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Director: Shaka King Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield, Dominique Fishback, Jesse Plemons Running Time: 126 minutes


One of many things that the last year has highlighted is that stories of authorities’ violent treatment of marginalised races are as relevant now as they have ever been.  Productions like Mangrove of Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series, popular television series like Watchmen and Lovecraft County and now Shaka King’s Judas and the Black Messiah, were all in production long before the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery in the US further revealed the dangers of state sponsored brutality and injustice. Each production resonates louder in the midst of these stories, but the creators behind them are motivated by something that has spread longer and deeper than our current moment. King looks back to the 60s, and the FBI’s campaign against Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, to communicate ideas that have been current, vibrant and essential for decades. If the system endures, so too must the revolution, and King aims to inspire and enrage in his depiction of the fate of this revolutionary.

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Directors: Josh & Bennie Safdie Starring: Adam Sandler, Eric Bogosian, Idina Menzel, Kevin Garnett, Julia Fox, Lakeith Stanfield Running Time: 135 minutes

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With a career littered by the likes of The WaterboyBilly Madison, and Happy Gilmore, it’s fair to say that Adam Sandler isn’t a name that’s been synonymous with the Awards season in film. It’s never been the case that lowbrow slapstick comedies have been the only thing that Sandler could come up with, but such films seem to be his career’s signature. There are parts of this that have always been endearing to me- for example, his loyal tendency to give his close friends consistent work, even through (at times) offensively rubbish pieces like Grown Ups 2. Notwithstanding this likable fidelity, Sandler has far too often had his name attached to horrendous, Golden Raspberry bait, with 2011’s Jack and Jill being a notable lowlight.

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Director: Rian Johnson Starring: Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Christopher Plummer Running Time: 130 minutes

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“The game is afoot” renowned mystery-solver Benoit Blanc knowingly crows during one of Knives Out‘s twisty turns, and it seems clear from the outset what game director Rian Johnson is playing here. However mixed (and wearingly unending) the reception may have been for Johnson’s last movie, the man clearly has strong support from Hollywood higher-ups, enough to fund a big “one for him” movie, a “dig out an old idea you’ve always wanted to do and hire everyone you’ve always wanted to work with” movie. And so we get Johnson’s loving homage to the murder mystery genre, a story he’s been kicking around since just after Brick, packed to the seams with rising talents, esteemed character actors and Hollywood royalty. And it’s a bloody delight. The opportunity to self-indulge to this extent is not a luxury every filmmaker is afforded, for what it’s worth though, Johnson uses the platform to delve into some unexpected areas worth examining. If you’re going to do something silly, you might as well do it smartly, which Knives Out accomplished on a number of levels.

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