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It’s once again something of a blockbuster week, with numerous services uploading grand-scale films both recent, and less so.
There’s also more niche fayre nestled between those tentpole films – particularly one of the strongest films of last year, Amy Seimetz’s She Dies Tomorrow.
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Edge of Tomorrow - Amazon Prime Video
On screen, Tom Cruise has tweaked his stardom to suit what the audience really wants to see of him – his risking life-and-limb to make an action movie, mostly via the ongoing Mission: Impossible franchise. Doug Liman’s time-looping action film Edge of Tomorrow builds on this element of his persona by having us see the superstar die over, and over, and over again.
It’s a surprisingly great synthesis of Cruise’s star persona and video game logic, as every time his smartass character dies, he learns something about how to properly progress with assistance from a cool and ruthless Emily Blunt. Liman finds an extremely satisfying rhythm in making us witness to that incremental change, and even if the film’s antagonists are a little faceless and vague, its clearly blocked action sequences and perfectly-tuned performances keep it feeling fresh.
Aquaman - Amazon Prime Video
Horror franchise mogul and part-time Fast & Furious director James Wan’s contribution to DC’s film catalogue is handily one of its weirdest, and its most appealingly stupid. Wan doubles down on Justice League’s glorious reimagining of the comic book character as a musclebound surfer-bro who “woo-hoo!”/“yeah!!”-s his way through action scenes, is constantly either sleeveless or shirtless, and has an honest-to-god wallet chain adorning his leather pants.
As the lead, Jason Momoa looks like he’s having a hell of a good time, and perfectly meets the film’s delirium on its level. Speaking of which, this follows in the footsteps of Marvel’s Thor and Black Panther with its Shakespeare-lite family squabbles and plots for the throne, all mixed with a kineticism and sincere, straight-faced silliness that the MCU feels as though it often lacks.
All that, and a giant octopus playing the drums. What’s not to love?
Also on Amazon Prime: Magic Mike XXL
The Sisters Brothers - Netflix
Something of an unexpected turn for Jacques Audiard, The Sisters Brothers feels unlike other modern day, revisionist westerns by virtue of its tone and its surprising gentleness and empathy when it comes to its main characters.
Where other westerns are dedicated to showcasing the (very real) brutal fallout of colonial motivations – think The Hateful Eight or Bone Tomahawk – The Sisters Brothers is a little more concerned about creating catharsis for a pair of often contentious brothers as the eponymous brothers, Charlie (Joaquin Phoenix) and Eli (John C. Reilly) reconcile with a trauma from their childhood. It’s refreshing to watch a film of this genre that eschews the typical western themes of vengeance or narratives around the lone gunman — opting instead to focus on the bonds between family, by blood or otherwise.
The relationship between Warm (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Morris (Riz Ahmed) in particular feels tender in a way that westerns often don’t, and the film makes good use of the chemistry that already exists between Gyllenhaal and Ahmed from past work together such as Nightcrawler.
Audiard is still interested in the violent paradoxes of the old west, but The Sisters Brothers presents a grim, dog-eat-dog world with a surprising amount of hope and tenderness.
Singin’ In The Rain - BBC iPlayer
Stanley Dolen and Gene Kelly’s glorious and spellbinding love letter to and gentle satire of Hollywood during its transition to sound film is simply perfect from beginning to end – with miraculous choreography and boatloads of charm to spare.
There’s tremendous, truly astonishing physicality in its performances that’d challenge even the most stony-faced viewer not to smile, it’s funny and corny and visually vibrant. It’d be easy to wax lyrical about this film for a while, but not much more needs to be said about one of the greatest musicals of all time.
Also available on iPlayer: Whiplash, I Got Life
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