Shiva Baby (2020)

Emma Seligman’s feature debut Shiva Baby is a movie that stays with you. Despite its overall brevity (seventy-seven minutes start-to-finish), a darkly comedic tone and an extremely immediate approach to filmmaking, it is likely to linger somewhere in the back alleys of your subconsciousness, and it doesn’t matter if you fall into the film’s target demographic. 

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Promising Young Woman (2020)

My mum used to say a cow that moos a lot doesn’t give much milk. It was her own clever way of saying ‘all wind, no trousers’, a summary judgment on people who talk a big game but when it comes to putting their money where their mouths are, all they can supply is copious amounts of disappointment. Well, let’s just say that Promising Young Woman is a cow that moos a lot.  

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A Quiet Place Part II (2020)

When A Quiet Place opened in 2018, it became a bit of an overnight phenomenon thanks to the refreshing cinematic experience it provided. The Internet was abuzz with accounts of eerily silent screenings devoid of the usual sounds of patrons munching on popcorn, slurping their over-sized beverages or making a pigsty out of their immediate surroundings with nacho-overloaded plates. The wonders of word-of-mouth marketing bolstered by viral tweets made A Quiet Place into an anxiety-inducing cinematic ride.  

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Possessor (2020)

I don’t do this too often, but before I sat down to summarize my thoughts on Possessor, I looked at a bunch of reviews, specifically in search of people who saw this movie from an angle similar to mine. And I have to say that – bar one or two isolated examples where someone briefly mentioned what I think is the main thesis of this film – mostly everyone was busy looking for other things. 

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Understanding Michael Haneke – Funny Games (2007)

I honestly don’t know how to review this film without repeating myself wholesale, because it is an exact carbon copy of its 1997 original. Therefore, if you’re after my thoughts on what this film says about us as a society and how Haneke masterfully teaches us about the illusion of safety provided by financial wealth, I refer you to my review of that film. Instead, I think it might be a good opportunity to use the fact these two films are nearly identical twins to see them as an experiment proving auteur theory exists.  

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Palm Springs (2020)

Even though Max Barbakow and Andy Siara, who co-wrote the screenplay to this film with the former taking on the responsibility of a director, were allegedly inspired by Jungian psychology and driven by their love for self-aware mumblecore comedy, it is impossible to escape the simple fact that the biggest inspiration imprinted on Palm Springs is the Harold Ramis-directed irreverent classic, Groundhog Day… among others within this genre.  

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The Dissident (2020)

On the 2nd of October 2018, the news travelled the globe at the speed of light about a man who went into a Saudi consulate and was never heard from again. In the hours and days that followed, I am sure we have all been paying attention – to a varying degree – at how this crisis unfolded. After all, stuff like this doesn’t happen every day and when it does, it often evades public scrutiny. As it quickly turned out, all speculations were true. Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered and dismembered in a Saudi consulate, likely at the orders coming from the very top of the government. And I am equally certain that many of us were asking the same questions: who the hell was this man? Why was he important? And why should I care? 

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Peninsula (2020)

Ahh, the age-old question: how do you make a zombie film series feel fresh? (pun intended). Funny as it may be, nobody seems to have an answer to this question. Sure, there have been some great examples of that (e.g. Dawn of the Dead) but the statistical sample is still too small to give any hints as to how filmmakers should approach following up on successful zombie films without sliding into a groove of repeatability or leaving the spirit of the original film at the door.  

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22 July (2018)

22 July was released in 2018, a little more than seven years after the barbaric terrorist attack perpetrated by Anders Breivik, which claimed the lives of seventy-seven people, injured well over two hundred and – one way or another – affected the lives of all Norwegians. Written and directed by Paul Greengrass who has had a long-standing interest in exploring tragic and politically-relevant events in film (Bloody SundayUnited 93 and Captain Phillips), this film has attracted a rather lukewarm critical reception, which immediately invites a question as to why that was.  

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Greyhound (2020)

At this point I am not exactly sure what the problem with Greyhound is, especially having been made aware of the rather lukewarm reception it got when it was originally released. Granted, it was most assuredly hurt by the raging pandemic and some have perhaps indicated they would be interested in seeing how their perception of this film would change if they had the opportunity to watch it in a theatrical setting. And I don’t think I agree with it being the case. In fact, I’d venture a guess that the most abundant piece of criticism levelled at this film would involve pointing out the shortcomings of its scale.  

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