I think I spent more time last month scrolling through lists of Depeche Mode vinyl and CDs on eBay than I did watching films. Also, I was away in Amsterdam with my work for a week – that might sound glamorous, but trust me it wasn’t – and so that’s why I’m kinda late doing this post.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) was quite dull. It takes forever for the new Panther to ‘rise’ and aside from the tear-jerking references to the death of the previous Panther, the film did nothing to make me care about any of the characters and so I never felt invested in the outcome of the story. Seems to me like MCU is losing it’s way a bit with these episodic movies, their bloated runtimes, and formulaic plotting. Yes it was better that Eternals but that’s faint praise.

Bank of Dave (2023) is based on the true story of businessman Dave Fishwick’s (Hugh Bonneville) idea to open the ‘Bank of Dave’ to lend money to the Burnley community. The banking elite tried to block this through various underhand tactics and the movie tells the heart-warming story of one man’s ambition to set up a bank that was there to help people make the city a better place to live. Mix in a love story sub plot between Phoebe Dynevor and Joel Fry’s characters and it’s a really fun film with a happy ending.

Clerks III (2022) is the latest comedy film from writer/director Kevin Smith who is certainly pulling from his own experiences for this third-instalment of the cult classic: featuring as it does the survival of a ‘widow-maker’ heart attack and making a film on a shoestring budget in Quick Stop convenience store. All the familiar cast members and friends of Smith are there to some degree or other (fans expecting to see a lot of Rosario Dawson may be disappointed) and of course there’s a shitload of in-jokes and easter egg references to all the View Askewuniverse.

If you enjoyed one or both of the previous Clerks films then this is a must-see. I loved it, but understand that Smith’s cannon is not to everyone’s taste. There’s still an abundance of dick and fart jokes, and a childlike desire to offend built into Smith’s work, but what was very much apparent in this movie was, Christ I don’t know if I can say this and keep a straight face, a maturity in the writing – there is some quite poignant stuff in this film which actually had me close to tears in places. One thing you can say about this movie is that it has heart and is written with love in much the same way as Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) seemed like less of a cynical cash-grab than the previous movie in the franchise and was very well tied in to the original films. Single mum (Carrie Coon) and her two kids (Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace) arrive in a small town, meet local teacher (Paul Rudd) and begin to uncover their connection to the Ghostbusters and a secret danger their grandfather was protecting the world against. Grace gives the best performance and the SFX seem true to the original films, as does the writing.

Pixie (2020) features House of the Dragon‘s Olivia Cooke in the titular role of an Irish gangleader’s daughter intent on making the most of the opportunities around her to get out of Ireland. This means taking a couple of hapless first-time drug dealers who chance upon a sports bag full of gear under her wing. This is dark comedy with an interesting story and cast – definitely worth a look if you like this kind of thing, or want to see more of Cooke outside Westeros.

Samaritan (2022) is a Sylvester Stallone superhero movie on Prime Video. Twenty-five years ago Samaritan gave up his superhero mantel and disappeared after killing his equally super-tough twin-brother and bad-guy Nemesis. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out a potential twist in the plot, but the film is relatively good outing in the Dark Horse style of superhero stories – gritty contemporary life, the struggle of the down-trodden working classes against big business, and a reluctant hero with a dark past.

Batman Returns this is not, but it had that same vibe as Joker and Unbreakable for instance and I kinda like that sort of approach these days more than the CG-heavy MCU conveyor belt of product.