Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017 dir. Martin McDonagh)

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Frances McDormand in the film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

10 months after the rape and murder of her teenage daughter Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) decides to put up three posters on unused billboards outside her town. These billboards confront the local police, in particular the much loved police chief William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) angering his idiotic deputy Dixon (Sam Rockwell) and the townsfolk. What proceeds are unforeseeable darkly humorous scenes between Mildred and all who get in her way.

The film is good, crisply written and performed by the three leading actors, with McDormand being nominated for a best actress Oscar. However the content is over reliant on the main protagonist’s story and as a consequence fails to explore the racial issues which the film makes fleeting references to. This, in my opinion is careless, and will not sit well with many in the audience. Mildred is amoral, we get that, but the plot’s halfhearted mention of racism and police brutality seems like a very shallow accessory used to decorate the plot rather than establish any kind of dialogue.

Nonetheless, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is worth watching. It is very funny and will have you laughing with out question one minute and teary eyed the next.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017 dir. Rian Johnson)

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At 2 hours 35 minutes, the longest Star Wars installment, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is utter edge-of-your-seat action adventure and you will be captivated for the full running time. With much more slapstick comedy the film also seems to target a younger audience and other than it’s political fantasy there is a lot to keep children engaged. As if spacecrafts and extraterrestrials weren’t enough!

The film has two parallel narratives which merge unpredictably in the film’s penultimate scenes. Rey, introduced in The Force Awakens,  has found Luke Skywalker on a scarcely inhabited island and she is determined to learn the ways of the Jedi. Thus the first part of this story deals with her trying to convince him to take up his lightsaber and take to the rebellion. Meanwhile, Leia is trying to escape the First Order in a space battle that sees both sides loose ships from their arsenal.

The characterisations in The Last Jedi are truly excellent, with Adam Driver portraying the complicated and strangely likable villain Kylo Ren with plausibility and John Boyega as Rey’s infallible faithful friend Fin. The stand out performance, however, goes to Star Wars veteran Mark Hamill who portrays our conflicted hero, Skywalker, with both adroitness and humility.

I would definitely recommend this film as one of the more accessible episodes in the franchise. Not only is it funny and action packed but it is also a visual ode to the very elegant Princess Leia following the death of Carrie Fisher in 2016. An absolute must see!