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July

I watched some American films. Also, Penny Dreadful S03, Hannibal S03, True Detective S02, Marvel’s Agent Carter S01, Inside Amy Schumer S01 a load of old monster-of-the-week X-Files episodes + the first half of Netflix’ Wet Hot American Summer prequel series.

‘Ant-Man’ (dir. Peyton Reed)

Surprise surprise, after a year of expecting Marvel to finally shit the boat post-Edgar Wright they prove us all wrong by crushing it for about the five millionth time. After being underwhelmed by the messy Avengers: Age of Ultron, I never realised how much I needed a low-key MCU entry with middling scale and minor ambition beyond an intense desire to entertain. Rudd is such a likeable presence and never feels like he’s leading a cast with the pressures and responsibilities of a pricey Disney investment on the line. For the first time in years I was able to shift my thinking away from the baggage of the shared-universe concept and focus simply on the story and characters at hand.

‘Inside Out’ (dir. Pete Docter)

Many seem to believe Pixar are in the midst of some sort of dry spell, albeit a dry spell where no production gains less than decent reviews and $500m+ in receipts. It seems unfair to punish the studio for not producing outright masterpieces on every occasion, as if the excellent Monsters University not attaining the flawlessness of its predecessor is somehow sacrilege. I think Inside Out is probably their best work this decade and can stand proudly alongside Wall-E, Up, Ratatouille era. These guys make sophisticated, conceptually tricky ideas, ideas of immense complexity, not just glow but radiate off the screen. I’m in awe of how the Pixar team shape this stuff into funny, living audience-friendly product without sacrificing a shred of the artistry.

‘Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation’ (dir. Christopher McQuarrie)

Christopher McQuarrie is just a tremendous craftsman, delivering the best entry since the ‘96 De Palma picture. I like the standalone nature of these stories, the increasing bravery and ingenuity of Cruise in approaching these stunts and the total understanding of the tone required by Baldwin, Pegg etc. The Vienna opera house sequence is simply a great setpece, wonderfully conceived and beautifully executed by McQuarrie, Cruise and Rebecca Ferguson. Ghost Protocol was essentially the astounding Dubai sequence with a skeleton film wrapped around it. McQuarrie’s picture, by comparison, keeps throwing on the great moments and boundless energy making for yet another terrific summer action picture after the highs of Furious 7 and Mad Mad: Fury Road.

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