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Director: Ridley Scott Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride Running Time: 123 minutes


Almost forty years ago now, the minds of Dan O’Bannon and the then up-and-coming director Ridley Scott crossed with the cold and violently Freudian imagery of H.R. Giger and created Alien. A massive hit, Alien took the science-fiction adventure dreams that were launched in viewers two years earlier by Star Wars  and curdled them into a nightmare; not an Expanded Universe that invites exploration, but a cruel one that punished hubristic humans who wander where they’re not wanted. Alien‘s success and its iconic imagery made it a no-brainer for franchise material, and after the interpretations of other directors-some welcome, most not-and some regrettable dust-ups with Predators, Scott returned to the space where no one can hear you scream, first with the yes-but-no-but-yes prequel Prometheus and now with the bridge-gapping Alien: Covenant. These latest films may have their faults, quite a few in fact, but at least Scott is back for reasons other than money or brand building, instead using the old world he helped create to explore new ideas. It’s just unfortunate that having ideas at all puts Scott one up on any of the characters in these films, who almost never have two brain cells to rub together.

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Director: Mike Mills Starring: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Lucas Jade Zumann, Billy Crudup Running Time: 119 minutes


What does it mean to be a man? What does it take to become one? How do you ensure you are a good one?

These are questions at the heart of Mike Mills’ latest film, 20th Century Women. Now, you may notice a disconnect there between the title and the message. This movie is a lot more than your typical coming of age story for our young male protagonist, Jamie (Zumann). The film centres on an unconventional household in California in the late 70s, bustling with a gathered family of resilient women. This film moves more like an experience than a solid three act piece. We spend time with these characters and see what they’re up to, basically. The biggest story arc throughout is that single mother Dorothea (Bening) wants her son Jamie to learn what it is to be a man and so she enlists the help of her lodger Abbie (Gerwig) and Jamie’s friend Julie (Fanning). These modern women help him tackle and traverse what it means to be a man in the twentieth century. As you could guess, they all have different ideological beliefs about society, men and women.

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Director: Pablo Larraín Starring: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Hurt Running Time: 99 minutes


It would perhaps be a stretch to call Pablo Larraín’s Jackie a surreal film. In terms of narrative structure and subject matter, it still functions as a straight enough biopic about Jackie Kennedy. But we all know what happened to Jackie Kennedy, and what could be more surreal than having your husband, the President of the United States, have his head blown to pieces right next to you? Isn’t reaching for a piece of skull, frantically, nonsensically, the kind of gesture that might fascinate directors like David Lynch or, as is the case, Larraín? Still structurally a biopic, what makes Jackie so interesting is its effectiveness in capturing the surreal, funereal air around the aftermath of a situation that was never supposed to happen. And just as responsible for creating that feeling is Natalie Portman as Jackie, in possibly her best performance as the shellshocked out-of-nowhere widow.

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