Princess Mononoke

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Princess Mononoke They're doing a Hayao Miyazaki season at the Cameo, which means lots of gentle, Japanese animé of otherworlds and ethereal environments. Yesterday I went to watch Princess Mononoke (1997), which to my mind is the darkest and most brutal of the Miyazaki offerings. Immediate questions occur in reflection, as they did before I d...
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Unsane

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Unsane A look of distress crossed a friend's face when I talked about the concept of this movie. I understand why even better now. Unsane's premise hints at a film that could go badly wrong, if exploited: of a girl locked up in a psychiatric hospital, who believes her former stalker has followed her there, in fact has found work there, to be with h...
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Saturday Night Party at Valentina's

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Saturday Night Party at Valentina's How is it possible to get lost on the way to Valentina's, of which I've been to twice before? Pulling behind me a suitcase filled with gifts and alcohol, I took a long route up my favourite street, then realized it wouldn't take me to the party. A swirling blizzard soon enveloped me, and I found myself at a motor...
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Mary Magdalene

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Mary Magdalene With mainstream films about Jesus, there's usually a fault line to contend with, between faith and secular interpretations: do you treat Jesus as a secular, historical figure, or the Son of God? Do you show the miracles as real? Or go for ambiguity, showing just enough for an open interpretation to satisfy different audiences? These ...
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What's On?

Jessica-Jones
What's On? They're still showing the Oscar-nominated best films at the Cameo and the Filmhouse. I liked all of them, but not enough to watch any of them again. Meanwhile, Lara Croft's latest iteration is on at the multiplexes. It's received poor reviews, but it's got Alicia Vikander, and a mysterious jungle. I love Alicia Vikander in spite of The D...
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Red Sparrow

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Red Sparrow This was not the film I was expecting, but the one I deserved. I had entered the screening room guessing at a female equivalent of James Bond, with its lead Jennifer Lawrence mixing fantasy and stupid violence. Instead, what I got for my assumptions was the channelling of John le Carre's brutalist Cold War vibe, of torture, double-cross...
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Please, I don't want to dance

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After the cinema yesterday evening, I entered a gay bar with some friends. I never go to gay bars – or any bars, except in cinemas. I get anxious in crowded rooms of strangers, where alcohol is flowing and the music is slightly deafening. Like Alicia Vikander's cyborg in Ex Machina, I feel vulnerable in my artificiality. In the gay bar we were okay...
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What's On?

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What's On? There's only one Oscar favourite I haven't watched so far, the based-on-true events I, Tonya. I remember the original attack on the skater Nancy Kerrigan, and how her rival Tonya Harding was later implicated in the attack (specifically, Harding was found guilty of conspiring to hinder the prosecution). I don't know what Nancy Kerrigan is...
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Identity Politics

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Identity Politics Sunday morning, I dropped £1 into the empty cardboard cup of a homeless person while the snow fell around us. It's the first time I've done such a thing in a while. It didn't make me feel good, it felt like a drop in the ocean. Earlier this week, the staff of my university went on strike. At one point, a picketing staff membe...
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A Fantastic Woman

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It's the most talked about trans movie since the problematic The Danish Girl (2016), but A Fantastic Woman already has superior foundations through its casting and plot. Unlike Eddie Redmayne's depiction of Lili Elbe, the predicament of trans actress Daniela Vega's three-dimensional Marina does not involve a reason or fateful spark to exp...
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The Square

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The Square The trailer made this film fascinating; the two and a half hour cinema experience was a different, restless kettle of fish. The Square is an interesting if overly-long exploration of the managed edginess of a Copenhagen museum exhibition, and how its control – specifically the curator's control – pales to the weird fucked-upnes...
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Anamorphosis

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Anamorphosis On Thursday I went to a public speaking contest where I watched my flatmate get first prize. I was late, turning up in the dinner break, with everyone milling around me, chatting excitedly about talks I hadn't witnessed. I drifted wordlessly, in a gentle trauma where I couldn't articulate anything. I found a friend I hadn't talked to i...
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Lady Bird

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Lady Bird It covers the ground many trans women can't talk about, myself included, and I was reluctant to watch this film, and confront a past narrative that I'll sadly never share. Lady Bird is a coming-of-age movie in which Saoirse Ronan's Christine – aka self-styled Lady Bird – experiences the travails of her senior high school year, with boys a...
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What's On?

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What's On? Wales are playing Ireland in rugby today. I know this is off script for an article that usually focuses on cinema, but occasionally my Welshness gets stirred. Rugby is not the best game in the world. If your team sucks, then there's nothing more demoralizing than watching them get physically overpowered, and as if to stem the flow, commi...
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Black Panther

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Black Panther If Superman were black, would the narrative be different? Like President Obama trying to get things done against a hostile senate, would Superman face resistance and conspiracy theories from Donald Trump, if he were from an inner-city African-American community? Would he still be seen as protector of the people, or threat? These were ...
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The Shape of Water

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The Shape of Water The protagonist doesn't speak, and neither does the one she loves. Her confidante is a single man in late middle age, struggling in vain for work. These are not the heroes you expect, the violence that punctuates the film isn't there to make you swoon in awe. The Shape of Water isn't a movie whose like you will have seen before, ...
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A Shop I Used To Know

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A Shop I Used To Know When you're six foot tall and trans-female, entering a women's clothes shop isn't like entering a cinema or a newsagent's. In M&S, the women seem so small – maybe it's the age of the average customer there? – that you can't help but stand out by comparison, even though it's got easier than it used to, from an emotional poi...
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Walk With Me

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Walk With Me It was during this film that I came up with the term chomper to describe the way such entertainments make me feel. Some forty minutes into this documentary (or was it thirty minutes, or twenty, or ten?), I felt myself become drowsy. Silently, and yet in a feverish desperation, I sought out the chewing gum in my bag that would help...
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What's On?

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What's On? Why would I go to the cinema at 12.45 on a Saturday? This weekend sees the calm before the storm, with next week's Black Panther as well as the trans movie A Fantastic Woman both poised for release on Tuesday, already like the gentlest rumble of thunder on my horizon. There are no films I want to watch this weekend, but at Cameo cinema t...
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What's On?

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What's On? The Super Bowl is on tonight. Shall I make a prediction? How about this one: due to the NFL's attempts over the past decade to cover up the brain injuries of its players, more ex-players will die from suicide this coming year. Don't get me wrong: I love American football. I even think that qualifies me to critique it, as a fan. But if th...
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