting story.

The Good Boss (El Buen Patrón)

– a black comedy with terrific acting. Javier Bardem is the CEO of a scales company trying to solve a series of increasingly tricky personal problems in the lead up to a competition. It’s a mostly lighthearted if scathing take on capitalism at the expense of human decency. There are no revelations, and it might prove forgettable, but it’s (sadness tinged) fun while it lasts.

The Banshees of Inisherin

– Despite occasional moments of fleeting comedy, this is a ceaselessly bleak folktale allegory of the Irish civil war that unfolds exactly as you’re afraid it’s going to, with bitter acrimony between friends growing increasingly hostile and violent. Though hauntingly artistic, it’s not exactly an enjoyable way to spend a few hours.

God’s Crooked Lines (Los Renglones Torcidos de Dios)

– ludicrously twisty and (typically) hysterical Spanish language psychological thriller keeps you enjoyably guessing, but if it wasn’t so impossible to take seriously it’d be a borderline offensive depiction of both mental health patients and their doctors.

A Spy Among Friends (TV)

– ITV’s cerebral and utterly engaging spy thriller is an absolute treat; an intellectual, highly charged and sometimes profound examination of friendship and mixed loyalties. It’s so refreshing to watch a series that credits the viewer with the nous to fill in blanks and read between the lines. Anna Maxwell Martin is perfectly cast as a surly, abrasive interrogator trying to extract the truth from professional liars after senior British intelligence officer, the infamous double agent Kim Philby, defects to Russia. Embodying Philby, Guy Pearce toes the line between ebullient and desperate with skill, larger than life charm one moment and soul searching from inside of a bottle the next. But the bulk of the story falls to Damian Lewis, and he is a master at work. From Life to Homeland to Our Kind of Traitor and now this, Lewis has a penchant for these spy roles and it’s evident why – he excels in them. Aside from his natural charisma, in the best possible way, there’s something vaguely duplicitous about him, as though every line or action is calculated and there’s always an ulterior motive at play. It’s a joy to watch. If there’s any scope for criticism, it’s that the national and international stakes aren’t as clear as they might be, such that, albeit endlessly intriguing, it lacks genuine jeopardy or peril, and the framing of it as a spy game, nothing more than a battle of sharp wits, seems fairer than perhaps it should.

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

– spoof musical biopic has a few moments of amusement, particularly inventing the origins to Al’s actual songs, but at the risk of sounding like a killjoy who doesn’t get the joke, when something is this fatuous, it’s surely not worth the time or effort. Save yourself 90 minutes and watch the best clips on YouTube.

She Said

– dramatisation of the behind-the-scenes of the Weinstein scandal from the perspectives of journalists at the New York Times is straightforward in its format but brilliantly acted and, barring a few oddly laboured and contrived scenes, very compelling. It’s also a timely reminder of the importance and power of journalism when it’s targeted, well-resourced and focused on stories that matter.

Shadowplay S01 (TV)

– Taylor Kitsch is a smooth talking American police detective in Berlin in the immediate aftermath of WW2 (1946) on the hunt for his brother, who’s been left traumatised and vengeful after witnessing war crimes. He takes charge of a ramshackle police force doing its best with no resources, but finds himself pulled in all directions by the forces at play in the city. It’s not a bad premise, but even Kitsch at his most likeable is simply too thin on charisma to make me care about any of the plot strands, whether criminal, political or romantic. Generously, this is a middling crime drama. Less generously, this is very dull.

Last Resort S01 (TV)

– submarine action thriller is exactly what you expect from 2012 era bingy TV: no depth (despite the sub) and low intelligence, two dimensional drama. Easy, lazy, moderately enjoyable viewing for when the thought of engaging your brain is off-putting.

The Peripheral S01 (TV)

– what starts out as a visually arresting, striking vision of a dystopian future, after a few episodes, through some quirk of ‘made for TV’ homeostasis, becomes far too conventional for its own good, with the innovative aspects of the lore taking a back seat in favour of painfully familiar themes – crime families, evil scientists, PTSD suffering soldiers, forced romantic side plots – and infuriatingly complacent, arrogant protagonists. There’s hardly a character who isn’t self-satisfied and hubristic, making them quite irritating to watch. The highly futuristic and impressively realised sci-fi elements – peripherals, sims, melding psyches, parallel universes and cross temporal communication, apocalyptic pandemics and artificial environments – novel areas that would be fascinating and potentially original territory to explore, all end up as almost farcical gimmickry in the service of telling very unremarkable, even boring stories. After receiving the start of the series enthusiastically, disappointingly, I’m not excited at the prospect of another. A shame, as it’s a waste of diverse talents, not least from the VFX crew.


– Liam Neeson doing his ageing assassin bit. Again. So bad I’ve forgotten it already.

November 2022


– Channing Tatum carries Dog, both literally and metaphorically. A road trip drama about two war veterans struggling to cope post service, it’s occasionally touching, but more often uninspired and fanciful. Without Tatum’s charisma, it would have little to commend it.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

– arguably even more successful than its predecessor, Knives Out, this is another joyous whodunit spoof featuring Daniel Craig’s Detective Benoit Blanc that excels in both its premise and delivery. It’s in turns hilarious and, despite much silliness, far smarter than it admits to: a damning satire lampooning celebrity culture, Big Tech and capitalism in general all while meticulously spinning a twisty web of intrigue. A marvellous spectacle. I could watch it again right away.

Free Guy

– Ryan Reynolds continues his run of tediously cocky and sarcastic protagonists in this very silly action comedy ode to massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). Albeit not a laudable comedy, it is much funnier than one could reasonably expect, in part because of its relentless in-jokes, nods and winks to gaming clichés and parodying of AAA publisher greed. It serves as both an indictment of modern games and a tongue in cheek love letter to the art form, which it intrinsically recognises as worthy of so much more than a cash grab. Do I recommend it? No. As a gamer myself, did I enjoy it? More than I care to admit.

The Protégé

– a reminder that aggregate ratings can be misleading or straight up wrong. Director Martin Campbell turns his GoldenEye to this slick, well composed action thriller, shooting excellent combat set pieces from London to Vietnam. The arch villain is relegated to a hollow McGuffin, and the story as a whole feels slightly undeserving of the high polish and stellar cast, but when that cast includes Michael Keaton, Samuel L Jackson and Maggie Q and they decide to step up and bring the charisma, they put on a helluva show.

Shot Caller

– unexpectedly deep prison set crime thriller explores the journey of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s rich city-boy ‘Jacob’ as he transforms into fear inspiring lifer inmate, ‘Money’ Harlon. This is that rare film with such a range of themes and stories it could benefit from additional run time. He’s such an intriguing lead, as are each of the supporting characters, it’d have been interesting to see some of the gaps in his descent filled in, particularly his history with various inmates, and his wife’s new life trajectory. What’s there is great though, powerfully acted and compellingly directed. For the most part it sadly feels all too believable, even if the prison politics and hierarchy stretch credibility a little.

Barbarian (2022)

– above average contemporary horror, complete with dodgy Airbnbs, #MeToo moments, and social commentary. Given its eye-rolling premise, it genuinely surprises with the directions it takes and the high calibre of its execution.

Argentina, 1985

– Spanish language legal drama depicts the prosecution of former military commanders. Ricardo Darin is marvellous as ever, as are the whole cast. It’s an important piece of history told in an informative, compelling way, with wit and compassion, but it’s carried by the gravity of history and the weight of its performances rather than because the events themselves are especially cinematic or exciting.

The Bear S01 (TV)

– after Boiling Point, it wasn’t as surprising to behold the intensity of a kitchen in full flow, but this takes it to a sensory level. The searing heat here is sustained largely by the volume of shouting from the pent up characters, similar in frenetic style to Uncut Gems. The show is definitely impressive and original, both in terms of performances and production, and the short episodes make a refreshing change from the mini-films most series employ these days, but it’s not exactly likeable or comfortable viewing, and the story is too loose to be compelling.

The Greatest Beer Run Ever

– if it wasn’t closely based on the truth (with inevitable tweaks here and there, chiefly the timing, 3 days instead of the actual 4+ months!), this story would be inconceivable. Even with the facts on its side, the film takes itself and the war too flippantly to succeed. While everyone involved performs their roles serviceably, the script makes light of the circumstance and the people, in such a way that even in the few moments it genuinely charms, it doesn’t sit right.

Army of Thieves

– it’s not a clever or slick heist thriller and the main plot is uninspired, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find it enjoyably weird, from its comically accented, awkward protagonist to its overlooked zombie outbreak setting and peter out ending. I was thinly entertained.


– every now and then a film is so bad that you marvel at the (mis)steps involved to get it green lit and into production. How did the script get sign off to be printed, let alone influential people taking the time to read it and money spent on getting it made? This is 90 minutes of stupidity. Russell Crowe’s psychotic killer rampages unhindered across a city to violently murder the loved ones of a random woman who honked him at a light. Time I’ll never get back. I implore you, don’t make the same mistake.

All The Way (2016)

– Cranston gives another phenomenal performance, this time as President Lyndon B Johnson in the months leading up to his election as he works with Martin Luther King to pass his first Civil Rights Act. It’s an insightful snapshot, both about LBJ as a man and as an introduction to other key characters and political themes of the era. (Robert Caro’s biography Passage of Power is the bible on this period and matches with Cranston’s portrayal here).

The Woman King

– despite the extensive violence, this is a surprisingly warm hearted and tender drama about resilience and motherhood; brilliantly acted and with an unpredictable enough story to engage despite its protracted (tightly choreographed but no less dull) combat scenes.

Day Shift

– while I don’t exactly regret watching it, it’s hard to recommend this lowest common denominator vampire slayer action flick. If you’re partial to Snoop Dogg, toilet jokes, and endless hand to hand violence, maybe you’re in the target demographic. It’s fun in places, but so low iq, rote and unimaginative, even the charismatic cast can’t save it (though the soundtrack definitely punches above its weight).

The Stranger

– taut and convoluted crime thriller begins so slowly and laconically as to be off-putting, but gradually ramps up the stress and tension until, as it all ties together, its endlessly plodding pace and quiet tone is at odds with your racing heartbeat. Edgerton is good in roles like this, and Sean Harris scarily impressive, too. Ended up pleasantly surprised.

See How They Run

– cartoonishly lightweight whodunit wastes its star power. Every character is a caricature: Rockwell’s detective an uncharismatic, lumbering alcoholic, Saoirse Ronan’s overenthusiastic sidekick too annoying, Tim Key’s commissioner a wide eyed buffoon. The comedy isn’t funny enough nor the plot clever or challenging enough. The smugly meta direction lacks nuance, too. If you’re hoping for something near the smarts and polish of Knives Out, as I was, this will disappoint.

Bodies, Bodies, Bodies

– lazy, uninspired and exhaustingly hysterical horror of the ‘teens getting drunk and drugged up in a remote house play a game and get murdered one by one’ genre. There’s lots of screaming and swearing and general panic, littered references to culture war and loud contemporary pop music. It feels like it was thrown together by a room full of school kids on a super short deadline. If this is peak Gen Z, I’m worried about the future. Avoid.

Succession S01 (TV)

– despicable though each of the characters are, this is an often hilarious depiction of the uber wealthy as they trample on one another and everyone else in their pursuit of self importance. The comedy is black and grotesque, and in a similar vein to that of Veep or The Thick of It, but the presentation leans further into high stakes drama. It goes over the top in the season finale, but then the whole point of the show is excess, so perhaps that’s unsurprising.

Prey (2022)

– silly but fairly entertaining thriller about a tribeswoman fed up of being the gatherer in her hunter-gatherer community who decides to tackle the new threat facing her tribe, only to discover it’s an advanced alien predator. Lightweight but slickly produced with some beautiful landscape shots.

October 2022

Don’t Worry Darling

– Olivia Wilde’s high profile sci-fi thriller is a mess. It spends so long establishing its manicured 1950s suburbia that by the time it tries to find a story or say something worth saying, it’s already lost the plot and squandered any audience interest. It wants to be Shutter Island, or The Truman Show, or A Cure for Wellness, but falls short on intelligence, creativity, originality and every other metric. Frankly it seemed like it was throwing shit at the wall to see what stuck, and the answer is, none of it. Perhaps the production really was as much of a shambles as has been reported, or perhaps it’s just a god awful script. Either way, not recommended.

Bad Sisters S01 (TV)

– after the few episodes it takes to build some momentum, this black comedy about a group of sisters trying to kill their brother in law hits an enjoyable, albeit vaguely trashy, stride. The script is much more comedic than is acted, so it feels like a comedy played as a drama, rather than an outright black comedy, and many of the jokes don’t land. The five sisters (each acted with aplomb) behave pretty reprehensibly and are quite unsympathetic, so to get the viewer on board with their scheming, Claes Bang’s villain, JP, is made irredeemably grotesque and vile – a role he absolutely nails. Overall, the core conceit and structure (the time jumps between before and after his death) is hugely engaging and intriguing, even if the conclusion isn’t quite as unpredictable as Sharon Horgan and her writing team may have hoped.

The Kid Detective

– mis-marketed black comedy detective story is deadpan almost to the point of dreariness, but the actual mystery and the way it ties together is satisfying and the script is smart.

Everything, Everywhere, All At Once

– arguably this is just an inventive rehash of the same themes Hollywood blockbusters have been selling for years, pushing contemporary values like not taking for granted what you already have, learning to accept what you can’t change, fighting for what matters to you (but only in the name of love), seeking truth etc. While there’s nothing wrong with that messaging in and of itself, when it’s ploughing those furrows, this is artless, and could be any Marvel superhero flick or Disney Pixar animation, dialogue laden with cheese and cliché. But that didacticism underpins 90-99% of the movies that are produced these days, and this one is only really guilty of laying it on thick in the final act. For the most part, it is one of the most visually and comedically innovative, batshit crazy pieces of cinema I’ve ever seen. It embraces the surreal, the supernatural, the farcical, and does it with such derring-do and love for the silver screen. It is filled with nods and winks to the zeitgeist, tributes and pop culture references ranging from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Star Wars, from Ratatouille to The Matrix. It borrows building blocks from the giants of every genre then stands on the shoulders of those giants to build a physics defying tower worthy of Escher. Without resorting to drug trip comparisons, it’s hard to articulate just how far this film is willing to enter the bizarre. Where it falls short is in finding a substantive plot to match the genius of its visual creativity. Whatever it’s trying to say about nihilism, solipsism, maybe about mental illness and the nature of identity, when the fight sequences include dildos and butt plugs, characters have fat hot-dog fingers and the big bad enemy threatening to destroy everything in the multiverse is a giant black bagel, it’s hard not to see it as glib. In short, this is absolutely worth watching for the extraordinary absurdity and freneticism of the whole thing, but don’t expect to be affected on a deeper level. Smiley for effort and originality.

Black Box (Boîte Noire)

– this standout, above average French conspiracy thriller is exactly what I’ve been craving. Turns out I’m an absolute sucker for the attentive acoustician sub-genre (for another check out The Wolf’s Call, also French (Le Chant Du Loup)). Highly recommended for suspense fans, despite some icky Hollywoodised moments.

Ted K

– Sympathetic but not uncritical depiction of Ted Kaczynski’s life and extremist views as he evolves from irate woodland luddite to the domestic terrorist known as the Unabomber. As an informative potted history, it’s quite interesting, as a piece of cinema, it’s dull. For anyone looking for a vastly more enjoyable retelling of Ted’s story, I highly recommend the series Manhunt: Unabomber.

Emily the Criminal

– Aubrey Plaza’s Breaking Bad is a competent but loveless crime drama, delivered without panache. It feels functionally like a solid film, but is wooden, lacking some key ingredient that would make it enjoyable, be it passion, emotional connection, excitement or just style. It’s a shame as the components are there, just assembled into something not worth assembling.

Bullet Train

– the latest entry in Hollywood’s recent snarky black-action-comedy genre (think Deadpool) wants to combine Guy Ritchie smarts with Matthew Vaughn action. It does a passable job aping the choreography and comedic action set pieces of the latter, but falls far short of Ritchie’s caustic wit, and though it mimics his structural and expositional style, lacks his knack, playing out like an ersatz knockoff. That’s not to say it doesn’t have moments of great fun, and the silliness is occasionally so ridiculous as to be genuinely novel. Also in its favour is that Pitt’s likeable nice guy shtick acts as a salve to every false note, flat joke, bad accent and cliché. If you like macho, quip laden hand to hand combat and delight at a cameo, this is worth watching.

Decision to Leave

– Innovative direction, artful symbolism and a wry wit isn’t quite enough to rectify this warped Korean tale of a police detective falling for a murder suspect. It’s an unlikeable, manipulative romance, and albeit intriguing, the resolution to the meandering story is unsatisfactory. It’s arguably worth watching to admire Park Chan-wook‘s craft alone though.

Perfect Number

– Korean crime drama based on Japanese series, Suspect X, is sadly not particularly clever or engaging, despite mostly good performances and understated direction.


– in an uncharacteristic action thriller role, Allison Janney proves she can play any part convincingly, but the weirdly lit cinematography never seems like anything other than a Hollywood set, and drab direction makes the whole thing feel run of the mill.

September 2022

The Capture S02 (TV)

– if season one was flirting at the edges of technological plausibility, this time around the BBC’s deepfake conspiracy thriller goes full blown sci-fi, with just about anything with a lens compromised by spies, facial recognition operating at a magical 100% accuracy – with face masks and without racial bias – and Holliday Grainger growling her way through more MI5, CIA and Big Tech board rooms than there are in Silicon Valley…in London. But farcical as it is, it’s also a good crack, with those early 00s ‘24‘-style cliffhanger endings and enough twists to tie its own shoe laces together. All in all, silly and totally misrepresentative of technology, but quite fun.

Boiling Point

– blistering one take drama in a high end restaurant kitchen at Christmas feels grotesquely realistic, rushing from urgency to panic with the entire ensemble delivering such vulnerable, human performances, you want to reach into the screen and give them each a hug. It is a little overcooked by the final curtain – the stress was certainly peaking without the need for its arguably hyperbolic conclusion – but what an achievement, nonetheless.

A Day

– convoluted Korean sci-fi thriller riffs on the Groundhog Day repetitive loop. It’s intriguing up to a point, but also overly contrived, and the characters’ behaviour and motivations are unconvincing and eventually a little tedious.

Mr Smith Goes To Washington

– it’s films like these that make me ashamed to assume an old black and white picture won’t compare to modern cinema. This is a powerhouse drama whose warmth belies its desaturated finish, simultaneously illustrating venal political operatives and their abuses of power while lauding the foundations of democracy. It’s all told with a generous dose of wit, impassioned oratory, brilliant acting, and even a delicate love story in the mix. A shame there aren’t more recent films like it.

The Black Phone

– polished supernatural crime thriller has a distinctly Stephen King vibe to it. Some of the underlying themes have merit (standing up to bullies), but there’s not enough substance to the story and not enough development of the villain (Ethan Hawke in what is surely one of his easiest roles). The eponymous black phone remains a mystery throughout.

Primary Colors

– Nuanced, timeless and illustrative of why personally despicable people still survive or thrive in politics. Makes me long for more high calibre political dramas.

Bill Bailey Live: Limboland

– Bill Bailey still puts on a great show with some genuinely brilliant moments, even if his cranky old wizard schtick feels as old as he’s beginning to look and his comedic tics seem less subtle now they’ve been exposed to the limelight for so long.


– Visually sumptuous and immersive when it counts, Peele’s UFO thriller vacillates between downright dull and epic sensory overload. While a narrative thread eventually emerges, it flaps loosely, such that the various subplots seem barely attached to the greater whole, instead an excuse for supernatural scene setting and jump scares. It’s hard to say if the end result works, but at the very least, it includes breathtaking elements: a confused, technically masterful and quite beautiful cinematic work, but not a particularly good film.

Only Murders in the Building S01 (TV)

– you know when you’re a bit embarrassed to watch something because it has next to no qualities and at times feels actively bad, but you watch the whole season anyway? Yeah, me too.

Where The Crawdads Sing

– like wading through the marshes, this wet and affected courtroom drama is a slog from start to finish, with vanilla direction and broadly unimpressive performances.

Totems S01 (TV)

– after Le Bureau proved such an accomplished French export, I hoped this might be another. Alas, not so. Totems takes the scientific-office-bod-turned-super-spy trope and runs with it through Soviet era Russia and East Germany, using an unconvincing romance as a crutch. Nothing about it is noteworthy, let alone remarkable, and mostly it’s just bad. After more than four hours, I decided it’d be gambler’s fallacy to carry on.

August 2022


– Novak’s true crime parody about a NY writer who tries to find podcasting success in Texas by exploiting the death of a girl he once hooked up with is most successful when it’s self-deprecating and scornful of the trendy, elitist media scene he belongs to. Fortunately, that’s most of the film. The final act is a bit of an own goal though, seeking to land some of the ‘profound insights’ he’s derided throughout. A slightly disappointing stumble at the end of an otherwise witty satire.

Escape at Dannemora S01 (TV)

– abandoned this around the halfway mark. It felt refined but unlikeable. There are so many prison dramas, most more thrilling and engaging than this, and despite the performances and meticulous direction, I simply didn’t care enough about any of it to justify the time investment.

The Gray Man (2022)

– there’s a criticism often levelled at action thrillers: that in the absence of a decent story, they compensate with gunfire and explosions. Never has it been more applicable. It’s nearly forgivable in this case though, enjoyable as it is to watch Gosling and Evans gallivanting across the world executing preposterous stunts in protracted, high octane sequences. Exactly how the epic destruction of Prague was ever going to be swept under the rug is unclear, but this isn’t a film that gives two wits about accuracy or smarts, it’s all about the dance, and between the nonsense, it’s got a few decent moves.

Thirteen Lives

– this doesn’t achieve anything The Rescue documentary didn’t already, and viewing this subsequently, knowing exactly what to expect and when, I found it underwhelming. But it’s not bad by any measure, and as a standalone film I’d imagine it does a good job conveying the extraordinary drama of the rescue.

Top Gun: Maverick

– strange to think this is how they used to make them: all soft crossfades and sharp lighting, six packs and flapping flags. It’s silly in all the ways you expect a sequel of this profile to be silly, but beneath the macho willy waving and thrilling stunts, it’s also surprisingly gentle, optimistic, and ultimately feel good. In other words, a classic old school blockbuster. Might have to spin up a VR flight simulator now…


– All the terror and trauma some men inflict on women generation after generation stem from a desire to be loved. Or at least, that seems the thesis explored by Alex Garland in this characteristically weird and shocking horror. It’s about a woman convalescing in a rural cottage after her husband’s suicide who finds herself beset by hostile locals, violent stalkers and home invaders. To say it’s visually disturbing is an understatement. This is some f*cked up brand of crazy. I almost turned it off in the final few minutes. If macabre abstract art is your cup of tea, or you like to be viscerally challenged at the cinema, maybe you’ll stomach this. For everyone normal, it’s not recommended.

Dave (1993)

– a gentle and feel good classic American comedy where the US president suffers a stroke and his chief of staff convinces an everyman lookalike to stand in for him. The chirpy and optimistic newcomer wins over the White House, the country and at least this audience member. Easy going fun.

Bo Burnham: Inside

– Burnham’s surrealist and, at times, all too realist pandemic inspired one man comedy is both funny and tragic, as much of his work is. It’s an insight into the creative process, loneliness, and mental health issues, while also a cutting satire of the superficiality of modern life and the absurd paradox immanent in using mindblowing technologies for trivial banalities. The show loses momentum around the mid-mark and never really recovers, but there’s still a lot to laugh at if you’re feeling strong and not too introspective!

Black Bird S01 (TV)

– engaging and polished crime thriller with some impressive (if weirdly stylised) performances and a suspenseful atmosphere. Disappointingly, the script goes on some strange and unconvincing tangents, with implausible dialogue, irrelevant subplots, and disconnected scenes. The result is compelling but unnecessarily rushed and nowhere near as tight or satisfying as it could have been, or as some comparable shows, like True Detective S03.


– I genuinely have nothing positive to say about the experience. Bad acting, a disastrous script and unimpressive visuals. Initially I assumed the stilted weirdness was deliberate, a stylistic choice, but on reflection, it’s just crap.

The Old Man S01 (TV)

– Its drab name belies the best spy thriller since Le Bureau. The Old Man puts the craft in spy craft, with a heavyweight, serious cast, each at the top of their game, and thoughtful direction that commands your attention with subtle hints, careful pacing, and the refreshing use of space: both for the cast to shine and the suspense to marinate. Despite a proclivity for showy, literary monologues, its intelligent scripting weaves what could easily have seemed a farfetched narrative into a convoluted but pleasantly adhesive web, while its tastefully unadorned, gritty aesthetic helps add authenticity. A shame season 1 only lasts an irregular 7 episodes, but gladly, FX have renewed it. This one is highly recommended.

July 2022

The Terminal List S01 (TV)

– Chris Pratt’s military revenge thriller is very silly and takes itself far too seriously, but it’s also a lot of fun, kinda like early Prison Break vibes. When Pratt’s Navy SEAL one man killing machine is finally let loose as a full blown psychopath on the run from the FBI, it ticks all the boxes for classic binge material: cliff hangers, predictable twists (that you still want to see resolve so your guesses are vindicated), cathartic violence (albeit at least once much too excessive – no-one wants to watch a man gutted and forced to unravel his own intestines)… the tone of the whole thing is very morally questionable, if not morally reprehensible, but if you can reconcile yourself with that, it’s very entertaining. I even think I’d watch a Season 2. You know, if the brain tumour gets resolved.

Sherwood S01 (TV)

– inconsistent crime drama set in a former mining community where old alliances are still causing problems. While this is quite well produced and acted, the story depends on so many far fetched ingredients and manipulative narrative twists that it practically feels unfair to the viewer, and the ending (specifically the killer’s motives) feel like an absolute copout. Top marks for casting though, the younger, flashback versions of the older characters are very convincing.

The Outlaws S02 (TV)

– the buffoonery continues, still with enough laugh out loud moments to make it worth watching, even while just as many jokes fall flat. There’s also an inequality in the character arcs and their associated comedy, so some of the outlaws’ stories feel like tedium that must be endured to guffaw at the real stars of the show – Stephen Merchant and Jessica Gunning. I’m not left clamouring for an encore, but if another season emerged, I’d probably still watch it.

June 2022

Father Stu

– critics panned this inspirational true story of a boxer turned priest and his endless battle with adversity, but audiences, myself included, appear more receptive to its charms. It is very Hollywoodised, but of the ‘feel good’ variety, where characters are all redeemable and ultimately good people, despite their myriad issues, and where faith and love of one another triumphs. If that sounds saccharine, it is a bit, but it also makes for uplifting viewing. Not to mention, Mark Wahlberg’s performance and physical transformation is seriously impressive.


– while the performances in this biographical drama are good and it’s informative about the poet, Siegfried Sassoon, and the impact of PTSD, depression and his homosexuality on his life, the speech is so clipped and the style so stilted that it left me cold. It presents almost theatrically, with protracted scenes of archive war footage and morose expressions on the actors faces while long extracts of poetry are read. I wasn’t unmoved, but I also didn’t much enjoy the experience.

The Dissident

– harrowing true story of the Jamal Khashoggi murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on the orders of Mohammed bin Salman. The CGI infographic style of presentation didn’t really do it for me, but the story, CCTV and transcript footage is so jaw-dropping the alternative visuals really aren’t that relevant. Definitely worth watching, if only to remind yourself what individuals in positions of power get away with.

Watcher (2022)

– aims for the suspenseful slow burn and it works up to a point, but it feels like it should have done more with the time allotted. Not bad, just underwhelming.

Assassins (2021)

– tightly gripping true crime documentary shows the extraordinary plight of two oblivious girls caught up in one of the most high profile political assassinations of our time – Kim Jong-Nam. Though staid in style, the story is so captivating it really doesn’t need added panache. Brilliant.

My Octopus Teacher

– a documentary about a man who falls in love with an octopus (his words, not mine), and in the process gains more of an appreciation for the natural world. Somewhat less revelatory than I had anticipated given the acclaim it received, this is, nonetheless, a unique insight into an octopus’ world.


– if the name conjures intrigue, the conceit proves depressingly straightforward and low intelligence: a villainous, charismatic pharma-CEO uses prisoners to test drugs that co-opt their emotions. What does he do with this super power? Makes them have sex, laugh maniacally and cower from staplers. It’s tonally and stylistically schizophrenic (as many of Netflix’s ‘films by algorithm’ are), with a typically facile depiction of scientific transgression. That it remains compelling is largely thanks to Hemsworth and Teller’s aptly indelicate performances.

The Duke

– while this is certainly a competent and affectionate film, I’m somewhat baffled by its acclaim. It’s described as a heist movie but there’s no heist to speak of: the art theft itself over in the blink of an eye and really just a necessary plot development rather than central to the action. The drama revolves around an ageing couple’s relationship, their coping with impecunity and the loss of their daughter. There’s nothing wrong with it per say, it’s just quite drab and boring, despite the sparkling talents of its cast (Jim Broadbent, Helen Mirren and Matthew Goode).

Merchants of Doubt

– documentary about the lobbyists hired by corporate behemoths to cast doubt on scientific consensus somehow manages to elicit extraordinarily candid and revealing interviews from the paid spin doctors themselves, leading to some jaw dropping confessions. It imparts great insight into why, despite the facts, progress addressing major health issues is so slow. Everyone should watch and learn from this, especially students and journalists.

The White Lotus S01 (TV)

– This droll dramedy is like watching a car filled with deplorable passengers crash in slow motion, and being asked to laugh at it. There’s a small kick to be had watching insufferable people suffer, but by and large it’s just tedious, laden with scornful social commentary and judgement, and grotesque in its style. Thankfully it boasts some big hitters who can spin gold from straw: Murray Bartlett is a treasure, playing hotel manager Armand like a genius cross between John Cleese and Jim Cummings, while Connie Briton and Steve Zahn are electric and charismatic in any role and still a joy to watch here.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

– meta silliness is Hollywood’s new toy. Don’t Look Up, The Matrix Resurrections, and now this. Nic Cage as Nic Cage in a 90s style blockbuster action thriller full of references to Nic Cage movies. The irony is that without Cage, its entirely plausible this still gets made, just as a typically bad b-movie. With Nic Cage it’s the same bad movie, only with a self awareness that introduces some light comedy. At the risk of sounding like a killjoy, this doesn’t rehabilitate his image, nor work as a platform for his ‘massive talent’. He comes off as a good sport at best, and a tiresome egomaniac at worst.


– ironic that two of the best documentaries of our era each stem from passionate, articulate and inspiring individuals intent on highlighting the overreach (and in this case, murderous intent) of their respective enemy countries: Snowden in Citizenfour, and Alexei Navalny, with his extraordinary investigations into Putin and the Kremlin. That Putin can be so thoroughly exposed as he is in this documentary and remain in power goes to show the formidable death grip he has on Russia and its people. Hopefully this will not be the end of Navalny’s story.

Mortal Kombat (2021)

– terrible acting and a script that exists solely to string together repetitive fighting scenes between macho idiots and monsters. Even allowing for its gaming origins, this is laughably bad.

May 2022

Black Pond

– told in Will Sharpe’s characteristically bewitching, kaleidoscopic style, this indulgent mockumentary about a dysfunctional family who bury a dog and a stranger in the woods has a lot to commend it, including some genuinely hilarious scenes and moments of profundity. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have nearly enough to justify even its short 80 minute runtime, and the flashes of greatness (primarily from Chris Langham and Amanda Hadingue) are distributed unevenly throughout. Simon Amstell’s character in particular feels like a very weak link. All in all: creative, artistic, light and amusing, but ultimately too whimsical to recommend for a mainstream audience.

Ricky Gervais: Supernature

– the contrarian comedian who thrives on sowing discord takes an hour out of your time to cultivate some more. The irony of Gervais is that he rails about woke comedians and comedy activists, and claims he “doesn’t do political”, but really his whole show is witty soap boxing. And to be fair, some of it is witty. Even if you don’t agree with him, he makes his points in amusing ways, just, as always, he’s drawn to the puerile and obscene, and genuine laughs are tempered by genuine cringes, too. He says the future is impossible to predict. I wonder if he’s so eager to incite outrage, melt the snowflakes and quieten the woke that his future is to be remembered as this generation’s Jim Davidson.

Small Engine Repair

– this odd little flick about a trio of macho, irascible friends getting heated in a garage skirts categorisation, with a Venn diagram broadly overlapping comedy, drama and crime thriller. It doesn’t excel as any of them, but still just about works overall, thanks to strong performances and some expertly delivered suspense at the start of the third act.

Election (1999)

– This 1999 high school gem is a precursor in style to Arrested Development, with hilarious and unanimously likeable characters, and a delightfully silly plot which, for all its downturns, remains relentlessly upbeat. At first glance the whole thing seems trivial, but it’s surprisingly nuanced and insightful, a charming little microcosm of life and its caprices. At the end, I found myself thinking, for the first time in a long while, ‘I could watch that again.’

The Square (2008)

– not to be confused with the 2017 absurdist comedy drama of the same name, this dour Australian effort begins compellingly, with all the ingredients for a twisty ride, but in its reliance on tropes (phone battery dying, phone out of earshot, body buried in a building site, to name a few), and determination to make each scenario go from bad to worse, it derails itself, ultimately resulting in quite a bland and unexciting crime thriller.

The Candidate (1972)

– Redford scores again in this prescient (or timeless) and uncomfortably authentic depiction of a newbie political operative losing his way on the path to being elected to the Senate. Understated but brilliantly astute.

A Perfect Enemy

– what begins as an intriguing conceit turns into a tedious waiting game for resolution. When it comes it’s unsatisfying and not a little confusing. Solid performances from central duo though.

The Messenger

– long, heavy duty PTSD drama is well acted and thoughtfully put together. Not exactly easy viewing though.

Good Neighbours

– Not sure what the deal is with this flurry of absurdist, taboo-oriented, weird shit I’ve been watching recently. After this, The Death of Dick Long, and Fresh, it’s about time for something more vanilla. This is a focused, almost theatrical crime drama detailing the manias and twisted vendettas of residents in a single tower block. Scott Speedman gives a surprisingly great performance, but the pacing is off (it’s a drag), and the conclusion is so abrupt and dark it leaves you yelling at the screen. Definitely NSFW.

Ozark S04: Part 2 (TV)

– the midseason break didn’t do the show any favours. It limps to the finish line despite the escalating insanity of every scene, falling to the same hurdle as so many other great dramas: likeable characters sacrificed on the altar of ‘dramatic intensity’. The humour is practically non-existent by its concluding episode, plot strands are introduced only to be resolved an episode later, and its attempt to go out with a literal bang left this viewer unconvinced. A great shame for the finale of such an epic show, but perhaps it was inevitable it wouldn’t meet its own high bar. Now it’s over, yet another reason to unsub to Netflix (if you didn’t already…)


– Nearly as weird a horror as The Death of Dick Long was a drama, this takes its cues from American Psycho, but lacks its depth. Quite compelling, fairly original, absolutely nauseating. Can’t recommend it.

Slow Horses S01 (TV)

– Apple’s MI5 black comedy spy thriller is an absolute romp. From the opening sequence to the cynical ending, it’s a series of biting exchanges and phenomenal performances, particularly from Gary Oldman (still original and hugely watchable after a ludicrously prolific and diverse career), and relative newcomer Jack Lowden, who I last watched in Calibre (which I also highly recommend). Great to see there’s a series two already lined up and shot. Lowden surely a shoo-in for Bond after this?

A Very Long Engagement

– French language comedic war film from the director of Amélie (and with the same lead actress, Audrey Tautou). It’s an enjoyable yarn and fun to unravel the mystery of her missing lover, but despite its setting, somehow feels a bit frivolous. Worth watching though.

Landscapers (TV)

– unique, visually stunning and creatively directed by Will Sharpe, this theatrical mini-series about two middle-aged Brits accused of murder manages to vacillate between devastating and laugh-aloud hilarious every few minutes, with Olivia Coleman and David Thewlis both smashing it out of the park. It’d be easy to recommend purely on the basis of how distinctive it is, but it’s also nearly perfectly executed. Definitely gets a smiley.

April 2022

The Batman

– noir, low lit and low key reimagining of the caped crusader might be too ponderous and grimy for its own good. Pattinson’s Batman is a greasy straggle haired emo, a scarred wreck of a man, his aesthetic more misanthropic, washed out rocker than billionaire playboy. His tech is lo-fi and clunky, his boots thicker soled than Trinity’s. But there’s nothing wrong with Pattinson’s performance, nor his chiselled jaw or inevitably gravelly voice. It’s no fault of his that director Matt Reeves wanted sombre and sluggish over suave and swift. Nothing says sleek like jumping off a building, snagging a parachute on a bridge, getting hit by a bus then bouncing along the pavement like a discarded coke can. Every movement, be it a kiss or a car chase, feels unrealistically, achingly slow. The runtime could have been halved if characters just moved and spoke like normal people. But credit where it’s due: when all is said and done (three hours later), it is this stylistic choice, derivative of the noir serial killer detective thrillers of the late 90s, that conjures the thick atmosphere and carries the action. It’s not a great film, but it’s not bad either, and that makes it stand out in the superhero panoply.

Cut Off

– German serial killer thriller is overly graphic and about as silly as the genre gets but is so committed to its mystery and so outlandish, it works quite well as escapism.

The Edge of Seventeen

– coming of age, teen-angst-ridden drama doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it’s well acted, occasionally funny and avoids the usual traps.

All the Old Knives

– the name tells you the kind of film it wants to be, Chris Pine’s weird Pierce Brosnan haircut tells you the kind of film it is. Everything about it is unconvincing, unlikeable and oddly unmoving, particularly the dialogue and love story. Of the heavy weight cast, the only one actually pulling their weight is Jonathan Pryce. It’s a shame because it feels like the core conceit and set up could have been a success in the right hands and the genre is ripe for great storytelling.

The Typist (TV)

– straight-laced German crime drama is the opposite of a whodunit, telling you exactly what’s happening when it’s happening without a shred of mystery. I spent the time hunting for twists and surprises that the show had no intention of delivering. The performances are mostly good, but the overall tone is dreary. At least it’s only five episodes.

The Outfit

– neatly crafted little crime thriller, only a few missteps short of brilliance. With its unity of time and place, it’s more like watching theatre than cinema, but no less engaging for it, and perhaps more so.

Downfall: The Case Against Boeing

– not to be confused with the famed WW2 film that prompted one of the internet’s most famous memes, this documentary reveals the astonishing failures and deliberate cover-up that took place at Boeing causing two fatal crashes and the needless deaths of 346 people. While it doesn’t innovate as a documentary, the story it tells is jaw-dropping, and also heavy going at times (fair warning!)

The Exception

– frustrating World War 2 spy drama begins with a rape then expects you to cheer for the rapist, just one of the many villains it depicts as misguided but well-meaning characters. The romance is just a series of sex scenes; unbelievable, gratuitous and thin, while every character exists to prop up the central trio or nudge the absurd plot along. Thankfully, the spy drama, political intrigue and suspense, particularly towards the end, compensates to some extent and the result is a vexatious but still quite enjoyable few hours.

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia S15 (TV)

– the show goes on, as outrageous and outspoken as ever, but with more shouting and obscenity it seems, and this time set in Ireland. There are some moments of comedy gold without a doubt (in episodes 1 and 8 especially), but I have to say it feels a little worn, even cringey, like the jokes are strained and real life events have forced the gang’s caricatures to go even further into farce than comedically apposite. Is it nearing the end? Perhaps it should be.

March 2022

Extreme Job

– Don’t think I’ve enjoyed a cop comedy this much since I was a kid. Inane from the get go, this is a silly rollercoaster ride, with laugh out loud slapstick, some genuinely sharp wit, and a few slick action set pieces. It’s a little too reliant on the latter towards the end, and could easily have shed some runtime cutting back on that, but highly recommended nonetheless.

Masters of Sex S01 (TV)

– There are moments of greatness in this graphic scientific drama, but they’re few and far between, and fuelled exclusively by virtue of the phenomenally talented cast: Michael Sheen and Alison Janney in particular. The small handful of characters at its core are all too unlikeable, and right off the bat some of them behave in ways that seem irredeemable, stultifying any audience ambition to see them succeed. Nonetheless, the plot maintains just enough momentum, and the script just enough wit to keep the viewer engaged, if not always entertained, and it’s an interesting insight into the prudish history of sexual health and the (early) science of intercourse.


– the only thing this has going for it is a beautiful location. It’s 90 minutes of waiting for something to happen with inexhaustibly dull and unpleasant company, and a script that has nothing worthwhile to say either. Hugely disappointing given my love for director Charlie McDowell’s film, The One I Love.

The Death of Dick Long

– a film with this storyline has no place being as brilliantly acted and heartfelt as this one. It’s a Fargo-esque black comedy tinged crime drama with a big old taboo twist and a knack for keeping you wondering. Not for everyone and very weird, but refreshingly different and kind of great in its own way.

The Sparks Brothers

I’d heard Edgar Wright’s doc was a ‘come for Wright, stay for the Sparks’ type deal, but despite my best effort, the subject matter was simply not interesting enough and the music not to my taste. It’s inventively directed, and I’m sure if you’re a fan of the band, this is exactly what you’ll be after. For the rest of us, it’s a music documentary about a semi-obscure band.

No Exit

– quite terrible Identity wannabe, wherein a handful of unsympathetic people get stranded at a visitors centre and none are who they appear. Starts run of the mill and goes downhill.

February 2022

Beasts Clawing at Straws

– Even as a fan of the genre, this disjointed Korean crime thriller feels as haphazard and lost as the characters it depicts. The acclaim it’s received is surely misjudged.

I Want You Back

– romantic comedy is as lazy and bland as the name suggests, filled with the usual puerile, low-brow back-and-forths, presumably improvised as I can’t believe anyone would script half this stuff. A few belly laughs squeak through though, so it’s not a total washout.

Thunder Road

– watched this after being wowed by Jim Cummings more recent feature, The Beta Test, and, perhaps as a result of high expectations, found this underwhelming. It mostly works as a slow tragi-comedy, but is too heavy on the tragedy and light on the comedy.


– as explicit as you’d expect a story based on a Twitter thread about strippers turned prostitutes to be, though probably less entertaining. Not sure what it’s trying to do given it doesn’t function as an emotive drama nor any kind of thriller, and it won’t crack a smile. Quite tedious actually.

This Is Going To Hurt S01 (TV)

– a near masterpiece that should be mandatory viewing. Simultaneously hilarious, heartbreaking and a critical insight into the functioning (or not) of our NHS and the people holding it together at the seams, while struggling to hold themselves together. All the performances are stellar, but the real revelation is Ashley McGuire, who steals every scene she’s in. Had me in stitches. The good kind.

Calm With Horses

– heavy drama is fairly unpleasant and unrewarding viewing, but somehow manages to keep you invested in the misfortune of its mentally deficient lead – persuasively played by Cosmo Jarvis.


– straightforward but heartfelt tale of corporate malfeasance hearkens back to a different era of journalism. Not bad.

Hearts and Bones

– Despite demonstrating restraint and understatement in all the right places, this beautiful, sensitive drama can’t help but be emotionally taxing, even overpowering at times, tackling as it does so many raw themes. It’s a simple, nuanced story; tenderly portraying loss and grief, while ultimately remaining focused on hope and reconciliation.

Jasper Jones

– there’s a simplicity to this gentle, sombre, coming-of-age Australian drama that makes it seem overly patronising for adults, but, like reading a children’s book, still easy to appreciate its qualities, too. Clearly for children, I’d be hesitant about screening it too young: the numerous themes it introduces are very heavy, particularly given their lack of resolution, and likely to prompt some uncomfortable conversations.

Nightmare Alley

– Del Toro’s latest is hugely overrated. It’s super immersive, with atmosphere and intrigue in spades, but the lack of rationale for key story developments is problematic. Despite the (excessive) time we spend with the characters, they feel thin, and ultimately we’re left with too many unanswered questions. The grimy gothic circus setting could have made for an interesting series though.

You Don’t Know Me S01 (TV)

– an interesting premise, a la The Usual Suspects, where a man’s tall tale might get him off the hook in a murder trial, but its delivery is fundamentally flawed. Despite strong performances, every character is unlikeable and uncharismatic, the twist takes too long to develop and doesn’t really work when it comes, and the ending is of the ‘fence-sitting’ ilk (which doesn’t bother me but had my other half shouting ‘NO!’ at the screen). Given the dynamism of the story, the execution is horribly flat. Everything should have happened faster and with more panache. Watchable? Maybe. Only four episodes, but feels like two too many.

Sweet Girl

– misled by a higher than expected TMDb rating, I ended up watching this. It was terrible. Don’t waste your time.

January 2022

The Stronghold aka BAC Nord

– French language crime thriller does a phenomenal job of portraying an explosive dynamic between police and drug gangs in the ghettos of Marseille and includes some electrifying set pieces, but the first and final acts drag, the lack of real resolution is frustrating, and after the plot takes an abrupt change in direction, the concluding emotion is one of disappointment. A near miss at greatness, but still very watchable.


– ok, I guess. Underwhelming but gentle and occasionally amusing. A hyper modern version of Castaway with robots instead of coconuts.

Hierro S01 (TV)

– even as a fan of Spanish-language cinema, I couldn’t bring myself to finish this small minded and uninspired crime thriller, packed full of tired tropes and unimaginatively presented. Avoid.

The Gentlemen

– as funny on a repeat viewing as it was the first time, albeit somehow even more hammy

The Tourist S01 (TV)

– the BBC’s attempt at a Fargo-like, tongue-in-cheek, crime thriller set in small-town, outback Australia is pretty solid entertainment and a fun guessing game, but nowhere near great TV.

The Nest (2020)

– Carrie Coon and Jude Law’s happy marriage evaporates following a decision to move to England for ‘an opportunity’ in this scathing critique of materialism and capitalism. It works up to a point, but sadly the point is several beats short of a satisfying or substantial film. Close but no cigar. The performances are there, but the tone is all over the place (straying near supernatural horror), as is the pacing (soporific at times), and while director Sean Durkin seems to thrive on visual metaphor, some clumsy and condescending dialogue undoes all his subtlety. And lets not even start on that endi-

The Responder S01 (TV)

– endlessly simmering bent cop thriller stops just short of boiling point but still cooks up some of the best BBC drama of recent times. Martin Freeman is unrecognisable as copper Chris Carson, (looking like Russell Tovey’s dad), risking his marriage, his career and hard time while trying to stay on the right side of a mental breakdown as well as his new rookie partner (another terrific performance from Adelayo Adedayo). The script crackles with deliciously black humour and the soundtrack keeps your heart rate elevated a notch above comfortable. Excellent and just a few decisions away from masterful – but all the ingredients are still there, so maybe the inevitable sequel will raise the bar further.

Being the Ricardos

– Odd but original Lucille Ball drama is enjoyably Sorkinesque, in both the good ways and the bad: it’s sharp witted with rapid fire, acerbic dialogue, but the comedy never feels particularly funny, and the whole thing feels as staged as the show it depicts.

Ozark S04: Part 1

– the family continue in the same blackly comic macabre vein that has been their hallmark throughout, and thankfully, the script and story have upheld their standard, too. This is one of Netflix’ best.

Kursk aka The Command

– affecting submarine thriller is all the more shocking given its ‘true story’ origins. Hugely underrated, with excellent performances and smart, delicate direction.

The Endless Trench (La Trinchera Infinita)

– powerful spanish language drama depicts the extraordinary life of a man in hiding during Spain’s civil war and the years beyond. Surprising and illuminating.

Bajocero (Below Zero)

– thriller set inside a prisoner transport truck is mostly gripping while it lasts but proves forgettable. Javier Gutiérrez is excellent as ever, but as a whole, this doesn’t hold a candle to the best Spanish language crime thrillers.

Dexter: New Blood (S01)(TV)

– season 9 or season 1 of New Blood? Officially S01, but hard to envisage a S02 after the events of this one. The plot is as silly and impossible as ever, but it’s still a pleasure to see Michael C Hall step back into the familiar shoes of Dexter Morgan, serial killer. Despite annoyances and story inconsistencies that would never have plagued the first few seasons of the show and cement its massive drop in quality, surprisingly, it remains fun to unwind to and to second guess. The ending, then, puts an abrupt and unexpected stop to that and will prove hugely divisive (or straight up hated).

The Greatest Game Ever Played

– Straightforward, by the books sports drama is an enjoyable if unremarkable watch.

Cry Wolf (S01) (TV)

– underrated Scandinavian domestic violence drama is as bleak as expected with generally strong performances, and maintains an element of intrigue throughout. Its reliance on contrived indiscretions though, sensitive conversations overheard through open doors, behaviour witnessed through windows etc., means the depiction feels a little beyond the bounds of realism, even while the subject matter, sadly, is not.

Don’t Look Up

– well intentioned but irritatingly smug satire (read: Hollywood funded trolling) undersells the prolonged and unprecedented suffering resulting from climate change by reimagining the threat as an instant death. The point it aims to make is important, but rather than seek to persuade, it preaches to the converted in a self-congratulatory fashion, while those yet to be convinced will either feel insulted or not recognise themselves in its story. Message aside, it’s not great as a drama or comedy either: hammy, slapstick, and often distracted by its knowing nods and winks to real life characters and scenes. It’s also way too long.

tick, tick… BOOM!

– though the genre and writing style isn’t my cup of tea, this engaging rock musical biopic showcases the remarkable talent of Andrew Garfield and offers an insight into writer/ composer Jonathan Larson’s creative process. In fact, despite the difference in era, this actually feels like a timely reveal of the anxieties continuing to plague young people, and in particular, artists, actors and musicians.

New Order (Nuevo Orden)

– visceral and brutally graphic Mexican drama presents a violent revolution and the subsequent opportunism and corruption of the military. Though polished and indubitably impactful, this fast paced but horrific depiction is as hard to recommend as it is to stomach.


– original drama about a deaf family and their hearing daughter offers an extraordinary and heartfelt insight into the experiences of deaf people. Although arguably a bit too cheesy, it presents multiple storylines effectively and the performances across the board are spot on.

December 2021

Good Kill

– politically on the nose, no doubt, and with dialogue that it’s hard to imagine soldiers using (particularly the unwelcome excess of word plays), but those niggles aside, this is a well executed and heartfelt military drama with a typically strong performance from Ethan Hawke and a (sadly) believable conceit. Probably deserves more attention.

The Matrix Resurrections

– quite tragic really. Basically a meta commentary on how Lana Wachowski was coerced into making an unwanted sequel and the subsequent battles with studio execs over what it should be about. Anyone coming to The Matrix now would do well to watch the original and none of the others. A gimmick and a missed opportunity.

Nowhere Special

– heavy subject matter makes viewing a bit of a slog, particularly given lack of humour or charm, but it’s earnest enough and every bit as devastating as it intends.

Happiest Season

– while individually this is a standout cast, there’s something about the ensemble as a whole that really doesn’t gel. Whether because of the joke-starved, cliché-ridden script or the unimaginative direction, this doesn’t sit comfortably as either a comedy or a drama. The end result is watchable, occasionally even moving, but it’s definitely not recommended.

Dopesick S01 (TV)

– this is a compelling and illuminating show about the underhand tactics employed by Purdue Pharma to sell Oxycontin and the ruinous detrimental effects their selling of the drug had on communities and families in America. At times it’s harrowing and heartbreaking, but it’s also brilliantly well acted and well produced, with a (mostly) tight script and smart direction. Way above average drama and highly recommended.

The Rescue

– great to hear of this astonishing and repeatedly jaw-dropping journey from the mouths of those who swam it with a singular goal in mind: to rescue 13 people. Given how limited the actual footage is and the lack of access to the kids themselves, the drama is carried entirely by the narrative, the sheer audacity of the divers and the unlikelihood of their success. It’s testament to the incredible story that it’s still such a compelling film.

The Beta Test

– Jim Cummings is absolutely electric in an unexpectedly sharp satire about corporate culture, modern romance and suppressed sexual appetite. This blackly comic psychological thriller is altogether more sinister and rewarding than its erotic premise suggests and Cummings is just wickedly hideous. American Pyscho for new audiences and a new era.

A West Wing Special To Benefit When We All Vote (TV)

– this one off theatrical presentation of West Wing episode, Hartsfield’s Landing, brings truck loads of nostalgia and is an absolute love in for the surviving cast and crew. For fans, this is a heartwarming and slightly heartbreaking return to a series that continues to make waves and sets the bar for intelligent political drama. If you loved the series, you’ll love this.

King Richard

– Will Smith is a man with a plan in this enjoyable sports drama about the Williams sisters’ father Richard, their childhood and their rise to tennis stardom. It doesn’t shake up the genre, but it’s fun entertainment.

November 2021

Foundation S01 (TV)

– Apple’s attempt to realise Asimov’s world building certainly looks pretty, but after a stately start, Foundation’s knot of stories weaves itself into a bland and unconvincing tapestry, with a cast that seem, other than Lee Pace and Terrance Mann, woefully out of their depth, and nearly universally uncharismatic and unlikeable to boot.

Red Notice

– A case of the Netflix blockbuster formula: big stars, no brains. This is an exercise in character one-upmanship where the goal is to be the most annoying. Absolute trash.

The Outlaws S01 (TV)

– Stephen Merchant’s return to BBC comedy after his stint in the States is by no means perfect, but it has a high gag rate and the general silliness is charming enough that even the low brow jokes, rehashed Office skits and over-egged dramatics are easily overlooked. Good giggly fun with some genuine thigh slappers. Bring on Series 2.

Last Night in Soho

– Edgar Wright’s violent and disconcerting ghost story sees the director experimenting with a dazzling gamut of genres, camera angles, sets and costumes, as well as a constant, and constantly furious onslaught of sound. The result is an undeniably impressive, but frankly terrifying, sensory overload that is about as enjoyable as being sat between the cymbals in the William Tell Overture.

Riot Police (Antidisturbios)

– one of the finest TV shows I’ve seen, and certainly the finest I’ve seen from Spain. Barring one strange misadventure in the middle of the series, this is an epic, edge of the seat tour-de-force: smart writing with visually commanding direction and a killer score. The characters are nuanced, sympathetic and compelling, and without exception, the cast deliver their A game. Amazing that this isn’t one of the most talked about shows out there. Creator Isabel Peña is clearly one to watch.


– arthouse in the jungle. It might be unique, but this twisted and faintly surreal observation of some child soldiers guarding a US hostage in Colombia is too slow, opaque and gratuitous. The political commentary, while clearly present, is hidden in so many layers of visual and non-visual metaphor that trying to make sense of it is like trying to decipher a bad dream. Maybe up someone’s street, not mine.

The Purity of Vengeance / Journal 64

– the latest (final?) film in the Department Q crime thriller saga sees another gruesome cold case unravelled. It’s all a bit over the top, but if you enjoyed the others or generally like an intriguing scandi-noir, this is more of the same.

The Night House

– Rebecca Hall gives an amazing performance as a widower traumatised by her grief in this artistic and creatively ambitious little horror gem that, despite its supernaturalism, manages to feel grounded and harrowingly realistic. Deeply unsettling and moving in all the right ways.


– following a similar format to Slumdog Millionaire, this is another powerful reminder of the way so many children live in deprived parts of the world. All the performances are strong and authentic, but that of the lead actor, Zain Al Rafeea, carrying the whole film and the weight of the drama upon his shoulders, is frankly remarkable. He’ll make you laugh and cry in nearly equal measure. Brilliant film-making and a brilliant film.

Don’t Listen (Voces)

– Spanish horror rips ideas from so many other films I genuinely thought I was watching a remake and I just couldn’t place the original. Jump scares, blinking lights and radio interference: this is a grab bag of bad horror tropes. If you’ve a high tolerance for the uninspired or are new to horrors, you might like it.


– a smug and unfunny Tarantino / Ritchie wannabe, with plenty of contrived style but bugger all substance. Tedious and self-satisfied.

Dune (2021)

– on a second viewing Villeneuve‘s epic sci-fi is somehow more compelling, perhaps without the weight of expectation. It’s a visual marvel. I would have liked more upbeat emotional moments where merited, a bit more dynamism from the cast beyond their fight scenes, and it’s a shame that some sequences draw such clear influence from Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring, but by and large, this is a worthy adaptation of Frank Herbert’s magnum opus.

Panic (2000)

– family drama about a reluctant hitman fires out some interesting ideas but ultimately misses the mark.

October 2021


– well intentioned drug drama with a strong cast, shame the story is so unimaginatively communicated. It feels like the bare minimum of film making, with nothing to commend it and a plum boring script.

Midnight Sun S01 (TV)

– a fun, if chaotic, multi-lingual scandi-noir, with some interesting forays into grand themes such as race relations, but crammed with too many unrelated stories and a mystic/ druidic undertone that just feels silly. It’s got a quirky sense of humour though and the performances are all really strong, so while not in the league of The Bridge or The Killing, it’s worthy of the time investment.

Dune (2021)

– while undoubtedly a prodigious spectacle and, on balance, highly recommended, Denis Villeneuve’s stylish introduction to this new epic sci-fi franchise is too sprawling and, despite its runtime, struggles to portray the complexity of the source material. There’s also no getting away from the fact that it feels hugely incomplete, in a way that other trilogies (such as Lord of the Rings, with which it shares more parallels than you might expect) managed to avoid. For the most part, it’s visually awe-inspiring and beautifully desolate, but in places, the costumes veer a little close to Power Rangers, and the characters, both in their appearance and sometimes indecipherable accents, stray into caricature. I’ll be interested to see how it fares on a repeat viewing, as it deserves that at least.

Caliphate S01 (TV)

– A fast paced, phenomenally well acted and convincing depiction of radicalisation that leaves you feeling angry, distraught and excited, but mostly like your nerves have been shredded with a cheese grater. Annoyingly, the narrative is undermined by contrivance and irrational, even farcical behaviour and judgment from some of the characters, but these dubious writing decisions are forgivable when the overall result is so compelling, and it could be argued they provide more opportunity to tell the greater tale. Very scary thriller.


– Mary Elizabeth Winstead is pretty fantastic kicking ass in style, but it’s hard to get away from the fact that this action thriller is a cliché in every respect, and inferior to other titles in the same assassin’s revenge genre. Plus, how annoying is that kid?

The Chestnut Man S01 (TV)

– hardly The Killing or The Bridge, but this scandi-noir crime thriller is exactly what you expect from the genre, and a little better than average too. Relish the binge, then forget it.

12 Mighty Orphans

– what is remarkable about this otherwise bland period piece is the unrelenting optimism of its hero. He’s a positive, inspiring figure, as if penned by Miles Connolly, and this worthiness makes for a happily uplifting sports drama, albeit a mediocre work of art.

The North Water S01 (TV)

– a powerhouse cast, and Farrell appears to have morphed into an actual powerhouse. The man is an ox in this show. He embodies the role brilliantly, such a weighty presence I worried my screen would come off the wall mount. Jack O’Connell, too, is riveting as his foil: a laudanum addicted surgeon haunted by the ghosts of a grisly past. Indubitably, this period drama isn’t for everyone. It’s grimy, gory and deeply unpleasant at times, with few likeable characters, but the cinematography works magic and the script largely stays a few oar lengths ahead of the viewer. If you can stomach nastiness, this is highly recommended.

Ted Lasso S02 (TV)

– the second series continues in much the same vein as the first left off. The novelty is gone and Lasso’s quirky references feel more strained, more annoying, and less amusing. That, combined with Nate’s ill-advised shift to the dark side resulting in the loss of one of the funniest characters, means the comedy itself is falling by the wayside. Still, I’m fond of the characters now, irritating though they are, and I’ll probably keep watching.

Vigil S01 (TV)

– compelling and engaging TV crime drama sacrifices believability in a frantic effort to excite, and while it’s predictable and quite silly most of the time, it still mostly works as good fun. Would have been even better if they’d dropped the shoehorned family and relationship backstory.

Another Round

– while the cast and director deliver with aplomb, there’s little to excite or enthuse about in this curious drama exploring the allure and societal dependency on alcohol.

Ad Astra

– director James Gray delivers one of the most visually striking and beautiful depictions of space to date, but for a film about humanity, it’s lacking in humour and heart. Every line is a dour monotone, and every scene emotionally flat, despite the surprising range of Brad Pitt’s eyes. Short of greatness, it’s nonetheless worth a watch for scifi fans and fans of spectacular cinematography.

No Time To Die

– Craig’s swan song as Bond is a fitting and fun end to his stint, though the realism of the show continues to be stretched beyond breaking and the writing swings wildly from brilliantly witty to cringingly bad. Overall an enjoyable watch. I hope future Bond’s return to more classical threats from villains who are elaborate thieves or politically motivated terrorists, rather than just well connected and well resourced authors of chaos with a flair for props and set design.

September 2021

Body Brokers

– an affecting and slickly produced drama illustrating the problems of capitalism in the drug and alcohol rehab industry. Strong performances and sharp narrative. A pleasant (if slightly depressing) surprise.


– typical M Night Shyamalan: garishly directed and pulls its punches, but with an original, intriguing conceit that keeps you hooked.

The Card Counter

– simmering PTSD drama with suffocatingly restrained direction is heavy going, but not bad.

My Son

– McAvoy blazes in this stressful crime thriller about a man hunting for his missing kid in the stunningly beautiful Scottish countryside. Grim but gripping, with a continual capacity to surprise.


– practically single cast scifi thriller is bare bones, dubiously grounded in science, and although exciting at times with some genuinely surprising twists, perhaps should have been a short.

Hit and Run S01 (TV)

– silly spy mystery starts fast paced and intriguing (if nothing else) then proceeds to sprint everywhere but in a sensible direction. A waste of time.

7 Days in Entebbe

– Jose Padilha is one of the best directors working and I was set to love it, but this is flat. Good performances, interesting bit of a history, but I expected much more.

The Courier

– mediocre and tonally chaotic spy thriller feels more like a BBC drama than a blockbuster but has its moments. An enjoyable enough genre piece.

August 2021


– stressful and frequently annoying, this is nonetheless a provocative and evidently timeless exploration of gender power dynamics, jealousy and guilt. It’s much more of a play than a film, with a brilliant cast of three in a single location, relentlessly abrasive dialogue (a la Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) and Linklater’s inventive camera angles doing a lot of work. Even so, one can’t help but feel this might have been much more successful in a theatre than on screen and it’s hard to recommend for a general audience.


– Damon delivers as always in this unremarkable but solid drama, and though the plot is clearly Amanda Knox inspired, that’s the bland backdrop: the real story is a second chance and second life for a man who had all but given up.

The Mole: Undercover in North Korea

– an astonishing fly-on-the-wall account of a ten year mission to infiltrate North Korea, so far fetched as to be entirely unbelievable without the visual evidence documented here. Jaw dropping and totally gripping. The only question left is where is the accountability?


– Hugh Jackman speaks a few octaves deeper than a regular human and does his best deadpan Max Payne impression in this densely expositional dystopian sci-fi that leans so heavily into the neo-noir genre it’s practically a parody, with universally unlikeable characters, unfeasible tech and a wretched script offering lines like, ‘The past is just a series of moments. Each one perfect. Complete. A bead on the necklace of time.’ What a load of tosh.


– an upbeat and hugely entertaining punk reinvention of the eponymous childhood villain, though the sinister transition from sweet Estella to psychotic Cruella results in a climax that feels more unsettling and hollow than resoundingly victorious.

Perdida S01 aka Stolen Away (TV)

– Spanish language soap-thriller is fast paced, easy (if frustrating) viewing and good practice for learners; as a show, I can’t recommend it. The plot is insane, the script and acting typically hyperbolic, and the direction completely rote.

Saint Maud

– Creative direction and sumptuous visuals elevate this story of a mentally ill fundamentalist, but its plot and script feels too thin and two dimensional. Definitely worth a watch for theological horror fans.

Hunter Hunter

– Can’t speak to its value as a survivalists field guide, but this is a dark, anxiety stewing, nail biting and utterly engrossing thriller. A massive shame the final ten minutes are quite so unhinged. A better ending would have made this one to wholeheartedly recommend. Instead, it’s one to very cautiously recommend, maybe, and only to horror fans and cinephiles with strong stomachs.

Bosch S07 (TV)

– the final series of the earnest and plodding police drama doesn’t make radical changes. If you liked the first six, this is more of the same. It’s a fitting and tidy conclusion, but not momentous.

The Tomorrow War

– two decades ago this sort of ludicrously stupid alien time travel tomfoolery might have landed on its feet, sitting among Independence Day and other mindlessly bombastic blockbusters. By today’s standards, it’s just vacuous nonsense, so formulaic it could have been scripted by an AI.

Bad Genius

– gripping unorthodox heist style thriller pits student geniuses against the stringent STIC exam rules. It’s too on the nose at times and pushes the boundaries beyond credulity, but it’s still a thoroughly entertaining watch and enjoyably different from ‘Western’ fare.

July 2021


– Painfully stupid. It’s embarrassing that Antoine Fuqua has his name attached.


– while I remain unconvinced that David Fincher’s feverishly hammy biopic about Herman J. Mankiewicz is better in black and white, it’s definitely an entertaining period piece and love letter to the art of screenwriting. Giant characters with fittingly giant performances.

The Dry

– weighty but worthwhile murder mystery with Bana on form and a smart, carefully paced subplot. Refreshingly subdued.

A Quiet Place (Part 2)

– albeit less remarkable than its predecessor, this is still a high tension and innovative dystopian horror. It depicts the immediate aftermath of the first film: if every couple of days is filled with high drama like this, it’s a miracle any of the characters are alive or sane.

No Sudden Move

– Definitely not setting the world alight, but the dry humour and endless double crossing of this period crime drama made for an enjoyable few hours. The biggest disappointment was the overtly political ending which felt unearned in the context of the rest of the film. But that’s the point I guess…

June 2021

Those Who Wish Me Dead

– Taylor Sheridan continues to excel. This is like watching a Cormac McCarthy novel interpreted by the Coen Brothers. A smart script, visuals and direction top notch, amazing cast, heartfelt and thick with metaphor. Enjoyed it a lot.

Wrath of Man

– Guy Ritchie’s latest is all brawn, swagger and meaty muscle men. His trademark one-liners and quirky English wit don’t translate at all to American, and the opening act is too slow and broody to charm. That said, Ritchie still delivers a polished, stylish revenge thriller, worth watching even when we’ve seen Statham do it all before and know the ending’s a foregone conclusion.

Time (TV)

– marvellous three part drama with fantastic performances from just about everyone involved and an effectively laconic script. Great to see Sean Bean demonstrate his significant acting talent and survive the series. It’s unusual in that we’re so accustomed to seeing violence in prison dramas that I found myself conditioned to expect it at every turn. In fact, the emotional violence of this series is much more brutal and affecting. Surprising, ultimately upbeat, and highly recommended.

The Vault (aka Way Down)

– bank heist caper sports a stellar cast (both English and Spanish) but makes no attempt at realism. It’s just about enjoyable enough for some light evening entertainment. Low effort.

Lupin (Part 2) (TV)

– where part one was seductively tongue in cheek and winsome, part two, I fear, relies too heavily on the charisma of its lead and fails to deliver a decent plot or cunning heists. The twists are too heavily forecast and the personal drama too much of a distraction. Hopefully part 3 will have the prep time to get back on track.

Mare of Easttown S01 (TV)

– a compelling crime drama, without a doubt, but for me personally, too oppressively bleak to actually enjoy. Instead, I admired its polish and the guesswork of the whodunnit, and readily moved on when it was over.

Ted Lasso S01 (TV)

– this caught me totally off-guard with Jason Sudeikis’ real life Ned Flanders feel good charms and Airplane! level gags and slapstick. The first four episodes had me hooked, but I’m sadly not sure it sustained its magic for the full series, and I’m hoping the gag rate will be higher and more consistent in series 2.

I Care A Lot

– For a movie that wants to be taken seriously, this takes far fetched and stupid to a whole new level. As well as a boys versus girls, playground level interpretation of feminism, it serves a stream of contrivances, and endless vile people to hate with not one to root for. It’s like receiving frustration via IV. What’s the time? Taser time. Absolute balls.

The Mosquito Coast S01 (TV)

– far from just a Theroux family vanity project. Both in terms of plot and stylistically, this is a cross between Breaking Bad and Ozark. I’m yet to be convinced it’s on a par with either, but it’s not too far off. Its biggest issue is that for the plot to work, it’s contingent on a single contrivance: that in this family fleeing from the US government at all costs, neither of the teenage children, nor the audience, ever learn why they are being chased. That grows thinner and more implausible with each passing episode. Fortunately, they’re just about exhilarating and smartly scripted enough (barring some grimace-inducing social commentary) to keep the McGuffin rolling, but Season 2 will have a lot of explaining to do.

May 2021


– Russian sci-fi is technically polished and engaging throughout but struggles with a dead-end story and questionable characters. Still worth watching.

Love and Monsters

– ramshackle monster comedy elicits the occasional guffaw, but generally feels pitched to a young audience. Watchable only thanks to the charms of its lead, Dylan O’Brien.


– Kiera Allen turns in a strong performance in this predictable thriller that delivers some light suspense but not much else.

I See You

– (the one with Helen Hunt and Jon Tenney, not the freaky home video b-movie of the same name and year!) After an unconvincing start, this resolves to be much cleverer than it first appears. It still feels a bit forced, but the plot keeps you guessing and there are more twists (and satisfactory twists at that) than most movies get away with.

Riders of Justice

– Danish revenge comedy aims for black humour but leans too far into tragedy at times. It’s original, well-cast and acted, though its silliness distracts from an insightful depiction of grief.

Line of Duty S06 (TV)

– early Line of Duty may have been brilliant at times, but this series was dire. Bad scripting, a made-for-TV gloss and style of editing that feels dated in this day and age, and laughably unrealistic plot turns including shoot outs with automatic weapons in the middle of the street by teams of ‘bent coppers’ which appear to gain no media coverage nor warrant further investigation. About the only realistic thing in the entire show is the ending, which is unpopular because it’s so uneventful. Plus, every character has become a caricature and half of the lines uttered are catchphrases or clichés. So disappointing.

TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay – Away From Keyboard

– interesting fly-on-the-wall style documentary about the immortal file sharing site and its founders trial and fight back against copyright. Definitely worth watching for people interested in the subject matter, otherwise probably quite dull! Watch free on YouTube…


– No more or less than a magnificently choreographed symphony of violence. Cathartic.

The Innocent (El Inocente) S01 (TV)

– twisting thriller with a stellar cast starts strong then rapidly goes off the rails, stretching implausibility until it snaps and becomes straight up stupidity. A shame, as it seemed so promising, but shows like these – especially Spanish – never let realism get in the way of melodrama, and the standard suffers.

Promising Young Woman

– simultaneously both enjoyable and uncomfortable, but not enjoyably uncomfortable. Clearly designed to provoke, I imagine post-cinema conversations varied wildly. It’s a shame Carey Mulligan’s Cassie was quite so unhinged and unsympathetic, else the viewer might have found it easier to root for her.

April 2021

School’s Out Forever

– British black comedy struggles to find the right balance between genuinely smart witted humour and drama, and the resulting dissonance interferes with an otherwise quirky and well played script. Like 28 Days Later meets Shaun of the Dead, but worse than both.

Blue Iguana

– may one day give this another shot, but at the point I gave up on it, it would have taken a miraculous sea-change to redeem it. Puerile, unfunny, and just really goddam boring.

Boss Level

– bloodthirsty tongue in cheek action thriller in the same vein as Deadpool, Crank and Guns Akimbo. A fun blast, for sure, but its attempts to include a father/ son relationship feel misplaced, and it outstays its welcome by a good thirty minutes.

Judas and the Black Messiah

– I wanted to like this much more than I actually did. It’s a powerful story, well acted and polished, but it struggles under its own weight, estranges the viewer rather than entices them. Worthy, but too in awe of its subject matter to deliver an enthralling crime drama.

The Mauritanian

– apart from its awkward title, this is an awkward film. Though the message is clear and, to some extent, lands, the way it depicts the brutality of gitmo feels gratuitous, particularly as the cast are all a bit too Hollywood-gloss to achieve the grittiness it seems to be aspiring to, and the script, too, feels like it was hammered out to a studio formula. In short, despite its “true story” claims, it feels inauthentic.

Le Bureau S05 (TV)

– disappointingly, the series never fully recovered after it’s 4th season dip in quality, but at least this is an improvement, and it’s still gripping and above average entertainment. It’s a shame this series adopted a strangely hallucinatory style of editing and direction, and felt a little too self-indulgent with its multiple dream sequences and graphic sex scenes. The final two episodes in particular felt decidedly out of character and tonally off. Nonetheless, absolutely worth watching for fans of the show and still highly enjoyable.

March 2021

The Inmate (El Recluso) S01 (TV)

– enjoyably awful Spanish language prison thriller with a crazy and implausible plot, a terrible script, and editing that feels like whole chunks of the show were left on the cutting room floor. That said, the cast put in admirably hammy performances – with Flavio Medina as Peniche and David Chocarro as Santito both particularly riveting. They deserve much better roles. All in all, not worth it unless you’re a fan of this kind of shambolic telenovela melodrama. Shamefully, perhaps, I am.


– entirely missold drama, pitched as sci-fi, but actually about mental illness, addiction and homelessness. Perhaps because I had no idea what I was in for, the gut punch this delivered was a little more potent that it ought to have been, but I still think there’s more depth to this than the glossy marketing and top tier goofy cast imply. Didn’t enjoy it, but it was genuinely interesting. I think. Maybe…

The Negotiator (aka Beirut) (2018)

– well cast but underwhelming, particularly after watching vastly superior TV shows covering similar terrain (see Le Bureau). Not worth the time.

Le Bureau S04 (TV)

– The first season of the show that feels dangerously close to ‘average’. Malotru is still out of control, buffeted around by circumstances, the loss of a key figure is seriously detrimental to the dynamic, and for some reason, the writers decided they’d lean into the tried and tested magic of hacking and AI for a bounty of deus ex machinas and other plot contrivances. It’s still an enjoyable ride, but this season fell far short of its predecessors, including with its uncertain and slapdash conclusion.

Le Bureau S03 (TV)

– the French spy thriller’s standard stays high, mostly, and the multitude of stories engaging – if a little familiar, despite a plot development that has the potential to derail the whole series.

Le Bureau S02 (TV)

– Malotru is back and so is the staggeringly high standard of screenwriting and acting. So compelling and fast paced, it feels like it ran straight into series three. Your love hate relationship with Marina Loisseau starts here…

February 2021

Le Bureau S01 (TV)

– high stakes, nuanced and blisteringly tense French spy drama takes an episode to get going and then never lets up. With top notch performances and intelligent scripting, this is that rare gem: a truly great spy thriller.


– two dimensional and generally mediocre, but still quite heartwarming redemption drama

The Spy (TV)

– Sacha Baron Cohen gives an impressively straight performance as Israeli spy Eli Cohen. The series is uneven, cheesy and rushed at times, but it’s mostly gripping and easy entertainment.

The White Tiger

– Netflix finally surprises with this wicked little cracker, an acerbic excoriation of wealth inequality and Western hypocrisy in a similar vein to Parasite. The pacing sags slightly in the middle and the ending is weird, but nonetheless, this is a great start to 2021 cinema. What a phenomenal performance from Adarsh Gourav.


– intriguing sci-fi thriller hugely undermined by a dreary mid-life crisis subplot and less than precise ‘time travel’ logic. Worth it for genre fans though.

The Little Things

– clearly aspired to be better than its end result and I applaud that ambition, but the script isn’t up to scratch and the direction and editing are also subpar. Disappointed this didn’t itch the crime thriller scratch, but nice to see Denzel in anything really….

January 2021

Our Friend

– beautifully acted grief porn of the stricken sort that leaves you feeling sick. If you like that vibe, it’s a masterpiece I recommend. If you don’t, it’s a masterpiece I don’t recommend.

News of the World

– solid Western with Hanks on typically good form, albeit remarkable only in that there are so few these days. Surprisingly for Greengrass, despite two or three thrilling set pieces, this is predominantly a drama.


– Daniel Radcliffe’s comedic accent doesn’t do this survival thriller any favours, but neither does the weird direction, odd editing and generally hammy style. Watchable, but feels like it could and should have been much better.

Black Narcissus (TV)

– disappointing and uneventful period drama about some randy nuns struggling to reconcile their religious duties with their petty jealousy and lust for the local handyman. Sorta.


– Pixar’s jazzy latest is a saccharine reminder to love life. It’s got some laugh out loud funnies, but mostly it follows the usual beats for an animated fable.


– slow but engaging survival drama with a sterling performance from Mads Mikkelsen but a frustratingly abrupt ending.

Greenland (2020)

– even allowing that this is an apocalyptic action thriller starring Gerard Butler, it still manages to disappoint. Dire script, poor visuals, and an ill conceived, threadbare plot. Not since War of the Worlds have so many explosions led to such an anticlimax.

The Pembrokeshire Murders (TV)

– disappointing. Feels extremely rushed, inevitably, given 5 years of police work depicted in 3 episodes, and the script is 90% exposition. Acting also not great. That said, nice to see a Welsh crime drama that isn’t Hinterlands.

Mr Mercedes S01 (TV)

– ten episodes is far too long, and though both leads can hold their audience (extremely disconcertingly in Harry Treadaway’s case), the direction and scripting leaves a lot to be desired, with contrivances and implausible behaviour happening all over the shop. It’s also extremely gratuitous and graphic and generally pretty damn unpleasant to watch. On balance, with the range of high quality TV available now, I’d give this a miss.

December 2020

A Star Is Born

– slightly ashamed to admit that despite being an obvious vanity project from Gaga and Cooper, this was an engaging and mostly enjoyable watch, though all dramas about a death spiral into alcoholism seem to follow the same inevitable trajectory.

Guilt S01 (TV)

– Like a Scottish answer to Better Call Saul or Breaking Bad. Top performances, top soundtrack, and creative direction. A totally unexpected little black comedy gem.

Possessor Uncut

– Gawd almighty! This is a scarring and difficult watch; it ought to carry a warning or something. Most disorienting and savagely twisted thing I’ve seen since Eraserhead, except with stylishly stark colours, modern technology and today’s desensitisation to extreme violence, this is so much more harrowing. I genuinely think it’s a health hazard…

Manhunt: Deadly Games S02 (TV)

– not a patch on the original Unabomber series. The scripting is farcical at times, and it’s dismaying that most of the story and characters are completely fabricated. Honestly though, for fans of high stakes crime thrillers, this is still an engaging and easy-viewing romp.

The Devil All The Time

– visually impressive and filled with fine performances, this string of striking but grisly set pieces is still a bit too gruesome and heavy to wholeheartedly recommend.


– simply terrible.

The Queen’s Gambit S01 (TV)

– for chess fans and simply TV drama fans alike, this is a treat. Great casting, direction, and pacing. It’s cheesy and cliché at times, and Beth’s battle with addiction has an inevitability that is always tedious to watch unfold, but overall this is winning and deserving of its widespread acclaim.

The Undoing S01 (TV)

– thoroughly enjoyed this crime thriller. Though the casting is a little distracting, the story keeps you guessing right up to its gritty ending. One of the best shows I’ve seen in a while.

November 2020

Let Him Go

– fire and brimstone in Gladstone in this slow and dreary neo-Western starring an achingly weary and world-weary Kevin Costner. It’s all too much effort and mostly nonsensical anyway. As if this year wasn’t hard enough.

Roadkill S01 (TV)

– Hugh Laurie demonstrates why he’s consistently chosen as a leading man, but I’m not sure this series is really anything more than a juicy political soap opera. Light, easy viewing, and for both these reasons, also quite boring.

Cardinal S04 (TV)

– aaaand I’m up to date. No great surprises here. The sexual slack between Cardinal and Delorme is tied into a bow while the duo plod through snow investigating revenge killings.

Una Noche

– Contrasted with the full gamut of spanish-language cinema, this Havana based drama is certainly not knocking any crowns off, but it’s still a raw and characterful tale. The first two thirds are quite excellent and engaging, but the final third unfortunately falls a little short, if only because of its soaring ambition. Worth watching, though.

Les Misérables (2019)

– not to be confused with the classic of the same name (or any of its incarnations), this is a gritty, high intensity police thriller that plays out like a French remix of City of God and Training Day. At once tender and brutally, shockingly savage, it’s a pièce de résistance and a must watch.

The Occupant (Hogar)

– spanish thriller along the same nasty lines as Mientras Duermes. Javier Gutierrez is strong as always, but it’s just too damn unpleasant to enjoy. The spaniards excel at this skincrawling format.

A Patch of Fog

– well-titled, sinister stalking thriller is a bit too focused on its two leads, and compelling as their performances are, it needed diluting with a subplot or a few more characters. Overall, this punches above its weight.


– though no substitute for the live theatrical version, this screen rendition is still a joy to behold: inspiring, exciting and completely engaging. All history should be taught this way.

Cardinal S03 (TV)

– more of the same, but Cardinal is on the backfoot and Delorme takes lead.

Cardinal S02 (TV)

– much like series one, this is short and easy viewing. Not such a good story as the first season – often stupid and predictable in fact – but it (just about) hits the crime spot.

Cardinal S01 (TV)

– quite gruesome but enjoyably straightforward cop show, short episodes and a short season. This is no True Detective, but it’s ideal for filling the gap between bigger and better TV shows.

Champions (Campeones)

– uplifting spanish language sports film with a twist. Extremely funny, if a little too saccharine.

Tigers Are Not Afraid (Los Tigres No Tienen Miedo)

– in turns sweet and tragic, this is a macabre spanish-language fairy tale in the vein of Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone, where children interpret and internalise the violence of adults, in this case, human trafficking and drug gangs in Mexico.

October 2020

Roald Dahl’s The Witches (2020)

– Dahl’s fetid classic is given a fresh lick of CGI. While I personally wouldn’t show something this twisted to my kids, I expect for some, it will make a memorable childhood trauma.

DNA S01 (TV)

– as expected from one of the writers of (the original) The Killing, this is an above average scandi crime thriller with twists aplenty and a delightful capacity to surprise. Though imperfect, it’s an enjoyably puzzling mystery for anyone with an appetite for the genre.


– J Lo plumbs the depths of sleaze in this tiresome and drawn out drama about strippers drugging then robbing punters. A feminist rallying cry it’s not.

The Heist of the Century (El Robo Del Siglo)

– this spanish-language bank robbery comedy is enjoyably lighthearted, but in some ways, the calibre of the crime deserves a more serious retelling.


– so hackneyed it has an E5 postcode. Also, bad.

The Old Guard

– silly action shooter provides slick choreography and a lot of entertainment if you can check your mind at the door. I’d watch a sequel.

The Trial of the Chicago 7

– a fantastic and fantastically timely piece of cinema. Sorkin’s script is characteristically sharp and pacy, and the cast are at the top of their game. Rarely do I feel so animated by a film, but this is certainly stirring. A must watch.

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

– should probably be mandatory viewing. Attenborough highlights the folly of man’s disregard for the natural world and offers solutions to make amends.

The Outpost

– really didn’t expect much going into this, but despite the glossy poster boys clearly chosen for their chiselled jaws rather than their acting chops, this was extremely compelling and quite emotionally affecting as well.

Enola Holmes

– Sherlock Holmes’ feisty younger sister gets the spotlight in this sententious feminist mystery pitched squarely at the next generation. Probably more of a hit with kids, but as an adult, its pompous didacticism is irritating and inauthentic.


– fair to say this is an above average kidnapping thriller, and the vexing reliance on contrivances to make it all work is offset by its patient direction and performances. Shame it’s so damn nasty, but that’s the genre I suppose.

Bad Samaritan

– the bad title sets the tone for this ludicrously stupid but improbably engaging serial killer thriller featuring the magnetic Robert Sheehan. I haven’t shouted at the TV so much in ages. Quite cathartic actually…

Queen and Slim

– this slow paced crime drama is acrimonious with confused messaging and a tonal dissonance that never sits right. Feels like a well financed student film, despite the stellar leading duo.

The Looming Tower (TV)

– a brilliant cast and cinematic direction elevates this above the mainstream. Thoroughly gripping, even though you know what happens next…

Official Secrets

– hammy and Hollywoodised with an exposition heavy script but still quite enjoyable.

Patriot S01 (TV)

– Ozark-vibes comedy finds humour in the blackest of places. It fluctuates between highly entertaining and hugely depressing, and its slow pace might be off-putting to some, but it’s pleasingly original.

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot

– heartbreaking and optimistic in turns, this drama is powerful and well acted, but feels like it replays the same beats a few too many times.

September 2020


– both leads are phenomenal in this fast paced, slickly shot headscratcher that’s as confusing as it is engaging and either too clever or too tangled for its own good. Not as enjoyable as Nolan’s last few films (excluding The Dark Knight Rises which is a bad anomaly).

Beforeigners S01 (TV)

– light-hearted sci-fi scandi crime series playfully ridicules modern and historic societal attitudes while erring on just the right side of spoof. Definitely not high art, and definitely unfinished after one series, but there’s enough fun and mystery here that I’m happy to recommend.

August 2020


– thin and unremarkable depiction of a plane hijacking. Nothing egregious, it’s just very plain. (Boom boom!)

The Art of Racing in the Rain

– a movie narrated by a dog (even one voiced by Kevin Costner) definitely risks illegitimacy, but somehow, this love letter to decency, dogs and racing cars makes it work. This star-studded drama is conventionally heart tugging and tear welling, and occasionally, unconventionally profound.


– Lee Pace is such an underrated actor and this semi-sorta-biography-ish of John DeLorean’s fall from grace deserves a viewing, even though it’s undeniably flimsy and lightweight. File under flippant but fun.

Phantom Thread

– there are many recent films about obsession, but this arguably maps most closely onto real life. PT Anderson delivers a meticulous and measured weave of love and hate, that if it wasn’t so endlessly acrimonious as to be unpleasant to watch, would be masterful. One to admire, not to enjoy.

Little Joe

– a semi-interesting premise is kneaded over and over but remains as shapeless as it did at the start. Plants gas-lighting their growers? It’s like The Happening 2.0. Weirdly amateurish at times, too.

Avenue 5 S01 (TV)

– Despite wincing often, the black humour in the pilot made me laugh enough to watch further, but subsequent episodes were uncomfortably unfunny. Every caricature is taken to its intolerably tiresome extreme; shouty, annoying and puerile. Hard to believe this is from the same great mind as Veep and The Thick of It.


– disappointing, honestly. Poorly named, sententious and nowhere near funny enough to call itself a comedy. Also condescending to just about everyone, especially rural America.

July 2020


– Hanks’ U-boat thriller is gripping and exciting, even while not particularly interesting, but it’s unremarkable when compared to the genre as a whole. Much better war films in recent years.

Palm Springs

– accepting that it’s ridiculous, unoriginal, and often too crass, this is still a whole lot of fun and silliness, which is entirely what you expect from an Andy Samberg movie. High art? No. Entertaining? Definitely.

The Rental

– Dave Franco’s cautionary tale of a risky fling gone awry disappoints with last act slasher. Fairly predictable and conventional, but good enough for discerning horror fans to get a (slight) kick out of.

The Valhalla Murders S01 (TV)

– fairly standard scandi-noir, some duff writing, stupid coincidences and a lot of personal relationship drama that dilutes the intrigue and distracts from the plot, but it’s watchable enough if murder mysteries are your cup of tea.

The Assistant

– mercifully short, because it’s every bit as dry and bleak as the ‘shit job, toxic work culture’ synopsis suggests. Competent, but not for me.

Waco (TV)

– Koresh gets a (somewhat) sympathetic depiction in this immediately compelling dramatisation of the Waco catastrophe. The filmmakers caveat their portrayal to some extent, and it remains unclear how factual it is, but this is a pretty hard hitting indictment of the ATF and FBI’s approach to the standoff. Gripping from the off, and definitely recommended.

Bad Education

– slightly protracted but excellent comedic drama with two stunning lead performances: Allison Janney is genuinely the best in the business and Hugh Jackman is nearly unrecognisable (within reason).

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

– surely other people must be getting bored of all this costumed absurdity. Even Margot Robbie can’t save this eye-rollingly wretched display and the cocky humour doesn’t help (Ryan Reynold’s Deadpool has a lot to answer for). Bad doesn’t begin to describe it.

The Whistlers

– Romanian Spanglish crime drama is convoluted in the extreme, with allegiance switching and betrayals galore. It’s sumptuous to look at and keeps you guessing, but the conclusion doesn’t tie things as neatly as hoped, and the tone is too deadpan to be fun.

Secondhand Lions

– charming and cheerful children’s tale in the same vein, if not the same league, as Big Fish (which given their shared release year, explains why it might have gone overlooked). Fun but very basic.

Ride Like A Girl

– Thoroughly enjoyed this badly named Aussie sports drama. It charts the usual beats, but it’s novel to see a familiar formula applied to horse racing, and the cast unanimously give great performances.

Fighting with my Family

– Hammy British comedy biopic about WWF wrestler Saraya Knight is fun but not funny. Fortunately, central duo Florence Pugh and Jack Lowden elevate it a notch above mediocre, but I expected better from Stephen Merchant.

A White, White Day

– monosyllabic Icelandic drama is a slow, sombre and stress inducing contemplation on grief. Artful and affecting, but it drags.

Bosch S06 (TV)

– unusually, a show that gets better with time. It’s reassuringly steady and unambitious; not shock and awe, just the enjoyably slow piecing together of disparate cases and clues.

June 2020

Barry S01 (TV)

– I wanted to like this much more than I actually did. While clearly a Bill Hader vanity project, he’s easily good enough to carry it, and in a silly way the plot just about works. The tone is all over the shop though, sometimes slapstick goofball (and unfunny) comedy, sometimes sharply witty, and sometimes quite devastating drama. If it were consistently smarter and funnier, it might work, but as it stands, it falls short.

The Good Liar

– a predictable, unpleasant and unconvincing concoction that long outstays its welcome.


– for a film about a dog, this is a surprisingly heart warming sermon on love and determination, with gentle, affecting performances from Dafoe and Nicholson.

Just Mercy

– as dramatic and bleak as the subject matter dictates, complete with protracted execution sequence. Doesn’t do anything new with the formula, but sadly these films are still very necessary.

The Lovebirds

– asinine romcom lucks into a few laughs but is mostly just desperately stupid.

Killing Eve S03 (TV)

– an underwhelming and unsatisfying third series with a feeble plot, tiresome new characters, and mostly try-hard humour. Nothing worth sticking around for.

Waves (2019)

– hesitant to award the Smiley not because it’s undeserving, but because it’s like having boiling hot water splashed on your face for two hours. It’s emotionally scolding, furious and furiously intense, with a soundtrack that’s as dominant as the powerhouse performances it lifts. I felt damaged after watching it, but somehow a little bit stronger too.

Defending Jacob S01 (TV)

– by and large, this is an engaging and addictive drama but its innumerable flaws (dated gender stereotypes, predictable twists, endless contrivances, to list a few) lead to an underwhelming and disappointing conclusion.


– on a second viewing this still holds up as an intense cinematic experience, though as a result of the current political situation and rioting in the USA, it feels a little less comfortable as entertainment.

May 2020

The Way Back

– if there’s only one compelling reason to watch this, it’s Ben Affleck’s masterful performance. Affleck’s career has had such an impressive arc, with his recent roles showing serious talent and selective nous. The plot itself is quite disappointing, adhering to nearly every sports movie trope, but it’s less about the sport and more about the man and his battle with alcoholism. Worth a watch for the acting, if not the story.

The Trial (Il Processo) (TV)

– Italian crime thriller reaches for high stakes but descends into melodrama instead. The story is an absurd, rambling, meandering mess, beleaguered by endless contrivances. There’s nearly nothing here to like.

Devs S01 (TV)

– for an emotive premise, the Devs cast seems to have been carefully selected and briefed to be devoid of emotion. It results in dry and deadpan delivery that’s a real turn off, and in some cases downright infuriating (see preachy, expressionless Alison Pill as Katie who seems to be trying her hardest to stop viewers wanting to engage at all). As a fan of sci-fi, I’ve come to expect some pseudo-science-philosophy-waffle, it’s often required exposition, but here, presumably in an attempt to be profound, the explanatory science and logic is told in a condescending, imperious fashion, and the line between confident, self-assured plot, and smugly complacent “we know something you don’t know”-ism is crossed time and again. It’s a shame and especially frustrating as predeterminism is not even a particularly challenging concept. There’s so much going on here, and some of it is brilliant (like the soundtrack, set design and Nick Offerman’s simmering performance), but unfortunately, it ties itself in knots trying to one-up the viewer, and ends up collapsing inwards. If this was a first draft, the potential would be so exciting, but as a finished product, it falls very far short.

The Lodge (2019)

– tedious.


– more dull romantic drama than survival thriller, this features strong performances from the central duo (it’s basically a two man cast), but the script is terrible, really insipid, and the romance is on the nose.

La Odisea de los Giles (aka Heroic Losers)

– gentle and understated comedy epitomises everything I love about Latin American movies. Charismatic characters, sensitive and thoughtful direction, and of course, the beautiful language.


– typical Roland Emmerich action thriller (Independence Day, 2012): talking torsos surveying destruction as it unfolds on a green screen and flag waving as they stare down the barrel of inevitable defeat to ultimately triumph against the odds. If glorifying war wasn’t enough, it also features some of the thinnest female characters ever committed to screen. Yeah, it’s a Sunday movie, and absolutely undeserving of its current IMDb/ TMDb ratings.


– it’s open warfare in the streets as Hemsworth trades hammer for Glock, struts his Jason Bourne, rips some limbs, kicks some ass and racks up an easy three figure body count. Where are the press? Where is… pretty much everyone other than the goons getting nailed? Nobody knows. This is some old school action silliness right here. Slick but utterly absurd. Good fun though, and with a name like Extraction, did anybody expect any different?

April 2020

After The Wedding (Efter Brylluppet) (2006)

– harrowing Danish tragedy hits hard on pretty much every level. Maybe not ideal to watch post-bereavement. The direction is a little preoccupied with eyes for my liking, but it’s generally well shot and phenomenally well acted (by everyone, particularly Rolf Lassgård). An extremely affecting drama preoccupied with the theme of family.

Yellowstone S01 (TV)

– A promising start then it all falls apart. That’s the plot, as well as a review. This Montana set Western follows unsympathetic, even despicable characters, through an endless stream of farfetched and usually violent contrivances. The scenery is beautiful, the premise is strong, the execution is near terrible. Show creator Taylor Sheridan is a serious talent, a pity he’s only credited with story for the first two episodes (by far the best).


– this sci-fi is a really underrated little cracker. It looks great, has a credible script and taps into all the fears you’d expect being 7 miles underwater. I think it’s fair to suspend disbelief when it comes to the guys wandering around down there, even if it is against the science of it. (Incidentally, on that front, there’s a phenomenal piece in The Atlantic on this very subject, it’s fascinating!) Anyway, I went in with no expectations (other than that it’s a Eubank film and in general, I’m a fan), and thoroughly enjoyed it. It reminded me of Pandorum, but under the sea instead of in space.

Bad Boys For Life

– To contrast with the Smiley of Approval, maybe I should introduce a sad face for truly disappointing films. Given my fondly nostalgic memories of its progenitors, this pitiful, unfunny excuse for an action comedy would certainly deserve one. A generous viewer might argue the buddy cop duo themselves at least retain a degree of charisma, but even that’s a stretch. A great shame.

One Cut of the Dead

– I started watching this on the basis of none other than Edgar Wright’s recommendation, and after 20 minutes I was honestly wondering if he was doing a student a favour or something, it was so bad. But this epitomises why I always try to watch a movie to its end. In a heartbeat, it went from one of the worst B-movie attempts at a horror movie looking like a school project, to an actual masterpiece of meta-comedy-horror, and a wonderful show-not-tell of the film-making process, complete with jabs at egos, method actors and the big shot suits demanding the impossible. I can’t think of anything else that illustrates the passion and love behind cinema so well as the second half of this film. I was grinning like a goon. Stick it out.


– an inept boy struggles to get over the loss of his dad while learning to appreciate his brother in the emotional plot underpinning this animated magic adventure. Whether it works for you is likely to correlate directly with your own family relationships. It’s certainly less adult-friendly than some other Pixar creations, generally eschewing wit and pop culture references in favour of slapstick comedy as it ploughs a familiar feel good groove, reiterating the beloved Hollywood values of family, standing on your own two feet, and facing your fears.

Better Call Saul S05 (TV)

– when brilliant writing meets convincing acting and memorable cinematography is cut with creative direction, you end up with a show as consistently compelling as Better Call Saul. Jimmy has come a long way since we were first introduced to his origin story, but Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould pace his development just right, with barely a foot wrong. Unfortunately, the wrong foot in this season falls in the final episode, which is a real clanger given the deliberate realism of the series so far. This might well be the best show currently on TV though, and over 50 episodes, the occasional misstep can be forgiven.

Ozark S03 (TV)

– though the black witted crime drama remains a cut above most of its competition, this season dips in the middle, returns to retread some old ground, and has a sense of inevitability about it that is dangerously close to tedious. That said, it ends with a bang, the comedy remains laugh out loud at times, and the main cast are as terrific as ever. It’s a shame the writers lean into ’emotional conflict’ so heavily they could be following notes from a university lecture on creative writing. It grates.


Edge of Tomorrow meets The Terminator, with none of the ingenuity or humour, and evidently none of the originality. Clichés, Hollywood tech nerds and pseudo science abound. If you enjoy brute force action, there might be something for you, but I promise it’s nothing smart.

Tiger King S01 (TV)

– batshit crazy biopic cum true-crime documentary about the deadly rivalries between private zoo owners in the USA. Definitely unique and worth watching for the extraordinarily eccentric characters and the eye opening lives they lead. The chronology is chaotic though and the whole series too drawn out. It also feels a little manipulative, as these shows so often do, withholding key information or revealing it in drips to frame audience opinion and maximise shock factor.


– the eponymous Thurgood Marshall and Jewish lawyer Sam Friedman face bigotry, discrimination and an uphill battle for justice while defending a black man on trial for rape. Plain sailing legal drama, neat and unambitious, but enjoyable enough.

Little Women

– solid piece of cinema. If period drama is your genre, you’ll love this. Really strong performances throughout (particularly from Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh), a smart script with some cutting one liners, and an emotive story.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

– a masterpiece of creativity and a reminder of why superhero movies ever became popular in the first place. This is a self-referential, hilariously witty and inspiring animated genre mash-up that leaves every other superhero movie looking tired and tropid. A pleasure from start to finish.

The Invisible Man

– So many shout at the TV moments in this horror/ thriller, everything from the premise to the predictable script (where nobody communicates clearly about anything and every twist is preannounced), to the crazy ‘science’ of the invisibility suit, which apparently works perfectly even when wet, covered with paint, smashed to pieces with plates, frying pans, a pen etc. etc. It’s also nasty, in the same vein as Mientras Duermes (Sleep Tight), which is just a horrible trait for a film to have. Quite terrible. Everything other than Elizabeth Moss’ performance.

March 2020


– surrounded by unconvincing performances, static direction and dodgy editing, Peter Dinklage (aka Tyrion Lannister) turns sleuth and rummages through memories to solve a murder. It’s a disappointingly weak manifestation of a sci-fi premise which, though unoriginal, has stacks of potential.

The Platform (El Hoyo)

– gruesome spanish-language horror begs for dissection and analysis as it portrays a hierarchical class system in a barren, despairing prison called The Hole. Excessively violent and graphic, and cursed with a frustrating ending, but still thought provoking.

A Confession (TV)

– Martin Freeman is well cast in this tense and punchy drama detailing the fall from grace of Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher, who caught a serial killer then spent years fighting for his career as well as pursuing justice for the victims’ families. No comment on the facts of the case, but as a TV show, this is polished and absorbing, if a little heavy on the drama and liberal with the exposition. It’s definitely worth a watch.

The Capture S01 (TV)

– if every character wasn’t so annoying, and the plot wasn’t so ludicrous, this very-BBC-TV cop thriller could have been good. As it stands, it’s certainly bingeable, and paced fast enough you might overlook its endless irrationality. I’m afraid I couldn’t.


– endlessly grisly, abuse-filled Western with nothing to recommend it. Long, sadistic and gratuitous.

Black and Blue

– corrupt cop thriller is formulaic, predictable and contrived, but more egregious still: it’s boring.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

– Surreal, emotionally provocative biopic gets under the skin and stays there. Best watched alone and undistracted. It’s uncomfortable, for myriad reasons, but all the more powerful for it. Reminded me of the book, ‘Mr. Blue’, by Myles Connolly, but it’s actually based upon this article.

Dark Waters (2019)

– A horror movie title for a drama detailing a litany of corporate horrors. Though a handful of moments are so Hollywoodised as to stretch credulity, the bulk of this David versus Goliath saga is compelling, jaw-dropping and powerfully affecting. A perfect example of the power of film to educate as well as entertain.

The Outsider S01 (TV)

– after an intriguing and promising start, this Stephen King mystery abandons the mystery, introduces a human-possessing demon and an expositional clairvoyant, then sinks the viewer into their very own hell: boredom. Hugely disappointing, an absolute waste of time.

Richard Jewell

– Clint Eastwood’s attack on government and the media is badly timed and hamfisted in places, but it’s (mostly) engaging and boasts consistently excellent performances from Hauser, Bates and Rockwell.

Guns Akimbo

– Had an absolute blast watching this. Did not expect that. In a similar vein to Zombieland, everything about it is stupid, starting with the premise, through to the tattooed, gleefully whining villain, and including the immature humour. Yet somehow, if you don’t think too hard about it, or think about it at all really, it absolutely works as an overall package, and is massively, embarrassingly, entertaining; a riot.

21 Bridges

– suspenseful cop thriller with tight direction and strong performances, particularly from leads Stephan James and Chadwick Boseman. A shame they opted for so many shoot ’em ups rather than a smarter script, but what it does, it does well.

Escape from Pretoria

– Radcliffe starring prison thriller isn’t short on suspense once it gets going, even contrived as it is, but that’s about it. Easy viewing, nothing to get excited about.


– smart dialogue, terrific acting and generally a pleasant surprise. What a cast. Could have done without the expositional breaking of the fourth wall, but at least it’s curtailed in comparison to The Big Short and Vice (neither of which impressed as much as this).

The Stranger (TV)

– very ‘made for TV’ binge mystery starts intriguing but farfetched and gets progressively more and more inane. None of it adds up, none of it is remotely plausible outside of the realms of TV land, and it’s stupid even by those low standards. Save yourself the eyerolls and vexation: avoid.

A Private War

– Dialogue is thin, even condescending in places, the depiction of PTSD is a standard, unsubtle Hollywoodisation, and some of the direction is plain weird, like a sequence where Colvin has sex with a stranger while her voiceover describes dismembered bodies. All in all it’s an unimaginative, unflattering and strenuous biopic of war correspondent Marie Colvin.

Doctor Sleep

– enthralling and compelling horror nods to The Shining but is very much its own tale. Though weakest when retreading old ground, it does so softly, without desecrating it. A shame it’s so long and the slow start doesn’t help the runtime, but stick it out.

February 2020

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

– quite intolerable. The plot is boring, the comedy is rarely amusing and mostly annoying, while the performances are such caricatures they grate within minutes.

Earthlings (2005)

– Joaquin Phoenix narrates this sadistic abattoir of a documentary, which throws nauseatingly graphic, savage butchery at you while his Eeyore tones describe it. Too repulsive to actually watch most of the time, I didn’t finish it, and I still feel traumatised. Though no less shocking, in most instances the footage used lacks a source or date, which undermines its integrity somewhat.

Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet (S01) (TV)

– it got off to a cracking start, a lot of laugh aloud moments and great quirky characters. By mid-season though, the smart gag rate was dropping, replaced with hysterics, shouting, and unironic stereotyping. McElhenney is fantastic as Ian Grimm, and the show works best when his heady mix of inspiration and egotism is at its peak. Unfortunately, that’s not often enough. It dragged its way over the season finish line all out of ideas.


– bold and indisputably extraordinary, this sinister, Brazilian dystopian drama is tirelessly intriguing but never clear. Though its metaphors are plain and the thin story captivating, without more grounded explanation, it feels incomplete. An interesting experience though.

Freaks (2019)

– a pretty derivative addition to the ‘superkid’ dystopian sci-fi genre, very obviously ripping on Stranger Things and X-men. More than half way through it musters some excitement, but still ends with too many questions to ignore.

Motherless Brooklyn

– a long, moody film noir a la Chinatown; atmospheric, mostly well acted, and simply directed (in contrast to its convoluted plot). It’s a shame that albeit engaging and definitely worth watching, it falls a little short of its potential. Love the jazz soundtrack.

Pain and Glory (Dolor y Gloria)

– Mournful Spanish-language drama is a beautiful if overly ponderous reflection on life and love and the sickness of nostalgia.

Watchmen S01 (TV)

– Not quite a masterpiece but certainly a masterful piece of TV storytelling. Racism, identity, time travel, religion and transgression are just some of the themes considered, all under the guise of a slickly produced and extremely stylish action thriller. Nice work.

January 2020

Giri/ Haji (TV)

– international detective story boasts a cast at the top of their game, a hugely witty script and more excitement by episode three than most series have reached by their finale. Unfortunately, it struggles to sustain its focus, becomes diverted by petty relationship dramas and ill thought out plot strands and so misses the bullseye. That said, fantastic TV show, highly recommended. Great soundtrack too.

Servant S01 (TV)

– the clues to this convoluted, slow-burning, skin-crawling mystery emerge through a combination of supernatural horror and black humour. It’s a claustrophobic drama, brilliantly acted, wonderfully intriguing and often very funny, but it’s also inconsistent, juggling a plethora of ideas and themes that are too meandering (almost random), and left underdeveloped and ultimately a bit thin (echoes of Lost). Perhaps an expanded cast and range of locations will help flesh it out in season two.


– The problem with this style of cinema is that it’s massively distracting. It invites more time spent wondering about the production methods, hidden cuts, and how the environment is mapped out than engaging with the characters and story. Without the self-imposed constraints of the single take impression it could have been a better film, and still included long takes where appropriate. Instead, it belongs in the same category as Gravity: an incredible feat of film-making at the cost of storytelling. But like Gravity, is an unmissable spectacle and deserving of accolade.

The Lighthouse

– There’s a tongue-in-cheek humour behind the theatrical overacting and folkloric hijinx, but it didn’t tickle me enough to make the black and white viewing experience any easier, nor the abstract, art-house visual and mumbled poetry any more engrossing. Both actors give memorable performances as flatulent, Gormenghastly characters trapped in an increasingly manic, maritime-gothic nightmare, but their accents are at times indecipherable and the hideously grotesque and sordid scenes, though perhaps appropriately deranged, are nonetheless too depraved for my tastes.

The Witcher S01 (TV)

– another disappointing video game adaptation, this one hoping to capture the Game of Thrones audience with a moody atmosphere, the requisite conspiratorial plotting and plenty of gore. Though a huge fan of the games, I found this dull and confusing.

Black ’47

– named after the most devastating year of The Great Famine in Ireland, this revenge drama is as dour as the title suggests. The production and score is solid, but the plot’s unremarkable and overall it’s too flat to recommend.

The Gentlemen

– it is a relief to see such a proficient return to form from Guy Ritchie who delivers an innovative, irreverently funny and fast paced helter-skelter ride featuring his by now trademark one-liner quips, slickly stylised direction, and an hilariously addled narration by Hugh Grant’s oleaginous private investigator. Everyone is at the top of their ham game, and this is an absolute riot.


– a bleak prophesy of our colonial space future, and an equally bleak metaphor for our fleeting time here on Earth. Impressive in its way, but distinctly vapid and a massive downer.

The Morning Show S01 (TV)

– Billy Crudup carries this hyperbolic #metoo movement drama as sociopathic and anarchic network news president, Cory Ellison, perhaps the only character among the whole stellar lineup who’s actually entertaining or likeable. There are moments of clever scripting – some even laugh out loud, but mostly it’s not half as clever as it would like to be or thinks it is, brimming with overacting, contrived set pieces, and a condescending didacticism that seeps through cheesy montage after heartfelt speech after hysterical breakdown as the show goes to increasingly far-fetched and eye-rolling lengths to inject some excitement and jeopardy into morning news. It’s certainly bingeable, that much is true, but whether it deserves to be binged is another matter. It feels like a desperate effort to capitalise on real world events, yet despite its grounding in the truth, manages to be utterly unconvincing.

Uncut Gems

– without doubt a brilliantly concocted and immersive feat of film-making, but it’s so relentlessly high stress, angst-ridden and chaotic it’s hard to enjoy. Adam Sandler utterly embodies the role though, his finest performance.

Captain Marvel

– flash flash bang bang, lots of orange, lots of blue, lots of little green men. It’s a bog standard Marvel film with a bit less humour than usual. Take it or leave it.

Zombieland 2: Double Tap

– lacks the pinache and originality of its predecessor and the plot is weak at best, but there are still enough laughs to be had, and the feel good vibe and self referential comedy make for a lighthearted fun few hours.

The Current War

– bad tempered, unlikeable characters go back and forth and over and over in the ego impelled rivalry between Westinghouse, Edison and Tesla. It’s dry and not particularly entertaining, but competent.

Stan & Ollie

– they’re good performances from the central duo as Laurel and Hardy, but it’s too focused on their waning years and brittle friendship, so the balance is all off and it’s mostly maudlin and unfunny.

Steel Country (A Dark Place)

– Andrew Scott is engaging as a complicated simpleton in this basic crime drama, but overall it seems amateurish with some strange scripting choices and jarring audio flashbacks.

December 2019

Ford v Ferrari (Le Mans ’66)

– fairly thrilling racing film with a lot of unnecessary sentiment padding its excessive runtime. Entertaining, no doubt, but could have been better.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

– Contender for worst film of 2019, maybe even of the decade. It must be an effort to make a film so thoroughly vacuous.

Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator

– documentary is well produced but could be summed up in one paragraph. In fact, the title basically does the job. Not worth the time investment.

Jojo Rabbit

– uniquely original war film with a twist is a work of genius from Taika Waititi. It has so much charm, outlandishly daring laugh-out-loud humour, and a top tier cast. Particularly impressive turns from young child stars, Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie – definitely ones to watch.

The Peanut Butter Falcon

– saccherine road trip dramedy about a Down’s syndrome man pursuing his dream of being a wrestler. Heartfelt, charming, but too cheesy and with too much exposition.

Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

– Dwayne Johnson’s charisma carries this explosive, rip-roaring action thriller. The plot is ludicrous and the formula tired, but it entertains.

El Reino (The Realm)

– a politician scapegoated in a financial scandal frantically tries to prove the corruption runs deeper. Excellent performances and a fast paced, compelling script, but the plot is occasionally confusing, and the ending is an outrageous disservice to viewers. Almost brilliant, but falls short.

The Two Popes

– delightfully warm reflection on the transition from Pope Benedict to Pope Francis, featuring immense performances from both Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins, and a witty script.

Counterpart S01 (TV)

– JK Simmons’ doppleganger sci-fi definitely suffers from an overly ponderous pace and dour tone, but if you’ve the patience for it, there’s a smart spy thriller at its core, with a pleasantly convoluted and twisting plot, fantastic acting and an evocative musical score.

The Lion King (2019)

– not so much a reimagining as a realistic, shot for shot remastering of the original, with a few added modernising updates. It remains a two dimensional but heart-warming tale with memorable characters and moments of laugh out loud comedy.

The Signal (2008)

– the medium is the message in this tonally confused, disorientating and unhinged horror about mass-media induced psychosis. Arguably more valid than ever in the current climate, it’s intense and genuinely unsettling in parts, with appropriately rough edges and a grittiness reminiscent of 28 Days Later, but overall it’s too gruesome, muddled and messy to wholly recommend.

The Dead Don’t Die

– sardonic zombie movie parody plods through all the genre tropes in its efforts to lambast consumerism, but is so dry its unfunny and so glib it’s dull. Far inferior to Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland.


– basically an extended bar brawl with a foul-mouthed cockney narrator. Oddly characterful and entertaining, though some dodgy production gives a B-movie feel.

Dead Man

– meandering, peculiar and pretentious arthouse Western has a dream-like quality despite its black and white aesthetic. If there’s gold in the dirt, I didn’t see it.

Time Share (Tiempo Compartido)

– bizarre, surrealist drama sees a family forced to share a villa at a holiday resort. Something sinister is afoot, but it’s never exactly clear what. Confounding in all the wrong ways.

The Irishman (I Heard You Paint Houses)

– Scorsese rewinds the clock with Pacino, Pesci and De Niro back in their well-worn mobster shoes and retreading old ground with new technology. It’s a polished and accomplished epic, but despite modern techniques, somehow feels anachronistic, as if rediscovered and remastered from a bygone era of cinema. The 3.5 hour runtime may be offputting to potential viewers, but for those who can spare the time and patience, it’s a rewarding, if slightly underwhelming experience; a feat of film-making and a feat to watch.

The Dark Valley

– German Western is compelling revenge tale despite strange direction and an indulgent pace. Could have been much better but still worth watching.

Knives Out

– very funny and enjoyably head-scratching whodunit spoof that laughs at itself and the genre, but still delivers a murder mystery worth unravelling.

November 2019

Never Grow Old

– Uninspired Western featuring dreary performances from both Hirsch and Cusack, and a sombre plot that never surprises nor excites. Tedious.

Ready or Not

– engaging enough absurdist slaughter, but any social commentary underpinning this silly black comedy disintegrates at its conclusion leaving the whole bloody goreathon rather pointless.

Alita: Battle Angel

– surprisingly good dystopian teen sci-fi is comfortable wearing genre tropes and carries itself with aplomb. Vaguely reminiscent of Equilibrium (2002).

The Report

– insightful and cerebral drama about crimes by the CIA against detainees post 9/11. Top performances and intelligent scripting, but the volume and density of information makes it hard work at times.


– a partially-sighted, beefcake cop pursues criminals with an unwilling, goofy Uber driver. Yep, this is absolute rubbish.

Gemini Man

– despite a poor setup, weak script and uninspired direction, Will Smith’s gimmicky doppleganger action thriller is at least somewhat entertaining.

Dublin Murders S01 (TV)

– a mixed bag of mystery and intrigue whose brilliant cast and sometimes sharp script is tempered by bad subplots and ludicrous allusions to the supernatural. An enjoyably compelling experience overall, but proves ultimately disappointing.

Train to Busan

– albeit too long, often absurd, and filled with the usual cultural melodrama, this inventive zombie thriller from Korea provides heart-racing, palm-sweating tension in spades.

The Art of Self-Defense

– this dry, stilted and stubbornly unfunny karate-centred black comedy is weird enough to be oddly compelling, but fails to land a punch.

IT: Chapter 2

– clowns simply aren’t scary, a fact this horror tacitly admits by mostly using a gamut of unconvincing sfx to depict various Lovecraftian horrors instead of the actual antagonist. Some misplaced comedy further undermines any fear factor, while protracted flashbacks make an already tedious film nearly unbearable. Awful, avoid.

Good Boys

– the odd line slips through that’s so surprising it’s hilarious, but mostly this isn’t funny enough to distract from the dissonance of seeing the Superbad formula played out by children, without much diluting the crass content.


– from Gattaca writer Andrew Niccol comes another solid dystopian sci-fi noir. It’s sometimes contrived but, on the whole, is intriguing and smarter than average.

Late Night

– it’s punctuated by earnest speeches throughout and inevitably burdened by a preachy premise, but its comedy just about survives and, overall, it’s an uplifting experience.

Free Solo

– documentary about climber Alex Honnold scaling El Capitan in Yosemite without ropes is nail-biting, edge of the seat, stress-saturated brilliance. The vistas, the personalities, his philosophy and, of course, the feat itself are all profoundly affecting, and together make for an introspective and inspiring piece of cinema.


– gator thriller is an easy 80 minutes, with some genuine tension at the expense of all plausibility and logic (upstairs or across the infested flood?)

I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson (TV)

– comedy show doesn’t share my sense of humour. After a funny opening skit, the sketches that follow are crass and drawn out.

The Great Hack

– documentary raising the alarm on data manipulation and election rigging is certainly timely (if anything, belated – Twitter just banned political advertising). It deserves viewing, particularly by big data skeptics and critics of Carole Cadwalladr, but in its efforts to be mainstream and accessible, it barely scratches the surface of these major issues, with a narrow focus on a small cast of characters.

October 2019

Animal Kingdom S04 (TV)

– perhaps the most bingeable of the show’s seasons despite a jarring and tedious historical plotline about Smurf. The writing is smarter and wittier than the last series (admittedly a very low bar to beat), and the plot moves at a fast pace through major, character-changing events. If you were on the fence about carrying on after S03 (and I wouldn’t blame you), this is worth resuming. If not, I wouldn’t bother starting Animal Kingdom at all.

Stalker (1979)

– long and slow allegorical drama dressed up as sci-fi demands serious patience but is effective as a profound, dystopian contemplation on religion, science and philosophy.


– Richard Curtis’ cheesy love letter to The Beatles (and dig at Oasis) is exactly what you’d expect from the premise. It’s formulaic, the end is beyond cringeworthy, and the most successful bits of comedy (particularly the characters of Rocky and Gavin) feel heavily derivative of Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais, but overall it’s a fairly entertaining romcom.

Animal Kingdom S03 (TV)

– there’s nothing more criminal in this series than the way it has turned a menacing, high stakes crime drama into a chaotic, madcap and asinine catalogue of errors; as if the writers decided as long as they included the stock ingredients of drug-taking, sex and random acts of violence, they could avoid actually having to drum up a compelling storyline or any innovative new heists. This is terrible writing with nearly nothing to redeem it. As a fan of series 1, I can only hope they seriously upped the game for season 4. I’m not holding my breath.

Narcos: Mexico S01 (TV)

– engrossing as this sometimes is, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before (and in this show no less). The Narcos formula begins to feel tired; thin on ideas and excitement, with twists and turns bordering on predictable, and plot strands that run to nowhere. It doesn’t help that the characters this season aren’t charismatic and the ending, when it comes, concludes nothing.


– not to be confused with the excellent Fracture (2007), this is an operose psychological thriller which, between the name, its title sequence, and the opening shot, reveals its hand before it ever gets going and continues to patronise throughout. Tiresome.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

– very much a sequel to offer closure on Jesse Pinkman’s story. It plays more as an extended episode of the show than a standalone film, with some slightly laboured exposition to help fill the gaps. It’s an unnecessary but no less welcome return to Breaking Bad, and although it doesn’t bring anything new, Gilligan’s trademark camerawork and strong performances make for another engaging and competent production.

Long Shot

– your typical Seth Rogen comedy: smug, puerile, self-righteous and generally not as funny as it thinks it is. His groggy, drug-addled shtick is tedious within minutes, the woke moralising on the nose, and their teenage style romance unconvincing.


– adults are clearly not the target audience for this cringeworthy musical adaptation of the classic from Guy Ritchie, but kids will enjoy it, and thankfully, Will Smith offers some light relief as the hammy genie who goes above and beyond.

Cheap Thrills

– whether its ambition is to highlight the depravity of greed at all costs or not, this dog eat dog thriller is sick and repellent, depicting a viciously sadistic sequence of events it would be indecent to recommend. Grim indeed.

These Final Hours

 – low budget, fringe end of days thriller suggests there’s little more to humanity than venal hedonism and selfishness. It’s an unflattering and pretty unoriginal vision, and even for a short film takes too much effort to engage with.


– Cool conceit and initial set up is let down by plotting that seems contrived to keep costs low, resulting in an underwhelming, slow thriller that never realises its latent potential.

The Favourite

– whilst certainly a novel regal portrait, Olivia Coleman’s childishly petulant Queen is tiresome to watch, and the crass, stilted dialogue of her courts, presumably aiming for humour, is jarring and at times perilously close to repulsive. A nasty period piece. Not for me.


– where Heath Ledger’s Joker exploded on screen in a dazzling spectacle and jolt of adrenaline, Joaquin Phoenix’ character deteriorates like rot, until sympathetically unhinged becomes fully detached and he sucks chaos towards him like a black hole. It’s a masterful performance. Kudos, too, to Scott Silver and Todd Phillips, who have dared to introduce shades of grey to a genre dominated by black and white, added enough social commentary to stir up the zeitgeist, and still crafted an utterly compelling origin story for one of the most loathed and adored villains in the superhero catalogue. It’s only appropriate to award the smiley…

Time Lapse

– refreshingly original and thought provoking take on the time travel genre, where time and its nature is the centrepiece rather than a cheap plot device. Things escalate a little too fast, but overall this is fairly excellent, and has flown remarkably low under the radar. Deserves more attention.

In The Shadow Of The Moon

– Somewhat goofy time travel thriller offers thinly plotted entertainment value, but nothing more substantial.

The Nightingale

– Excessively long and hate-filled Australian gothic Western whose endless bloody viciousness is primed to enrage audiences, not least because so many opportunities for dissent are passed over by the frustratingly pathetic Nightingale, who fails to fight for herself or anyone else throughout, and apparently prefers a sneering lullaby to a vengeful bullet. Hugely irritating.

Unbelievable S01 (TV)

– Though clearly a series on a mission, the impressive acting and well paced cat and mouse story allows for some didactic freedom without the script becoming too preachy. It takes a few episodes to really kick into gear, and the extensive exposition is tiresome, but once it has you, it’s extremely compelling viewing and a very refreshing addition to the crime genre.

The Boys S01 (TV)

– wildly original as well as just plain wild, this is a superhero misadventure with more dark twists and psycho kinks than a comicon in a bondage dungeon. The script is often too try-hard, whether in attempts at shock or humour, and the characters and Machiavellian scheming sometimes just too obvious, but as a cocktail, it’s hard not to swallow the lot with a giddy smile and extend the glass for more. Cross Deadpool with Banshee and you’re somewhere close – Antony Starr sure can pick ’em.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

– immensely underwhelming given the cast and director. Ehrenreich’s Han Solo is unlikeable, pompous, and apparently astonishingly lucky. With endlessly annoying smug bluster, he squares off against and double crosses two dimensional villains while joining some story dots for all the fans who aren’t bored yet.

September 2019


– teenage kicks turn sour in this contrived and unemotional little thriller, tightly knit, but too frivolous to excite (or even entertain).

Creep 2

– Mark Duplass’ blackly humorous and curiously sympathetic serial killer has certainly carved himself a niche in the genre, but this iteration works more as a depraved character study than a horror.

Shaft (2019)

– three generations of Shaft buck the man and take on the crooks of Harlem in this silly, tongue-in-cheek action remake. Its humour stems from irreverantly playing with questionable notions of masculinity, casual misogyny and millennial bashing, and though it tries to do it with enough swagger that nobody cares, it still feels a few decades too late. Not offensive, just a bit pathetic.

Isle of Dogs

– Like watching tumbleweed float along a barren dirt road, it’s bland and not particularly compelling, but there’s a certain breezy, beautiful charm to it.

Animal Kingdom S02 (TV)

– the crazed family of thieves continue to trample each other and everyone nearby in their attempts to earn a quick buck, get high or get laid. While there are some major plot developments this series and it remains easy viewing, the show feels less even-handed and considered than its prequel, with a reckless, scattergun approach that is messy and unconvincing.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

– why I’m still watching these is a valid question, and one I ask myself often. Every now and again, they surprise with an enjoyable few hours. This is one such time. Heavy on the humour and overall, good, silly fun.


– some will hate its overt comic book stylings and video game sensibilities – the shamelessly titillating nudity, caricatured villains and vividly graphic violence – but for fans of the genre this is a slickly produced and exhilarating ride.


– tight little crime thriller shot nearly entirely within a getaway car. Boasts a surprisingly strong cast and innovative direction to keep the intensity rolling.

Summer of 84

– Really wanted to like this despite the brazen and hamfisted rip-off of the Stranger Things aesthetic, but it’s protracted, humourless and unoriginal, with unsympathetic characters and drab direction.

Hunter Killer

– An hour or so in, this flag-waving, chest-thumping, oohrah-ing submarine thriller proves better than expected, though the usual formulaic ingredients of rallying speeches, classified intel and trigger-happy Russian villains don’t feel any fresher.

Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan

– compelling if unremarkable Australian war film.

Animal Kingdom S01 (TV)

– there are plenty of problems with this show, but none register for long before they’re superceded by a nailbiting thrill or a move that leaves you squirming. Though it wallows in gratuity – the whole cocktail of sex, drugs and violence – and the whole conceit stretches plausibility, it goes to plenty of dark places that a lesser show might not, and though the dialogue can seem trite at times, the cast (nearly) uniformly deliver even the weaker lines with an unhinged edge that keeps you gripped and their deranged characters intact. Echoes of Bloodline (2015) but far less restrained.

The World Is Yours (Le monde est à toi)

– silliness abounds in this French crime farce that follows a bunch of imbeciles trying to pull off a drug deal in Spain. Its stylish direction shows potential, taking obvious cues from Guy Ritchie, but the lunacy is all a bit much.

The Crew (Braquers)

– exciting and tense French crime thriller feels as though it’s missing something, but remains a very solid effort.

Return to Sender (aka Convicted)

– fairly engaging but its plodding pace would have benefited from more detective work and less wishy-washy romance. For a vaguely similar story, far more compellingly spun, watch True Detective S03.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

– Skilled film-making as always from Tarantino, and played with wit and vigour from the all star cast. It doesn’t feel as well-plotted and balanced as some of his other films, more like an extended montage of different genres, but it’s good fun, for sure, and an interestingly self-aware depiction of Hollywood personalities and culture.

Gozilla: King of the Monsters

– If the script fails to bore you with its fortune-cookie platitudes and lazy exposition, the convoluted, badly-realised set pieces and self-indulgent runtime will. These monsters of mass destruction are a massive waste of time.

Mary Poppins Returns

– the banal becomes a little less banal as the titular childhood icon revisits the Banks family, bringing her imagination-championing philosophy to life with playful and psychedelic dance and song. It looks made for the stage, and feels strangely limited in scope, but Emily Blunt excels as always and it’s hard to imagine children will be disappointed.

August 2019

47 Meters Down

– typical shark attack thriller with a few jump scares, a bit of suspense, lots of tiresome panic, and an utterly pointless first act. Quite a smart surprise at the end though. If you’re in the mood…


– If there was ever such a genre as straight-to-DVD, bargain basket thriller, this is the epitomy. An extended and exhaustingly uninspired car chase from start to finish.

Green Frontier (Frontera Verde) (S01) (TV)

– Afraid to say I gave up on this after a few episodes. Beautiful scenery, but the pace is paralysingly slow, the script and premise both vague and unconvincing, and the lead actress is nearly devoid of emotion. Life is too short.

When They See Us (TV)

– Though polished, this is thoroughly miserable from start to finish. Whether accurate or not, it doesn’t make for enjoyable viewing.

Ned Kelly (2003)

– rose-tinted reimagining of the life and times of the eponymous Irish/Australian scoundrel. Youthfully exuberant performances from its all star cast don’t disguise the uninspired direction and dated style. Tame.

Dragged Across Concrete

– deliberately dry and burdensome style could be off-putting to some viewers, but those with patience will be rewarded with a slickly directed, well shot and wrly amusing heist thriller of the sort that are few and far between these days.


– An uncomfortably visceral, spectacularly well-orchestrated horror, which pushes boundaries both in terms of its inventive visuals and its unsettling audio. Be warned though, it is savagely gory, contains copious drug use, and features about as much twisted and explicit nudity as you’re likely to find outside of the internet. Strap in for a wild ride.

Mindhunter (S02)(TV)

– As per the first series, though on paper the premise suggests an intense and suspenseful crime thriller, in practice, the ingredients feel undercooked, lukewarm, not even raw. The inherently interesting subject matter proves compelling enough to keep watching, but never excites.


– this unique Korean masterpiece is first and foremost an hilarious black comedy, but more than that, it’s also a searing critique of class and capitalism, stacked full of metaphors and insightful dialogue, that feels simultaneously both horrifyingly prescient and reflective. Genius.

On My Skin (Sulla Mia Pelle)

– Brilliantly well produced and acted, but there’s an unrelenting inevitability to this Italian crime drama that makes it very tough viewing, like watching a prolonged torture scene. An excellent film if you can stomach it.

Velvet Buzzsaw

– The snipey, cut-throat world of art is depicted through maladies, melodrama and macabre murders as galleries, buyers, museums and their staff fawn over the newly discovered works of a dead artist. Campy good fun despite despicable characters and an hysterical plot.

The Son (El Hijo)

– This film had so much potential. The premise is delightfully deranged, albeit not fleshed out enough, and the cast are strong, but it fails in its plodding execution, and unwillingness to assert any definitive plot details. Its implications and suggestions, whilst initially intriguing, grow irksome, and the open ending feels lazy rather than suspenseful. It’s a shame, because it hints at a much more successful thriller.

The Little Stranger

– Unhappily devoid of excitement or emotion, this underwhelming and torturously slow haunted house mystery tries to get under the skin but gets on the nerves.

The Wandering Earth

– albeit commendably audatious in scope and premise, this futuristic space sci-fi is weighed down by exposition and video games graphics. A reminder that mass appeal doesn’t necessarily correlate with quality.


– atonal film noir plays with expectations without ever meeting or bettering them. Despite an interesting, clinical style with some imaginative direction and a dreamy soundtrack, it sets its sights on sinister black comedy but winds up bafflingly humourless instead.

Chernobyl (TV)

– brilliantly crafted historical drama depicts the harrowing tragedy informatively and ungratuitously whilst remaining utterly engaging. A rare feat that more than deserves the acclaim and audience recognition it has received.

Avengers: Endgame

– some jokes, some tedium, some indulgent moping, and enough dodgy CGI to remake the Star Wars prequels results in a (just about) tolerable three hours, and thankfully, finally, maybe, a conclusion to the Avengers. Can we have the actors back now?

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum

– nobody watches John Wick for the hackneyed dialogue and messy rash of allegiances and fealties masquerading as plot. They watch for the unstoppable, relentless action, and there’s not a franchise that does this particular brand of highly choreographed violence better. It’s artistry, really.


– crime caper that goes as awry as the faux bank heist it portrays. Without exception the characters are annoying and unlikeable, the direction is uninspired, and while incompetence can be amusing, it is more often infuriating, as it is here. Hugely disappointing.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

– Both Zac Efron and Lily Collins turn in brilliant performances in this risky biopic of serial killer Ted Bundy. In its execution though, the executioner is allowed too much sympathy. Albeit almost certainly the point, his repeated denials are credited with enough plausibility throughout as to be nearly convincing despite the widely known truth and ultimate outcome of his case. It leaves you wondering if the same cast and crew could have delivered a less troubling and thus more satisfying film.


– engaging WW2 war thriller with a twist. Whether the twist adds to the film or detracts from it, I’m uncertain, but it packs a punch either way.

The Good Neighbour

– though on the surface the conceit has some echoes of Disturbia (2007), this is a much more compelling and convincing film, with a plausible set up, backstory and conclusion. The puerile teenage interludes are tedious, but the overall execution is suspensful and engrossing. A pleasant surprise.

The Shallows

– Despite an almost unbearably insipid and on the nose family drama subplot, the bulk and set up of this thriller is mostly well choreographed and very suspenseful at times. Hardly award-winning but sufficiently entertaining to recommend.


– an original story told with wonderfully earnest performances and understated direction, but this heartfelt crime drama lacks the pace to really hook the viewer, relying on the intrigue of its premise and the promise of something more to keep them invested. It’s ultimately a little disappointing.

The Red Sea Diving Resort

– given the subject matter, its depiction as a sort of Ocean’s 11 style pithy-witted spy thriller is tonally jarring, but it’s more than serviceable, and better than one might expect from Netflix.

The Matrix

– Wow. How a film can continue to conjure such immediate wonder, excitement and hope after 20 years defies explanation. An absolute thrill ride, every bit as fresh as when I first viewed it all those years ago. A once in a generation, maybe even once in a lifetime masterpiece.


– PT Anderson directed musical short with Thom Yorke is fairly captivating, but given it’s only 15 minutes long, it ought really to be utterly captivating. The first track especially is excellent, the remainder less so. For fans of Thom’s music and modern dance though, this is definitely worth watching.

Stranger Things S03 (TV)

– a sillier season than its predecessors, with some annoyances like Hopper’s incessant rage and shouting, and Will’s neck-scratching demotion to near irrelevance, but overall, fans of the franchise will still be entertained, and it promises another fun follow-up.

July 2019

In The Fade

– slow paced but extremely intense crime drama documenting the misery and despair of a mother after she loses her husband and only son to a terrorist attack. So bleak it’s hard to recommend as entertainment.

The People vs. O.J. Simpson

– solid if unexciting show, worth watching, particularly as an educational historical piece highlighting the significance of the case as well as the simmering race issues at the time. Not the most fun I’ve ever had though…

The Clovehitch Killer

– dark and tonally dissonant crime drama with a B-movie feel but methodical execution. Unfortunately reveals its hand early so surprises are few and far between.

True Detective S03 (TV)

– A satisfying mystery that intrigues and excites thanks to carefully calculated performances from a cast at the top of their game, and a sharp and quick witted script.


– Aspires to metaphor and social commentary, but fails fantastically, morphing from intriguing, period, pagan-horror into heretical, manic gorefest in a gruesome heartbeat. Bloody awful and very bloody. Avoid.

Killing Eve S02 (TV)

– Sadly far inferior to its predecessor, this time it forgoes the cat and mouse excitement for a focus on relationships, resulting in the kind of banal drama found in any other run of the mill TV show. There are enough key ingredients to entertain, but it’s disappointing.

The Wolf’s Call

– Wonderfully dramatic French thriller – such a refreshing surprise. Yes, it’s full of absurdly Hollywoodised moments, but they have a kind of hammy charm, and the overall suspense and tension is terrific throughout. Thoroughly enjoyed this one!

The Raid

– fighty fighty pow pow. Relentless action, but if nothing else, it’s seriously impressive choreography and stamina.

The Mule

– albeit easy viewing, this is an uneventful, tame crime drama, so thin as to be condescending. Time better spent elsewhere.

June 2019


– marvellous and masterful drama, powerfully executed with gentle wit and charm. Highly recommended.

Green Book

– rose-tinted but feel-good race drama with thoroughly entertaining performances from both Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali.

I Am Mother

– the thin and unconvincing script distracts from an otherwise intriguing dystopian sci-fi. All in all, it’s a messy endeavour and a disappointment.

Captive State

– Scrappy and chaotic dystopian scifi thriller. Despite some heavy hitter casting, none of them have the opportunity to really engage the viewer, who is buffeted from one frenetic sequence to another before ever becoming invested in the story, setting or characters. Ambitious and nearly redeemed towards the end, but remains a missed opportunity.


– yes it’s on this list twice in the space of a month. It’s that good.

Michael Inside

– Bland, bleak and laboured prison drama that adds nothing to the genre. Deadpan to the point it lacks soul and energy and ends up a tough watch.


– After an engaging start this superhero idiocy rapidly succumbs to tedium. Other than James McAvoys eclectic performance, there’s nothing here even of note. Immensely dull.


– Contender for best film of 2019, certainly best comedy. It’s a straight up female Superbad, shamelessly so – if you wrote the scenes in chronological order next to each other they’d probably line up perfectly – but it succeeds in all the same ways while raising the IQ and bringing the humour more inline with modern standards. Brilliant soundtrack, brilliant acting, brilliant script. Top marks.

Escape Room

– a solid entry into this very specific and peculiar genre of horror movie a la The Cube. The tame script and lame acting are expected tropes at this point, so it’s really the inventiveness of the rooms and the guessing game that wins out. Fun fluff.

Eighth Grade

– one of the scariest, most uncomfortable and cringeworthy dramas. I watched it through splayed fingers and felt as anxious as Kayla. So hard hitting it’s like an anti-children advert, because no parent could ever want their child to endure what Kayla does while being impotent to change their situation. Great soundtrack too.

The Fundamentals of Caring

– Road trip drama with a snarky script, clunky exposition, and ridiculous contrivances. Though well meaning, the relentless Hollywood cheese is so blatantly emotionally manipulative it’s more likely to provoke eye rolls than tears.

The Square

– Endlessly intriguing and hilariously, wonderfully weird. Every time you think it’s reached peak strange, it gets a little stranger still. Unique.

The Highwaymen

– Polished if formulaic gun slinger following a pair of washed up lawmen on the trail of Bonnie and Clyde. Unimaginative and a bit flabby, but serviceable.

The Wife

– brilliant performances but the story feels inevitable and unsurprising, even up to its concluding scenes. Very solid drama overall though.

The Perfection

– overtly cruel, unnecessarily graphic and sick. Also twisted in such a neat spiral it’s entirely predictable from start to finish.

May 2019


– messed up mystery-horror elicits a mixed response. Fleeting moments are absolutely riveting and masterful in their delivery, but mostly its slow burn was painfully drawn out and tedious. It needed to be clearer, more concise and tighter in general. Good music though.

Bosch S05 (TV)

– a strong season for fans of grumpy Harry. It’s not cutting edge TV, it’s basic, borderline procedural crime drama, but the characters have a cantankerous charm about them, and the soundtrack and general atmosphere is somehow calming. In the absence of better crime thrillers, this is just dandy.

Line of Duty S05 (TV)

– the predictable but compelling BBC crime drama continues, as far fetched as ever, and no less entertaining.

Even the Rain (Todavía La Lluvia)

– Engaging spanish language drama with a cast that is strong enough to warrant the viewing alone. Gabriel Garcia Bernal is always an extraordinary screen presence, and he’s wonderful here.


– if you can weather the first two unremarkable and slow paced episodes of this, it develops into a brilliantly acted and compelling crime drama where for all your suspicions, the truth only really emerges in the final seconds. Surprisingly powerful.

April 2019

Dead to Me S01E01 (TV)

– not my cup of tea. American glossy trash vibes. The premise is good, the delivery too slapdash.

Under The Silver Lake

– comparisons to Inherent Vice are deserved, though I think the snowballing mystery in this is actually far more satisfying. Don’t be fooled by the gently intriguing trailer, this is a conspiracy movie for conspiracy theorists. It’s like watching a cheerful descent into mental illness.

The Children Act

– brilliantly well acted but not particularly enjoyable.

Russian Doll S01E01 (TV)

– following acclaim in the media I gave this a shot. Another misfire.


– drab and nasty crime drama


– pretty bog standard boxing movie, strong on the hype, short on the boxing. Got me fired up though, which is what you want from this sort of thing.

Arrested Development S05 (TV)

– not very good at all, and it’s a shame. The comedy’s gag rate is lower and the jokes less successful, historic flashbacks to the childhood of the Bluths don’t work well (as well as being inconsistent with the show), and the narrative has become so convoluted and self-referential as to be confusing. Very disappointing. I think the show is dead.

Veep S07 (TV)

– So darn good. A huge return to form after its somewhat lacklustre and sloppy last series. Laugh out loud comedy multiple times an episode. Great.


– this script was not nearly deserving of such a strong cast. The dire writing and absurd plot leaves even actors of this calibre looking like soap stars. Crap.

March 2019

The House That Jack Built

– Lars just throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks. Nothing it seems. I wanted to like this. Dillon is excellent, but the film is just exhaustingly dull, vacuous and unpleasant for the sake of it. Not worth the time.

The West Wing S07 (TV)

– it’s only upon concluding the West Wing story that you realise how truly momentous and significant an achievement it was, and even more strikingly, how much the standard of the last three seasons suffered as a result of Aaron Sorkin departing the political drama. I could easily watch it again, but if and when I do, I’ll stick with the first four series and happily forget the unpleasantness of its concluding chapters.

White God

– there’s something affecting about this unorthodox drama when it eventually reaches its payoff, but the route there is so torturously dour and grisly, it’s hard to make the argument it’s worth it.

After Life S01 (TV)

– Gervais carries on his losing streak with a now typical dramedy where the comedy comes second to the laboured and on the nose hardship of his characters. If long-suffering fans are still hoping for a glimmer of the genius shown by The Office and Extras, this will disappoint. The XFM shows and podcast series continue to be mined for jokes, and even without his involvement, Karl’s ideas crop up throughout. Gervais seems to believe crass language is comedic in and of itself, resulting in a script that’s as hard to listen to as his protagonist is to like, his tedious, career-long obsession with atheistic bible-bashing goes on unabated, while the intended redeeming moments of poignancy are so devoid of subtlety or art they feel as lifeless as his character’s dead wife. This is a depressing show, both literally because of its content, and also because it suggests any hope for Gervais to return to his glory days is not worth holding on to.

Fargo S03 (TV)

– if the format hasn’t grown tired, I’ve certainly grown tired of it. Unusually, I abandoned this half way through when I realised I had zero interest in either the characters or the story.

Todos Lo Saben (Everybody Knows)

– effective but unsatisfying Spanish drama that teases mystery then vexingly abandons it half way through. Worth watching for the excellent performances.

The Old Man & The Gun

– gentle heist drama with a sympatico Robert Redford giving his swan song performance. Gentle, with a great soundtrack and feel good vibes, this is short and comfy viewing, for fans of the actor, not the genre.


– certainly unique, but its attempt to balance horror and comedy means neither work particularly well. Different enough to warrant a viewing, but nothing on Peele’s last film, Get Out.

This Time with Alan Partridge S01 (TV)

– while not up to the standard set by old school Alan, this is still a very funny satire with some shrewd and incisive comedy. It definitely tries much too hard, but even the unfunny bits manage to entertain.


– more enjoyable than most superhero flicks, particularly thanks to the twisted humour and Tom Hardy’s performance, but at the end of the day, it’s as predictable and inevitable as every other in the genre.

The Front Runner

– this sharp and quick witted political thriller provides a contender for career best performance from Hugh Jackman, while JK Simmons, Vera Farmiga, Mamoudou Athie and Molly Ephraim all turn in terrific supporting roles. In fact, I can’t remember a time when the cast as a whole was so thoroughly deserving of acclaim. The direction is spot on, subtle, understated, and leaving judgement to the viewer. This has been criminally underrated by reviewers and critics in general, but I highly recommend it.

Mirage (Durante La Tormenta)

– This Spanish time travel thriller is engaging enough and fun to watch unfold, but its production feels low-fi and the story and acting are hammy.


– The love for this black and white drama is incomprehensible. Some impressive shots and a smart visual style, but beyond that, there’s really little to it. I think this is a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

Triple Frontier

– a gripping enough way to spend a few hours, but surprisingly plain. The wasted potential is especially disappointing given its stellar cast.


– sometimes knowing nothing about a movie before you go to the cinema leads you to experience unexpected gems. Othertimes it leads you to batshit crazy stuff like this bizarre Swedish fantasy drama about two trolls living in human society. If slow and weird is your bag, try it.

Red Sparrow

– serviceable thriller that spends far too much effort trying to be smart and ends up ponderous and predictable instead. Not bad performances though. I quite like Joel Edgerton these days.

Homecoming S01 (TV)

– although this PTSD drama mystery features good performances and is shot in an original style, it’s too plodding and, on balance, I think I preferred the radio/ podcast series.

February 2019

Private Life

– just straight up wonderful. Hilarious, poignant, emotive, there are so many superlatives that would be suitable to describe this midlife comedy. It’s a masterclass.


– this hugely entertaining drama/ comedy about rap battles sends mixed messages, reveling in causing gratuitous offence under the guise of lampooning stereotypes. But while its message might be lost in translation, it still makes for a fun ride.


– Stark, overly stylised small town noir thriller with a snarky script and lots of hammy performances from the all star cast. Despite all of that, it remains quite dull.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia S13 (TV)

– by far their worst season, patchy at best, unfunny and gratuitously gross out at its worst. That said, as always, there are moments that make it worth the viewing, the final scenes of the season finale proving a case in point.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

– great performances and a witty script keep this drama from mediocrity, but it’s hardly a conversation starter or an attention grabber, so most likely to be enjoyed by patient viewers.

American Animals

– above average crime thriller following four US students who plot an art heist. Slick storytelling and direction with an excellent soundtrack.

January 2019


– Saccharine drama that pushes all the right buttons. If you like that feeling of being manipulated, it scores high marks. Not one for me though.

Luther (S05)(TV)

– as per the plummeting trend, the eye rollingly stupid crime thriller is more gratuitous and more ridiculous than ever. Waste of time.

The Oath

– unimpressive but solid enough crime drama a few beats too short of a thriller, and a few scenes too short of an ending. Humdrum.

The Incredibles 2

– the one eye I watched this with enjoyed it. A fun animation.

Ant Man and the Wasp

– a typical superhero flick; a whole evening of dull and convoluted exposition strung together with CGI set pieces and peppered with bad jokes. So tedious, the first hour feels like three. Dreadful.


– fiercely powerful and exceptionally difficult viewing. Brutal, sickening, offensive, but brilliantly well done. There is no entertainment here, but if you want to feel angry, if you want to get fired up, if you want to shed tears of fury for past and continuing injustices, this is the drug for the job.

The Angel

– confusing plot portrayed in a gripping and restrained manner. Worth watching this political thriller, but you might need a quick Wikipedia history lesson afterwards. (I did.)

The Endless

– interesting direction and good performances just about save this baffling time warp sci-fi. As monster movies without monsters go, it’s better than average, but the fun of guessing and speculating runs thin after a few hours, and far from delivering a satisfying conclusion, the ending brings only more questions.

Sorry To Bother You

– a dramedy with much to say and the good sense to say it with a sense of humour. Brilliantly original, each time it begins to tread a familiar path, it takes a dark turn into the ever more fantastical. Deserves a thesis, not a few lines of review. Watch it.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

– a droll medley of short stories set in the Wild West, laden with whimsy and black humour. Accusations of pretentiousness would be fair, but curiously, it remains mostly enjoyable, despite its indulgent pace.

A Perfect Day

– more morbid than I recall from my first viewing, but this is still pretty zen on a second take.

Night Watch

– bat shit crazy and wildly original vampire thriller from the Russians. Innovatively directed and compellingly played. Not quite tight enough for excellence, but way better than anyone could reasonably expect from the genre.

The Guilty (Den skyldige)

– a whisker short of perfection, but still a masterpiece of acting and direction. The attention to detail, pacing… just the general craftmanship are all top notch. A first rate Danish thriller.

Johnny English Strikes Again

– as wonderfully absurd, playful and straight up silly as the last two and just as pleasurable for it. Great fun.

Vice (2019)

– trashy propaganda biopic with some good performances but a pretentious script and even more pretentious style of direction. Like watching someone pat themselves on the back for 2 hours. ‘Fact’.

The Meg

– exactly what you’d expect from a Jason Statham action thriller about a super shark attacking a research centre (or maybe a bit worse). Brainless, ridiculous, and not particularly entertaining either.

Bad Times at the El Royale

– often laboured, often indulgent, but original, unusual, terrifically well done, and so grand in scope (perhaps too grand) it can be forgiven its minor flaws.

The ABC Murders (TV)

– gratuitous and trashy whodunnit crime thriller with no wit, charm or smarts. The few bits of genuine intrigue remain unsolved at its conclusion, and the murderers motive (and unexplained obsession with Poirot) is farcical to the point of annoyance. Avoid.


– if you can withstand the first 45 minutes of painfully bad scripting and acting to match, then you’ll be rewarded (sort of) with a moderately entertaining final half. Or maybe I’m being generous. This is a really bad thriller by any standards.

December 2018

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia S14 (TV)

– the most disappointing series yet. There are a few giggles along the way, but this feels like the team are phoning it in; a lot of reliance on historic episodes and gross out humour that doesn’t feel earned as it has in past seasons.


– Horrible, if intriguing, movie, so damn nasty I couldn’t recommend it. It’s torturous to watch and without any redeeming qualities.

Castle Rock S01 (TV)

– after half the first series, I decided not to stick this out. It left me cold and didn’t seem to have much going for it by way of scripting or story.

A Simple Favour

– a bizarre balancing act between drama and comedy with just enough of each to keep you watching with a bemused look on your face, until the credits roll and leave you questioning what happened to your good judgement.

Orbiter 9

– albeit low budget, this is a very good, original spanish sci-fi with tight editing and direction and convincing performances. Recommended.


– surprisingly better than expected. It’s kind of like a pilot or concept sci-fi film – and now it’s demonstrated potential for the story and the premise, I’d like to see it made to a higher standard with a bit more depth to it.


– deserving of much more praise, this is a low key scifi neo-noir with excellent acting, an extremely weird and whacky setting and premise, and generally solid direction. I enjoyed it a lot despite the somewhat plodding pace.


– original thriller, creatively depicted and utterly compelling from start to finish.

Bird Box

– disastrous from start to finish. Its success with viewers suggests it tugs the heart strings of a certain audience, but fans of dystopian sci-fi will be disappointed.

12 Strong

– absurd and not particularly cohesive US war thriller. Cheesy propaganda filled with clichés. Ideal for a lazy Sunday when making a movie decision is already too much effort.

Infinity Chamber

– an impressive and strong performance from Christopher Soren Kelly, but for all the film’s potential, it just isn’t quite engaging or thrilling enough. Good sci-fis are few and far between though, and this one is worth watching for fans of the genre.

The 12th Man

– mostly engaging and sometimes suspenseful war drama highlighting the extreme endurance of a soldier isolated behind enemy lines. It’s no doubt an extraordinary feat of survival that saw him return home, but it doesn’t always make for the most enthralling viewing experience.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

– A Wes Anderson style script with delivery so deadpan as to be almost catatonic. It’s a soporific experience, stopped just short of total anaesthesia by dint of a deeply sinister soundtrack and unsettling plot.

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle

– Serkis goes full on Lord of the Rings in his direction of this loose Jungle Book adaptation. It’s polished and easy viewing, but the superfluity of CGI is a constant barrier to getting truly lost in the trees. Good family-friendly adventure though.


– indie sci-fi that intrigues and holds some promise but doesn’t ultimately deliver.

Parks and Recreation S02 (TV)

– better than the first season, but still massively hit and miss. Some episodes hardly evoke a giggle, others are filled with belly laughs.

The Little Drummer Girl (TV)

– highly stylised but excellent spy thriller. It’s overindulgent at times, but maintains a high calibre and taut atmosphere throughout.

November 2018

Elite S01 (TV)

– glossy teenage trash with the usual spanish melodrama

The Post

– forgettable and unexciting Hollywoodised newspaper thriller. Citizen Four much better on every level.

Leave No Trace

– sad and slow moving drama with a minimal script and minimal story. It’s like an extended, stretched, short rather than a full feature. Fortunately, an immensely powerful payoff rewards those with the patience to stick it out.

Better Call Saul S04 (TV)

– such amazing and consistently high brow craftsmanship, surely one of the most unique and remarkable TV shows to prove a success. Every frame, scene and line of dialogue is carefully considered and meaningful. Excellent. Bring on Season 5.

Parks and Recreation S01

– a mixed bag. Just entertaining enough to keep me watching, but not funny enough to recommend on the basis of this season.

The Lego Batman: The Movie

– equal parts funny and irritating. Maybe more fun drunk and with company.

The Commuter

– every bit as stupid as you think it will be.

The Equalizer 2

– not as good as the first one. More of a generic beat ’em up, shoot ’em up action thriller and much less slickly presented.


– A film about corruption, patriarchy, racism, domestic abuse, prostitution, police shootings, adultery, greed…too many ingredients ultimately undermine this thriller, but it still packs a punch and delivers vastly better entertainment than the usual fare.

The West Wing S06

– after a straight up comedy kick off, it settles into a regular beat that is engaging enough, if still far below the Sorkin standard. When characters and actors are as beloved as these, the script and storylines are practically irrelevant – they’re pretty much family at this point.

October 2018

Free Fire

– exhausting sequence of swagger, machismo and mishaps, punctuated by endless chaotic gunfire. If it all ultimately makes sense, I didn’t care enough to notice.

Deadpool 2

– the gag rate is comfortably high enough that when one or two fall flat the next one is already tickling your funny bone, and the ‘meta’ self-awareness works much better than it should. The action sequences are slick, and overall the only downside is the formulaic, stock superhero-movie plot. I think what I’m trying to say is, damn it, but if this isn’t actually quite a good film.

The West Wing S03 (TV)

– Sorkin’s writing is of such a high standard that it remains a joy to watch even after multiple viewings.

Cold Eyes

– a second viewing holds up just as strongly as the first. Great thriller.


– plays out like more of a high concept pitch than a completed film, but enough of it works that I can recommend it. It’s rough around the edges with some blunt scripting that would be laughable in any other style, but can somehow be overlooked packaged like this. Slipped under the radar like a ninja and deserves more attention.

Bodyguard S01 (TV)

– after a phenomenal start that marked a new bar for British TV, with set pieces that would have been polished even for Hollywood thrillers, the story and action slips into familiar clichéd territory and intensity becomes absurdity. That said, this is still an extremely compelling and smartly delivered BBC drama, ideal for an edge of the seat binge watch.

The West Wing S05 (TV)

– this one was the miss. Albeit still an entertaining show, its clear the calibre of writing slipped post Sorkin, and the new team are struggling to find their rhythm.

22 July

 – after the initial depiction of the event itself, which is morbidly compelling despite being more shocking and grotesque than you might even imagine, the extreme tension dissipates into extreme tedium as the usual dramatic beats take over, and a long and unexciting court case gets underway. There’s little here to entertain.

The West Wing S04 (TV)

– Not quite on a par with the first three seasons, this series really goes off the rails during its final episodes which are unconvincing at best, and totally un-West Wing.

September 2018

Avengers: Infinity War

– the celebrity clique continues their witty repartee even as the galaxy is dismantled around them. The latest superhero adventure is another 150 futile minutes of baffling, headache inducing CGI. It’s like watching a firework display. That said, if video game cut scenes and Marvel lore are your bag, this one will keep you hooked.

The Mechanism S01 (TV)

– Easily lost in the endless churn of low calibre TV series because it’s not compelling enough to compete with the better thrillers out there about political corruption in its various guises. I wanted to like it, but after several episodes I couldn’t be bothered to keep trying.


– generic horror. Tedious and stupid.

Ozark S02 (TV)

– another solid, morbid series of drama, thrills and blood spills. Not quite as polished as its antecedent, nor quite as wholly gripping, but still well above average and highly recommended with outstanding performances across the board.

Sunday’s Illness (La Enfermedad de Domingo)

– quietly affecting, understated spanish drama. Engrossing, but not remarkable.


– Spike Lee’s enjoyable race comedy/ drama, a lot of fun, but far too on the nose at times

La Piel Que Habito (The Skin I Live In)

– there are so many threads here, each more splendidly fucked up than the last. Great and twisted psychological thriller. Highly recommended if you’ve the stomach for nastiness.

Who Is America? (TV)

– Crass, irreverent, often plain disgusting, yet this satirical political comedy highlighting the gross prejudices, greed and stereotypes within American society illuminates some extremely uncomfortable truths. It’s not consistently funny, and it’s downright unpleasant to watch at times, but its shocking approach cuts straight to the point and hits home often enough that its misses can be overlooked. Careful who you watch it with though…

Disenchantment S01 (TV)

– not worth pursuing. Either Matt Groening has lost his touch, or this experiment failed. Mostly unfunny, crass and uninspired.

Fariña (Cocaine Coast) S01 (TV)

– a spanish language narcotics soap opera, a telenovela in every respect but production values. The story is predictable, character behaviours stupid, and every episode follows the exact same formula: risk of arrest being averted by a litany of increasingly absurd coincidences, contrivances, and deus ex machinas. If it wasn’t for the love of the language, it’s unlikely I’d have watched past episode two, and all the warning signs are there in episode one. If you want an amazing thriller about drug trafficking, there are so many to choose from, don’t choose this one.

7 Boxes (Siete Cajas)

– fresh and exciting spanish language thriller exploring the chaotic events of one night in a Paraguayan market when a boy is asked to transport 7 crates of unknown merchandise across the town. Brilliant, fast paced and often funny, with a great soundtrack and creative camera work.


– despite some excellent performances, this isn’t a thriller that warrants its outstanding cast. Albeit engaging and, for the most part, intriguing, the two storylines it plays with overlap too tenuously and the viewer is left baffled rather than satisfied.

Memoir of a Murderer

– this crime drama is a mixed bag. It keeps you guessing, but is too poorly paced and drawn out to be exciting or properly compelling. A shame, as the performances are good.

August 2018


– original and well acted ghost story. Too timid to be a horror, too creepy to be a drama. Mostly good but lacks punch.


– fairly average spanish horror movie. Not scary in the least, so it fails on that point, but it’s no less entertaining, and some of the script is very humorous, particularly from Verónica’s younger siblings who do an admirable job treading the line between amusing and annoying.

Ghost Stories

– a unique combination of funny and terrifying, with very clever sound and direction and careful scripting. Enjoyed it a lot. Something different.

Stranger S01 (TV)

– An above average whodunnit wrapped in political intrigue and cultural hierarchies and deferences. Our fascinating protagonist isn’t some blundering alcoholic battling with his demons as he solves cases; he is shrewd, capable, relentless, he sees much and says little, he is enigmatic but sympathetic, and his performance is fastidious and crisply delivered. The programme is soap operatic in many ways, excessively long (episodically and as a series), and it does suffer curious quirks and melodrama that are a million miles from realism or even plausibility, but overall these inadequacies don’t undermine its value as fun and extremely engaging television.

Paddington 2

– no doubt hugely enjoyable for kids, this isn’t one for the parents too. Slapstick is annoying and Ben Whishaw’s whiney bear is such a goody two shoes it leaves you hoping one of the parlous situations he finds himself in would finally finish him off.

Life (2017)

– Gripping, entertaining, well cast and acted with innovative direction. Yes it had flaws, but lets not write off the whole film because of some scientific inadequacies and rash decision making. I’m amazed this film flew so far under the radar, it’s really way above average for a modern sci-fi.

Deadwind S01 (TV)

– Based on episode one only, this is a plainly unoriginal and formulaic drama following the tropes established by The Killing, The Bridge and other far superior scandi-crime dramers/ thrillers. Given how competitive this space is, shows really need to do better to stand out.

Sarah’s Key

– plodding drama; unexciting, unintriguing, underwhelming.


– Just about passable as fluffy weekend entertainment, but most of the ‘comedy’ is slapstick and infantile in the extreme. The high ratings and positive reviews are misleading.

Mission: Impossible 6 Fallout

– enjoyable in the same way The Transporter was enjoyable, feel good vibes, exhilarating action, a smug confidence that feels infectious etc. But the premise is horrible, the exposition staggeringly dense, and the visuals are strangely tacky. Treat it like any other action film and it’s worth a watch, but don’t expect greatness.

Alien Covenant

– incompetence, irrationality and clichés abound in yet another massive budget flop from Ridley Scott. Agonisingly frustrating to watch, so don’t.

Bosch S04 (TV)

– Great series overall and they handled a difficult plot turn mostly well, although it cast a glum shadow over the remaining episodes. This is a reliably solid detective show in a landscape that suffers from a drought of decent murder mysteries. Hope Bosch S05 gets the go ahead.

First Reformed

– Slow philosophical drama juggling the twin issues of religion and environment. The points it makes are good ones, and the style is neither too preachy nor too patronising (although it walks close to the line on both counts), but the real issue is simply that it is boring. It is not entertaining, or even compelling, to watch a man struggle with existential questions, and despite strong performances, the story isn’t surprising or intriguing enough to keep the viewer gripped, particularly as it chickens out of its core conceit.

The Warning (El Aviso)

– mercifully short and mostly engaging spanish thriller. Everything about it is either bog standard or subpar, and there’s little to really recommend it, but the story is intriguing enough to keep you guessing. The premise is never explained or justified and one can’t help but think a better film could have been made.

July 2018


– ropey low budget sci-fi thriller with Lee Pace. Its basic direction and cinematography leaves a dystopian vision that never quite convinces, while even with great actors delivering the lines, the script is so clunky they still feel stilted. Disappointing.


– extremely intense and suspenseful thriller with beautiful cinematography, artful pacing to ramp up the tension, and convincing performances from all involved.


– don’t be misled by the stellar cast, this is exactly as tedious as you would expect a Neeson action thriller to be, even down to the cheesy romances shoehorned in.

Joint Security Area

– engrossing drama about the forbidden friendships formed on the 42nd parallel between North and South Korea. Heart warming.

Plata Quemada (Burnt Money)

– disappointing crime drama mainly detailing the troubled love story between the two gay protagonists rather than the robbery. Sort of big budget arthouse, not my bag.

You Were Never Really Here

– like dehydrating in a desert, gnawing your own flesh to taste water, only for it to be poured boiling over your face when it finally comes. Much like this review, one gets the feeling this dreary revenge drama is over-encumbered by metaphor.

First Snow

– Slow burning tension escalates throughout this inconspicuous and unsettling psychological noir thriller. Great cast who all turn in effective performances. Suffers some pacing issues, no doubt, but still underrated.


– one of those action films with minimal story and maximum wanton destruction. The Rock is charming as ever, but even with his charisma, this is shallow and tedious.

American Assassin

– two dimensional action thriller with a bare minimum of character, sense or story and a surfeit of gratuitous violence.

Hidden Figures

– cheesy and on the nose, but good entertainment and classic feel good vibes. Don’t be put off by the subject matter which sounds really dry.

El Otro Hermano (The Lost Brother/ The Other Brother)

– Grisly Spanish crime drama, protracted but compelling if only to see how the whole nasty, twisted tale unravels. Very effective understated soundtrack.

Halt and Catch Fire S04 (TV)

– the first half of this season is quite stunning. It’s funny, sweet, intriguing, full of potential. Then there’s a tonal shift, it becomes ponderous, introspective, monologue after monologue, devoid of ideas and inspiration (much like its characters). If the first three seasons were about progress and moving forwards, this season is preoccupied with regression and the past.

Ocean’s 8

– moderately entertaining, but not a patch on the trilogy that came before. Unfortunately it emulates Ocean’s 11 so closely it feels unoriginal and trite, doing no favours for its screaming effort to be a female showcase for a female audience (Doncha know there’s nothing women love more than shopping, glamour and jewellery?! An ‘A’ for effort Hollywood…)


– it’s definitely aged since 2003, seeming so over the top now as to border slapstick, but the premise, direction and delivery are all still top notch. A great shame that Cusack hasn’t continued with this standard of work. Great thriller, best watched in your teens!

Fauda S01 (TV)

– Gripping, if entirely unrealistic thriller. After a strong and furiously fast paced start, the pacing drops off a cliff and padding crops up detailing superfluous soap opera relationship drama. It’s a shame. Furthermore, the ending, when it comes, is so abrupt it feels like no ending at all, with slapdash contrivances that undermine all the efforts of the protagonists (and the audience) to have come so far. The same story in 8 episodes would have been a blinder. Expect I’ll still watch season 2 though.

The Ritual

– hugely underrated British horror film using suspense and grotesque idolatry as the root of its terror. The symbolism and metaphors are a little too on the nose at times, and the script can be gratingly vituperative, but overall this is enjoyable, edge of the seat stuff.

Who Killed Cock Robin

– disappointing film overall, especially given the absurdly high rating it has on TMDb (and elsewhere…) It also doesn’t make a lot of sense at times, in a way that I’m not sure was down to the translation/ culture.

Sharp Objects S01 (TV)

– Stopped after two episodes of this dreary and loveless drama. Sinfully dull. Exhausting. Waste of time.

Palmeras en la Nieve (Palm Trees in the Snow)

– Absolute balls. Eye-rolling and cringe inducing melodrama. Nauseatingly saccharine, self-indulgent, badly edited and painfully ponderous (with a runtime that’s an exercise in audience tolerance). Among its other crimes, it somehow depicts the Spanish as the victims of their own colonial era in Guinea. Quite the feat.

June 2018

The Snowman

– this murder mystery is short on quality in just about every regard. the acting and direction is bland, the script stunted, and it’s so strangely and scrappily edited as to leave you feeling you’ve watched two thirds of a thriller. The ingredients for a much better film are there, but they’re served up uncooked and cold.

A Bigger Splash

– With masterful direction, XX creates a searing sinister atmosphere and palpable suspense. It’s beautiful and sensual and mysterious from the opening frames, so it’s a shame that the climax, when it comes, fizzles rather than explodes, and leaves its audience deflated.

Grupo 7 (Unit 7)

– Spanish language police drama about a corrupt police unit who terrorise the locals to make arrests and increasingly antagonise the community with violent results. Polished, but simply not engaging enough to recommend highly. Elite Squad and its sequel delivered the same concept much more convincingly and enjoyably.

This Is Where I Leave You

– Unengaging and hackneyed dramedy complete with mandatory indie music, adults dabbling with drugs, and puerile gags. Relationships, mistakes, regret, forgiveness, you’ve seen it all before and it’s still not worth the time.

The Silence of the Sky (O Silêncio do Céu)

– affecting and unpleasant spanish language drama, too doleful to be enjoyable

Searching for Sugar Man

– unremarkable documentary about a remarkable man.

A Very English Scandal (TV)

– Excellent performances and a witty script. Entertaining TV.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

– Enjoyed it as I would more or less any JP movie, but with 90% of the action taking place in one manor house (which is as aesthetically pleasing as a nuclear bunker), it felt pretty one dimensional and tonally uninteresting. The jokes were mostly contrived or fell flat, except for a couple of slapstick bits which got a good laugh. I’d recommend it for a sleepy Sunday, but versus my expectations (and the last movie), it was substandard.

The Crossing S01 (TV)

– very low quality soap opera sci-fi. A shame as the concept is strong and Steve Zahn is terrific in everything.

The Detectorists S02 (TV)

– charming, wonderfully lighthearted, and with numerous laugh out loud moments each episode, this second series is perhaps even better than the first. It’s a fantastic script, and the chemistry between McKenzie Crook and Toby Jones has only matured. An excellent comedy.


– Surprisingly excellent. It’s received so little acclaim and generated practically zero mainstream hype or discussion that I assumed it was going to be a generic Netflix bargain basement Zombie flick. Instead, it’s a thought provoking and very moving, human story. Basically a drama dressed up in the guise of a horror. The characters were all deep enough to be interesting and albeit quite slow paced, the story was relentlessly engaging. Interesting to see Martin Freeman do a film like this too, his acting chops have come so far since The Office!


– if you have the mentality of a thirteen year old and can tolerate relentless coarsity, unfunny jokes and eye rolling slapstick, then you’ll fare better with this sports comedy than I did. Awful.

The Salesman

– Not sure I understand the overwhelming acclaim for this dramatic story of a revenge gone wrong. It’s intriguing and sometimes powerful, but the pacing was inconsistent and the real drama too thin on the ground.

The Motive (El Autor)

– Spanish psychological drama following a man who becomes so obsessive about writing his novel he manipulates his neighbours to engineer increasingly outlandish storylines. Mostly compelling but becomes increasingly absurd and farcical as it wears on. The ending is disappointingly prosaic.

Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado

– Henceforth destined to be called simply ‘Soldado’, this sequel to the cartel thriller matches the suspense of its predecessor beat for beat and imitates its visual style mostly successfully. The ending feels too hastily wrapped up and slightly sloppy, with some niggling unresolved questions, so it doesn’t feel quite as polished or perfectly packaged as the original. Nonetheless, this is one hell of a film, brilliantly acted and scripted. It’s certainly a worthy sequel. Shame about the crap title.

Arrested Development S05 (TV)

– nowhere near as good as the original few seasons, but still good entertainment and fun to watch.


– Gory and hopeless drama cum thriller about a paltry resistance effort during WW2. Depressing and not particularly compelling.

The Tribe (2016)

– Unconvincing acting and scripting make this low budget post-apocalyptic survival thriller near unwatchable.


– Intended as a character study, this is a slow paced and moderately irritating drama, entirely unnecessary given the masterwork it describes. Read ‘In Cold Blood’ and ignore this.

Killing Eve S01 (TV)

– wonderfully original British crime drama. Unfortunately the climax of the series teeters a little too close to the edge of the rails.


– Slow burning and suspenseful, this indie, low budget emotional thriller is very effective, but feels overwrought and try hard at times.


– proficient horror movie that doesn’t quite earn its frenzied acclaim.

May 2018


– frenetic and overwrought crime drama that plays like a prolonged episode of Fargo. Not bad, but not worth the effort.


– the best documentary I’ve ever seen and a fascinating expose of Russian doping. Whether it’s a subject that interests you or not, the political ramifications and behind the scenes machinations by Putin’s government are a stunning reminder that conspiracies do exist.

Banking on Bitcoin

– Interesting but forgettable documentary making the argument for Bitcoin. Mostly subjective content.

Utopia S02 (TV)

– enjoyable continuation of the conspiracy thriller, but clutching at straws and contrivances in a way that series 1 didn’t need to. Still great entertainment, I’m just glad it was wrapped before it descended into farce.


– Ponderous Western; well shot, well acted, no less drawn out.

Den of Thieves

– the one gripping heist sequence towards the end is very tightly executed, but the rest of this macho thriller is so testosterone fuelled and trite it’s off-putting. Too long as well.

The Florida Project

– One of those dramas critics love and most normal people find boring. Observational cinema that seems like human tourism.

April 2018

Utopia S01 (TV)

– An intriguing and arresting pilot episode is followed by what must surely be one of the finest and most original conspiracy thriller series Britain has produced. There are some occasional lines of cheesy expositional dialogue, and the plot frequently strays into absurdity, but for sheer entertainment and thrilling momentum, this is an instant classic. Neil Maskell in particular is a rivetingly sinister villain.

I, Tonya

– Another reinvention of history, this is still a good film, if only for its fantastic performances. The more I read out about Tonya Harding the less sympathy I have for her, but her story is certainly an engaging one to watch unfold onscreen.

El Cuerpo (The Body)

– great thriller, even if it doesn’t hold its secrets quite so well on a repeat viewing.

Ready Player One

– albeit a children’s film through and through (hence extra-condescending exposition), this is a brilliant dystopian sci-fi adventure – a love letter to video game nerds and pop culture nerds alike, filled with a ton of references and Easter Eggs. Thoroughly entertaining.

Darkest Hour

– Oldman delivers an impressive turn in otherwise pretty dour love letter to Churchill. Cherry picked and rose tinted history never really does it for me and this film overlooks, even candy coats, all of Churchill’s problems bar moderate rudeness, which is easily forgivable in a man haunted by a country at war. Misleading and romanticised.

AP Bio S01 (TV)

– ridiculous and puerile comedy, often reliant on ropey slapstick. Somehow still managed to win me over with it’s asinine charm (and Glenn Howerton). Couldn’t recommend it though.

The Disaster Artist

– the character of Tommy is so unbearable the film irrevocably suffers, but like a car crash, it’s hard to look away. Just keep wincing and the end will surely come.

A Quiet Place

– not without its problems, but this is an extremely effective and original suspense thriller – much more exciting than scary. Well worth catching in the cinema (or on a big screen) if possible.

Berberian Sound Studio

– interesting ideas but the Lynchian style and abstract form make this a difficult and unsatisfying watch.


– animated musical movie, peak Pixar tear jerker but great fun and very upbeat and feel good.

Se Quien Eres (I Know Who You Are) S01+S02 (TV)

– frequently absurd but captivating nonetheless. The mystery intrigues even through the dodgy script and occasionally terrible acting. (

March 2018

Deliver Us From Evil

– engaging and suspenseful thriller that tries to be as dark and brooding as Se7en but hasn’t got the narrative to back it up. Devolves into generic exorcism fare.

The Wailing

– a bit too long, but this is an engrossing and suspenseful thriller with an ambiguous ending that might throw off some viewers. Strangely comedic too.

The Nile Hilton Incident

– solid enough crime drama, not exactly fun though. Often slow and confusing, with a sense of inevitability that’s never turned on its head.

Game Night

– hairbrained comedy thriller. Hardly high art, but this is a mostly enjoyable farce. A good weekend time waster.

Don’t Say A Word

– idiotic thriller that starts exciting and rapidly deteriorates.

A Man Apart

– marginally better than average revenge action thriller with something vaguely resembling real acting from Vin Diesel. Easy viewing.

The Death of Stalin

– a brilliantly funny premise and promising start becomes a bit tedious by the end reel. Hits and misses, like all of Armando Iannucci’s work.

Mozart in the Jungle (S04)(TV)

– as always, a wacky pleasure. Great music and comedy, and enough off-kilter zaniness to stay original.


– Garland hasn’t repeated the splendour of Ex Machina here, but it’s still an intriguing scifi. Too abstract for my tastes, without enough clues to lead me to a satisfactory conclusion. Polished, but I wouldn’t watch it again.

Murder on the Orient Express

– absurdly blockbusterised. Boring. And that god awful moustache.

Sneaky Pete (S02)(TV)

– this is not high art, it’s indubitably bad on so many levels, but it’s incorrigibly bad, loveably so, and it always leaves me grinning like a dufus.


– thankfully not as gratuitous as the last spate, but it falls victim to the same underlying issue: the beauty of the original Saw was that the twist was so simple it needed no explanation. Every subsequent film has been so convoluted it’s needed a few minutes explainer to justify the final reveal. That’s a failure.

Roman J Israel Esq.

– oddly compelling given its subdued and deflated style, with sensitive performances from all involved, but beyond competency, there’s little to excite or to recommend here.

February 2018


– A classic, conventional crime thriller. Compelling, with various intriguing twists and turns. If only the ending wasn’t so drawn out it would be even better.

The Thomas Crown Affair

– hilariously dated art heist flick starring Brosnan on top suave form. Amazing how times have changed in two decades. Good fun though, shame it sags in the middle.

Black Panther

– race and gender power aside (which admittedly, stands this film head and shoulders above its peers), this is more formulaic superhero guff. I’m calling time on comic blockbusters.

Personal Shopper

– A waste of everybody’s time. The interesting premise is clumsily executed in this tediously slow and sombre psychological drama. It’s agonisingly boring, with a large portion taking place via text messaging, complete with enraging repetitive notifications. Infuriating from beginning to end.

The Cloverfield Paradox

– a demonstration of how to make a terrible space thriller with a great cast. Criminally wasteful of talent. It’s inconceivable that someone gave this unwatchable mess a green light.

Tik Tok

– stupid action thriller complete with cackling madcap villain and cliched set pieces. Very disappointing.


– slow and fairly boring Stephen King horror. Based on a novella, and it feels like the source material was too thin to flesh into a full film.


– not Aronofsky’s descent into madness of the same name, this Korean drama follows a mother seeking to exonerate her son from a murder charge. Atmospheric and well shot, but it didn’t move or excite me.

Brawl in Cell Block 99

– This is bleak and brutally violent. The colour palette is drab, and the script minimalist too, but there’s a steely determination in the protagonist and a sense of tremendous injustice against him that really makes you want to follow the story through and see him come out the other side (if only for a moment…!) A really engaging thriller.

About Elly

– frantic and suspenseful Iranian drama, gripping and full of mystery and intrigue, but the end, when it eventually comes, is less of a conclusion than an abrupt stop. A shame.

The Shape of Water

– wonderfully different love story fantasy thriller with a video game aesthetic and comic book wit. Brilliantly cast and directed and engaging from start to finish. Michael Shannon is the new Ed Harris.

A Hard Day

– such an absurd film I initially mistook it for a comedy, this Korean action thriller is undeniably stupid but no less compelling.

The Chaser

– horribly violent, bleak and macabre Korean crime thriller, too unpleasant to recommend.

Alan Partridge’s Scissored Isle

– Good to see Partridge back in action, but this is nowhere near Coogan’s best, just as often tiresome as it is funny. Hopefully the new BBC series will fare better.

Ingrid Goes West

– Stressful, skin-crawling, creepy and unsettling, this is a one of a kind comedy that’s near masterful. Aubrey Plaza is uniquely talented and she delivers a phenomenal performance along with O’Shea Jackson Jr who is instantly winning as her lovable landlord.


– quaint but funny. Many feel it missed the mark, and maybe so, but at the very least it hit the target. Light hearted and enjoyable comedy drama.


– superficial social media thriller. Irrational behaviour and stupid lines of dialogue make for frustrating viewing. The soundtrack is the only occasionally worthwhile aspect of the whole experience.

New World

– brilliantly suspenseful and well constructed Korean crime thriller of the sort that’s all too rare these days. Great film.

January 2018


– juvenile horror movie that’s fun to watch in the vein of Stranger Things, but devoid of any serious scares. Clowns are so passé…

Cold Eyes

– Fast paced, wholly gripping Korean heist thriller. Quick witted and adrenaline filled. A great ride.

The Best Offer

– good yarn, well spun, even while the actual plot is utterly preposterous. Solid entertainment.

Good Time

– gorgeously shot and stirring crime thriller that grips from the brutal opening sequence and doesn’t let up. Gets under your skin.

Wormwood (TV)

– Interesting concept proves dull viewing. Too much atmosphere, not enough coherence.

The Captive

– for once the critics didn’t batter it unfairly. This is fairly appalling.

Pawn Sacrifice

– good performances all round, but even as a chess fan, this isn’t as exciting as I feel it could have been.

Manhunt: Unabomber

– terrific TV series with a career best performance from Sam Worthington and perhaps from Paul Bettany too. It’s a shame some of the scenes are a bit on the nose and exposition heavy because it falls just short of perfection. Nonetheless, a fantastic ride.

Molly’s Game

– As fast paced, slick and loquacious as we’ve come to expect from Aaron Sorkin. This is a fun drama, but one can’t help but wonder if there aren’t more interesting stories to be told with Sorkin’s talent.

The Siege of Jadotville

– fantastic, suspenseful and stunningly beautiful war film. Unexpected given its modest renown.

Lost Highway

– a spooky soundtrack provides the majority of the artistry in this maddeningly abstract erotic thriller. Visually interesting but narratively tedious.

Godless (S01)(TV)

– A truly magnificent Western. Epic, beautiful, profound, with a splendid cast and sharp witted script. Fantastic.


– German noir crime thriller, mostly gripping, if a little over the top. The plot is undermined by a plethora of extraordinary coincidences, but for fans of the serial killer genre, this is worth a watch.

Killing Words (Palabras encadenadas)

– average Spanish-language crime thriller


– Devastating and shockingly violent recreation of a university campus shooting and its profound impact on those involved. Gut wrenching. Haunting.

La Casa De Papel

– what starts as a trashy Spanish heist thriller turns borderline unbearable as the plot twists itself into a ludicrous, inconsistent and often nonsensical mess. Then after 13 absurd episodes, the season ends abruptly and unsatisfyingly. Unless season two is a work of utter genius, I cannot recommend this.

The Foreigner

– Chan is not such a happy Jackie in this dour and somnolent revenge thriller. One to avoid.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

– delicately walking the fine line between black comedy and tragedy, this unexpected drama is wickedly funny, touching and profound.

The Wall

– Surprisingly innovative given its limited cast and location. Very well directed and well acted, but still feels an effort at times. Worth watching though.

Shooter S02 (TV)

– Another stunted season due to Ryan Philippe’s freak injury. Probably a saving grace to be frank. Despite a good turn from Josh Stewart (under-appreciated as always but well cast here), this was fraught with cliche, stupidity and wearisome machismo.

December 2017


– Good story drastically undermined by an unnecessary and tedious romance that reeks of studio interference. A shame, as at its best, the script is clever and the acting is strong.

The Founder

– Heavy with injustice and all the better for it, this is the tragic story of Ray Kroc, the man who stole McDonald’s. Strong performances give way to a lot of biopic clichés, but this is better than average.

The Fury of a Patient Man

– slow burning revenge thriller, a bit too grim and grisly for entertainment, but quite affecting in its own way.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

– a big budget spectacle which pales in comparison to its chronological predecessor. The plot alone is reason enough to face palm. Without the scene stealing performances from Oscar Isaac, John Boyega and Adam Driver, there would be no reason at all to watch this.


– Original but protracted one man show from Bryan Cranston. For the most part engaging even whilst unequivocally ridiculous.


– I just couldn’t care less.

Before I Wake

– cheap fantasy horror about a kid whose nightmares are realised when he sleeps. Not worth watching.

November 2017

The Five (TV)

– Thoroughly engaging and enjoyable TV drama exploring the mystery of why a missing and presumed dead boy’s DNA is showing up at murder seasons. Utterly ridiculous and implausible, but compelling.

Spider-man: Homecoming

– funny and upbeat with the emphasis where it belongs – on the characters rather than the effects.

Hearts in Atlantis

– charming if slightly soppy drama that hints at mystery and intrigue but never really delivers. A great performance from Anton Yelchin (RIP) although Anthony Hopkins isn’t at his best.

American Made

– self aggrandising and smug tale, hero worshipping Barry Seal and the drug-running, CIA informing lifestyle he led. Easy and generally entertaining viewing though.


– Noomi Rapace is excellent as always, and the film has a stellar cast. Unfortunately, the plot, for all its twists and turns, is beyond ludicrous, and Orlando Bloom’s laddish-quipping-sidekick routine is embarrassing. That said, very engaging thriller overall, shame it’s held together with such a feeble thread.

Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead

– bleak crime drama, too heavy for my tastes, and without anyone to root for.

The Sinner S01 (TV)

– intriguing, often gratuitous and unnecessarily drawn out crime mystery. Disappointing.

The Bad Batch

– Visually stunning but so slow and underdeveloped as to be tiresome. Avoid unless you want inspiration for whacky aesthetics.

Stranger Things S02 (TV)

– more of the same, ergo it’s awesome, must watch TV. Feel-good, nostalgic, inspiring, and dangerously easy to binge. Bring on the next season.

What Happened To Monday

– Madhat and brilliantly conceived. Great performances from Noomi Rapace. Lots to unpick and ridicule, but still good fun.

Veneno para las Hadas (Poison for the Fairies)

– sinister and atmospheric, but so uneventful as to feel protracted

El Bar

– often agonisingly difficult to watch, this spanish black comedy thriller is mostly unfunny, gratuitous, and poorly produced. One to avoid.

Atomic Blonde

– arguably stylish, but otherwise dull, humourless, and full of itself, with a cast of unlikeables.

Z (1969)

– I don’t think masterpiece is too strong a term for this marvellous conspiracy thriller. Way ahead of its time in terms of cinematography and directorial style. Vastly better than I could have imagined after so many years. Utterly convincing.


– disjointed but compelling thriller.

The Silence

– heavy and depressing but interesting crime drama. I wanted more from it.


– Like a magic trick, I loved it right up until I discovered how it was done, and then it just seemed so boringly straightforward. Still an excellent and gripping thriller though.

October 2017

Bomb Scared (Fe de Etarras)

– Gentle political and social satire that is vastly better than its disappointing IMDb rating would suggest. Funny and feel good.

Wind River

– beautiful cinematography, good acting, great soundtrack. All in all, a solid, slow burning crime drama.

Blade Runner 2049

– stunningly beautiful, masterfully directed, but suffering the same achilles heel as its predecessor: the story takes itself so seriously, is so poe-faced and, at times, dull. A shame, as the dark dystopian world Villeneuve creates is delightfully immersive.

Mindhunter (S01)(TV)

– watchable, and occasionally fun, but nowhere near as sinister or macabre as it would like to be, and perhaps ought to be, given its premise. There’s much better TV out there.

May God Forgive Us (Que Dios Nos Perdone)

– often disturbingly graphic, but this is a strong and well structured crime drama

Gerald’s Game

– nasty sex game gone awry turns into a nightmare about child abuse. If that’s your bag, it’s good.

The Limehouse Golem

– fairly average period crime thriller. A great cast but still underwhelming.

Inherent Vice

– drawn out, rambling and mostly nonsensical. Waste of time. Disappointing from such a powerhouse director and cast.

The Skeleton Key

– surprisingly enjoyable and gripping mystery thriller with another strong performance from Kate Hudson (Triangle). This isn’t as good as that film, but it’s still a pleasant surprise given the average calibre of horror movies these days.

The Bad Education Movie

– the one sidesplittingly hilarious scene is probably available on YouTube, and the rest is borderline unwatchable.

Quarry (S01)(TV)

– one of the most original and affecting shows I’ve seen on TV in a good while. Travesty they cancelled it, but at least it’ll last as a tightly contained masterpiece. Watch it.

Narcos (S03)(TV)

– great show, a little slow on the uptake, but once the first few episodes are out of the way it’s gripping and suspenseful to the end. In some ways, it’s more entertaining than the first two episodes, and some of the cast members are just fantastic; hat tip Andrea Londo and Matias Varela.

The Big Sick

– surprisingly funny and upbeat rom com.


– solid and engaging drama whose main fault seems to be glamorising and espousing an industry that has blood on its hands. The true story is even stranger than the fiction, worth reading about.

Wonder Woman

– massively overrated superhero tedium. Hollywood continues spewing out the same old same, finding a new face to prop it up and a new marketing ploy to sell it. How this is acclaimed I cannot fathom.

September 2017

Shepherds and Butchers

– plodding and unnecessarily drawn out courtroom drama, targeting too many moral sins with a broad brush, laying it on thick, and ending up with a clumsy overall picture. Nonetheless, easily watchable and still somewhat moving.


– pretty bog standard documentary, carried by the majesty of the genius at its core rather than any cinematic flair


– a spectacularly menacing and then outright batshit crazy visual assault. Recommended if only for the masterful film-making, this is an unpleasant allegory with the subtlety and nuance of a battering ram. (Key clue: Mother! is Mother Nature).


– arresting and brutally visceral cannibal horror. Gripping.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

– ludicrous and slapstick action thriller that unexpectedly entertains. Perfect for a sunday afternoon.

War for the Planet of the Apes

– hugely disappointing final act to the ape apocalypse.

It Comes At Night

– interesting but plodding survival horror

Logan Lucky

– well plotted yankee doodle thriller with Soderburgh’s trademark style and slick cinematic design.

Live by Night

– carefully crafted if overly prolonged gangster drama, beautifully filmed and somehow quite affecting

Shooter S01 (TV)

– Fast paced action thriller, as plausible as Prison Break but similarly enjoyable.

August 2017


– Christopher Plummer turns in a fantastic performance in a heartfelt and moving crime drama.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

– An enjoyably stupid romp through English legend complete with Guy Ritchie’s trademark cockney schtick.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.

– moderately enjoyable sci fi, but I still fail to see the rationale for the hysteria surrounding this franchise.

House of Cards (S05)(TV)

– disappeared so far up itself I’m left watching solely to see the house collapse, the cards tumble down, and Frank Underwood take a bullet to the face (or the just equivalent)

The Invisible Guest (Contratiempo)

– even on the second viewing in three months, this is a fantastic thriller, and the painstaking care in laying out the breadcrumbs to the twist doesn’t go unnoticed a second time. Great stuff.

Man Up

– Simon Pegg proves he really has sold out. Insipid romcom. And I quote: “you’re just an emotional jigsaw at the moment, but you’ll piece yourself back together again”. Nauseating.

L’Affaire SK1

– Harrowing and compelling as this story is, and I did (mostly) enjoy the film, I was really disappointed that there wasn’t more to it. I expected a twist, or a revelation, or some kind of climax. Whilst real life doesn’t always come with neat red herrings and gut punch reveals, that is what the best crime thrillers deliver. I wonder if this might have been a better “based on a true story” rather than a direct biographical retelling.

Mar de Plastico S01E01 (TV)

– spanish attempt at scandinoir falls flat with glossy casting, a tactless script and infuriatingly stupid plot oversights (generously not called ‘holes’)

Taken 3

– somehow marginally more entertaining than Taken 2, but equally ridiculous.

Boy Missing

– Perhaps the worst Spanish language film I’ve seen. Chaotic, badly scripted, acted, directed; a total waste of time. Baffled that Jose Coronado put his name to it.

The Handmaiden

– Strikingly artful and brilliantly directed but not a particularly enjoyable film

July 2017


– I really enjoyed this again on a repeat viewing, although it definitely does sag in the middle, and the supporting cast aren’t up to Barratt’s comedic calibre.

Banshee S04 (TV)

– at long last the town of Banshee gets its final act. The drawn out and self indulgent conclusion in the last episode is preceded by a mostly entertaining, if staggeringly gratuitous main story. Worth watching if you’ve come this far if only for the closure.


– funny and heartfelt animated drama combining didactic messages of feminism and environmentalism. Worth watching despite the horrifically cheesy music.

Veep S06 (TV)

– The comedy has definitely declined since its early seasons, but there are still enough laugh out loud moments to warrant the viewing time.

Ozark S01 (TV)

– best original show in years, a masterclass – Bateman and Linney are fantastic, but the writing is where it flies, the dance between tragedy and hilarity is graceful and gripping. Excellent, must watch show.

Una Pura Formalita (A Pure Formality)

– strangely intense given its limited cinematic scope and singular location, but not my cup of tea. Very dated.

Black Snow (Nieve Negra)

– slow burning drama with a (not entirely unpredictable) twist. Ricardo Darin is phenomenal as always, but the film feels very overencumbered and weighted into the final act. It’s an interesting premise that falls short in its execution. Worth watching anyway.


– innovative and powerful war film. Hardly something to get excited about though. Nolan’s worst in my view – at least in terms of enjoyment.


– absurd black comedy pitting the animal liberation front against evil capitalists genetically modifying superpigs. It sounds nuts, it is nuts, and it flits between hilarious and cringeworthy from scene to scene. Hard to seriously recommend, but there’s probably something in here worth watching.

Bloodline S03 (TV)

– albeit engaging throughout, this season really underdelivered and went off the rails. An episode where John spends time hallucinating multiple realities really jumps the proverbial shark, but even before then, it had become increasingly unhinged and ungrounded. Meg was abandoned within the story, written out, and Mama Raeburn has her depravity dialled to 11. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the show overall, but I’m very glad it’s ended. Its conclusion felt long overdue.

Battle Royale

– unclear about the tremendous hype for this one. A bit of a tedious slog to watch kids kill themselves and each other on an island. The premise is never satisfactorily explained and the bizarre conclusion offers no actual conclusion. Weird.

Los Ultimos Dias (The Last Days)

– Mostly solid sci fi love story plagued by truly terrible CGI, some really weird direction and peculiar costume choices. Fortunately, the latter criticisms don’t detract much from enjoyment of the movie.

June 2017

The Invisible Guest (Contratiempo)

– Utterly absorbing and gripping thriller that keeps you guessing even when you’re confident you’ve preempted its delicious finale. Rare to find such a high calibre thriller these days and this one has been criminally overlooked.

To Die For

– incomprehensible how highly regarded this dark comedy is. The main cast all deliver, but the story is unexciting and the direction and music are annoying.

To Steal From A Thief (Cien Años de Perdon)

– hugely disappointing, chaotic and superficial heist thriller. Engaging, but utterly devoid of substance.

Baby Driver

– high octane stunt heist extravaganza to an excellent soundtrack with the atomically precise direction of Edgar Wright. What’s not to like?

Counter Investigation (Contre Enquete)

– short, not exactly sweet. The sinister ending is a pleasant surprise, but it’s not the easiest film to watch.

Public Enemy S01 (Ennemi Public) (TV) 

– disappointing crime thriller, particularly given the rave reviews ahead of its release. Not even close to the benchmarks set by The Bridge and The Killing.

Welcome to the Sticks!

– enjoyable French comedy which relies too heavily on nuanced language gags for an easy translation to English, but just about gets by on the artful slapstick


– slow and gentle drama exploring the relationship between a psychiatrist and his patient, who claims to be from another planet. Mostly intriguing, but its pace drags behind comfortable.

Final Destination

– amazed this has been so well received. Perhaps it simply hasn’t stood the test of time, but there’s barely even echoes of a quality film in this supernatural thriller.

Smoke and Mirrors (El Hombre de las mil caras)

– plodding thriller that makes an effort to present with style but can’t escape its tedious plot

Better Call Saul S03

– terrific series of an increasingly terrific show. It’s a shame the season finale was lacklustre relative to some of the other episodes and didn’t leave me hyped for the next season, but I savour every minute this is on air. Great performances, great script, simply great TV.

A Perfect Man (Un Homme Ideal)

– sinister suspense thriller. No masterpiece, but it’s a pleasure to be drawn into the web of lies.

A Perfect Man (Un Homme Ideal)

– sinister suspense thriller. No masterpiece, but it’s a pleasure to be drawn into the web of lies.

John Wick: Chapter 2

– after a profoundly tedious opening act, the action hots up and it delivers exactly what you’d expect: highly choreographed, laughably ludicrous fight sequences and good manners. Hits the spot if mindless violence is what you’re after.

May 2017

Before the Flood

– basic but accessible documentary about climate change

Ghost in the Shell

– visually impressive and just about adequately engaging scifi but the generic storyline and weak script disappoints

The Path S01

– this obsession with cults and the supernatural is a bit tiresome. Not bad, but didn’t wet my whistle. Won’t be watching season 2.

Kong: Skull Island

– a spectacle at the very least. Drawing strongly on Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now influence, this is a fast paced action thriller that ought to entertain even the most passive of audiences.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

– just as enjoyable and uplifting on the rewatch.

The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies

– a character assassination, a hatchet job, whatever you call it, the press did a number on Jefferies, and this is a solid retelling of the prejudiced and malicious destruction of his reputation

Line of Duty S04

– ludicrous but thoroughly engrossing and engaging to the bitter end. And it is a bitter end. I hope they pull S05 back from the edge of the abyss.


– hilariously zany, wonderfully British. Top notch comedy with gags that ripen and become more succulent with fond memory.

Embrace of the Serpent

– intriguing but undeniably slow B&W drama. Sadly I wanted to like it more than I did, but perhaps it’s one to revisit when I’m blessed with more patience!


– average drama detailing a mans pursuit for justice following his daughters death. Compelling, but not particularly remarkable.


– surprisingly better on a repeat viewing. Excellent sci-fi film.


– refreshingly different for the franchise and for the superhero movie genre, but still overrated

Al final del tunel (At the end of the tunnel)

– captivating thriller, a little hectic and disordered in the wrong places, but mostly great entertainment

April 2017

Lights Out

– fairly bog standard horror fare, occasionally creative, more often banal.

Broadchurch S03

– far better than the second season, and its mistakes easier to forgive. It follows the same tropes and gives itself to tedious moralising at times, but this was a good fun whodunnit.

The Lost City of Z

– more thought provoking and carefully paced drama than I’d anticipated, but it sustained my interest and enjoyment throughout.

Lakeview Terrace

– well acted but unconvincing and occasionally boring thriller.


– as brilliantly funny as it is controversial, this is a powerful social commentary, as well as an exploration of sexuality, control, and the human condition. Unfortunately, it sometimes savours the gratuitous a little more than it needs to, and it could lose some audience as a result.

Fargo S02

– far inferior to the opening season, but this was still entertaining for the most part.

Get Out

– brilliantly sinister and multivalent thriller impelled by strong performances, creative visuals and dark social commentary. Very timely.

March 2017


– emotive but overly long (and self-indulgent) drama with solid performances, especially from the child actors. Fairly familiar tear jerk territory.

Life on the Road

– one of the most painful cinematic experiences of my life. Scant moments of genuine comedy are overshadowed by constant, agonising cringes. The sea of blank faces that meets every remark David Brent makes, and the astounding lack of humanity demonstrated by everyone who meets him undermines the cheesy upbeat ending, which, when it finally comes, is undeserved and at odds with the overall narrative. A great pity that the film loosely echoes Gervais own story.

Hacksaw Ridge

– war film that has its moments but more often than not resorts to all guns blazing, chaos of war scenes with gore and fire aplenty. It could have been abbreviated hugely without losing any impact.

American Fable

– effective if low budget suspenseful drama. Unfortunately many of the performances are substandard and after a strong start, the plot meanders and fizzles.

Halt and Catch Fire (S03)(TV)

– Whilst still mostly excellent, this season indubitably suffered from excluding, to a large extent, its most interesting character: Joe McMillan. Whilst he’s still present, his storyline plays second fiddle to the emotional difficulties in the relationship triangle between Donna, Gordon and Cameron.


– like so many dramas, a concentrated burst of all of the lows with none of the highs to balance the lives it purports to present. Viola Davis turns a staggeringly strong, powerhouse performance, but beyond an effective and affecting acting class, there’s little here to enjoy.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

– slow but solid drama, inaccurately billed as a thriller. It draws some questionable conclusions about the nature of fundamentalism, enemies and loyalty, but it kind of works anyway.

Who Am I

 – fun, fast paced and exciting hacker thriller. Contrived and implausible but easily forgiven for its entertainment value.

The Prestige

– so much more impressive on a second viewing, perhaps in part with maturity and in part from a greater and more complete understanding of the trick. A fantastic film to be sure.

Deepwater Horizon

– surprisingly gripping and somehow endearing thriller about the titular oil disaster.

Underworld: Blood Wars

– a fitting continuation for the series. Albeit critically panned, it’s an enjoyable return to the Underworld vampire lycan saga and a solid 85 minutes of light entertainment.

Doctor Strange

– bizarre superhero flop. Cumberbatch isn’t bad per say, but we’re way past peak superhero and the tropes aren’t getting any easier to tolerate.

Miss Sloane

– slick but cold political thriller. Very engaging, but the eponymous missy is just a bit too unlikeable. Worth watching though.

Assassin’s Creed

– as a moderate fan of the games, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find this moderately enjoyable. It ticks most of the boxes for fun, even where it fails on story and overloads on style above substance.

February 2017

Patriot’s Day

– a blow by blow, hour by hour retelling of the Boston Bombings. I’m not informed enough to be able to judge its accuracy, but it doesn’t feel gratuitous in any way. It’s focused on the community reaction, the strength of people there in the wake of the attack, and the police officers and security officials who worked to find the guys afterwards. There are definitely moments when they go off on one banging the drum for America and freedom, and the flavour of patriotism is a bit intense, but under the circumstances, it’s kind of forgivable, and it doesn’t detract much as a viewer. Bit long, and feels a bit too soon to be making it, but overall pretty solid.

Manchester by the Sea

– affecting drama detailing tragedy within tragedy and the ways family manage grief. Heart felt and well acted, albeit a unique set of circumstances.

The Principal (TV)

– riddled with problems, and some of the scripting is clumsy at best, but it has a positive, optimistic outlook and wins over as a really sincere and genuinely heartwarming series

War on Everyone

– wishes it was a Guy Ritchie thriller with kooky lines and convoluted story, but it’s flat, unfunny, very boring and almost unwatchable. A great shame given the cast.


– disappointing war film, less thriller, more romantic drama. Not bad, but too glossy for the genre, and not especially engaging.

We Are Legion

– quite an enjoyable documentary about the hacktavist organisation Anonymous, from their beginnings as internet trolls on 4chan and other message boards to the headline grabbing hacking collective


– unsurprisingly humourless but excessively dreary biopic of FLOTUS Jackie Kennedy in the immediate aftermath of JFK’s assassination. Tedious.


– engaging German thriller with a fantastic soundtrack and strong performances. The plot could have been tighter, but this is well worth watching.

The Moorside (TV)

– uncomfortable two part drama recounting the missing of Shannon Matthews in 2008. Questionable whether this should have been made at all. Easy to watch, but not exactly thrilling TV.

Nobel (TV)

– Terrific performances, tight and well executed sequences and a really compelling script in this near perfect little Norwegian thriller. I loved it.


– fascinating and troubling Netflix documentary about the state of race relations in America and how it’s exacerbated by the justice and penal system.

The Honourable Woman (TV)

– well intentioned but tediously self-aware and imperious. There are a few good characters, but none are likeable, and the plot is infuriatingly drawn out. After the powerhouse of The Shadow Line, this is a huge disappointment.

He Never Died

– flat, nonsensical and unfunny noir comedy. Highlights the danger of having an unlikeable main character.

January 2017

Sherlock S04 (TV)

– a far fetched and self-conscious but mostly enjoyable crime series, with a finale that hugely disappoints. It seems the creators gave up on actual cases in favour of pseudo psychological thrills and set pieces, and the show suffers hugely as a consequence.


– interesting, well made, but disappointingly unexciting and longwinded political gangster thriller

The Accountant

– enjoyable thriller, unfortunately framed around an insubstantial (and irrelevant) love interest. But that’s easily overlooked and the film works quite well in any case.

The Last Panthers S01 (TV)

– a strong, high concept pilot episode disintegrates into a dull, muddled mess of a crime drama.


– interesting documentary, not exactly original in the lines it covers, but very worthwhile. Good to hear such experts speak on the subject of privacy, surveillance and copyright.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

– extremely sinister and menacing throughout as all good horrors should be. Quite impressive with such a minimal cast. A bit heavy on the jump scares and some very cheesy moments.

The Connection

– impressive French drug v police drama, like several series of The Wire compressed into two hours. Zampa rivals some of the greatest movie villains.

Rogue One

– the best Star Wars movie to date, originals included. Everything is on point from the cinematography through to the scripting, and it’s so well cast. The only duff note is the cgi reincarnation of Peter Cushing who died in 1994. But Ben Mendelsohn is just made to be a villain – the guy is so ridiculously menacing, and Mads Mikkelson is emotionally powerful even as a hologram. Plus on a smaller note, it was great to see Daniel Mays put in a short appearance – he deserves international recognition and better opportunities. All of that aside though, it was just a genuinely excellent sci-fi film, which I can’t really say about any of the others.

American Honey

– engaging, artistic road trip drama, with excellent performances but a desultory plot that sadly fizzles out long before the end. Plus, the soundtrack is too on the nose. Definitely worth watching though.

A Perfect Day

– brilliantly acted and sensitively portrayed drama about aid workers in the Balkans. Very funny at times. I loved it.

Hoosiers (Best Shot)

– I’m always impressed when a sports film draws me in, when I’ve no interest in its subject matter. This is dated, but Hackman is great as ever and the underdog drive is as strong as any modern flick.


– after a promising, intelligent and smartly scripted start, this sci-fi crumbles into far fetched stupidity and unexciting action. A shame, because James Badge Dale delivers beyond the call of duty as the lead.


– Not as life changing as Citizen Four, but that’s to be expected. In some ways this is a more important biopic drama as it has the potential to be viewed by many more people, and for that reason, it needs to be exciting and accessible. This is, for the most part. It could have been better, but it could have been a lot worse. Watch it, then read and understand more.

Star Trek: Beyond

– lighthearted but tedious sci-fi sequel.

La La Land

– hyped beyond all reasonable expectation, this is nonetheless an impressive piece of cinema, likely to trump even the most cynical of viewers (of which I was one). That said, it’s not without its issues: the dreams vs love moral is troubling at best, and it’s manipulative in its narrative, leaving you valuing a year long whirlwind romance over a long term stable marriage.

The Duel

– poorly paced but worthwhile Western with echoes of Heart of Darkness. Surprisingly arresting turns from both Woody Harrelson and Liam Hemsworth.

The Magnificent Seven

– the 2016 version. Good old solid Western, well cast and well executed. It’s not going to blow any minds but you could do a lot worse than this.


– sci fi romance that fails on the science and the fiction, but somehow remains enjoyable, perhaps partly thanks to Chris Pratt being a loveable baffoon. J Law is always solid casting too. The lasting question as the credits roll, though: where the hell did Andy Garcia come from?


– gripping psychological thriller with a delicious villain in the shape of James McAvoy. It’s a shame we don’t see all 23 identities, and there’s definitely room for improvement, but this is fun.

The Limey

– mostly engaging but unsatisfactory revenge thriller, with less thrills, and more cockney platitudes. Stylishly, if jarringly, edited.


– arduous, exhausting slog. Perhaps Scorsese is atoning for the grand decadence and joyous corruption of the Wolf of Wall Street with this nearly insufferable drama. Not devoid of cinematic beauty but hard to credit with much else.

Sneaky Pete S01 (TV)

– Enjoyable and imaginative TV show of the ‘easy viewing’ variety; a lot of fun, compelling cliff hangers, solid casting and an engaging story. The flaw is that in order to carry it all off, it relies on some serious suspension of disbelief, more than a little cliche, and too much instructive soundtrack and exposition. Sadly, the setup for the second season was extremely ham-fisted and rushed.

December 2016

The Strangers

– very unpleasant and successfully unsettling home invasion horror film. Can’t way it’s enjoyable, but it fulfils its brief.

The Missing S02 (TV)

– vastly superior to its first season, this crime thriller drama is very engaging TV. It suffers from some clumsy exposition and occasional offtone acting, but largely this is an excellent ride.

Finding Dory

– boring, annoying and undeserving sequel to the wonderful Finding Nemo


– Tom Hanks saves the flight, but perhaps not the lacklustre film, despite a consistently strong performance throughout. How many times can you show a plane landing on a river?

Westworld S01 (TV)

– all at once fantastic, beautiful, gratuitous and scary, this should be a one season wonder, but I fear it’ll be tarnished with subsequent series that can’t possibly live up to the near perfection of these ten episodes. Watch it if only for it’s magnificent conclusion.

Seven Years (7 Años)

– unexpectedly engaging single room, minimal cast drama. Sparks fly and intrigue grips even past the end.

The OA S01 (TV)

– Weird sci-fi drama with an unlikeable cast, if just about intriguing enough to command attention. Mostly well produced, its a shame about the plot.

The League S01 (TV)

– occasionally hilarious, but just as often tediously puerile. It could serve as good entertainment if you’ve got the time to kill. Sadly, I don’t.

The Puffy Chair

– slow but strangely bewitching love story drama. Quite charming in its simplicity but a little too uneventful for viewing in 2016.

Mozart in the Jungle S03 (TV)

– Terrific show as always, but I’m a teeny bit concerned this series was less well plotted than the first two and I hope this isn’t the first scree on a slippery slope. I still thoroughly enjoyed the season though, it’s a joy to watch a show with so much love and so much optimism. If only life could be so consistently upbeat.

November 2016

The Infiltrator

– good undercover drug bust thriller with some irritating directorial choices and cliches that impair the overall effect

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

– long with distractingly bad CGI. Eddie Redmayne is typically autistic and blinky, and the rest of the cast are caricatures. Quite the disappointment all things considered. Watch it for more of that inventive world though.

Goliath (TV)

– strong criminal drama with a frustratingly abrupt and unearned conclusion. Billy Bob Thornton is terrific, and the plot is intriguing and nuanced, but the rushed delivery in eight episodes was totally insufficient and ultimately disappointing.

Captain Fantastic

– engrossing, thought-provoking drama, raising important questions about lifestyle, philosophy and the world we choose to live. Terrific performances, especially from upcomer George McKay.


– after a promising start, the twist disappoints, and the cat and mouse chase grinds to a tedious, uneventful stop

Safety Not Guaranteed

– a perfect ten. Beautifully constructed and wonderfully imagined romantic comedy drama with scripting that frequently made me laugh out loud. Grew on me from the opening scenes right through to its powerfully affecting conclusion. Terrific.

The One I Love

– fantastically inventive and surprising sci-fi drama with great performances and a hugely intriguing story. Great film.


– probably the closest the big man has come to actually having to act, and bizarre to see him in a vulnerable role, but sadly the film is built upon a plot of sand, and the whole thing is too stupid to enjoy


– engaging thriller requires too much suspension of disbelief for plausibility, but is nonetheless fun to watch unfold

Hell or High Water

– terrific heist drama with stellar performances from both Ben Foster and Chris Pine. A slow burn, but excellent

A Conspiracy of Faith

– solid enough thriller, and probably the best of the trilogy, but still falls far short of the ‘greats’ of the genre


– unique sci-fi drama that’s difficult to describe. Not what I was expecting, and perhaps slightly underwelming given the hype, but it certainly set me thinking and deserves a second viewing.

Nocturnal Animals

– interesting and smartly directed drama, succumbs to style over substance in places, and too cold overall. Superb performances though.

Swiss Army Man

– taking weird to a whole new baffling level. How this dead guy drama was ever greenlit for production I’ll never understand. A flatulent film in every respect.

October 2016


– well meaning but bad film, triviliasing immensely nuanced subjects and skipping all sense of character for hasty plot advancement

Don’t Breathe

– Effective as a taut horror cum thriller, and inventively directed, but laden with problems, making for occasionally frustrating viewing.

The Jungle Book

– surprisingly excellent – a well crafted CG world and characters who stayed (mostly) true to the original. A shame it pulled a few punches, and reached a questionable conclusion about man in the animal kingdom!

Sliding Doors

– great soundtrack, unconvincing plot, occasional flashes of genuinely bright comedy. Not the time bending, universe warping sci-fi romcom I had been expecting.

Mr Robot S02 (TV)

– Those people suggesting this season has “nose-dived” in terms of quality, I suspect were just hangers on from the beginning. If anything, by the end of Season 2, I am far more invested in all of the characters and the overarching plot. The series is surreal. Undeniably so. But that’s pretty brave for the creators, and it’s so unusual and unlike anything else we’ve seen on TV, it’s worthy of praise for originality alone. I can’t wait for Season 3 – this season ended with much more suspense than Season 1. I hope they can maintain the standards and ignore the naysayers.

Pour Elle (For Her)

– The original “Next Three Days”. Solid enough performances and a polished delivery given its date. Tidy French thriller if nothing remarkable.

Mechanic: Resurrection

– technically awful, but you know what it’s like, the Stath, doing his thing, tearing it up, delivering bad lines with such profundity… it’s a joy to criticise.

Blood Father

– really bad. Like, terrible. Mercifully short.

Bridget Jones’s Baby

– not my genre but admittedly very British and very funny. Better than I remember the first two.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

– one of the worst films I’ve had the displeasure of enduring.

Amanda Knox

– gripping documentary but thin on detail. Could have done with a season to thoroughly explore the case and the people.

The Night Of

– poor courtroom drama and scripting, and irrational, ill-formed character actions, slowly bled the promise of the excellent pilot until we’re left with a glorified, prolonged episode of Law & Order. It’s an enjoyable watch, but after a very strong start, it didn’t come close to its potential. A great shame.

Free State of Jones

– strong performances but overly long and devoid of thrills or real entertainment.

Miracle (TV)

– Derren Brown’s latest live show is far from his strongest. The illusions are few and underwhelming in contrast to his earlier shows and TV performances.

Rob the Mob

– vacuous duo rob vacuous goons in vacuous film. Not bad, but as unremarkable as a bus shelter.


– Again. And it just gets better. What a beautifully filmed and artfully constructed masterpiece this is. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

– such an enjoyable drama comedy; heart warming, beautifully shot, introspective, with great, humourous performances from the small cast. A joy.

Suicide Squad

– nonsensical plot with not enough malice in the team of criminal sociopaths, and not enough spectacle to be fun. Indestructable omnipotent villains with synthetic voices are sooooo tedious.

September 2016

Requiem for the American Dream

– interesting and important points delivered in a dry and long winded sermon.

Green Room

– gritty grim teen gorefest, slightly more interesting than average for the genre.

In the Heart of the Sea

– a good, old-fashioned, classic adventure story. A few pacing issues, but not bad at all

Popstar: Never Stop Stopping

– legitimately funny parody of modern pop. It loses its way in the middle, and the jokes aren’t quite consistent enough, but most of the time it raises a solid smile if not a belly laugh.

Captain America: Civil War

– in the top tier of this rash of Superhero movies, but that doesn’t say much. That said, Marvel at least delivers fairly consistent entertainment with a sense of humour, which is more than can be said for DC.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

– every time I think Superhero movies can’t get any worse, Hollywood squeezes out another turd. Miserable, long and confused; by now somebody has surely identified Zac Snyder as a child in adult’s clothing. Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is an abomination, just disgustingly self-indulgent ham acting. Not all villains can be Ledger’s Joker, but man alive, someone out there must be able to do better than this? Maybe we need a decade or two pause to reflect upon what makes Superhero movies worth watching.

The Neon Demon

– ought to be a series of crisply framed slides on the vast white-washed wall of a modern art gallery. This is less a movie, and more a series of stylish, if grotesque, exhibits; interesting perhaps, but a far cry from entertainment.

Deep Web

– amazing, insightful and inspiring documentary about Ross Ulbricht and the Silk Road, and more broadly, the war on drugs

Musarañas (Shrew’s Nest)

– unpleasant spanish horror, more menacing than gratuitous. Good film, if you like the unlikeable.


– happily surprising and unique time travel sci-fi thriller. So much better than reviews or its reputation would imply. Highly recommended.

Narcos S02 (TV)

– mush less enjoyable than the first season, perhaps in part because of its inevitable conclusion and endlessly smug narration. Thinly veiled American propaganda.

The Girl With All The Gifts

– excellent British sci-fi that falls before the final hurdle, disrupting and destructing an otherwise original and fascinating zombie film. Suffers from the same pitfalls as many of its ilk, not least the inability to call a zombie a zombie.


– I started intrigued, amused and definitely ‘creeped’ and then it dragged for a good 30 minutes. The finale was tidy and smartly executed but I wouldn’t recommend this unless you’re really into off the wall indie horrors.


– tedious horror slasher complete with irrational behaviour, typical horror tropes and bad acting.

Bastille Day

– this is a classic genre thriller, the plot makes little sense, the circumstances are contrived and 99% of the cast is male. Of the other 1%, one is used as a topless distraction, another is shot, and the third’s a prop for the bad guys. That said, it’s quite good and silly fun and demonstrates why Idris Elba definitely shouldn’t be Bond.

À bout portant (Point Blank)

– brilliantly fast paced thriller. Very french, very enjoyable.

August 2016

Crimson Peak

– intriguing and suitably sinister gothic horror, but the plot makes little sense and the execution only serves to compound that. Style over substance.

Hail, Caesar!

– Excellent, if slightly overcooked Hollywood satire, littered with Christian allegory and political subtext. Very enjoyable.

The Survivalist

– slow to the point of boredom, this is otherwise quite an interesting, contemplative dystopian drama

The Finest Hours

– thin but engaging seafaring thriller, little better than average but not bad.

Eye in the Sky

– tedious and vainglorious propaganda flick.

X-men: Apocalypse

– far and away the weakest film in the whole franchise. Boring. Glum. Beyond irritating scripting and delivery. Bad vocal effects, a bad story, unconvincing CGI, agonisingly long, inconsistent rules, scrappy editing. Just all in all infuriatingly terrible. Even the actors seem like they’re embarrassed to be starring in a glorified episode of Power Rangers. Except that that was clearly for kids, whereas this takes itself so dreadfully, sombrely seriously. I think it’s one of the worst films I’ve ever seen, and certainly the worst super villain.

Money Monster

– effortlessly engaging if fairly whack thriller, wouldn’t recommend it, but you could do a lot worse than watching it on a slow Sunday

War Dogs

– mismarketed as a comedy, this is an engaging, solid drama hamstrung by presentation issues. The narration is often tedious and condescending, and the cheap chapter markers interrupt the film’s flow. Jonah Hill is quite fantastic though. He gets better and better.

Wild Card

– a paper thin plot acts as a hook for a number of fairly well executed fight scenes, but the thriller ends almost as soon as it began, with no development, no questions answered, and no satisfaction whatsoever.

The Wave (Bolgen)

– highly entertaining if utterly predictable drama thriller. Much better SFX than comparable Hollywood films, and beautifully shot.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

– tedious and unfunny dramedy (as you might expect given the casting)

Mr Robot S02 (TV)

– Those people suggesting this season has “nose-dived” in terms of quality, I suspect were just hangers on from the beginning. If anything, by the end of S02, I am far more invested in all of the characters and the overarching plot. The series is surreal. Undeniably so. But that’s pretty brave of the creators, and it’s so unusual and unlike anything else we’ve seen on television, it’s worthy of praise for originality alone. I can’t wait for S03 – this season ended with much more suspense than the first. I hope they can maintain the standards and ignore the naysayers.

Stranger Things S01 (TV)

– wonderful, fun, lighthearted and affectionate, this supernatural drama series is everything accessible TV ought to be.

Bloodline S02

– are increasingly unraveling

Exit Through The Gift Shop

– weird, but strangely gripping documentary about street artist Mr Brainwash, considered by some to be an elaborate prank by Banksy

July 2016

Warcraft: The Beginning

– albeit watchable, and even, at times, entertaining, this sci-fi fantasy is quite astoundingly bad. Impaired by its poor, computer-game visuals and erratic editing. Too much of the film must surely have been edited out, leaving a husk that feels like a tech demo from the early naughties. If this is to continue, I hope the VFX changes hands.

Terminator Genisys

– tedious smash em up, with no sense of peril for any of the protagonists until its inevitable, drawn out conclusion. Quite the expensive flop.

Now You See Me 2

– inane and strikingly stupid, and yet incomprehensibly, school-boy-gigglingly enjoyable

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

– tonally chaotic, and often borderline offensive, there’s nonetheless something about the crass delivery which makes this unlikely romantic comedy very engrossing. One or two minor characters are so startlingly well crafted, they almost negate the awfulness of the sickly leads.

Cartel Land

– horribly graphic documentary exposing, again, the savagery of the war on drugs, from the perspective of the vigilante groups battling the cartels.

The Rack Pack

– interesting and often fun depiction of snooker as Barry Hearn transitions it from smoky mens club to mainstream, commercial, household sport. Some great, standout performances from relative unknowns.

Jason Bourne

– disappointing after the terrific original trilogy. I can’t see this being included in everyone’s mind as a core part of the Bourne saga, it’ll most likely be a simple addendum, disregarded by history.

Central Intelligence

– a Return of the King style ending and unfunny cameo substantially detracts from what is, for the most part, a stupid, light hearted and irritatingly enjoyable buddy comedy.

June 2016

Criminal Activities

– coarse, unlikeable, oddly self-aggrandising… just generally a bit crap (not to mention the plot is as wonky as John Travolta’s hair piece)

The Bourne Ultimatum

– doesn’t get old. Simply a top notch action thriller.

The Nice Guys

– wickedly funny detective crime caper. Chemistry between Gosling and Crowe is surprisingly feisty and the script is laden with black humour and unexpected slapstick. Just a great, fun film.

The Invitation

– a dialogue propelled slow burn, but continually intriguing and mysterious. Fun for fans of the psychological horror/ thriller genre.

Babylon (TV)

– sort of wannabe The Thick of It for cops. Fast paced with an engaging story, but none of the characters are likeable, and the comedy is often too nasty to raise a smile.

May 2016

Marcella S01 (TV)

– a waste of everybody’s time, unaided by the intensely unlikeable hipster crime solving team at its heart. Dreary, convoluted and beyond improbable. Don’t bother.

The Falcon and the Snowman

– brilliant Soviet spy drama, with two excellent lead actors turning in star worthy performances. Good fun.

Special Forces

– A weak set up develops into a surprisingly slick and exciting military action thriller.

Our Kind of Traitor

– quite riveting old school thriller. Wonderfully sinister and suspenseful despite being lumbered with occasional tropes and a sense of inevitability.

The Witch

– no jump scares, no slasher gore or creaky clichés, just very effective, authentic horror of the kind Rosemary’s Baby perfected. Terrific.

The Walk

– the cinematography certainly inspires vertigo and awe, but the film itself feels so lighthearted as to be cheap.

Line of Duty S03 (TV)

– after a less than exhilarating four or five episodes, the finale packs a punch unlike any other British thriller and offers a payoff that more than justifies the insidious pacing. Performances and scripting are tight, and the direction, at times, is artful. Indubitably one of the best shows on TV. Bring on series four.

El Desconocido (Retribution)

– undeniably compelling and fairly exciting, but whether it’s the limited, confined space or the unlikeable cast, something doesn’t quite square. Worth watching though.

April 2016

Better Call Saul S02

– Frustratingly slow to develop, but nonetheless enjoyable and meticulously crafted. Not enough progress to warrant a full season, and the conclusion is so abrupt it’s unbefitting a finale.

Black Mass

– strong acting and cinematography unfortunately don’t compensate for soul, and Black Mass was too dry and dour to be really enjoyable. Worth watching, but don’t expect a thrill ride.

Midnight Special

– Po-faced, sulky and soulless movie, borderline tedious. Great music though. To quote an IMDb comment: “Nichols forgot to give his movie a pulse. How can a story about intense paternal love, faith, and transcendence feel this lifeless?”

Happy Valley S02

– the gritty British cop drama maintains its extraordinarily high standard for a second season. Just brilliant.

American Crime Story S01 (TV)

– gripping and well confected courtroom thriller.

Jane Got A Gun

– The least enjoyable of the recent rash of Westerns, but watchable

Miss Bala

– slightly gratuitous spanish language cartel thriller. Oddly sparsely scripted, with the titular character cowering from bullets in lingerie for most of the film. Not recommended.

Steve Jobs

– Good performances but this is disappointingly dry and uninspiring. Expected more from Sorkin. Fassbender’s Jobs is like a grumpy Bradley Whitford, the fast talking swagger and ego of Josh Leiman with none of the charismatic charm.

Special Correspondents

– glib comedy of the kind Gervais has become accustomed to producing: few laughs, a lot of groans, a saccharine romance. Even Gervais fans might struggle with this one (or perhaps especially Gervais fans, for whom his steady deterioration is particularly painful).


– terrific Western, a contemporary love letter to the classics. The story is strong and traditional, and the acting is frankly breathtaking. To see the Sutherlands side by side for the first time in nearly twenty years is emotive in itself.


– macho, gruesomely violent British thriller. Not especially thrilling, uncomfortably coarse, and most egregious of all: utterly unrewarding and unsatisfying. Don’t waste your time.

The Night Manager S01 (TV)

– wonderfully suspenseful, gripping and hyperbolic le Carré thriller. Perfect as entertainment, even while riddled with flaws and clichés.

The Hill

– shouty black and white prison drama with a strong and understated performance by Sean Connery. The military formula grates.


– cool, feel good vibes are the 90s beating heart of this teen coming of age flick. There are a couple of missteps, and some odd scripting, but overall this is a lot of fun, and curiously nostalgic.

10 Cloverfield Lane

– deeply sinister and edgy sci-fi thriller with horror elements. Very effective, albeit almost comically ridiculous!


– dull, thin, and horribly sheened portrayal of espionage hacking. Unbearable.

Open Grave

– creepy, slightly stilted thriller. B-movie production, but a worthwhile concept and script. Unusual and dark enough to appeal to fans of the psychological horror genre.

Daddy’s Home

– this Ferrell Wahlberg comedy has some moments of true hilarity, but suffers from a premise that is stretched far too thin, and the inexplicable need to dilute its genuine comedy with puerile slapstick and toilet humour. Definitely enjoyable, but be prepared to wince a lot.

March 2016

The Salvation

– very conventional Western, albeit featuring a medley of languages. Classic tale of revenge told fairly solidly, if unremarkably

The Gift

– deliciously dark and effective thriller

Broken Arrow

– Hilariously old skool 90s action blow-em-up, complete with hammy dialogue and hammier acting. Great fun!

House of Cards S04

– compelling as always, although as it reached its conclusion it was definitely spreading thin. I think they need to wrap it up now.


– suspenseful and interesting drama in part Germana and part Spanish. Slightly underwhelming but a good watch nonetheless.

Cop Car

– the wonderfully simple and yet bizarre journey of two boys who find an abandoned cop car. Perhaps not the most pleasing resolution, but top marks for originality.


– interesting pseudo-philosophical thriller raising some interesting questions about morality and sacrifice. Underrated.


– beyond underwhelming. Such a disappointment. Devoid of any tension, excitement, charisma or soul.

Jonathan Creek (S02/3)

– delightful, even on a repeat viewing.


– Dystopian/ Utopian drama. Stylistically brilliant, and extremely competent film-making/ scoring etc. But it needed a sense of cohesion that wasn’t there, or at least it needed to hint a little more at the method in the madness. The whole film was itself basically one big orgy: self-indulgent, chaotic, gratuitous, exciting, and ultimately an anti-climax.


– fascinating and deeply unnerving drama, grounded enough to remain compelling, and abstract enough to provoke intrigue and curiosity. Quite unexpectedly brilliant.

Bone Tomahawk

– brilliant and unexpected Western. Wonderfully cast, Richard Jenkins in particular is a gem, and skilfully depicted; this is a simple tale, told very well.

Mystery Men

– idiotic and unfunny.

Beasts of No Nation

– well made but gratuitous and soulless. After a strong set up, this lacks the sensitivity and humanity of similar dramas.

Never Let Me Go

– dreary and tiresome sci-fi drama despite the interesting concept

The End of the Tour

– an uneventful but quietly affecting and thought-provoking biopic of the author, David Foster Wallace.

Daredevil (S02)

– Less satisfying than the first season, and even more goofy, but Cox continues to shine and the show remains enjoyable.

Before I Go To Sleep

– bleak, slow moving amnesiac drama. Tediously lachrymose and eye-rollingly serious.

February 2016

Cria Cuervos/ Raising Ravens

– Disarmingly open and earnest cinema. Tasteful and slow moving drama with a beautiful soundtrack.

Triple 9

– gritty and gripping heist movie, delivered with a lot of style, but lacking in smarts. Very Antoine Fuqua in style.

Flag Wars

– interesting, if not exactly gripping, documentary


– For the second time. This firmly occupies a spot in my top ten films of all time list. Astounding, heart pounding, breath-taking from start to finish.


– Certainly novel, I’ll give it that. Comedically it misses as often as it hits though, and it’s gratuitously redband to a distracting extent. That said, it’s very entertaining and a refreshingly self-aware ‘meta’ take on the superhero action genre.

January 2016

The Hateful Eight

– self indulgent direction from Tarantino aside (it could have been a good 45 minutes shorter), this is still an enjoyable and suspenseful thriller.

Jessica Jones (S01)(TV)

– dreary, unlikeable and interminable Marvel comic adaptation. Spectacularly failed to deliver after the high standard set by Daredevil S01.

99 Homes

– Excellent, gripping drama that leaves you frustrated at its hasty conclusion

El Niño

– Disappointing drugs running thriller, especially following the brilliant Cell 211. Not Luis Tosar’s finest hour.

Making a Murderer (TV)

– Gripping court room true crime documentary. Builds steam to around episode 8, but the final few are superfluous.

The Revenant

– long and overly ponderous but nonetheless striking and powerful. The bear scene is already deservedly famous.


– Hugely enjoyable and feel good heist love triangle comedy. Billy Bob Thornton is a joy and the whole film is a lot of fun.

The Hot Rock

– Light hearted heist thriller.

Ghosts of the Civil Dead

– graphic and unflinching look at a prison in the 70s and its slow and inevitable descent into hell. Most unpleasant. Brilliant theme music from Nick Cave though.

The Big Short

– stylish, and at times over-stylised, retelling cum explainer of the 2008 financial crash. Brilliant acting and entertaining in presentation, but a bit smug.

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst

– Not as compulsive as Making a Murderer, but somehow more believable, and consequently more disturbing.


– Decent journalism thriller about the exposure of the catholic priest pedophile scandal.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

– still funny after all these years. The title sequence alone is one of the best ever made I think.


– impressive, original drama with remarkable performances, a deserved Oscar contender.

December 2015


– Enjoyable sioux murder conspiracy whodunit. Yup, its a pretty specific genre… I liked it.

The Odessa File

– Intriguing journalist conspiracy thriller. Not as exciting as we have come to expect, but some of the set pieces are beautifully suspenseful: doubly so given its age.

The Bridge S03 (TV)

– thoroughly entertaining, as always, but riddled with irritating decision-making, poor judgement and irrational behaviour. The show has definitely dropped in quality since its inaugural season, but with the absence of competitors in the genre, it remains a must

And Then There Were None (TV)

– deliciously intriguing Agatha Christie whodunit. Consensus on the killer was formed pretty early, but some red herrings put you off the scent before confirming your early suspicions. A lot of fun! I wish good whodunits were back in vogue…

Halt and Catch Fire (S02)(TV)

– As TV goes, I honestly don’t think it gets much better than this. The character of Joe MacMillan is just unrivalled in complexity and depth. Lee Pace is beyond magnetic in the role, he’s electric, and the writers recognise that and use it beautifully. The storylines are broad, sweeping and powerful, skipping triviality in favour of weighty topics that shaped the computing world and the world we live today. The casting is spot on, the acting stupendous. I only hope that AMC top brass realise that this is shaping into one of the best TV series to have graced our screens. Watch it; laugh, weep and fist pump. This is one of a kind.


– One of those films that has somehow miraculously slipped under my radar until now. Ludicrous, but given the era, it’s a pretty good thrill ride and a lot of fun.

The Intern

– Sickly, unfunny dramedy. Forgettable, pointless, badly scripted. A waste of time and money. Kind of embarrassing for the cast.

Bridge of Spies

– Fun and engaging soviet spy thriller. Unfortunately encumbered by Spielberg’s revolting obsession with pure, unadulterated cheese of the kind that only he can deliver. Also a pretty thin propaganda piece. All that aside, it’s still a great watch!

The Man From High Castle (TV)

– Unfortunately, despite a wonderful concept and vivid realisation of Dick’s parallel universe, this fails on several levels, from clumsy, even bad, scripting to poor, glossy casting choices. Thankfully the story is strong, and some of the actors really command attention (Rufus Sewell, I’m looking at you). Could have been much better though.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

– albeit a rehash of earlier film plots and a tribute to some of the (very) old characters, this is still a moderately enjoyable entry into the sci-fi franchise. Very much a ‘kids film’, the world and the action is unconvincing but innocuous, vacuous fun. Nowhere near deserving of the hype.

November 2015

Jack Strong

– compelling and enjoyable US propaganda spy thriller

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt 2

– a fitting finale to the franchise, and to Philip Seymour Hoffman. Fans won’t be disappointed.

The Lobster

– An extraordinarily peculiar romantic drama in a most unconventional sci-fi universe. I was reminded of HG Wells ‘Valley of the Blind’.

The Silence of the Lambs

– as wonderfully sinister as ever, even with age.


– surprisingly strong turn from Chris Evans, very good acting. Hard to like the film overall though. It tries too hard and has a pretty flat aesthetic throughout. I found it an unrewarding experience.

The Moaning of Life (S02) (TV)

– Karl is incorrigibly loveable. He has grown greatly over the course of his career, and his ignorance is no longer the comedy. In its place, you have his natural and offbeat wry observations. I can’t get enough.

Mississippi Grind

– Very interesting but frustratingly unsatisfying. I’m on the fence about this one. I left the cinema deeply introspective and curious about the story, but that same intrigue leaves you agonised at the lack of resolution.

I Saw The Devil

– Shockingly violent but entirely riveting and consuming revenge thriller

Brokedown Palace

– truly awful ‘foreigner’ film of two teenagers trapped in a Thailand prison for drug smuggling


– Paul Rudd’s incessant charm offensive managed to win over my skepticism. It’s another fun superhero flick. Lighthearted and feel good.

Man from Reno

– not especially riveting and slow paced ‘thriller’

What doesn’t kill you

– An average watch. Nothing to get excited about and very forgettable in every regard.


– Moralistic and preachy, but still a captivating story.

The Program

– Terrific acting from Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd and all the cast. It’s an eye-opening tale even in hindsight. How Armstrong got away with it for so long and so flagrantly is unfathomable.

The Internet’s Own Boy

– Inspiring biopic of Aaron Schwartz. A must watch for purveyors of digital rights, open source and internet freedoms.

October 2015


– Equally enjoyable on a second viewing, but somehow much more ridiculous!


– Mixed emotions on this. Undeniably a spectacle and a feast, but even for Bond’s universe, there are simply too many questionmarks over the plot. Some ill judged and sickeningly cheesy scenes really undermine the overall stylised aesthetic as well. Whilst the set pieces and Bond tropes are all on point, the plot as a whole is very weak and uncomfortably contrived.

Brooklyn Nine Nine

– highly entertaining, if unabashedly puerile police precinct sit-com. It’s no Sunny in Philly, but it’s a great show to destress to! Short episodes make for easy viewing too.


– Striking and artistically directed drug cartel thriller. Fantastic, nail biting, edge of the seat stuff from start to finish. I would see it again in an instant.

A Brilliant Young Mind

– Touching and amusingly off-beat coming of age dramedy about an autistic maths whizz and his multiple sclerosis suffering teacher. Innocuous.

What We Do In The Shadows

– Fun and ridiculous, but not ridiculously fun. It’s a little try hard at times, but there are some great moments. You could do worse than watching it, but there are much better mockumentaries out there.

San Andreas

– a nauseating script and shiny plastic cast leave little room for any enjoyment of this apocalyptic quake thriller beyond mockery. What an enormous waste of time and money.


– Extraordinary, gripping and harrowing insight into a few hours in Afghanistan. Horrifying true story.

The Martian

– Excellent high concept space odyssey. More drama than thriller so doesn’t really compete on the same page as Gravity, despite the similarities on paper. Solid.

September 2015


– A pleasant surprise. This biopic explores the horrors of Everest when a storm catches a climbing tour unawares. Harrowing and oddly downbeat in its ending, this is a splendid and visually overpowering piece of drama. Highly recommended to see it in the cinema or on a large screen.

Narcos (TV)

– Fast paced (perhaps too fast paced), drug cartel crime thriller charting Pablo Escobar rise and fall from power in Colombia. Sharp acting and excellent direction, it’s a minor pity that the script frequently borders on US propaganda. Terrific TV though.

The Thick of It S01-S04 (TV)

– Riveting and darkly hilarious comedy depicting the internal workings of the UK Ministry of Social Affairs. Brilliant, if occasionally a little too nasty.

Inside Out

– Surprisingly dark pixar animation. Tackling depression and puberty in illustrated form is hardly a barrel of laughs, and likely to go way over the heads of the childhood audience. For adults, however, this is an oddly powerful watch.

Veep (TV) (S01-S04)

– My favourite political comedy with a fantastic cast and incisive script. Every episode has moments of comedy gold and whilst the humour is occasionally malicious (particularly re: workplace bullying), it usually redeems itself within the same episode.

Kidnapping Freddy Heineken

– Disappointingly unexciting and unthrilling. Hopkins brings his usual enjoyable frenetic hyperbole to the role of Heineken, but the story arc seems ill-conceived and slapdash in its ultimate conclusion.

August 2015

The Affair

– beneath the sophisticated patina lies a schizophrenic, prurient, glorified soap opera that leads the viewer on with the pretense of deep intrigue and the promise of a whodunit, whilst stubbornly refusing to impart anything other than (often) tedious drama. Snippets of excellent dialogue help alleviate the drab repetition of each episode, but beyond the impressive performances and occasionally smart scripting is little to actually enjoy. Disappointing.

Upstream Color

– a waste of time. A turbid, incoherent piece of pretentious cinema. Not even particularly aesthetic.


– A couple of genuinely funny moments fail to save this feminist spy farce. As modern hollywood comedies go, it’s sadly the usual fare: a whole heap of puerile slapstick, invective and caricature. Still waiting for the next great American comedy after Superbad (and The Other Guys).

Inside Man

– Never ceases to amuse and excite. Owen is indubitably a smooth criminal. One of the last decades best crime thrillers.

Ted 2

– Brilliantly irreverent and unflinching comedy that doesn’t pull any punches but unfortunately misses as often as it hits. After a classic heavyweight first act, it sags in the middle and deflates towards the end. Overall though, this is highly entertaining with great chemistry and some very smart scripting (in amongst the horrible!)

Lock Up

– fairly average prison drama with Stallone at the helm. I probably wouldn’t advise bothering with it.

Mozart in the Jungle

– A terrific, virtuosic performance from Gabriel Garcia Bernal underpins this intelligent, hugely loveable and immensely witty comedy. The music, the scripting, the off-beat humour (often laugh out loud) – everything is timed and tuned to perfection. If I had a criticism, which honestly, I don’t really, it would be that Bernal presents such a powerful and charismatic character that he steals the show every episode, but how I loved to watch him do it! You would be a fool to miss this.

Nightwatch [original]

– It turns out the US remake was essentially a shot for shot rework of this original danish serial killer thriller which enormously undermined the impact of this for me. Clearly a solid film though, and pleasantly unpleasantly twisted.

The Man from Nowhere

– A fantastic crime cum revenge action thriller that grips tight early on and keeps you breathless until its spectacular conclusion. A new favourite in this genre.


– Although over cooked with self-indulgent monologues, this is nonetheless a fascinating and original theatrical dramedy, wickedly directed and boldly acted. The black humour might be a bit dry for some, but when it works, it soars.

The Gunman

– Tedious, predictable and miscast action thriller. Penn ‘in shape’ looks out of sorts and none of the characters are sympathetic. Not painful, but not worth your time either.

The Man from UNCLE

– A tad too deadpan and dry for its own good, this is a witty and stylish, if uncharismatic, thriller. The set pieces are fantastic, but leave the conjunctive scenes sapped of energy.

Slow West

– As the title unambiguously suggests, this is a slow western. Tongue in cheek performances and pleasant cinematography give it a certain charm and whimsy that just about triumphs over its slumbrous pacing.

Infernal Affairs

– It’s not often I declare a remake superior to the original, but in many ways I prefer The Departed to this crime thriller. The direction and acting are all top notch, but a couple of story twists were nicely refined for the US version. That said, this happily skips alot of the sappy Hollywood romance and tones down the caricature.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

– A rip roaring and highly entertaining continuation of the Hollywood blockbuster franchise.

July 2015

The Fifth Estate

– Lacklustre biopic released too soon to be objective and accurate. Unfolds like a broadsheet newspaper – with too much fuss and not enough excitement.

The Treatment

– Watchable and fairly exciting nordic thriller. Promises more than it delivers and the conclusion is a disappointment.

True Story

– Bland, incongruous drama that aims for sinister and comes off simply quaint. A shame.

Letters from Iwo Jima

– Eastwood’s epic, gritty and moving war story from the Japanese perspective. Too long and inferior to its American perspective counterpart. Good though.

Man on Fire

– Still a cracking revenge action thriller from the late great Tony Scott. Holds replay value. Denzel is cool as a cucumber.

The Bourne Identity

– One of the finest action thrillers to grace the screen, and thankfully just the first of a stunning franchise.

The Booth at the End (TV)

– an intriguing premise that starves the audience of answers in a way that repels rather than invites. The minimalist format and production smacks slightly of a collegiate project too.

Mr Robot (TV)

– Like early Dexter with 1s and 0s. A twisted and anguished protagonist with an alternative perspective on life. This is a hacker series deservedly praised by laymen and computer nerds alike. A little overly tortured at times, dragging the pace, but overall this is a compelling and novel contemporary thriller, hopefully to inspire a new generation of anarchist hackers.

The Great Debaters

– Interesting drama if you like your emotion running high and your characters scripted to a tee. Not my bag, but it’s delivered with aplomb.


– Surprisingly compelling depiction of the downfall of soviet spy, Robert Hanssen.

Get Hard

– one or two scenes of genuine comedy dilute the general lowbrow puerile silliness. Arguably homophobic, sexist and racist, embarrassingly, I nonetheless rather enjoyed it!

It Follows

– Preposterous and overrated horror. Novel (albeit very slow) direction and a mildly interesting concept just about maintains intrigue, but it’s too heavy and soul searching to conjure the ‘au frisson’ most might expect from a horror.

Five Minutes Of Heaven

– Interesting if overly heavy emo drama with Neeson and Nesbitt. Not the most enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

Halt and Catch Fire S01 (TV)

– found myself a new favourite among TV series. Exceedingly strong performances from the whole cast, a gripping, dynamic plot, and script and direction that will have you laughing aloud before hunkering at the edge of your seat. Terrific show.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

– Simply one of the greatest films ever made. Beautiful photography, hilarious, charming banter from our two charismatic leads and a soundtrack that takes the heart a-dance. Irreplaceable and incomparable. Watch it. Then again and again.

Fast and Furious 7

– Exhausting nonstop action and ripe cheesy scripting leaves the 7th film in the dust of the far superior 5th and 6th franchise outings. However, the technical inclusion of the late Paul Walker throughout the movie, post humously, is seriously impressive, and their tribute to him is heartfelt and worth recognising.

June 2015

Colosio: El Asesinato

– Fantastic spanish language crime thriller exploring theories surrounding the assassination of Colosio, the Mexican presidential candidate in 1994.

A Single Shot

– Another outback drama with a terrific cast and wonderful acting cursed by a substandard story. Worth watching for Rockwell and the beautiful scenery, this is disappointingly lacking, I’m just not quite sure what…

The Machine

– Another AI scifi flick, a little too dry as it focuses on trying to be a clever thriller, but certainly a worthwhile watch for any scifi fan.

Better Living Through Chemistry

– Questionable anti-rom-com about a pharmacists chaotic midlife crisis. Occasionally funny, mostly stupid, watchable for Rockwell.

Zen (TV)

– A playful, whimsical foray into crime for Rufus Sewell. Good fun.

Fargo (TV)

– Wry humour and master villains, this is a gripping crime drama with a lot to enjoy, but somehow it resolves to nobody’s satisfaction.

El Chapulín Colorado (TV)

– old school slapstick silliness in spanish.

Hector and the Search for Happiness

– aside from the fact Hector’s search for happiness is unashamedly unnecessary, implausible and fickle, this is an oddly satisfying comedic adventure. Nowhere near the marvellous Secret Life of Walter Mitty though.

Hot Girls Wanted

– Surprisingly interesting, non-judgemental and levelheaded exploration of the amateur/ semi-pro porn industry. Quite tragic really.


– Weird Oz black comedy horror that compels because it’s simply so bizarre. A bit niche for the average horror viewer though.

Jurassic World

– If you ignore the agonising voice of Basil Exposition and overlook the McGuffin brothers, this is almost exactly what you’d expect, but a lot more fun. Wisecracks, iconic shot frames, and lots of awesome dinosaurs. I had a blast.

May 2015

Banshee (S03)(TV)

– By this stage it’s pretty much more of the same. The novelty has worn off and the flashbacks are getting old. It remains a watchable show, but I’d definitely start looking for something new.

Relatos Salvajes

– Wonderfully twisted mosaic of six short stories interweaving black humour with social commentary and gleeful depravity. Beautiful soundtrack, top notch film.

A Most Violent Year

– paradoxically passive, this is a gripping, if not entirely convincing gangster tale. Oscar Isaac continues to impress, but the end result remains underwhelming.

Joe Dirt

– presumably aimed pre-pubescents and the retarded, this puerile and low brow yankee doodle is unfunny bargain basket rubbish.


– Deceptively mismarketed kiddie adventure flick. One of the worst films I have ever endured. Just sickeningly bad in every way. Avoid like the plague.

El Gran Hotel (S01) (TV)

– gossipy, trashy, farcical – there is little to redeem this spanish period drama bar its language. If I wasn’t making an effort to learn spanish, I wouldn’t touch this with a barge pole.

The Homesman

– Dry, flat Western drama from Tommy Lee Jones that lacks even the slightest appeal. I’d rather sit on a horse waiting to hang.

Wayward Pines (TV)

– Try hard surrealist crime thriller in the vein of Twin Peaks (it even sounds similar). Dillon is very watchable but the show is tediously try-hard.

In Order Of Disappearance

– Tarantino-esque black humour permeates this nordic revenge drama. Enjoyable, but hardly special.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

– Tedious, almost cringeworthy action comedy from the team that brought us Kick-Ass. The action is fun, but the script and story are mildly offensive at worst and just plain stupid at best.

Daredevil (TV)

– Extraordinarily violent and gruesome at times, it’s nonetheless a pretty tongue in cheek, light-hearted and entertaining Netflix super hero series. Certainly more compelling than I had expected.

The Keeper of Lost Causes

– Enjoyable crime thriller. What it lacks in finesse and style, it makes up for with heart. I’m sure follow ups will be more assured.

Everybody Has A Plan (Todos tenemos un plan)

– Intriguing, if slow, crime drama. Very dark and exploring interesting themes, this is poignant and somehow delicate, and yet disappointingly fails to really impress.

The Drop

– Pay close attention and this unexpected crime drama will pay dividends. Powerfully understated, with excellent performances to a man. Refreshingly original.

The Browning Version

– Arresting school drama about a longstanding teacher who is forced to resign his position. Very human, with terrific acting.


– Moderately interesting and well acted drama about an Iranian journalist imprisoned for his coverage of government military repression. Not unique among this type of film, and many others have done it better.


– if a feature length episode of the hit TV show appeals in principal, then it will almost definitely appeal in practice, with the usual cast favourites racing against the terrorism clock. It’s slick and fast paced and pretty much exactly what you’d expect.

Jupiter Ascending

– Dull, overacted and nonsensical sci-fi with such garish SFX, it feels like a billion dollar B movie. Soulless.

Mad Max: Fury Road

– An orgastic and maniacal apocalyptic symphony. Revel in the roar of engines, the screech and crunch of metal upon metal, and the sheer depravity of Miller’s explosive bicolour vision. If none of that sounds fun – give this a very wide berth!

The Absent One

– Better than its predecessor. Another nordic crime thriller. A little more explicit and violent this one, the plot doesn’t unravel as suspensefully as it could, but it’s a tightly spun yarn.

April 2015

The Book of Eli

– never fails to entertain although sadly the product placement has become more evident as one brand in particular has gained traction in the past few years. Otherwise a terrific film.


– Vacuous heist/ con artist thriller that plays the usual cards and tricks with a hyper modern and unrealistic twist. Nowhere near as fun as it should and could have been, with all the ‘focus’ evidently misplaced on gloss instead of substance.

The Voices

– Utterly inane, wacky, off the wall serial killer comedy that baffles more than it entertains, although it’s worth watching to the end simply for the final credit sequence. Ryan Reynolds is a dream.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

– The medley of action men (and women) tear it up again with the usual quips and techno gizmos. If you’re not bored of superheroes, there’s probably something here for you. Personally the genre is almost dead to me.


– Slower viewing the second time around, but equally satisfying and a continuing source of time travel discussion. Love this film.

The Gambler

– albeit nowhere near as bad as I had prepared myself to endure, even for a fan of Marky Mark Wahlberg this was a bit of a slog. Unlikely and unlikeable characters fill a mostly uninteresting plot. That said, it’s delivered with conviction. Ultimately pretty average.

Nothing But the Truth

– forgettable and dry whistleblower thriller. It’s not especially bad, but it’s so unmemorable and bland as to be pointless viewing.

Spiral S01 (TV)

– Gritty and compelling French police serial. A solid series.

The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete

– A refreshing and unexpected poverty survival drama; sweet, surprisingly uplifting and oddly charming. I liked it.

Black Sea

– idiotic deep sea thriller that suffers flaws galore and enough accents to educate a language school. Proof that a good cast needn’t mean a good film.


– A mildly entertaining, if faintly ludicrous, thriller with Samuel L in one of his more likeable roles. One for when you’re really bored.


– Pretentious nonsense, and an exercise in audience tolerance. One of the most boring films I have had the mispleasure of watching. Stick with The Signal instead – a much better effort by the same director.

March 2015

Nowhere Man S01 (TV)

– Moderately compelling if farfetched and frustratingly dated thriller. Time is better spent elsewhere.

The Expatriate

– exhaustingly bad, cliché laden thriller. Tiresome.

House of Cards S03 (TV)

– Plodding third series of the Netflix phenomenon. A couple of heavy twists, but by and large this is too toned down and lumbering.

Night at the Museum 3: The Secret Tomb

– dull franchise comedy that elicits considerably more groans than laughs


– Dated and decidedly average serial killer thriller.

Gorky Park

– Inert thriller. Ponderous to the point of boredom. Disappointing.


– Moderately amusing if immensely overrated middleclass comedy about the eponymous bear.

Big Hero 6

– So so animation, entertaining but forgettable

La Isla Minima (Marshland)

– superb spanish thriller, dark and layered. Similar to True Detective in style and tone.

February 2015


– Eye opening, astonishing documentary coursing a series of interviews with hero of our time, Edward Snowden. Essential viewing.

Penguins of Madagascar

– Surreal, farcical penguin comedy caper that is almost trippy in its off-kilter style. More obscure than funny.

The Overnighters

– Extraordinary and curious documentary of a reverend and his quest to offer a home to the homeless. Oddly compelling.


– Biopic drama charting the Kon-Tiki voyage. The film Life of Pi wishes it had been. Uplifting, suspenseful, funny. Blessed with a touch of the Sublime. A pity it’s quite so cheesy.


– Laboured council estate tragedy drama. Overwrought, heavy and heavy handed. Watchable but hardly recommended.

10 Things I Hate About You

– Winning teen rom-com with career launching performances. A lot of fun if you like that kind of thing, still moderate fun when you don’t especially!

Ex Machina

– Phenomenal, mind-blowing sci-fi. Simultaneously made me want to give up on life and feel a surge of irrepressible excitement for what we’re a part of. Operates on so many levels. Well acted, beautifully composited. Watch it.

John Wick

– Stylistic action nonsense. Keanu’s deadpan dry monotones punctuated with fighting of all forms.


– Overrated drum drama exploring obsession and musicianship. A wannabe Black Swan. Interesting but unfulfilling.

January 2015

The Theory of Everything

– Impassioned, powerful performances across the board deliver a fantastic drama. It’s a little on the lachrymose, and can’t help but be evangelical in it’s message of hope, but that can be forgiven.


– Mistakenly watched for a second time, and worse this time around. Unpleasant cheerleading for torture.

Kill the Messenger

– strong, insightful drama, a little heavy handed with the exposition at times and perhaps not quite as exciting as it could have been. Fantastic casting.


– affectionate and heartfelt tale of unlikely friendship. Gentle, light-hearted and encouraging.

The Grand Seduction

– Uplifting and oft-times hilarious rural drama with yet another standout performance from Brendan Gleeson. Riddled with clichés and contrivances, but nonetheless enjoyable for it.

The Edge of Tomorrow

– almost as enjoyable on the rerun as on a first viewing. Great to see Cruise back in lead.

American Sniper

– unashamed propaganda for the US, this is nonetheless a gripping a war drama and occasional thriller. Sickeningly pro-war, pro-violence and borderline racist, if you can suspend your liberal fury for the runtime, you will probably be entertained.

I, Origins

– Evolves into an interesting and moderately affecting film, albeit starting slowly and labouring the science vs religion debate.


– Surprisingly light-hearted and laid back journey through youth. Mostly excellent performances, especially from Hawke and Redmayne, and a few laugh out loud moments help ease the pacing.


– Odd, off-beat biopic that demonstrates top talent in a decidedly peculiar tone. Curious, moderately compelling despite very slow pacing, but hardly the drama that the hype suggested it would be.

The Impossible

– Whiter than white drama about a middle class family and their upset holiday plans. Quite sickening given the 100s of thousands of natives that lost their lives. Horribly misjudged, and on top of that, quite bad.

The Art of the Steal

– comically stale heist comedy that retreads the usual steps and tries to sell itself as swish. A dull cliché.


– Once the ball starts rolling, this IRA thriller rattles along at a breakneck pace. Excellent suspense, well shot and strong acting. The conclusion disappoints, but largely for wanting more.

Transformers 4: Age of Extinction

– absurdly over-budgeted and overwrought blockbuster. Nauseating in acting, script and direction. Watches like an unedited YouTube CGI showreel. Even a fondness for Marky Mark won’t save this.

Odd Thomas

– ludicrous female costumes and perhaps Willem Dafoe’s easiest role are really the only two overt flaws in an otherwise hugely original, entertaining and lighthearted sci-fi horror. A breath of fresh air. Anton Yelchin is great.

December 2014

Horrible Bosses 2

– Silly and puerile comedy to match its predecessor. Pine is surprisingly funny and the trio have a fluid chemistry that endears the film despite some duff moments of improv and school boy quips. Light fun.


– Moderately amusing and entertaining rubbish. A last resort.

Salamander (TV)

– Unfortunately, after a relatively promising start, the show breaks down in to a tiresome and poorly paced mess of contrivances and clumsy exposition, even to the point of WWII flashbacks. This is a huge disappointment. Given the hefty time investment it demands, I don’t recommend it.

The Devil’s Backbone

– entirely in Spanish on this viewing, consequently it was a lot less impactful: my spanish leaves a lot to be desired!


– Oddball indie comedy cum biopic. Very funny at times, but precariously pretentious.

The Rover

– Painfully boring with a script that comprises almost entirely of repeated lines. So dependent on a macguffin it’s almost a parody. Don’t bother.


– Mindbending sci-fi time travel noire that falls in to place exactly as it should. Immensely satisfying, thought provoking and compelling. Ethan Hawke is a blast and Sarah Snook is remarkable in what should be her kingmaking role. This is the film that Looper wasn’t.


– A pleasure to see a top cast at the top of their game. A pity that the story is so bat-shit crazy, a fact you can only truly appreciate with thanks to Ridley’s undeniably solid film making. Some baffling choices, but overall extremely impressive.

How To Train Your Dragon 2

– Surprisingly profound animation that offers more for an adult than it’s predecessor, but might be a little too dark and emotive for younger children.

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

– Sadly the weakest of the trilogy, plagued by some awful script and off pacing. For fans of Jackson’s Middle Earth though, it will always be rewarding viewing and I would watch it again in an instant.

Mr Nobody

– Impressive casting, acting and vision, and the technical execution is surely skilful, but even as a piece of philosophical entertainment it fails. Pacing is horrible and the story convoluted.

The West Wing S02

– inspiring and absorbing as usual, with an extremely compelling main story arc. Sorkin at his best.


– laden with more testosterone than trans-supplements, this is a war film for the Call of Duty generation; action packed and utterly gripping.

Music and Lyrics

– insipid with dreadful music and nary a single amusing line. Only the opening music video is actually worth watching.


– oddly compelling if woefully try-hard wannabe cult horror.

Tucker and Dale versus Evil

– Very silly if entertaining horror spoof with some excellent lines hidden amidst the usual cheap slapstick and teenage farce.


– Clearly not designed for adults, this was unwatchable. Terrible acting, terrible scripting and awful, awful graphics.


– Strikingly original quirky thriller sprinkled with very black humour. Gyllenhaal turns in perhaps his finest performance. Hopefully award recognition could see more in this vein in the future.

Into The Abyss

– disappointingly generic death row documentary, with often seemingly irrelevant and invasive questioning from Herzog. There are vastly superior documentaries. Not ideal Christmas day viewing!

November 2014

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

– The usual overwrought, cheesy teen blockbuster that is now to be expected from the franchise. If you’re accustomed to the style and story, there’s no reason this shouldn’t be another enjoyable chapter.

The Scapegoat

– Touching and well constructed period drama with a great central performance from Matthew Rhys, highly recommended.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

– Much too protracted and irritatingly puerile at times, this is otherwise an irresistibly entertaining spoof biopic parodying the same tired old formula of music life stories. Fun for the most part.

Happy Valley (TV)

– Phenomenally well acted and compelling British TV, a thriller of the calibre that rarely graces our screens. A netflix exclusive allegedly, although it has BBC all over it and oddly shows only on the US Netflix. Don’t miss this, the best British cop series since The Shadow Line.

The Maze Runner

– Continues the trend of the surreal adultification of kids. Horribly scripted, badly acted, and filled with a cast in their mid to late twenties trying to be 15. The maze itself is dull, impossibly and bizarrely proportioned given its purpose and occupants, and the hastily explained premise feels superficial at best and utterly pathetic at worst. Agonising that this is what studios throw their weight and money behind these days and more agonising that it will probably be a (financially) successful franchise.

Enter Nowhere

– Curiously desperate attempt to weave an intricate time travel thriller that falls flat, with bad acting, a bad script, and a predictable premise.

Detectorists (TV)

– Innocuous, lighthearted and relaxing comedy from Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones. It’s a relief and pleasure to watch something so gentle.

Camp X-ray

– Kristen Stewart demonstrates she has acting chops in this solid prison drama. A bit laboured, with one or two missteps, but on the whole, this is quite affecting.

The Hustler

– Paul Newman is commanding and charismatic even as the smug Fast Eddy. It does require a little patience for a modern audience.

The November Man

– Brosnan back in comfortable shoes as government operative Peter (Bond by another name). Hackneyed and unoriginal, if moderately entertaining for at least the first two acts before crashing out with a nose dive.

The Judge

– overwrought, exposition heavy, subplot laden and contrived. Downey Jr is in his fast-talking arrogant default, while Duvall does his part convincingly, although it could have been played just as firmly by any number of ageing actors. The whole film sets out as a tearjerker, and that ambition is all too obvious in the script and editing. The comedy is often misjudged (and largely based on the interjections of a ‘retard’) whilst all of the female roles exist solely as sex objects for Downey Jr. This is the kind of film that with a lesser cast wouldn’t cause a ripple in the film industry, but with these kinds of heavy hitters will probably be getting Oscar nods. Most frustrating.

A Walk Among The Tombstones

– Bog standard crime thriller with Neeson in his usual washed up oldtimer role. Not worth the time.

The Third Man

– necessary viewing, but hardly the most exhilarating. The sewer chase is pretty iconic, and the visuals generally are sharp and striking. Other than that, this viewer was left unmoved.


– First rate thriller exploring home grown terrorism in the UK. Not perfect, but deserving of so much more attention that it received.

The Babadook

– Morbid and depressing if refreshingly original take on the usual horror guff: possession, children and creepy houses. Did I say original?

The Parallax View

– Wonderfully directed, with an almost avant-guarde use of cinematography (given it’s era). It’s not a fast paced conspiracy thriller, but it’s compelling, intriguing, and rewarding overall for viewers who love to think and analyse.

The West Wing S01 (TV)

– Such an enormous pleasure to rewatch this. Still one of the finest, wittiest, sharpest scripted TV shows I have ever seen. Every minute is fun and every episode exhilarating.

Secret State (TV)

– Solid political drama series with strong performances all round and a hypercritical script depicting the cosy relationship and interworkings between British banks, businesses and government. Very worth watching, but not quite landmark TV.


– Danny Boyle-esque drama cum thriller in which a trio of Brazilian lads (literally) unearth the key to political upheaval. Aided by strong direction and solid acting, this rattles along at a terrific pace and is a lot of fun.

Metro Manila

– Melancholy, depressing drama cum thriller, following a man struggling to make a living as a security guard amid the dangers of Manila.


– Terrific, if emotionally overwrought space age sci-fi from Chris Nolan. An ambitious and exciting spectacle.

Escobar: Paradise Lost

– With an exploitative use of the Escobar name, this superficial and horribly preachy drug thriller endeavours to weave a love story with a drug trafficking backdrop. It avoids any sincere exploration of Escobar’s legacy and instead offers skin deep, trashy American propaganda that could have been (and essentially was) entirely fictionalised. Just terrible.

The Guest

– Surreal thriller that has the script and acting of a drawn out episode of Kyle XY, along with the teen angst and 12A flirting with alcohol and drugs. Allegedly deliberately styled to achieve cult status, for this viewer, that ‘style’ simply translates to “bad”. Time better spent elsewhere.

October 2014

Night Moves

– very slow though always engaging, introspective drama/thriller exploring paranoia, extreme convictions, and the possible consequences of upholding and enacting those convictions.


– Mindbending and utterly bizarre sci fi exploring the ramifications of virtual reality. A lot of parallels with Inception.

The Man From Earth

– A thinking man’s film. History, philosophy and religion all undergo scrutiny following the revelation that a long term friend is 14000 years old. Purely talking, and all in one location, this won’t set your nerves on edge or your heart apounding, but time and place dependent, will leave you with a healthy discussion on your hands.

Gone Girl

– Fincher’s latest thriller is as slick as we’ve come to expect from the director, but leaves a distinctly sour aftertaste. Affleck is great and Pike isn’t bad (if a little too affected), but a trash book adapted well is still a trash film. Everything is horribly contrived and suburban, and consequently it never feels real enough to genuinely thrill. That said, as always, Fincher manages to conjure a few spectacular moments of cinema. Worth watching.

The Code (TV)

– Gripping, if at times frustrating, Aussie conspiracy thriller. Solid acting in difficult roles, but as is so often the case, the show fails to offer any lovable, or even likeable characters, and consequently isn’t as enjoyable to watch as it could, and should, have been.

God’s Pocket

– Not a bad drama, but utterly devoid of anything to get excited about. It’s dreary, slow, and not especially witty, even though it tries hard with its smattering of black humour.

The Calling

– terrible, drab and unenjoyable serial killer ‘thriller’ that suffers from issues left, right and centre. Avoid.


– Certainly mindbending, if stupid, adolescent sci fi pitching a clash of drunk and scantily clad party goers against their dopplegangers. The weakest of this niche time travel sub-genre: too over-sexed and underage for an intelligent audience.

The Contender

– If only this US political drama had a scintilla more pace. The plot, scripting, casting and acting are all top notch. It’s so close to perfection, and yet it lacks a little punch that post-Sorkin’s The West Wing and Fincher’s House of Cards, is almost a prerequisite of political depictions. Fantastic though, watch it.

Grand Piano

– a ludicrous, phone booth like thriller premise that is as implausible as it is plain stupid. ie. very.

The Signal

– quite original and very compelling sci fi thriller. Highly recommended for sci fi fans, probably not what you’re expecting.

The Thirteenth Floor

– interesting and philosophical sci fi noire thriller. More Max Payne than Max Payne ever was, and as multilayered as Existenz, if not Inception. Good fun and intriguing concept, albeit perhaps a tad on the nose!

Memory Lane

– Amateur indie-thriller that screams student from the opening shots. That would be fine if it was watchable. This isn’t. Ignore the IMDb rating, this one is not remotely worth your time.


– Thought provoking and intriguing surrealist drama, with a kind of insidious and sadistic nastiness that really takes a hold as the film develops. Utterly gripping despite a slow pace; quite remarkable and very different.

El Traspatio (Backyard)

– Graphic and unflinching look at brutality against women in Juarez and the corruption of the judicial system in bringing the perpetrators to justice. Horrifying drama, difficult to watch, hard to recommend.

You’re Next

– Wonderfully nasty whilst simultaneously tongue in cheek horror home invasion flick. Undeniably sadistic and typically superficial for the genre, after a shouty start this is done very well.


– Riddled with more holes than one of Lucy’s victims, this Besson action sci fi is nonetheless a lot of fun. Take it with a pinch of salt.

The Equalizer

– slick and highly entertaining action thriller from Antoine Fuqua, strongly influenced by Tony Scott style and delivered with aplomb. Denzel is a pleasure to watch. Leave expectations of subtetly and humanity at the door and this will be an absolute treat.

September 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

– Just about entertaining on a second viewing with some lines that still hit home. Wearing thin though. Not sure I could hack it again.

Mystery Road

– Slow burning Aussie crime drama that stumbles over some clumsy dialogue and wooden acting. The execution might not be perfect, but it still commands a solid level of intrigue. If only it had upped the pace.

The Assets (TV)

– An exposition heavy script, transparent story and superfluity of US propaganda mars a show that had promise on paper. Not all that surprising it was cancelled.

La Habitacion del Niño

– the first half of this spanish B-movie is one of the most hilarious black comedies I have seen, whilst the second reverts to genre stereotypes and predictable twists. It’s a lot of fun though, and to some degree an original haunted house thriller.

El Lobo

– Gripping and interesting espionage thriller based on real events at the height of ETAs activity in the 70s.

Cold In July

– A well shot, acted and tought crime drama, it’s a shame it descends in to such chaos. Still worth a watch though.

A Most Wanted Man

– not since Rubicon was aired on TV has the spy genre been so perfectly depicted on screen. An apt tour de force for Philip Seymour Hoffman’s swansong, devestating though that is, and a hugely successful suspenseful thriller. Just terrific.

Live Flesh (Carne Tremula)

– Well crafted Spanish drama from Almodovar. Excellent acting and solid plot. Filled with the usual Almodovar tropes and on the nose political statements though.


– one of the most boring Spanish films I have watched. Dreary and uneventful drama, not worth the time.

No Rest For The Wicked (No habrá paz para los malvados)

– outstanding and offensively underrated spanish crime thriller. Powerhouse acting and superb direction. Deserves further viewing.

El Metodo (The Method)

– An unsatisfying and slightly provocative, if well conceived mystery. Thought provoking and frustrating in turns.

The Leftovers (TV)

– Lifeless, po-faced and painfully grave, this speculative dystopian TV drama isn’t short on intrigue, but stubbornly refuses to offer answers or resolution, resulting in an inexplicable world of shock factor scenes, irrational behaviour, and detached angst. I really wanted to like it, but there is very little to like, let alone praise.


– Excellent concept and imaginative indie execution for this (somewhat) original sci-fi psuedo-quantum time thriller. Highly recommended.

August 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

– Nowhere near the film the hype implies, this has still got a lot of entertainment value with off-the-wall comedy hurled in with the usual action sci-fi.

El Cuerpo

– Excellent, brilliantly directed and shot macabre thriller with a twist that will genuinely surprise, albeit largely due to its implausibility. Unmissable spanish language.

Cronica de una Fuga (Buenos Aires, 1977)

– Intense and serious, perhaps too dry. Lacks the poetry and artistry of similar films, though remains a harrowing fly-on-the-wall spanish language drama.

La Cara Oculta

– Disappointing Spanish thriller that is engrossing but ultimately unrewarding.


– Terrific, moving and powerful drama with easily the best performance Nic Cage has pulled out in the last decade. The soundtrack is brilliant and the acting throughout, top notch. Ty Sheridan impresses as usual.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

– The usual schtick from the marvel crew. Moralising interspersed with explosions and fisticuffs. Quite good fun if you don’t mind dumbing down.

Fermat’s Room

– Engrossing and enjoyable spanish thriller that takes one too many twists and finds itself stranded, but remains a fun ride.

The Departed

– An excellent, compelling thriller that grips to the end, even on multiple viewings.


– Dry, slow burning neo-Western drama that is surprisingly affecting, particularly as it isn’t especially gripping. Sam Shepherd is good, and predominantly speaks Spanish throughout.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

– Very detailed and solid follow up to The Rise (although the naming order is embarrassingly senseless). It’s doubtless good, but sadly much darker than its predecessor, delivering a less enjoyable experience. Despite shortcomings, it remains a must-watch sci fi.

Dom Hemingway

– A couple of great one liners are hidden amidst the quips in this wannabe Sexy Beast london thriller. A good bit of forgettable fun.

Thesis on a Homicide

– Taught and engrossing thriller that keeps you guessing but ultimately fails to answer any of your questions. That can work, but here it disappoints.

The Walking Dead S04 (TV)

– mindnumbingly, agonisingly boring with one of the worst season (anti)climaxes to ever precede another season. Bad acting, bad script, worn out ideas. What a shrivelled and dessicated show this has become.

Mientras Duermes

– One of the nastiest, most insidious, and repulsive Spanish films I have ever had the displeasure of watching. A solid pic, well directed, well acted and utterly horrible.

El Habitante Incierto (The Uninvited Guest)

– Hitchcockian spanish language thriller, full of intrigue, novelty and witty black humour. Utterly bizarre and all the better for it.

July 2014

Cool Hand Luke

– Fantastic prison drama with great performances, in particular from Newman.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

– Remains an excellent sci-fi thriller even on a second viewing. The CGI is truly worthy of marvel, the apes so human it is difficult to feel anything other than compassion. Not flawless, but a brilliant remake nonetheless.

The Monuments Men

– Well meaning but disappointing and tonally ambiguous wartime art caper that provides little, if any, actual entertainment.

Ender’s Game

– Continuing the trend of the adultification of children, this is sufficiently intriguing as a high budget sci-fi, even whilst it fails spectacularly as worthwhile cinema. The script is poor and riddled with tropes, the casting generally unconvincing, and the abrupt, heavyhanded direction, amateur. For all its length, the final edit is a hacked up carcass of what could have been a much tighter, more refined film. Sadly, this measly spark is all that remains of the promise of fireworks.


– Slick action and some terrific set pieces are strung together with innovative camerawork, but what a crushing shame that the storyline (and at times, the acting) are indefensible in their inanity.

Epitafios S01 (TV)

– Audience insulting twists, police incompetence, bad judgements, gratuity and cliches galore mar what could otherwise have been a moderately entertaining, if intellectually challenged, serial killer thriller. Frustration ruins a TV series though, and my God, this show is frustrating viewing! (We’re talking worse than Dexter S07)

Under Fire

– Dramatic tale of war journalists during the Nicaraguan uprising in the late 70s and the difficulty of remaining impartial. Gripping and well acted.

The Expendables 3

– As expected: a nonsensical, incoherent mess of explosions, gunfire and macho babble filled with action dinosaurs that should have died in the line of duty a long time ago. Unimaginably boring and horribly scripted.

Dr Strangelove: or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

– Hilarious and brilliantly composed comedy highlighting the perils of nuclear armaments and the fallibility of those in charge of them. Terrific performances all round, especially from Peter Sellers, and a brief but intensely seductive turn from Tracy Reed.

Gods and Monsters

– Frasier and McKellen find an impressive rapport in this solid biopic drama detailing the salacious private life of James Whale.


– Overrated, but the usual lighthearted Disney fluff; true love, magic, moderately amusing semi-autistic sidekick, the works…


– Ridiculuous and laughably hammy, this gladiatorial blockbuster still ticks all the right boxes for good entertainment, despite insipid performances from all but Sutherland, who is having such a blast being evil that he’s a total caricature, and consequently great fun!

2001: A Space Odyssey

– Understandably a classic space sci fi. Striking imagery and an ambitious, epic, aeon-spanning story. Not easily watchable though – it’s very long and slumbrous, even boring, with extended silences and often little onscreen action. Remarkable what Kubrick achieved for the time though.


– Forgettable and mildly annoying B movie thriller, whose only saving grace is Aidan Quinn, unfortunately still unable to redeem this. A tangle of twists is simply a knot, even when you see them coming.

Only Lovers Left Alive

– Painfully slow and pseudo-intellectual vampire drama. As depressing to watch as Hiddleston’s character is portrayed. Little here to seize interest.

Innocent Voices

– Harrowing, unflinching and deeply affecting tale of an eleven year old boy during the El Salvadorian civil war, in the year prior to his forced conscription in to the army. Should be rated much higher than a certificate 12.

22 Jump Street

– A worthy sequel to the first comedy. Funny, puerile and stupid in turns, it falls apart in it’s third act in much the same way as its predecessor did. Guaranteed to have you laughing out loud on numerous occasions though, it’s definitely worth the time.

Bad Words

– Bateman proves he should stick to the Bluths with this misjudged and tasteless comedy. Generally nasty, with a script of abuse thinly guised as humour. Even acting legend, Philip Baker Hall, looks tired and unhappy.


– Intriguing but ultimately disappointing horror. Good ingredients and concept, with an unsound and irrational execution, in particular the finale.


– Inane but entertaining sci fi blockbuster, if a little too po-faced and dour.


– Technology is the new mumbo jumbo that steps up to fill the vacated shoes of magic in this relatively engrossing sci fi. All of the performances are adequate, albeit too flat, besides Bettany, a massively underrated actor who turns in a good show and raises the bar. The pacing is off and the premise flounders throughout, although these flaws would be easily overlooked if it wasn’t such a tasteless and unlikeable concoction.

June 2014

Dangerous Liaisons

– ludicrous period drama with the plot of a soap opera. Malkovich is supremely pernicious as always, the quintessence of villainy, but it’s all too far fetched, too contrived and much too on the nose.

Elite Squad

– Equally gripping on a second viewing. A great, cutting thriller. Make sure you watch the sequel for more context and balance.

Road House

– Gripping and slick 80s Swayze action thriller. Brilliant fun even by todays standards and immediately quoteable to boot!

Three Days To Kill

– Totally misjudged comedic thriller with a bizarre array of performances and incongruous casting. Horribly contrived and tonally schizophrenic but just about bearable.

Friday Night Lights (S01-S03)

– Surprising, brilliantly well-scripted American football drama following the trials and tribulations of Coach Taylor, his family and his squad, as they adjust to living within the football obsessed, fictional community of Dillon, Texas. Although over time the series falls prey to soap opera cliches and short sighted plot turns, it is often impactful, even profoundly didactic. Frustratingly, characters become increasingly two-dimensional, and storylines are reused time and again over the course of the show. The performances of Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton are definitely worthy of plaudits though, and the first season of the show is a must watch. Take or leave the remaining seasons.

The Host

– Terrible and hugely overrated sci-fi comedy. Horror elements are entirely undermined by slapstick comedy and goofy acting. Misleadingly high rated on IMDb, this is so bad it’s difficult to watch.

Edge of Tomorrow

– Hugely entertaining and funny action/ borderline action-comedy. Tom Cruise excels and glows in a way that he hasn’t for years, and Emily Blunt is a strong support. A lot of fun to be had with the premise, and they have it all. Highly recommended.

Snake Eyes

– Creatively directed by De Palma, but massively overacted and with such blatant and crass exposition it feels hugely dumbed down, particularly as the plot is already so predictable. Still a more or less enjoyable conspiracy flick.

The Americans (S01)(TV)

– Basic and with a fair number of tropes, this spy thriller still grips, even if at times it’s a little too much American propaganda. Very much focused on the spies rather than their motives.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

– Fast paced and immensely enjoyable spy thriller that falls prey to the usual Hollywoodisms. It won’t stand up to scrutiny, but don’t let realism stand in the way of having a blast! Surprisingly happy to recommend this one.

24: Live Another Day

– As farcical, implausible and two dimensional as every other series of 24, this is a highly enjoyable, almost nostalgic return to the franchise. Ignore the thick American propaganda and stupid plot holes and you’ll have a blast.

Blue Ruin

– intriguing and engrossing revenge thriller, if a little too slow. Pretty average for the genre, but certainly not bad.

The Black Dahlia

– Disjointed, dreary and consequently tiresome. A painfully boring noir ‘thriller’.

Body Double

– And the award for stupidest, most protracted death scene goes to… 80s thriller that fails in so many ways: an obvious set up, terrible lines of script, bad acting, disposable and ditzy female roles, and totally irrational character behaviour – including a policeman who is told of a murder happening metres away and chooses to arrest the witness. Unfathomable stupidity on every level. How are films like this given the greenlight?

Southland (S01)(TV)

– Gritty, realistic police show. Strong characters and good acting but perhaps the characters are all a little too unlikeable.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

– Upbeat, clever and fast paced addition to the X-Men franchise. Vastly better than the last two iterations.

Wall Street

– Too abstruse for me, and Wall Street dramas are a far cry from my favourite genre. Long and dull. Clearly of interest to a certain audience though.

The Two Faces of January

– Lacklustre, unexciting thriller with adequate to good performances all round, but unlikeable characters that demonstrate typically irrational behaviour. Not worth it.

A Million Ways To Die In The West

– Moderately entertaining western comedy that relies too heavily on puerile gross-outs and not enough on strong wit, but the funny lines, when they come, are more or less worth suffering through the rest of it. Maybe.

Short Term 12

– Solid and affectionate drama handles tricky subject of maladjusted kids. Powerful.

The Sitter

– Puerile, largely unfunny Jonah Hill comedy. One or two lines stand out as immediately quotable, but overall this is laboured, messy and childish.

Bad Neighbours

– Pretty much what you would expect from a Rogen comedy. One or two genuine laughs in a sea of self-congratulating, puerile improv. No doubt much funnier to produce than to watch, but that’s little consolation to the disappointed viewer. (And yes, Efron spends most of his scenes topless – why waste a perfectly good body?)

The Replacements

– Silly sports comedy with a formulaic plot and inane gags. Classic feel good vibe though and great as a pick-me-up. Also worth it for the Gene Hackman completionists!

May 2014

Street Kings

– Decidedly average bent cop conspiracy thriller. Likens itself to Training Day (and is directed by the writer, David Ayer), but operates in a different league entirely. The performances are solid, especially from Whittaker and Reeves, though this remains ultimately dull.

Don Jon

– surprisingly endearing and amusing film about porn addiction with strong performances from all.

Life of Pi

– Although the special effects in some scenes are astoundingly good looking, as a whole, the film is too slow moving and frustratingly PG, and acheives none of the profundity of the book.

Runner Runner

– Watchable if unexciting gambling thriller. Bad acting and dodgy pacing hampers, what at times, is a sharp script. Gets worse with hindsight.

After Earth

– Far from as terrible as early reviews suggested (it is evidently very popular as a critic to give M Night Shymalan a hard time); this is not a good film – just too serious, and frankly, too unexciting – but it’s an engrossing enough sci-fi and I can think of worse ways to spend a few hours.


– A wacky, highly original and exhilirating film, with bizarre but brilliant performances, in particular from Tilda Swinton. Terrific.

The French Connection II

– not a patch on the original, though I found it a solid sequel nonetheless. The heroine sequence is particularly unpleasant.


– solid and atmospheric thriller with a stellar cast; happily unexpected.

National Security

– a classic buddy cop action comedy, moderately entertaining and amusing with all the usual hammy tropes. Ridiculous but light hearted fun.

Breathe In

– Firmly and shamelessly ploughs the inevitable furrow for a family drama of its ilk, but does so with sensitivity and powerful, if understated performances. Who would have thought Felicity Jones is 30 years old…


– Just astonishingly beautiful. My grievances with the plot didn’t lessen on a second viewing, but the narrative is essentially by the by when you are presented with a feature length set piece that is perhaps the cleanest, best produced and most intensely wondrous vision of space ever to grace the screen.

Banshee S02

– Not quite up to the first season, and many of the show tropes are becoming a little worn, particularly the seemingly obligatory drawn out sex scenes and flashbacks every episode, but it’s still fast paced and exciting enough.

Death in Paradise (TV)

– moderately amusing British murder mystery comedy. Silly, very lighthearted, and consequently entirely forgivably hammy!


– Painstakingly po-faced and self-assured remake. Gareth Edwards doing the monster thing in his usual peekaboo style. Not terrible, just massively overhyped and underwhelming.


– Surprising and engrossing sci-fi noir thriller, if hampered by a slightly b-movie feel (perhaps due to dated sfx).

April 2014


– Top quality drama with Steve Coogan, to my recollection, in his finest dramatic role. Dame Judi Dench is just marvellous as always. Not a genre I’m fond of, but a very solid movie.

Banshee S01

– Give it a chance. Yes it’s stylised, yes it’s testosterone fuelled and macho, but the story really gels together tightly as the episodes progress, and the characters endear themselves quickly. The writing is smart and witty, even laugh out loud at times, and whilst the female characters are indubitably sexualised, they are also strong willed, intelligent and resilient. It’s an excellent hybrid of procedural and serial, with an overarching narrative that progresses swiftly enough whilst always including a novel element each episode. Highly recommended, and with room still to grow. Antony Starr is a revelation.

Rising Sun

– Convoluted but nonetheless intriguing detective drama. A bit too long.

The General’s Daughter

– entertaining if ropey late 90s military thriller with an enjoyable performance from Travolta who tends to be overlooked these days.


– excellent, profoundly affecting drama. At once comic and crushingly sad, it raises all the right issues and asks all the unanswerable questions. Terrific.

Line of Duty S01

– A brilliant, understated cop drama series from the BBC. Not as good as the Shadow Line, but operating in similarly slick territory. Unfortunately, the end is unsatisfying. Typical beeb.

Line of Duty S02

– Another fast paced, edgy cop thriller from the BBC that excites right up until the final episode, where true to form, the BBC massively disappoint, yet again.

The Double

– Innovative and striking film-making with an excellent cast of British comedy heroes, this comedy noire is too black, too unfunny, and too grating.


– innovative and aesthetic cinematography disguise an otherwise drab drama, despite Tom Hardy’s best attempts.


– Albeit nothing revelatory, this is a solid drug based crime thriller told in flashbacks.

The Firm

– A little formulaic, but a solid conspiracy thriller, if much, much too long.

The Company You Keep

– The usual ‘journalist uncovers conspiracy’ style thriller, but Redford’s gentle direction and acting endears itself. Leans a tad heavily on the drama for the runtime.


– Devoid of any redeeming features. A badly misjudged, badly executed drama epic and without a doubt Aronofsky’s worst movie to date – even surpassing The Fountain. Angeringly terrible.

Jonathan Creek S05

– Typically wry and amusing humour from Alan Davies and team. The mysteries themselves are very tenuous at best (bring back the murders!), but the script is as enjoyable as ever.

Amazing Spider Man 2

– CGI heavy superhero sequel that doesn’t come close to its predecessor. Spidey is still full of entertaining quips but the plot is garbled and as usual, too many (two dimensional) villains spoil the broth. Garfield and Stone carry it.

The Lost Boys

– Bizarrely engrossing although undeniably bad. Perhaps it has just dated, but my God, how it has dated! 80s vampire cult noire, laden with screams and cross dissolves.

Orphan Black S01

– Infuriating and cliched dialogue and glossy set design undermine multiple strong performances from Tatiana Maslany. It’s a pity the whole show is so shallow, as the clone storyline isn’t novel by a long shot either so it really has very little going for it. This is bad TV, of the type that will get multiple series and entertain families across the globe because it’s “light hearted, fun” and requires dick all thought. Depressing.

A Man Escaped

– An old french prison escape drama. Black and white and clearly extremely dated, but nonetheless gripping.


– Amusing, feel good animated comedy which would be vastly improved without the nauseating musical numbers. Entertaining slapstick though.

47 Ronin

– Not great, but I enjoyed it. It’s too long, the CGI is horribly subpar, and both the script and editing are weak. Beyond that though, it ticks most of the boxes for entertainment value, just don’t expect too much.

Silicon Valley S01E01

– Unimpressive. Whilst the story picked up by the end of the episode and there was the vague compulsion to continue, the jokes were predominantly lame and it didn’t seem to bring anything new to the “nerd” genre.

The Bag Man

– Bizarre, badly made noire, that clearly spent its entire budget on the two leads. The final 30 minutes really drag and some of the sound work is appalling.

The Vanishing

– An insidious and sinister thriller with convincing performances by the whole cast. Albeit based on the novel by Tim Krabbe, this is very Stephen King in style; innocent characters come face to face with villainy and the seemingly ordinary people who perpetrate it. Better than average if still unremarkable.

Rectify S01

– Refreshingly original premise for a TV drama, but the pacing is off, and as a result, the story progression feels unnecessarily laboured. I will watch Season 2, though I keenly hope that story developments are a little more rapid and enticing. Strong performances all round though, and the novel programming should be commended.

Event Horizon

– Films like this demonstrate how far CGI has come. It’s watchable for sci-fi fans, but not recommended.

The Edge

– A good enough wilderness survival drama with adequate performances, though it’s not the most compelling premise (with most of the dramatic tension arising from the persistent threat of a bear attack) and consequently feels more sluggish that it needs to. Perhaps more interesting would have been further development in the conclusion of the story: what happens next?


– a terrific epic of prison life in French Guyana, exploring friendship, hope and survival. Strong performances and a great script bless us with a very emotive and thought provoking film.

March 2014

Secret Window

– Somehow both menacing and fun, the first two thirds of this mystery thriller are wonderfully compelling. Unfortunately, as so often happens, the final act is a huge disappointment, with a hokey ‘twist’ and poor resolution. Depp is strong throughout.

The Guardian

– For all its cheese and swagger, this is an enjoyable and engrossing drama about the US Coast Guard. Costner and Kutcher work well together.

The Act of Killing

– Exceedingly impactful, unique and compelling documentary about the genocide in Indonesia, in which killers reenact their war crimes. Horrifying and unsettling, but somehow very human (perhaps for this precise reason).

Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite)

– Visceral, violent powerhouse thriller with a great plot and strong performances.


– Obscene and angering. If you know the story, you don’t need to watch the film. It follows the circumstances of the real life hoax almost exactly and makes you feel morbid and complicit. Unfathomable that anyone could behave so stupidly as all of those involved evidently did.


– Grating scottish accents aside, this is still surprisingly boring and lacklustre for an animated children’s tale. Not at all what we’ve come to expect.

Double Jeopardy

– the premise and set up for this crime thriller are so bad, and so badly executed, that the suspension of disbelief necessary to enjoy it becomes an immediate issue. The chase is adequate, though the cliches and contrivances stack high. Not worth the time.

The Long Goodbye

– Comparisons to Chinatown aren’t too far off. This crime drama is similarly disappointing. It’s not bad, but given the level of acclaim it has achieved, this viewer certainly expected more. Some fantastic lines of dialogue somewhat make up for the slow and convoluted narrative. Gould is great.

Thor: The Dark World

– Bad, CGI heavy sequel to the original superhero epic, full of tropes, predictable twists and horribly clumsy script. Thankfully, between them, Hiddleston and Hemsworth have just about enough charisma that it is bearable, if not recommended.


– Albeit primarily a drama, this treads the very fine line between comedy and tragedy with aplomb. In turns heartbreaking, unsettling, jawdropping and hilarious with an ending that feels like a punch in the stomach.

Starred Up

– Terrific, powerful performances from the entire cast, in particular Ben Mendohlsen who is just fantastic. Standard, tense, exciting prison drama fare.

Primal Fear

– Equally satisfying on a third viewing. What a terrific performance from Ed Norton and a gripping screenplay throughout. Excellent stuff.

Under the Skin

– A remarkable, albeit slightly too abstract, visual spectacle with a terrific score by Mica Levi (Micachu). Profound, unsettling, and creepy in the best possible way, it unfortunately falls short of perfection with some pacing issues around the third act.


– Damon and Affleck are entertaining as the two angels, and one sequence particularly stands out (the first meet with Serendipity), but on the whole, this is puerile and ridiculous, a film that would be laughed off screen if it weren’t for the prestige of the cast associated with it.

Family Weekend

– Dreadful on every level. Matthew Modine alone is just about watchable. The film, however, is not.

30 Minutes or Less

– Puerile, irritating and crass comedy, with thankfully enough genuinely funny jokes to make one viewing bearable. Definitely not recommended though.

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within

– Every bit as brilliantly gripping as it’s forebear, even more so. One of the finest thrillers I can remember.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

– An exercise in audience tolerance. This is absolutely unbearable. Unwatchable. What were they thinking? A sequel that should never have existed. Firmly taking the comedy out of ‘comedy’. Even the plethora of cameos fell flat.

Out of the Furnace

– Not a bad film, just not particularly notable either. The script relies on too many tropes and permits too many contrivances, whilst the delivery lacks panache. Bale gives it his all as always.

True Detective

– Some of the greatest moments of TV, and some that are utterly pretentious. Hits and misses, but mostly hits. The lead performances are astounding and the cinematography is bang on the money. This is well worth watching, I look forward to season two.

All Is Lost

– Difficult to criticise but hard to like. Surpringly engrossing, if not gripping. Silent and bleak with some wonderful imagery in amongst the bad green screen. The abrupt ending and lack of conclusion is vexing.

Memories of Murder

– Solid Korean murder mystery tackling various difficult themes. Not the thriller that the hype suggests, but very good nonetheless.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

– Wes Anderson’s particular blend of whimsy creates another entertaining and amusingly absurd tale. One of his strongest to date and filled with Andersonisms.

House of Cards S02

– Faster than the first, and better for it. Mistakenly overlooks the conspiracy angle in favour of reshifting the political landscape, but hopefully the third series will pick up where it left off. Very happy to see Jimmi Simpson and Boris McGiver in play.

Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day

– An unimpressive follow up to the first, for the most part trying too hard to be stylish and winding up camp. The odd sequence makes it worth watching, but only just.

February 2014

The Truth About Emanuel

– Original, albeit very peculiar, almost surreal drama about a girl understanding motherhood and love. Tries too hard and is no doubt horribly contrived, but nonetheless possesses a certain intangible quality.

Murder in the First

– Graphic and gritty tale of Henry Young, held in solitary confinement in alcatraz for over three years. Marred by formulaic pacing and courtroom tropes.

Before Sunrise

– A sweet, romantic, if overly contrived drama fuelled by lengthy dialogue and the charm and optimism of young lovers.

The Great Gatsby

– Very strong performances negate some of Luhrman’s garish and plain bad directorial decisions (modern club music??! What?!), but the film somehow survives more or less intact (perhaps due to the “enduring” novel and DiCaprio). Better than expected.

The Great Buck Howard

– Lacklustre but ultimately feel good drama. Malkovich carries it.

The Last Stand

– This film has no redeemable qualities, or indeed qualities at all. Not just one of the worst action films I have ever seen, but one of the worst films full stop. A horrible combination of long and terrible.


– A little slow at times, otherwise a solid character driven Western with some excellent dialogue and tasteful cinematography.


– An uneventful, peculiar and totally implausible pseudo-philosophical speculation on love and humanity. Engrossing in it’s novelty, but bland.


– Engrossing despite its length, and for the most part brilliantly scripted. The final act disappoints as characters make irrational decisions and contrivances begin popping up, but overall this is hugely enjoyable.


– Statham doing his thing, this time dispatching meth cookers.

Inside Llewyn Davis

– Beautifully shot and an excellent, enjoyable soundtrack, but the film is nonetheless exceedingly dull.

The Counsellor

– Sadly, whilst there’s a good movie hidden in there somewhere (at least, all the ingredients are there), it is disguised by horribly self-indulgent philosophising, gratuitous prurience, wooden dialogue, and a plot that is more convoluted than a knotted ball of string. Very disappointing.

The Lego Movie

– A bizarre, faintly surreal and slapstick animated farce that has a few sidesplitters, in-jokes galore and plenty of pop-culture references. It isn’t as consistently funny as it tries to be, though succeeds in entertaining for the most part.

January 2014

A Hijacking

– Depressingly anticlimactic and overall not as thrilling as was marketed. A long film with flat pacing. Disappointingly, the strong acting doesn’t make it much more palatable.

The Sopranos (S01)

– Hailed as classic TV, and perhaps the best that has aired. In the face of modern masterpieces (a la Breaking Bad/ Boardwalk Empire), I can’t agree with such gushing acclaim, but it’s certainly a good series, albeit a little too formulaic in structure.

Red Lights

– A three phase film: first exciting and intriguing, then a bit farfetched but entertaining, and finally agonisingly farcical and stupid. Dodgy editing as if they shot an epic and cut it down by a few hours, ruthlessly scattering key story elements along the way.

Original Sin

– Terrible, insipid, badly acted and badly directed mess. One of those films that will make you angry for wasting your time.

Last Vegas

– one of the most contrived and cheesy films I’ve ever seen, but still enjoyable for the most part. Definitely not a must watch but you could do worse.

Tie Dur

– Very disappointing, pseudo sci-fi time travel flick. Intriguing for the first thirty minutes and then rapidly descends in to chaos. Nowhere near as clever or as philosophical as it tries to be.

Behind the Candelabra

– Interesting biopic drama detailing Liberace’s personal life, specifically his gay relationship with Scott Thorson.

Pain and Gain

– Hilariously stupid, in the vein of so bad that it’s occasionally genius. For the most part this shallow comedy fails entirely, but there are one or two sidesplitting turns along the way that are perhaps worth the wait.

12 Years A Slave

– Bleak, unflinching and harrowing drama charting the life of a black slave stolen from his family. The remarkably stellar cast turn amazing performances, but ultimately this is unlikely to inform any further than any decent school education already should have, and it’s just about as enjoyable as a history lesson too. No doubt an oscar contender, but look elsewhere for cinematic escapism.

Liberal Arts

– A compelling and amusing film that ties itself in knots tackling potentially difficult issues and frustratingly draws all the wrong conclusions under the guise of wisdom. A great supporting turn from Zac Efron.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

– My second viewing. Equally enjoyable if not more so than the first. Such a terrific accomplishment.

Homeland (S03)

– A shocking season of TV, and sadly, brutally uncompromising. I won’t be watching S04; for me this is a conlusion to Homeland, a series which was always Brody’s story. Lewis and Danes are both terrific, though the plot plays fast and loose with chronology.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

– Hugely original, amusing and poignant in all the right places, perhaps Stiller’s finest yet.

La Grande Bellazza

– Even for all its fans and plaudits, this is indubitably pretentious and full of itself. Interesting, occasionally insightful and no doubt beautifully shot, but frankly, I found it whiffed of Californication for Italiophiliac pensioners.

Lone Survivor

– Essentially one long gun battle, this is nonetheless a compelling and well directed war movie. Jingoism aside, this is better than average.

American Hustle

– O’Russell is clearly in love with his cast, the camera barely exits close-up. Not as sleek or clever as I was expecting, though enjoyable for the most part.


– A two star sci fi action if ever there was one but it’ll keep fans of Riddick immersed, just about.

Dallas Buyers Club

– Incredible tour de force from director Jean-Marc Vallée and absolute powerhouse performances from both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. Superb drama offering real emotional complexity whilst educating those who may be ignorant of such a tragic time.


– Very compelling and engrossing, even for an F1 sports drama, but with such an unlikeable, despicable lead and dull (whilst admirable) support, it leaves you with no-one to really root for. Definitely above average and worth watching though.

Boy Wonder

– Very novel take on vigilantism. Excellent acting, strong characters and a solid script really transform what could have been bargain basement fodder in to an engrossing, clever and moving thriller.

The Wolf of Wall Street

– An absolute masterpiece. Incredible all round. One of the finest films I have ever seen. A chaotic, debauched celebration of hedonism and greed and a cutting statement about capitalism.

December 2013

A Bronx Tale

– Incredible all round, fiery performances and an extremely heartfelt story. Unmissable.


– Tedious, with solemnity that 50 years on feels misplaced and overly reverent. Brings nothing new to the table. Not worth the time.

The Hobbit: An Unfinished Journey

– Enjoyed this much more with a relaxed second viewing. No Lord of the Rings, but spectacular and entirely engrossing nonetheless. What a wonderful Middle Earth Peter Jackson has realised.

The Seventh Seal

– Thought provoking, poetic and chillingly existential but for all of that it struggles to be anything more than dour, brooding and slow paced.

Bloody Sunday

– Harrowing, unflinching, almost nausea-inducing biopic of the Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry. Amazing film.

The Lazarus Project

– The late Paul Walker in something a little different. Intriguing, if not exacly fast paced. It feels like it’s trying a bit hard, but nonetheless kept me mystified even through the last few minutes. A pity the same story wasn’t executed with a little more finesse all round.

Bobby Fischer Against The World

– Interesting and detailed documentary about the chess legend

A Fish Called Wanda

– A total farce, literally. Funny and plain ludicrous in equal measure, this is a frivolous ‘heist-gone-wrong’ romp.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated

– Illuminating albeit not especially compelling documentary delving in to the secretive heart of the MPAA and their proscriptive rating system.


– Sincere and touching dramatical portrait of long distance family relationships. Existential, without clear didacticism. Lack of uplifting resolution might alienate some viewers.

The Conjuring

– A second viewing took away some of the scares but this remains James Wan’s masterpiece, even after Saw cut such a high bar.

Local Hero

– I didn’t give this as much attention as it perhaps deserved, but it struck me as a light-hearted, feel good comedy drama with an appreciation for natural beauty and community friendships. The characters are kind of loveable in their absurdity, and it’s an effective tourist ad for Scotland but I’m not entirely sure why it was quite so well received by audiences.

Barbarians at the Gate

– Great performances from the stellar cast, illustrating the RJR Nabisco takeover in the US. Unfortunately, as a next-gen layman, I found it esoteric and couldn’t find much to keep my interest.


– Infuriatingly typical. Interesting enough (just about) right up until the third act where everything falls apart and Hollywood’s sense of morality kicks in, resulting in totally irrational behaviour and face palm coincidence. Given the era, perhaps it can be forgiven, but for people to still herald this as a standalone masterpiece, I think is very dubious.


– Bizarre. A compelling heist movie up until about the two thirds mark, where it’s as if an entirely different director took over, and starting juggling storylines left right and centre, oblivious to all of the plot strands he was dropping. Immensely frustrating and so disappointing as this could have been, if not great, then very solid and entertaining.

Le Cercle Rouge

– Long, stylish heist thriller. Very dated and sedate by modern standards, but intriguing and nonetheless riveting. The plot isn’t immediately clear and leaves a lot to speculation.


– Harrowing, stark, mindblowing eye opener exploring the consequences of a nuclear war using Sheffield as a case study.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

– Tremendous sequel. Fast paced, utterly engrossing, funny and artistically crafted. Jackson scarcely puts a foot wrong in his latest adventure in Middle Earth. Wonderful.

Oz the Great and Powerful

– Psychadelic tripe. This is what camp looks like on a mega-budget.

True Confessions

– DeNiro and Duvall offer up equally strong performances as brothers at odds in this thoughtful, familial crime drama. Not electric, but impressive nonetheless.

Robot and Frank

– Albeit slow and plodding, this is an enjoyable, amusing tale of friendship between man and robot. It’s skin deep but better for it.


– A tightly confected drama weaving three tragedies together and exploring the fragility of relationships in the online age. Good if a little on the nose.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

– Surprisingly vastly superior to the first. Ignore the Hollywood gloss and absurd lighting and this is a gripping, unexpected treat.

The Frozen Ground

– Moderately wearisome attempt at a thriller. Cage and Cusack carry it. The script is too revealing to be satisfying, devoid of the intrigue and suspense that’s vital for an effective thriller and without a twist or a solid finishing blow it’s simply too forgettable. The most emotive scenes of the whole film are the factual closing titles.

The Woman In Black

– Much weaker on a second viewing, though the setting remains wonderfully unsettling

The Croods

– Cheerful, amusing and innovative animation that will definitely appeal to adults too. Some terrific lines you’ll be quoting for some time afterwards.

November 2013


– a drugs runner and prodigy chess player applies chess tactics to find an edge in the real world. An enthralling movie and the inclusion of chess is certainly more than perfunctory.

Escape from Alcatraz

– Still gripping and exciting decades on.

The Escape Artist (TV)

– Better than average BBC fare, and Tennant is fantastic. The plot is inadequately constructed and the resolution and conclusion feel unsatisfying. Why does the BBC repeatedly fail where American networks don’t?


– dreary, macabre, long, tiresome and utterly nonsensical. Quite frustrating in fact! Good acting is the only plus.


– Too mature for children, not mature enough for adults. Sadly, despite a novel concept and imaginative ideas, this misses the mark almost entirely.

Justice/ Seeking Justice

– Very average. Just about entertaining but deserves the bargain basket.

2 Guns

– A business exercise, nothing more. Marky Mark and Denzel are watchable as ever, but there is nothing special to remark upon here. Formulaic, uninspired, drab. The usual male Hollywood box of tricks with a token beauty for eyecandy and the obligatory titty shot.

Red 2

– Not half as enjoyable as the first, putting far too much emphasis on the ditzy Sarah (Mary Louise-Parker) and her boring relationship with Bruce Willis. It is still entertaining, but the novelty and sense of inappropriate fun has gone.

Kick Ass 2

– the first one was original and quirky, this is just kind of stupid. The whole farcical superhero thing already feels old and Hit Girl’s role is so feeble for the most part that there’s barely any slick action, just teen angst from whiny adolescents and contradicting moral messages.

GI Joe: Retaliation

– Mindless entertainment. Everything you’d expect from a blockbuster with this cast. Government conspiracy and explosions. Good fun!

The Selfish Giant

– A beautifully crafted drama, editing and shot composition bang on the money. Unfortunately, the story itself feels contrived and lacking, a deliberate tear jerker that fails to impact.


– A cinematic spectacle unlike any other, the skill and artistry of direction and sound design inspires wonder. Unfortunately, the lacklustre script is very generic Hollywood fare and doesn’t offer a plot or dialogue to do the rest justice, dragging the film just shy of perfection. Unmissable though.

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

– Excellent, criminally unsung buddy heist drama. Perhaps Jeff Bridges best role, and the most laid back I’ve seen Clint too. Cinematography, dialogue and soundtrack are spot on.

Searching for Bobby Fischer

– an excellent, touching and well acted drama charting the development of a chess prodigy from anonymity to acclaim.

Knight Moves

– Another serial killer thriller centred around a chess genius, this performs better than Uncovered but still feels like a tired cliche. Once the initial chess scene is set, there’s little to distinguish it from the hundreds of other noir thrillers aspiring to be more than bargain basement fluff.

Escape Plan

– Flawed on a lot of levels (not least with some dodgy CGI), but nonetheless slick and thrilling. The script is almost surreal in it’s absurdity, but action fans will love it. Hugely enjoyable.

Captain Phillips

– Tremendous. An absolutely absorbing and edge of the seat thriller. It’s rare that they make them like this these days. Greengrass and Hanks have excelled themselves.

The Ghost and the Darkness

– Good performances but by the end, I had had it with those motherfuckin Lions on those motherfuckin plains…

Beasts of the Southern Wild

– as beautiful and poignant the second time as the first, if not more so. Staggeringly powerful cinema.

Middle Men

– Not a bad film by any means, and competently crafted, but the cocktail of opulence and licentiousness fails to evoke any kind of emotional investment, ultimately resulting in a sexy but vapid and dull experience.

The Way Way Back

– Touching adolescent drama featuring the usual charismatic display from Sam Rockwell. Would have worked better as a series than a standalone film, and despite the water park setting, the themes feel pretty worn. Still a worthwhile film though.

Blue Jasmine

– For all the hype, besides a cast of great performers, this was fairly dull Woody Allen. Very contrived, too bleak to be funny, too funny to be hard hitting. Didn’t work for me.

The Shooting Party

– Insightful period drama surrounding a bourgeois country estate set against the backdrop of impending war. All star cast deliver fine performances. More allegorical and subtly illuminating than eventful.

Computer Chess

– indubitably unique, though perplexing and (perhaps inevitably) slumbrous. Sparks didn’t fly for me, despite an unmistakable undercurrent of dry, idiosyncratic humour.

Boardwalk Empire S04 (TV)

– Whilst maintaining a standard well above average, this series is the first to really drop the ball. The key storylines are dull comparative to previous seasons and the most compelling and intriguing characters are all overlooked: Arnold Rothstein, Al Capone, Meyer Lansky, even Eli. It’s as if the writers tried to tackle too many storylines and only succeeded in finishing one or two – the boring ones. Hopefully S05 will pick up the pace.


– Excellent western with a career peaking performance from Val Kilmer. The sheer stupidity of the Wild West is often an irritation, but it’s a hugely watchable film.

Hannibal (2013) (TV)

– I really tried to like this. Mads Mikkelsen is a terrific actor, but this show is just agonisingly bad. The script is weak at best, shoddy at worst. All of the actors are coasting. Gillian Anderson hasn’t played a different role since… ever, and every episode seems to be an attempt to shock. The colour grades and sfx are stylised to distraction whilst the plot itself fails to flesh out any kind of compelling, plausible thrills or drama, and is consequentially surprisingly boring. The fact that practically everything Will says suggests that Hannibal is the killer, and everything Hannibal says has a murderous subtext, leaves you wondering how an entire team of “FBI behavioural experts and profilers” can be so unfathomably oblivious . This is like starting Dexter in season five; bad and poised to plummet further.

Elementary S02 (TV)

– more or less as titled. Highly entertaining for the most part but too often formulaic and reliant on the usual procedural pseudo-science of cable TV. Johnny Lee Miller is a gem though, wonderfully eccentric.

The Luzhin Defence

– Drab and uninventive adaptation of Nabakov’s The Defence.

Chess Fever

– Probably the earliest made film I’ve seen. Silent, black and white, amusing enough to raise a smirk, but never enough to giggle. Interesting for chess fans and film students, probably not for anyone else.

Safe (2012)

– Exactly what you expect from a Statham action thriller. Heavy on the action, light on the thrills, a ton of one liners and several hospitals worth of broken limbs. If you’re a fan of the Stath, there’s no reason this should disappoint.


– Fast paced, entirely gripping and wonderfully sinister. This has flown low under the radar but deserves much more attention. It’s not without flaws, just well above average.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

– Both hilarious and thrilling, absurd and absurdly underrated. Mel Gibson excels unlike I’ve seen him in over a decade. The script is high concept with its tongue firmly in cheek and the editing is surprisingly sharp. The only question, why was this condemned straight to DVD?


– Disappointing second outing from Neil Blomkampp. Neither the plot nor the dystopian futuristic settings withstand much scrutiny, as is painfully obvious on a single viewing.

The State Within (TV)

– After a slow start, this conspiracy thriller soon picks up pace and fires on all cyclinders, keeping you utterly gripped. Brilliant BBC Drama.

The Book of Daniel (TV)

– Another promising series cut off before it had time to fully flourish. Hugely enjoyable, warm, light hearted and often laugh out loud funny.

Man of Steel

– Absolutely insipid. Boring, nonsensical and aggravatingly cavalier with the superhero icon. Such a disappointment.


– A film that makes every effort to prove that chess goes hand in hand with crime and intrigue, where the chess pieces are the clues to murder and are taken entirely literally, knight for knight, castle for castle. Unbelievably bad – one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. Terrible acting and the script is almost entirely exposition, not to mention there is an utterly bizarre sexual obsession throughout, way beyond the ordinary 90s smut.

The Postman

– An epic, uplifting story. It’s a travesty it has been so underrated and received such little exposure. Too cheesy but otherwise a compelling and heartfelt film.

October 2013

Firefly (TV)

– An original sci fi, amusingly scripted and directed with warm characters. A little too procedural for my tastes, but definitely a good watch.

Real Steel

– Jackman’s charisma pulls it through the face palming cheese. The story arc is badly paced so it ends abruptly, but it’s steely enough feel-good blockbuster entertainment.

King of Devil’s Island

– Captivating, powerful and well composed prison drama.

Holy Motors

– Surrealist cinema isn’t for me I suppose. This couldn’t end soon enough. Bizarre.

The Verdict

– Riveting crime drama. Terrific performance from Newman.


– This kind of surrealist, existential drama isn’t really my bag. Cage gives a dynamic show but overall I found it pretentious at best and soporific at worst.


– Well orchestrated but better suited to theatre than film. Very much in the vein of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe, attempts at humour are subdued by the overall hostility. The underlying premise and behaviour of the individuals isn’t especially plausible and therefore sits uncomfortably contrived.

Another Year

– As bleak as you’d expect from Mike Leigh. I’m the wrong target audience I imagine, but I found it dreary, slow and uncompelling. Maybe this is pensioners only?

Requiem for a Dream

– horrifying, savagely raw and unflinching exploration of the impacts of addiction. Albeit pessimistic and depressing, this is a masterfully spun web of stories; a powerful dose of some ugly bad shit. If you weren’t afraid of drugs, you will be now.

The Internship

– Indubitably one epic advert for Google, but once it picks up the pace it’s as loveable as we’ve come to expect from Vaughn and Wilson (and their incessant cheery banter). That duo have the charisma of Gandalf and they turn tricks well too. Watch it with the knowledge it’s a farce and you can’t help but be entertained!


– An absolutely transformative piece; perfectly crafted, magnificently acted and potentially life changing. Paul Thomas Anderson is marked with unique, masterful skill – the Dostoevsky of film.

All Good Things

– There might be a good film to be had from this story but this isn’t it. Dull, devoid of sufficient intrigue as a result of badly judged pacing. At best it just about kindled my interest in the real life mystery surrounding Robert Durst (depicted in the film as David Marks).


– Like watching a brain scan of a schizophrenic interpreted as film. Gratuitous and visually jarring. Nowhere near as sexy and darkly comic as advertised. McAvoy is undoubtedly phenomenal though, he gives a powerhouse performance.


– Nothing new here. Predictable and frustratingly simplistic. It’s not a bad film, but fills a lot of cliches and is pretty much carried by Hopkins.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

– tedious drug anecdotes, slurred words and trippy visuals. Just really boring. No idea how it’s such a cult hit. Maybe you have to be baked to watch it.

The Hunters (Jagarna 1)

– As with it’s sequel, a promising start and an accidental killing descends in to reckless, wanton and uncharacteristically pernicious acts by the killers, leaving an extremely frustrating and deeply implausible second and third act. Infuriating to watch despite the quality of production and cinematography.

Veronica Guerin

– Compelling and harrowing tale of the journalist exposing the drug underworld in Ireland. Blanchett gives an excellent performance reminding us why she’s one of the best in the biz.

Dexter (TV) (Series 7)

– Insipid, interminable. The worst season by a substantial margin, saying something given that the show has been plummeting in quality since season four, a great pity after such an excellent and promising opening back in season one.

Cache (Hidden)

– precisely and very deliberately crafted psychological drama. Will keep you guessing beyond the ending. Unflinching, unafraid and very thought provoking. My first Haneke and I’m deeply impressed.

I Give It A Year

– An anti-rom-com in terms of genre and an anti-comedy in terms of…comedy.


– hugely watchable albeit not especially thrilling thriller. Nothing special here, but it’s a solid enough flick for a Sunday afternoon and you could certainly do a lot worse.

False Trail (Jagarna 2)

– Initially a suspenseful, well shot and thoroughly arresting nordic thriller, but an abrupt loss of intrigue following the second act results in a disappointing finale, complete with frustrating contrivances and cliches. Worth a watch for The Killing fans, but unfortunately not what it could have been. (Also laden with heavy, almost clumsy parallels to the first Jagarna film, such that it feels a knock off).

Ondskan (Evil)

– Amazing and gripping story of one boys rebellion against the draconian disciplinary measures of his school and the pernicious, evil men who perpetuate and execute them.


– Classic Wes Anderson. Schwartzman in his eccentric, intellectual loony type role with the usual suspects filling out the cast. Not as funny as the Darjeeling or the Royal Tenenbaums (or even Bottle Rocket), but there is nothing not to like in this whimsical, easy going film.

About Time

– Typically Richard Curtis: saccherine, idealistic, optimistic, and frustratingly upper middle class, but nonetheless an entertaining and often immensely funny rom com.

The Assignment

– Hugely underrated spy thriller featuring a spectacular performance from the largely overlooked Aidan Quinn. Tense, exhiliarating and extremely well executed, especially given it’s relative age. Maybe one of the best thrillers you’ve never heard of.

We Are The Millers

– Not quite the relentless stream of jokes I was hoping for, but one or two hilarious moments make it worth the journey. Just don’t expect comedy gold.

September 2013

The Kings of Summer

– A peculiar, downbeat dramedy following the eccentric lives of three teenage boys who choose to live in the woods. Naturally their nirvana falls apart with the introduction of a girl. An intriguing, worthwhile watch, but nowhere near the laugh out loud experience anticipated off the back of that killer trailer. Make sure you’re amped up on caffeine before you embark on this journey…

World War Z

– Thoroughly enjoyed this although it brings absolutely nothing new to the table. Straight up, fast paced Zombie thriller.


– Original, French, space set sci-fi that explores an interesting subject but pulls its punches. Definitely worth watching for sci-fi fans though.


– an almost disturbingly mature performance from Ty Sheridan propels this tremendous, dynamic and thought provoking drama. McConaughy delivers perhaps his finest role. A very human, almost existential tale of growing up, love and friendship.

Now You See Me

– I heard so much shit about this movie that I wasn’t expecting much at all. I was practically blown away. Really enjoyed it, a total thrill ride. It was like Ocean’s 11 with Magicians. Really hope there’s a sequel. The critics need to step back and think – is this movie actually a) intelligent and b) enjoyable to the public as a whole. The IMDb rating says yes to the latter, and I’m inclined to believe the former too. More please.

Europa Report

– Original, slow-burning but thrilling sci fi featuring great performances all round. Highly recommended.

Monsters University

– As cheesy and didactic as we’ve come to expect from Pixar. Not as good as the original, but still fun.

Top of the Lake

(TV) – Despite the hype, even with top (if not novel) performances, this falls short of an entertaining series. Mildly curious at best, mind numblingly boring at worst, the acting and cinematography cannot save a fundamentally uninteresting drama.

The Iceman

– A solid period biopic detailing the life of a contract killer. For all its executions and mob bosses, it remains a morbid family drama at heart.


– Educational but honestly a little boring – a surprise given its subject matter.

This Is The End

– A terrible, terrible piece of vanity cinema. Puerile and deplorably crass, but worst of all, unforgiveably unfunny, with no hint of genuine wit or comedy. This is why actors should take direction, not choose the direction. 100% lacking in every respect. Simply shit.

The Birdcage

– Gloriously (or painfully) camp. Often intensely irritating, mostly hilarious. Brilliantly comedic turns from Williams, Lane and Hackman leave us with a side-splitting, nail-biting, feel-good climax to remember! The final act definitely compensates for an iffy first.

Avengers Assemble

– The usual mish mash of sardonic wit and adrenaline fuelled action. Takes a little while to get going but the second half is especially enjoyable. Better than other recent efforts in this genre (Thor, Captain America – I’m looking at you…)

The Fear

(TV) – Another excellent role from Peter Mullan. Implausible and inadequate in comparison to US equivalents, but nonetheless better than average British viewing with an original premise at its core.


– Original but peculiar viewing. Sandwiched between a thrilling beginning and a (cheesy) straight forward ending, is Hanna’s random (and forced) relationship with an eccentric British family that are like caricatures from a bad ITV sitcom. This is undeniably stylish, but just too ridiculous and plot hole ridden to stand up as an excellent thriller. Not to mention, Wright appears to be obsessed with tunnels and Chemical Brothers. Literally every action scene takes place in a tunnel. Quite bizarre.

The Killer

– Brilliant. Fairly ludicrous, but played out with such conviction and sincerity that it works. An exciting, novel, action thriller.

Rear Window

– Honestly very disappointing. The potential didactic subtext surrounding Miss Lonely Heart and any number of exciting twists are overlooked in favour of a simple, uninventive and frankly ‘too obvious’ ending. Given the hype surrounding this classic, I was expecting significantly more.

Dirty Harry

– Iconic movie with classic lines, a top notch soundtrack and some truly innovative camera work for the era. A powerhouse psychotic performance from Andy Robinson as the killer, and the usual hardnosed Clint with his magnum and trademark sneer. It has significantly dated and it’s a pity that the plot doesn’t quite add up, but it’s definitely one to watch.

Man on the Moon

– inspirational biopic of showbiz legend Andy Kaufman, with Carrey as the main man. Brilliant and largely accurate with an open minded ending…

The Boston Strangler

– Illuminating biopic about Albert Desalvo, the self-confessed Boston Strangler. Very dated with clumsy direction techniques, but nonetheless worth watching for anyone interested in the psyche of serial killers.

August 2013

Alpha Papa

– Highly entertaining but inconsistently funny and therefore a slight disappointment. Nonetheless, some definite laugh out loud moments and general Partridge bufoonery throughout.


– Interminable. How much is a gun to shoot myself with?

The World’s End

– a good end to the Cornetto trilogy. It’s no Shaun, but it’s a strong finale. Self referential and laden with pop culture references for the hawk eyed to spot.


– In an attempt to do something original with the whole vampire ‘thing’, Neil Jordan opts for ‘drama’ over thrills and spills but in doing so draws the viewer, inexorably, to boredom.

Arrested Development S04 (TV)

– an ambitious return to the classic TV comedy sees plenty more laughs and ludicrous story arcs. Perhaps not on a par with the first three seasons but definitely a must watch all the same.

The Heat

– Infantile and way off the mark, The Heat was about as funny as a school shooting. The alleged comedy relies on Melissa McCarthy’s coarse language and Sandra Bullock’s manly figure.

The Parent Trap

– Cheesy but ludicrously and embarrassingly feel-good. Lindsay Lohans only good film?

The Returned S01 (TV)

– original premise (albeit based on the 2004 film with the same name), mystery and intrigue keep you hooked even when the script and acting fall apart. Fingers crossed the writers know where they’re going with it. It has some dangerous similarities with Lost.

Pacific Rim

– Massive robots fight massive alien monsters. Exactly how you imagine it. Stupid and heavy handed. Nuff said.

The Conjuring

– Fantastic, eerie, suspenseful mystery thriller. The best example of cinematic horror since The Exorcist. A real triumph.

Evil Dead [2013]

– If you revel in gore, savage brutality and all the usual slasher tropes, then this might well be up your street. It got the stamp of approval from Bruce Campbell, but his tongue in cheek is a far cry from this fairly average ‘cabin in the woods’ fare.

Only God Forgives

– consider this an abstract audio visual exhibition and it might just work. Otherwise it is soulless, gratuitous, and extraordinarily boring. A tremendous waste of acting talent.

Hummingbird [Redemption]

– Oximoronically, this is both a more interesting and varied role for Statham, and simultaneously a more boring film. A healthy dose of fisticuffs is included, but there’s a drama unfolding that is considerably more emotive than we have come to expect of the Stath-meister.

The Kids Are Alright

– Albeit a moderately novel premise, ultimately this is just another off-beat drama of the dysfunctional family variety. Not hugely compelling but easy viewing. Ruffalo carries it working some David Duchovny charm.

Duck Soup

– Classic Marx Brothers. Slapstick and one liners. Short and sweet.

The Wolverine

– the worst of all the X-men films. Boring, poorly scripted and a far cry from the core motifs and principles of the primary trilogy.

July 2013


– Ludicrous action and dire acting unite for a subpar Statham flick.

Fast and Furious 6

– a step back from film five, but nonetheless filled with all the tropes you’d expect from a fast and furious movie. Good fun, absolutely vacuous.


– Moderately entertaining. Not as good as you might expect from the cast.

Tears of the Sun

– Willis dons his camouflage garb in this surprisingly restrained and sympathetic military rescue film. A thrilling war movie.

Safe Haven

– Fairly standard Nicholas Sparks fare. Lots of tears and sickeningly fauning, unlikely male characters.

Murder In Greenwich

– Forgettable whodunit. Decidedly average.


– Probably quite illuminating at the time of its release, dull and predictable now.

Phil Spector

– Excellent character piece by Al Pacino. Very compelling biopic.

Warm Bodies

– quirky, off-beat zombie comedy. Definitely no Shaun of the Dead. If you’re really bored on a Sunday though…

June 2013

Before Night Falls (Antes que Anochezca)

– told episodically, this biographical drama isn’t easy viewing. It is slow and long and feels longer still. That said, it is well made and well acted. If you like poetic cinema, Javier Bardem and the melody of spanish, then this might hold something for you.


– Gripping caving/ diving thriller. Better than average.

The Prey (La Proie)

– rattling along at a breakneck speed keeps this French thriller gripping, but it inevitably stumbles over horrible contrivances and cliches in order to keep momentum, not to mention more cheese than a Croque Monsieur. It’s a pity because it’s otherwise engrossing.

Stake Land

– Fantastic take on the vampire genre that is an absolute stand out during the recent vamp revival. Brilliant acting, pacing and story. I felt it could have afforded a fractionally more upbeat ending.


– Infuriatingly amusing for all its schlocky puerile slapstick, with two or three genuinely hilarious moments. Without Ferrell and Caan though, the exact same material would be intolerable. A cheap, feel good Christmas flick.


– Almost insufferably long but an impressive acting turn for Day Lewis…as per usual. All things considered, too dull to bother with.

The Unsaid

– Weird and unconvincing story juggling the occult and the supernatural with a straight up detective case. Disappointing.

Goya’s Ghosts

– Although frustratingly contrived, this is a controversial (and therefore exciting) tale set during the end of the Spanish inquisition, recounting the lives of an artist and two of his subjects as one epoch ends and another begins. Direction and performances are tight, but one can’t help but feel the script deliberately errs on the side of provocative and suffers for it.

Gangster Squad

– Hammy and awful. Given the amazing quality of on screen gangster presence in recent years (think Boardwalk Empire), this is especially bad.

A Good Day To Die Hard (Die Hard 5)

– One can only hope this will be the last in the franchise. Shoot it dead already.

Red Eye

– Frustratingly bad plane crash of a film. Cillian Murphy’s worst?

May 2013

Iron Man 3

– as always highly entertaining and enthralling, but there were three things I couldn’t reconcile – panic Attacks; regenerating, fire breathing mutants (!!! WTF !!!) and the boss battle which ends TDKR style (the killing blow going to someone other than Iron Man). Worth watching for Ben Kingsley alone though.

Roger Dodger

– Roger is such a smug, unlikeable character from the off that it’s difficult even to tolerate him, let alone enjoy the frustratingly bland and vacuous sex quest he embarks upon with his nephew. Irksome camera and lighting techniques further detract from the unconvinving proceedings.

Star Trek: In To Darkness

– Brilliantly entertaining. A strong sequel.


– Albeit framed around a plot that is as dependent on coincidence as Obama is on latinos, this is a slick and hugely compelling thriller. Extend your disbelief and go with the flow and Statham will be winning you (and the girl) all over again.

Full Metal Jacket

– One of the all time great war films. The duality of man, the futility of war, the base human drives and emotions that inexplicably keep us all fighting, and killing, to stay alive. At times a little self-indulgent, this is nonetheless powerful and melancholic viewing.


– Undeniably of the “it’s so bad it’s good” variety, this is a must watch for fans of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. Puerile, slapstick but shamelessly feel-good, it’s worth it for the inane one liners and soundtrack alone, just don’t expect anything of any intellect!

Soylent Green

– An interesting premise delivered without much aplomb. The conclusion definitely had room for development.

Shotgun Stories

– albeit anticlimactic and a little unconvincing, this is nonetheless a beautifully told story of familial hostility, with strong performances and picturesque cinematography. Ultimately the whole piece feels frustratingly cyclical and inconclusive, but that is likely the whole point.

Another Earth

– thought provoking and touching, but a little too slow and uneventful to wholeheartedly recommend. Strong performances from both Mapother and Marling, especially considering the difficult nature of their parallel grief.


– Altman tries to derive some ultra black humour from a medical division in the Korean war, but for the most part it falls a little too black and vindictive to actually invite any laughs. The splapstick is more akin to bullying than comedy, and the audio especially sounds dated to the modern viewer. Oft hailed as a classic, I found it more arduous than amusing.

George Washington

– a slow, meandering tale detailing the lead up and aftermath of a tragic incident between young children. Simple, empathetic and delicately told, but too deadpan and abstract to be entirely compelling.


– exactly my kind of film; an intriguing, mysterious, original, stylish and creatively directed psychological thriller. Top acting and a great script. All the evidence you need that money doesn’t make a film (this was produced on $60k). Only criticism, a little too pseudo-mathematical, I’m not convinced it all adds up…


– A difficult, unexpected viewing. An unlikely friendship emerges between two roadside travelers that evolves in to deep companionship. Uneven pacing makes watching this more effort than it ought to be, but the resulting climax is both poignant and thought-provoking. Terrific performances and a philosophical script.


– The eponymous Judge dessimates a tower block of drug fuelled gang members in this straight forward action shoot ’em up. Laughably ludicrous but good, mindless fun.

April 2013

Los Santos Inocentes

– A harrowing recollection of the lives of an impoverished family in Spain in the 1960s as they toil as underlings on a bourgeois country estate. Tragically historically accurate.

Spring Breakers

– Comparisons could be (and have been) drawn with GTA, although GTA has infinitely more humour, style, script and (dare I say it) direction, than Spring Breakers, which pans out like an extended advert for a bad holiday resort or worse, an un-narrated episode of Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents. One of the most disagreeable film experiences I have had in…um…possibly ever.


– An excellent, sympatico look at the lives of two prostitutes. Fantastic acting and a really touching premise.

When Harry Met Sally

– As much as I wanted to dislike this, it really is irresistibly loveable, which is something, considering that’s pretty much the synopsis of the movie too. A brilliant script makes up for some ups and downs. Top caricature performances and a top rom com.

Welcome to the Punch

– A glossy, overstylised and under realised attempt at a slick conspiract thriller. Some shots are striking, but it feels like it was edited together as an exercise. Oddly off kilter, especially given the cast.

Te Doy Mis Ojos (Take My Eyes)

– It’s a tribute to the potency of this film that it was so horribly uncomfortable to watch. I couldn’t shake the sense of dread for the inevitable conclusion the whole way through. Well made but very unpleasant.

Broadchurch (TV)

– excellent whodunit in the style of The Killing with phenomenal performances all round. The conclusion is faintly predictable a few episodes too soon and one or two strands are left unresolved, but all things considered, this is a well above average mystery drama that comes highly recommended.


– considerably more enjoyable than you might expect. Act one offers an excellent sci fi premise, it’s a pity acts two and three fall in to the realm of cliche and moralistic Hollywood stereotype. Nonetheless a highly entertaining watch.

Broken City

– Straight up, fast moving thriller with Marky Mark doing his action thing. Smarter than most, but unfortunately a little conceited as a result, the impact is lessened by some perfunctory story lines and irritatingly lazy contrivances. Nonetheless, a good yarn at its core.

The Place Beyond the Pines

– far too broad in it’s endeavours. I could get behind one story presented in this way, maybe even two, but a third and I’m beginning to look at my watch. I think I enjoyed it, mostly.


– Fast moving but utterly bizarre surrealist story of a nun and her gradual understanding of the futility and flaws of the human condition. Superb direction and edgy script.

Boardwalk Empire S03 (TV)

– superb. Perhaps the best season yet. A few stray story lines, but what an unforgettable climax.

Wreck it Ralph

– An excellent, if too overtly didactic, animated adventure for kids and retro gaming nerds alike.

Los Lunes al Sol (Mondays in the Sun)

– beautiful, funny, moving. Everything a good film should be. The script and direction show great humanity. Terrific performances from all, especially Bardem. A favourite.

Simon Killer

– Thought provoking and unflinching. Edging in to gratuity with a few scenes though, and despite obvious efforts still felt a little shallow. We are as distant from Simon at the end as we were at the beginning.

March 2013

The Interview

– An excellently unsettling dialogue driven thriller from down under. Hugo Weaving delivers a very different, but nonetheless brilliant, performance as the victim of a police manhunt. Could have done with a little more resolution.


– a forgettable, largely disappointing suspense horror with tropes and cliches galore. That being said, it’s probably better than average for the genre.

Red Corner

– A compelling if utterly farfetched courtroom thriller. I’m ill quipped to determine how accurate a portrayal it is, but it seems oft too loudly a propoganda machine condemning the eponymous Red state of China, with the innocent persecuted American playing David vs the Goliath of China’s judicial system.


– a terrible, plot-hole ridden wannabe horror that fails to achieve even the basic principles of the genre, despite heaping on the tropes and stereotypes.

Los Cronocrimenes (Timecrimes)

– A superbly compelling, if thoroughly flawed, time travel suspense thriller. Highly recommended.


– A highly original and cutting edge classic, but 37 years on it can’t help but suffer. A great concept that loses momentum too soon and concludes with a disappointingly farcical crash.

Contracorriente (Undertow)

– a well acted if overly sentimental portrayal of a married man coming to terms with his homosexuality in the midst of a small rural fishing village.


– overly stylized but technically brilliant psycho-sexual thriller featuring an excellent performance from Matthew Goode. Fails to impact in the same way as Black Swan, but is no doubt well worth watching for any fan of the genre. Some scenes are superb and intensely erotic.

El Aura (The Aura)

– Intriguing spanish thriller. Compelling albeit peculiarly paced and with a few loose ends left trailing. Thoughtful cinema, but perhaps trying to tackle one too many strands for its own good. Recommended, but not highly.

Los Sin Nombre (The Nameless)

– Indubitably mysterious and excellent creation of suspense but the final act destroys the qualities of the first two to leave the film faring little better than average.


– A clunky, spiralling mess that tried so hard to be clever and failed. Enjoyable but frustrating.

El Dia de la Bestia (The Day of the Beast)

– So whacky, ridiculous and off the wall that it’s (probably) worth tagging along for the ride, this blaspheming, B-movie action comedy mash up follows a priest as he adventures to prevent the birth of the anti-christ.


– Beautiful visuals and VFX don’t elevate Prometheus beyond an attractive, if fairly lifeless sci-fi actioner. Despite its technical eloquence, the film suffers a bland, meandering Hollywood-fare script and lacks resolution.

Lucia y el sexo (Sex and Lucia)

– moments of artistry go some way to redeem what is otherwise a meandering, occasionally gratuitous mess of a film. This desnuda approach to filmmaking has perhaps scarred Spanish cinema somewhat.


– Compelling and extremely mysterious, the intrigue is somewhat belittled by poor character choices throughout which detract from the plausibility and therefore the impact of the story.

Identity Thief

– Nauseatingly puerile and astoundingly dull, the humour is thin on the ground at best, although Bateman is as always a pleasure to watch. One or two laugh out loud moments make it just about watchable.

Side Effects

– after a slow first act, a compelling story and dialogue driven thriller emerges. It’s a little too vindictive and gratuitously nasty in tone for my tastes, and the twists take the movie from a clever critique of pharmaceutical ethics to more standardised, familiar territory, but Jude Law and Rooney Mara are excellent and it is original enough to warrant careful viewing.

February 2013

Annie Hall

– After a great set up it sags towards the end. Includes some golden one liners though and is classic Woody Allen.

Criminal Law

– Exudes a sense of smugness despite clearly falling short of its ambition. The acting is hammy at best, and the thrills anticipated. When you think villainous Martin is going to show up – he is, usually in a doorway.

Patriot Games

– well directed, but unfortunately much dated and fairly unthrilling by todays standards.

Cop Land

– an excellent mob thriller with stand out performances from De Niro and Ray Liotta.


– Unconventional, funny, intriguing. Kind of genre breaking. Quintessential Woody Allen if you’re after an insight in to the man. I prefer Midnight in Paris though.


– an incohesive, ramshackle mess. Timberlake gives a bad, inexperienced performance, more sulky teen than Pulitzer hunter, while Freeman and Spacey are thrown in for star factor alone. Inexplicably shifts from conspiracy thriller to flamethrower shoot’em up in the final ten minutes. Avoid.


– everything about this annoyed me, from the whiny smug kid voices to the convoluted ‘2 kool 4 skool’ direction, to Gordon Levitt’s deadpan glutton for punishment. The whole thing dripped self importance and wannabe indie-cool. Nauseating.

War Horse

– a pretty spectacular feat of film making by Spielberg in all fairness. Not my thing, but if you don’t mind twee and you’ve a penchant for war time drama (and horses) then this will no doubt tick all the boxes.

Flowers of War

– an unflinching and often cruel war drama. Bale plays to perfection as always, but the sloppy editing and trite script ultimately disappoints somewhat.

The Castle

– Very reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s dry wit and oddball humour, this is a light hearted, bitter sweet, feel good comedy. Quaint but enjoyable.

Devil in a Blue Dress

– There’s nothing specifically wrong with this, it’s just flatly unexciting. I really struggled to become anything other than superficially invested in the story.

Punch-Drunk Love

– A peculiar, oddball romantic drama. Not especially recommended, although it’s something completely different from the norm if that’s what you’re after. PT Anderson’s worst.

Me, Myself and Irene

– probably the worst film I can remember seeing. Just awful. Typical Farrely Brothers.

The Woodsman

– given its controversial topic and potential for daring filmmaking, albeit interspersed with the occasional standout scene, this generally pulls it’s punches. There are a few better films on the subject.

Manhattan Murder Mystery

– lots of the usual Woody Allen rambling and hyper incredulity, but not as humorous as Annie Hall or Manhattan.

The Spanish Prisoner

– A classic Mamet heist flick – totally underwhelming, devoid of any thrills or skillful twists. Watchable, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Brothers Bloom

– thoroughly enjoyable, if overly convoluted conman flick. It doesn’t always make sense, and you get the feeling it’s trying a little too hard, but it’s feel good and charismatic.

Ali G, Ai

– surprisingly funny, even after all this time. Much better than his later ventures.

Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?

– a tremendous, powerful film, and one I hope never to watch again. Intensely miserable, wretched and emotionally harrowing. Spectacular acting and script unlike any I’ve seen.

Margin Call

– Most frustrating. Some excellent performances, especially from Bettany, are undermined by a bad script that fails on multiple levels. The story is obscured by platitudes, sloppy metaphors, cliches and exposition.


– possibly the worst sci-fi film I’ve ever seen. More plot holes than words in the script. Simply awful awful film making. Even the action sequences and special effects are dire. Who thought throwing millions of dollars at this terrible excuse for a script was a good idea? Next time pay me and I’ll shit you a better script.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

– a very dark film, considerably better than the lacklustre title implies. Ominous, unsettling, but less resolved than I might have liked. Still highly recommended.


– An excellent, mild and uncontroversial historical drama about the ad campaign that overthrew Pinochet in Chile. Great acting and a subtle, dry script make for compelling viewing.

A Dangerous Method

– either the film failed to do justice to the story or the story was simply not compelling enough to warrant the film. Good if unremarkable performances, although Knightley was always going to be a weak link.


– A solid prohibition piece that lacks the panache to elevate it from the rest and falls to a few unfortunate cliches. Performances are average, but it’s nonetheless an interesting, biographical ride if you’re fond of the genre.

In The Heat Of The Night

– Sidney Poitier utters his immortal line “They call me Mr. Tibbs!” A top notch murder mystery set in racist Mississipi. A great film, but a step below Mississipi Burning for my tastes.

Silver Linings Playbook

– perhaps not fully deserving of the phenomenal hype it has received, but definitely a well above average rom-com. Funny and charming.

The Painted Veil

– a surprisingly effective and accomplished drama surrounding a doctor and his wife in the midst of a cholera outbreak. Marred by too much contrivance, this is nonetheless a beautiful piece of cinema.

Shadow Dancer

– a solid, if unremarkable, slow burning spy drama with an unexpected conclusion.

The Irony Lady

– Streep’s performance is excellent, and the focus is firmly on Thatcher’s character and personal life rather than her politics, which I think can only be a good thing. Not bad as biopics go.

The Memory of a Killer

– as a portrayal of an assassin, this is one of the best I’ve seen. As a film, it’s above average, but unable to rival the likes of Leon. Watch it nonetheless, you won’t be disappointed.

January 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

– albeit cleverly constructed and well executed, there’s something anti climactic and ungratifying about the inevitable conclusion, not to mention morally ambivalent.

The Hour S02

– excellent. Lived up to the first season, an utterly thrilling finale.

Cloud Atlas

– Intriguing. Excellently well executed and sure to leave you introspective. Pick the right moment to watch this one.

The Brave One

– Very disappointing and decisively unthrilling.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

– Beautiful, intriguing, affecting, and overwhelmingly moving, the best film I’ve seen in a very long while.

Les Miserables

– interminable and almost unwatchable, but nonetheless an achievement if you go in for that sort of thing – Hollywood musicals. I don’t.


– After a riveting and excellent start, the film takes a dive of its own. I don’t think alcohol abuse is the cause.

70th Annual Golden Globes

– repetitive viewing with the odd bit of humour here and there.

Ordinary Decent Criminal

– throughly enjoyable if not especially high brow. An underrated feel-good heist movie.


– Thick with cheese and ham and very predictable but nonetheless worth a watch if you don’t mind 90s bad VFX.

Django Unchained

– Highly entertaining despite the runtime. Witty and well acted. Two minor irks: the laughable cameo, and Samuel L. Definitely one to watch again.

The Collection

– More or less what you’d expect from the sequel. A nonsensical gorefest, not as sinister or clever as the first. Someone should give Josh Stewart a decent script to work.

The Hunting Party

– Peculiarly flippant given its serious subject matter, and not especially watchable.

A Film With Me In It

– A little slow out of the gate but then it picks up a fine pace and is hilarious to boot. A cracking black comedy that probably isn’t even on your radar.

Premium Rush

– fast paced and fun, but an undeniably cheap thrill ride.

December 2012


– Highlighting beautiful English countryside and talented performances, this is a quirky, original black comedy, but it’s droll rather than funny. I wouldn’t watch it again.


– good performances and a good script let down by dodgy directing. An excellent story and worthwhile film though.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

– another fantastical adventure from Jackson. This is no Lord of the Rings, but it’s still a terrific, warm and well told tale.

Jack Reacher

– This bizarre and contrived film might raise a smile, but it can’t decide whether it wants to be a comedy, an action movie, or a thriller. Essentially a vanity project for Cruise, and it really shows.


– I can’t begin to describe how unsatisfying this film is in every respect. The twist is foreseeable and there is no payoff or climax. Aggravatingly disappointing.

The Good Thief

– spices up about half way through and takes a turn for the significantly better, but it’s still a little too patchy for a ‘cool heist’ to sit in the same league as Ocean’s 11.


– Terrific, utterly compelling movie. Definitely more of a blokes film though I think, lost of testosterone and machismo.

Seven Psychopaths

– A clever, absurd, surrealist comedy with great performances from the all-star cast. Highly reccommended.

House of Games

– An adequate con movie, but if you’ve seen them before then this won’t bring anything new to the table.

Pitch Perfect

– A bizarre abomination of a movie. I can’t fathom how it came to be made.

After Porn Ends

– Boring documentary about the lives of porn stars after they finish porn: spoiler – most of them are real estate agents…

Killer Joe

– one of those truly, scarringly bizarre, brutal, graphic and mind mangling films. Sick, but morbidly intriguing. Don’t watch with anyone you could be embarassed with…

The Hunt

– Incredible, beautifully shot and and outstandingly well acted drama. It should be compulsory viewing so we are all forced to evaluate how quick we are to judge.


– interesting if inaccurate speculation about a world where genetic enhancement is possible. Compelling but cheesy as hell.

November 2012

Jar City

– a classic, dark scandinavian crime drama. Solid but underwhelming


– Old school Michael Mann, synths and all. Classic noir thriller, very worth a watch but I won’t pretend it hasn’t dated.

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs

– There’s a hint of genius in this hilarious animated adventure, and a ton of material for adults too.


– Just so boring. No wonder the remake had to go out on such a limb to create something exciting.

Red Hill

– outstanding neo-western destined to be a cult hit. Extraordinarily well shot and offering excellent performances from a relatively unfamiliar cast.

Kill List

– a modern day retelling of Macbeth. Intriguing, dark, mysterious but infuriating. A make or break ending. Break for me…

The Master

– intriguing and wonderfully directed and produced, but ultimately quite disappointing. I’ve pondered long on this film and can’t bring myself to like it.


– an excellent premise and acting, but the pacing is off, encumbering this otherwise interesting drama

Brotherhood (TV)

– Slow burning, but top quality television. Performances all around are outstanding, right down to the minor roles.


– intensely saddening, thought provoking and sympatico tale of a terminally ill father. Superbly acted and a wonderfully original glitch soundtrack.


– an excellent if not remarkable conspiracy thriller with solid performances all round, don’t be fooled by the cover photo and shoot’em up name


– excellent scandinavian thriller with twists and excitement aplenty.

End of Watch

– you think you’ve seen shaky cam? think again. Bad bad bad. Macho, patriotic, glorifying the police, but mainly just totally boring.


– Very well paced and structured with a few laughs for good measure. A compelling drama from Affleck.

Thick as Thieves

– flat heist flick with very little to brag about. Banderas agonisingly smarmy and Freeman is usual self. A walk in the park for these two and it shows.


– Mismarketed in my view. It’s a snail paced exploration of mental illness more or less from a first person perspective. Not my bag really, but an interesting watch.

October 2012

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

– the fast paced threequel falls far from the quality of the original but will still raise a smile

Machine Gun Preacher

– interesting but ludicrously composed biopic. Quite shoddy.

Taken 2

– awful. An embarrassing sequel.

21 Jump Street

– A strong, hilarious start quickly falls back in to standard hollywood comedy schtick.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

– very slow and very long, but the climax is almost worth it. Watch it because it’s a classic, if not because it’s particularly overwhelming.

Killing Them Softly

– even better the second time round.

The Grey

– boring, frustratingly paced and badly scripted

Moonrise Kingdom

– Classically slow paced Wes Anderson, very poignant and drily amusing.

Y Tu Mama Tambien

– easier to watch than my first viewing, but still not entirely interesting

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

– brilliant film making, writing and directing. A pleasure to watch even after all these years.

Death to Smoochy

– surprisingly surreal hybrid of childrens and adults entertainment. Not unwatchable, but pretty last resort.


– Implausible, extremely dull and a bizarrely weak acting vehicle for Russell Crowe.

Matando Cabos

– surreal, stylish and hilarious black comedy about an accidental kidnapping

The Perks of being a Wallflower

– one of those quirky, teen angst ridden, coming of age dramas. Everything you would expect. Take it or leave it.

The Horseman

– Hopeless, vacuous and gruesome. A thin, improbable storyline as an excuse for extreme and brutal violence.

Indecent Proposal

– A weak premise and a weak movie.

City Hall

– Not half as gripping and compelling as it no doubt wanted to be, but nonetheless a solid enough political drama

Bang Bang You’re Dead

– brutally intense and visceral, Ben Foster wows in this drama about school bullying. Mindblowing.

Ruby Sparks

– A worthwhile romantic drama, misleadingly labeled as a comedy.


– deeply intriguing first two acts are somewhat undermined by an unrewarding and underwhelming finale

Cabin In The Woods

– Excellent comedy horror. Original and creative with superb special effects and sharp wit.


– Engaging, clever, and genuinely thrilling. A very rare gem.

Bringing Out The Dead

– In the same vein as Taxi Driver, Scorsese continues his withering expose of the dark and pitiful state of city streets. Epileptic viewing.

Chinese Coffee

– Existential musings through conversation with Al Pacino. Reminscient of Hamsun Knut’s Hunger.


– 007 is back, complete with superb class and smug British arrogance. Perfect Bond. The best yet.

The Hour (TV)

– British television of a rarely excellent calibre. No Shadow Line, but nonetheless an intelligent and well conceived spy drama.


– awful ‘suspense’ horror, a waste of everybody’s time.

September 2012

Californication season 5 (TV)

– enjoyable as always. Sex and comedy pretty much sums it up.

The Hunger Games

– nothing particularly redeeming about this sadly, glossy hollywood tripe

Perfect Sense

– intriguing and compelling but slightly lacklustre. Worth watching nonetheless.

The Hunter

– better than average, slowburning drama. Finds it’s footing too late.


– A brutally unflinching depiction of domestic violence, terrifying for it’s realism and superb acting


– Disappointing. Despite the hype there is no hint of genius here, but it is a thoroughly engaging thriller.

Total Recall

– unremarkable but nonetheless entertaining

Case Histories (TV)

– fairly bland but great performances, especially from Jason Isaacs


– intriguing, morbidly compelling, ultimately not particularly rewarding

Killing Them Softly

– absolute excellence. Dominik paves the way. Compelling performances all round.


– Much deeper and grittier than the average superpower flick, definitely worth a watch.

August 2012

The Shadow Line (TV)

– remarkable for British TV. Episode two features one of the best chase sequences I’ve ever seen.

Picnic At Hanging Rock

– immensely unsatisfying if beautifully shot


– given it’s basic premise I found it surprisingly compelling.

The Last Boy Scout

– a light hearted, unpretentious action romp Hollywood style.

Inside Men (TV)

– Stylish and compelling, but it reaches a shamefully unsatisfying conclusion.

Un Homme Qui Dort (The Man Who Sleeps)

– fascinating, but undeniably hard to watch.


– comparable to the British duos’ usual, a disappointing affair, comparable to Hollywood comedy – genius

The Amazing Spiderman

– Considerably better than the previous trilogy. Spectacular fun.

The Dark Knight

– 10/10 for the genre. Need I say more?

Escape From New York

– simply God awful. I’m definitely not a fan of Carpenter.

Batman Begins

– Nolan reignites the Batman flame, and how it flares…phenomenal


– no idea how they dragged the plot out so long. Uncompelling.


– passes the time but easily forgettable.

The Raven

– Disappointingly trivial. Manages to fall short of thrilling, scaring or exciting at all.

Revenge (TV)

– one of the worst shows I’ve bothered to watch to it’s end. Learn from my mistake.

The Bourne Ultimatum

– A tremendous climax to a heart-pounding trilogy. This is the definition of thriller.

Secret Honor

– Fictional confessions from Nixon. Fantastically acted and highly entertaining.

Hard Eight/ Sydney

– Fantastic debut feature from PT Anderson. Excellent dry black humour.

My Name Is Nobody

– Farcical Western comedy, definitely grabs some laughs, but is it worth the runtime…

The Bourne Legacy

– A worthy fourth title stylistically and in terms of execution, although the plot itself is very thin comparable to the initial three.

The Bridge (TV)

– compelling and enjoyable but reaches a frustrating resolution.

3 Women

– just utterly bizarre. Atmospheric and brooding but without a rewarding climax

The Dark Knight Rises

– tremendously disappointing. A fun film, but considerably less remarkable than Nolan’s previous outings.

Derek (TV)

– Poignant and beautifully witty. A reminder that there is much more to Gervais than the press credits him with.

La Cabina

– an unsettling short to be sure, but I feel it hasn’t aged particularly well.

Sea of Love

– terrific screenwriting, a lot of black humour and legitimate thrills. Another twist wouldn’t have gone amiss.


– much overrated I’m afraid to say. Worth watching, but don’t expect too much.

May 2012

M:I4 Ghost Protocol

– So much better than the last two the franchise can be forgiven. Like a shot of adrenaline. The stunts are a true joy to behold.

True Crime

– a misogynistic, badly written and thus frustratingly inadequate foray in to the death row genre

Lake of Fire

– You think you know where you stand on abortion? Try this for size. Deeply moving and nauseating in equal part.


– Haunting and unsettling, but just doesn’t quite cut the grade for usual Spanish horrors

April 2012


– clearly the first of a trilogy, a slow opener but increasingly gripping. Open ended for the sequel.

Extreme Measures

– Hugh Grant in a rare serious role. Excellent mystery and suspense, and a solid script. Highly recommended.

Get Low

– a beautiful, poignant film. Duvall plays a blinder.

Once Upon A Time In Anatolia

– witty and beautifully shot but painfully slow. Ultimately anti-climactic and unrewarding

The Package

– subpar assassination conspiracy thriller, nonetheless worth a watch if you’re in the mood

Narrow Margin

– hugely enjoyable, if somewhat dated, thriller with a typically entertaining performance from Hackman


– Convoluted and cocky, far too clever for it’s own good and smug to boot.

Pusher 3

-gritty and brutal. Nothing more or less than the previous two.

Happy Feet Two

– a sore disappointment after the original

Cabin in the Woods

– an excellent, original take on the teenage horror genre. Fantastic effects and brilliantly paced.

Cowboys and Aliens

– not your average Western! I liked it, but it’s high on the Hollywood gloss

The Adventures of Tintin

– perhaps expectations were too high, enjoyable but underwhelming

Night Moves

– an intriguing, if overly drawn out mystery. A little dated

Pusher 2

– not at all where I expected the follow up to start, but another compelling, tragic tale nonetheless.

Class Action

– clever legal thriller, horrible soundtrack but well executed story. Above average (perhaps thanks to Hackman?)

March 2012


– well executed until it’s final act, a worthwhile killer croc movie

A Perfect World

– a slow moving but endearing road trip movie


– typically sinister Stephen King

Natural Born Killers

– as incoherent and overhyped as an acid trip

Kiss The Girls

– implausible but nonetheless intriguing murder mystery

J. Edgar

– well acted and entirely boring

Mississippi Burning

– phenomenal, impassioned and emotionally charged. Hackman is surely one of the best actors alive today


– a bleak subject tackled without any pinache. ultimately dull.


– terrific performances all round. brilliantly original.

Safe House

– better than average, if still a little lacklustre

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (US)

– a blow by blow english language remake, uninspired and too long

Falling Down

– inexplicably praised, a bizarre and unattractive story

The Cinderella Man

– excellent. superb acting and an uplifting film

Underworld: Awakening

– the usual gore and action twixt Lycans and Vamps

Mad Max 2

– not as good as I remembered it…nostalgic value though


– not particularly compelling, a surprise given it’s acclaim

February 2012

The Way Back

– could have been so much better, very messy editing or directing…

Tower Heist

– Smacks of The Parole Officer and Knights of Prosperity, except both were done better. One for if you’re really bored.

Arthur Christmas

– more lighthearted animated fun, nothing special though

The Company Men

– A tastefully presented film, given it’s subject matter. Subtle but fairly strong. A lot of talent on display.

The Woman In Black

– a rare horror gem. Impressive, haunting photography and editing makes up for an uninspired script and unfortunate casting of the lead. Radcliffe is surprisingly great, but simply doesn’t carry the years.

Troll Hunter

– surprisingly well handled balance of wit and thrills

The Straight Story

– charming, not a word usually associated with Lynch perhaps. This one sails on the strength of Farnsworth’s terrific performance.

We Need To Talk About Kevin

– morbidly interesting, but not enjoyable

Blow Out

– aside from it’s frustrating and abrupt ending, this classic 80s noir entertains


– contrived, unexciting, unlikely and sick

Martha Marcy Mae Marlene

– a compelling subject matter and premise but ultimately unfulfilling, not to mention a little pretentious

Courage Under Fire

– bog standard Denzel war flick

The Descendants

– Clooney is great, the film is solid enough but underwhelming

Take Shelter

– Portentous music and an oppressive atmosphere doesn’t quite make up for the paralysingly slow pace. Still a worthwhile watch though.

Bourne Supremacy

– more top notch, slick action

Cop Out

– a great opening sequence crammed full of film references; the rest is dull

In Time

– excellent concept, entertainingly portrayed albeit riddled with plot holes

Man on a Ledge

– surprisingly adrenaline-fuelled and compelling, albeit backed up by a very weak script. Worth blu ray. Probably.

Dead Man Walking

– Overwhelmingly powerful, emotionally devestating. Triumphant performances all round. So much admiration for Tim Robbins after this.

The Devils Double

– Cooper is excellent, but as a biopic this is no Mesrine

Youth without Youth

– unintelligible and therefore largely forgettable. A nice performance by Roth though

The Double Hour

– Great premise well executed right up until the grossly unsatisfying final act

January 2012


– no knowledge of baseball necessary. Excellent film from Sorkin as always

Mission: Impossible 4 Ghost Protocol

– a thoroughly enjoyable action romp with a smattering of laughs too

Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1

– phenomenally acted, thrilling and gripping film. One of the best I’ve seen. Cassel is a gem.


– painfully dull, most unlike Soderbergh, Clooney’s good though

Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows

– practically a spoof but highly entertaining

Executive Action

– almost documentary-like conspiracy thriller using a considerable amount of original footage surrounding JFK assassination

Killer Elite

– awful script but the direction shows a lot of promise from newcomer McKendry

December 2011

The King’s Speech

– unsurprisingly very British and deserving of the plaudits it has received

Jennifer Eight

– pretty bog standard thriller, very noir

The Mighty Boosh: Future Sailors

– very funny, but not a patch on their original standup

Easy A

– pretty bog standard teen comedy propelled Emma Stone to the limelight

Last Man Standing

– excellent western gunslinger with Bruce Willis

Tron Legacy

– astounding visual effects but not much else

Repo Men

– an interesting concept executed badly with an especially insubstantial twist

Stephen Merchant – Hello Ladies

– funny, but much lower brow than expected. Not the witty anecdotes of the podcasts and XFM material.

Fatal Attraction

– an oldie, but a fantastic thriller nonetheless. A masterclass in suspense


– superheroes just kept coming in 2011. Unremarkable but entertaining

The Ring

– massively overrated, average horror flick, watch the original instead

Green Zone

– fast paced desert action with Damon pulling his Bourne moves. Excellent.

The Lives of Others

– an intensely moving drama about the Stasi


– an unlikely horror that works extremely well

The Debt

– (just about) above average period thriller


– claustrophobic and ultimately frustrating thriller, nicely acted


– contrived serial killer thriller with a totally implausible plot

The Green Hornet

– fresh take on the superhero/ sidekick genre, very stylish


– this caught me by surprise. A terrific piece of futuristic, dystopian action.


– almost a return to form for Tony Scott

Dog Pound

– raw drama set in a youth detention centre, beautiful soundtrack. Butcher is one to watch

Rabbit Hole

– depressing and dull drama exploring parents post trauma


– Damien Lewis displays his remarkable talent again in this gritty tearjerker

The Girl Who Played With Fire

– less gripping than the first


– another unexpected treat. I’m still hoping for a sequel. Great sci-fi


– Lala indie brit flick. Pretty pretentious to be honest

The Guard

– intelligent black comedy with terrific acting from Brendan Gleeson

Man Bites Dog

– pioneering a spinoff genre and redefining black comedy. Gold.

Funny Games US

– twisted, depraved, slow burning horror that will make your skin crawl

Cell 211

– jumped straight in to my top films, the story of an inmate with a difference

Drive Angry

– sexy and action filled but unsatisfying on every other level

Winter’s Bone

 – great cinematography, but not exactly riveting

Green Lantern

– overly green and shiny superhero action flick, pretty lame

Sexy Beast

– original and very blackly comic heist movie


– another freaky kid horror, more entertaining than usual

The Veteran

– An unusual drama. Kebbell should do more like this (not shooting up estates)

Despicable Me

– lighthearted animated flick. Nothing special but ticks the boxes

The Expendables

– Stallone’s all out adrenaline pumping action jizzle


– worth it for Rockwell if nothing else

Bad Teacher

– almost as bad as Your Highness except Diaz can still pull off sexy

Bottle Rocket

– Anderson at his most offbeat and droll. Genius screenwriting

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

– the original, great film making if a bit overrated…


– boring, almost documentary style approach to the damage of a global epidemic virus, no Outbreak


– brilliantly effective alien sci fi, unlikely and unnecessary romance plot

Ghost Dog: Way of the Warrior

– slow but well concocted samurai hitman movie

The Siege

– terrorism thriller in the heart of the US complete with bells and whistles

Peter Kay – The Tour That Didn’t Tour

– the comic strikes again. Hilarious and pretty much 100% original material.

The Secret in their Eyes

– groundbreaking spanish thriller with superb direction and acting

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

– touching but dated drama with solid performances all round

High Fidelity

– fun with Cusack and Jack Black, not exactly comedy gold though


– Probably pretty convincing once upon a time but agonisingly dated

Animal Kingdom

– hard hitting drama, pretty gritty

The Killer Inside Me

– a shockingly brutal film, extreme violence against women

Jeremiah Johnson

– Redford’s tale of adventures in the wilderness

Case 39

– uninspiring unoriginal horror of the freaky kid variety

Knight and Day

– watch the trailer and you’ve seen it all, soul destroyingly tedious

The Winning Season

– Charming and endearing comedy with Sam Rockwell demonstrating skills

Chico & Rita

– psychedelic animations brought to life by excellent latin jazz

The Hangover: Part 2

– even less funny than the first, why did I bother?


– bizarre sci-fi horror in the vein of HG Wells

Johnny English Reborn

– more giggles and slapstick from Rowan Atkinson

The Other Guys

– hilarious, a series of ludicrous sketches strung together with a plot, almost as good as Superbad

Saw 3D

– another pointless gorefest with an implausible twist and over-egged climax


– very jumpy horror packed with everything you’d expect from the genre


– Bradley Cooper is already painfully smug and here he has an IQ off the charts. Nauseating.

The American

 – beautifully shot, very engaging story, a favourite


– puerile rubbish, compared to the Hangover because they’re both witless crap

The Change Up

– base and explicit humour at it’s best, still grotty though

Your Highness

– worthless trash, quite frankly a terrible, witless film

Super 8

– inspirational for amateur film makers but kind of average as an action adventure

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One

– the beginning of the end, nothing special but a light-hearted romp

Get Him To The Greek

– one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. Avoid.

Wild Target

– lighthearted and unfortunately largely humourless attempt at British action comedy

The Collector

– terrific acting by Patrick Stewart, a horror in the style of The Cube

Horrible Bosses

– funny but very puerile comedy with a great cast

Hard Candy

– even if you can stand Ellen Page this is an unnecessary effort


– disappointing from Ed Norton and DeNiro

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

– Now it’s over, the whole lot needs a remake, lets start now!

A River Runs Through It

– a wonderful film in every sense. Enchanting and emotional. It’ll leave a mark.

Meek’s Cutoff

– very well filmed but boring and uneventful western


– extremely entertaining action comedy with a cast of hollywood heroes

Grosse Point Blank

– Cusack has a lot of fun as the killer with a conscience in this black comedy

The Whistleblower

– harsh and realistic portrayal of sex trafficking, a true story

Blood Work

– classic Eastwood, but not in the same league as In The Line Of Fire

The Believer

 – unsettling but gripping. Gosling is a perfect anti-hero.

Carlito’s Way

– Al Pacino’s best I think. A masterclass in filmmaking.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

– not a favourite but a sound sort-of-faux-biopic

Sucker Punch

– an erotic fantasy featuring school girls fighting dragons. Sexy but not much else.

The Lincoln Lawyer

– an enjoyable watch but totally forgettable

From Paris With Love

– enjoyable action does what it says on the tin

Dark City

– bizarre and oppressive but intriguing sci-fi


– a decent classic. Watch it.

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest

– my favourite of the trilogy but no less epic


– dull dull dull

Black Death

– an exciting gory medieval period piece with sword fighting and black magic galore

The Fountain

– An exceptional score by Clint Mansell. Pretentious and boring film.

Little Fockers

– the third in the trilogy, still breaks a few laughs

The Exam

– mystery thriller will keep you guessing

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

– low budget but surprisingly slick vampire flick

The Social Network

– another gripping screenplay from Aaron Sorkin

Out of Sight

– one of Soderbergh’s sloppier wannabe-slick thrillers


– american rightwing pro torture propaganda, practically 24 the movie with none of the charm


– bizarrely emotive offbeat comedy, highly recommended


– an unconventional tale of an assassin

Wrong Turn

– infuriatingly stupid characters result in a frustrating and cliched horror

Dead Mans Shoes

– in your face and hard hitting

Der Unhold [The Ogre]

– a poignant but beautiful wartime tale from an unusual perspective. Highly recommended.

88 Minutes

– riddled with plot holes but a good yarn

In The Electric Mist

– bland wannabe thriller lacking any excitement

The Dark Knight

– the one and only: Joker vs the Bat.


– bold and brutal, deserving of your time

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

– well cast and well acted, a top quality remake


– slow burning, but a top class thriller from the first shot

The Fish Child

– uncomfortable viewing

Midnight in Paris

– Woody Allen jumps through Parisian eras with Owen Wilson in tow, great

Dylan Moran – Yeah Yeah

– classic Moran.


– Stephen King horror with Cusack at his most depraved

Boogie Nights

– very funny and enlightening perspective of one boys trip through the porn industry


– fascinating insight in to the lives of Ian Curtis and Joy Division


– very scary but excellent portrayal of online sexual predators and their affect on families, heartbreaking


– almost blow for blow remake of Poltergeist with many of the same problems


– shambolic and smug whodunnit in the style of Identity

Butterfly on a Wheel

– an above average concept frustratingly full of plot holes and inadequacies


– though highly acclaimed, this didn’t capture my interest at all


– Nolan proves huge blockbuster thrillers can be intelligent (even mindboggling)

The Basketball Diaries

– harrowing and tragic drama with phenomenal acting all round

Fair Game

– interesting but distinctly unthrilling


– watch it for Aidan Gillen as the cop killer

Source Code

– From Duncan Jones of Moon success, crazy shiz on a train. Definitely worth watching

Wag the Dog

– classic Hoffman and DeNiro, hilarious


– Joseph Gordon Levitt is a nihilist and unlikely role model for a troubled boy, worth a watch

Captain America: The First Avenger

– more Hollywood superhero action fare, not one of the best


– surreal and weird mystery thriller, intriguing but not my thing

Fast Five

– another trashy action blockbuster but the best in the series so far

Cherry Tree Lane

– very dark, unpleasant and difficult to watch home invasion horror, too slow to be fun

Win Win

– touching and appealing film of wayward youth turned family saviour

The Karate Kid

– a tame Hollywood remake lacking the charm of the original

The Ides of March

– fast talking, smooth and sexy with great performances all round

The Dead Girl

– well constructed but forgettable drama surrounding the story of a dead girl

127 Hours

– an exercise in audience patience, stylised but dull


– Eastwood misses again and an odd choice for Damon

In The Line Of Fire

– in my top five thrillers. Malkovich and Eastwood at the top of their game. See it.

Broken Embraces

– loved by many but not my cup of tea, no doubt well done though

The Accidental Spy

– Jackie Chan will make you smile, everything else will make you yawn

The Disappearance of Alice Creed

– slow burning and surprisingly unpredicatable

How To Train Your Dragon

– fun animated adventure with some great visuals

The Human Stain

– pretty flat and dull to be honest

Rescue Dawn

 – phenomenal and powerful story, emotionally ravaging

Tamara Drewe

– painfully long and unfunny rom-com without even a stunning lead

X-Men: First Class

– a brilliant prequel which falls down on a few inconsistencies and inapt references to the trilogy

La Femme Nikita

– the definition of femme fatale; a french hit girl with an attitude

What Lies Beneath

– a bit whack, some nice suspense though

The Lookout

– interesting, with good performances, but not exactly edge of seat

Assault on Precinct 13

(the original) – boring and ultimately pointless with a terrible script


– spanish horror, fairly standard but some pleasant au frisson

Batman Begins

– the first in Nolan’s record breaking trilogy

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

– mildly entertaining if you have the time and inclination for more of the same

Barton Fink

– more Coen brothers, the usual troubled and apocalyptic themes


– excellent thriller with fantastic editing and direction

Suspect Zero

– a lacklustre serial killer thriller that bleeds out when it incorporates voodoo magic

Step Brothers

– slapstick, puerile; totally unfunny.

The Sea Inside (Mar Adentro)

– tragic and heartbreaking true story about euthanasia

Swimming Pool

– haunting erotic mystery. Slow paced indie vibe.

Red State

– not a fan of Kevin Smith but this is an interesting take on religious extremism

The Town

– a nail biting, taught and suspenseful thriller from Affleck. Excellent.

The A Team

– if you can stand Bradley Cooper this is watchable

Certified Copy

 – a boring piece of pseudo-intellectual foreign film

Girl, Interrupted

– much better than anticipated; a dramatic, tragic psychodrama

The Fighter

– the bickering family environ makes for a headache inducing watch despite spectacular acting and gripping drama

The Mechanic

– above average stylish thriller but a typical Statham venture

Due Date

– you’ll laugh, but it’s highly unoriginal and pretty lowbrow

The Tree of Life

– no doubt pretentious, but still exploring deep themes with beautiful cinematography

Mulholland Drive

– never understood the acclaim for this movie

The Last Exorcism

– original take on the highly overused exorcism genre

Black Swan

– mesmerising, horrifying, disturbing but beautiful

The Experiment

– not a scratch on the German original, don’t bother

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold

– inexplicably acclaimed classic, left me nonplussed


– highly original, cleverly constructed and mindbending horror/ thriller which will have you trawling the forums


– exotic and groundbreaking visuals to the plot of Pocahontas. Lovely.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

– further fantastic effects from the WETA team, now someone hire them for a solid script

Blood Simple

– the Coen’s first feature, and the quintessence of their directorial style

The Next Three Days

– Fast paced and entertaining, far from exceptional though

September 2010

Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

– a British classic, hilarious and compelling.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

– great, but not as good as expected


– frustratingly weak plot complemented by ludicrous action

August 2010

Suicide Kings

– Walken is great in this unlikely winner


– potential but doesn’t deliver

Pet Sematary

– sickly terrifying, a Stephen King classic


– high brow cast for a decidedly average con flick

The Hunt for Red October

– Connery in another nail-biting thriller


– cheesy feel good action


– unusually bitter sweet for Stiller


– extreme, sickening, well made

The Quick and the Dead

– above average western with great performances all round

The Secret Life of Bees

– Tragic and heartwarming

Ocean’s 13

– and the same again….

The Princess Bride

– hilarious, ridiculous and nonsensical


– farfetched but great concept


– surprisingly entertaining, Freeman solid as ever

Bunny and the Bull

– disappointing effort from the Boosh crew

Training Day

– grows in to a great movie


– Two pros at the top of their game sparring; gripping!


– cringeworthy but entertaining, stock Affleck

The Hudsucker Proxy

– original, if a little too eccentric

Clear and Present Danger

– somewhat drawn out but decent enough


– bizarre, slow but enjoyable

Out of Time

– cheesy and tame, cliche ridden thriller


– another brilliantly exciting mind twister from Nolan

Toy Story 3

– fantastic, phenomenally well made

Ocean’s 12

– highly entertaining as always

July 2010


– at last a decent vamp film

Vantage Point

– entertaining if gimmicky


– worth one watch. probably.

Alice in Wonderland

– disappointingly dull

Bubba Ho-tep

– refreshingly bizarre

Fish Tank

– hard hitting and brilliant

Book of Eli

– even better the second time


– a slow informative doc


– heartbreaking, beautiful


– fantastic head f*ck


– peculiar but interesting

A Single Man

– overhyped and pretentious

Shrek Forever After

– disappointing, another rehash


– uninspiring horror

Stir of Echoes

– very effective, haunting and creepy

The Crazies

– nothing special, predictable

June 2010

The Relic

– better than the same would be today

Charlie Wilson’s War

– another Aaron Sorkin, a delight


– phenomenal, and even better in Blu


– Jolie surprises

Four Lions

– hilarious but thought-provoking

Happy Gilmore

– classic Adam Sandler.

Mean Creek

– disturbing, brutal, moving

Green Zone

– bloody entertaining actually.

The Road

– emotionally charged


– Aaron Sorkin on top form as usual, Baldwin is great


– terrific old school Sorkin

The Maiden Heist

– family fun, but not much of it


– predictable but very enjoyable

Hot Tube Time Machine

– Utter bollocks. Obscene and unfunny.

The Escapist

– Riveting. Very impressive.

Harry Brown

– pretty shoddy. don’t bother.

Gran Torino

– Clint growls too much, dull

I Love You Philip Morris

– both Carey and McGregor are on top form

The Bounty Hunter

– Absolute bollocks.

May 2010

Days of Heaven

– Beautiful

Swimming with Sharks

– Unexpectedly Funny

The Witness

– Enjoyable but not so thrilling

Leaves of Grass

– A Bit Dull

Vampire aka Demon Under Glass

– laughable B-movie

The Book of Eli

– Surprisingly effective action

Iron Man 2

– Exciting and Funny

Shutter Island

– Overhyped but still good


– Visually stunning is all

Reign Over Me

– Moving But Slow

Robin Hood

– Fresh and Upbeat