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The X-Files – Shapes (Review)

Shapes feels like something of a companion piece to Shadows. Both are very traditional horror monster stories, feeling a little dated and out of place among the more modern paranoia of The X-Files. Shapes might carefully avoid using the word “werewolf”, instead dressing up the classic movie monster in loose fitting Native American mythology, but it feels like an attempt to pay homage to one of the definitive Hollywood monsters. Unfortunately, like Shadows, it winds up feeling a little stale and tired, a little too familiar and cliché.

It’s a werewolf story that lacks bite.

Chew on this...

Chew on this…

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Non-Review Review: Cherchez Hortense

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

Inoffensive. That might be the best way to describe Cherchez Hortense, a French comedy of manners about people trying to figure out how to get what they want from life – and each other. The cast do a great job, especially Jean-Pierre Bacri in the lead role of Damien Hauer, who just about manages to give the film enough weight to stop it floating effortlessly away. There’s nothing wrong with some light character-driven comedy, but Cherchez Hortense suffers from the fact that it seems like even one direct conversation would sort absolutely everything out. Okay, that’s a slight oversimplification (it depends which direct conversation), but it’s not too far from the truth. While the script is sharp and witty enough that the actors never feel like they’re just going in circles, there’s a weird sense of contrivance around Cherchez Hortense which gives means it’s hard to get too invested in anything that’s going on.

cherchezhotense

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Non-Review Review: Blancanieves

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

Blancanieves feels like either a film that has its finger firmly on the pop culture zeitgeist, or the victim of the worst timing. It appears less than a year after The Artist won the Best Picture Oscar, becoming a massive critical and popular success. Given the relative dearth of high-profile silent black-and-white films, Blancanieves is somewhat trapped within that shadow. More than that, though, it emerges following a year that demonstrated popular culture’s fixation on the Snow White story. 2012 saw the release of both Mirror Mirror and Snow White & The Huntsman, both reimaginings of the classic tale. Blancanieves is, for its own part, an adaptation of the fairy tale, and it seems like the story was weighing on the popular imagination.

In any other context, Blancanieves would seem like a breath of fresh air. An affectionate homage to the classic era silent cinema, retelling the Snow White story in an unfamiliar setting, there’s a lot to recommend it. Indeed, Blancanieves is easily the best Snow White adaptation of the past year. Unfortunately, it suffers because it’s not quite as charming, witty and well-constructed as The Artist.

Dark materials...

Dark materials…

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Non-Review Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White and the Huntsman can’t help but feel like it misses the mark. Its intentions are clear, its objectives very firmly set. It’s an attempt to “reclaim” the age old fairytale for a more modern audience, to revisit all the tropes and the plot devices from the story we all know and rework them so that they speak to today. The result is a massive misfire, as the attempt to craft a feminist fable from the story of Snow White makes the same fatal misstep as Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland: just because you put a sword in the hand of your leading female, and just because she wears a suit of armour, does not immediately reinvent her as a feminist icon.

Not quite queen of our hearts…

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Going Against the Grain: Unpopular Movie Opinions…

I quite liked J. Edgar. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think it was perfect or anything like that, but I thought it was an interesting piece of cinema that clearly articulated Eastwood’s views on twentieth century America, fitting as part of a tapestry the director had crafted exploring the country’s history. However, I still feel a little uncertain about my opinion. After all, it seems that most critics quite disliked it. I know that anybody writing or discussing film is required to formulate their own opinion, but there is a strange feeling that comes with disagreeing with the majority opinion. While the world wouldn’t be an interesting place if we all agreed, it’s sometimes hard to reconcile the individual’s opinion against that of the critical majority.

Suits you, sir...

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Non-Review Review: The White Buffalo

I’m sure there must have been a good movie in there somewhere. The story of Wild Bill Hickok hunting down the wild white buffalo from his nightmares through the Old West could have been a compelling one, even if it’s hard to imagine it ever being a classic. Instead, the movie is hackneyed cheese-fest that seems uncertain what to do with itself. It doesn’t help that Charles Bronson, sleepwalking his way through the production, gives the best performance of the film. If that’s not a bad omen, I don’t know what is.

What a load of bull...

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Why Does It Matter That Spider-Man is Black?

It’s interesting the odd way that comic books occasionally overlap with the mainstream. Mainly, it appears to be when a death is involved, like the coverage that Ed Brubaker’s The Death of Captain America inspired, or the pop culture impact of Grant Morrison’s Batman R.I.P. (or even Jonathan Hickman’s death of Johnny Storm in The Fantastic Four). These week, we’ve had a minor media storm over something a bit different: a new character taking an established identity. Most mainstream media outlets weren’t interested in the resurrection of Bucky Barnes to replace Steve Rogers, nor Dick Grayson donning the cowl in Batman & Robin. However, there’s been a storm in a teacup brewing over the fact that the new lead in Ultimate Spider-Man is black.

Why on Earth is this such a big deal?

The only colours I associate with Spider-man are blue and red...

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