Stan & Ollie (2019) – Well, here’s another nice movie you’ve gotten me into!

Released: 21st February
Seen: 21st February

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When you look back through the history of cinema there are only a few performers who can truly be considered icons. One of the biggest icons in the history of cinema is Laurel & Hardy, a comedy duo who made over 100 films together over the course of about two decades where they basically were the biggest names in comedy. Their partnership started almost by accident, the two of them were part of the old Hollywood system that signed people up to contracts that kept them working for years and turned them into one of the most iconic duos in history. It was almost inevitable that some portion of their lives was going to be turned into a biopic, as it seems Hollywood loves to tell stories about itself. Of all the stories that could’ve been told, the one they picked was absolutely perfect.

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If Beale Street Could Talk (2019) – Let Them Talk

Released: 7th February
Seen: 18th February

If Beale Street Could Talk Info

In America today, one of the major issues is the way people are shuttled through the prison system, specifically people of colour. Thanks to a large amount of systemic racism that poisoned the prison system, African Americans now make up over a third of the prison population while only making up roughly a tenth of the American population. For me to go further into the details of what this means would be a pointless aside, though if you want the full context you’re going to need for this film then I suggest watching the amazing (and should’ve been Academy Award winning) documentary 13th on Netflix. The story of the prison system and what it has done to black American’s is the backdrop for If Beale Street Could Talk and while you might not need that bit of knowledge, it will make the film a richer experience.

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On the Basis Of Sex (2019) – Notorious

Released: 7th February

Seen: 18th February

On The Basis Of Sex Info

When the history of the fight for women’s rights is written, a solid chunk of that book will inevitably revolve around Ruth Bader Ginsburg, current Justice of the Supreme Court and (hopefully) owner of the philosopher’s stone that will grant her immortality so that she may survive for another millennium. She is, unquestionably, one of the key figures in the women’s rights movement and it seemed inevitable that her rise from law student to Supreme Court Justice would be turned into a biopic at some point, and it got one in the form of On The Basis of Sex.

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Ben Is Back (2019) – Mmmkay

Released: 31st January
Seen: 13th February

Ben Is Back

Every day in the United States, 130 people die from an overdose of opioids. Brought on by the pharmaceutical companies pushing painkillers that turned out to be highly addictive, this crisis has raged on through several communities and destroyed countless lives. While the phrase “Gateway drug” is one usually associated with pot, it should probably be used for opioids exclusively since (According to this piece by the National Institute on Drug Abuse) 80% of heroin users started by misusing prescription opioids. This is an absolute crisis that was inevitably going to be touched on by some form of media other than a documentary. So, how did Ben is Back handle this topic? Pretty well, to be honest.

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Cold Pursuit (2019) – The Plow King

Released: 8th February
Seen: 8th February

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When I was picking what film to go see this week, I put a poll up on my twitter account to ask what to see out of the multiple options available at my local cinema. The movies available to choose from were On The Basis Of Sex, Cold Pursuit and Ben Is Back. By the end of the poll, it was a tie between Cold Pursuit and Ben Is Back. A randomiser then picked the winner, so it’s not my fault that I went to see Cold Pursuit, it was fate… horrible, horrible fate

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Escape Room (2019) – Get Me Out Of Here

Released: 7th February
Seen: 4th February (Advanced Screening)

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In 1997 there was a film released called Cube, a glorious little horror film about six strangers waking up in a cube that turned out to be part of a gigantic maze. During the 90’s horror resurgence this was one of the big markers of change, showing you could basically create a tense powerful horror film that relied on people being intelligent instead of just being the dumb jock and the virgin girl. They also dealt with things like suspicion, doubt and the general fear that comes from not knowing which room is going to carve you up into tiny pieces like a box-shaped blender, creating a sense of tension that built every time they would enter a new room and find a new math puzzle. That’s right, it’s a horror film and everyone tries to save themselves with complicated mathematics. It’s a genuinely brilliant thrill ride and I highly recommend it… because that’s basically what Escape Room is, except Escape Room wishes that it was as intelligent as Cube was.

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The Mule (2019) – No Relation to Gladys the Groovy

Released: 24th January
Seen: 2nd February

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In 2014, the New York Times printed an article titled “The Sinaloa Cartels 90-year-old Drug Mule” about a man named Leo Sharp who spent around a decade as one of the biggest drug runners for El Chapo. Dubbed Tata (The Grandfather), Leo would drive around the country in an old truck with hundreds of pounds of cocaine in the back. He’d go undetected due to his age, his clean record and by how fragile he could appear. The article itself is a fascinating read, exploring just how a senior citizen could go from being a veteran to transporting potentially thousands of kilos of cocaine. It’s a tale that seems tailor-made to be a movie and I guess Clint Eastwood thought that too because now we get a film about the 90-year-old drug mule and honestly, it’s not that bad.

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