LUXOR – Review by Nikki Baughan

Andrea Riseborough gives a luminescent performance in Zeina Durra’s contemplative, hypnotic Luxor, her talent and poise radiating through the suppressed trauma that leaves her character, Hana, seemingly teetering on the edge of complete breakdown. A medic and aid worker, Hana is in the Egyptian city of Luxor on a much-needed break between assignments, desperately trying to drown out the horrors she has witnessed by immersing herself in the beauty of this spiritual, historical city.

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AMMONITE – Review by Nikki Baughan

British filmmaker Francis Lee follows up his stunning 2017 debut God’s Own Country with this period drama which may be larger in scale, but retains the writer/director’s sensitive attention to detail. The increasingly intimate relationship between 19th century Dorset fossil hunter Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) and convalescing young visitor Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan) may be at the heart of this narrative, but, through this prism, Lee’s screenplay explore themes of gender and sexual oppression that remain painfully recognizable nearly 200 years on from when this story is set.

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ANTIGONE – Review by Nikki Baughan

You don’t have to be familiar with Sophocles’ Greek tragedy to appreciate Sophie Desraspe’s modern retelling as a powerful piece of work. Updating this family drama to French Quebec, and framing it within the claustrophobic confines of the immigrant experience, Desraspe widens out the text to explore contemporary prejudices surrounding race, class and gender.

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PROXIMA – Review by Nikki Baughan

Eva Green gives an absolutely stellar performance in Alice Winocour’s exceptional film. Both Green and Winocour wear Proxima‘s feminist credentials lightly, however. Neither screenplay nor performance act as soapbox; they don’t need to. The message is woven into the fabric of the film, which benefits from some beautiful, textural cinematography from Georges Lechaptois whose camera often rests on intimate moments. That the film’s power lies in these small interactions is indicative of a writer/director at the top of her game.

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ON THE ROCKS – Review by Nikki Baughan

The reteaming of filmmaker Sofia Coppola and star Bill Murray is a tantalising proposition for the many fans of their previous collaborations, such as A Very Murray Christmas (2015) and, of course, Lost in Translation (2003). The two have developed an easy rapport over the years, with Coppola knowing how to let Murray’s charisma shine through without overwhelming everything around him; and that balance, together with the addition of the always-excellent Rashida Jones into the mix, makes On the Rocks a hugely appetising confection.

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THE OLD GUARD – Review by Nikki Baughan

In the hands of director Gina Prince-Bythewood, The Old Guard is a far more subtle and introspective superhero movie than we’re used to seeing. That may have something to do with the fact that it’s a straight-to-streaming Netflix original, but its focus on the emotional and physical toll of saving the world offers a welcome change from the consequence-free carnage that usually heralds the arrival of the summer blockbuster season.

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THE OTHER LAMB – Review by Nikki Baughan

As the audience knows from the off and as Selah comes to realize, this is ultimately a familiar earthbound story of one man’s heinous abuse of power, and the danger of blind faith. And while Selah’s journey to realization and empowerment may not hold many narrative surprises, it’s nevertheless one that commands attention. Powerful performances and a commanding aesthetic make this an arresting watch.

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DARK CITY BENEATH THE BEAT (SXSW)2020 – Review by Nikki Baughan

Baltimore itself is the stage where rappers and poets perform on street corners, dancers hotfoot their way across bridges and through buildings, clubs host sweaty dance-off competitions, where crowds gather to watch those with the best moves crowned King or Queen. And in one poignant sequence, a tulle-clad dancer performs a beautiful mixture of ballet and club moves in the graveyard where Tamika Ray (aka FatGirl), a pioneer of Baltimore dance, lays buried.

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PARADISE HILLS – Review by Nikki Baughan

An off-kilter, steampunk blend of Disney, The Handmaids Tale and The Stepford Wives, writer/director Alice Waddington’s feature debut is entirely as intriguing as that sounds. A visually unique, narratively striking study of society’s attempts to control women, to mold them into an acceptable version of femininity, its determinedly fantastical elements are anchored by its strong themes and excellent performances.

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