“You know those movies where the picture just starts to slow down… and melt? Then catch fire? Well, that’s Berlin.”
Outside of superheroes, Hollywood has struggled to provide us with compelling female-led action movies. Atomic Blonde bucks the trend, though ironically Charlize Theron’s dedicated performance crafts a coldly determined character with whom audiences may struggle to empathise. A Cold War spy thriller with graphic novel roots, the script retains the unusual ability to surprise. Told in flashbacks through an adversarial debriefing, we know that what we are shown may not be the whole truth. James McAvoy’s nihilistic, brazenly duplicitous turn as a deep cover agent is a particular highlight. 1989 Berlin is shot in cool blues infused with splashes of neon colour — it is reminiscent of John Wick, which Leitch co-directed. Everything is familiar then, including the action (a brutal extended fight in a stairwell stands out), but this strange blend of Le Carré and John Wick is presented with a stylish boldness that demands attention.
“If I had a dream that didn’t come true, I could at least be pissed off at the world. Instead I’m just pissed off at myself.”
The third outing for director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody, Tully moves away from overt comedy, instead drawing out humour from the absurd repetitive reality of parenthood. Its grounded first third contains rarely depicted images in quick succession, like an exhausted Marlo attached to a whirring dual breast pump or spilt milk worthy of tears when she forgets to seal a medela bag. However, treating the film solely as a lens on motherhood is somewhat reductive, with its wider commentary on finding a place in the world for the life one has chosen. Unfortunately the story flounders after the halfway mark and its conclusion manages to be both contrived and predictable for a seasoned filmgoer.
“If you must blink, do it now. Pay careful attention to everything you see and hear, no matter how unusual it may seem.”
I have no excuse for my tardiness in catching the latest stop-motion animation from Laika, the studio who produced Coraline. The decision to focus solely on this overlooked art form allows them to develop new technology that drives the medium forward from one film to the next. The scale of some of the puppetry here is incredible, though size can be deceptive on-screen. Strong art direction coupled with stunning lighting separates the film visually from the average family animation, though it is likely to appeal more to older children. The meta-narrative about Eastern storytelling through origami figurines is a nice touch for the beauty of what they physically produced, even if it only remains in ephemeral film.