COMPETITION: ‘Kin’ / Mogwai Merch Bundle

Thanks to our friends at Lionsgate UK, our latest competition is for a Kin / Mogwai Merch Bundle which includes:

  • Kin DVD
  • Kin Soundtrack CD by Mogwai
  • Signed Mogwai 12×12 alternative Kin LP artwork print

KIN - DVD, Print, CD.jpg

To enter, simply be sure you’re following us on Twitter and retweet the below tweet:

14-year-old Eli (Myles Truitt) lives in Detroit with his father Hal (Dennis Quaid). On the eve of his estranged brother Jimmy’s (Jack Reynor) return from prison, Eli breaks into an abandoned building site, where he stumbles upon the aftermath of an intense shoot out and a mysterious otherworldly weapon hidden amongst the rubble…

Back at home, Jimmy’s arrival causes trouble for the family as he struggles to pay back local gangster Taylor (James Franco), the man who kept him alive inside. After a disastrous attempt to secure money ends in tragedy, Jimmy hits the road with Eli in tow. Chased by a criminal gang bent on revenge, it turns out that Eli’s weapon brings a much more dangerous set of pursuers, who may not be from this world. With an all-star cast and a stunning soundtrack from Mogwai, Kin blends sci-fi and action in a slick, stylish thriller about family, loss and corruption.

Starring Jack Reynor (Free Fire), Zoë Kravitz (Mad Max: Fury Road), Carrie Coon (Avengers: Infinity War), with Dennis Quaid (The Day After Tomorrow), and James Franco (127 Hours), and introducing newcomer Myles Truitt.

Directed by Jonathan & Josh Baker and based on their award-winning short film ‘BAG MAN’. Produced by Shawn Levy & Dan Cohen (Stranger Things), and Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther).

Kin: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Mogwai.

Available now on Digital with DVD & Blu-ray 26 December

REVIEW: Doctor Who (Series 11)

Written by Ryan Morris

Doctor Who underwent its most notable change yet in 2018 as Jodie Whittaker became the Doctor. What was apparent almost immediately was that Jodie Whittaker became the Doctor, making the role her own instantly and effortlessly. Like a bolt from the blue (box), Whittaker’s charm and energy revitalised a show that many would argue needed revitalising – I’m not sure I join that crowd personally, but I appreciated Whittaker’s entry and the show’s change in format nonetheless. But, as fans of this show know quite firmly, a good Doctor is only one component of a good Doctor Who, and never before has this been so apparent than in Series 11.

Of course, Whittaker wasn’t the only big change to Doctor Who this year: we also gained a new showrunner. Chris Chibnall, of Torchwood and Broadchurch fame, took over the writers’ reins after Steven Moffat stepped down following Series 10. It was hard not to feel a slight degree of uncertainty when Chibnall’s name was announced, most notably because his former Doctor Who track record was worryingly uneven, to say the least. Where Moffat had “The Empty Child”, “The Girl in the Fireplace”, “Blink” and “Silence in the Library” under his belt before he joined – all the most acclaimed stories of their respective seasons, bear in mind – Chibnall was coming off a run of episodes like “42”, “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” and “The Power of Three”. It didn’t exactly fill me with confidence, but due to the strengths of his other projects, I was willing to give Chibnall the benefit of the doubt.

Alas, maybe my worries weren’t so misguided after all. Doctor Who’s eleventh series was a frustrating one for a number of reasons, but the uneven nature of its episodes is perhaps the one that strikes me the most. Across the 10 episode run – the shortest for any series of this iteration of the show – Chibnall is listed as a writer on six of them, which would lead you to expect a kind of synergy across the series. We were made aware well before the new run started that a long-term story arc was out of the question this year, a perfectly welcome alteration, but it has inadvertently resulted in a series of television that could, bar a few episodes, be watched in any order and fail to develop as it moves forward.

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We’ll begin both at the end and the start. Series 11’s finale, “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos”, was a style over substance extravaganza that tied directly back into the series premiere, “The Woman Who Fell to Earth”. In both episodes, Whittaker’s Doctor makes it very clear that she will not kill the tooth-faced baddie at the helm of the wrong goings-on, and yet her approach to this in the finale doesn’t feel all that different from her approach in the premiere. If you played these episodes back to back, it would be hard to tell a full series had passed in between. Whittaker’s incarnation of the Doctor demonstrates in both episodes that she helps people not because it’s expected of her or because she’s being asked, but because it’s the right thing to do. These are noble foundations on which to build her character, and Whittaker nails the emotion to it beautifully, but it’s tough to feel as if they’re more than that right now. Foundations. That’s perfectly fine for a series premiere, but less so for a finale.

Increasing the companion roster to three was also a frustrating move, as poor Yaz (played with gusto and heart by Mandip Gill) frequently felt sidelined in favour of the grandfather/grandson bond of Graham and Ryan (Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole, respectively). Graham and Ryan’s relationship has been a highlight of the series, a predictable yet undeniably affecting story of two men brought together by a woman they lost (wife and grandmother Grace, we still miss you). While their arc again seemed to disappear in the middle chunk of the series, it managed to resolve nicely, with the last two episodes, in particular, shining a light on them at first individually in the penultimate episode and then collectively come the finale. There wasn’t a viewer in the country who didn’t know where their emotional journey was headed, but that didn’t make it any less touching, mostly due to how strong Walsh has been this series. A performance of heart and humour, watching him has been a delight.

And this leaves us with Yaz. Poor, under-utilised Yaz. Besides series highlight “Demons of the Punjab”, Yaz really wasn’t given all that much to do. While I, and I think everyone watching the show, appreciated the decision not to connect Yaz and Ryan romantically, it was hard not to feel as if Yaz didn’t quite click with the rest of the TARDIS Team this year. She remains easily watchable – again, Gill plays the role very well – but pinpointing a specific area of her personality or purpose within any given story is a difficult task. I could probably count a good four or five episodes this series in which Yaz doesn’t really contribute a whole lot, as Chibnall expanded the character roster but never really served up the stories to justify such a decision.

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Which brings us to the episodes themselves. While I’m not sure anything here ranks with the show’s very worst offerings, there’s still an annoyingly high number of instalments that just didn’t register in ways we would’ve wanted them to. “The Ghost Monument” was a fun diversion but didn’t have the energy to sustain itself, “Arachnids in the U.K.” was an engaging little mystery ultimately riddled with so many plot holes and flat characters that it will unquestionably flatline on a revisit, “The Tsuranga Conundrum” served up a frantic first half and capped it off with a laughably misjudged alien monster and a scattershot resolution, while series low point “The Witchfinders” never coalesced its ideas into anything engaging, meaningful or even entertaining. There’s a notable lack of consequence to all of these episodes, with far too many stories this series landing on a moment that revealed the terrifying threat to be little more than misunderstood or barely even a threat at all. That’s fine on occasion – the entirely monster-less “Listen” is my favourite episode of the show, after all – but building a full series on this kind of narrative risks straying too far away from what makes Doctor Who so enjoyable.

At the risk of sounding too negative, Series 11 still served up some good, occasionally great stuff. “Kerblam!” was messy and scattershot but so committed to its cause it was impossible not to get swept up in, “Rosa” tackled a delicate true story with deep emotion and real suspense, and “Demons of the Punjab” turned the series’ reliance on misunderstood monsters into something wholly unique and genuinely moving. “It Takes You Away”, the series’ strongest episode by a wide margin, twisted a conventional cabin in the woods story into something brilliantly bizarre. An inter-dimensional saga of grief and loss tied together by a void between universes and television’s most heartbreaking frog. It was perhaps the only episode this series that felt surprising, even risky. Doctor Who took a huge gamble with its first female Doctor, and it’s a shame most of her scripts couldn’t quite reflect that.

Waiting for this series of Doctor Who felt agonising, and was it worth the wait? I’m not sure right now. A trio of great episodes certainly help matters – “Rosa”, “Demons of the Punjab” and “It Takes You Away” are stories I can’t wait to dive back into again – but the swarm of middling instalments surrounding them makes a revisit to the series seem off-putting. Whittaker herself has been a joy to watch, she’s captured the spirit of the show impeccably, but I still feel as if I’m waiting for stories that allow her to fully flex her acting muscles. Perhaps when Doctor Who returns in early 2020, Chibnall will be of a renewed confidence and a willingness to give his core cast a little bit more to do. This cast and these have characters have all the potential in the world – in the universe, even – and all we can do is hope that when Doctor Who comes back, it’s ready to utilise that.

 

REVIEW: Ian (Short)

Directed by: Abel Goldfarb
Written by: Gaston Gorali

Written by Jessica Peña

Inspired by the real life story of Ian, a young boy who was born with cerebral palsy, Abel Goldfarb’s animated short film about the titular boy is a sweet and profound revelation, even for a child’s perspective, where its strength lies. It tells of a boy’s struggle to make friends at the playground, using unique stop-motion animation and CGI to bring Ian’s obstacles, the mobile and emotional, to life. It’s a push for awareness through universal imagery and only invites kindness into the world around it, as portrayed in Ian’s will to connect. Just shy of ten minutes, this endearing short film is of the firm belief that misconceptions and stigmas, especially at a young age, can be diminished in the face of benevolence.

Discrimination to Ian’s incapacitation and bullying keep him at bay when all he wants is to play with the kids in the gated off playground. He musters up the courage to integrate himself with the others, hanging by shyly, until he’s suddenly whisked away into the wind and back through the gates, shattering into little blocks and reforming back to his wheelchair. This happens a few times, Ian will peek the chances to feel normal, be perceived by the kids as such, and play with no limitations, but inclusion doesn’t need to come at a cost to Ian’s identity.

Eventually the kids, one by one, begin to notice him and lend a hand so he can stay without his wheelchair (before getting pulled toward the fences once more), but that’s far from the point of what the animated short is trying to communicate. It’s not exactly Ian’s determined bravery that finally wins the other kids over, but it’s the integration of putting yourself out there and freeing yourself of those doubts, not to be overshadowed. This closely works as a teaching moment for the younger audience as it smoothes out the social divide kids sometimes make around that age. This film means so much more when it comes to the mentality of young children. It’s easy for them to pick sides, brush others off, be occupied with their own matters and games, and so Ian’s ability to socialize and play with his able-bodied peers suffers…but it doesn’t have to. When kids interact and spend time with each other, the companionship is equivalent to acceptance with no barriers.

And speaking of barriers, Goldfarb’s short is without spoken dialogue, a creative decision that welcomes the interpretation of other backgrounds. Produced by Oscar winner and two-time Emmy winner Juan José Campanella, this small story for a better tomorrow brings you down to the bare pillars of humanity, lending a hand of its own to shatter petty judgement worldwide. Lack of knowledge and awareness about the condition even in the country of Argentina raises action for change, backed by an organization that’s willing to plant the effort in.

A 2019 Oscar-qualifier for Animated Short, Ian is doing well to win the hearts of Academy voters and audiences alike. Released from Argentina with the help and funding of companies and nonprofits like Mundoloco CGI and Fundación Ian, an organization that raises awareness and further enriches the lives of children with cerebral palsy, the short film is all-embracing to understanding. In part due to its absence of spoken words, the short emphasizes to the viewers just how far kindness, understanding, and patience can cross the fences of discrimination and bullying, especially in the lives of our children who are so perceptive to these behaviors. The film’s description says it best: Inclusion is vital for our society, it makes us richer, more diverse and more just.

Jessica’s Verdict

5

Brand New ‘Godzilla II: The King Of Monsters’ Stomps Its Way Online

Following the global success of “Godzilla” and “Kong: Skull Island” comes the next chapter in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ cinematic MonsterVerse, an epic action adventure that pits Godzilla against some of the most popular monsters in pop culture history. The new story follows the heroic efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species—thought to be mere myths—rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.

Directed by: Michael Dougherty

Cast: Bradley Whitford, Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, Sally Hawkins, Kyle Chandler, O’Shea Jackson Jr.

Release Date: May 31st, 2019

Netflix Release First Trailer For J.C. Chandor’s ‘Triple Frontier’

“Make no mistake, this is not a military operation. See Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal attempt to rob one of the world’s most violent cartels in Triple Frontier — on Netflix and in select theaters. Coming this March.”

 

Directed by: J.C. Chandor

Cast: Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal

Release Date: March 2019

JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)

Directed by: Vincente Minnelli
Cast: Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien, Mary Astor

Written by Jo Craig

If arguing the great Die Hard debate, rebelling against Saint Nicholas by siding with Krampus under the fairy lights, or hearing Catherine O’Hara scream “Kevin!” for the four hundredth time tickles your tinsel, then a slight change from the rogues’ gallery of festive films could still supply enough nostalgic comfort to put the cream in your cocoa this winter. Aside from hosting one of the more classic Christmas tunes that leaves no eye dry, Vincente Minnelli’s 1940 musical, Meet Me in St. Louis, remains a mother/daughter tradition in my house that can never be skipped in December, under the threat of no brandy trifle from said matriarch.

Judy Garland’s second big break after The Wizard of Oz puts Esther Smith and her siblings through the rollercoaster of large family dramas, social frivolities accompanied by infectious singalongs and melodramatic romances that oozes just enough glowing hyperbole to remind you of its time period. As a kid, I was convinced Minnelli’s first major directing gig ran for over three hours as – at that age – a 40’s family drama/musical wasn’t The Grinch and came as more of a duty to sit through. Nowadays, the runtime has cut by half in my mind and I’m always sorry to see the Smith’s story end.

Based on a book by novelist Sally Benson and her family experiences, St. Louis infuses the airy premise with strong flavours of family bonding and loyalty that are always enhanced around the holidays. With the story broke into four acts – summer, fall, winter and spring – we witness the Smith girl’s long hot summer and their dance with romance featuring the feel-good Trolley Song that on set diva Garland managed to nail in one take. It is still not known how they survived in those curtain dresses. A memorable autumnal act tells us the little-known tradition of children who throw flour into the faces of a feared neighbour on All Hallows Eve, emphasising Minnelli’s talent at saturating each of the four acts with the pertaining seasons defining features.

Minnelli also segregates the Smith family into parents, teens and children to tell their individual stories in the narrative and effectively joins them in their times of need to convey their unity. The parents focus on the responsibilities and well-being of the family, creating a cathartic arc in the story when they threaten their family’s stability by planning to move from St. Louis to New York against their children’s wishes. Meanwhile, the teens focus on their social and romantic status’ and generally remain footloose and fancy-free. The interesting perspective is the children’s, especially the youngest sibling, cheeky Tootie (Margaret O’Brien) who’s mischief is tracked with Minnelli’s low camera angles that allow the viewer to witness her adventures from a child’s height, particularly visible in the Halloween scene.

One year in the life of the Smith family has its laughs, theatrics and singalongs, but the real sucker punch to the feels is the famous scene when Garland’s Esther sings Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas before the family has to uproot and move town. Garland apparently protested for the final line of the song to be removed – as it previously read, “Have yourself a merry little Christmas, it may be your last.” – and while this poignant moment in the film is relevant to that closing statement, Garland thought this was just a touch too sombre.

If by the end of Meet Me in St. Louis you don’t feel festively fulfilled or compelled to interact or reconnect with your family, then you are simply not human and are genuinely missing out on the tenderness that this hidden gem holds. The Christmas sequence is a heartfelt and memorable moment in cinematic history that is renowned for warming each and every heart cockle, even if Garland’s headscarf will constantly remind you of bubble wrap.

Sony Release First Trailer for Superhero Horror ‘BrightBurn’

“What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister? With Brightburn, the visionary filmmaker of Guardians of the Galaxy and Slither presents a startling, subversive take on a radical new genre: superhero horror.”

Directed by: David Yarovesky

Cast: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones, and Meredith Hagner

Release Date: 24th May 2019

WOAH! A ‘Crash Team Racing’ Remaster Is Coming!

Written by Megan Williams

The Game Awards 2018 was streamed live on Twitch and YouTube on the 6th December. The awards ceremony celebrates achievements in some of the past year’s video games, as well as give the public an insight into upcoming games. Out of all the trailers shown, there was a particular one that I was anticipating: ‘Crash Team Racing’.

Originally released in 1999 for the PlayStation One, ‘Crash Team Racing’ was the last ‘Crash Bandicoot’ game that was developed by Naughty Dog. As of writing, the game has sold over 5 million copies in Japan, Europe and the USA.

Rumours regarding a remaster started circulating via Twitter two days before the ceremony, when the manager for the PlayStation Access channel, Hollie Bennet, tweeted a photo of a pair of orange dice that she had received. This came with a note from an ‘anonymous’ source that read: ‘Sliding into the Game Awards on 6/12’. Immediately, fans stated that ‘sliding’ referred to the racing move within the game, which is used to get around tight corners and U-turns on the game’s various racing tracks. Furthermore, the dice represented Crash’s colourful appearance, as well as being an item that is typically known to be hung around the rear-view mirror of a car.

Well, on the 6th December, these rumours were confirmed as a reveal trailer for ‘Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled’ was shown…and it looks incredible!

Beenox Games will be taking the wheel this time in developing the game, and have built it ‘from the ground up’ according to Activision. The trailer gives us a glimpse of some of the tracks as well as staple characters to the franchise, including Crash and Coco Bandicoot and their enemy Neo Cortex.

It also looks like the game is going to give us another favourite past-time: offline multiplay! This feature is scarce nowadays, with the popularisation of online multiplayer, so I’m happy to see that this feature will not get removed. The game will have online play but, as someone who does not play online multiplayer games, I am glad that the offline option will still be available.

Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled’ will be released on 21st June 2019 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Just in time for its 20th anniversary!

JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Directed by: Jeremiah Chechik
Cast: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki, John Randolph, Diane Ladd

Written by Chris Gelderd

This 1989 Christmas comedy is directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik and the third instalment in National Lampoon’s Vacation film series. The film stars Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki.

With Christmas only weeks away, proud family man Clark Griswold (Chase) is determined to host the perfect family Christmas. It doesn’t take long to convince supportive wife Ellen (D’Angelo) and children Audrey (Lewis) and Rusty (Galecki) that he will have his work cut out with his vision far from reality.

Welcoming the family after a few slight hiccups, including finding a Christmas tree and getting the decorations to work, the Griswolds are united for a good-old-fashioned family Christmas. With bickering in-laws and clashes over who sleeps where things are going as expected.

But when Clark is under pressure to receive his annual Christmas bonus to fund the family swimming pool, and also welcome the surprise of his redneck cousin-in-law Eddie (Quaid) and family, the perfect Christmas soon starts to unravel in a series of chaotic, mad-cap and dangerous events that will test them all in sticking it out together…

From obtaining a Christmas tree out in the wilderness, to wiring up the thousands of decorative lights to the house and scheduling in the Christmas dinner all around the expectant delivery of his annual work Christmas bonus, events all seem to take an upside downturn and it just makes the family more determined than ever to soldier through and really make this Christmas the greatest ever!

Set around the Griswold home, this could be the greatest Christmas film ever. No need for fantastical special effects, sweeping magical stories or epic adventures; this is a film we all can relate to and provides all of the warm humour and comedy from situations we have experienced in setting up for the Christmas season, which is why it works so well. The Griswold’s are a likeable bunch and they invite you in from the start to share the holiday with them and experience every annoyance, irk and frustration we too have had over the years.

Working in the film’s favour as always is the straight delivery of some classic lines from the actors as they create the most memorable American family since the Walton’s, and they work together so well with a great festive script to seal the deal.

This is my perfect Christmas film for all the right reasons and with crackling comedy and a feel-good festive message running throughout, this is one you can’t help but love to re-watch every year and be thankful your Christmas holiday isn’t as disastrous as the Griswold’s.