Category Archives: Film

Monachopsis, Imposter Syndrome and the dissatisfaction of following the right path

Monachopsis is defined as the subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place. It is also a made-up word. Probably, anyway. It comes from a subcategory of new language and words attempting to define feelings. Unique, niche feelings, granted, but feelings nonetheless. Notwithstanding the dictionary work from wordsmith John Koenig who penned The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, there is little else on this new form of dialect. Monachopsis does, by definition, encapsulate an odd and unique feeling of sorrow. It specifies a time and place for an individual, and the experience felt by that is distinct enough to not need or have a word. It does have a phrase, though. Imposter syndrome. A rare beast, but one that cements itself when success is thick, fast and incomprehensible.

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Prima Facie Review

In understanding the legal system and the highs and lows of it, a lead must provide not just a cutting through of potential jargon, but a reason to care for it. Prima Facie has a rare blend of strong lead and message tied too closely to the profession it looks to discuss and encounter. Barristers and the work they provide. Those unknowable souls whose job is to, well, who knows what their job is. That is one of the many moral lines this Jodie Comer-starring piece manages to encapsulate. Not just the fear of being put on the witness box or the unjust system that batters good people down, but of those on the other side, and how they may feel about putting down those whose position they are fortunate enough to not yet be in.

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Not Okay Review

Where influencers may strive for the public lifestyle, to be picked apart by strangers envious or jealous of their material possessions, what is the end goal? For some, it is the fame of the every day where others are a desperate clamour to keep something personal or professional afloat. Not Okay from director Quinn Shephard feels like a staggering blend of the two that incorporates a few lines of note from journalist Jon Ronson’s seminal piece, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, a book that provides Shephard with an outline to build from. But this is fiction. A spillover, an explosive one at that that moves far beyond what can be expected of the everyday oddities, was soon to follow. That is where Not Okay prospers, flies and falls with fatalistic, interesting results.

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The Fountain Review

An initially empty title clicks into place with infuriating ease once The Fountain rolls its end credits. Of course, the fountain. That fountain. Darren Aronofsky has done it yet again. What has he done, here, though? Desperate scientists looking for miracle cures, the banality of morality poured over once more by a director who believes their vision is the one that will let everyone finally make peace. Not quite the success Aronofsky was gunning for as he piled his cast higher and higher with big names and bigger legacies, but certainly, a feature deeply rooted in its faith not just in a higher power but in its desirable leading performers, Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz.

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Fight Club Review

Hard, isn’t it? To avoid making a joke about “the first rule of fight club.” Yes, very good. Everyone is thinking it. Jot it down on a bit of paper. Scrunch it up. Bin it. Everyone else that came before you have done it, and everyone else after will do it too. It’s not original, it’s not interesting, and neither is Fight Club, not really, anyway. Fight Club? Fine club. Fine indeed. It’s fine. But what makes Fight Club a struggle to view is not its commentary and fundamentally skewered take on Chuck Palahniuk’s view, but the response to it. The misunderstanding of it. An audience problem, that one, albeit a benefit to Fight Club anyway.

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Starship Troopers Review

A post-modernist, tactical criticism of American militarism and the ingrained patriotism felt by it should come as no surprise. What does come as a surprise is that Paul Verhoeven managed to shroud it so well with his cheesy, brilliant adaptation of Robert A. Heinlen’s Starship Troopers. Lambs to the contemporary slaughter, but minds of the future were far kinder to Verhoeven’s efforts at adapting this militaristic insight and how it would soon be adapted to shepherd those that enjoy the safety of belief in their country and pride within it. Starship Troopers is an exemplary piece of film because it blurs the line between friendly, explosive entertainment and darker, biting criticisms of a culture it hopes to expose and explore.

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Spiderhead Review

Presumably, director Joseph Kosinski had hoped to avoid having Spiderhead compared to Michael Bay’s cloning feature The Island, but here we are. A commentary either on animal testing and the broad range of human trials or the strange gateway drug of Marvel films leading to a state of absolute empty repression. Spiderhead then becomes a feature documenting Chris Hemsworth hoping to regain his ability to feel love for art, or just in general. Although it would be a bit on the nose if he were in the hot seat, Miles Teller of all people steps in. A second chance for the Whiplash lead after that weird Esquire interview. If it weren’t too squeaky clean and desensitised, then Spiderhead would be something. Not something good. But something.

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Mad God Review

Animated flourishes and a delicate backdrop, animation like that is always doomed for streaming services. Creativity is an ill beast. Mad God is a dangerous one. A fun one too. Its ambience and hellish dream, orchestral voices echoing through the opening sequence that feels just a little like a John Romero Doom-era vision is exactly the right tone for this maddening spiral into animated mastery. A feature that feels the aesthetic qualities of H.R. Geiger and the depressed, permanent madness of apocalyptic fiction and all the bells and whistles desperately attached to it. No escape for Mad God, despite its unique form. Apocalyptic underworlds are the zombies of yesterday and the true crime of tomorrow.  

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Thor: Love and Thunder Review

Disastrous press campaign aside, Thor: Love and Thunder has been a fascinating test of just how far a fandom will defend garbage. Christian Bale screaming in the mud, rumbling around the floor and scarpering about as an opening moment reflects nicely on the scrabbling fans. Sadly, this smug metaphor comes to chastise the best part of this Taika Waititi-made car crash. Bale, naturally, is the talent that is raised taller than the rest of the family-friendly indulgence on display in this bland, colourful shlock. How it is possible to make a feature so vibrant yet so muted and uncomfortably grey is fascinating. Thor: Love and Thunder makes it possible though, a remarkably flat and banal feature that does very little with its simple parts.

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Hang ’em High Review

There is no doubt about the influence Clint Eastwood had on the spaghetti western genre and the subsequent, mini revival Hollywood would afford it. Usual suspects for the genre are the Dollars trilogy and High Plains Drifter. But there is a film to bridge that gap. Slotted between them, taking the spaghetti western charms and planting them firmly in a genre that would soon die out, only to be used as a nostalgia tool for those that needed it, like Eastwood, over the decades to follow. Hang ‘em High feels like that midpoint. A straight-shooting, down-the-middle piece that can afford to play loose with its story so long as it highlights the booming star right at the heart of it. Wise moves from director Ted Post give this the sixties flair it so desperately needs. 

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