‘Last Night in Soho’: The Interesting Genre-Bending Film from Edgar Wright

Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho works well to craft a film that just hits its mark as it juggles a lot to present a cohesive film.

CREDIT: Focus Features

3.5/5

Edgar Wright is back on the silver screen after his Academy Award-nominated film, Baby Driver. Yes, it has been four years since the last time we saw something new from the English director known for films such as Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Last Night in Soho like a lot of films released this year was supposed to be released last year but after two delays it finally graced the silver screen. Does this rank up there with the rest of his films? How does the latest Edgar Wright movie stack up against his filmography?

Last Night in Soho is directed by Edgar Wright from a script by Wright and Krysty Wilson-Cairns based on a story by Wright himself. The film stars Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Michael Ajao, Terence Stamp, and Diana Rigg. The film follows Ellie played by McKenzie, as a young adult who lost her mother at a young age going off to fashion school to become a designer in London. Ellie is in love with the music and overall design of the ’60s. She does not really seem to fit in at her dormitory with the other housemates so she seeks out a new living arrangement. Ellie finds herself at a new flat in London that takes her on a journey of visions of 60’s London and an aspiring singer, Sandie. Thus, after an exploration of these visions things start to spiral out of control.

Last Night in Soho works most of the time when it is not juggling a convoluted third act and uneven pacing. The film is shot by Chung Chung-hoon who is well known for collaborating with South Korean auteur, Park Chan-wook. The cinematography works for the film and what it is doing but having someone like Chung-hoon as DP you’d think that it would have more style to it. The performances are fine but of course, Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy give some well nuanced and interesting performances. The story is interesting and Wright trying to bend genres like horror, Giallo, and a drama together makes for an interesting film but it falls under the weight of a lackluster second half. The film explores important themes about the personal agency of victims that deserve their own separate conversation. I commend Wright on basing this part of the film on many victims’ stories that he talked to. If it did not have many problems like its script then this would be another hit from Edgar Wright, but I still recommend people go watch this. It is still very much an Edgar Wright film and fans of that will be satisfied.

Watch Last Night in Soho in theatres and will be available soon on PVOD.

‘Titane’: A Hypnotic Beautiful Film About Family

Julia Docournau’s uncompromising newest film is a beautiful analysis of unconditional love and family.

Courtesy of NEON

5/5

If you know me, you know that I have been eagerly and anxiously awaiting this film. I knew about Julia Docournau’s first film, Raw, and when she won the Palme d’Or my anticipation for Titane shot right up. That first trailer dropped and I could not stop watching it, so before I could get to this film I had to finally check out Docournau’s first film. I loved Raw and hope to write a piece on that very soon. Sadly, I was not able to watch this in the theatre as the closest one stopped showing it after a week and it was too far from me, so I waited until this was finally released for rental/purchase. Of course, France has officially selected the film to be their entry for Best International Feature Film at next year’s Academy Awards. Did Titane crash and burn or was it another strong outing from Julia Docournau?

Titane is written and directed by French Palme d’Or winning director, Julia Docournau. The film stars Agathe Rousselle, Vincent Lindon, Garance Marillier, and Laïs Salameh. Docouranu reunites with her cinematographer from Raw, Ruben Impens. The film also features a score by Jim Williams. Titane looks at the journey of a car model Alexia who has a titanium plate inside her skull after experiencing a car crash at a young age. Throughout the film, we embark on this quest for Alexia to find a chosen family as she escapes the perils of her own personal life. If you know anything about Julia Docournau, you know that this is a body horror film and does not stop to incorporate that into the very foundation of her movie.

Titane is the epitome of cinematic boldness and a truly uncompromising vision that excels on all of its expectations from the get-go. I know it is hard to think about it this way but Titane is beautiful in every single way. The film heavily discusses themes like chosen family, gender identity, and unconditional love. Agathe Rousselle’s performance as Alexia is well thought out even though so aggressive is so easy to sympathize with. She brings so much love and cares for the character that it is so hard to believe she has never acted a day in her life before. Of course, it is not just Rousselle who excels in this but Vincent Lindon is magical and encapsulates an old man who fears growing old in his weakening body. The musical choices for the soundtrack blend so well to continue telling the story of Alexia within the movie. The film’s cinematography is so rich and lit beautifully that truly sets it apart from Raw while keeping true to Docournau’s style.

Titane works well to create a film that will be a big piece of discussion in the coming months leading into the Academy Awards. I am all aboard the Julia Docournau hype train and cannot wait for what comes next in her career. I hope to see Agathe Rousselle in more films because she is truly a talented up-and-coming actress. I am sure that this film will not escape my mind anytime soon. This will definitely receive rewatches as time goes by because it is that damn good of a film.

Watch Titane by renting or purchasing it on most video rental services.

‘The Last Duel’: Does The Truth Set You Free?

Ridley Scott’s newest film is a strong piece of art about the importance of the truth and how others perceive that truth.

CREDIT: 20th Century Studios

4/5

Ridley Scott’s latest film has been released and it is definitely for better or worse making its rounds at the box office. When the film was first announced, audiences were a bit apprehensive given the subject matter of sexual assault. I will admit that I was one of those who was apprehensive but the trailer really sold me on the film. I was able to go watch this at my local theatre on a big screen with some tasty popcorn. Did The Last Duel satisfy or did it disappoint?

The Last Duel is directed by Sir Ridley Scott, written by Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck, and Matt Damon as it adapts The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France by Eric Jager. The film stars Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, and Ben Affleck in a story set in Medieval France as Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) challenge Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) to a duel after Le Gris rapes Carrouges’s wife, Marguerite (Jodie Comer). The duel comes into play because of Le Gris’s close bond with Count Pierre d’Alençon played by Ben Affleck. Scott returns to work with his longtime cinematographer Dariusz Wolski who excels in the visual component of the film. The film has been underperforming at the box office as it competes against its budget of 100 million.

The Last Duel works better than expected and that is truly the most surprising aspect of this interesting structure that calls back to films like Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon. Each chapter has a writer but most importantly, each chapter has a perception of the story and how those in the story are presented. The performances are strong but it is the incredible Jodie Comer who provides us with one of the best performances of the year. Comer carries her character with such poise and nuance that you can feel radiating off the screen. This is not to say that Damon and Driver do not try their best along with Affleck’s odd performance as the Count. The writing is one of its strengths but the pace is a bit dragged in chapter two before we get to the third chapter. Even though the pace is not the best and you definitely feel every minute of this runtime the writing is strong enough to keep us enthralled.

I am sure that Jodie Comer will receive the best actress nomination along with those who worked on the costume and production design of the film. We never know where awards season will go but Comer is definitely a front runner. Do not let the underperformance at the box office steer you away from watching, The Last Duel carefully and respectfully discusses the sexism and presence of rape culture that dates back to Medieval times. We are left with the reminder that even if the victim wins the trial they still carry the weight of the trauma with them long after.

Watch The Last Duel in theatres and there are no words yet about a VOD release yet.

‘Dune’: The Grand Epic We’ve Been Waiting For

Denis Villeneuve’s Dune (2021) is a marvelous cinematic achievement that delivers on everything that it provides to the audience.

CREDIT: WarnerBros

5/5

The long-awaited adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 science fiction novel, Dune, has finally hit the silver screen. What was supposed to be released last year is finally in our hands along with an already confirmed sequel coming October 20th, 2023. You can definitely say that audiences have been eagerly awaiting this film after its multiple delays due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, the film opened in theatres and on HBO Max as part of their day and date release strategy for this year. I had the privilege of being able to watch this film in the beautiful IMAX format at my local AMC theatre, which will live as one of my favorite theatre experiences of all time. Did Denis Villeneuve hit a home run or did the film fail to meet those expectations? Well, let’s talk about my current favorite film of this year.

Dune (2021) is directed by French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049, Arrival, Sicario) and its screenplay is written by Jon Spaihts, Villeneuve, and Eric Roth. This film is the first of hopefully many collaborations between Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Greg Fraiser (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). The film includes an ensemble cast of Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Joseph McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem. I was not kidding it is a stacked ensemble cast that includes some of the biggest names we have right now in the industry. Of course, Denis Villeneuve returns to collaborate with one of if not the greatest composers of all time, Hans Zimmer.

For those who do not know about Dune, the story is set thousands of years into the future specifically 10,191. Paul of House Atreides’ (played by Chalamet) father, Duke Leto Atreides, has been given the planet of Arrakis by the emperor of the known universe. Why is this important? Arrakis is home to the most valuable resource in the universe, the Spice Melange, which is needed for space travel and other aspects. Whoever ends in control of Arrakis ends up in control of the spice has some major power in their hands in the grand scheme of things. Arrakis is of course like most places home to an indigenous group of people called, The Fremen. The story unravels itself into a somewhat confusing at times film but is highly interesting from start to finish.

Dune (2021) is an epic in every sense of the word, from the get-go we are thrust into the story of this film to experience it in every ounce of its cinematic glory. It should be noted that this is the first part of a two-part film. Nevertheless, there was not a single moment where I was not completely invested in the film’s monumental story. The performances are fantastic and some standouts are Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho, Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, and Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides but none of them compare to the incredible emotionally invested performance of Rebecca Fergusson’s Lady Jessica. The cinematography is exquisitely framed and lit. Hans Zimmer’s score is grand and one of the best aspects of this film, the music truly makes you feel like you are in Arrakis with these characters. Denis Villeneuve directs one hell of a film that cuts off at the worst possible moment because you just want to keep watching and experiencing more of this world that he is building. One thing is certain, Part Two cannot get here any sooner. I am invested one hundred percent in this franchise and I am sure that when the sequel arrives Villeneuve will surprise audiences again.

Watch Dune (2021) in theaters and on HBO Max until November 21st.

‘No Time to Die’: A Stunning Conclusion to the Daniel Craig Bond Era

No Time to Die wraps our current Bond era well enough as we say farewell to the films of Daniel Craig.

CREDIT: MGM Studios

4/5

It is finally here after several delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We can finally say that we have watched the final Daniel Craig James Bond performance. Of course, I went to the movie theater for this one and watched it on Cinemark’s awesome XD format. I had my large Coke Zero Sugar along with my large popcorn and I sat on a comfy sat as I enjoyed a movie that I had lost investment in. Yes, that is right I had lost interest in this film because of these constant delays. A long time ago during a time called pre pandemic times this movie was on my most anticipated of 2020 film list. Of course, most of the movies found on the list did not release that year but unlike Dune that has held my interest this one did not keep me “hyped” through its multiple delays. I think that it helped that I was not over the roof excited for this film because this was a pleasant surprise.

This 25th installment of the Bond franchise is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (Sin Nombre, Beasts of No Nation, True Detective) and written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Fukunaga, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag, Killing Eve). The film stars an ensemble cast of Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Christoph Waltz, and Ralph Fiennes. Of course, we know that our road to this film has been bumpy. Originally, this film was set to be directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire) from a script written by him and John Hodge then they left in August of 2018 because of creative differences. Production started in 2019 and Fukunaga replaced Boyle but then Daniel Craig was injured. Once production started again then in June of 2019 an explosion happened that damaged a soundstage damaged and left a crew member with minor injuries. Production wrapped in 2019 and then the pandemic hit in 2020 so we had multiple delays of the film until it finally released in the United States on October 8th. Was it worth the wait? I definitely think that it was.

I quite enjoyed No Time to Die from its stunning cinematographer by Linus Sandgren to the performances and story beats. Of course, Hans Zimmer always does a great job and this score is no different. The story is interesting enough to keep yourself locked in, but I felt there could have been edits made to its runtime of 163 minutes. The film does not need to be this long but I understand we want to soak in as much time we can with Daniel Craig’s final performance as James Bond. Seydoux does a great job reprising her character from Spectre and the chemistry with Craig is there through it all. Malek plays an interesting villain that really gets under the skin of Bond. I did not expect them to do as great as a job they did with his villain but I was surprised at how much his character was well developed. The performances from everyone else were good too but it was Lashana Lynch who truly surprised me and left me wanting more from her. I’m crossing my fingers that we get her back in some sort of role in the next films or as our next iteration of Bond. Ana De Armas’ presence is small but enjoyable, I just wish they would have done more with her.

Other than those minor gripes, No Time to Die beautifully wraps up this era of the Bond films. I love how we feel the presence and the unresolved trauma of the past films in this one. It feels like everything from Casino Royale to Spectre served a purpose to make this version of James Bond we see. It was tough to walk out of this one knowing it was Craig’s final Bond performance but the film does it justice. I am eager to see what this new era of Bond films will bring to the table.

Watch No Time to Die in theaters everywhere.