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Director: Gary Ross Starring: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham Carter, Awkafina, Rihanna, Anne Hathaway, James Corden Running Time: 110 minutes


Like its older brother Ocean’s 11Ocean’s 8 opens with a parole hearing. Sandra Bullock’s Debbie Ocean, a sibling to Clooney, is asked what she’s planning to do on the outside. Cue the knowing look and the game is afoot. This entry to the breezy Ocean’s series has flown in under the radar of RUINED FOREVER faux-outrage fans, possibly because the trilogy of the late 90s-early 00s never had that kind of devoted nerd following, possibly because the too-cool-for-school affect of Clooney, Pitt and the rest of the eleven were too confident and comfortable in their own skins for a certain kind of viewer to latch onto, internalise and toxify. Freed from the burden of fandom expectations and political sandbags, Ocean’s 11 delivers pretty much the same thing as it’s histaff counterpart: beautiful movie stars hanging out and quipping in a beautiful location, the kind of no-fuss, no muss mid-range movie we could do with more of.

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Director: Stefano Sollima Starring: Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabel Moner, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Jeffrey Donovan, Catherine Keener Running Time: 122 minutes


It can’t hurt a film to have a little ambiguity from time to time. Three years ago, the uncompromising crime-thriller Sicario took us to the darkest corners of the greyest areas of the US-Mexican border, a place where Mexican cartels and the US government could compete to get up to the shadiest shit. It was an intense film with a considerable combination of talent: Denis Villeneuve combining to great effect with Roger Deakins to put the suffocating effect of the crime scene on screen, a great score by the gone-too-soon Jóhann Jóhannsson and a script by Taylor Sheridan that was seemingly very thoughtfully assembled; like an Apocalypse Now for America’s drug war. On screen, the talents of Emily Blunt dragged viewers down with her own sinking feelings, an FBI agent turned bystander to the morally ambivalent machinations of the Department of Justice, embodied by the casual hoo-ra “consultant” Matt Graver played by Josh Brolin and the mysterious, violent sicario Alejandro Gillick, played by Benicio Del Toro. They were up to something, it was no good, and there was noting Blunt could do about.

Something suspicious happened towards the end of Sicario though. A balance shift, a feeling that the film was becoming a bit too enamoured of its hitman for its own good. If Matt and Alejandro come out on top at the end, does that make it a downer ending or a triumph? Who is the main character of the film again? Emily Blunt’s conspicuous absence from the sequel Soldado might tell its own story. The boys are back in town. Sicario is not sending us it’s best people. In a fraught political environment, this sequel feels even less wanted, depending on which side of the fence you’re on.

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Director: J. A. Bayona Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Isabella Sermon Running Time: 128 minutes

The central conflict of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom isn’t about dinosaurs, it’s not even about being pro-dino rights or pro-bioweapons. The central conflict is the friction caused by J. A. Bayona’s directing style bumping against the constraints of this franchise, like a T-rex testing an electric fence who can’t help getting burnt.

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Director: Thaddeus O’Sullivan Starring: Tom Vaughan-Lawlor Running Time: 81 minutes


In picking out names from late 19th-early 20th century Ireland, a time when as George Moore put it, “The sceptre of intelligence moved from London to Dublin”, art collector Hugh Lane may not be the first one that comes to mind. It may not come to mind at all if you’re not a major arts enthusiast. However, the innovative and very interesting Citizen Lane paints a vivid picture of the man as an enigmatic character from a period in Irish history packed full of fascinating figures. Look past the naff title, this unusual mix of documentary and narrative is likely to draw a high appraisal from those who view it.

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Director: Jason Reitman Starring: Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Ron Livingston, Mark Duplass Running Time: 96 minutes


When Diablo Cody is in a reflective mood, Jason Reitman tends to benefit. Though it will always be a divisive film based on its subject matter and the ‘hamburger phone’ of it all, Juno‘s rooting in the real life experiences of Cody as a teenager and the stories of adoptees and pregnant teens in her life gave it a laudable emotional honesty. The writer-director pair came back together for the underseen Young Adult, a darkly funny and deeply insightful look at arrested development, and the toll taken on the popular girl when she isn’t popular anymore, with a fantastic lead performance from Charlize Theron. Nearly seven years on, the now-trio have convened again for an honest look at parenthood in Tully. The result is raw, sly and very well done.

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Director: Ron Howard Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Paul Bettany, Thandie Newron, Jon Favreau, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo Running Time: 135 minutes


As we settle into the reality of Star Wars as a tentpole Disney franchise, with a new film every single year and a television series in the works, it’s understandable that Kathleen Kennedy and co. would want to solidify the appeal of the spinoff films by featuring one of the property’s most popular characters. Once Solo: A Stars Wars Story finishes cleaning up at the box-office, they can start to plot a whole line of films to put the spotlight on your favourite characters from across the Galaxy. Lando Calrissean? Why not, says Kathleen Kennedy, that Donald Glover is so hot right now. Boba Fett? Maybe, if it will finally shut you fans up about him. That one lad in A New Hope that looks like the devil? Okay, maybe not him. Han Solo though, ‘everyone’s favourite’ from the original trilogy, was supposed to be the safe bet, and the exec’s adamant desire to keep it that way was partly what led them to axe original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, apparently too madcap and wacky in their ambitions for the film. They were replaced with the experienced, steady hand of Ron Howard, who reshot almost everything and presented a friendly face behind a marketing campaign nervously encouraging the somewhat sceptical viewing public that yes, they do need to know Han Solo’s origins. What Howard, veteran screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and the rest deliver is indeed the safe bet, in a film that’s far too middle of the road to be essential viewing. What we have here is one square unit of Star Wars movie, mostly milquetoast with a few rough edges born from the inelegant ‘creative differences’ and perhaps a meeting too many in the boardroom. If you’re looking for any noteworthy insights into Han Solo as a character, you’re not likely to get them here. If you’re looking to know where he got his apparently iconic blaster though, this is the film for you (somebody hands it to him).

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Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo Starring: Everybody. Running Time: 149 minutes


Ten years ago now, there was an idea. To bring together a group of remarkable characters and see if they could become something more. There was a time, unbelievable as it is now, that having a ‘shared universe’ of various franchises seemed like a massive risk rather than the movie studio holy grail. A time when people wondered how the first Avengers film was possibly going to manage a story with six superheroes. Infinity War has twenty. Plus sidekicks and supporting cast members, absentee Avengers, love interests, a few surprise appearances, the army of an entire country, and a new mass of villains. And Stan Lee. The Universe has grown and grown, developing an enormous, enamoured audience along with it. Marvel know they have most every blockbuster-loving film fan in the palm of their hands at this point, so to keep them captivated, what’s the best thing they can do at this point? Make a fist. Or snap their fingers.

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Director: John Krasinski Starring: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe Running Time: 95 minutes


If asked to pick out the director of the next hit horror movie, Jim from The Office doesn’t spring first to mind, particularly considering John Krasinski’s previous directing credits have been a pair of sub-Sundance, sub-Braffian comedy-dramas. Then again, one half of a sketch show comedy troupe making his first film similarly wouldn’t have been pegged for horror greatness, and with Get Out, Jordan Peele subverted that expectation to the tune of $255 million at the box office, a win at the Oscars and the world at his feet. A pleasant surprise, A Quiet Place is smart-scary with a heart, a film built around a simple and effectively-used idea that demands to be seen in a packed cinema.

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Director: Lynne Ramsay Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Judith Roberts Running Time: 90 minutes


He has a unique set of skills, but Joe, the driven murder machine of Lynne Ramsay’s stunning thriller You Were Never Really Here, is far from the typical one-man rampage and the film has much more than cheap kill thrills on its mind. Taking a standard grim and gritty action film plot and considering it with depth, melancholy and  honesty, this a film that prompts the question, once you’ve been ‘Taken’, can you ever really come back? And can the heroes tragic backstory truly push him forward or has it long-since pushed him over the edge, not a source of inspiration but a devastating destruction?

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Director: Andrew Haigh Starring: Charlie Plummer, Steve Buscemi, Travis Fimmel, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Zahn Runtime: 121 Minutes

Lean On Pete is one of those rare films that values authenticity over sentimentality. No Hollywood sheen tints the lens. No overstated points on rural America’s current economic climate are made. No faux sense of understanding for the countryside’s cuts and bruises is offered up. Instead, Lean On Pete uses an understated approach, opting for honest storytelling over cheap mawkishness. The characters that occupy this land and the stories they tell are important to the filmmakers, yet nothing is ever overly dramatic or artificial.

It is here that we are introduced to Charley Thompson (Plummer); a young boy who traverses the blistering Oregon deserts to find his last known relative living thousands of miles away. Accompanying Charley on his journey is Lean On Pete, a failing racehorse who Charley forms a great bond with after securing a summer job in a local stables. Although it seems like a simple story on the outside, Lean On Pete is told with wonderful tenderness, compassion and sincerity, making for one of the most devastatingly beautiful movies of 2018.

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