Reminiscence review: We are definitely on familiar ground

Reminiscence                                                                            Cert: 12A, 1hr 58mins

Rating:

Pig                                                                                                        Cert: 15, 1hr 32mins

Rating:

The Night House                                                                         Cert: 15, 1hr 48mins

Rating:

Censor                                                                                               Cert: 15, 1hr 24mins

Rating:

Snake Eyes: G.I.

Joe Origins                                                                Cert: 12, 2hrs

Rating:

Given that it’s one of those films that’s all about memory, and given that it’s also one part science-fiction time-bender, one part classic detective story in the best film noir tradition, it’s no real surprise when Reminiscence starts reminding you of an awful lot of other things.

Its watery setting in the flooded Miami of a near-ish future is a mix of Waterworld and The Day After Tomorrow.

Then Hugh Jackman’s gravelly narration kicks in about how ‘the past can haunt a man’ and we’re thinking Farewell, My Lovely meets Blade Runner and Total Recall.

And that’s before Rebecca Ferguson sashays into his dimly lit office, looking like a cross between Lauren Bacall, Veronica Lake and Rachael, the most glamorous of replicants. 

Hugh Jackman (above, with Thandiwe Newton) plays Nick Bannister, limping veteran of an unspecified war who now scrapes a living thanks to a device

Hugh Jackman (above, with Thandiwe Newton) plays Nick Bannister, limping veteran of an unspecified war who now scrapes a living thanks to a device

Hugh Jackman (above, with Thandiwe Newton) plays Nick Bannister, limping veteran of an unspecified war who now scrapes a living thanks to a device

We are definitely on familiar, well-travelled ground, which explains why the visually impressive Reminiscence is good but falls well short of great.

Jackman plays Nick Bannister, limping veteran of an unspecified war who now scrapes a living thanks to a device that allows customers to replay their favourite memories.

But when they’ve stripped to their swimmers, climbed into a water tank and had a shot of relaxant, they don’t just see their chosen memories in their mind’s eye.

No, they’re played out in ghostly three dimensions on a circular platform that can be seen by Nick and his cantankerous colleague (Thandiwe Newton). 

It can even be recorded and replayed. Alex Garland had something similar in his excellent TV series Devs.

Here, though, when the person doing the remembering is as beautiful and alluring as Mae (Ferguson) and Nick is, at heart, a lonely gumshoe… well, the great misquote ‘play it again, Sam’ springs to mind.

Reminiscence is written and directed by Lisa Joy, who co-created Westworld, the spin-off from the 1970s film, with her husband, Jonathan Nolan, who, as well as being brother of Christopher, also co-wrote Interstellar and the short story on which Memento is based.

With both of these and his brother’s own Inception all coming freely to mind, Christmas dinner should be fun this year.

One of the great cinematic oddities of this year surely has to be Pig, which sees Nicolas Cage playing a heavily bearded woodland recluse, Rob, who makes a modest living hunting for truffles with the help of his beloved pig. 

One of the great cinematic oddities of this year surely has to be Pig , which sees Nicolas Cage (above) playing a heavily bearded woodland recluse, Rob, who makes a modest living

One of the great cinematic oddities of this year surely has to be Pig , which sees Nicolas Cage (above) playing a heavily bearded woodland recluse, Rob, who makes a modest living

One of the great cinematic oddities of this year surely has to be Pig , which sees Nicolas Cage (above) playing a heavily bearded woodland recluse, Rob, who makes a modest living

Every Thursday his young dealer, Amir (Alex Wolff), turns up in his sports car to buy his latest finds and every Thursday Rob can’t wait for him to go.

Until that is, someone steals said pig and Rob finds himself in need of Amir’s help.

And so it’s off to the gastronomic hub that is Portland, Oregon, which is not just where Rob suspects his porcine friend has been taken but where his own past awaits.

It’s easy to underestimate Michael Sarnoski’s low-key picture but Cage’s performance is a dishevelled joy and it does eventually have some quietly powerful things to say about loss, grief and livestock.

Two horror films have just arrived, both of which involve strong female leads and play with the unsettling notion of what’s real and what’s not.

The more conventional is The Night House, in which Rebecca Hall plays an American teacher whose architect husband, we learn, has committed suicide.

But with anger keeping her grief at bay, she’s determined to stay in the beautiful lakeside house he designed and built.

Which is a strange decision once the knocking in the night starts, the hi-fi blares into life unbidden and the waking nightmares begin.

With a fine performance from Hall, the opening hour is terrific. The dénouement, however, will be divisive.

Now, as Snake Eyes , the little-awaited third film in the series finally arrives eight years after the second, it's got Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Golding and Samara Weaving (both above)

Now, as Snake Eyes , the little-awaited third film in the series finally arrives eight years after the second, it's got Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Golding and Samara Weaving (both above)

Now, as Snake Eyes , the little-awaited third film in the series finally arrives eight years after the second, it’s got Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Golding and Samara Weaving (both above)

In Censor, Niamh Algar, who was Bafta- nominated for Calm With Horses, plays Enid, a young film censor working at the height of the video-nasty craze of the 1980s.

Ah, but is it the gory videos that are causing the real-life horrors in society, or is the horror out there already? 

Indeed, might it be in Enid’s own troubled life already?

Time was when GI Joe films featured the likes of Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum and Dwayne Johnson. Now, as Snake Eyes, the little-awaited third film in the series finally arrives eight years after the second, it’s got Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Golding, Takehiro Hira from TV’s Giri/Haji and that’s about it. 

Expect Japan, yakuza wars and endless motorbikes and martial arts. 

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