I Love My Mum (2019)

Have you heard of this film? Me neither. Turns out there’s a reason for that, it’s….well it’s kind of small. You know how some films are definite cinema pieces? This isn’t one of them, it’s made for watching at home in the middle of the day. You know what it felt like? It felt like an extended episode of a sitcom. Kind of like Young Offenders (which was turned into a tv series later on), but nowhere near as good. I watched the trailer and thought it seemed amusing but forgettable, and the film itself is the same. It’s not the funniest film you’ll see all year, but it’s a good way to kill time.

The central relationship really works though. You genuinely believe that these two characters have a love-hate relationship. Do you know what it reminded me of? Steptoe and Son. The two characters seem to dislike each other a lot, the younger one has dreams of moving and becoming something bigger, but is being held back by the parent who depends on them. This does lead to ultimately the worst part of the film where it turns out the mum lied about having cancer. She says she did it because she was worried that he would leave and she’d be alone. That revelation kind of ruins a character who was already very close to being unlikeable. There are too many moments where she gets so close to crossing the line to being awful, then gets slightly brought back. But all of them together, PLUS the ending ruin any sort of empathy you would have for her. It’s a shame as the son is actually kind of likeable in a weird way. Oddly gullible in a sweet way. There’s a moment near the end where you find out a woman he married was just doing it to convince him to smuggle drugs. When he realises the truth it’s actually kind of sad, but it makes his mum look worse as she just insults him instead of supporting him. It’s a shame as if her character was toned down it would make her likeable. All she needed was some redeeming qualities. I mean the film does work. The plot makes sense, it’s well directed and it does have some incredibly smart and funny lines.

None of that can make up for what I found the most disappointing thing about this film: former Chelsea player Frank Lebouef. Now a big part of this film is that whilst the mum has a British passport, the son doesn’t as he’s technically French. His dad is played by Frank Lebouef, and that disappointed me. Not because it’s him, but because it wasn’t him. He’s just playing the characters dad, I personally felt it would have meant more if he played himself. You could have got a lot of comedy out of the main character finding out his dad is actually a famous football player (especially if you establish that he hated Chelsea). I feel that was a wasted comedic opportunity, and that kind of sums up this film; a film of wasted opportunities and potential.

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Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

I’ll start with the bad: there’s no Stan Lee cameo in this film. That’s weird, it’s the end of an era. A definitive part of these movies will now no longer happen. You’re so used to it that you expect it, then when it doesn’t happen you remember why, and it’s kind of depressing. But enough about sadness, onto this post-genocide film. This is the first film in the MCU to come out after Endgame, so a lot of eyes are on it. It’s also the first one after Iron Man and Captain America have left. So this needed to be great. Anything less than that would leave it being dubbed a failure. Thankfully this is great, simply great. The story is fantastic. I mean, everybody who knows anything about comic books knows that Mysterio would actually turn out to be the bad guy, so when that happens it’s not exactly a surprise. Jake Gyllenhaal continues to remind you that he’s actually really good. Not as good as he was in Nightcrawler, but good enough to annoy you that he’s not in more films.

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Continuing my theory that all good looking people are evil.

The way they do it is pretty damn great though, featuring callbacks to characters you probably don’t even remember existing. It also continues the emerging relationship between Peter Parker and MJ in an incredibly sweet way that will melt the coldest of hearts. A similar heart-warming moment occurs between Ned and Betty Brant. Oh, I guess I should talk about spoilers. I can’t talk about this film without mentioning spoilers. Particularly for the mid-credits scene. Tbh I have been kind of underwhelmed with quite a few of them. They’ve mostly been jokes or otherwise moments which didn’t feel worth waiting for, the notable exception being the Ant-Man And The Wasp mid-credits, which used the mid-credits scene to not only provide an emotional gut-punch, but also make you genuinely excited about what happens next. This tops it. The first one anyway. The second one shows that Nick Fury hasn’t been Nick Fury, he’s actually been one of the Skrulls from Captain Marvel this entire film (you do have to wonder how long that has been going on, how many times in films has Nick Fury not actually been Nick Fury?). This is kind of interesting for the future as it shows how he’s preparing to set up an earth defence system.

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Don’t know what it is but I imagine it will be more sophisticated than this

But it’s the one before that which is the most interesting: J. Jonah Jameson turns up! Not as a newspaper editor, but as some kind of internet “news” prick like Alex Jones. He plays doctored footage which implicates that Spider-Man committed mass murder. He then shows a video of Mysterio announcing Spider-mans real name. Well, he goes “Spider-mans real name is Pe-” and then it cuts out. You think it’s salvageable. You feel safe. Then it comes back “real name is Peter Parker” then shows a picture of him. This is a huge game-changer for the character. But you know what? I REALLY wish it happened earlier. Just imagine if the two Spider-Man films were somehow earlier, and this happened whilst Tony Stark was still alive. This leads to Peter Parker becoming hated by the world, Tony tries to protect him but Captain America thinks he’s guilty. THIS kicks off Civil War, leads to characters dying, and the guilt of that stays on the conscience of Peter Parker. Then the guilt on Captain America when he has that realisation that he’s been leading a war against a teenager. The emotion of that “shit, I wasn’t thinking, I was a complete prick” moment would have been off the charts. I would have loved that, and not because of how disappointed I was with the lack of consequences from Civil War. Now, that’s all well and good, but who has to play Jameson? JK Simmons was the PERFECT casting for that role and is the best part of the original Spider-Man trilogy. I may not be a big fan of those movies, but I have to admit they nailed that and anybody replacing him would have to try VERY hard to delete JK Simmons from peoples memories. Which poor bastard is replacing him? Luckily they got the perfect replacement. This guy is not better or worse than JK Simmons, but is on the same level. Once you watch this movie, you won’t be able to unsee this guy as Jameson. Instead of JK Simmons, we have……..

JK Simmons

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I know, I’m crying with joy too

Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

So yeah, go see it, it’s brilliant, and sets up the next stage perfectly, shit’s changing, and it’s going to be great to see.

Brightburn (2019)

Okay, so every year I do end of year awards. These include the good (best actress, best film, etc), but also the bad (worst film, worst moment, etc). Usually these are decided near the end of the year once I’ve had distance from a lot of things, that way my response isn’t too immediate and I don’t put a meh film as one of the worst films of the year. It takes something truly special to get nominated for an award that soon after seeing it. For that to happen I have to be 100% certain it will deserve it. Why am I mentioning that now? Because this will get nominated, in fact it’s probably the frontrunner for one of the awards. So which one?

Best film?

I mean, it’s about what if Superman was evil, I love dark unique films and this fits it. But it’s not that. It’s way too pedestrian for that, and it never lives up to the potential that the concept promises. It feels way too restrained but I’m not sure what by.

Best actor for Jackson A. Dunn

He plays the title role as a young teen coming to terms with the fact he’s essentially God. A fascinating character that a lot of young actors would kill for. So is that where it wins? Nope, he is good, very good in fact, but not great.

Scariest Film

I mean, the idea of a Superman-like character being evil is a terrifying concept to think about. But it’s not that. A lot of the violent scenes come off more comical than scary. There’s a moment where he snaps a character’s hand, it’s the first piece of ultraviolence in the film, and it was met with laughter in the screening I was at.

Best Character

It has to be that, right? I’ve never been invested in Superman as a character as I’ve felt he’s too good and perfect. So a twist on that should enthral me, right? Nope, it makes so many allusions to Superman that it doesn’t feel like a real character in itself. It’s so in debt to its influences that it never stands out as an independent thing.

Best Moment

Close. This film needs chaos and violence, but 90% of it was in the trailer. Actually now I think about it, most of the film was in the trailer. Almost all of the major story beats, including the ending, were in the trailer. IIRC, two of the main characters final lines are in the trailer. That’s just weird. It does come close with the post-credits scene though. Setting up potential sequels and spin-offs which do excite me. Yeah this film kind of suffers the same problem as M.Night’s Glass Trilogy, where at the end of each of the three films (Unbreakable, Split, Glass) I wasn’t excited about what I just saw, but I was excited to see what happened next (not excited enough to go out of my way to see them, but meh). Same here, I want to see what happens next. This film seems very much like a prequel to a much better film, but there’s a chance that film (a kind of evil Justice League) might not happen. Which is a damn shame.

So, which award will this be nominated for? I’m ashamed to say:

Biggest Disappointment.

I really wanted to like this film. I bigged it up to people for months, so for it to be so boring is a huge disappointment. It felt too long despite only being 90 minutes. It had some interesting moments but overall it just felt like I was playing catch up to the trailer. This should have been great, yet it’s not even okay.

Yesterday (2019)

The basic concept of this film is a guy wakes up in a world where only he can remember The Beatles. They’re one of a few musical artists that that concept would work for. There’s them, Elvis, Queen, that’s it. There are big bands (Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath), and there are influential ones, but very few are in that place where almost anybody can name 20 songs by them immediately. They’re 3 of the only bands where you occasionally forget they’ve got songs you don’t know because of how many songs you do know.

Trouble is, it takes longer than it should to get there, and doesn’t really show how different the world would be. It doesn’t seem to have removed their effects (with the exception of a quick joke about Oasis no longer existing, a very quick joke which is NEVER touched upon again, which is weird as it’s established the character sang Wonderwall at a school talent show, he doesn’t decide to then record and release that song too.) There are moments where it shows other things no longer exist for some reason (Cigarettes, Coca Cola, Harry Potter) but they’re quick one-off jokes and never built on. That feeling of wasted potential is on that I got a lot through this film. Particularly during two moments near the end.

1) There’s a scene near the end where he performs on a rooftop. A rooftop gig, in a Beatles film? This will be important. The Beatles’ rooftop gig was thought to be the end of an era, one of the true closing points of the band. In this? It’s just another gig. It doesn’t even get broken up by the police.

2) In this universe, John Lennon lives. The main character goes to see him, then decides to apologise to the woman he’s hurt. Now if only there was a John Lennon song which would be appropriate for that occasion. One where he says he didn’t mean to hurt her and he’s sorry that he made her cry. If only.

It’s things like that which make it seem like this wasn’t a passion project. It doesn’t seem written by someone with an obvious deep love for the band, it seems like someone who buys almost exclusively greatest hits and chart compilations. Someone who considers Bryan Adams “hard rock”.

On the upside; the central romance is actually believable and heartfelt. You actually want them to end up together. They play well off each other and are a cute couple. The ensemble cast itself is pretty good, although Kate McKinnon does continue to be slightly too over the top at times, which doesn’t mesh well with the other performances which are more restrained. I also question the Ed Sheeran role. He plays himself well, it just feels a bit weird. At times it feels more like it’s promoting “the genius of Ed Sheeran” rather than The Beatles. It also teases him turning against the main character and becoming the antagonist driven by jealousy and resentment, but it never happens. It also has James Corden playing himself in a scene I’m still baffled by. I think it was a dream sequence (if so it shouldn’t be in the trailer, dream sequences NEVER should be the trailer, it’s a fucking cop-out), but I’m not sure. If it actually happened then it was glossed over completely, but if it was just a dream sequence then it wasn’t needed. Just a bit weird.

I mentioned earlier how it seemed like Ed Sheeran would be the antagonist, it also performs a fake out with two other characters as well, played by “I know them from somewhere” actors Sarah Lancashire and Justin Edwards. It’s played with that they know the truth, that he stole the songs, and they do. They’re the only two other people who know the truth, but they promise to keep quiet as they just miss the music so much. It’s a very sweet moment that is beautifully built up, and leads to the John Lennon appearance which is without a doubt the emotional highlight of the film both for the audience and the main character.

So I think you should see this, but ideally in a packed screening. If you watch it in an almost empty screen it won’t quite hit as well. Failing that, gather the family around and watch it at Christmas on iPlayer (when it will DEFINITELY be on in the future)

Child’s Play (2019)

This is the first one of the series I’ve seen in the cinema (The first one I ever saw, incidentally, was the fourth one). So this was quite a big moment for me. Remakes/reboots can be terrible though, particularly when it comes to horror movies. Was curious about this because the trailers didn’t really do a good job of selling it, to be perfectly honest I was disappointed by the trailers, the way it was edited made me worried that the actual film wouldn’t have the right tone.

Thankfully this film works. I’m not sure if it’s better than the first one, it’s an entirely different film. I think this film does more though. It has a lot more satire to it. More interesting human characters (even if they aren’t as adorable as the original Andy), and more interesting kills. I think the issue is people are comparing it to the original series as a whole, and not just the first movie, or even as just a piece of work on it’s own.

The big difference between this and the original? No voodoo. This isn’t a film about a serial killer getting his soul transferred into a doll, it’s about an A.I system. A disgruntled worker removes the safety protocols from a self-teaching robot. This fundamentally changes a lot of things, for one it makes the link between Chucky and Andy a lot stronger. Chucky genuinely cares for Andy (as much as a robot can) so his kills are made not from malice but to protect Andy from those who cause him harm (like when he strangles a cat that scratches him). This creates a much more interesting dynamic between the two, and is a lot creepier. I think it improves it as quite a few of the kills in the original didn’t really make strategic sense. In this the kills are done for a reason, that alone makes it a lot more interesting.

Another worry was that Chucky was no longer voiced by Brad Dourif. His voice was a huge part of that character, and you had to wonder how they were going to cope with replacing such an integral part of the franchise. Which unlucky bastard would they get to attempt to fill the void of one of the greatest vocal performances of horror? Oh, they got MARK FUCKING HAMILL? Yeah, I’m all for that. He NAILS the performance here. Coming off not as a manipulative killer like Dourif’s Chucky was, but like a broken angel. He sounds genuinely hurt and confused when Andy doesn’t respond to him like he wants him to. His voice performance is surrounded by other great performances too. The main 3 kid characters are great, the dynamic between them reminiscent of the Losers Club from IT.

And now onto the bad. It feels a little restrained, especially in the final section. The closing stretch takes place in a toy store, where Chucky takes control over all the wi-fi enabled toys (which is a lot). I expected this to be a true highlight, pure chaos and thrills which will build on the earlier kills to be all-out mayhem and one of the highlights of the year. As it is, it’s just another scene. With the exception of the BRILLIANT opening kill (well, the kill itself is kind of meh, but the way he kind of stumbles about whilst in costume and sprays a random kid with blood is brilliantly brutal), it feels lacking. It’s missing that sense of chaos and brutality that I felt the scene needed. It’s got multiple characters locked in a room full of things that can kill them, yet not enough happened for me to remember it (I can remember about 3 things that happened, and that’s it). Maybe if I didn’t have such high expectations I wouldn’t be so disappointed but as it I can’t help but feel a little bit let down.

So in summary; if you enjoyed the original series, I think you’ll enjoy this. It’s an entirely different animal altogether, but one you’ll still enjoy. It also has a piece of music that is both cute yet kind of creepy (sung by Mark Hamill).