Love And Monsters (2020)

Hmmm, a YA film on netflix, starring someone who was in the Maze Runner films? This could be terrible, this should be a film I start with low expectations, expectations which the film still might not be able to meet.

And then the film starts, and I realise it’s actually a piece of greatness. I’ve spoken before about how some films have turned me against them in the opening scene. The obvious ones being the new version of Hellboy, which showed me that the film is going to replace actual maturity with swearing, and Wolf (or The Wolf, I don’t know, and I don’t care) which lost me with the sub-par directing choices and performance in the opening moment (I will NEVER have a film that freefalls in my opinion as much as that did in the opening scene). This is one of the few cases where the opposite happened, where a film completely won me over. It was funny, had some great art involved, and told a compelling backstory. And the film only got better from there on.

Truth be told, I was going to skip this film, just ignore it completely, until it was recommended to me by someone who called it “Delightfully quirky, horrific, and thoughtful in almost equal measure”, and I can’t argue against any of that. It’s such a good watch, and yet another film that I wish I saw in the cinema. A film that looks as fantastic as this, deserves to be seen on a big screen. Although part of me is glad I saw it on netflix, it meant I could truly savour some of the moments, I could rewind them and have another look at moments I loved.

This is a film awash with new experiences. The soundtrack is full of songs I want to listen to by bands I should be into. The director is someone who’s earlier work I now want to watch. And with a few exceptions, most of the performers are ones I’m unfamiliar with and whom I now want to see more of. Ariana Greenblatt, for example, has a great future ahead of her if she continues doing performances like this.

This is the best kind of YA media, it doesn’t treat young adults as idiots overrun by emotion, but as people with untapped potential who need to learn some things. It’s a film about growth, about realising what you’re capable of if you push yourself. It’s also about love (and monsters) about how people change, and that’s okay. He spends the entire film putting his life on the line to try to find his ex girlfriend, only to find out (spoilers) shee’s changed, and they don’t really belong together anymore.

He takes this, not in an angry way, not even in a “but we belong together, I’ll prove you wrong” way. But in a “it sucks, but I get it” way that displays the characters emotional maturity, and a way which is weirdly not seen much in films, but probably should. It’s an important lesson, how to deal with rejection in a normal healthy way. Rejection does hurt, but if you dwell on that and use that as a form of revenge and as your sole motivator, you’re fucked.

Special mention also has to go out to how damn good this film looks. Reminds me of the live action version of The BFG with how it used colours and soft shapes to create great beauty, and then used size and texture to create ugliness. The monsters don’t look too fake, they look like they belong in the world the director has created. So does Mav1s, a robot who isn’t in it for very long, but definitely leaves an impact on you with how robotically sweet she is.

In summary, I’d say you definitely need to watch this. It charms even a cynical bitter bastard like myself.

Come True (2020)

Usually when I see a film like this, I do the usual review and mention about how I love it, but never want to see it again. The best examples of this are Hereditary, The VVitch, and Vivarium. All three films I love, but I’m not sure I could get through again. This had a similar effect with how it made me feel, but weirdly I want to see it again. In fact, I need to see it again. It has one of those endings which I know will make me appreciate the film more on a second watch. It feels low budget, but in a good way. In a way where it feels like everybody who worked on it was pushed to their limit to create the best thing possible, a film made possible by true dedication to the art of film-making.

I apologise for those of you who personally know me, and who like horror and sci-fi movies, because I will tell you to watch this film, and I will tell you it until you watch it. It’s one of those films that I feel you really need to experience. Turn the lights off, sit in the dark, and truly let it take you into it’s world. I’ve said this about a lot of films but it’s especially true with this, the fact I didn’t get to see this in the cinema is a great disappointment to me as I feel that would have been the optimum way to watch this.

I suppose if i had to describe this in a word I’d say “retro”. The music and visuals all combine to make it seem like something from the 80s, but in a good way. Not in a way that seems dated, but in a “this is a classic film from that time that you are now watching”. It’s hard to compare it to anything else but if I had to? Dunno, maybe a smattering of Nightmare On Elm Street, Alien (not with the plot, but in terms of the visual aesthetics), along with a side of….I’m not really sure, but there’s definitely a third element which I’m familiar with but can’t quite place. In terms of modern films, the closest I can find to this in terms of tone would be It Follows. A weird throwback but keeping a modern sensibility to it.

It’s hard to talk about the plot to this film, without spoiling it. So watch the trailer first, then decide if you want to watch it. The plot isn’t technically important, in terms of, if this was a book I wouldn’t advise reading it. But the way the plot and the technical nature merge together makes a lot of sense.

Almost all of the greatness of this film is down to two people: Anthony Scott Burns, and Julia Sarah Stone. Sure, the supporting cast are great, but it’s those two that anchor the movie. Stone gives a performance that if this film was better known, would be considered starmaking. She portrays so much in this movie, the fear, the exhaustion she faces is all written in her performance. She genuinely has some of the best non-verbal nuances I’ve seen in a long time. On that topic, there’s a few moments where I’m uncertain if the acting from some of the supporting performers were really good, or really bad. A few incredibly subtle facial tics where you can tell someone is actually happy when they’re supposed to be putting on a front of being sad/horrified. Either it’s really bad acting, and the performers can’t hide their actual emotions, or it’s REALLY good acting and all those incredibly subtle facial movements are just great character work. I’m leaning more towards the second one, as I don’t think Burns would allow anything less.

Right, Anthony Scott Burns, time to mention him. I mentioned how much of this movies greatness is down to him. He wrote it, and directed it. Which is not too unusual, but still good to see. But he also did the music, and that is SUCH a big part of why this film works. The music sounds blue (if that makes sense) and suits the colour scheme. He’s insanely talented and not gonna lie it makes me a little jealous. Although I know a few people who are looking to do similar roles, and it’s nice to see that it is possible, and how it can help create an artists true vision.

So in summary, if you get a chance you have to see this. It really deserves to be on Shudder, but until then, find other ways to watch it, you pretty much have to see it.

Tom And Jerry (2021)

Remember when The Muppets film came out a while ago? How it was full of celebrity cameos and created a real sense of both wonder and nostalgia? This is like the opposite of that. It has some celebrities who clearly love the franchise, and are clearly having a lot of fun. But the script and the film are just not good enough. Tom And Jerry have never had much luck when it comes to escaping their original shorts. The 1992 movie was heavily derided for having a weak plot, and having the main characters talk (which is a mistake this film does not make), and the less said about their version of Willy Wonka (why?) the better.

Maybe it’s because the madcap pace of the characters is difficult to maintain and keep interesting over the course of a feature length film. Or, maybe even simpler (but sadder), is that the studios know that they don’t have to put any effort into these films, because they know they’ll make money anyway, so they can be lazy and cheap with it.

On the plus side, the animation is pretty good. They’ve kept the fluid 2D nature of the originals, and overlaid them on a live action setting, which is really the best way to do it. If it was completely animated it wouldn’t have felt different enough, and if they tried for a realistic look for the characters, it….well it would have been a fucking nightmare to put it politely. The 2D violence still has an effect on the world though, scratches appear on sofas when they fight etc, in a way that can’t have been fun to line up the timings of the animation for. There are moments where the mix isn’t quite as seamless as it needs to be, but overall that aspect of it works. Another good part of the animation: ALL animals are animated, even ones in the background. A neat touch that wasn’t necessary, but very much appreciated.

Now onto the negative, the script. It’s……well it’s incredibly lazy. I can’t imagine the writer spending weeks fretting over scenes in this, so much of it seems so careless and unnecessary, you could cut most of the opening and it wouldn’t effect the film at all. I’ll describe the opening moments:

  1. Tom is playing music in a park for money.
  2. Jerry comes along and starts dancing, putting a sign over Tom’s sign so that he gets the money instead.
  3. They fight, breaking Tom’s keyboard meaning he can’t play anymore. (this does lead a moment where someone is outraged that Tom isn’t blind: “he’s not a blind cat playing the keyboard, he’s a regular cat, this is an outrage” which genuinely made me laugh)
  4. At some point, Tom bumps into Chloë Grace Moretz’s character, knocking stuff out of her hand and causing her to lose her job.
  5. Moretz’s character gets a job at a hotel where Jerry sneaks in and causes rumours of an infestation.
  6. Tom gets hired to deal with Jerry.

EVERYTHING before point five is not needed. We don’t need to really know that Tom is a musician, and if we do, then it could be shown during the rest of the film, not just at the start. We don’t need to see Moretz get fired, we just need to see her get a job. We don’t need to see Tom And Jerry fight, they don’t need THAT motivation for anger towards each other. The fact that Tom is hired to get rid of Jerry should be enough motivation to carry the rest of their antics. The fact that the makers of this film couldn’t see that, is emblematic of the problems this film has. It’s an easy fix, but one that they couldn’t be bothered to do for whatever reason. It also doesn’t help that sometimes Tom And Jerry feel like side characters in their own movie. I know, it’s difficult to build a feature length narrative about two characters that don’t speak, and you can’t exactly make these character speak. But if you can’t make a good movie, don’t make a movie. This feels like it was made for the sake of being made. Everything about it just screams “contractual/celebratory obligation”. There’s no desire, no passion, there’s no sense that this is what anybody who worked on it has had their entire career building to this moment. Which considering how beloved these characters are, is a real shame. The franchise inspires a lot of love in people, it’s just a shame not a damn ounce of it was in the script.

On the plus side: there’s a surprising performer I didn’t know I’d love as much as I did. Yes, Rob Delaney is as great as he usually is, but the real star of the show for me is Patsy Ferran as an awkward bellhop. Her character steals every single scene she’s in and I wish it focused more on her instead of, well, every other human character.

It’s really hard to recommend this movie, the fact that there’s a slight chance that this review is the first time you were aware of the film is quite indicative of the quality of it.

Thunder Force (2021)

Let’s face it, there was always a chance this was going to be awful (and the fact I’m using that as an opening line is an indication as to my feelings about this film), I mean, let’s look at the evidence:

  • Direct to netflix
  • No marketing
  • Nobody is talking about it
  • Melissa McCarthy.

Now I don’t hate McCarthy, I just heavily dislike a lot of her characters. I think that’s the most frustrating thing about her. She can be really good, but then there are times where it seems like she’s phoning it in and attempting to go as broad as possible, and when she’s doing that it’s normally not a good thing to watch. The things is, I can’t tell whether that’s entirely down to her, or just the characters. Is there a way to make some of her worse characters likeable in any way? Is it her performances damning the characters, or is it the characters damning the performance? Until somebody does a shot-for-shot remake of one of her films, replacing only her, we will never know.

For this? I feel it’s the writing that lets her down. Someone can only do so much with the material they’re given. You can’t give someone rancid vegetables and then expect them to be able to make a great dinner out of them. And this film is almost entirely composed of a soggy lettuce of a script, mouldy tomatoes of dialogue, and bitter salad dressing of effort. And this all combines to the worst salad you have ever eaten. I may have lost the metaphor a bit. The croutons of concept was pretty good though.

A big problem with this film is how immediately dated it feels. It came out this year and yet feels like a relic from the 90s. This is seen in not just the way it treats superheroes, but also some of the humour. Some of the jokes are basically the main character bullying someone, but it’s okay as they’re socially awkward. That really doesn’t work with this kind of character. You can’t do a “main character makes fun of this socially awkward person” and then have her be the standard bad McCarthy character who ignores social cues. You don’t get to deliver the lines “beam me up scotty beep boop bop” and “i speaken ze english” then make fun of what others say. It just makes the character seem like a hypocritic asshole.

Now back to how it treats superheroes. It doesn’t feel like this film has realised that they’ve moved on since the Bat-toys and Robin Nuggets Happy Meal days of the 90’s. Comic books have always had mature themes, dating back to the horror comics that were essential in establishing them as a form of media, all the way through to Watchmen, and even modern classics like Clean Room (maybe not considered a classic by most people, but it really fucking should be). Even the traditional comics have had storylines with mature themes. But despite that, the general consensus of them was “people in brightly coloured tights being silly” because that’s what was presented in mainstream depictions and how it was defined in other media. But with the Dark Knight Trilogy, Logan, and the MCU, everybody knows that comic books have moved beyond that now. Very few people view superheroes in the same way as they did in the past. In fact I’d argue it’s the opposite, and if a comic book movie DOESN’T deal with genocide, existential angst, and other mature themes, then people deride it.

You may have noticed I haven’t technically talked about the film that much in this review (in fact, you could be forgiven for forgetting this was a review at all, and not just the random ramblings of someone who takes this kind of shit far too seriously), but if the film was better, I’d talk about it. This film is nothing, it’s a bowl of unflavoured tofu, but with food colouring to make you think it’s more than it is. There’s something I think was supposed to be a twist, but was so obvious to anybody who has ever seen a movie. The visuals are nothing to write home about and the film makes some, let’s call them questionable choices in regards to music. Most notably, choosing just after what was supposed to be an emotional scene, to play AC/DC, so even if you were emotionally effected by it, it lasted no more than 2 seconds.

Really I can only recommend this film for the performances of Taylor Mosby and Jason Bateman. Even Octavia Spencer doesn’t shine in this movie, that’s how weak the script is.

Mouthpiece (2018)

I put the original release date in the titles of all reviews on this site, not entirely sure why but it’s something I started doing so it’s now something I can’t stop as it’s the house style. Usually I end up with the previous years date in the title until about mid-June due to US films getting them before us, never had one 3 years out though. If you look at the poster you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a Scandinavian film with English subtitles. It’s actually from Canada, lead exporter of hockey pucks, politeness, and sexy Ryans.

I’m not really sure why it took so long to get a UK release, especially on demand. Maybe it’s the non-sexual nudity, or the female masturbation scene (women enjoying themselves sexually is something cinema is still not comfortable with for some reason). I hope that’s not the case, and it’s probably not, but there’s like a 1% chance that is the case. Either way, it got released on various VOD platforms in the UK this year, and better late than never, if this film came out years ago when lots of stuff was released there’s a chance I wouldn’t have seen it as it wouldn’t have caught my eye. That would have been a real shame as this is the first genuine hidden gem of this year so far and it’s hard to imagine a film I know nothing about impressing me quite as much as this one did.

I often see films described as “performance art”, and that is never more true than this film. It features two actors playing the same character simultaneously, so everything they do is in sync in some way. It’s a GREAT gimmick and it really helps display the inner turmoil of the character and the duplicity of humanity which resides in all of us. There’s a moment where a guy is creepy to her (them? I have no idea whether to refer to the main character as plural or singular, it’s a unique film). One of her swears at her, but the other thanks him.

Now onto the negative, I feel this film could have been smaller. It’s adapted from a play so I expected it to make the most of the gimmick and have the two sides of the character interact with each other but it doesn’t do that too much, instead it introduces a lot of other characters, which slightly detracts away from the core story of a person losing their mother. When I saw what the film was about I expected it to be incredibly isolated and mainly be the two of them conversing with each other. Maybe that’s on me for it not being what I expected, as it doesn’t exactly make the film bad, it’s still a great watch.

As I mentioned, this film was based on a play, and I want to see it now as I’m curious as to how it worked. There are moments here which never would have worked on stage. An example of this is the characters walking around a shopping mall discussing the funeral when it goes into one of them imagining doing a musical number (with subtitles) at the funeral, which then leads to an argument from the two characters (well, two people, as I said, they’re the same character). I have no idea how that could work on a stage but it really works here. The sense of depressive playfulness is great. There are other moments which I’m curious to see how they were done on stage (if they were done at all), mainly the extensive flashbacks. This is how play to film adaptations should be done, they should recognise the differences between the two formats and use it to do things that weren’t possible in the original that enhance the story. I believe the two main actors were also the ones in the play, and that really helps the film as they GET the characters. Would it have been more successful if they cast bigger actresses? Probably. Would it have made the film better? Not a chance. The performers, Norah Sadava and Amy Nostbakken, wrote the original play. So they know the material, and they know how to play every single moment in the most perfect way possible. Seriously, I cannot praise their performance enough, they’re a key part to this working.

I wish this film hit slightly harder, it didn’t leave me a complete emotional wreck, it just made me feel bleak for a while. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hit hard occasionally, the funeral scene is a highlight in terms of staging and performance. It starts with the two versions of her fighting to get to the one to deliver the eulogy, then the one who wins is physically unable to make it up to do it as they keep being pushed back by an unknown force. The two then embrace and walk up, delivering it together. Starting with them alternating dialogue, and then in tandem. It’s thematically the best way this film could end, in terms of narrative, in terms of film style, and in terms of character, you will not find a more deserving ending to a film than this.

Some people will resonate with this film a lot more than I did, and for some it won’t mean anything at all, but I recommend everybody gives it a go, you may love it, you may hate it, but it’s an experience you need to go through. Is it better than Soul? No. But if someone asked me to recommend a film from this year, I’d go with this first, purely because I believe it to be a film more people need to be aware of.

Toni And Cleo (feature-length script)

So as you may know, I occasionally post my own scripts on here, and that’s what today’s is about. Sometimes with my longer scripts I’ll post updates as I go so that you can see it all develop and come together. That’s not the case here, all I’m giving you is that it’s a follow-up episode to this. For those of you who didn’t click that, first off; rude. Second: a school shooting occurred. That’s all that’s relevant from that episode to this one. It features the same situation, but different characters and a different time frame. I hope you enjoy, worked really hard on it and incredibly proud of what I’ve managed to do:

Spoilers, so read that before you read on.

This went through quite a few different iterations while I was writing it. The moment where she burns the pictures of her son as she thinks he’s the killer, and only finds out the truth too late? That was originally the ending. Decided against that as it meant I was unnaturally delaying the characters from getting to that location. They would have gone straight there so narratively it was difficult to make that interesting. Would have just been people driving and talking, and that’s quite difficult to make compelling. My next ending was her finding out that her son was actually a good person, and beat people up for a good reason. Again, I brought that forward, because Toni was too sad and I needed to do something to cheer her up. The other major change was introducing the character of Esther. I never planned her to be in it, she turned up in the script one day and I was intrigued by what I could do with this character. I then decided to adjust the timeline and have a lot of it take place in flashbacks, so the show started on the set of Esther and we kind of worked the story back towards that point. The original opening was Toni’s husband leaving her. I don’t think it added anything to the story or the characters, so I deleted it and it doesn’t feel like it’s missing so worked out for the best.

The introduction of Esther also allowed me an antagonist. In the original draft the antagonist role was taken by someone very different: Toni’s sister Cleo. This is why the way they interact in the car from the airport is drastically different from how they do otherwise. I felt Toni needed someone who supports her, and Cleo was the best choice. It didn’t require much changing, I changed some of their dialogue to take place between Toni and Esther instead, other than that I kept it the same. That’s kind of weird but I feel it makes sense in the story, the two sisters do react with some hostility when they meet, and that relationship does change so there is the chance it could come off as unnatural. But luckily I made this change when I got to the part of the story where the shooting happens, so the audience just sees it as “they’ve put aside their petty differences because they’ve realised what’s important”. So it weirdly makes sense (albeit completely accidentally).

The other change was the ending. It did end with Esther shooting herself, and ending I was never really happy with, only had it happen because it needed an ending and it needed to be at that point (was going to make it twenty pages longer but when I got to that point I just felt “this has to end in the next few pages, otherwise it would feel wrong”). I’ve changed it so she walks out in shame (was going to have her arrested, but despite being a horrible person, she never technically broke any laws, plus, I knew enough about her character to know she’d flourish in prison). A fantastic ending is out there somewhere, I just need to try and find it.

Yeah, that was that. I hope you enjoyed it, any feedback will be greatly appreciated, and thank you for your time. Oh, and I am aware I labelled this a “feature-length” script, despite it being a television episode. My aim for every episode of this is that they could work as stand alone features with a little tweaking, and I firmly believe that to be the case here. Plus, if I said it was episode three people would feel they would have had to read the first two (which considering I haven’t written the second one yet, would be difficult)

Antebellum (2020)

I’m going to hate myself for saying this, but there’s something VERY Jordan Peele about this film. I know how that sounds, “oh, so all horror films starring black people are Jordan Peele ones now?”. Obviously that’s not the case (it just seems like it because the media can only focus on one black director at a time), but this film is very reminiscent of some of his work. Particularly in the use of music to turn seemingly idyllic shots into horror ones. That’s where the similarities end, this is nowhere near as good as Peele’s work.

In fact, this is actually quite poor. The pacing is one reason, it takes over 40 minutes for the film to introduce a major plot point. This meant it was weird watching for me as I remember watching the trailer and being like “okay this is set in the civil war era, but didn’t she come from modern day and just wake up there? Is that not part of the story?”. And it is, it just doesn’t really go into the modern world until too late in the film. It then stays there for a long time. I get what they were going for but all it really achieved was taking you out of the narrative of the plantation.

As I said, I get the logic behind doing it, horror movies need to start with the horror, particularly for modern audiences who don’t care too much for story and character. So if you had all these non-horror moments in there means you wouldn’t get the audience in the correct mood for the film. But doing it this way means you get taken out, and it really disrupts the flow. I’m not entire sure how you’d fix that, either cut it in half and still put it at the start so her waking up in the plantation is the inciting incident, or you could possibly intercut it, so it doesn’t happen all at once, but in small sections. So you have both narratives happening at the same time.

Also, the way it’s done means you guess the ending. I somehow already knew the ending, but even if I hadn’t, the nature of the flashbacks would have told me. If it started with her in the modern way, then she goes to sleep in a hotel and wakes up in the plantation, then there would have been a “oh maybe it was supernatural” element to it. As it is, you know exactly what happened, and it takes far too long to get there.

Having a THIRTY MINUTE flashback scene is overkill, and really doesn’t work. The writers/directors of this film have primarily worked in shorts, and writing for those is very different from feature length. You can’t anchor the entire thing on one killer scene, and you need to pay particular attention to making sure you have a long narrative, and not just a series of scenes.

There is a fantastic story to be told in this film. About how white America is still haunted by the sins of a past it refuses to acknowledge (it’s very telling how Americans describe the Civil War as “a war to free the slaves”, rather than “a war to keep slaves”, which is just as accurate). About how modern racism is still a thing, and just as cruel and sadistic as it was back then. About how the nostalgia for certain time periods is anchored in “back when those people knew their place” (British people are just as guilty for this btw, forever waxing lyrical about the good days of the empire). The film does make those points, but is more interesting in making those points, than building a narrative around those points.

Onto the good: Janelle Monae gives a great performance, definitely the films best, you are with her character every step of the way. The idea of a racist being dragged by a rope around their neck and being killed by hitting a confederate statue is incredibly smart. As I alluded to earlier, the music is great. Plus the moment of her riding through a “battle” on horseback is incredible, and just what the film needs. It’s a shame as I was really looking forward to this ever since I saw the first trailer. Looked like it was going to be an incredible piece of social satire with a captivating story. So fair to say, the result is incredibly disappointing, and should have been guessed by how the US release came and went and I heard no buzz about it.

Soul (2020)

Two minutes into this I knew it would break me. Somehow I hadn’t even seen a trailer for this so I genuinely had no idea what to expect, I knew it had something to do with music, but other than that, nothing. This is the part where I say “and I’m glad as it meant I went in with no expectations so I enjoyed it more since it was all a surprise). I’m not entirely sure thats applicable here though as I feel that even if saw a trailer, I still would have enjoyed this. It has so much heart and soul (OMG that’s the title of the movie) that no trailer could have ruined this movie for me. It could have put all the plot points in, ruined the ending, used a Black Eyed Peas song, all things I normally hate from trailers. It could have done all of that and I still would have enjoyed the film.

By this point, you know what you’re getting with Pixar, you’re either going to get one of the greatest kids films you’ve ever seen (Monsters Inc, Ratatouille, Finding Nemo), or you’re going to get something that at some point will make you cry like a baby cutting onions while wearing menthol-shooting glasses in front of a stranger. This is the second one, and very much so. I’m not really sure whether this would count as a kids movie, would you show this to a child? It seems you’d only show this to a child if you wanted them to have an existential crisis. Disney have done stuff like this before, the obvious one being Inside Out, but that distracted you with it all taking place in a childs head, and having a colourful playfulness to a lot of the darkness. This is different, it has a certain playfulness to it, yes. But it’s still a playfulness rooted firmly in the concept that the main character is dead and scared of moving onto nothingness as he feels he’s accomplished nothing. There’s no sugarcoating the medicine in this, it’s incredibly in your face and there is a chance that this will hurt its chances of being loved among kids.

For someone like me? I loved it. Pixar know what they’re doing. They generally make films which can only be made as animated (with the possible exception of Wall-E maybe) and this is no exception. Yes, a lot of it takes place in this world featuring a person and a cat talking, so you can do that live action. But the moments taking place outside of the real world, which exist as more of an abstract concept than a reality? That does things that ONLY animation can do. The fluid nature of the characters being shown as shapes and concepts is not something that would be possible in live action.

So in summary, if you have disney+, you HAVE to watch this. If you don’t, find another way to watch it. The first truly great film I’ve seen this year, and in terms of animated films it will take something truly special to upstate it.

Blithe Spirit (2020)

This, this was not a great movie. It’s in the running for one of the worst of the year already. I hope it is anyway as I can’t cope with films that are a lot worse than this. It’s a shame as I like Noel Coward’s stuff, his dialogue and situations are really good and are timeless, IF they’re performed correctly. The issue is that a lot of adaptations of these kind of films have the actors play the same way: they are full of overacting and BIG body language. Essentially they get performed like people think they were performed on the stage back in the day. The trouble with this is acting is different on stage and screen, on the stage you perform for the people at the back, so you need to be physically expressive and larger than life, especially in comedies, there is no place for subtle facial language. Film is different, the camera is close, so you don’t need to act so big, you can be more subtle, you can be quieter, and a lot of adaptations don’t take that into account and it’s frustrating. Not just because it seems fake and unnatural, but also because, even if the film was made this year, it makes them seem incredibly dated.

So that’s the issue with this film in general. More specifically? It just doesn’t have that spark that the film needs. I often talk about actors performances and mention how it feels like nobody actually enjoyed making the film, and how this can hurt it as everyone seems too wooden. This is the opposite, everyone seems like they’re having too much fun, it’s like they’re all just dicking about and waiting for someone to tell them “okay we’re starting now”. I watched it and I can’t tell what nationality Leslie Mann’s character was supposed to be, was she supposed to be British and couldn’t quite manage it, or was she just supposed to be posh and her mind automatically leant slightly British?

Coward’s plays are iconic, and it can feel like sacrilege to mess with them. But by continuously restraining adaptations to his own timeline you’re doing his work a disservice. The basic plot for this film would still work today, the concept and the characters would still be suited for a modern age. People update Shakespeare for a modern age all the time, so there’s no reason someone can’t do it with something like this. It would make it seem less dated, and would stop everyone giving the “oh darling how fabulous” style performances they all feel compelled to give in these movies.

On the plus side, some of the dialogue is incredibly funny, and it looks great. Often when films are set before 1950’s directors have a habit of either making everything rather murky and drab, or just gold-colours everywhere. There’s no room for bright reds and blues that pop. This is the exception, it’s a very colourful film and is a visual delight. It’s just the shame the rest of the film isn’t as good.

Let’s See You Do Better: Update 5

I’ve actually finished. A 104 page script complete. It’s not perfect, I added a plot point half-way through writing that I’m going to need to set up better. And I’m thinking of completely changing the opening (as seen here). But other than that I’m pretty proud off what I’ve done. It’s not the greatest Freddy film, but I am confident it’s better than the worst, and really that’s all this was for, was to prove there’s no excuse for film studios to churn out bad scripts. I’m not going to post it all yet, will do once I go through it, but I will give you the ending as it’s probably the most “controversial” part of it.

So to bring you up to speed with the characters:

  • Bruce, summons Freddy to help him stop having nightmares about his mother molesting him. In this he just came out of a coma where he spent every moment in an empty void of nothingness which has driven him slightly mad. He’s also written a screenplay based on Freddy (which is implied to be the first Nightmare On Elm Street film) and posted it.
  • James and Molly. The last survivors. Just before this scene they entered a police station to dispose of evidence of Freddy. In this universe, the town are using Freddy as a form of justice, unleashed on someone if they break the law (or become “undesirable”, which is a fucking chilling thing to think of by the way). All the information about Freddy is at the station, so they hope by destroying it, the town won’t be able to use it as a form of justice anymore because if nobody finds out about Freddy, he can’t be effective.

So without further ado, here’s the ending:

Read it? Good. So yeah, I did the ending to a Freddy film where he barely features. I know some people won’t like that but I think it suits this film better. This was never Freddy against the teens, this was always about someone using Freddy for his own ends, and that person is more important to the story than Freddy is.

Quite like the ending i’ve got (even though I blatantly stole the final scene from Watchmen), because I went abstract as hell. It made sense as if it’s a dream world, you don’t want a normal fist fight, you want something that can only exist in this film.