Spencer (2021)

Neon

Spencer opens with a long, static shot of a deserted kitchen, dimly lit by the barely awake sunshine of a misty early morning, eerie with silence. Typically bustling with life, filled with busy people working hard to prepare meals on time, the place is ominously empty. While inspecting this clinical landscape of studiously kept surfaces and perfectly arranged kitchenware, our gaze locks onto a sign hanging overhead. Using the familiar graphic template of the “Keep calm and carry on” slogan – itself a motivational poster from the times of The Blitz now reduced to a cliché souvenir one is expected to bring home from a trip to London as a royal keepsake – the sign reads “Keep the noise to a minimum. They can hear you”.  

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House of Gucci (2021)

Universal Pictures

It would seem it wasn’t that long ago when I sat in the cinema to watch The Last Duel and emerged positively amazed at the fact a man well into his eighties could direct a movie this aggressive, poignant and provocative, all in the guise of a familiar medieval epic. You shall also be informed that in a recent podcast I was a part of (available over at CLAPPER’s Patreon channel that I strongly suggest you subscribe to) I may have confidently suggested that Ridley Scott just doesn’t miss at all and the worst he can do is mediocre. Boy, was I wrong! 

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The Uncut Gems Podcast – Episode 43 (Hackers) and Episode 44 (Johnny Mnemonic)

In the last two episodes of the show (apologies for bundling them together here, but it almost works out because both movies discussed in these episodes are from the same year) we continued to circle The Matrix by jumping back in time and examining some of the movies that may have inadvertently served as parts of the cultural template upon the Wachowski film that indubitably reshaped the blockbuster landscape.  

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The Card Counter (2021)

Focus Features

Over the course of his long and illustrious career, though peppered with at least a handful of controversial works, Paul Schrader has continually revisited – be it as a director or only in screenwriting capacities – the theme of a tormented man on a mission. From Blue Collar to Hardcore and even recently to First Reformed, and even his collaborations with Martin Scorsese (Taxi DriverThe Last Temptation of Christ and Raging Bull) many of his movies fit together thematically. 

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The Ingenious Unsettling Ambiguity of John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN

Some movies scare you in the moment. Some startle you. Some disturb with graphic imagery. Truth be told, a good majority of movies that actively set out to do such things and succeed, suffer from diminishing returns in this regard because once we adjust to what they are trying to achieve, attune ourselves accordingly and allow our brains to turn down their sensitivity, they lose their magic touch. We can anticipate when the jump scares are coming and over time graphic violence or gory imagery makes less and less of an impact.  

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The Wes Craven Retrospective: Invitation to Hell (1984)

1984 was quite a busy year for Wes Craven who managed to release three films at that time: A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes 2 and Invitation to Hell, the latter of which was a made-for-TV project he did not have a hand in writing. Similarly to how I felt about his 1978 outing Summer of Fear, a movie-of-the-week thriller with Linda Blair, I was immediately asking the very fundamental question of why Wes Craven – busy as he was – would ever decide to re-enter the world of television.

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Last Night in Soho (2021)

Film4

Over the course of his entire career, Edgar Wright has been interested in exploring ideas surrounding nostalgia, clinging onto the past and dealing with changing life circumstances, all hidden within hyper-stylized genre experiments functioning as nostalgic love letters to movies Wright grew up watching. Admittedly, this idea of wrapping nostalgia around nostalgia is what gave Shaun of the DeadHot Fuzz and – quite frankly – nearly all of his movies their particular charm and convinced the audiences not only to let themselves be taken onto these wild adventures, but also perhaps tickled their own nostalgic glands. After all, we all know someone who failed to grow up, maybe we can’t part ways with our favourite pub, or maybe we all know what it’s like to come back to our hometown after many years to see how the place changed and how we no longer fit in there despite our memories telling us we should be able to. 

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