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The Love Witch Banner Poster Samantha Robinson, Gian Keys, Laura Waddell, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, Jared Sanford, Robert Seeley, Jennifer Ingrum, Clive Ashborn, Stephen Wozniak, Elle Eva

The Love Witch: a modern-day witch is testing her potions on handsome men in a quest to find true love. I don’t think I’ve seen a more accurate and loving homage to retro-cinema… the saturated colours, audio fidelity, camera techniques, soundtrack, editing, clothes, lighting, stilted dialogue, and general B-movie tackiness… it’s all there, and it’s all immaculate; to the point where it’s difficult to accurately date. There’s also no other way to describe the fantastical / surreal / dreamlike / kitschy aesthetic than a “luscious eyegasm”. It is, however, disappointing that the actual content of the film is wafer thin: there’s a lot of super-shallow and tedious “but what IS love” type chatting and, more generally, it sticks far too rigidly to the 60s B-movie structure without adding or updating a single point. Picking up a 15-rating, it’s also a touch on the timid side for what could (and should?) have been a great gore-fest or sexploitation romp. The final complaint is that – although it’s absolutely gorgeous – the film is 30-minutes too long: the entire final act (renaissance fair / musical numbers) really tries the viewers patience. I’m not 100% sure it’s the feminist piece it’s being championed as (it’s a mental woman on a killing spree) but I will say that this is pure catnip for goth/burlesque/alternative people. The Love Witch is a film that puts everything in to its style and vision; leaving the rest of the film feeling slight… although blimey Charlie, it doesn’t half look beautiful.

Score: 4/10

The Love Witch Laboratory Samantha Robinson, Gian Keys, Laura Waddell, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, Jared Sanford, Robert Seeley, Jennifer Ingrum, Clive Ashborn, Stephen Wozniak, Elle Evans

The Love Witch Interior Samantha Robinson, Gian Keys, Laura Waddell, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, Jared Sanford, Robert Seeley, Jennifer Ingrum, Clive Ashborn, Stephen Wozniak, Elle EvansThe Love Witch Pentagram Samantha Robinson, Gian Keys, Laura Waddell, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, Jared Sanford, Robert Seeley, Jennifer Ingrum, Clive Ashborn, Stephen Wozniak, Elle Evans

Mission Imposssible 5 Rogue Nation Superbikes Motorbikes Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin, Jens Hultén, Simon McBurney,

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. The IMF gets shut down, leaving Ethan Hunt on the run from the CIA whilst trying to take down an organized crime group called ‘The Syndicate’. More than in the past few movies this feels like it’s completely merged into the Bourne/Bond universes – it’s particularly Skyfall-y. IMF is outdated and up for debate (like the 00 program), ‘The Syndicate’ are a collective that trigger world events (hello SPECTRE!), and the main villain is pretty much Raoul Silva (Bardem) from Skyfall, but with no development beyond ‘he’s villainously European and wears turtlenecks’. True to the franchise the big action set-pieces are fantastic (Plane opening, Motorbikes, Opera Fight) but it digresses into foot chases and pistol fights, which are ten-a-penny these days. The opening half is everything you’d expect from an M.I. film, but the second part loses momentum with twist after twist after twist, which leaves the story feeling bloated and stretched: it’s 2hrs 10 long! A big problem for this movie is that Ethan “the living manifestation of destiny” Hunt is never on the back foot and has an air of invisibility – worse still Tom Cruise is an action star that can act, but he’s wasted here, coasting as the cocksure and invincible agent. The main female (Ferguson) – an equally kick-ass, deadly, and capable agent in her own right – is presented as a strong heroine, yet made to prance about in leggy frocks, bikinis, and even topless (from the back) for no real reason. When you think of the best scenes in the Mission Impossible franchise and I bet they’re wringing out tension and suspense during the ‘impossible’ missions – hence the name – but Rogue Nation gets tangled up with simple thrills and a flabby, tortuous plot.

Score: 6/10

Mission: Impossible
Mission: Impossible II
Mission: Impossible III
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Mission Impossible 5 Rogue Nation Sexy Assassin Dress Opera legs Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin, Jens Hultén, Simon McBurney,

Stoker Chan-wook Park, Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Nicole Kidman, Dermot Mulroney, Jacki Weaver, Lucas Till, Alden Ehrenreich, Phyllis Somerville, Ralph Brown,

Stoker: when a young girl’s close father dies, his mysterious brother appears – a charming, yet mysterious character that she slowly becomes besotted with. Being a ChanWook Park movie, this has his stamp all over it – meticulous direction and framing, packed with striking, bold, elegant, and often haunting visuals. It’s a richly textured film, full of vivid colours, fabrics, designs, and patterns – ultra-visual cinema. Story-wise, it’s a relatively simple three-hander, focusing on layered and complex characters – that unravel, and become more intertwined as the events unfold. Perhaps because it’s a coming-of-age movie, it sticks out as being very level compared to previous works, shying away from the drama and (sensational) gore that director is used to providing, instead coming over as delayed intensity. Written by an actor, and directed by one of the world’s greatest – Stoker is a unique beast where the Korean director appears to be anticipating any ‘lost in translation’ moments from the script, by emphasizing the focus the universal visuals – you could watch this in any language and still make full sense of it. An immersive, throwback Hitchcockian thriller.

Score: 7.5/10

Stoker Chan-wook Park, Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Nicole Kidman, Dermot Mulroney, Jacki Weaver, Lucas Till, Alden Ehrenreich, Phyllis Somerville, Ralph Brown

3 Iron, Korea, Jae Hee, Lee Seung-yeon, Kim Ki-duk

3-Iron (Bin-Jip): a young man takes temporary residence in the homes of holidaying families; washing their clothes and fixing their broken stuff as payment. The central character is absolutely fascinating: peculiar, creepy, kind, well-meaning, frugal, meticulous, disturbed, zombie-like… what makes it all the more unbelievable is that he doesn’t say a word for the duration – it’s an exceptional performance. The central aspect of the film is a bit odd, but it’s the attention to detail and ghost-like existence of the characters that make it all so unsettling. The film gets a tad silly towards the end with the hiding in plain sight/shadow dancing stuff, but it’s poignant and justified nonetheless. Being such a peculiar love story set in a bizarre situation, I can see why people wouldn’t like this film; it’s also two almost-speechless leading roles, but the performances are haunting and memorable – if you give this a change and ‘buy in’ to the idea – 3-Iron is a truly unforgettable film.

Score: 8/10

GoldenEye: [Spoilers] when a global terrorist organisation steals a civilisation-busting weapon system called GoldenEye only one super spy can save the world from the looming doom.

Can a normal man catch up with a heavy, aerodynamic aeroplane... Duh!!

Who’s this idiot-hole jumping off the side of a reservoir and grapple-gunning his way to the bottom? Then taking on a room full of Russians, then stealing a bike, then the plane in mid air… The guy’s insane! This is an outstanding pre-title sequence with 007 and 006 (but how did he get there?) carrying out a break-in at a Russian chemical plant – definitely one of the best, most exciting, most tense and most action-packed of the intros. The (now legendary) N64 game captured facility so well when you see the film again.

It's all 6s and 7s in this scene - and film!

With the fantastic Licence to Kill proving to be a box office misfire – I blame the studio – and the franchise stuck in a rut for over five years the series was having a bit of an identity crisis, and it definitely shows in GoldenEye, which to me feels like a half-arsed re-boot.

Not particularly menacing, unless you have a fear of penis-shaped noses

On one hand we have the good old Commies getting themselves into trouble, a trusty space weapon of doom, a villain that wants to wrong all of the world’s rights, a bunch of big-budget action set pieces, enough explosives to match Licence to Kill and some truly awful accents (taxi  for Janssen & Cumming)… It’s like nothing’s changed.

M, a lady, in a Bond film.... OUTRAGE!!!!

On the other hand hand we have a new Bond (with an 80s lady haircut), a new female M (with a boys haircut), a new Moneypenny (with a drag queen haircut – I’M SO CONFUSED!). Despite having a typical Bond story, there’s something different about it… The original parts are all here, but it just doesn’t feel the same! In one of the film’s most telling scenes M notes that in a post Cold War world James Bond is a sexist, irrelevant dinosaur – shame on her!! A few other characters also jibe with Bond about being old hat…Definitely uncalled for given what JB has done over the years, and guess who has to save the day / world / girl / civilisation again!?!? – idiots!!

Bond nerd and Bond girl, two great characters that are both crucial to the story

As far as the new Bond goes, I really rate Brosnan. Growing up through his films (this was the first one I saw in in a cinema, thanks mum!) he’s the Bond of my era, but also, looking back through the years – for me, he’s the first ‘full package’. Sure, Connery is the Bond – oozing charm and humour, Lazenby was the timid one, Moore too theatrical and Dalton quite mysterious – Brosnan rolls all these traits into one performance, creating a full character for the first time.

Sharpe and Steele - surely a winning 00-combo!

Other unforgettable moments from GoldenEye are the: Tank Vs Train fight, the sexually charged vixen Onatopp (hubba hubba), unashamed 1990s SFX abuse with everything and everyone being blown and smashed up, the blatant IBM advertising, “I am invincible” and the super-cool satellite fight at the end.

Xenia Onatopp: has the gadget to rule all gadgets, killer thighs

For the first time in decades we have a great (and quite large) number of solid – fleshed out – characters that all bounce off and balance each other – because although the action is memorable in GoldenEye, it’s really the cast that have to make us believe that the world’s change AND push the picture forward. While it’s more of a facelift than a proper restart the Bond team did well to nail GoldenEye and save the feanchise that so many had written off. Solid 90s blockbuster.

Score: 7/10

A massive tank, drifting 'round corners and through buildings... awesome

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Sean Bean – pretty insane, wants to throw the UK to the dogs!! 7
Henchmen: Femke Janssen, Penis-nose’d Russian, Invincible Boris. 7
Bond Girls: Femke Jannsen – likes it rough. Programmer chick – very attractive. 8
Action: Opening Scene, Car Chase, Jail Breakout, Tank Chase, Antena & Base destruction 7

First film and we've already seen Brosnan's Ohhhhhhh-Ohhhh face!

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Bonus round - so you'll never, EVER look at this poster the same again

Fermat’s Room: A group of Spain’s greatest mathematical geniuses have to fight for their lives after being trapped in a slowly shrinking room, but is everyone there by chance? It’s really interesting watching the story unravel as the characters figure out why they’re there and what connects them all. This has a very cool premise, solid acting, good music, decent graphics, and a very clever (and tight) story. The only major disappointment is that it doesn’t properly milk all of the potential tension that could have come from the claustrophobic, crushing room. Like a high-brow Die Hard 3 / Saw concept, well worth hunting down, especially if you’re a maths whiz.

Score: 6.5/10