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Directed by: Todd Philips Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro Runtime: 122 mins


Directed by Todd Phillips, this latest incarnation of the clown faced supervillain has seen its fair share of controversy throughout its development right up to its release. Since premiering, Joker has sparked debates about how putting the fabric of violence on the big screen could inspire real life terror. It’s a kind of terror that the DC Universe is familiar with, after the 2012 shooting in Aurora Colorado during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. Police officers have been present at screenings, and lead actor Joaquin Phoenix walked out of an interview when pressed on potential links the subject matter might have with copycats. This is nothing new, with parallels been drawn between Gus Van Sant’s Elephant and the 2005 Red Lake Shootings, as well as the alleged influence of Child’s Play 3 on the 1993 murder of James Bulger. These divisive topics demand a separate lengthy discussion, and while it’s certainly something I’ve reflected on after viewing the film, it’s not something I’m going to fully address here.

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Directed by: James Gray Starring: Brad Pitt, Ruth Negga, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland Runtime: 122 mins

Fresh off of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Brad Pitt is leaping back into theatres dressed in a spacesuit and with a mellower demeanour than his previous role involved. Like Tarantino, director James Gray boasts a lean filmography, with only a handful of feature films to his name before Ad Astra

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Directed by: André Øvredal Starring: Zoe Colletti,Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush,Austin Zajur Runtime: 108 mins

With much of the summer’s horror focus on the highly anticipated It: Chapter 2, it was always going to take something special to divert the audiences’ attention from the second adaptation of Stephen King’s bestseller. Despite Guillermo del Toro’s involvement as producer, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark didn’t garner as much buzz as this summer’s other horror blockbusters enjoyed. It wouldn’t be fair to call this a debut from Norwegian director André Øvredal, with the mildly received but competently made The Autopsy of Jane Doe attached to his name in 2016. However, it is fair to say that this is the first time the director has been tested in a way that may definitively shape his future horror filmography.

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Directed by: Gary Dauberman Starring: Mckenna Grace, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson Runtime: 106 minutes

In light of the success achieved by James Wan’s The Conjuring in 2013, something interesting happened in the horror genre. The traditional horror franchise was reinvigorated with a sexy contemporary touch. What became known as The Conjuring universe was formed. Invoking the trend of the Marvel Universe, the deal worked well for all interested parties.  A fresh look on supernatural tales with a sincere effort that went into character development and that tried to find the balance between jump scare cliches and atmospheric horror. While The Conjuring and its 2016 sequel The Conjuring 2 did well to serve up a feast of scares, a distinct compelling feature was that it also had interpersonal depth. Indeed, it was as much character driven as it was driven by a desire to generate buzz around its refreshing demonic spirits. With characters like The Nun spurring justifiable albeit tepid spin-offs, supernatural investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) are the cohesive glue that bind the Conjuring Universe together. The closer they’ve been to the series in the respective films, the better the films have fared, and with such good onscreen chemistry it’s easy to see why.

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Director: Mimi Leder Starring: Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer Runtime: 120 minutes

With the close of 2018 having put the integrity of the United States Supreme Court seats in the spotlight, the story of the remarkable Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is something that has been a notable cinematic feature of early 2019. This feature length adaptation of Ginsberg’s formative legal years could perhaps best be watched alongside the documentary RBG, which has garnered more critical acclaim thus far, securing a nomination for Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars.

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