In a brand new segment from our resident reviewer, Scott Wilson, we take a look at the latest films hitting the big screen
WONDERING what’s good at the movies this week? Look no further: we’ve already sent out reviewer Scott Wilson to take a look and bring back his verdicts.
Logan – ★★★★☆
Logan (Hugh Jackman) has a habit of begrudgingly being dragged into situations rather than make the first move, and that’s no different here, but where before he refused because he didn’t care or couldn’t be bothered, this Logan is battered and bloodied, physically unable to keep up.
He and Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) are elderly shades of the people they were at the height of their powers.
Xavier is communicating mentally with the young Laura (Dafne Keen), determined as always to protect those hunted because of their differences. After a bloody massacre, Logan turns into Hanna as the trio attempt to keep their heads down while searching for safety.
A warm home welcomes Logan and his companions, something which his anger and lack of self-worth have kept him from having. This sense of a lost and misspent life is prevalent, as the ageing X-Men come to terms with what they have done, and what they have missed out on.
Jackman completely unleashes Wolverine, fully realising a character he has spent almost 20 years cultivating. Restrained by age-certificates until now, this 15-rated film dispenses with filters on violence and language, allowing this interpretation of Logan to turn it up to 11.
Far from just a swearier and bloodier Marvel film, this is one for the grown-ups, with issues of mortality, violence towards minorities, and collateral damage in war taking centre stage.
Dafne Keen is excellent as the stoic and aggressive, yet still childlike, Laura. It’s a visual performance due to her silence for much of the film, and her expressions and attitude nail the character as she is – just another bloody Wolverine.
One of the strongest entries in the X-Men series, Logan gives familiar faces greater depth, is maturely paced, and earns its adult tone allowing it to navigate fresh territory.
If this is Jackman’s last outing as the titular hero, then it’s a strong entry to bow out on.
Certain Women – ★★★★☆
Certain Women follows certain women doing certain things. Laura Dern’s Laura has been putting up with a client’s protestations for eight months, believing he’s been ripped off by a settlement; Michelle Williams’ Gina is undermined and undervalued despite leading the way with plans to build a home for her family; Lily Gladstone’s Jamie is a lone rancher who attends a night class about school law taught by Kristen Stewart’s Beth.
That is, in essence, it – this is a chilly slowburn with shots of landscapes throughout that are as still as the movement of the film. Like a painting, Certain Women wants you to feel more than think, despite the first two strands having plenty to say about the way women are treated in the workplace and in the family unit.
Laura is never taken as seriously as she ought to be, and her client treats her like both a partner and a mother. Gina is the brains behind the operation and the glue holding her family together, with no acknowledgements of gratitude and just as much help.
It’s the third strand about Jamie and Beth that shines. It’s tough to supress the notion that the whole film should have revolved around the unspoken space between these two characters.
Everything exists in subtext, and it’s a credit to Gladstone and Stewart that these scenes are so captivating when next to nothing happens. Gladstone in particular is magnetic – her repetitive routine at the ranch is mundane, and there are a few too many shots of her on the commute, but there’s a sense she could be watching paint dry and it’d be impossible to look away.
Everything that happens in Certain Women could be summed up in the space of a single tweet, so its success relies upon a connection between film and viewer. That’s even riskier when it’s a film split into three strands, asking not only for a single connection, but multiple.
The first two are cold and clinical; relatable and provoking, sure, but the feelings that last past the credits are all in that final strand, making the run up worth the wait.
I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore – ★★★☆☆
Macon Blair’s starring role in Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin has led to this, his directorial debut.
Thematically similar, yet wholly different in tone, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore follows Ruth (Melanie Lynskey) as she seeks revenge on those who burgled her home. Clearly out of her depth, she enlists the help of a bizarre neighbour (Elijah Wood) who possesses martial arts weaponry and loads of heavy metal posters.
Like Blue Ruin, this is about taking matters into your own hands even if those hands are wildly unsuited to the job. It deviates by balancing this low-key vengeance-driven narrative with humour bordering on slapstick.
Each comedic moment of absurdity shatters the realism of Ruth’s revenge – the jarring tone feels like a second-rate Edgar Wright, a director who manages to make everything mad that happens in his films make sense within those worlds without sacrificing emotion or humour.
I Don’t Feel at Home, on the other hand, expects the hunt for the burglars to emotionally engage its audience, while also taking the mick out of those leading the hunt. It misses the mark on the laugh front, but also devalues our stake in the protagonists.
Blue Ruin’s visceral premise provoked empathy and a morally ambiguous catharsis, but when it’s punctuated by silly gags, it’s easy to emotionally shut off.
Ruth’s nihilism may be her drive, tipping her over the edge when life deals her one too many bad hands. She faces sexist bureaucracy in the shape of the police, who are both quick to dismiss her and to turn to her for emotional comfort.
When the film focuses on her bleak worldview, there’s something refreshing about justifying her grassroots vigilantism by having her simply say enough is enough.
It’s not bad, but it is tonally disorientating, meaning the laughs don’t quite work and the main plot is difficult to invest in. Some interesting ideas and good work from its two main leads just about make it a worthwhile watch, but I Don’t Feel at Home aims to be a number of things and never quite reaches the heights of any of them.
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