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Director: Hany Abu-Assad Starring: Kate Winslet, Idris Elba, Austin the Dog, Raleigh the Dog Running time: 103 mins

The Mountain Between Us opens on Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) with a skilled American accent and an arsenal of questions, a complete contrast to Ben’s (Idris Elba) British stoic suave. They are total strangers, thrown together by bad weather and circumstance. They arrive at the airport to find out all flights to Denver are cancelled, but with Ben flying out to perform a surgery and Alex trying to make it to her wedding, they can’t wait until the next morning. Alex charters a plane, piloted by a sweet old man and his faithful dog, and having overheard his troubles, she invites Ben to tag along. Disaster ensues.

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Director: Denis Villeneuve Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Robin Wright, Jared Leto, Ana de Armas Running Time: 163 minutes


 

The advanced screening of Blade Runner 2049 and presumably, all advanced screenings of the film, began with a letter from the director, imploring those in attendance to keep tight lipped about the film’s various twists and turns, to “not spoil the magic”. And though there are plenty of spoilers that will, for the purposes of playing ball, be avoided in this review, Blade Runner and its sequel are not films about the plot details, not really. Despite the many story-changing cuts and decades of speculation and misleading trailers and advance screening advanced warnings, these are films whose true value lays not in the story beats but in the ideas and the images and everything else that a rogue tweet or a too-curious eye over a Wikipedia page cannot take away from you. From the outside, Blade Runner 2049 may look like yet another nostalgia cash-in, and an odd choice for one at that, but it’s no mere replicant of the original, providing a beautiful backdrop against which the series’ themes about identity, memory and autonomy are given further thought.

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Director: Hallie Meyers-Shyer Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Candice Bergen, Nico Alexander, Nat Wolff, Jon Rudnitsky Running Time: 97 minutes

First off, Home Again is not a rom-com. Don’t listen to what the critics want to tell you. It follows Alice, played with aplomb by Reese Witherspoon, who has recently left her man-child husband (Michael Sheen) in New York and returned to the restorative comforts of Los Angeles. With the help of her mother, she reclaims her identity and finds fulfilment.

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Director: Stephen Burke Starring: Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Barry Ward, Martin McCann Running Time: 92 minutes

Maze tells the story of the mass breakout of 38 IRA prisoners from the HMP Maze prison, which was built specifically for them, in 1983.

Maze‘s efforts to humanise all sides of the Troubles, including those suffering on the side lines, make it a compelling watch. Stephen Rennick’s gentle soundtrack and the cool blues of the prison are sublime.

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Director: Darren Aronofsky Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer Running Time: 121 minutes


Lurching out of a screening of mother! I had the chance to ask someone what they thought to which I was informed: “Eh, I kind of hated it”. It’s as good a line as any to begin on the Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream director Darren Aronofsky’s divisive latest, an allegorical horror very loosely about a married couple under siege.Read more…

Director: Andy Muschietti Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Sophia Lillis, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff Running Time: 135 minutes


 

Somewhere in the recesses of my memory a spectre of Tim Curry lurks, a cackling lunatic in clown make up who probably contributed to some lost hours of sleep. 27 years on from Tommy Lee Wallace’s TV miniseries, Stephen King’s grizzly, shapeshifting child killer is back, this time played by Bill Skarsgård and ably assisted by special effects a world removed from the 1990 miniseries.

Working from one of King’s most formidable books (1400 pages depending on the edition) this modern update, from Mama director Andy Muschietti, covers the first half of the novel, where a band of American children face off against a shape-shifting demon, predominantly appearing as a gleefully murderous clown named Pennywise.

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Director: Taylor Sheridan Starring: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Gil Birmingham, Graham Greene Running Time: 111 minutes


It would maybe be unfair to say that Wind River, the directorial debut of Sicario and Hell or High Water writer Taylor Sheridan, has bad intentions. A title card shown in the film’s final moments, which damningly reveals that the FBI does not keep statistics on missing Native American women, whose numbers remain unknown, aims to highlight the dismissive treatment of Native Americans by the US government. Which is probably evidence that the intentions here are good, but we all know where paths paved with good intentions tend to lead. Wind River occasionally taps into the same weary, dying heart of America melancholy that made Hell or High Water one of last year’s best films, but it’s difficult not to see its story as using the death of a young Native American woman to explore the pain and emotional redemption of Jeremy Renner, rather than the victims the film positions itself as having sympathy for. What this film wants to take a look at is certainly worth seeing it, but this is a story about a murdered Native American woman that looks down on women and sidelines Native Americans.

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Director: Juan Carlos Medina Starring: Bill Nighy, Olivia Cooke, Douglas Booth Running Time: 105 minutes


Imagine one of those ITV murder mystery shows that takes place over a couple of Sunday nights, add a little budget and plenty of blood and replace the usual suspects with Karl Marx, George Gissing and Dan Leno and you’re well on your way to having The Limehouse Golem, a gory thriller about a series of murders in the streets of Victorian London at the hands of a Pepsi-brand Jack the Ripper. Adapted from Peter Ackroyd’s novel Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem by Jane Goldman (of Kick Ass, Kingsman and more), the most appealing aspects of this mystery take their time in coming, with Goldman clearly enjoying the twists involved with the story’s killer. Pepsi Twist was always the better one anyway.

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Although the craggy Yorkshire landscape could easily have dominated this film, instead it provides an excellent backdrop to the delicate human story at play. God’s Own Country tells the story of Johnny Saxby, a man who exploits his position on an isolated country farm to impose emotional distance on everyone he meets. Until Gheorghe, a Romanian migrant worker, comes to help out during lambing season.

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Director: Kathryn Bigelow Starring: John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore, Anthony Mackie, Jack Reynor Running Time: 143 minutes


Though the clothes and the music and the specific events make Detroit‘s setting of 1967 clear, it’s shot in a haphazard, shaky manner that suggests that this could be happening right now. The point is pretty clear of course, as the events recreated here, racial inequality, police brutality, an unjust legal system, are still happening right now. Bigelow’s film could just as easily be called Ferguson and while that does make its messages abundantly clear and easy to agree with, it may also be the biggest drawback. Here Bigelow and screenwriting collaborator Mark Boal roll up their sleeves and deliver their cinematic treatise on racism in the United States. There’s anger here to be sure, but it’s an scattergun anger, displeasure at a distance and what that results in is a film that’s unrelenting but unfocused. Are these Bigelow and Boal’s sleeves to roll up?

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