Fancy a throwback to your youth with a Hunger Games prequel? Or maybe a gripping crime thriller?Arts Picturehouse with permission for Varsity

Dream Scenario (in cinemas) – 4 STARS

A Being John Malkovich for the age of TikTok, this dark comedy stars Nicolas Cage as a hapless university professor who suddenly becomes an overnight sensation when millions of strangers start seeing him in their dreams. It’s difficult to tell whether this eventually ends up completely exhausting its concept or just isn’t quite brave enough to take it to its boldest conclusion. But what a brilliant concept it is – one the film handles, particularly in its first half, with a sharply judged balance between absurd levity and a palpable sense of menace. Cage is having a ball, and so will you! – IJ

Anatomy of a Fall (in cinemas) – 4.5 STARS

“It’s fiendishly smart stuff – and somehow makes it all look so effortless too”

Masterfully constructed and formidably acted, this procedural thriller-cum-courtroom drama from French director Justine Triet tells the story of a woman who may or may not be implicated in her husband’s fatal ‘fall’ from the roof of their house. In films like this, the impetus tends to fall on mysteries being solved, revelations being proclaimed out loud – fascinating, then, that Triet allows so much of the storytelling to happen in moments of silence and hesitation, through the flickering ambiguities of facial expressions, through that which is not necessarily seen or heard, but simply believed (or, indeed, perhaps even imagined). It’s fiendishly smart stuff – and somehow makes it all look so effortless too. – IJ

The Killer (in cinemas and on Netflix) – 3.5 STARS

Sometimes you just need a bit of pulpy goodness, and that’s exactly what Fincher’s latest film The Killer is. The film tells the story of an actually rather shoddy assassin, played wonderfully by Michael Fassbender, as he seeks revenge on a group of hitmen for hurting his girlfriend. Sound familiar? Well, yes, Fincher’s hardly reinvented the wheel here and, in fact nothing out of this particular flick is original; the sound design is straight from Birdman, the dialogue ripped from Schrader and the plot, well it’s just John Wick. That doesn’t stop The Killer from being a fun film though. It’s entertaining, well-shot, fantastically acted and, as the term draws to a close, how much do you want to take a chance on something new anyway? Better the devil you know, I say. – HA

“As the term draws to a close, how much do you want to take a chance on something new anyway? Better the devil you know, I say”

Bottoms (in cinemas) – 5 STARS

Emma Seligman’s much-awaited high school comedy-cum-lesbian bloodbath is high camp. When best friends PJ and Josie fail spectacularly to woo their cheerleader crushes, the two form an all-girls self-defence club to avoid expulsion, and to hopefully lose their virginity in the process. However, as the (flamboyantly Alpha male) football team gets jealous, and a looming sports game spells murder on the horizon, the girls must put their combat skills to the test to save the school from its own testosterone. It’s Fight Club meets Heathers meets But I’m A Cheerleader with all the casual brutality of Kick Ass. Just the sort of campy goodness you need to spice up the end of term. – GBA

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes (in cinemas) 4 STARS


Mountain View

Please, dear God, no more 'buy'opics

Bloodshed, scheming and a brutal Capitol: The Hunger Games returns 8 years after Jennifer Lawrence last graced the big screen as ‘The Girl on Fire’. Set 64 years before Katniss’ first Games, the film centres around a young President Snow in his final year at school in the Capitol, tasked with mentoring the female tribute from District Twelve, Lucy Gray Baird, in the 10th Annual Hunger Games. Sticking strongly to the book of the same title, Suzanne Collins’ prequel cleverly weaves its way into The Hunger Games universe without feeling forced or like a quick money-making reboot. Francis Lawrence discreetly places references throughout that add a certain completeness to the film and its place in The Hunger Games franchise. It’s thrilling, bloody, and enhances the character of Coriolanus Snow. – AJ

Saltburn (in cinemas)- 2.5 stars

The latest from Promising Young Woman director Emerald Fennell is a gothic black comedy straight out of the Brideshead Revisited and Talented Mr Ripley ‘aren’t rich people just crazy’ tradition. It’s also a case of all flash, no bang – a film where every other scene feels like it’s trying to go viral on TikTok, apparently more interested in acts of wanton provocation than it is in provoking any truly consequential questions about its subject matter on the part of the audience. It’s consistently entertaining, for sure – but also hard to ignore the fact that every character who isn’t a walking one-liner remains a total cipher, all the narrative twists and turns rely on any and all authority figures being clinically (and probably criminally) stupid… and that, ironically like most of the characters themselves, the whole thing amounts to little more than a deceivingly good-looking mess. - IJ