Broadcast Signal Intrusion (2021)

Quick Synopsis: In the late 1990s, a video archivist unearths a series of sinister pirate broadcasts and becomes obsessed with uncovering the conspiracy behind them.

To start, I should clarify the title, it refers to when someone hijacks a television or radio signal to broadcast something. So when I refer to an intrusion, that’s what I mean. For a real life instance of it, look up the Max Headroom incident. I mentioned that to both explain the concept of signal intrusions, and also to explain the “Max Headf*ck” excerpt I used. It wasn’t just me being crude, it was actually a super pretentious reference.

That’s not better is it?

These reviews are personal opinion. They always have been, and I’ve made no attempt to hide or deny that. That’s why some films which aren’t technically great get worse reviews than others. It’s why stuff like Table 19 (Rotten Tomatoes Score: 26%) receives a more positive review than Don’t Breathe (Rotten Tomatoes: 88%). There are some films which I just don’t gel with. Movies are all about preference, there’s no point in me recommending a film to someone if I know they won’t like it, just because “it’s directed really well”. I say all of that to preface this: there are some people who absolutely love this film and consider it one of the best horror films of the year, but I’m not among those people.

I get what the film is going for, and it has moments of true greatness. Everybody involved is obviously incredibly talented, it does a lot of things better than most horror films. I particularly like how it displays the film title on colour bars on-screen within the film. I don’t know why but I like when films make the title card exist within the film itself. I’m also a fan of how it used sound, particularly in the intrusions themselves, where there’s almost a wall of sound that the audience is banging its head against. The intrusions themselves are genuinely creepy and disturbing, which is always good. This film also creates a really compelling story and mystery that you want to find out.

That’s where it let me down. It is so concerned with being mysterious and asking questions, that it doesn’t answer those questions. You can get away with that if it’s a weird and esoteric film, but this is mostly normal (with the exception of intrusions). If it went into weirdness more then the lack of a cohesive narrative would have been acceptable. I’ll clarify what I mean by “lack of cohesive narrative”, it’s possible to describe this plot in a way that makes sense, but it involves missing out on a lot of the details. Details like “who made that phone call?”, “Where did that character go?” etc. So the synopsis makes sense, but the plot does not. I know some people like mystery, and I do at times, but not when it’s like this. Mysteries should enhance a film, not be used as an excuse to not answer questions. I recently watched the rerelease of the classic John Carpenter version of The Thing. That ends with an unanswered question: are both the characters still human? That’s a question that people have discussed for years. But if the film started with that question, and had a spooky voice stop the characters from making progress in answering it, then it would be annoying.

It’s not helped by how reminiscent it is of last year’s Censor. It’s not close enough that it feels like the same movie, but it is close enough that comparisons are inevitable. It’s a bit like someone took the script of Censor, played Chinese Whispers with it, and then made a film of the resultant script. It’s bad luck as I think they were developed around the same time, so there’s no way they influenced each other, it’s just bad timing on my part to have seen that first. I do feel bad about comparing the two, but I think part of that is due to how disappointed I am with this film in general. I love the unique idea of it, and the performances are all fantastic. Harry Shum Jr will get the plaudits, and rightfully so, but I feel you can’t ignore how talented Kelley Mack and Jennifer Jelsema are when they’re on screen. Mack, in particular, has a very bright future if she can pull off more performances like this. That’s what this film is to me, a possible footnote in a future favourite film. Jacob Gentry directs it wonderfully, and his choice of jazz music for a lot of it instead of a more traditional horror movie score is inspired.

If you’re a fan of more esoteric, dreamlike cinema, then you’ll appreciate this. If you prefer more straightforward watching, then I’d say avoid this as you’ll find it frustrating.

The Menu (2022)

Quick synopsis: A group of rich dickheads attend a specialist menu arranged by celebrity chef Julian Slowick (Ralph Fiennes). They’re disturbed when the dining experience is less Amuse-Bouche and more Abuse Douche.

I knew what was going to happen in this, I knew what was going to happen to almost all the characters throughout. It seemed to spend a lot of time catching up with its own trailer, and I always hate when that happens. It was also slow, filled with unlikeable characters, and unbearably smug.

So why did I like it so much? Everything indicates I should dislike this. But it was so well done. It’s a film that lingers with you long after you watch it. Not just in a slightly “that was horrific” way, but also in a way that you come out with a genuine appreciation of cinema. I’m not sure if it was deliberate, but it’s easy to see the parallel between film-making and a chef; both creating art which is supposed to be for everybody, but there is still a general notion that the more people like it, the worse it is, and the only proper form of it is if it’s incomprehensible.

I like food (as anybody who has seen my stomach can testify), but I dislike food culture. I think food should be eaten and enjoyed, so I dislike it when it’s overly pretentious and fancy, more focused on atmosphere than taste (like the kind of restaurants that serve foam on a shoe). This film seems to have the same disdain for it, lampooning how ridiculous the whole thing is. The satire is not subtle but is brutal. Whereas some targets seem a little unfair, once you think it through it makes sense. The couple whose only crime is not remembering what they ate last time? Seems petty at first, but think of it like this: the chef has put his all into creating memorable food, the kind people will remember for the rest of their lives, and then you have two people who see it as standard, not treating it with any sense of importance. Related; a performer who made something bad for money. Yes, petty, but the chef sees it as someone who doesn’t take pride in their work, that’s a personal insult to him. Yes, some of the other targets feel easy, but they’re targets who won’t realise they’re idiots until they see this film, it’s the lack of self-awareness of the characters that make the whole thing work.

It looks fantastic, most of it takes place in a singular room so there’s not really that much you can do in terms of creative visuals for sets. There are a few island shots which show the beauty of the location, but it is mostly a film made of space, creating a sense of weird emptiness to the whole thing. It works though, the fact that the room is so wasteful and sterile, yet it’s a place that these people pay thousands to eat at, says a lot about who these characters are, and really helps set the mood. If everything else, the story, the cast, etc was the same, but it was set in a diner or a cosy village pub, it would change the mood completely. The food? It looks impressive but not like something you’ll want to eat (with the exception of that burger). It’s food for visuals rather than purpose, which is kind of the point.

The performances are all pretty much perfect. Ralph Fiennes would make a great horror movie villain, he’s unsettling and terrifying to watch, but captivating. You can’t turn away from him, even when he’s in the background your focus is on him, just because of how good he is to watch. Nicholas Hoult is fantastically hateable, although he didn’t need to be American. Anya Taylor-Joy continues to be among the best part of any film she’s in. I think this may be my favourite performance of hers, it’s the first one where her character is the beacon of normality. She’s the audience surrogate in this, and her caustic barbs are a great tone leveller. Her pitch-perfect delivery of pointing out to people how the food they’re being served is actively mocking them makes that line work. I don’t know much about Christina Brucato but her small moments in this made me want to see more of her (although there was a small part of me that thought she was Gillian Horvat at first, which may be why I was paying so much attention to her).

So in summary, this isn’t a film that’s for everybody, but it was certainly for me. I don’t think people will think of it as “just okay”, there will be some people who love it, and some who hate it. There will also be those who miss the point entirely and think of it as a film that’s against the upper class. It’s not, it’s against people who lack passion and pride. If you think that’s an attack on the upper class, that says a lot about what you think of the upper class.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)

Quick synopsis: A bluefish with achilles wings tries to protect his homeland, by invading another.

This was always going to be a curious watch. How exactly would they deal with the death of Chadwick Boseman? It was going to need to be handled delicately, not just because of what happened, but who it happened to. Boseman was regarded as one of the nicest people in Hollywood, and the circumstances of his death, where he went to children’s hospitals to meet fans even whilst he himself was dying, which could not have been easy for him. Often the goal with watching a film is to forget the external influences and review it on its own merits. It’s why I didn’t watch Don’t Worry Darling, because the on-set conflicts overshadowed everything about it and it would be difficult to watch it and not analyze everything for hints of the backstage drama. It’s like how you can’t read old lostprophets interviews without looking at every sentence for clues of the singers misdeeds (polite way to put something horrific). But this is different, you CAN’T go into this blind, you know the circumstances of Boseman, and it’s too big for the film to ignore.

They don’t ignore it, they have the character die of an unspecified illness off-screen. I’m glad they did that, if they just had him disappear there would be the worry he’d be recast in the future, and if he got killed by the villain it would seem a bit cheap. His death hangs over the film and defines the characters, you feel that this, more than any other film in the MCU, was one that was needed. It was needed as a tribute, and it was needed for the cast (and to a lesser extent, the audience) to help them grieve and get through it. None of this would matter if the film itself wasn’t good though. Phase Four has been divisive, some of that has just been due to people complaining that it’s not the Infinity Saga again, and some of it has been because “too many women”, but when the phase has also included its weakest film to date (Eternals), and a general lack of focus, it’s hard to get the same level of excitement as you used to get. Especially since lately they’ve eschewed plot and instead gone with “surprise cameos”. This doesn’t really have many surprises, it focuses on good storytelling. This is probably the most mature Marvel has been in a long time. I hate that saying “mature comic book movie” because it usually means (ironically) that it’s just full of blood and swearing, in a way that only really appeals to 15 year olds. This is actually mature. It deals with themes of loss and legacy. It’s genuinely heartbreaking at times and is well done.

The script is helped by the performances, Tenoch Huerta Mejia probably needed more to do but he does brilliantly and I’d like to see him return in the future as there’s a lot that could be done with his character. Letitia Wright looks a natural to lead the franchise going forward (if she stops making enemies on set). But the best performance was Angela Bassett, who gives a tremendous performance, thre’s one scene in particular where we see all her characters pent up rage and emotion, it’s the kind of scene which makes you wonder if she could get an Academy Award if given the right script. It’s weird that in an action movie the best scene is one which is just dialogue, but it has so much power that it’s hard to deny that’s the case. Although I’d be lying if I didn’t say a part of that is how pedestrian some of the action scenes are. There’s a running theme in Phase Four of overly busy final fight scenes. Shang-Chi is the best example of something that should have ended with a small one on one fight scene full of emotion, but instead they went with a multi-person CGI one. They do the same here. If this ended with a hand to hand fight between Namor and Shuri it would allow it to not just be a fight, but be a scene with emotion and character work. But it keeps cutting from that fight to another scene where blue creatures fight people dressed in blue in the middle of the ocean against a bright blue sky. This makes it hard to maintain momentum. Plus, personally I hate when films cut away from fight scenes then cut back a few minutes later; either the audience missed some of the fight, time stood still and the two timelines now aren’t concurrent, or they just stood around doing nothing. A fight between two hardened warriors should have an air of “any mistake will be punished” and like it could all be over in an instant. But when you cut between two seperate fights, film-making rules determine that usually those two fights end at the same time (or follow the same momentum), so you can tell the one on one isn’t going to end early when the multi-person scene is only just starting. There also multiple “that should have killed them” moments, there’s one in particular that stands out as being especially egregious.

A big downside for this is that it, even more than most Marvel films, will lose A LOT if you haven’t seen the previous entry in the series. Say what you want about Black Adam, but it works as a stand-alone film (I know people for whom that’s the only superhero film they’ve seen this year, and it made sense to them). The same cannot be said about this, it’s so dependent on you knowing who people are, and who they are to each other too. The continuity lock-out is strong, and that’s a shame as this deserves to be seen by people who wouldn’t watch this genre normally. It would do well with them, IF it wasn’t for the lockout.

So in summary, the best possible way for them to end this phase, and they achieved it by aiming small. It’s not about the end of the universe, or the world imploding, it’s smaller, and because of that, it’s much better.

Confess, Fletch (2022)

Quick synopsis: While investigating a case of valuable stolen paintings, Fletch becomes the prime suspect in a murder.

I had no idea this was happening until I saw the poster at the cinema a few weeks ago. I saw no trailer, no press release, no hype, nothing. Plus, it’s a new entry in a franchise that has lain dormant since 1989. Apparently, the Fletch books are known in America among comedy circles, it’s why certain filmmakers always want to give it a go, and it’s why Kevin Smith tried so hard to make Fletch Won back in the day. So it’s a film the studio seems ashamed of, based on an IP that’s not that well-known in this country. All of this adds up to a feeling like looking at a particularly prophetic bowl of alphabet soup; it spells disaster.

So it comes as a bit of a surprise that this film is good. By some weird coincidence, I have watched the older Fletch films semi-recently, and I wasn’t too impressed by them. I think it’s because it’s hard to see the character as a lovable rogue when he’s played by renowned asshole Chevy Chase (Chevy Chase, of course, being the only c-words you will never find in a 2020’s comedy). Regardless of his dickishness, people liked Chase in the role, with some considering it among his best work, so Jon Hamm has a lot to live up to. He needs to be similar enough to Chase that people won’t bitch and complain “he’s ruining it”, but different enough that the general audience actually, you know, likes him. I think Jon Hamm’s work in Mad Men etc has made people forget how absolutely brilliant he is as a comedic actor. His timing and delivery is spot-on throughout, few people can go as comedically subtle as he can. He’s also a lot less broad in terms of comedic style than Chase was, he’s not the type of performer to make pratfalls or go overly cliche in terms of his ad-libbing. He’s helped by the other cast members though. Roy Wood Jr. could easily ride the momentum of his performance here into something bigger, and Ayden Mayeri’s performance has to be seen to be believed and makes me think that the fact she doesn’t have a Wikipedia page (or a recurring role in a well-reviewed but under-viewed sitcom) must be an error which I’m sure will be fixed soon. It does make their job easier that the characters are all so well-written though. The supporting cast of characters are so well-defined, even those who are only in there for a few scenes. Yes, it is mainly about the titular Fletch, but if some of the other characters returned in a sequel I wouldn’t be too opposed. They’re all given little unique quirks and characterisations that make them memorable (and also, importantly, funny).

The plot? It does what it needs to. It’s not as compelling a mystery as Knives Out, but it is filled with enough twists and turns to keep you surprised and entertained. It’s not the greatest, but it doesn’t make any mistakes. There’s not really a weak part to the writing, it’s not aiming to be the smartest film in the world, it’s aiming to entertain you, and it does that well. I wish there were more films like this, mid-budget comedies which are just designed to entertain.

As I mentioned earlier, the marketing campaign for this film is practically non-existent here, and even in the US, it was dumped on VOD services quickly after a very limited cinema release. It deserves better. It deserves to be seen by as wide an audience as possible. It won’t change your life, it won’t teach you anything, but it will entertain you and you will enjoy it. It’s the kind of film where you go in knowing what to expect, and it delivers exactly what you need. I will never not be in the mood to watch this.

Black Adam (2022)

Quick synopsis: What if Superman was Middle Eastern, and kind of a dick?

I’ll admit, I’m not that familiar with the Black Adam character, but I get that he’s a big deal, especially to black comic book fans. That appeal is why The Rock has been trying to do this film since 2007, so my ignorance is on me. The film actually does a good job of explaining who he is, so even newcomers won’t be lost. You can go into this having not seen any other DC films and get the plot, and the main character (and as good as Black Panther is, this is one element where this film wins. Spoilers for that review btw). The other characters? Yeah, you’re gonna have problems. There are some you can work out from context clues what their powers are, but it definitely needs to do a better job, there’s one character in particular who is severely underwritten to the point where I’m still not entirely sure what they were. So, after The Rock spent so long getting this made, is it actually worth it?

Kind of. It’s one of the stronger DC films, behind only The Suicide Squad, Shazam!, and Wonder Woman, but that says more about how disappointing (or in the case of Wonder Woman 1984; outright terrible) the rest have been. The worst thing you can say about this is that it’s kind of bland. I know this is a passion project, but that doesn’t seem to come through in the script. The whole thing feels like a tribute to better movies. It’s not really bringing much that’s new to the table. I think it’s supposed to be “morally complex anti-hero”, but that’s not new, that’s most heroes in modern films. At this point it would be more notable if a hero was actually pure light and good (that’s part of what made Shazam stand out to me so much). I mean, in this movie universe, Superman has killed someone, and attempted to fight the rest of the Justice League, you’d have to be very dark to beat that, and this film doesn’t want to go there. It may not fully “go” there, but it does approach it at times. The Suicide Squad was shockingly violent, and so is this, but in a different way. There’s not really a lot of blood and gore, but the violence is impactful enough that it feels like physical fights actually have consequences.

On the downside, the villain is incredibly underwritten. He doesn’t actually matter for 90% of the film. He never really feels like a threat, either, meaning the whole thing doesn’t have much jeopardy. The human characters are well-written though, but that’s not quite enough to make up for the lack of stakes the whole thing seems to have. The plot is quite basic, although it does have a reveal which came as a genuine surprise to me, and makes you re-evaluate everything that came before it (like a good reveal should).

All the performances are good, not really many “wow, I am really impressed by that”, but none that draw you out of the film either. The only note I have on performances is that I watched Brooklyn 99 the day before, and a lot of The Rocks delivery in this is very reminiscent of Captain Holt, and now I can’t stop thinking about Captain Holt in different superhero films, not the actor, the character, replacing others. Everytime I think of a new one it makes me laugh, seriously, Captain Holt being Thanos would be incredible, admit it. Annoyingly, that may be the best thing I got from this movie. Which is a shame, as it’s important, and could be better. If I hadn’t seen a superhero film before, I would be impressed. But this being released during a potential aftermath of a superhero boom, can’t help but feel a little dated. It does bode well for the future of the DCEU though, which is a good sign.

The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

Quick synopsis: On a remote island off the coast of Ireland, Pádraic is devastated when his buddy Colm suddenly puts an end to their lifelong friendship.

I feel I need to watch more of Martin McDonagh. I’ve had a few people recommend In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths to me, saying they seem like my kind of films. Plus I really enjoyed Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Okay, maybe “enjoyed” is the wrong word, as it wasn’t exactly a pleasant watch, but it was very good (And weirdly described by Disney+ as a “comedy”). He’s really good at making very dark things which are still weirdly funny. His reputation as some kind of sadistic grim reaper clown continues with this.

It veers from comedy to deeply depressing, swerving between the genres like a drunk driving on a motorway, and with just as devastating consequences. There are a lot of genuine laughs here, but they all come from a dark place. Even when this film is light, it’s not outright light, it’s more like a star in a dark sky. Thematically this makes sense, you couldn’t really have a film about this subject and have it be one of constant comedy, but then again you couldn’t make it completely serious either. The very concept is absurd, as someone points out “he doesn’t want to be your friend anymore? What is he, twelve?”. It’s completely ridiculous and absurd but played straight. It does sound silly at first but think of the amount of popular media about dealing with a break-up. Romantic breakups are taken seriously in art, but there’s not much discussion about the break-up of a friendship, and that can be just as devastating, yet it is seen as a stupid thing to be upset about, especially among men.

It’s a delicate subject to deal with and needs to be handled expertly, which McDonagh manages. One thing I don’t think he pulled off quite as well is the emotion. There are moments towards the end where I know I should have felt something, but for whatever reason, I just didn’t. I think it’s because the emotional baseline was so low, that when it gets low it doesn’t feel as bad as it could in other films. After spending time walking through a monsoon, a cup of water thrown at your face doesn’t bother you quite as much. It leaves you so cold throughout that it is unable to leave you colder when it needs it. Overall I think it needs a bit more warmth to work.

There’s a review in the Boston Globe which describes it as “A short story trying to be a novel”, and I think that sums it up well. It lacks momentum and focus far too often. That’s not to say it’s a bad film, far from it, it’s an incredible watch. It got some REALLY loud laughs from the other people in the audience in the screen I was at. It wasn’t that busy that day but the laughter made it sound packed.

From a technical standpoint, this is amazing. It looks great. It’s not a “wow, so much CGI, how did they do that?” film, it’s a “that shot can be in a poster” kind of beauty. Everything looks stunningly beautiful, so even though the world the film creates is depressing and bleak, it’s still one you want to visit. The performances are among the best this year, Gleeson and Farrell are perfect together, they have good chemistry and it’s a shame they’re not paired together too often. They’d be great on stage together. The ensemble cast is great too, but this definitely belongs to Gleeson and Farrell.

I’m really looking forward to watching this again, just, maybe not for a while. I’m not in that much need of an existential crisis.

Joyride (2022)

Quick synopsis: Joy is on a journey to abandon her baby when the taxi she’s in is stolen by a teen in this coming-of-age comedy-drama.

Does Olivia Colman know she’s a star? She’s probably one of the best performers in the world right now, yet she’s still in films that people at a similar level would see as beneath them. She is so without ego that it’s actually impressive, and it can only be a good thing for filmmakers. I’m not sure I would have watched this if she wasn’t attached. I’m sort of glad I did. I mean, it’s not the greatest film in the world, but it’s not the worst. It’s a film that shows great potential for everybody involved. Neither the director (Emer Reynolds), the writer (Ailbhe Keogan), nor the male lead (Charlie Reid, playing Andrew) even has a Wikipedia page at the moment, but on the evidence of this, that should change for all three of them.

It is a fun script, but it could do with being both more subtle, and more in-your-face. Andrew is too good, he’s introduced stealing money, but it’s from his dad who stole it from a hospice collection, so Andrew is planning to return it. It means there’s no ambivalence toward him, you know he’s always going to do the right thing. So when, later in the film, he comes to a moral crossroads; chosing the right thing to do, and going back to his nefarious dad, you already know what he’s going to do so the moment doesn’t seem as powerful as it would otherwise. It’s supposed to be an ethical dilemma, but it never feels like one because the film hasn’t shown the chance of him going the other way.

On the subject of his dad, he’s supposed to be feared and violent, but we’re not really shown that. I’m not saying we need a scene of him smacking a kid, but it would have helped build him up. Also, he shouldn’t have been in it so much. If you keep him as an unseen threat, then, ironically, it would make him seem a bigger threat.

Now onto the good, it has some very good moments. Olivia Colman’s flashback is incredibly powerful. I also respect how well it uses time. The entire plot is kicked off within 4 minutes (that’s including the opening logos and credits). It moves at such a pace that while watching it, you’re never going to feel bored or look at your watch. There’s also a scene on a plane near the end which is genuinely hilarious and has some great one-shot characters.

In summary, I feel this is destined to be included in a “oh, you liked this film the director made? Well one of their earliest ones was Joyride” conversation. An early oddity in a future career of greatness.

Halloween Ends (2022)

Quick Synopsis: The final (for now) film in the long-running Halloween franchise.

Initial reviews for this were not promising. Early indications were that this was a massive disappointment, one of the most disappointing and poorly written horror films of the year. I was okay with that, people hated Halloween Kills and I actually preferred it to the original (by which I mean the sequel). A lot of people hate when movies go weird, yet I tend to like it. I crave originality and weirdness, and I tend to have an affection for things which are weird and unloved (except myself, obviously, even I have limits), so whilst I knew there was a chance I’d dislike this, there was an even higher chance that everybody else was a big stupid doo-doo head and were wrong. There have been many films in the past that I have LOVED and yet haven’t seemed to receive that same love from critics and large audiences; Table 19 being the most obvious, but even Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which I actually dreaded watching because of early reviews, yet was one of my highlights of last year. Maybe this would continue that run.

Spoilers, it doesn’t. This is not a good film. It feels like a cheap knock-off of the last two films and I struggle to comprehend it’s by the same people. What I loved about Halloween Kills is how it felt like a natural progression, that is how a town would react, with suspicion and fear. For a few days at least the whole place would be a powder keg ready to ignite. Kills was about a town in recovery, Ends is about a town in denial. Think of how Kills ended: Michael Myers was surrounded by a group of townspeople, and he killed them all and walked on. How would a town react to a seemingly unkillable monster wreaking havoc and killing everybody before walking off and not being seen again? Well, according to this film the town responds by doing absolutely nothing. Towns don’t do that with tragedies, large sprawling cities might, but there’s nothing to suggest Haddonfield is like that. Look at places which have fallen victim to mass shootings, they’re still haunted by it. There’s a multitude of different interesting ways this film could have gone, it could have the town turn into a police state, ruled by fear and giving up liberties “for the greater good”. It could have been a weird tourist spot, where the town’s inhabitants are forced to relive their worst day, again and again, to bring money in. It could have even have been a hotspot for conspiracy theorists who deny the killings exist, like those cuntheads Richard D Hall and Alex Jones do. There’s nothing in this which makes it feel like a town in recovery.

It’s not even the town, the named characters seem inconsistent too. Between the two Halloween films (the 70’s one, and the 2010’s one) Laurie Strode spent the time in fear of Michael Myers coming back. So what does she do now that Myers has come back and killed her daughter? She moves into a cosy house and lives a normal life. Logically, she would have thought “my defences weren’t enough, I need to be stricter”, not the other way around.

How about Myers himself? It’s hard to tell as he’s barely in it. The Michael/Laurie showdown is what the films advertising campaign was based around, so it’s disappointing that it’s really the only part he’s in. I’m all for different sequels, but this is a poor way to end this story. If it was the second film in this modern trilogy, it would be more acceptable. But having this as the closer feels like a waste of a story. The end of the film itself is spectacular. and is the perfect ending to the story. It’s good that it does have a definitive ending to the saga, but the rest of this film is pointless. It hints that the Evil that is haunting Myers will continue, and it’s that source infecting Corey (the new killer in this movie) that caused him to break bad.

I’m not opposed to a film about someone taking on the mantle of Myers and going on a killing spree. But the way it’s done here is baffling, Corey accidentally kills a child (in a great scene), is demonised by the town, and nearly dies. Perfect for a “I will get revenge on this town by bringing back their worst nightmare” story. But this isn’t that, what seems to happen is Michael goes to kill Corey, they look eyes and share a moment which turns him evil. Corey had enough of a backstory that would have explained his motives, and the magic eye soul bullshit thing just muddies the water. I would argue it’s worse than the Martha scene from BvS.

There is definitely an evil force that is haunting this film, ruining everything and making things worse for everybody. But it’s not Evil, it’s Corey. I mentioned his character’s relationship with Michael being weird, but his relationship with Laurie’s niece Allyson makes both Laurie and Allyson seem worse characters. It forces both of those characters to act really inconsistently. Laurie is writing a self-help book about not letting fear rule your life, but Allyson accuses her of being too negative, purely to cause a narrative split. It’s a shame as all the performers are great, from a technical standpoint it’s superb. It’s directed well, the soundtrack is brilliant, and it looks fantastic. But it’s hampered by possibly the worst script I’ve seen all year.

This was supposed to be the end of the Halloween saga, but all it’s done is make me want another one, but this time good. This CAN’T be how this franchise ends, it’s too shit. It should have gone out on a high, not gone out as if it was written by people who were high.

Amsterdam (2022)

Quick synopsis: Three friends who witness a murder, become suspects themselves, and uncover one of the most outrageous plots in American history.

This should be the type of film I like. It’s a star-filled cast in a movie based on an underknown aspect of American history (the Business Plot of 1933), it should be fun. If not fun, it should be interesting and a fascinating watch.

It’s not though, despite having all the ingredients of a film I like, the end result just didn’t do anything for me. I think a big issue is the pacing, it’s far too long, and doesn’t use the time well. It spends far too long setting up the mood and time, meanwhile, the narrative itself stands still. A good story is a long-distance runner, it varies the pace when it needs to so it keeps momentum until the end. This film approaches narrative like I approached long-distance running, going way too fast for a minute, and then having to stop for 5 minutes to get my breath. It’s really unfocused, giving us backstories and explanations that we don’t really need.

It also has a huge tonal problem. The subject is very serious, about an attempted coup against the United States government, and the mistreatment of veterans from the first world war. Yet the film is written, directed, and performed like a madcap caper. As the Western World is flirting with fascism, showing the concept of dictatorships our thighs and fluttering eyelashes, it’s hard to take films like these as lightweight. Especially when it’s trying to make parallels to modern times (as in, times which are modern, not the Charlie Chaplin film, which is actually more relevant today). The film wants to be taken seriously whilst not being a serious film. “hey, the threat of fascism is looming and business owners want to control every aspect of your life and kill those you hold dea-oh look, someone fell over, tee-hee”. It also doesn’t feel like the characters are taking it seriously, they all seem too self-aware that they’re not in any danger because they’re the main characters.

It’s a shame as the story is one that should be told, just not by this writer. Adam McKay would have been a better shout to do this. The way he handled The Big Short shows that he can do films of this nature well. David O.Russell doesn’t feel the right choice for this. Then again, I didn’t like Joy or American Hustle much either, so maybe it’s just I don’t vibe with his style. The performances are also really good, there’s not really a weak link, and the three leads have excellent chemistry.

It’s also very very funny. Getting some great reactions from the people I was in the cinema with. Not just small laughs, full-on belly laughs that you rarely get in audiences. I feel this could be edited into a better film, but at the moment it’s just too much of a challenge to get through. I might watch it again if it’s on Netflix and I can skip certain parts. But I’m not going to go out of my way to see it. Mainly because it feels like a film, and more like a drunk guy at the pub telling you a story.

Emily (2022)

Quick synopsis: A biographical film about Emily Brontë, and the writing of her most famous work, a shopping list. No, wait, Wuthering Heights.

It’s weird, this film is supposed to be about the writing of Wuthering Heights, but it doesn’t feature Kate Bush at all. Plus it’s set in the 1840s instead of the 1970s. Such a basic lack of fact-checking. Oh, it turns out Wuthering Heights is not just a banger of a tune, it’s also a book (Books: they’re like television shows for your eyes), huh, the things you learn.

I’m not that familiar with Wuthering Heights, or the work of any of the Brontë sisters truth be told. I worried this would hinder my enjoyment of it. There was a high chance that I just wouldn’t vibe with this film, not just because I don’t know much about the sisters, but also because I tend to not like period films that much. And for a lot of this film’s opening, I was uninterested in this film. It felt like the characters were taking some things far too seriously and ignoring obvious truths which would reduce their anxiety. My fears were justified, I was bored, and I had started to tune out.

Now I’m about to say something I wish wasn’t true. The Brontë sisters are important in a literary sense, and are among the most famous female writers of all time, coming from a time when women were legally second-class citizens. So any story about them has to be feminist AF for it to work, which makes the following sentence make me feel shitty for saying: the film gets a lot better once her brother enters the spotlight more. There’s a turning point where he and Emily are talking and it tells you so much about who Emily is. It’s the first time you see the dynamism and excitement that she has. It’s the first time that she feels like an actual human instead of a character. The two actors have undeniable chemistry and I hope they work together in the future.

I have no idea how historically accurate this is, so I can’t judge it based on that. I can only judge on what I see, and what I see is slightly frustrating at times. As I said, the opening doesn’t do a great job of drawing you in, and the main romance that’s central to the plot feels lacking. Hard to explain why, they have good chemistry, and the way it ends is heartbreaking, it just doesn’t feel quite as real as it should. I think it’s because the meet-cute moment doesn’t land. As I said, the way it ends is brilliant, but the way it starts feels a bit rushed and forced. The performances are great though, the only time I’ve seen Emma Mackey in something was Death On The Nile, where I described her as “distractingly like Lucy Hale, but better”. None of that here, she is completely different and knocks every moment out of the park. Fionn Whitehead has a good energy to him, although I did spend a lot of the film wondering where I knew him from, I thought I was just getting him confused with Matthew Baynton, but now I know he was in possibly the best episode of Inside No. 9. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the two of them do next.

This is the first film directed by Frances O’Connor, best known for her performances in Mansfield Park, Importance Of Being Earnest, and Madame Bovary. I would not have guessed this is her first film as a director. It’s very ambitious, she doesn’t approach it as a standard period film, she uses handheld shots, dynamic camera movement during chases, and very dark colours to give it a slightly modern feel. It doesn’t always work, the scene where characters are getting drunk feels very poorly edited. I get what she was going for, but it didn’t really work. There are some moments when the visual language is unclear and it can be frustrating and difficult to watch. But when it’s good, it’s very good. Although I do have the feeling her future is not in period dramas, but in horror. There are a few scenes in here which are directed as if they’re in horror movies, and I’d love to see her do one. Not a modern slasher, but a retro-style ghost story.

It’s strange, I’m not sure I learnt any facts about Emily, but it did give me great insight into who she was. I’m not sure I could pass a multiple-choice exam on her, but this did give me an understanding of her character to the point where I could probably BS my way through an essay on her. Worth a watch, but not essential.