Poster for Barbie

Barbie (2023)

Dir. by Greta Gerwig

While mass-marketed superhero and action blockbusters are often doing the heavy lifting when it comes to populating cinemas of late, they’re often lacking a touch of pink glitter. Enter Barbie, the most ‘for the girlies’ movie event in recent memory (and certainly the first on course to gross one billion dollars worldwide). The light barely go down and you’re thrown right into the bright pink fever dream that is Barbieland straight away. It’s garish but immediately comfortable, the production design, costuming and performances of the whole cast bringing to life a fantasy world many visited in childhood. Margot Robbie is beyond perfect as the perpetually optimistic title character and Ryan Gosling’s Ken steals his scenes, played with an ever-present wink but also a profound commitment to all things Kenergy. It might feel like the time spent in the idyllic world is too short, but it’s the movie equivalent of eating a three-tier pink cake in one sitting; you need something savoury to level out that blood sugar spike as soon as possible. Everything crashes back to sanity when Barbie and Ken end up in the real world in all its patriarchal, neutral-toned…glory? The conflict that occurs based on this setting change is so effective, and a lot of that comes from the heart that has become synonymous with a Greta Gerwig film. The themes of Barbie have come under fire by some (strange) people, and sure, those themes are heavy-handed, but for a film literally based on a children’s toy where absolutely nothing about it is subtle, what would one expect? Much of the resonance of Barbie comes from how much it’s about the everyday people we meet in life as well as the over-the-top, lavish utopia the dolls live in. You’re able to recognise at least one real person in the Matchbox Twenty and Godfather-loving Kens, the Depression Barbie or the self-doubt crisis Robbie’s heroine experiences at the midpoint of the film. There’s frivolous, sometimes completely unhinged fun and escapism in Barbie’s bones, but the self-reflection and empowerment at the film’s core are what makes it resonate as well as entertain in bucketloads. • GJ

Poster for Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer (2023)

Dir. by Christopher Nolan

Even aside from the Internet-created Barbenheimer event, a new Christopher Nolan film alone would be enough to get film fans into cinemas this weekend. Oppenheimer—a three-hour character study about J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb—avoids any lumping into the by-the-book Oscars biopic-core category (as the Nolan seal of quality would probably have anyone guessing) due to ridiculous technical feats and an overwhelming dollop of existential dread. This is an incredibly dense film, and getting lost in the time-jumping narrative, endless stream of peripheral men in suits or ever-building layers of context wouldn’t be a completely unbelievable thing. Even if such confusion is the case though, the way the emotional beats of Oppenheimer are placed and communicated are enough to not only plot the way, but to be some of the most unforgettable movie moments of the year (the Trinity bomb countdown and subsequent explosion and Oppenheimer’s speech following his bomb being dropped being particularly potent). There’s a non-diagetic entertainment in the who’s who of male Hollywood stars who come through the revolving door into Oppenheimer’s story, but it’s Cillian Murphy’s incredible performance that is really the anchor here. He shows every complicated emotion the scientist feels on his face, so much so that you understand where his head’s at even before other characters react and verbally confirm what’s happening. Watching his thoughts and journey across the hours is a harrowing thing, and while you definitely won’t feel like sunshine and rainbows when Oppenheimer’s over, it will certainly stay with you for a whole myriad of reasons. • GJ

Poster for The Bear season 2

The Bear (S2) (2023)

Be honest—do you need another voice added to the chorus of them telling you to watch The Bear? It’s been one of the most talked-about shows since the first day it was released, and with the second season being touted just as highly, that’s all come back around again. And yes, it does fully deserve the praise it’s getting, to where acknowledging how good this show is can feel somewhat clichéd. But with a second season—longer than the first, and brimming with big-name guest stars that somehow never distract from what’s going elsewhere—it’s proof that its start was no fluke. With more individual character-centric episodes (meaning that some of the spotlight is taken from Jeremy Allen White’s utterly incredible Carmy), there’s room for the cast to breathe that they mightn’t otherwise have had the first time; there’s less knuckle-bloodying stress in the vein of season one’s episode Review (although Fishes can come incredibly close), and it never falters for it. There are moments where classifications of The Bear as a comedy feel way less baffling than they used to, but inimitably human drama and emotion remains at its core. As the machinations of the titular restaurant crank into place, watching these characters take their own path—discovering new passions and opening themselves up in equal measure—provides the kind of moments that no show currently running is capable of. And when that erupts as it does in the episode Forks, where Ebon Moss-Bachrach’s Richie beams and belts out Taylor Swift’s Love Story in his car, The Bear couldn’t feel more special. • LN

Artwork for The Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom

The Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom

Nintendo Switch

Yes, it has taken us a while to get to this one, but, like…it’s a big game! One we’re still yet to fully finish, for the record, so take all of this with a grain of salt. Though, when the general consensus is that Tears Of The Kingdom is pretty great, maybe that kind of disclaimer isn’t really needed. After all, Breath Of The Wild was already such a captivating reinterpretation of the Zelda formula, and simply doing more with it yields results that are just a strong. Maybe some of the initial magic upon first boot-up isn’t there, but it doesn’t take long at all for that to sink in, particularly with the host of new abilities and mechanics that really beef out the package. Doubtless you’ve seen the levels that some can go to in terms of vehicles and structures to build; it’s a bit finicky at first, but really has a lot of meat to it in its own right. Link’s new set of abilities also allow different freedoms from last time, as does the increased map, now encompassing Hyrule’s depths and floating islands to widen out some already huge scope even further. And it is huge, in traversing the open world, side-quests, collectibles, creatures and items to catalogue—it’s the kind of game you’ll easily find yourself sinking hours at a time into with very little hassle. Even if it can be testing the upper limits of the Switch sometimes, it’s very difficult to notice or, in all honesty, care. It’s just too much of an enthralling time for that, as the open-world formula continues to reap vast rewards for the Zelda franchise, pretty routinely. It really is the Majora’s Mask to Breath Of The Wild—a slightly more off-kilter sequel built on the same bones, that goes to places that can feel like real series high-points. • LN

Artwork for Kim Petras’ ‘Feed The Beast’

Kim Petras

Feed The Beast

Kim Petras has long had a reputation as one of pop’s most exciting kept secrets, favouring droplet singles and high concept EPs and mixtapes over traditional full-length album rollouts. That all changed with Unholy, the bafflingly world-dominating Sam Smith hit featuring a tacked on Petras verse that managed to completely steal the show and earn her her first number one single. What’s the ‘Music Business 101’ next move from such a peak in success? Rushing out the singer’s major label debut album to piggyback off the surge in traffic, of course. Unfortunately for Petras though, Feed The Beast wears its intentions fully on its sleeve – a cynical attempt to keep the ball in the air, mishmashing fresh material (of varying quality levels) with cuts from scrapped (but available online) 2022 album Problématique and other songs once marketed as one off singles. The disco campness of 2021’s Coconuts sticks out like a sore thumb amidst the synthpop and Eurodance, clearly only present to drive streams. Being disjointed isn’t by itself a cardinal sin, but the performance at the centre is far from Petras’ best. The Alice Deejay sample is the only memorable thing about lead single Alone (featuring Nicki Minaj), and much of this album plays everything completely seriously, lacking any sort of distinctive charisma or individualistic tell. King Of Hearts and Revelations up the drama in a sleek, memorable way, while Eurodance anthem uhoh capitalises on Petras’ brand of deadpan self-assuredness over a stomping beat, and is Feed The Beast at its best. Otherwise though, there’s not much here to remember. Releasing a mediocre record happens, but when it’s as obvious a music business strategy as Feed The Beast is, it knocks everything down more pegs than it should. For such a talent, Kim Petras deserves better than this. • GJ

Artwork for Marville issue 1


Written by Bill Jemas; art by Mark Bright

Marville may well be the worst comic ever written. Not a controversial opinion, by any stretch, but it’s one you can’t really fathom the depths of until you’ve read this thing for yourself. To call it a vanity project would probably be an insult to the concept of vanity, as Marvel’s then-editor Bill Jemas puts together his own thoughts and feelings on humanism, creationism and industry in-jokes that are so clumsily assembled badly told that they barely qualify, into an utterly baffling mess of ‘narrative’ fiction. Even just the bookending pages tell you everything you need to know—first is an explanation of the ‘jokes’, of the superhero tropes and early 2000s references to pop culture and the comics industry that are nothing close to funny or clever; meanwhile, the final issue is a manifesto for Epic Comics, the imprint that Marville would spur on to create more cerebral, non-superhero stories that had already closed down a decade prior. As for the story, it starts out as an attempted pastiche of the Superman story before going off the rails into strange territory about evolution and morality, none of which ever makes sense. Though really, nothing about Marville makes sense, or feels like a good decision in any capacity. The horrid, lascivious art on the cover of each issue; the fact it entirely breaks the conventions of a comic at one stage by printing a script over the artwork; the fact that Batman shows up in this! Honestly, it would take more than a brief segment to explore the baffling decisions on almost every page of Marville, which should say everything it needs to about horrendous this is. • LN

Words by Georgia Jackson (GJ) and Luke Nuttall (LN)

Leave a Reply