Logan (dir. James Mangold, 2017) – The arrival of a young mutant sends an ailing Wolverine and Professor X on the run.
A near-perfect swan song for an aged hero, a brilliant origins story for a rising heroine.
The stars are aligned as we bid adieu to the Wolverine. It has been a long time coming, and no better timing for his last run. With the evocative nature of farewells almost a given, director James Mangold has his work cut out for him. The recent resurgence of the western genre also comes in good time, falling right in place with his dusty town vision.
Then, there is that minor success with Deadpool, boosting the studio’s confidence in bloodier, adult-oriented comic book movies. Just as the superhero genre flatlines on novelty, Logan knows to grab the opportunity to break out of the tired formula. So all bets are on, and all for the better. At long last, the Man with the Adamantium Fists gets the grittier treatment he deserves.
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Slasher (dir. Craig David Wallace, 2016) – Sarah Bennett returns to small town Waterbury where her parents were killed, only to find the past re-emerging as a new series of murders begins.
A trope-embracing genre tribute by horror fans, for horror fans. Slasher dishes up a bloody good time, all in the name of fun.
Moving back to the town where your parents were murdered, is a bad idea. Just ask Laurie Strode. But Sarah Bennett (Katie McGrath) clearly hasn’t seen enough horror movies to stay away. The youngest victim left alive by The Executioner chooses to move into that very crime scene in Waterbury, Canada, with the support of her loving husband Dylan (Brandon Jay McLaren).
There, Sarah reveals her true intent – to visit Tom Winston (Patrick Garrow), the now-imprisoned killer who orphaned her on Halloween 30 years ago. But closure becomes the least of her worries, when a new Executioner begins enacting copycat murders with a biblical twist. Seven deadly sins guarantee a growing body count. And in this small town where secrets breed and resentment boils, everyone is a suspect.
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I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (dir. Macon Blair, 2017) – Enlisting the help of her eccentric neighbour, Ruth Kimke is on a mission to track down the thieves that burglarised her home.
A well-acted and written reflection on humanity woes, Macon Blair’s solid directorial debut regrettably misses potential for stronger emotional impact.
Sometimes, the world seems out to get you. Or at least that is how Ruth Kimke (Melanie Lynskey) feels. Her home just doesn’t feel like home anymore, especially not after it has been broken into. When the burglary falls low on the police’s priorities, the dowdy depressive finds herself sinking deeper into her mental chasm that echoes: The world is an asshole-occupied Hell.
Spurred by a growing existential crisis, Ruth decides to take matters into her own hands. The gentle soul at heart gets help in the form of her shuriken-wielding, metalhead neighbour Tony (Elijah Wood). With a ping on her stolen laptop’s location, things are starting to look up. That is until the pair unwittingly comes to face the worst in humanity.
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Residue (dir. Alex-Garcia Lopez, 2015) – After a massive explosion in the city centre, photographer Jennifer Preston uncovers a government conspiracy and more unsettlingly, the paranormal.
Don’t expect a fast-paced thriller with a perfect resolution. Residue is a slow-burning albeit promising pilot, made to build anticipation for what is to come.
Make no mistake. Residue is excessively drawn out, and maddeningly inconclusive. That doesn’t mean it is not worth a watch. Set in a dystopian near-future, the aspiring Black Mirror episode is a plodding yet assured pilot that promises things can only get better from here.
Intrigue lies in the compelling premise of this sci-fi/horror mystery thriller, where a massive explosion on New Year’s Eve leaves the city centre in quarantine. The measure is ostensibly in place due to contamination from a bio-weapon facility. But any X-Files aficionado will be loath to take the official word for it.
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Imperial Dreams (dir. Malik Vitthal, 2017) – Love for his family inspires Bambi to rise above a life of gang violence and broken dreams.
An inspired character study and a thoughtful introspection of the rehabilitation system. Malik Vitthal’s directorial debut delivers a powerful story of hope, bolstered by John Boyega’s impeccable performance.
It has taken some time for the 2014 Sundance hit to arrive on Netflix. But three years have done nothing to diminish the relevance of Imperial Dreams. This hard-hitting drama shines unforgiving light on the faults of an extant system that traps ex-convicts in an unyielding cycle of violence, if only for survival.
John Boyega plays 21-year-old Bambi, a former gangster determined to turn his life around for his son Daytone (Justin/Ethan Coach). But the odds are stacked against him. His partner Samaara (Keke Palmer) is in jail. The state is suing him for child support. He is unable to get a license and consequently, a job. Then, there is his criminal record, which prevents him staying with his half-brother Wayne (Rotimi).
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Stories of Your Life and Others (Ted Chiang, 2010) – The collection includes eight of Ted Chiang’s original published stories of remarkable wit and consistency.
Meditating on the irresolvable meaning of humanity, Stories of Your Life and Others is an essential for keen readers of sci-fi, theology and philosophy.
What if language has the power to change our perception? The intimate story behind Arrival owes its cerebral genre narrative to Ted Chiang’s source material. Story of Your Life tells of one woman’s account of her newfound perspective and resultant personal choices, positing how linguistics can shape civilisation.
The story is interestingly in itself, an experiment in language. Tenses shift between past, present, and future to untangle a complex yarn. Physics come into play with Fermat’s Principle of Least Time. But while rooted in vernacular and scientific technicalities, the speculative work is primarily philosophical, questioning the dichotomy of freewill and fate.
Equally thought-provoking themes can be found in the rest of the collection, Stories of Your Life and Others. Each of the eight short stories proves remarkable in their sophistication, accessibility, and rare originality.
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