Star Wars: The Last Jedi

A spoiler free review of our latest journey to A Galaxy Far, Far Away.  Star Wars: The Last Jedi picks up where The Force Awakens left us.  The Resistance is having to escape and Rey has found Luke Skywalker.  Will the escape succeed?  Will Luke train Rey?  What are those Porg things?  These and many other questions may well be answered in the two and half hours of our latest adventure.

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The Earth Gazers by Christopher Potter

The race to go faster, further and higher has intoxicated man since before Icarus took to his wings.  In the 20th Century, man didn’t just take to the air, but slipped it’s confines for space.  A very select few (a total of 24 men) were able to gaze back and see our home in all it’s glory.  With The Earth Gazers, Christopher Potter looks how those men got up there and how what they felt was as important as what they saw.

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How to Build a Car by Adrian Newey

In motor Racing, Adrain Newey's name ranks among the greats.  He is not one for the cameras of a race weekend, but his autobiography is wonderfully engaging, funny and honest.  From building Lotus kit cars with his dad through to 10 World Championships with three teams, Newey's tale is fascinating.  He takes us through the highs and terrible lows of his life and career, framing it all against the cars we have watched going round in circles for all these years.  How to Build a Car is essential reading for any racing fan.

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Gnomon by Nick Harkaway

Nick Harkaway's latest novel crosses thousands of years and yet never leaves the mind of the victim at the centre of his tale.  With Gnomon, Harkaway looks at our world and the issues we face from oblique angles, in turn making us look at our own path from eyes we may not have considered or have even wanted too.  Gnomon is a masterful tale.

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America City by Chris Beckett

America City, Chris Beckett's first novel since leaving Eden, is a fantastic look at how the information we receive affects our decisions.  We believe we are smart enough to know what is going on, but are we?  In a wonderfully complex work of speculative fiction, Beckett's ambitious America City crafts a world as deep as Eden and yet as relatable as now.

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Blade of the Immortal - LFF Review

Takashi Mikke's 100th film arrives with a flurry of blades, bloodworms and vengeance.  Blade of the Immortal is Miike’s 3rd chanbara (“sword fighting) film and is based on the long running manga by Hiroaki Samura.  Miike’s take on the source material is frenetic, fascinating and wonderful, truly befitting his century of films.

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A Legacy of Spies by John le Carre

With A Legacy of Spies, John le Carre returns to the scene of the novel that put him on the map.  While the much publicised return of George Smiley is making the headlines, the story is set upon the shoulders, in my opinion, of one of his most interesting characters, Smiley’s right hand, Peter Guillam.

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Munich by Robert Harris

September 1938.  The world teeters on the brink of another war.  Hitler is eyeing the Sudetenland and is hours away from mobilisation.  In London, Chamberlain is doing everything to keep the piece.  A summit is arranged in Munich and two men travel there with plans of their own in Robert Harris' fantastic latest novel.

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The Women Who Flew For Hitler by Clare Mulley

Clare Mulley's new biography looks at two incredible, yet very different women who were pinoneering Test Pilots for the Third Reich.  In The Women Who Flew For Hitler, Mulley looks at what drove these women in a male dominated flying world and the very different directions they chose under a Nazi flag.

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Dunkirk

Heroic failure is something that Britain has always done well.  With Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan has crafted an incredible film about an incredible event.  With that as his setting, Nolan may have made his best movie yet.

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The Plots Against Hitler by Danny Orbach

The men and women who resisted Hitler have been cast as heroes and villains of both the left and right.  The conspirators and their actions have been remembered in black and white, with the viewer choosing the colours with which to paint them.  In Danny Orbach’s new history of the resistance, The Plots Against Hitler, he very convincingly shows us that rather than pure saints or sinners, the complexity and contradictions of the conspirators makes them that most difficult of things to digest, human.

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Baby Driver

For as long as he can remember, the great chase films were whirling around in Edgar Wright's mind (as they do us all).  Great films like Walter Hill’s The Driver, John Landis’ The Blues Brothers and Richard C. Sarafian’s incredible Vanishing Point to name but three.  For twenty odd years, Wright has  wanted to honour them and put his own, very singular, stamp on the genre.  With Baby Driver he has crafted something special, his very own car chase musical.

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Vindolanda by Adrian Goldsworthy

Adrian Goldworthy's novel Vindolanda take us to Britain before the Wall, were our hero Ferox, a Briton naturalised into Rome, finds himself in the far north.  With depression stalking him, a crisis arises that requires him to put his skills back to work and uncover the misdeeds of his own and the scheming of those who consider him a traitor.  Vindolanda is vividly told and, once it gets going, a highly enjoyable ride.

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Blackbird by James Hamilton-Paterson

The Blackbird series of aircraft, by the legendary Lockheed designer Kelly Johnson, is the subject of James Hamilton-Paterson's latest non-fiction venture into aviation.  Hamilton-Paterson tells a tale of Cold War paranoia and desperation that lead to an incredible aircraft that lived out beyond Mach 3 on the meter.  Blackbird is a worthy tribute to her designer, those brave Habu and the incredible craft they rode.

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The Serpent Sword by Matthew Harffy

The Dark Ages in Britain are a fertile period to mine.  The sources, few as they are, talk of kings and warlords, battles and death, and then arrive the men from the North.  It is the period of Beowulf and Arthur, of a Britain living in the decay of the Roman withdrawal and the arrival of a new God to fight the old.  Into this mix, Matthew Harffy has thrown a young warrior, Beobrand, into the turmoil of Northumbria to find his fame.

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American War by Omar El Akkad

Speculative fiction is one that treads a fine line. Too far one way and it is dismissed as preachy or too far the other and it falls into the science fiction netherworld.  When realising a world where global warming has changed the map of our world and America has again fractured North and South.  With American War, Omar El Akkad has trod that line deftly with an extraordinary look at the cultivation of hate.

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Unprecidented by Tiger Woods

Unprecedented is Tiger Woods looking back at at his first Master win, 20 years ago now.  Tiger is a towering figure in modern golf.  He literally changed the game.  Looking back at the 1997 Masters at Augusta National though, Tiger provides a wonderful insight into what made those incredible four round unprecedented in the illustrious history of The Masters.  And a fascinating look it is too.

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Their Finest

Their Finest does that difficult thing of being funny about a period and reverential about it at the same time.  And above it all is Gemma Arterton.  Her performance is subtle, humorous, strong and committed.  Their Finest is one of those increasingly rare occasions where a film happily sits across generations and manages to please all.

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David Baddiel My Family: Not The Sitcom

As George Bernard Shaw once famously wrote: "If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance."  In the case of David Baddiel's new show My Family: Not The Sitcom, he doesn't so much make them out to dance, as line his parents up and conga them around the Playhouse Theatre.  That and spending two hours taking his mother's grammar and her spelling of masturbation to task.

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