Belfast (2021)

Quick synopsis: A semi-autobiographical film that chronicles the life of a working-class family and their young son’s childhood during 1960s Northern Ireland.

I will never go into a film as blind as I did this one. I’ve sometimes gone into films not knowing much about them, just watched a single trailer etc. A few times it’s just been the synopsis. Sometimes it has just been the title. This I didn’t even know that. It was a secret preview screening, I worried it was Cyrano, but assumed it would be The 355. I think this was quite unexpected, as when the title card came up there was a general feeling of “not what I expected, but I’ll take it”.

That was a great way to watch this film. It’s a coming of age story, and in life, you don’t know what’s coming. We don’t live in a horror story, or a romance story, we live in our own stories, the genre defined by what we see in front of us. What is coming is unknown, but we can make guesses based on what we’ve seen. It’s great to watch such an uncertain time period unfold through the eyes of a child. We see him play in the streets with childlike wonder, then shit starts going down. Considering when and where it was set, it’s not completely surprising, but it’s unsettling to see that kind of sudden terror interrupt something so innocent and pure.

That being the way to open is PERFECT. Then when more things like that happen they also stick in your head. This affects the way you watch the film. Even when nice things happen, even when there are moments of pure joy, the potential for sudden explosive violence is in your head. The fear that at any moment everything can go wrong is always in the back of your mind. That must have been what it was like though, so that alone does more to put you in their shoes than anything else similar but lesser films have done.

This feels like the most personal film in the career of Branagh, you can feel the genuine heart and love he has for the subject. The whole thing feels like someone is telling you a story, and the film is just in your mind as you try to picture it. He directs it beautifully, lending every moment a real intimacy.

The performances are great too, not just individually but how they interact with each other. The cast has such great chemistry that it’s easy to believe they’re all family. The one downside is that perhaps Dornan and Dench are too recognisable for this to be as effective as it could be, but that’s a minor quibble. The people you won’t know pull you in brilliantly. I didn’t know who Caitríona Balfe was before this but I probably should have (truth be told for most of the film I thought she was Cate Blanchett), I have seen her in things but she’s never stood out to me before now. She’s great in this, the torment she’s going through echoes through every moment of her performance. The true star, though, is Jude Hill, who gives a remarkable performance for someone so young.

So in summary, go see this. It’s a wonderfully personal tale and one that deserves to be seen.

2021 In Film: Day Eight (The Amazeballs)

And so we’ve reached the last round-up of the year. This, and the last one were the most difficult to separate. There were some great films in the last blog, and I will admit there are some here that some people will feel are more flawed. This one is all about “Do I consider these among the best films I’ve seen?”. Entirely subjective, but I never really claimed to be anything else.

Come True

We’re starting off with a good’n. I haven’t properly decided on the awards yet for this year, but this will probably win the one for best film. This is astounding. Everything about this works. I’ve had to cut down on unessential items this year, yet I still got both the blu-ray, and the soundtrack for this. Without a doubt, this is the most astounding film of the year. I remember this being on a big screen and completely involved in it. In reality, I watched it on a laptop while building work was going on a few doors down. That’s how good this film is, it makes the screen you’re watching on feel bigger.

It is possible I’m mad.

+ The general feeling of the whole thing. Incredibly tense.

– Might be a bit too strange. Plus, the title is such a common phrase that finding any cool t-shirts etc on redbubble (other websites are available) is difficult.

Best Moment: The ending. Incredibly tense which both makes sense and yet also doesn’t.

Worst moment: Not a specific moment, but there are a few times where the film seems to be repeating itself.

Best Performer: Julie Sarah Stone. One of the best performances of the year.

Best Line: “what if you’re wrong?” Means nothing with no context, but in the context, holy shit.

Original review here

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Am I being too generous to this? Probably. But the way this film made me FEEL is incredible. It made me feel warm inside like glitter was exploding inside of me. It just WORKS. I saw it twice at the cinema, and still feel that wasn’t enough. Probably the warmest a film has made me feel in a long time. It’s very funny, and the performances are amazing. I was concerned when we got near the end and three of the original Ghostbusters turned up. I worried it would be “it’s fine, the old men are here now, they will save the young people and the women, because they’re just better”. But it doesn’t, they work together, and there’s a moment which gives us one of the sweetest moments of the film which I won’t spoil here

This is in a weird situation with me, because I both want to see more, but also REALLY don’t want a sequel to tarnish it. This is the perfect mix of humour and heart, and unless the writer has a sequel he NEEDS to make, it won’t work. This is a deeply personal story to the creators, and you can tell. This is a film they NEEDED to make, and is all the better for it.

+ Absolutely lovely. This should be a film that does for kids today what the original did for kids in the 80s. It has so much heart that you can’t help but fall in love.

– Lacks a certain playfulness at times.

Best Moment: The closing section, was built up to wonderfully.

Worst moment: All the unsubtle references to the original.

Best Performer: McKenna Grace. I’ve been talking about how great a performer she is since 2017, and she keeps proving why I was right to do so. And it’s not even just me thinking “oh, I like that actor, I’m going to compliment her performance”, her hair is WILDLY different in this, so I didn’t even recognise it was her until afterwards when I was looking at the details online.

Worst Performer: Bill Murray. Mainly because it feels like his character feels like the only one that hasn’t changed at all since the original.

Best Line: “how is a hamster like a cigarette? They’re both harmless until you put them in your mouth and set them on fire”.

Original review here

I Blame Society

Okay now, this is going to be divisive. It’s not just “not for me”, a large number of people will HATE this movie. But this is absolutely perfect for me. Funny, bloody, and incredibly smart. I wish more films were like this. I crave originality in film, and this has that in buckets. I can tell I liked this because I was really fucking annoyed that I didn’t write it. If you told people that I wrote a film that was released last year, they would have guessed this one. Everything about it seems like it was made for me.

+ They manage to make a killer likeable.

– Some people won’t like the filming style.

Best Moment: Hard to say as it flowed together. The death on the hill is an absurd highlight though.

Worst moment: The ending might be seen as a bit underwhelming.

Best Performer: Gillian Horvat, obviously.

Best Line: “There are benefits to killing a bad person, if you get a good movie out of it that’s an additional advantage”

Original review here

Love And Monsters

Quite unexpected. I thought this might be typical YA film. One of those films you ignore if you’re over the age of 14 because you assume it will be trite bollocks. It wasn’t until a few people recommended it that I thought I should give it a chance. I’m very glad I did as this is one of the best YA films I’ve seen since I Kill Giants. Available on netflix and well worth a watch. Has a fun energy to it, a lot of heart, and is very funny. It also teaches a lot of important lessons. Not the usual stuff you get in films like this: “just believe in yourself and you’re sure to win”, “the underdogs will always win every sports game”, “all bullies secretly want a hug”, “if you do drugs once, you’re going to die!”. The lessons from this are ones that even adults need: just because a woman rejects you, don’t be a fucking dick about it.

+ How damn fun it is.

– Really needed better marketing

Best Moment: There’s a scene between Mav1s (a robot) and Joel (the lead) where her battery is about to die. It’s weirdly sweet.

Worst moment: The crab fight goes on just a minute or so too long

Best Performer: Ariana Greenblatt. A performer to look out for in the future.

Worst Performer: Dan Ewing. Not quite the swaggering dick he needs to be. He’s an 8/10, could go slightly further.

Best Line: I did have your typical upbringing, but then the world ended.

Original review here

Luca

Inside Out made you relive your childhood, Soul gives you an existential crisis (more on that later), and now Pixar are asking…………..what if two children had a fun summer together and competed in a bike race. Oh, but those children are also fish monstes. It’s Pixar. Of course this is going to be great. This is……..it’s beautiful. Absolutely stunning to watch. The look, the story, the characters, it’s all *chef kiss*. The plot is not great but it so damn emotional that it doesn’t effect it as much as it would lesser films. When you look at the backgrounds for this you almost forget that it’s animated. It looks so wonderful it gives you nostalgia for a summer holiday you never went on. You can almost feel the summer breeze on your skin as you watch it. I highly recommend everybody watch this. It’s weirdly underrated by people, haven’t seen many people talking about it. But it’s among Pixar’s best.

+ The fact they used actual Italian voice performers.

– The plot is kind of basic. Controversial opinion, Pixar plots aren’t great.

Best Moment: Finding out Albertos history.

Worst moment: The opening under the scene, not as essential as the rest of the film.

Best Line: “Sea monster!” Out of context, that means nothing. But those two words changed the film. It moved it to another level.

Original review here

Mouthpiece:

And here it is, the other film I’m annoying people with by constantly mentioning. This is astounding. This is art, with one of the best scripts I’ve ever seen. Technically, it’s “okay” for most of it, but there’s really not that much you COULD do with this. But the script is incredible, and the performances across the board are so perfect you forget you’re watching a film. It’s really annoying to me that I can’t find this on DVD, it is available on Amazon Prime, but I don’t want that. I want to contribute financially to the makers of this. They don’t deserve this film to be lost on a streaming service, they deserve me walking up to them, handing them money directly and saying “thank you, thank you for providing what you have. But also fuck you because I wish I thought of it first”

+ The core performances. Physically and verbally, damn near perfect.

– Doesn’t hit quite as hard emotionally as it could. It should wreck you, it just makes you feel bummed out.

Best performer: Both of the leads. They’re the same person and they work in tandem beautifully. This is performance as art at it’s very best.

Worst performer: The florist. She has a total of two lines but feels like the only performer working at 90% as opposed to 100%. Incredibly harsh but it would be like putting a fifty pound note among a briefcase of cheques for a thousand pounds.

Best moment: Where the two versions of her are fighting to be the one to give the eulogy. It takes place in an empty church, no music, just the sound effects and the visuals of them not just fighting each other, but also fighting against their own inabilities to do what needs to be done. Incredibly powerful and moving, ends with the two of them embracing each other and walking up together. I changed this moment about 4 or 5 times while watching the film, it’s full of so many great moments like that.

Worst moment: “hi, it’s your Auntie”. Mainly because you’d lead with name not relationship, wouldn’t you?

Best line: That sex face might be confused with your “where’s my other sock?” face.

Original review here

Raya And The Last Dragon

Disney films normally start with the main characters parents dying, this one starts with what is the closest disney have ever come to genocide since they declared war on Guatemala. That may not have actually happened, could have just been a fever dream.

This is possibly the closest to being in the last blog, it’s teetering between the two and an argument could made for it in either direction. I love that this film exists. I love the performers. I love the way it looks. I love the story. I don’t love every moment, but the moments I don’t love are overshadowed by the moments I do. And by the Awkwafina, who completely owns her character. It’s strange, as the animated character doesn’t look like her really, but the way she moves and her facial expressions are so her that it’s perfect. It’s her character that JUST pushes it into this blog. But it thoroughly deserves to be here.

+ The world-building.

– Story is a little basic.

Best Moment: When Sisu becomes human. Adorable.

Worst moment: The babies. Bit unnecessary.

Best Performer: Awkwafina. A genius.

Best Line: “it should have been this big inspirational moment where humanity united over her sacrifice, but instead, people being people, they all fought”.

Original review here

Soul:

Does this count as a kids movie? I think showing this to a kid would basically be torturing them. Unless you want kids to have an existential crisis. It’s tough deciding what’s the better Pixar movie from this year, this, or Luca. They do different things. That’s a kids film aimed at kids, this is one they may like, but the parents will understand more. I feel this is definitely more important and essential, and at times funnier.

+The sheer emotion.

-Is it suitable for kids?

Best Moment: The flashbacks. When Joe looks back at the simple pleasure he’s had in life, and how 22 viewed their brief interactions on earth. It’s incredibly sweet and made me ugly cry (or how I call it: crying. Get it? Because of my ugly face)

Worst Moment: The ending credits. Weird I know, but Pixar is known for being creative, so the standard credits here were a little bit of a let down as they had a lot of opportunity to do some really interesting stuff.

Best Performer: Rachel House. One of the few voices I didn’t know, yet provides the most unique vocal performance. There were a lot of choices for this, but she JUST edges it out for how much fun she seems to have.

Worst Performer: Richard Ayoade, it’s too, I don’t know, Ayoade? So it just feels like him as opposed to a character.

Best Line: “I’m Just Afraid That If I Died Today My Life Would Have Amounted To Nothing.” Oh I felt that. I FELT that.

Original review here

Sound Of Metal

I REALLY wish I got to see this at the cinema. It deserved that. Definitely deserved better than just being thrown on Amazon Prime. What this film does well is represent deafness. It’s not inspiration porn. It’s not “look at these poor people, pity them”. The way it lets you into their world is fascinating. The first time it does subtitles is when he’s learning sign language. So before that, he was an outsider, and the film made you feel like that by having YOU as an outsider. You knew people were signing to each other, but you didn’t know what. But once he starts engaging, YOU start understanding too. This means you really feel it when he turns his back on the community, you feel that pan and betrayal.

+ The way the audio editing puts you in his place.

– It could do a better job of letting you seee what his world was like before. You get a quick few minutes, not enough to gauge who he really is.

Best Moment: There’s a moment where he starts to finally socialise with other people from the deaf community. It’s incredibly sweet and lovely, great to see.

Worst moment: See the worst moments are also the best moments, so this is weird. When he gets the implants and the sound is incredibly distorted. It’s incredibly difficult to get through that part without feeling physical pain, but that’s kind of the point.

Best Performer: Oh this is tough. Olivia Cooke and Paul Raci are great, but Riz Ahmed? He deserves the plaudits he got.

Best Line: “what i need is a fucking gun in my mouth”. The desperation in his voice, the whole scene builds up to that moment. The frustration and helplessness. It’s almost like he’s going through the five stages of grief, and has reached the anger phase.

Original review here

Spider-man: No Way Home

It is possible I’m being overly generous to this. But then I think, I did see this twice, and I wasn’t bored whilst watching it the second time. And it’s a looooong film. But it never felt as long as it actually is. That’s what JUST pushes it over Shang-Chi, it uses the time it has much better. I’ve watched Shang-Chi online since and I did find myself tuning out for sections. This is possibly better second time around because you have the anticipation, you know what’s coming and you’re all for it. Plus it has actual emotion, the main death is brutal from an emotional standpoint.

This film is also a lot of fun. There’s something so joyful about the interactions between MJ, Ned, and Peter. That’s the dynamic I’ll miss most.

+ It resets him back to a friendly neighbourhood Spider-man.

– It closes off the Vulture arc. He now has no leverage, so what was the point of his ending?

Best Moment: The three Peter Parkers standing around chatting shit before the final fight.

Worst moment: The Venom moment seems a bit too much of a sequel-bait. But without Tom Hardy because he’s a good guy.

Best Performer: Tom Holland, he nails the rage when May dies.

Best Line: “I was in the Avengers” “is that a band?”

Original review here

Sweat

You’d expect a film about a Fitness Influencer to be fun and jolly, very lightweight. This isn’t. This goes deep into the nature of fame and fandom, whilst also discussing how we treat victims of sexual harassment. When she mentions being sexually harassed her family turn against her, saying “you can’t judge him, maybe he was a nice guy”. She’s felt alone lately anyway, and that just confirms that even when she’s with people who know her, she still has nobody to talk to. That’s the core theme of the piece, that everybody knows her, but she is still isolated from everybody. It’s a strange dichotomy, one that is backed up by the way it’s filmed, close up, but handheld so it almost feels like you’re stalking the main character. It’s a genius method of telling the story.

+ The detached intimacy to the filming style.

– Doesn’t really have a set story it’s telling, is more slice of life, which may put some people off.

Best Moment: The dinner scene. Says so much about her.

Best Performer: Magdalena Kolesnik

Best Line: “What’s wrong with the fact that I admitted that right now there’s no one in my life who loves me? Does that mean that I’m weak or pathetic? In that case I want to be weak and pathetic because that’s when I’m myself. When I’m the Sylwia from the posters I feel very lonely and I’m just tired of pretending that I’m better than I am. I’m tired of wondering that I’m not good enough. I want to be weak and pathetic because weak pathetic people are the most beautiful people on earth”

Original review here

The Columnist

Deeply uncomfortable to watch. It feels too real and true to be comfortable watching. But it’s so damn entertaining and brilliant that it’s worth going through the uncomfortable truths to get there. A film I loved so much that when it was being shown on Channel 4 over Christmas, I messaged people I knew and told them to watch it. This film deserves to be seen by more people. The bloody nature of it will divide people, as will the fact it’s not in English (people are still weird about subtitles, which is weird as they’re obviously the best way to watch almost any film).

Sadly I feel the people who most need to watch this film will be the kind of people who won’t want to. Sucks for them as they’re missing out on one of the highlights of the year. Not just in terms of the blood and the humour, but the performances too. Everybody plays their part perfectly. Katja Herbers is the main focus, and is the one you’re most likely to know due to her performances in The Americans, The Leftovers, and Westworld, as well as being nominated for a Critics Choice award for her role in Evil. Claire Porro is up there too though, and she doesn’t even have a wikipedia page. But she brings such a mischievous energy to her performance that you have to love her. I really hope I see more of her in the future as she’s got a lot of potential

+ An essential look at something which is both everywhere, yet not highlighted enough.

– Could possibly go a little deeper with the satire.

Best Moment: The murder montage.

Worst moment: The ending. It’s in the trailer.

Best Performer: Katja Herbers. She’s perfect in it.

Best Line: “why couldn’t you just be nice?” “I’m a person. If you call me a fucking whore, a stupid bitch, a paedophile, I feel that. It keeps me awake, DO YOU GET IT, THAT Other people have feelings. I don’t deserve this. I’m not a nazi, not a psychopath, not an enemy of the people. The fact that I have another fucking political opinion doesn’t mean I’m not a person. I’m not a monster, I’m Femke, just Femke, just a woman who writes for a newspaper with a different opinion to you. I don’t deserve this. You are what is wrong with the world. You and your whole army of losers with a laptop.” All the better because it leaves the person completely speechless. You feel her rage, her anger, and importantly you feel that despite her being a serial killer who is currently pointing a shotgun at someone, she still feels scared, she still feels powerless in this world.

Original review here

The Mitchells Vs The Machines

Again, went in with low expectations. I expected to be typical “technology bad, polio good” BS. But it’s actually a lot more nuanced than that. I was sold from the opening lines “Every family has its challenges. From picture day to picky eaters. For my family our greatest challenge? probably the machine apocalypse”. The film then continues with that wit and weirdness

+ A family film featuring a lot of conflict, where one of the characters is gay, but that’s NOT the cause of the conflict. Such a relief, and I’m glad that things like that are now normalised in most places, only seen as an issue in uncivilized backwards places full of people using their medieval religion to persecute homosexuals. You know, Texas.

– Quite cliche in parts.

Best Moment: When the mother tears through the robots. Could be seen as cliche in other films, but it’s just badass and earned enough to work.

Worst moment: The ending, the world doesn’t seem to have changed that much, which considering what happened is a bit strange.

Best Performer: Eric Andre.

Worst Performer: Doug The Pug. Because they (presumably) paid a lot for a celebrity pug to make dog noises. Why? They didn’t even seem to mention it in the promotional materials, so it’s not as though it was for publicity purposes. And even if it was, who pays to see an animated film because of which animal did one of the “voices”?

Best Line: “It’s almost like stealing people’s data and giving it to a hyper-intelligent AI as part of an unregulated tech monopoly was a bad thing”

Original review here

2021 In Film: Day Seven (The Very Good)

Annette

This is weird, and will probably be the most divisive one on this list. You can’t really be ambivalent towards this, you’re either going to buy into it and love it, or absolutely detest every second. Not just because it’s a musical, but because it’s a musical by Sparks, who are an acquired taste in terms of music. Plus, one of the characters is played by a marionette puppet. But for those who like things like this, you’re in for a treat. It may be a bit overambitious at times, trying to do way too much and not really closing all the doors it opens. And I’m sure if you sat down and analyzed it, parts of it may collapse. But just sitting back and having it wash over you is a genuine treat, and I really hope there are outdoor screenings of it in the summer.

+ The general flow it has, the music and visuals work together perfectly.

-There will be a lot of people that this film simply would not work for.

Best Moment: The opening, I watched/listened to it about 5 times.

Best Performer: Adam Driver

Worst Performer: Would it be unfair to say a puppet?

Original Review here

Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mar

Yet again, another weird film (trust me, there’s a lot of very weird shit in this list). If you go in expecting Bridesmaids, you’re going to be, well maybe not disappointed, but very surprised. The friendship between the main two is wonderful to watch unfold and will cause many moments that will make you smile.

For some reason though, this feels a bit like a film version of a sitcom (I would definitely watch a sitcom version of this if they ever made it by the way). The way that even the background characters feel fully developed, like they can say one line and somehow you already know what they’re like. Plus they’re so well defined that they can be used for different types of jokes. There’s not really one kind of joke, so even if you don’t like one, they’ll be one soon that you will like.

+ The weird insanity to the whole thing. But it makes sense in the world the film has created.

– You may find the characters annoying.

Best Moment: The drugged/drunken night. Weird and very funny

Worst moment: The introduction to the two main characters. It’s not that it’s a bad scene, but it probably could have been done better.

Best Performer: Jamie Dornan. Finally released from the shackles of 50 Shades (there must be a bondage joke there)

Worst Performer: Kristen Wiig. She’s good as Star, not so good as the villain.

Best Line: “All of our stories are from the past. We don’t have any stories from now”. Surprisingly deep line.

Original review here

Black Bear

Doesn’t have the usual Plaza-snark that you’d expect. The way this film pulls the rug out from underneath you is spectacular because really it means what you’ve seen isn’t real, it was part of a film within a film. In a badly written film, this would annoy you and would seem like a waste of time. In this it makes you feel like you’ve been turned around, you have to recalibrate everything you’ve seen with your new perspective, going back over what you’ve already gone through with your new knowledge. Your brain never settles when watching this, it’s always juggling the many balls of this narrative in the air, trusting you are paying enough attention to not drop them. It’s a film that rewards paying attention, and assumes you’re not an idiot. I’m all for films like that.

+ It’s strange, and it’s new. You’re not likely to see something else like this all year.

– Might be a little bit esoteric for some.

Best Moment: When Plaza’s character finally snaps. Weirdly cathartic and feels like that was what the film was building towards.

Worst moment: The opening. Only seems to exist for the purposes of the ending. Doesn’t really achieve much.

Best Performer: Aubrey Plaza. Plays something completely different to what you’ll expect from her, and it works.

Worst Performer: Christopher Abbott, doesn’t really seem to have the chemistry with the two female leads that it needs

Best Line: No, it’s not that I can’t *stand* that you have the thoughts about the world. It’s that I can’t stand the thoughts about the world that you have.

Original review here

Censor

Essentially a love letter to 80s horror. If you’re a fan of those type of films you’ll appreciate this. I feel it would make a great double bill with Malignant. I’m not sure it would play as well to non-Brits. Did America have the same Video Nasty scare as we did? They had some moral panics but they were mainly against the backdrop of religion. It wasn’t about religion here, it was about the Conservative government having policies which increased poverty and therefore led to increased crime, so they needed a scapegoat and distraction (good thing they never did that again, right? *nervous laugh*), and picked horror movies. This is set against that backdrop, featuring the people responsible for deciding what was safe to watch (but that wasn’t censorship of course, only woke snowflakes do that).

Yes, on the surface it is just about a woman and her sister, but it goes so much deeper than that, and I admire it for doing so. This could easily be a cheap slasher, but what Bailey-Bond did with her writing/directing makes it so much more. It’s an experience, and one you’re going to love.

+ The general feeling. Hard to explain, but it FEELS like it’s from another time.

– May be too slow for some.

Best Moment: The ending section. It’s what the film was building towards and it doesn’t let you down.

Best Performer: Niamh Algar. A perfect conduit for the writing of Bailey-Bond

Best Line: “if it’s the nations sanity they’re worried about, why don’t tey stop slashing social services?”

Original Review here

Freaky

Adored this movie. To be expected though as I loved both Happy Death Days. This isn’t quite as good as them, but I feel part of that might be due to the fact I have actual expectations for this, I didn’t for Death Day. This is better in some ways, the kills are much bloodier, it’s more straight-forward, and it has a stronger supporting cast so comes off more as an ensemble piece. There are some things that don’t quite work though. It goes on too long at the end, and we didn’t see enough of Vaughn as Vaughn so that Kathryn Newton’s performance could make references to his physical quirks.

+ Genuinely captivating story.

– Messy script at times.

Best Moment: The woodshop teacher death.

Worst moment: There’s a joke that’s somewhat uncomfortable to hear, and it’s from someone we’re supposed to like, but it’s hard to like when you see they’re a little bit rapey

Best Performer: Kathryn Newton.

Worst Performer: Well it’s not that Vince Vaughn isn’t good, he is, he’s great at it. But there are times where he’s playing his role just as a teenage girl, and not specifically as Newton’s character.

Best Line: Your touch makes my pussy as dry as sandpaper. I can’t wait to kill you

Original Review here

Free Guy

This is fun. It would be hard to imagine hating this movie. It’s funny, goes slightly deeper than you thought it would, and features more than enough shout outs to keep you happy. Could it be better? Definitely. But considering the synopsis, we should be thankful it’s not A LOT worse. It’s available on Disney+ in the UK so if you live there you should definitely watch it next time you need something to do. Unless like, the thing you need to do is heart surgery, then maybe get that done first.

+ Genuinely nice. It’s not a depressing film that’s all about importance and meaning in life (although it does touch upon existensialism at some points). It’s just a fun watch with nice people trying to get nice things.

– The section where he loses his memory and then gets it back is completely unnecessary (although you do get some cool visuals). Quite a few moments here don’t seem to have a reason for existing, and they pull the momentum to a halt.

Best Moment: Millie realising Walter/Keys likes her. Wasn’t pushed too heavily before that so when she starts adding it together, you do too.

Worst moment: Guy reuniting with Buddy. It feels weird that that’s the big emotion they ended the film on, rather than Millie and Walter.

Best Performer: Jodie Comer.

Worst Performer: Lil Rey Howery. For some reason I just didn’t buy his performance here.

Best Line: “what the shit?” – Chris Evans. If you’ve seen it, you know why.

Original Review here

Halloween Kills

I’m well aware I’m rating this a lot higher than most people have. For some people this film is now shorthand for “disappointing sequel”. I loved it. I actually think I might prefer it to the first one (by which I mean the second one, which is the eleventh one). As much as I did like Halloween (the new one, fuck I wish they gave them different titles), it didn’t do too much that I hadn’t seen before. As a film-watcher I loved it, but as a writer it didn’t do that much for me. There was nothing in there to make me go “oh, okay, that’s new”. But this does. Just the general notion here of looking at HOW a town deals with a tragedy, how the paranoia and panic can cause catastrophe. There are more than a few moments in this film where I was sitting there thinking “It would be such a good idea if they did x”, and then they did it.

+ The brutality of the kills. This isn’t a Michael Myers you can stan, this is one who lives up to the description of pure unadulterated evil.

– Doesn’t stand out on its own. While watching it you’re well aware it’s setting up the third one. Plus there are hints they’re going in a slight supernatural direction. Fuck I hope not.

Best Moment: The flashbacks. Technical brilliance.

Worst moment: This may change depending on how the next one starts, but I feel the ending of this where Michael fights back and kills everyone quickly, that should have been the opening of the next one. Then you put the credits where the ending was here.

Best Performer: Jamie Lee Curtis. Putting anybody else would be sacrilege.

Best Line: There’s nothing in that man but pure evil

Original Review here

Minari

A film that is somehow both underated and acclaimed. It did well at award season, but I haven’t seen that many people talk about it for some reason, not compared to other films. Parasite left a much bigger cultural impact than this did, I’m not sure if non-film people would even be aware of this. That’s a shame as this is such a good film. It’s hard to explain why it’s good it just is. It’s an experience watching it. You’re not sitting there going “oh this is where the narrative is going, that was really good sound design, ooo I like that shot”, you’re just taking it all in. It’s the cinematic equivalent of floating down a lazy river taking in the sights.

+ How believable most of the characters are

– The sister seems a bit underwritten. You could take her out and it wouldn’t change much.

Best Moment: The racist kids. They start off saying horribly offensive things, then start getting on with the kids, because that’s what kids do. Meanwhile the adults are pretending to be nice, but are actually super racist.

Best Performer: Youn Yuh-jung

Best Line: “There’s a Korea smell” “you’ve never been there”

Original Review here

Nobody

I really struggled where to put this one. Part of me wanted to put it in the next one. I did really enjoy it, and have since watched it again and it still holds up. I did really enjoy it. Any other year this would have been up there. But there were A LOT of very good films this year. And do I see it as being as essential as the others? Sadly, no. The villain is just too underwhelming, the plot is too basic, and the ending is a bit flat. Still well worth a watch though. It’s incredible what they made here, and is well worth your time.

+ The fight scenes. So well done.

– Underdeveloped side characters.

Best Moment: The bus fight. Not as bombastic as the one in Shang-Chi, but more impressive considering how long some of the takes are.

Worst moment: The ending, a bit meh. Not the final fight scene, the very end, the last two or three scenes.

Best Performer: Bob Odernkirk. Obviously. Especially since he did most of his own stunts.

Best Line: Give me the goddamn kitty cat bracelet, motherfucker!

Original Review here

Nomadland

Yet another film scuppered by the year it came out. Most other years this will be ranked among the best, but there were SO many great films this year that hit the emotional beats this one did, and better. This is really good, and available on disney+, so if you have that service you should definitely check this out. So why is it here and not the next one? It’s a little unfocused, little too lacking in narrative for me to feel a real personal attachment to it. There are moments where it will break you, but that momentum isn’t there for the whole thing.

+ Provides a look at a life often unexamined, feels very real.

– Feels very Oscar-bait.

Best Moment: Sharing stories around campfire after Swankies death.

Best Performer: Frances McDormand. Damn she’s good.

Best Line: I can’t remember the exact line, but there’s a moment where a guy is talking about his sons suicide, and how he loves the road because you always see everybody again, so he keeps travelling because it helps him think he’ll see his son again. That will BREAK you.

Original Review here

Pig

Nicholas Cage gets his truffle-hunting pig stolen. That’s it, that’s the film. This should be awful. With that synopsis, you’d expect it to be something like Taken, just a ridiculous action movie. There’s a scene where he walks into a fight club full of people who hate him, normally that would be a precursor to him just beating the shit out of everyone to prove his manliness. For this? He just stands still and lets everyone punch him in the face. That’s what this film does to you, and it’s great. This is one of the most intimate and personal films of the year, and I love that Cage is now doing things like this.

+ It’s basically art. Beautiful to watch everything happen.

– Some aspects are a bit unexplored.

Best Moment: Him sitting down with a chef he used to know. So tense and beautiful dialogue.

Best Performer: Cage, easily.

Worst Performer: Alex Wolff, just seems a bit of place.

Best Line: “They don’t even know you because you haven’t shown them.”

Original Review here

Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings

This has one of the best villains in the MCU. Most of the villains so far have been “Same as hero, but evil”, yet they’ve still lacked the personal touch that this one had. This also manages to balance the humour and action well, you don’t get many “let me pause this fight so I can make a joke” moments. With the bus fight it has one of the strongest action scenes so far. So why isn’t this rated higher? The third act. You have this beautiful story about family and legacy, a deeply personal tale where we connect with the characters involved and have an emotional connection/investment in. So how does it end? CG big battle where one or two equally powered people square off.

+ Nice to see how they deal with the “Mandarin” from Iron Man 3.

– Awkwafina gets too good at archery way too quickly. Is it just so she has something to do?

Best Moment: That bus fight.

Worst moment: The entire third act.

Best Performer: Awkwafina. She’s a genius.

Best Line: The first time I witnessed pure artistry. 1968. Planet of the Apes. I was sitting in a cinema next to my mum watching mastery unfold before my very eyes. After the film, I asked her, “How did they get those monkeys to do those things?” And she patted me on the head and she said, “It’s not real, pet. It’s just acting.” That’s when I knew. If they can teach those monkeys to act that brilliantly, just imagine what I could bring to the world.

Original Review here

The Father

This is the one I’m most likely to regret putting here. This is superb, the performances are incredible and the way it puts the audience in the shoes of what Hopkins character is going through. I just feel the directing could have been a bit stronger. Zeller is so determined to pull the rug out from under you, he never grounds you. I know it was done the way it was to put you in Hopkins shoes, but there are times where it’s a bit too unsubtle and you are fully aware of what’s going on, even when you’re lost you’re using context clues to put together the truth, and I’m not sure the character is doing that. He is seeing everything as the truth, so we’re not fully in his shoes, we are always observing him, not being him. Yes, I am aware this is needlessly picky. It’s an amazing film, you do need to see it.

+ Great gimmick.

– It feels too much like a play, doesn’t make use of the move to cinema.

Best Moment: The ending, it will break your heart and tear you to pieces.

Worst moment: The slap. Shocking, yes. But doesn’t achieve much besides that, plus we’re not sure if it actually happened.

Best Performer: Hopkins. It’s strange seeing someone usually so strong play someone so defenceless.

Best Line: “I want my mummy” Trust me. It’s brutal.

Original Review here

The Suicide Squad

You may notice a theme here, brilliant films with one flaw that’s too big to overlook. This has the same issue which a lot of similar films have had: the villain. Starro The Conqueror is great, and incredibly disturbing. But Peter Capaldi is wasted. He’s barely given anything to do. What he is given, he does brilliantly, which just goes to highlight how underutized he is. This would be like getting Jimi Hendrix to record guitar for your album and getting him to just play one note. The worst part is this means he can’t be used again in the DCEU. A bit like Idris Elba in the MCU, they had a great actor and they wasted them. Still definitely worth a watch though. It’s funny, incredibly brutal, and a pure joy to watch. From the opening section you’re put on your backfoot, the film constantly revealing itself to you piece by piece so you have enough to know what’s happening, but unsure of what will happen next.

+ I appreciate how dark the reveal is. What Starro has been doing (well, what the government made him do) is horrific and will shock you to your core.

– Basically ignored Birds Of Prey, waste of certain talent.

Best Moment: Peacemaker and Bloodsport killing the members of a camp. Brutal, in an incredibly funny way, and the pay-off is hilarious.

Best Performer: John Cena. He NAILS every aspect of Peacemaker here, and you can tell he’s loving it.

Best Line: “I was happy in space, looking at the stars” INSTANTLY makes the character sympathetic.

Original Review here

Together

This is a difficult watch. At the time of writing, COVID-19 is still a thing, and restrictions are about to be lifted because the PM wants more friends. So watching a film about the pandemic is awkward. I want it to feel passe, I want to actually have to explain parts of this to people, for it to be so irrelevant that it loses something. But it’s not, it’s real, far, far too real and it hits too close to home to be comfortable. But that’s a good thing, this won’t start the fire for revolution in somebody, but it might put some flammable material down and hand a lit match over, telling them they’ve got everything they need, the decision belongs to them.

+ Very very funny, until it’s suddenly not.

-Not timeless.

Best Moment: Horgans massive rant against the government response.

Best Performer: Both Horgan and McAvoy. Absolutely perfect together, they have a natural chemistry I want to see again

Best Line: “are you okay?” Simple, but so perfectly placed.

Original review here

Willy’s Wonderland

Nicholas Cage has gone from “big action star” to “I’m just gonna do the weirdest shit possible” and I am all for it. This is basically a horror film version of Five Nights At Freddy’s (the second film in the last few years that can be described as that, the first one being the Banana Splits film). This isn’t the best film you’re likely to see, but it is one of the most fun. The passion and energy the creators have is visible in every frame, you get the feeling that nobody here is doing it for a paycheck. The story is, well it has a story which is more than be said for a lot of similar films. A good story too, the characters are well developed, their motivations make sense etc. Overall it’s a lot more professional and maturely made than you would think a film with this subject matter is.

+ It’s Nicholas Cage kicking the shit out of robots.

-The animatronics look a little fake at times, and the shakey-cam style is annoyingly overdone.

Best Moment: Super Happy Fun Room. They literally kill a child, that rarely happens in films.

Best Performer: Nicholas Cage. He delivers an utterly captivating performance without saying a word.

Best Line: He’s not trapped in there with them. They’re trapped in here with him.

Original Review here

2021 In Film: Day Six (The Good)

Cruella

I will freely admit this film is a bit bloated, but it’s still a lot of fun. Probably the best of the live-action Disney villain explorations (okay, that’s not saying much I’ll admit). It all depends on what they do next though, a sequel could make or break this. There’s a huge gap between the Cruella of the 101 Dalmations film and the Cruella in this, and I’m not entirely sure how they can manage to bridge the gap. They somehow need it for a character we support and like, to become a puppy killer. Or they could just leave it, that would probably be the smartest choice in terms of avoiding watering down this film.

+ Slick, stylish, and just a pure joy to watch.

– Doesn’t have the best use of music. Sometimes uses songs just for the sake of using them.

Best Moment: Cruella’s roaring rampage of revenge. Great fun to watch.

Worst moment: Almost all the bits with her friend from school who is now a journalist. Feels like it’s building up to something big, but never really happens.

Best Performer: Not going to go with Emma Stone. I know most people would, and she is really good. But to me, Tipper Seifert-Cleveland was more important. She set the tone early on, dropping the baton for Stone to pick up.

Worst Performer: Jamie Demetriou, his performance seems a little out of place for this movie.

Best Line: “you killed my mother” “you have to be more specific”

Original review here

Here Today

The first of three dementia-based films I’ll mention in these round-ups, all three having incredibly different tones. On the downside that does mean that you’ve seen a lot of this film before, but it has moments of Billy Crystal being incredible and those moments are soon forgotten. There’s great chaotic energy to the whole thing. It’s great to see Billy Crystal lose control. He’s normally so in charge comedically that it’s jarring to see him lose it, but it’s perfect. There are moments where it feels like it’s going into rom-com territory, and that’s when it’s the weakest. Also when it goes into the “look, a young cool black person has come in to shake up the white establishment” tropes a bit too often. But it has so much heart that it’s forgivable. Like I said, there are three films about this topic out this year. They are all very different, and The Father is technically better, but this one feels more personal to the writer.

+ A film about this topic shouldn’t be this funny.

– There’s a plot point that seems to have been dropped and could have provided a lot more emotion if it was properly explored.

Best Moment: The 180 his family do when they find out the truth, believable and completely heartbreaking.

Worst moment: The very end where he has a vision of his ex-wife sitting nearby. A bit schmaltzy and silly, doesn’t really gel with the rest of the film.

Best Performer: Billy Crystal. He owns this film.

Original Review here

In The Heights

Magic. That’s the best way to describe this. It truly transports you to a different place. This is the first straight-up musical I’ve seen since 2016’s La La Land, and I much prefer this. For starters, the characters are more likeable, the standard of songs across the board is better (although La La Land did have some crackers), and the choreography is consistently solid. I know normally it’s expected to compare musicals to other musicals, or to compare films by minorities to other films by minorities (algorithms consider Boyz In The Hood and Spiral the same, despite being wildly different they’re both “black movies so if you like one you have to like the other, right?”). This? This is more like The BFG from a few years ago, which anybody who knows me knows I absolutely love. It has that same sense of warmth and love to it. But there’s also a darker edge, it’s a film about worry, about family, about legacy. But it’s wrapped up in sun-kissed songs so delightful that you don’t notice how dark the subjects they’re talking about are.

+ The warmth and magic this fills you with.

– There are moments where the song just seems to be there to delay the narrative.

Best Moment: The opening song, a great way to introduce the characters.

Worst moment: There’s a song near the end which could stand to lose a verse or two.

Best Performer: Logic dictates it should be Anthony Ramos as the lead Usnavi, but Melissa Barrera is truly the MVP of this, providing the real emotional core.

Original Review here

Last Night In Soho

This is a joy to watch. The colours, the music, it’s incredible to watch in terms of directing. The downside is the pacing. It’s a pretty big downside though. There are some incredibly repetitive moments, particularly in the middle section. It’s a shame as otherwise, this is a fine film, and if it wasn’t for how tiring that section this, this would be rated much higher. But it really killed all momentum the film had up that point. I would still say you need to watch this though, the performances are great (although Anya-Taylor Joy isn’t in it as much as the advertising may make you think), and like I said, it looks phenomenal. Plus these are the best written female characters he’s ever had in his films.

+ The truly inventive and unique visuals. Really makes you annoyed that his version of Ant-Man didn’t work out.

– The pacing. Kills it

Best Moment: The club set pieces.

Worst moment: Jack murdering Sandie. Turns out not to have happened so is only really there to confuse and set the audience/Ellie on the wrong path. It’s like telling a deliberate lie to someone, and then mocking them for believing it.

Best Performer: Thomasin McKenzie. Scarily good.

Best Line: “This is London. Someone has died in every room in every building and on every street corner in the city.” Really dispels the myth of London as a place where dreams come true, reminds you that it was pretty shitty for most of its history.

Original Review here

Malignant

When I came out of this I actually had to message someone “have you seen this yet?”, I needed other opinions, this film did a lot well, but the thing it did best was staying with you after it ended. After watching it, it will bounce around your head for a while. So why isn’t it listed higher? Mainly because of how uneven it is. There are some effects which just look a little bit silly compared to the rest of it. Plus the romance sup-plot does not work.

But what does work is almost everything else. It looks great a lot of the time, there were so many times when I was watching this and thought “that would make a good poster”. Most of the performances are good, and the music is solid. It’s also pretty f*cking weird, especially the third act which is just sheer glorious insanity. I’m doing a disservice to this by ranking it this low, I am aware of that, but the subplot really hurt it. You still have to see it. Plus it features both Madison Wolfe, and McKenna Grace, which means the odds of the two being in a road trip movie together in a few years time has increased slightly.

+ Even if you hate it, you won’t be able to turn away.

– The main “couple” have no chemistry at all.

Best Moment: The third act. It’s longer than most moments, but trust me.

Worst moment: When the thing is revealed, built up as really shocking and strange, but the budget lacks it down.

Best Performer: Annabelle Wallis.

Worst Performer: George Young.

Original Review here

Ninjababy

A refreshing pregnancy comedy. The main character, Rakel, never thinks for one second about raising it as her own, and the film never judges her for this decision. She recognises she is not in a position to do it, so it’s best she doesn’t. It helps that she’s played by Kristine Thorp, who I’m not familiar with (probably because I haven’t watched any other Norwegian comedy-dramas before). Thorp does a wonderful job of making her character likeable. Helped by the writing though, the way the character interacts with everyone around her is delightful.

+ The use of animation overlays gives it a unique visual style and cool punky energy.

-The music choices seem wrong.

Best Performer: Kristine Thorp, obviously.

Best Line: “Blood and suffering!” Never thought that line could be delivered in a weirdly heartwarming way.

Original Review here

Promising Young Woman

If I had to use only one word to describe this, it would be “harrowing”. I imagine this is a more disturbing watch to women, as they’ll recognise a lot of this. I am definitely watching this as an outsider, and even then this is a disturbing watch. It does so much right though. Films have a strange view of rapists. They’re nearly always shown as the creepy guy, or the sociopath, a stranger in the night who breaks into your house and forces themselves on you. They don’t often display them as the “nice” guys who help a drunk woman home and then take sex from them while they’re passed out. A lot of the guys in this film are not good people, even the background characters. At one point she gets cat-called, the standard “show us your tits”, she just stares at them and says nothing, their response to this is “fuck you”, obviously. Just shows how they don’t really want any sign of accountability.

Moments like that have led to this film being called “anti-men”. It’s not, it’s clearly not. It’s anti-rapist and anti-rapist supporters. If you think being against rapists means you’re against all men, that says a lot about you and your friends. The only way you can take this film as a personal attack against you is if you’re the kind of person who needs attacking. The kind of guy who makes sure the drinks his female friends drink have a little bit more alcohol in them than they think, in the hope they’ll be drunk enough to make bad decisions with you later. You’re not a rapist, you’re a nice guy. You’re her friend aren’t you?

Die in a fire.

Back on point, the ending of this where she dies (spoilers) is hauntingly long. Incredibly uncomfortable as it happens in real-time. This is apparently realistic, that is how long it would take for someone to die by that method. It also completely absolves the guy doing it of any innocence. To do something for that long is not a “spur of the moment”, you have to be a calculated scumbag to do that. So it’s so satisfying when he then gets arrested at a wedding. It did originally end with the murder, so glad they changed it. It now has a much more satisfying ending. not quite as realistic, but it means you end the film with some sort of closure.

+ Such an important movie, as some of the responses to it have proven.

– It’s weird for a near two-hour film to have this many underdeveloped themes and characters.

Best Moment: The opening, sets the tone perfectly.

Worst moment: Not really a moment, but the romance with Bo Burnham’s character feels underwritten, so the reveal near the end doesn’t land.

Best Performer: Carey Fucking Mulligan. Obviously.

Best Line: “It’s every man’s nightmare to be accused of that” “do you know what every woman’s worst nightmare is?”

Original Review here

Supernova

The second of three dementia-based films, and probably the one I’m least likely to go back to. It is still very good though. This one is more focused on the coming storm, somebody who knows what is going to happen and is scared of it. The downside to this approach is it means you don’t really FEEL what he’s going through. You don’t see what he’s fearing that much. Compared to Here Today or The Father, where you knew exactly what they were going through, here he mostly seems composed, with a moment every so often to remind you, but moments which are said rather than shown.

+ The relationship between the two.

– When the two aren’t on screen together, the film seems to lose a step or two.

Best Moment: The dinner party

Worst moment: When Tucci’s character is talking to someone about stars going out in a blaze of glory. Very unsubtle.

Best Performer(s): Tucci/Firth. They work so well together as a couple.

Best Line: You know what the hard part is? It’s that you’re… you’re just… you’re not supposed to mourn someone while they’re still alive.

Original Review here

The Night House

This really sucked me into it. I felt like I was inside the film and it was all happening around me, rather than seeing it on a flat 2D-screen while pet-watching for someone (for some reason my brain thought I saw it at the cinema, that’s how much it sucked me in). The director, David Bruckner, also gave us The Ritual, another highly recommended film. He’s a director you really need to keep an eye on in the future. He’s doing the next Hellraiser film, so it might be time for me to actually watch one of those.

+ The look. The whole thing looks like a damn postcard.

– Some may find it a bit dull. Plus, the “good guy” still murdered a lot of innocent women. And the film never really focuses on that.

Worst moment: When it reveals that her husbands suicide note saying “Nothing is after you” meant “there is a demon called Nothing, he is after you”. That’s just deliberately vague and unhelpful. Purely to drive the plot forward.

Best Performer: Rebecca Hall. Easily.

Best Line: “I was the depressed one, he was the one there helping me. Maybe I infected him”. Damn, that’s…..that’s worrying. It’s beautiful though in how it captures the thought process of someone with depression. You feel guilty about being depressed, and that you’re to blame for any bad things that happen to anybody. It cuts deep, too deep.

Original Review here

The Power

There’s a line in this “I grew up in Our Lady Of Grace, a children’s home”. Okay, not a great line, but the utter contempt on the face of the nurse opposite when she gave that line was great and summed up societies attitudes on children from them. Especially since it came straight after the nurse said there’s no link between poverty and health it’s just “people round here live like animals”. That’s what this film is, it’s a magnifying glass on injustice.

+ The general sense of dread

– The editing could be better in some of the ending moments. Plus the character seems to be written just to garner sympathy at times, could be better written.

Worst Moment: Screaming match at end, comes off a little silly.

Best Performer: Rose Williams. The physicality is incredible, and there’s something of the Natalie Portman to her

Worst Performer: Diveen Henry. Purely because for one line her accent wavered.

Best Line: “A place people die in should never be allowed to get that dark”

Original review here

2021 In Film: Day Five (The “Once Is Enough”)

Films which I liked, but am in no hurry to see again. I liked them, there’s nothing really wrong with them, and I enjoyed them, but I’m not going to rush out and buy them. I MIGHT watch them on netflix, maybe.

In The Earth

I like Ben Wheatley, he doesn’t really have a singular style. Sightseers is very different from Free Fire, and both are different from this, but there is something unspokenly similar between them that is difficult to put your finger on. I think it’s a sense of Englishness that permeates his work. His work normally seems to have a sense of character intimacy which is essential for a film like this. This is folk horror, a genre that is wildly underrepresented. Narratively it’s a bit weak, and as horrific as it is, not much will stay with you once it’s finished.

+ What it does with such a minimalist cast is something to be admired.

-Won’t really stay with you. Doesn’t say as much about the pandemic as it should.

Best Moment: Foot amputation. Gross, and weirdly funny somehow.

Best Performer: Joel Fry. Mainly know him from comedy stuff so it’s strange to see him be this good at drama.

Original review here

No One Gets Out Alive

See if I had to guess, I’d have thought this one was directed by Ben Wheatley, and In The Earth was based on a book written by Adam Nevill. Despite being set in America, there’s something strangely British about this. Maybe it’s the tone, it’s reminiscent of The Power (which came out this year, but hasn’t been featured in these end of year blogs yet, which indicates how highly I rated it). This is a good film to watch, and is deeply relevant today. Sadly, films about undocumented immigrants being taken advantage of is something that has been a part of popular culture for years, and will continue to do so unless our society changes.

+ Some great directorial choices, some little details really add to it.

– Pacing is a little off.

Best Moment: Someone is being killed on the other side of a door, and a tooth flies under it. One of the aforementioned nice touches 

Best Performer: Cristina Rodlo

Original review here

Our Ladies

I should have liked this more than I did. It’s very funny, and it’s a frank and honest look at teenage female sexuality, something which is normally only ever viewed from a male perspective: teenage boys (or in 70s films, 30 year old men) lusting after teenage girls. This focuses on a group of teenage girls, which is a plus for it, and it’s set in the 90s so it has the nostalgia going for it. Sadly it isn’t as good as others that have explored similar group dynamics (Blockers). I feel this is mainly due to the characters, they’re just not that likeable sometimes. I know they’re teenagers and teenagers are sometimes dicks, but this goes beyond that. It also has some real issues with pacing.

+ The dynamic between the main characters is a sight to behold.

– The whole thing does feel like it’s from a male focus. We don’t feel one with the characters, we just feel like we’re watching them.

Worst moment: The ending, mainly because it seems to have a perfectly natural ending point, then it continues.

Original review here

People Just Do Nothing: Big In Japan

I like the show, but in a “while watching” way. I laughed whilst watching, but I can’t really remember that much from it, and I can’t recall a specific episode to recommend to someone. However much I enjoyed it, nothing really stayed with me. That’s somewhat the case with the movie too. As funny as it is (and it is very funny in parts) it leaves zero impression on you once it’s over. The characters do seem to have taken a level in jerkass, and seemingly only for plot purposes. And some character motivations aren’t entirely clear.

+It’s so good to see these characters again.

-I swear they actually repeat jokes from the series.

Best Moment: The “fight” on the plane. So pathetic and funny.

Best Performer: Ken Yamamura. Delightfully sleazy.

Best Line: “Japan has a massive drug problem. You can’t buy drugs anywhere”

Original review here

The Green Knight

This is a strange watch. It’s utterly compelling while you’re watching it. This was fucked by the distributers who didn’t seem to give it a wide-scale cinema release in the UK. Eventually I got to watch it on Amazon Prime, but I would have much prefered to have seen it at the cinema. I mean, it is better to witness this at home, but the chance to have seen this on a big screen at least once would have been cool. More films like this should be released, unique and spectacular films. This was so close to being included higher up, but the fact I have no desire to ever really see it again means I has to put it here. It sucks, but that’s the rules. The rules that I made up, and which nobody would notice if I broke.

+ Absolutely fascinating to watch unfold

– Won’t stay with you.

Best Moment: The ending, thematically perfect in its ambiguity.

Worst moment: A few moments which aren’t really bad, but unless you’re familiar with the tale the film is based on, may confuse you.

Best Performer: Dev Patel. Easily. Fast becoming one of the most dependable actors out there.

Best Line: “Well done, my brave knight. Now… off with your head.” Trust me, in context, it’s great.

Original review here

The Hitman’s Wife Bodyguard

Nowhere near as bad as everybody says it is. It’s very funny, at times it provides some of the biggest laughs of the year. But outside of that? It’s a little flat. The plotting is quite weak. It seems to spend so much time setting up future plot points, and then not bothering to go back to them. The first one was (in my opinion) needlessly sweary at many points. It’s a film that critics will hate (and they did), but it’s very entertaining to watch.

+ An improvement on the first one.

– So unfocused. I’ve never considered that a script would need Ritalin before.

Best Moment: The Morgan Freeman reveal. It won’t be as funny now I’ve spoiled it. But at the cinema it got audible responses.

Worst moment: The ending, just feels a bit stupid.

Best Performer: Morgan Freeman

Worst Performer: Richard E. Grant. Not really a bad performance, but not in there enough.

Original review here

The King’s Man

The last film I watched at the cinema in 2021, and it wasn’t the best way to end the year. I really enjoyed the first two films, the second one less than the first, and this continues the downward trajectory. The second one was too big, this one was too small. There’s no standout scene. I think they were aiming for the Rasputin one to be that, but there’s only so much you can do with 3 untrained humans with 1914-level weaponry. I wondered how a franchise made of futuristic technology would work when it was set in the past, and the answer is it doesn’t.

+ I love the random moments where it’s more historically accurate than it needs to be. Best example of this is the Franz Ferdinand assassination.

-What was the point? Unless they’re doing a sequel to this specific film, then it was pointless. It didn’t improve the legacy, or answer questions we needed answering.

Best Moment: An almost silent action scene set in No Mans Land. That’s the most creative this film gets, and it’s so good.

Worst moment: The villain reveal. Should have been done earlier.

Best Performer: Rhys Ifans as Rasputin. He’s disgusting and gross.

Worst Performer: Harris Dickinson. Doesn’t have the charisma needed.

Best Line: Throughout time, our people robbed, lied, and killed. Until one day, we found ourselves… noble men. But that nobility never came from chivalry. It came from being tough and ruthless.

Original review here

The Last Duel

This film has been tainted somewhat by Ridley Scott being a bit of a dick. This film failed at the box office, losing millions. He blamed it on millenials:

“I think what it boils down to — what we’ve got today [are] the audiences who were brought up on these fucking cell phones. The millennian do not ever want to be taught anything unless you are told it on the cell phone”

Nothing to do with the plague then? People are wary of leaving the house, so every film is at risk at the moment. Also this wasn’t really advertised that well. He can say there was a lot of advertising, but I saw one trailer, once. Didn’t see a poster, didn’t see anything on TV, nothing suggested on youtube, nothing. Also, it is a divisive concept. A film depicting the same event from 3 different viewpoints is not exactly something that lights up the box office, it has a limited audience, even if you do front-load with a hollywood cast. It’s a shame that his opinions have tainted the movie, because it’s quite good. It’s intense, performed well, and still depressingly relevant. We talk about how society hates rape and sexual assault, but then rapists avoid jail time because “it will ruin their life”.

+ Looks great, you truly buy into the time.

-Very dull at parts. Drags on when it shouldn’t, but then at some points it cuts too quickly so you don’t get the emotional impact.

Best Moment: The actual fight itself, not standard flashy editing and quickness, it’s slow and brutal and real.

Worst moment: The ending, drags on too long.

Best Performer: Matt Damon, he’s gross.

Best Line: “Formally, this is not about her. Rape is not a crime against a woman; it is a property crime against her male guardian.” Says so much.

Original review here

2021 In Film: Day Four (The “Not For Me”)

This is a lot more subjective. This is basically “I recognise these films are good, but they’re just not for me”. Basically, this would be where Nolan films would end up if he made any this year.

12 Hour Shift

I probably will watch this again someday, just not for a while, and I wouldn’t pay for it. I think my main issue is tone. The script is dark and intense, but it’s filmed like a teen slasher. It also doesn’t make the most of the setting and situation for scares. Hospitals are terrifying places at night, and this doesn’t do a good job of showing it. The soul-less lighting and blank-walled corridors should be used for better visuals than we get. There is a good washed-out look to the whole thing but it could be better.

+ Good story, great performances.

-Feels too polished for such a dirty story.

Best Moment: The character taking a pepsi instead of a kidney is very funny.

Worst moment: The ending feels a little too convenient.

Best Performer: Mick Foley, although it’s still weird seeing him swear.

Original review here

Black Widow

Yeah I’m putting this here. A lot of people loved this but it did nothing for me. It felt completely pointless. We have had five films since End Game and we’re still no closer to having a clue where it’s going from here. By this point in phase 1 we’d reached Captain America, and was just about to have the first Avengers movie. Is there even a connective story anymore? This has been the most pointless of all the Phase Four ones though. All it did was introduce a few characters who could have been better introduced (it also didn’t explain where they were during End Game). The best way for this to have purpose is for the released Black Widows to form a team and have a t-show based on them, so basically an espionage thriller on disney+ with an ensemble cast. That has potential, but I think Marvel are just going to forget them.

+ Looks slick, good action scenes.

– Adds nothing to the MCU

Best Moment: The opening credits. Perfect.

Worst moment: Prison break scene. Nothing inherently wrong with it, but you’d think the release of all those prisoners would be an important moment. Nope.

Best Performer: David Harbour. I wish his character was introduced earlier as he’s a lot of fun, and he’s played perfectly.

Worst Performer: Ray Winstone, his accent is awful.

Best Line: When Yelena makes fun of Natasha’s “superhero landing” pose.

Original review here

Godzilla Vs. Kong

This film is BIG. I feel you’ve already missed out on the optimum way to watch this. The best way is definitely on a screen bigger than you. You need to look up and be in awe of what you see. This series has been the best at scale and spectacle. The scripts have always been lacking though. That’s definitely the case here, a film this visually impressive should not be as dull as this is. This franchise has been too heavily weighted in Godzillas favour, of the three movies to set this one up, Kongs was the shortest. He was already at a disadvantage due to seeming underpowered in comparison to Godzilla, so the whole thing doesn’t feel as much “Unstoppable Force Vs. The Immovable Object” as it should. Feels more like “Superman Vs. Incredible Hulk”

Really this needed another movie. The section where Kong was in the Hollow Earth could have been a solo movie for him. Set him up in that universe as a force to be reckoned with, build up the Kong side characters more too (since the first one was set in 1973, none of the human characters return, bit of a waste).

+ It looks incredible.

– A lot of the time is wasted.

Best Moment: The Hollow Earth. Creative, great action set pieces, and it looks great.

Worst moment: The final fight. It’s mostly shot from high up so it doesn’t look as good as it should. Low angle shots would have been more expensive, but would have let us really feel the damage.

Best Performer: Kaylee Hottle. Doesn’t say a word but is the emotional core of the movie.

Best Line: If this wasn’t contributing to world destruction, this would be a great DJ booth.

Original review here

Jungle Cruise

You don’t get films like this anymore. Fun adventure films that a family can sit down and watch together on a Sunday afternoon. It’s a fun throwback and I wish more films came out which were like this. Would prefer them to be better though. As fun as this is, it’s not fun enough to cover up some of its flaws. I know it is a throwback, but it still feels dated. Especially in how it treats Jack Whitehall’s character. He’s obviously gay, and there is a nice moment where The Rock’s character responds positively (well, in a “don’t care, love who you love” way). But his character is played like that character would have been played in the 80s.

+ Very fun, good way to kill time.

– The CGI animals. They’re woefully bad.

Best Moment: When The Rock makes a hurricane of puns to a tourist group. Funny in a terrible way. And a small child begs his mum to make him stop.

Worst moment: Not much, but that’s the problem. In terms of excitement, it’s very flat.

Best Performer: The Rock. He’s perfect for things like this.

Worst Performer: Jack Whitehall.

Best Line: “If I wanted to go to a primitive backwater where I couldn’t understand a word anyone was saying, I’d visit our relatives in Scotland”

Original review here

Rons Gone Wrong

A lot of people really liked this, and I just don’t get it. It doesn’t seem to be doing anything new. There’s nothing bad about it, but it’s not doing anything I haven’t seen before, and seen done better. It’s nowhere near as bad as Emoji movie or Ralph Breaks The Internet, but it’s nowhere near as good as The Mitchells Vs. The Machines. It even has similarities to Free Guy. It’s bad enough being compared to one film released the same year, two is just unfortunate.

+Looks fantastic

-Can’t help but be compared to better films.

Best Moment: When Ron fights back against the bullies. Deeply satisfying.

Worst moment: The “we were friends all along” moment between the kids feels incredibly forced and unnatural.

Best Line: Old women. Not trending. Widowed dads, downer! Enhance and post!

Original review here

Surge

The kind of film which you don’t want to watch, but when you start watching you can’t turn away. For the soundtrack of Dark Knight, Hans Zimmer created some of the music for the Joker by striking razor blades against piano strings, creating a creepy sense of unease and dread. That’s what this film is like, constant dread and unease and a feeling of uncertainty and uncleanliness. It’s not something you will enjoy watching, but it is fascinating to see.

+ Fascinating character study.

-Script is kind of dull at parts

Best Performer: I mean, obviously Ben Whishaw

Original review here

2021 In Film: Day Three (The Meh)

Films I could take or leave. I didn’t like, but I didn’t dislike either, they just existed.

A Quiet Place Part 2

Nowhere near as good as the first one. Part of that, for me anyway, is that it used music. The first one didn’t, it played everything in silence so that every sound was story-based and realistic. It felt like you were alongside these people on the journey with them, because they use music in this one it meant it felt like you were watching a film. It really took you out of it.

+ It still has the ability to shock you.

– The fact it has music. Ruins the tone. The first one was made by the silence and this film seems almost scared to have it.

Best Moment: The opening scene, a flashback to when the event first happened. Wonderful chaos, and to be honest I wish we saw more of that stuff.

Worst moment: The sub-plot back at the base. It just distracts away from the main plot. So easy to deal with, if you killed the kid. It would have improved the pacing, added stakes, and broke the audience.

Best Performer: Millicent Simmonds, obviously.

Worst Performer: Djimon Hounsou, a good performer, but he’s way too big for such a small part in this film.

Best Line: “The people that are left, they’re not the kind of people worth saving”. A line which made me feel the film was going to be much better than it ended up being.

Original review here

Candyman

This is on me. I probably would have liked it more if I had seen the others, if I had more history with the franchise. But I didn’t know I’d need to do homework, and the way it was advertised made it looks as if it was something new and was more of a soft reboot. I recognise this is just a personal opinion but this lacked tension to me. There was no chance of a fightback for the characters, so it was just people you had only just met being killed, repeat. Another 15 minutes or so to flesh out some of the background characters would have really helped it.

+Nia DaCosta is one hell of a director. Visually it’s a real feast for the eyes.

-Don’t really care about secondary characters

Best moment: When they use shadow puppets as a way to tell the story. Very creative, and perfect for this film.

Original review here

Coming 2 America

I’ll say this, this film is VERY fortunate I watched the cinemasins video for the original a few days before watching this otherwise I wouldn’t have got half the references it makes. It’s so in debt to the original that it doesn’t carve out its own legacy. It also seems unsure how to treat Eddie Murphy’s character, is he a sensible mature king who has grown into the role since we saw him last? Or is he the cocky slightly immature character that he was? This tries to play it both ways and it doesn’t really work. Available on Amazon prime so if you have a subscription already I’d say watch it, but don’t hunt it down.

+All the cameos, sure to raise a smile

-Feels a little lazy at times

Best Moment: The celebrations for the current king. Showcases just how out-of-touch the current king is, the hero-worship of someone who’s only real achievement is being born is brilliantly hilarious and so bombastic.

Worst moment: The conception of his son. Let’s not split hairs, it was rape. He was drugged to the point where he can’t even remember it. The fact that nobody pulls the woman up on this is, well it’s problematic.

Best Performer: Kiki Lane. She isn’t given a lot to do but she plays her character perfectly. You can sense the internal battle of tradition vs. worthiness.

Worst performer: Arsenio Hall. His performance isn’t bad, but there are moments where he plays it a bit too comedically. We’re talking live-action Disney sitcom level of overacting.

Best Line: You’re dressed like a slave from the future.

Original review here

Gunpowder Milkshake

I had high hopes for this. Looked like it would be slick fun. It’s not, it feels very derivative of Edgar Wright’s work. It should not be as forgettable as it is, and that’s a shame. It should at the very least look gorgeous. I mean, it looks okay at parts, but in a Snyder way, where the visuals of the shot are more important than writing how to get there in a logistical way. The whole thing feels like a video game, and not a good one. A cheap one from the late PS1 games where putting women in latex outfits and having the camera focus on their arse in a game was considered “progressive”, even when the game was called something like “Phwoar! Look At Those Tits” and the tagline was “It’s okay to masturbate over this, women aren’t people”. The fight scenes are predictably overedited. Also, the sound design is a little “off”. It feels muffled so that some hits don’t land quite as hard as they should.

+ When it leans into what it actually is, it works.

-Trying so hard to make every image seem “cool”, that none do.

Best Moment: There’s a great fight where Karen Gillan’s character loses the use of her arms, so she gets someone to tape a knife to her hand and fights like that, just swinging her arms around. It’s incredibly creative, can’t remember the last time I saw a fight scene like that.

Worst moment: She bowls a bowling ball at someones head, it smacks against it with a dull thud. With the right sound effect (and obviously the correct levelling of it against the music) it would have been a lot better. Plus it would have confirmed whether it knocked them out or killed them. It could have done either and that scene alone doesn’t do a good enough job of indicating which one it is. It later turns out that it did just knock them out

Best Line: “There’s not a single person on earth that I’d rather kill people with”. That’s my chat-up line btw.

Original review here

Red Notice

One of the last films I watched last year, but I still can’t talk at length about it. It’s the film equivalent of mediocre cod and chips. You don’t know what else you expected, but you know you expected better. It was in that weird middle ground where it didn’t have enough twists that you were constantly on your toes admiring the genius, but it had enough that when there was another one you just felt it was a bit stupid.

You know how when you used to play Tony Hawk games and everything in the levels would be lined up so that you could skate it in one continuous motion? That’s how the action scenes feel here. Like the world was specifically designed to be in an action film. There’s no sense of realness to it.

+ It’s highly unlikely you’ll be bored while watching it

-Nothing stays with you

Best Performer: Gal Gadot

Worst Performer: Ed Sheeran

Original review here

Spiral: From The Book Of Saw

I admire what they tried to do. Making it more of a procedural buddy cop drama rather than a straight-out horror is a great idea and at least shows they’re willing to do something new rather than sit on the same old tired stories this franchise is known for. But the non-Saw parts are probably the weakest sections. The buddy cop elements aren’t given enough time, we don’t buy the central friendship so we don’t feel anything when the partner “dies”. That’s in quotes for a reason, scriptwriters must know by now that in a film like this when a cops partner dies and we don’t see it, we all know they’re not really dead. It’s basically cliche at this point. Nobody is shocked by it anymore, apart from people who have never seen a film.

Also, horror doesn’t really mesh well with Chris Rocks style. He’s a good performer but he’s too “I need to prove I’m funny and cool” to pull it off. It’s so necessary for him to swear and make jokes that it’s hard to buy him as the lead in a horror movie (it’s why nobody has cast Will Ferrell in a similar role).

+ A film that goes this hard on police corruption is incredibly brave to do in the current political climate. It shouldn’t be, “police shouldn’t shoot unarmed people in the back of the head” shouldn’t be a controversial position, but sadly it is.

-Tries to do too much, and doesn’t manage to do any of them that well.

Best Moment: The first kill, really sets up how psychopathic the killer is.

Worst moment: The ending, cool at first, but then when you think about it it just becomes stupid.

Best Performer: Marisol Nichols. Perfect in her role, and her death is the most brutal.

Worst Performer: Max Minghella, his voice is just not intimidating.

Best Line: “Listen up. I know some of you guys think I’m a rat. Some of you think I’m a snitch. Some of you are mad I fucked your mother.” funny, but also weirdly emblematic of the issues with the dialogue in this movie.

Original review here

The Nowhere Inn

I was on board with this film for a portion of it. But as the film went on I just stopped caring It was being weird for the sake of being weird. I like weird, but narrative will always be the most important thing. For a mockumentary to work it needs an element of truth to it. More so than any other method of telling a story, you need the characters to feel real, otherwise, it breaks the whole immersion and just feels like people acting in front of a camera they’ve borrowed (yes, I know they are acting, but a good film makes you forget that). There are moments where it feels like it’s going to examine the characters, but then pulls away. Last year, St. Vincent made an album called Daddy’s Home, about her fathers release from prison. That’s a better method of examining who she is than this film is. O

+ The music is amazing.

-Feels a bit too staged and “quirky”

Best Moment: When she’s being interviewed by a journalist who clearly isn’t listening to her, and who just wants her to send the journalists girlfriend a voice message.

Worst moment: The sex tape with Dakota Johnson, it’s a good scene, but it comes very soon after the previous scene I mentioned and the tonal shift in terms of character is too jarring.

Best Line: “From now on I need more say in how people are going to act” “let’s only document things I can control”. Great at showcasing her delusions.

Original review here

Undergods

Liked the idea, and technically it was good. It’s just the story was dull and I didn’t really care for the characters. The issue with an anthology film is just as you’re getting used to certain characters, their story is over and never referenced.

+ Very good on a technical level. Very well directed.

-Leaves audience emotionally cold

Best Moment: An absolutely brutal double murder at the end

Worst moment: The opening could do more to draw you in. The opening to a film like this should shock you, it should make you think “holy shit” either in surprise or horror. You should be able to show someone it and have them want to watch it. In this, it’s, well it’s kind of dull.

Original review here

Venom: Let There Be Carnage

I really wanted to like this, but it’s far too short. It plays like a film that has already set up Carnage/Cletus as characters. In an ideal film, we will see a world where he is a serial killer first, then have Brock be the one who takes a picture of him which leads to him being put in prison. This would mean that the characters actually have a personal connection before Carnage makes an appearance. As it is it just feels like “Cletus is obsessed with Brock because plot reasons”. To be honest you didn’t even need Carnage in this. Have the film be about Brock/Venom hunting a serial killer, and focus the plot on the separation of Brock and Venom. Have it end with them catching Cletus, THEN go into Carnage in the next film. That way when it comes along we’ll have that feeling of “oh shit, this guy was a psychopath before, he’s going to be even worse now.”

+ Looks great, and the performances are brilliant throughout.

– It should be an 18 rated film. Too bloodless. Ironically, the film never lets there be carnage.

Best Moment: Cletus talking about his childhood, very disturbing, and uniquely told.

Worst moment: I’m still not entirely sure if Reece Shearsmith’s character died.

Original review here

2021 In Film: Day Two (The Bad)

Films that are bad, but at least have one part that I would recommend watching it for.

Antlers

When watching a film like this I don’t just look at what it is, I look at what it could have been. And this could have been great. Local folk horror can be absolutely sublime when it’s done right, IF it’s done right. I don’t feel it’s done right here. It feels like it’s taken inspiration from folklore, rather than adhering to it. So something which could be interesting and informative becomes shockingly pedestrian.

+ The use of shadow and scale to create some really good looking shots.

-Feels unfocused, places dominos it has no interest in toppling.

Best Moment: There’s a shot of a kid walking through a tunnel, it’s very pretty.

Worst moment: The ending. Means the story isn’t complete, and not in an entertaining way.

Best Performer: Jeremy T. Thomas. Very young but great potential.

Worst Performer: Cody Davis. I know he’s young, but his performance annoyed the crap out of me and wanted me to turn the film off (which considering I saw it in the cinema would have been rude). Wasn’t even satisfying to watch his character die.

Best Line: “Lucas I’m Hungry”. A true “oh shit” moment.

Original review here

Army Of The Dead

Got released straight to netflix, and to be honest that’s kind of where it belongs. This tried to do something new by adding a heist aspect, but that never really comes off. It’s just not smart enough to pull off what it needs to. It kind of looks good but also doesn’t. Everything looks clear, but also somehow like scale models, nothing looks real for some reason. If you’re 13 years old, you’ll love it. I mean, it has zombie boobs. But if you’ve ever seen a film before, you’re not likely to see something you haven’t seen done before, and done better.

+ A solid idea, and it’s unique if nothing else.

– Never lives up to the potential

Best Moment: The opening credits.

Worst moment: The introduction of a possible time loop. Never followed up with.

Best Performer: Matthias Schweighöfer. Makes his character incredibly likeable.

Worst Performer: Nora Arnezeder, doesn’t really have the presence required for her role.

Best Line: “Everyone has a mum you cunt, but not everyone is an abuser lording power over quarantined women.” A shame the person who performs it doesn’t do a good job of delivering it.

Eternals

This was so close to being in the next section (the Meh). But then I actually remembered watching it, how utterly bored I was. Seen some reviews say “but it’s setting up things”, that’s not good enough. You can’t judge a film as good by what it sets up, you need to take it on its own merits, and this just isn’t good enough. The representation is pretty good, but the script itself is severely lacking. It’s trying too hard to be big, so we ultimately don’t care about the characters, which in a film as heavily character-based as this is a disaster. So much of the films run-time is wasted, most of the flashbacks are a waste of time and completely devoid of tension since we know what happens (very much like IT: Chapter 2 in that regard).

+ Shows off their powers rather than just telling us. Admirable.

-The action scenes are so pedestrian they’re at risk of being run over. There’s no sense of inventiveness or cleverness to them.

Best Moment: Hiroshima.

Worst moment: Conquistadors laying waste to an Aztec city. Should be a highlight, it should feel like it means a lot, but it’s a bit weak and doesn’t have the emotional resonance it should.

Best Line: “I’ve watched humans destroy each other when I could stop it all in a heartbeat. Do you know what that does to someone after centuries?”. THAT! That should be what the movie is about. The fear of how your inaction leads to disaster. That should haunt them, especially after Thanos (who is barely mentioned).

Original review here

How To Deter A Robber

I was worried about this before I sat down to watch it. The trailer both interested me, yet also made me worry that the pacing would ruin it. That did turn out to be the case. The first half of this film is such a slog to get through that you’d be tempted to turn it off. Resist that urge though, the actual robbery itself is a highlight. It’s really funny, incredibly well written, and flies by beautifully. But like I said, it’s REALLY let down by how poor the rest of the movie is.

+ It’s a good indication of the talent Maria Bissell has as a writer and director. She is definitely one to look out for in the future.

– The set-up really needs to be improved. Once the robbery does happen it becomes a much better film, but that doesn’t happen for about 45 minutes, which in an 87 minute-long movie is far too long,

Best Moment: Outside of the actual robbery itself (which is more a long section than a moment), the bit just before is delightful. You have the characters duct-taping knives to Roombas, generally showing what would happen if the kid from Home Alone had the same intentions but was drunk and not good at planning.

Worst moment: When the main characters think their neighbours’ house is being robbed so go inside the house and then do a seance. Really unnatural character-work and only seems to exist to make them suspects.

Best Performer: Abbie Cobb. Something of the Anna Kendrick about her (or Gillian Horvat depending on how much of a pretentious film-watcher you are). Her line delivery is perfect and I adored her performance.

Best Line: “beer with green food dye. Oooo nice”. Okay the line isn’t good, but the delivery is awesome.

Original review here

Mortal Kombat

Here’s an indication of the quality of this film: I can’t remember where I watched it. I might have watched it at home, I might have seen it at cinema, I genuinely don’t know. From a technical standpoint, it’s fine, but the script is so full of nonsense that it’s hard to enjoy. There are some weird choices made though, especially in terms of sound (why does Kano make a lions roar noise?).

+ Sub Zero, that character is chilling (pun not fully intended but I’ll take it). Basically a horror movie villain.

– The fighters are distinguished by a dragon-shaped birthmark, one which you can also get by killing somebody who has it (like conkers). Stupid. Very stupid. Nobody has accidentally been killed and then their killer suddenly notices a weirdly specific birthmark.

Best Moment: The opening. It’s a great fight and very inventive.

Worst moment: It has a fight in a pit, and then doesn’t recreate the pit fatality. Wasted opportunity there.

Best Performer: Josh Lawson. Makes a great Kano.

Worst Performer: Tadanobu Asano. Raiden is supposed to be a god, I don’t know who you should get, but it should be someone with a definite screen presence, which this actor just doesn’t have.

Best Line: I have risen from hell to kill you.

Original review here

Prisoners Of The Ghostland

Definitely the weakest Nicholas Cage film of the year. A film like this, with the talent behind it, has no right to be as utterly dull as this one is. I love that it is new, it is unique, and it is stylish. But there’s so little to draw you in once you get past the superficial. It should be a lot more fun than this. It doesn’t help that Willy’s Wonderland came out the same year, that’s also insane, and features Nicholas Cage. But it’s a lot better, and when you compare the two (which is inevitable), this looks a lot weaker by comparison.

+ Very one of a kind.

– Incredibly flat and one dimensional once you get past the surface.

Best Moment: Nicholas Cage’s balls explode.

Worst moment: When he meets up with Psycho again. Mainly because the editing was a bit weird.

Worst Performer: Bill Moseley. Far too Foghorn Leghorn to be taken seriously. Plus he moves too much which makes his character look nervous.

Original review here

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

These films seem to have somehow become a cultural phenomenon without actually doing anything new, and with deeply oversaturating their market. This film is probably the closest to being in the previous blog, it’s kept out by one AMAZING jump scare. But other than that this is a rather poor movie. It’s without the style of the others, the script is incredibly dull and there’s so little meat on this film it’s basically a decaying corpse of a franchise.

+ Some good directing ideas.

– These films refuse to look at the Warrens with a critical eye, taking everything they’ve ever said as the definitive truth.

Best Moment: There’s one REALLY good scare. (sadly, it’s repeated again so loses the impact somewhat).

Worst moment: The ending. “Yay, this person who DEFINITELY killed someone will be released after only a few short years, not learning that his actions have consequences. He gets to live the rest of his life happily whilst the family of the victim of his brutal attack have to see it unfold unscreen and be told how the murderer was a nice guy really. Yay” Fuck off.

Best Line: Being brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared. It means you are scared but you hang in there.

Original review here

Wonder Woman 1984

Not as bad as Justice League, but definitely more disappointing. The drop in quality between this and the first one is basically vertical. Two scenes, two scenes would have improved this. All it needed was young Bruce Wayne. He’d have been around 12 years old in this timeline, so his parents would be dead, but he wouldn’t be Batman. Now if you went up to a 12 year old Bruce Wayne and gave him one wish, it’s not difficult to imagine he would wish for his parents back. You’d have some emotion there, but then imagine the end, when he was to cancel that wish. He essentially has to kill his parents. Imagine what that would do to a person. Not only would that be absolutely heartbreaking, but it would also explain why he’s so wary of Superman. He’s seen what Gods can do when they interfere with humanity. The very existence of Superman is a constant reminder to Bruce of the worst moment of his life. It would also explain why he doesn’t kill, he’s done it before and it emotionally ruined him. That would have taken 15 minutes at most and would have given this film the depth and nuance it deserved. Instead, we get an opening of young Diane doing the Amazonian Olympics and cheating (in a scene that makes no sense once you look into it and realise they knew exactly how many people would reach each point). This film also ruins her character, reducing her to “a woman who just needs a man”.

+ Great colour scheme to the whole thing.

– If you think about some of the plot issues for more than one second, everything falls apart.

Best Moment: THAT cameo at the end. Would be game-changing if anybody paid attention to the film.

Worst moment: So, Wonder Woman raped a guy, right? She put Trevor in the body of someone without their consent, and put that person in danger. They had sex, which the original person did not consent to.

Best Performer: Gal Gadot, obviously.

Best Line: Welcome to the future. Life is good! But it can be better. And why shouldn’t it be? All you need is to want it. Think about finally having everything you always wanted.

Original review here

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

I really wanted this to be good. I want DC films to be good, and it annoys me that a lot of the ones in the main DCEU have been bad. The first Wonder Woman was great, and I absolutely LOVE the Shazzam one. But it’s hard to continue to support them when they make films like this. It’s better than the original, but that’s not saying much. The reaction to it has been baffling too, with DC fans claiming it’s one of the best films ever made. Someone tweeted that that, Batman Vs. Superman, and Man Of Steel are the best DC films ever made. So, better than Dark Knight, better than the first Christopher Reeves Superman, better than any of the animated films, better than Joker. No, that’s definitely not the case. This isn’t even as good as Green Lantern. A lot happens, well, I think a lot happens, what does happen happens so slowly it feels like nothing does.

+The idea of studios releasing original directors visions of films that failed is very exciting.

-Watching it feels like the whole thing is in slow motion.

Best Moment: Wonder Woman taking out robbers will always be great, and it’s really amped up here.

Worst moment: Okay weird choice but I’m going with a moment that wasn’t in the film. The moment in the original where Superman is being interviewed by some kids on their phone. That was the only time that character felt right. Wholesome, a symbol of hope and optimism. The fact it’s not in here hurts it.

Best Performer: Affleck still kills it as Bruce Wayne.

Worst Performer: Eisenberg, obviously.

Worst Line: “You won’t kill me. I’m your best friend. Besides, who’s gonna give you a reach-around?” Eugh, just no.

Original review here

2021 In Film: Day One (The Awful)

Quite simply, the worst films of the year. Ones that not only am I in no rush to see again, but ones that I will actively avoid. Films where my short recaps here can basically be summed up as: eugh. My internal clarification is this: would I consider it among one of the worst films I’ve seen? Does it have any reason to see it? If not, in here.

A Perfect Plan

A film so dull that it wasn’t actually on my list of films I saw this year. It was only when I was going through the reviews that I remembered it. It has left zero impact on me.

+ The Concept. A unique twist on standard heist movies.

– So incredibly dull. No excitement, no joy, nothing worthwhile. It’s a film so devoid of anything memorable that watching it is almost indistinguishable from not watching it

Best Moment: When it ended? I dunno, I’ve got nothing. Like I said, forgettable.

Worst moment: The heist itself. It lacks any excitement or tension. It should be the lynchpin the film revolves around and builds up to, as it is it’s a thumbtack that fell out of a corkboard, breaking as it hits the floor, then gets kicked under a cupboard, forgotten and worthless, completely pointless.

Best Performer: Carlo Rota. He’s too good for films like this.

Worst Performer: Kathleen Munroe. They’re all bad, but she’s the star, so she gets the biggest criticism.

Best Line: You’re a shoe size passing for an IQ.

Original review here

Antebellum:

I was really looking forward to this. The concept was good and the original trailer was haunting. The finished product just isn’t there though. The pacing is all off, it lingers when it should move on, and moves on when it should linger. It’s more interested in making a good point than it is making a good movie.

+ Has some great moments.

– All the villains are basically caricatures, so they’re not interesting or compelling to watch.

Best moment: Her riding on horseback through a fake battle.

Worst Moment: The reveal.

Best Performer: Janelle Monae, best known as a musician, but I really hope she gets cast in more things in the future. She’s in Knives Out 2, which I’m looking forward to.

Worst performer: Jena Malone. That’s not her accent is it? It can’t be

Best line: Sometimes what looks like anger is really just fear

Original review here

Blithe Spirit

Hadn’t seen anything about this in the lead-up, almost like the makers were embarrassed, which they should be. It was one of the first films I saw this year, and it made me grateful for COVID as it meant there was no chance of seeing it at the cinema.

+The concept and some of the dialogue is first-class. Also, it has a really bright colour scheme, which is unusual for films like this. Normally if a film is set in the 30s the colours are very muted and slightly brown to give an almost sepia-tone to the whole thing. In this they’re like a rainbow splashed on the wall.

-Why do so many performers ham it up for Noel Coward adaptations? It comes off really unnatural and means that the film feels like a 2020’s film about the 1930s, rather than just a film about the 1930s

Best moment: Throwing the china. For a film where I include the dialogue as one of my favourite things, it says a lot about this scene that it’s my favourite despite being just physical comedy.

Worst moment: The ghost of his ex-wife starts throwing knives at one of the staff. It seems very mean-spirited and out of place.

Best performer: Julian Rhind-Tutt. He really should be in more things of this nature, he’s perfect for it.

Worst performer: Leslie Mann. It’s not that she’s bad, it’s just her accent is all over the place.

Best line: “Are they habit-forming?” “Of course not, I’ve been using them for years”

Original review here.

Don’t Breathe 2

I mean, I didn’t really like the original so I don’t know why I thought it would be any different this time. But again, it’s trying to rehabilitate someone who is truly evil. It’s trying to make him slightly heroic, but nothing he does makes up for what we saw him do in the first film.

+ Has some good scares.

– Bit pointless.

Best Moment: There’s a really good tracking shot.

Worst Moment: Not sure, it was all so forgettable that I can’t remember.

Best Performer: Madelyn Grace, a child performer who isn’t completely annoying.

Worst Performer: Almost everybody is equal.

Best Line: Now you’re gonna see what I see!

Original review here

Escape Room: Tournament Of Champions

Again, a film where I didn’t like the original, so I’m not sure why I thought I might like this one. Especially with how similar the two films are. The first film ended with Minos (the company behind the killer escape rooms) setting up a fake plane accident as an escape room in which to trap the two main characters. This film ends with the two characters trapped on a plane escape room. So the next film will start pretty much where this one should have. No idea what the next one will be as the alternate cut of this features someone they’re setting up as the main villain going forward. So will the sequel take this film as canon, or will it make the extended version a complete waste of time? It’s a lose-lose situation really. But at least the next step should be entertaining.

+ The paranoia in the opening scenes, really sets up how the characters are effected by what they went through.

– If you think about the logistics the whole thing falls apart. Are we led to believe that Minos somehow set it up that all the people they needed would be in the exact same train compartment at the same time, and NOBODY else. Also, the train company don’t realise the extra cart, or that they lose one. Unless they’re involved too. But you can’t just say “every company in the world is involved in this secret organisation”, just stupid.

Best Moment: The acid rain trap. Truly disturbing.

Worst moment: When the traps start making it harder for them. This is supposed to be being bet on by people, right? Wouldn’t they complain about the traps changing halfway through and suddenly becoming unfair?

Best Performer: Zoey Davis.

Worst Performer: Deborah Ann Woll. Not really her performance, but her character being in it, breaks the film slightly.

Notable Line: “Tell us, Zoey. Did we do a good job convincing you?” I knew they didn’t actually escape, but this confirmed it. So everything was hopeless and pointless.

Original review here

Home Sweet Home Alone

I assumed this would be bad from when I first saw the trailer. I was not disappointed, by which I mean I was disappointed, this film was terrible. It doesn’t seem to understand WHY we liked the first two (and only those two). It lacks the magic of the original, there’s no joy to it, just the sound of a studio saying they want money.

+ It sets up the universe very well. Kevin from the first two films has set up a home security company, which makes a lot of sense. This is hinted at rather than outright said, and the restraint for that reference is commendable.

– The decision to focus on the thieves breaks the film as it makes the pain they go through a lot less funny. If they switched the focus I’m not saying it would be a good movie, but it would undoubtedly be better.

Best Moment: The ending is slightly heartwarming.

Worst moment: The VR “trap”. It makes no sense once you think about it.

Best Performer: Rob Delaney.

Worst Performer: Archie Yates. Not sure if it’s the script or his performance but he just comes off as annoying.

Notable Line: “Uh, this is garbage. I don’t know why they are always trying to remake the classics. Never as good as the originals”. Just because you make a joke about terrible remakes, doesn’t mean your remake isn’t terrible.

Original review here

Lucky

I have rules in my head for these lists. After the list of bad ones, my next list contains films that are bad, but have something I can recommend watching for. Sometimes it can be that it looks amazing, sometimes it’s an amazing performance, and sometimes it’s one scene that really works. This film does the opposite, it’s thoroughly okay and belongs in the next blog, but the ending is SO infuriating it knocks it down.

+ Genuinely interesting concept. Has one pretty damn good scene.

– The music? I get it’s supposed to be offputting, but it seems weirdly jaunty at times, too high pitched. Also, I cannot understate how much the ending ruins it.

Best Moment: Scene where it’s happening to everybody in a car park. Very similar to the moment in Us when you see the true extent of the tethered. A real holy shit moment where you want to stand up and applaud the genius of it. In a way that makes it better for her as she knows it’s not personal, but it also makes it much much worse.

Worst moment: The ending. It genuinely knocks the movie down a few points. Thematically it makes sense, but narratively it feels slightly weak. It’s the equivalent of a gymnast doing a double backflip but landing on their head and shitting themselves.

Best Performer: Kausar Mohammed. For the first part of the film, she does a great job of being a warm, lovely person. But then there’s a scene where she’s talking to the lead where she suddenly gets super creepy when she’s asked where she got a scar, gets a blank look in her eyes, completely devoid of emotion, almost robotic. And utters the line ““just an old thing. I forget. Just a part of living in this world. It happened so long ago” in the best way possible. It’s not the best line, but the way she performs it is phenomenal, possibly one of the best line deliveries I’ve seen in a long time.

Worst Performer: Leith Burke. Not a bad performance, just incredibly bland.

Best Line: “I am not lucky, I just work really really hard”. It’s part of a longer speech that is just incredible to watch.

Original review here

Space Jam: A New Legacy

I’m not entirely sure why this was made. Actually, I have an idea: money. This brings nothing new to the table. It’s not film, it’s product. Everything seems geared towards selling you a streaming service. I haven’t seen anything that fellates itself this much since I accidentally went into the wrong hotel room in Bristol. It doesn’t feel like a sequel to the first one, it feels like some weird cheap knock-off.

+ All the references are fun to catch.

– Feels like it’s made by committee. No heart, no soul

Best Moment: The basketball game itself.

Worst moment: Bugs bunny “dies”. It’s supposed to be emotional but we know it’s not going to stay so it means absolutely nothing.

Best Performer: Don Cheadle. Turns out he can be quite creepy.

Worst Performer: LeBron James, he’s not an actor.

Notable Line: “but I can’t act”. Correct, you can’t, and that sums up the problem.

Original review here

The Addams Family 2

This never really feels like an Addams Family movie, it seems the fourth instalment in an Illumination series. “They go on holiday” is normally what a TV series does to its characters when the show is on its last legs, that’s how this feels. Like the last desperate cries of a dying franchise that was never really alive in the first place. The reveal that Gomez is actually bald feels weirdly out of step with who these characters are.

+ Some of the casting is perfect, well it would be in a live-action film anyway.

– Lacks anything which makes the Addams Family special.

Best Moment: Lurch performing I Will Survive.

Worst moment: Cousin It being dropped off by private jet, then leaving before doing nothing.

Best Performer(s): Charlize Theron. Her and Oscar Isaac are perfect, the way their animated is still wrong though.

Worst Performer: Nick Kroll. Completely the wrong choice.

Best Line: “Do you know how much work it is to decapitate an entire barbershop quartet?”

Original review here

The Boss Baby 2

The Boss Baby 2, or in some territories named The Boss Baby: Family business, and to me known as “Oh no, please no, what did the world do to deserve this?”. We didn’t need a Boss Baby sequel, we didn’t even need the first one. It’s completely unneeded, the way they tell the story is the worst possible way to tell it, and the decision to tell it is not a good one. The characters have not developed at all, despite this film taking place at least 20 years after it. Also, when the characters discuss the actions of the actions of the first movie, they say “at least the jokes were good, right?” to be met with a “meh”. So the characters of Boss Baby 2, are saying the first one isn’t funny. The franchise is shitting on itself.

The film seems to forget that the actions of the first film were forgotten by the parents, so don’t factor into characterisation. At one point they say “oh, those kids did everything together”. Did they? Because we’ve seen ZERO evidence of this.

+ It looks pretty

– Why does it need to exist?

Best Moment: Musical interlude. It’s sweet and looks absolutely gorgeous.

Worst moment: Almost everything with actual adult Tim, his characterisation is the same as it was in the first film, you know, when he was a child.

Best Performer: Jeff Goldblum, he seems like he’s having fun.

Worst Performer: No real weak links tbh, but not many standouts either tbh.

Best Line: They’re going to send in the Baby Seals

Original review here

Those Who Wish Me Dead

I’m assuming this belongs here as I can’t remember anything from it. It left zero impact on me. It feels like a relic of another time, and not in a good way.

+ Looks good.

– Feels like it’s missing something to make it stand out.

Best Moment: The murders at the start. Brutal and just what’s needed.

Best Performer: Angelina Jolie, you occasionally forget just how good she is until you see her in stuff like this.

Best Line: “You can fucking suffer” mainly because of the performance given while saying it.

Original review here

Thunder Force

On the subject of films that feel dated, this feels like a comedy from the early 90s. When views on superhero films were different. The story itself feels like it belongs in a kids film. I can’t imagine an adult sitting down and being entertained by this. McCarthy has shown that she can be good, but she’s not talented enough to elevate a poor script, and there are fewer scripts that are as poor as this one.

+ Jason Bateman. He is the highlight of the film.

– It just feels lazy.

Best Moment: Kiss From A Rose as they start a fight scene

Worst moment: The dance scene between McCarthy and Bateman. It’s so out of place and adds nothing that couldn’t have been added in a better way.

Best Performer: Jason Bateman

Worst Performer: McCarthy

Best Line: “unfortunately these superpowers were only unlocked in rare individuals who were genetically predisposed to being sociopaths”

Original review here

Tom And Jerry

These films are really difficult to do. Mainly because maintaining pacing takes someone incredibly talented, and someone that talented wouldn’t be approached to do this. In an ideal world you would have someone like George Miller. Somebody who knows about constant action. Tim Story’s closest films have been two Fantastic Four films, and they’re not exactly highly regarded.

+ The fact that physical damage is caused by the animated fights. Must have been so difficult to do.

– The lack of warmth to the whole thing.

Best Moment: The fight in the hotel room. Chaotic but fun

Worst moment: The opening fight. Completely unneeded. We didn’t need the establishing fight between them. We could have had them meet at the hotel. Here’s what happens: they fight in the park, with Jerry breaking Tom’s keyboard and stealing money from him. Jerry sneaks into a hotel, which then hires Tom to catch him. Everything up to “Jerry sneaks into a hotel” is unneeded. Even the Chloe Grace Moretz stuff is not needed. Her opening scenes are her losing her job, then applying for one at the hotel. We didn’t need to see her losing her job. We just needed to see her applying for the new one.

Best Performer: Patsy Ferran. Such a unique performance in a film sorely lacking identity.

Worst Performer: Chloe Grace Moretz. As much as I love her normally, a character that’s supposed to be that street smart, should not be as awkward as she’s playing her.

Best Line: “This simulator is amazing, it really simulates how bad I am at golf”

Original review here

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Quick Synopsis: Peter Parker makes a deal with Doctor Strange so that everybody forgets him, but ruins the spell and finds his world invaded by different Spider-man foes from the multi-verse.

I had to wait a while before posting this because I have to talk about the spoilers for this review. It’s hard to talk about this without discussing the surprises. That’s both a good and bad thing. The emergence of the alternate universe Peter Parkers is a big deal, but let’s face it they were kind of expected. They did their best to hide that reveal, but it was still somehow really obvious, especially with the set leaks. So really the only surprise was Daredevil being in it, and the death of a major character. So after the major reveals, there’s not really much in this film that’s essential to watch, it hinges on those reveals so much that the rest is kind of lacking.

Don’t get me wrong, this is incredibly fun and you’re not likely to be disappointed. But I felt similar to how I felt after Endgame, that it’s closed off a lot of doors that the films had previously opened. The big one is that the end of Homecoming had the Vulture know Spider-mans identity, and keep it secret so that he had some leverage. That’s now wasted. On the upside, it has reset the character somewhat so he now has his own identity. The previous films have made him feel a bit too much like Iron Man Jr. Not just with the Stark technology being a major part of his suit, the villains for the first two didn’t even have an issue with Spider-man, they hated Tony Stark. Now he has no access to Stark-tech, he is dependent on just himself. Also since he’s no longer part of the Avengers, he won’t be called upon to take on large world-destroying threats, he’s back to being a friendly neighbourhood Spider-man.

The action scenes here are better than Marvel has done in the past, the true action centerpiece has at least three fights going on at once, none of which are at ground level, and it takes place at night. It would be very easy for that to be an incomprehensible mess, but Jon Watts is a talented enough director that it’s really easy to follow, the geography of the scene makes sense, and it’s always clear what is happening and who is involved (he’s also directing the next Fantastic Four movie, which is a good sign). There are some CGI moments that are a little ropey, but sadly that’s to be expected in an MCU movie. They’re not bad enough to ruin it, but they do occasionally remind you that you are watching a movie.

The performances are all fine, there are no performances here that stand out as the best of the year, but there’s nobody who does it badly. Tom Holland continues to completely nail the character here, and his interactions with Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire is a delight to watch. Personally, I wish they had gone further, there are moments where Garfield and Maguire allude to things that weren’t in the films, but do we really believe there are only 3 Peter Parker Spider-mans in all the multiverses? They could have had some turn up who haven’t been in a film, but would have made a good Peter Parker (Andrew McCarthy, Donald Glover etc). The fanfiction that would kick off would be incredible, and it would make it feel like things exist outside of what we’ve seen, that there are other universes that we haven’t seen. Also I would have loved to have seen 2 different versions of the same villains turning up (also this film doesn’t explain why the ones who come through are the only ones, whilst other important characters don’t).

Overall, I really enjoyed this. One of the best MCU films of the year (only one that can match it is Shang-Chi), and a perfect way to end 2021. I’ve seen it twice, and I really want to see it again, that’s a testament to how good it is. It’s not QUITE as good as Into The Spider-Verse, but few films are (side note, what is it about Spider-man that makes him the perfect conduit for multiverse theory in films aimed at kids?).