How We Got Through….November 2017

Brooklyn

Really wish I saw this when it came out. Very sweet, very funny, just kind of charming. Shame I didn’t get a chance to see it until just before it got taken off netflix, but that just means I’m now more likely to buy it on DVD.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Any TV show which ends a series with the phrase “fuck you, you car wash cunt” yet also have a genuinely heartwarming ending is okay with me. A bigger review will be going up at the end of the series.

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This is also my starbucks order.

Death Note

More like “Death No”, amirite? But yeah this was not a good film. Quite annoyed actually as I wanted this to be good. If only to prove people wrong. This had people against it from the start just because it was a remake. So when bad reviews came in I thought “that’s just idiot fanboys who can’t let go and see objectively, I’m going to watch it and I’m going to like it”. I was wrong, it was bad. The characterisation is completely wrong, they made Light average. There’s no sense of a tense cat and mouse game between Light and L, and a lot of the rules from the book have actually been changed for the sake of the film for seemingly no reason at all. On the plus side the music is superb, and it looks fantastic.

Geostorm

Why does this film exist? Is it the 90’s again? I don’t know too much about science but this film still set off my “that seems like bullshit” sirens. And the ending was a fucking cop out. “the hero sacrifices himself for the greater good, everybody cry. Oh wait, nevermind, they got saved so the death doesn’t happen and meant nothing just for the sake of a happy ending”. Which reminds me, fuck Iron Man 3, I like that film more than most people but they should have had the guts to kill Paltrow in it.

Glory Daze

You know how you sometimes read of small gigs by bands where it turns out everyone in the audience became a member of another band later down the line? This is like the film equivalent of that. Has early appearances by Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Brendan Fraser, Sam Rockwell, Alyssa Milano etc in it before they broke. So 90’s, so, so 90’s. Has a pop punk soundtrack, uncomfortably high usage of “fag”, and the main characters have a black friend. Very flawed, kind of shit, but endearing in it’s own way. (that should totally be my About Me if I did online dating)

Happy Death Day

This was just a lot of fun. Very, very, funny, and really well written. Some films you watch and you think “”this is so meh, I can’t imagine a writer thinking “I have to write this film”. You do with this, you can just imagine someone toiling over this night and day, a true passion project. One of the funniest films I’ve seen all year with a genuinely great story.

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Actually love this image

Jigsaw

Well it’s better than the last one, I’ll give it that. Trouble with these films is all the crimes exist on their own, there’s no investigation into the crimes effect on the outside world. Is crime going down because people are scared of being punished? Are there a lot of copycat killers? Do people see him as a hero or a villain? This is never touched upon, except in some of the posters for the one before this. Very disappointing.

Justice League

Solid. That’s all I can say about it. It’s not going to blow you away but it gets the job done. You do have to sit back and just watch it whilst not thinking, but occasionally that’s all you want. It’s not as good as Wonder Woman, but then again few films are. Bigger review will be up soon.

Kung Fury

Hilarious. I thank the person who recommended this to me as it’s simply bonkers (well some people say it’s bonkers, I just say it’s free). It has Hitler as a kung fu master, and a dinosaur cop shooting nazis in the balls, what more do you want from a film?

Mindhorn

Very British, I can’t imagine this playing well in other countries.

Money Monster

A big regret of mine is not seeing this at the cinema, I thought it would be overly preachy and dull. Nope, so tense, a great thriller which just goes to show how talented Jodie Foster is behind the camera. I can’t see her winning an Oscar for it, but she could definitely get an Emmy if she moved to TV. Clooney is great as well.

Moonlight

Read a review of this which sums up my feelings on it completely “is more personal and important than it is great”. I appreciated it more than I loved it.

Murder On The Orient Express

A lot better than I thought it would be. The biggest surprise is that it’s not Ewan McGregor as the lead role, a fact I didn’t find out until about a week after I saw the film.

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You can definitely see why I was mistaken though, right?

 

Suburbicon

Disappointing. Has a sub-plot which goes absolutely nowhere. It keeps seeming like it’s going to interact with the main story but never does, it could be cut entirely and the film wouldn’t change. It seems like it’s just there to say “people used to be racist”, and then does nothing else other than that.

The Book Of Henry

Read this was the worst film of the year, and responsible for director losing Star Wars job. I actually kind of liked it. I never need to see it again but it wasn’t the worst film I’ve seen. I mean, yeah it does seem like two different films awkwardly put together but the performances are compelling enough.

The Crane Wife

Patrick Ness is a weird writer, he seems to write updated fairy tales, kind of like a Neil Gaiman type, but not quite as magical (because few people are). This book takes a while to get going but has some great lines and the final section really becomes something else brilliant.

The Dark Tower

Finally a film as bad as everybody said. Fed up with people saying “oh my God, this film is awful, worst ever” and the film is mediocre at worst. Finally, this is a film that I feel deserves its bad reviews. It’s very, very bad. Idris Elba really needs to fire his agent, out of a cannon, into a brick wall so he can’t convince him what roles to take any more.

The Death Of Stalin

Incredibly funny and biting satire, which seems mostly historically accurate too. And it almost got banned in Russia, which is a bonus. Caused a Russian politician to describe it as a plot aimed at discrediting the figure of Stalin. Yeah, damn those films and their “anti-genocide” blinkered viewpoints.

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Plus, look at that cast

The Eyes Of My Mother

I didn’t like it. Seemed a bit too film student-ey for my liking. I didn’t get the hype, I think it’s just because it seems like a middle eastern horror film that’s too incomprehensible for Westerners to understand, but nope, it’s American. Just didn’t click with me at all.

The Hippopotamus

Very Stephen Fry. In both a good and a bad way. Although it has to be said that “now will you all kindly fuck off?” is a great closing line.

The Lego Ninjago Movie

Doesn’t seem to be done with as much love for the subject matter as the original lego movies. The Lego Batman movie was obviously done by someone who loved Batman (or at the very least knew a lot about it), this isn’t. There’s no subtle references to films of the genre, it’s just a standard boring film with the only lego-ness being a villain who’s a cat.

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How We Got Through…October 2017

A Monster Calls

Just as depressing as the film, actually slightly more so. This isn’t something you enjoy as such, but it is something you appreciate because of how brilliant and heartbreaking it is. Also, the book I got looked beautiful in terms of artwork, is like everything was drawn with charcoal, really suited it. Although the film had a unique look as well, but that was more “watercolours”, this is very different, childlike, but an advanced child.

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Ayoade On Ayoade

I got this, was a fun read, but I don’t need to read it again. I can’t imagine what it’s like to read this if you have no idea who he is.

Bachelor Number 2

I actually love Aimee Mann, first heard her on an Anti-Valentines Day radio show. That single show was probably the most influential radio show I’ve ever heard, I got into Aimee Mann, Regina Spektor, and a few other bands whose names don’t occur to me anymore (one was basically a woman leaving a series of increasingly angry voicemail messages set to a dance beat, loved it for some reason). I describe Aimee Mann’s music as basically “Acoustic Snark”. She’s best known for her work on the Magnolia soundtrack (almost said Memento there for no reason whatsoever, because they both begin with M? That’s stupid even for my mind, might as well have said Monty Python And The Holy Grail, that’s an M too) but her other stuff is great too (in particular The Forgotten Arm, and yes, I would understand it if you forgot that prior to this was a full sentence that you forgot how it began, what with the extended parenthesis).

Danny Collins

Kind of sweet. You can tell Pacino is having the time of his life here, it seems like the role was written for him. A very well-written and performed film, with a pretty cool soundtrack. When I first saw it I expected it to be just okay but it’s actually really good. The music is good, the performances are good, and the background characters are rich in terms of characterisation. The trouble with a lot of films is making everybody seem like they’re actual people, making them seem like they exist when the cameras aren’t pointed at them. This does that very well, even the minor characters feel fleshed out.

Detroit

This film suffers from the same problem as a lot of films about the subject do, the villains are so 2-dimensional that it’s hard to buy into the film. The trouble with doing films about race set in 1960’s etc US is that you can’t create a compelling villain. To me, a good villain is just a misguided hero, one where you can kind of see their point. You can’t have that with this, the bad guys are so obviously wrong they’re impossible to defend, they’re obviously pricks. Which is depressing as that’s what it was like back then, a lot of people in power were indefensible pricks who deserved to be punched in the kidneys. Also, the pacing is weird, you have an entire subplot about a band that doesn’t really add anything except 30 minutes to the runtime.

Fist Fight

Pointless. Not entirely sure why this exists. Slightly funny in parts but seems like one of those films that perpetually came out a few years ago and you missed it and forgot it exists.

Flatliners

Brave move killing off who they did. It’s weird as it’s not really sure what it wants to be, is it a remake, a sequel, or something entirely new? Nobody knows, least of all the film itself.

Geri’s Game

One of the very early Pixar films. Shows a lot of promise but lacks that certain Pixar magic. They got a lot better but you can see the early glimpses of what makes Pixar pixar.

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How To Be A Serial Killer

Really enjoyed this. A lot of fun, the kind of film I wish I wrote. Funny, original, and stylish.

The Inbetweeners

Funny, crude, but the second film is a massive disappointment. Weird how quickly this series has left the public consciousness.

IT

Wonderful soundtrack. Some films have had better songs, but few films I’ve seen this year have had songs which suit the film better.

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Also, fucking terrifying.

Keanu

The best use of George Michael in cinema. Ever. Has a great ending too.

Laid

Probably the only sitcom I’ver ever seen which features a scene where the main character tries to fashion a splint out of ice lolly sticks so that they can rape a guy who will stop everyone they’ve had sex with dying.

Solace Of The Road

Not too great a start, but a great closing stretch. The writing reminded me very much of someone I went to uni with, but less good.

The Mountain Between Us

When it was just “two people trapped on a mountain”, was a superb film. Once they added the romance bit I kind of tapped out, just didn’t work at all. And the “realisation shot” was straight out of a low-budget music video for a James Blunt soundalike.

The Ritual

This film did something I will forever love it for; it put most the bits from the trailer in the opening half. I liked this as it meant you weren’t thinking “ok, what from the trailer haven’t I seen yet?”. Chilling, well told and well performed. Book is now on my “to-read” list.

The Snowman

A lot more brutal than I expected. The reveal of the killer could have been done better, and it juggled too many characters at once so was a bit of a bloated mess. Not as terrible as I thought it would be though.

The Witches

Loved it!

The Young Offenders

Kind of charming, rather funny. Has a scene where a disabled drug dealer shoots someone with a nail gun. Seems like a tv show, which as of next year it will be, and I can’t wait.

You Can’t Kill Stephen King

Not a fan. I expected it to be funny and meta, but was just a bit nonsensical. Just wasn’t very fun. Not saying it was serious, far from it, it just seemed a bit “meh”, the film equivalent of dust in the wind.

 

How We Got Through…September

A Drink Before The War

Pretty good read. Not something I would exactly call “fun”. Harsh, brutal, but extremely well written. A prequel (kind of) to Gone Baby Gone, which I really need to read some time.

Grabbers

The concept is better than the execution. Is about a place being attacked by aliens, but they’re poisoned by alcohol, so everyone tries to get drunk to stay safe. Great concept, but it didn’t really work for me. Think it’s because it didn’t really make use of the concept until more than half way through. A film like this is ALL about the concept, so you need to launch into it quickly, ideally, at the end of the first act, this doesn’t really do it until the last act.

Gremlins

Been a while since I’d seen this so had forgotten a lot about it. I remembered it being quite violent, I remembered gizmo being adorable, and, of course, I remembered the greatest scene in cinema history. But I had forgotten one thing; how superb the theme is. Seriously, listen to it, how is that never brought up when people talk about great movie themes?

Gremlins 2

Deliciously fun; starts with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, has Christopher Lee in it, and features a scene where Gremlins sing Frank Sinatra. Almost like a parody of the first film.

 

Logan Lucky

It goes nowhere, and is overly American to the point where it almost seems sarcastic, basically, it’s the film equivalent of NASCAR. I fucking hate NASCAR.

Man Up

First time I saw this I went into it with low expectations, I expected an okay but not great romcom, something very predictable and formulaic. Kudos to the script then for making it very very good. I have an unwritten rule for how you can judge a great script mixed with a great performance. So much so it’s easy to imagine that the lead actor wrote it, that’s how on-point Lake Bells performance is (she didn’t, Tess Morris did, but still). A great date movie for people who hate date movies.

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Patti Cake$

A lot better than I thought it would be. Has both a great and not great soundtrack. I mean, the songs are fantastic, but the music/story integration could be done better. You don’t really get the feeling that the film is influencing the music, or the other way round, they seem kind of independent from each other. Oddly enough, I think this is the only film I’ve seen this year which has had absolutely nobody in it who I know from another film.

Rough Night

A lot different than I expected. I think it’s R-Rated, and if so it really earns it. Wonderfully filthy and funny. Kate McKinnon’s Australian accent slips more than a pensioner walking on ice.

Super

Incredibly violent, kind of like a more realistic Kick Ass, showing how someone who wants to do that kind of thing obviously has some issues. Pretty good soundtrack too.

Superman: Doomsday

Did more with Doomsday in 20 minutes than was managed in the entirety of Batman Vs. Superman. Really looking forward to watching the rest of the DC animated universe, so far seems enjoyable and quite intense. I thought that it was a mistake killing Superman so early into the DC cinematic universe, but then I saw them do it here and realised the problem was just the film was very badly written. This one however is great, highly recommend watching this.

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I absolutely love this line.

The Best Of You

Unpopular opinion; I’m not a big fan of Foo Fighters. They’re one of those bands who I think could put together one really good album of their stuff, but otherwise their career has too many songs which are basically filler. This is one of them.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Not going to change anybody’s life, but very funny. Selma Hayek swears too much though, it’s like just her swearing was supposed to be a joke. I think you have to be careful with swearing in films, if you do it too much it just comes off incredibly juvenile.

The Limehouse Golem

Very British, very smartly made, and a great twist ending. Sadly whilst it is very well made, it’s not very memorable.

What We Do In The Shadows

Without a doubt the best vampire mockumentary from New Zealand that I’ve seen in a long time. Perfect film to put on whilst just need a laugh distraction from the relentless crushing existence that we call life in 2017.

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How We Got Through: August 2017

47 Meters Down

Superbly done. Also had one of my favourite endings ever. It made it look like it had a “slightly unhappy but full of hope” ending, then it went the other way and made it super depressing. Most of the film takes place underwater, and it looks gorgeous. There’s one scene where a flare is going through the ocean water and you it’s almost complete darkness apart from the small flare making its way up. Since most of the film is underwater it relies heavily on performance. Luckily Mandy Moore completely knocks it out the arena with her performance in this.

Annabelle: Creation

Renders the original (which is technically the second Conjuring film, and a sequel to this, it’s odd) completely pointless as an origin story. Has some okay performances in it but most of them are just standard. No actual scares really, all jump scares. The scariest moments in this film had nothing to do with this film; 1) I thought there was only one other person in the cinema, who was sitting behind me. But near the end a phone went off near the front. Made me jump. 2) A seat was broken and had a white sheet covering it. Whenever someone opened the door (like when a cinema worker came in to check things were okay) it caused a draft which made the sheet rise, made it look like someone was standing up underneath it.

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She got better as the film went on, in the closing section she was superb.

Atomic Blonde

Like a companion piece to John Wick, looks superb and the music is brilliant. Had one of my favourite soundtracks of the year. And there’s one scene which everyone has to see; a single shot fight scene that lasts about 15 minutes, one of (in fact probably the) best fight scene I’ve seen all year. It doesn’t cut away before impact like most do, it’s mostly silent, no music so you hear every hit, and the fight has an effect on people, you can see them get gradually more exhausted as the fight goes on. Highly recommend seeing this.

Baywatch

Why? Why does this exist? Who is an r-rated version of baywatch for? People who liked the original won’t like it, and people who didn’t like the original won’t like this. Nobody was calling out for it and it feels like it was one of those films that was only made so they could hold onto the copyright. Also, does it need an R-rating? The only point of it would be nudity, to be as sexually exploitative as they can be, but it doesn’t really do that. Only has the rating because of the swearing, which I also have a problem with; there’s far too much swearing just for the sake of swearing. Now onto the actual film; the opening scene is basically “Look how fabulous The Rock is. He’s basically perfect”. Just full of other characters complimenting him so much that it almost seems sarcastic.

Black Dynamite

The closest thing I’ve ever seen to a Garth Marenghi movie. Very weird, but a lot of fun.

Bright Young Things

Some odd directing choices that don’t really work. Funny but don’t need to see it again.

Cars 3

A LOT better than the first two (although I hated the first two). Makes a better sequel to the first one than the second one did, links better to the original and continues the story arc started in that one.

CHiPs

Dumb fun that forgot to be fun.

Cockneys Vs. Zombies

See, now this is fun. Silly but brilliant. Extremely British. More zombie films should end with a Chas & Dave song. Also notable for being the only film I’ve seen this year where somebody dropkicks a baby into a billboard (although there’s still time for that to happen again).

Demetri Martin – Live (At The Time)

Great one liners, but kind of needed better connecting moments. Very one-liner which is funny, but won’t exactly change the way you see the world.

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Prevenge

The best horror film about a pregnant woman being controlled by a homicidal fetus that I’ve ever seen. I do love Alice Lowe, she makes amazing stuff. First Sightseers now this, she’s becoming Britains go-to female film-maker for smart, original dark comedies. She really needs to do a Black Mirror episode.

 

Shut In

Obvious twist ending is obvious. How did they get such a good cast in such a bad movie? Does the director have naked pictures of Naomi Watts or something? Her work is usually highly regarded so I can’t see why she did this.

The Big Sick

The best romcom I’ve seen all year.

The Drop

Considering how much I loved the film (and I did), it says a lot that this book is equally as good. Also, thank God for public libraries for giving me the chance to read this.

The Emoji Movie

So bland. Not even bad enough for me to say anything funny about it. Despite what some reviewers may say it’s not proof of all that is wrong with society, it’s not entirely evil, it’s just shit.

 

War For The Planet Of The Apes

A stunning end to one of the best trilogies of the last few years. Some people considered the franchise dead in the water after the Tim Burton version, the knives really were out for Rise, but it managed to become highly regarded not just by fans of the franchise, but by the general public. It made weirdly concept sci-fi cool again.

How We Got Through: July 2017

Alien: Covenant

I can’t really make a fair judgement on this as I have never seen any of the others. Despite that, I did recognise a lot of scenes from this that seemed to be taken straight out of the other films in the series.

ASDF

Funny, easy to get through, and kind of quotable too. Great youtube series.

Baby Driver

The opening scene alone ranks it among one of the best films of the year. Very well done. Great films usually inspire you into film-making. I think this has the opposite, this is like “yeah we can’t match that”. Bound to inspire a lot of poorly-done imitators.

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Canadian Bacon

Not the best film ever but a great time-waster. The kind of film which I could see buying on VHS from a boot fair in the 90’s. Some great jokes, and very unsubtle. Odd that this is seen as a John Candy movie, I see it as more of an ensemble piece. Alan Alda, in particular, is great. Unlike a lot of satire, this has actually aged REALLY well, particularly in regards to the American invasion of Iraq/Afghanistan/Cornwall. There’s one line in particular which has aged, erm, weirdly. When they’re trying to find a new enemy to declare war on, someone suggests international terrorism, to which someone replies:

“Well, sir, we’re not going to re-open missile factories just to fight some creeps running around in exploding rental cars, are we, sir?”

Cars

Doesn’t really seem like Pixar. More like Dreamworks. Even the way they use music seems very Dreamworks. Pixar movies are supposed to be monumental events that change your life, this really isn’t one.

Cars 2

The worst Pixar film I’ve seen (and I think I’ve seen all of them). Doesn’t help that it focuses on the worst character from the previous film. I usually describe Pixar films I don’t like as being “almost like a Dreamworks movie” (see above for evidence). This was more like “Mid 90’s Disney straight to video sequel”

Cherry Blossoms – Ala.ni

A song I loved so much I used it in a script almost immediately after hearing it.

Despicable Me 3

Too much going on. Has about five separate plots going on. The story (well, stories) are only there as an excuse to tie chaotic scenes together. It’s like the scenes were written first, then the actual story was thought of later.

Dunkirk

One word to describe this: impressive. Visually, in terms of performance, in terms of the way the story is told, it’s all very impressive. The one thing that stops it being perfect (in my eyes, anyway), is that it’s missing that one standout scene. That one “even if you don’t watch the film, you have to watch this” scene.

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This guy, this guy is going places. AMAZING performance.

Ever Fallen In Love – Billy Talent

Picture what you think this song sounds like, yup, that’s exactly what it sounds like.

Gone Baby Gone

Amy Ryan is really good in this. Almost unrecognisable from her role in The Office. I wrongfully assumed she was just a comic actress, but her performance in this is sensational, almost makes me wish this was released this year so I could put her in the “best performance” category at the end of the year. Casey Affleck is, erm, he’s okay. Nowhere near as good as he was in Manchester By The Sea, but you can see the genesis of his performance in that film in this one. It also has one of the most brutal endings I’ve seen in a while.

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Honey – The Hush Sound

The sound of a drunken party in New Orleans. But a “teenage movie” drunken party where the worst thing that happens is somebody spills their drink. Nobody vomits, nobody fights, and nobody gets angry. They just drink and dance.

It Comes At Night

I liked it, but not as much as I thought I would. Probably because I saw at the cinema. I know some horror works great at the cinema, but I feel this would work better on your own in a small room. You need to feel part of that world, feel isolated, like a visitor in their world, and sitting in a vast room full of other people takes you away from that.

Next Goal Wins

A documentary about the Western Samoa national football team (or “soccer” team to those of you are wrong) who suffered one of the biggest defeats in international football when they lost to Australia. Interesting moment in here where they talk about one of the players who is “third gender”. At first, I was annoyed at how they talked about it, to me that seemed like a much more interesting story than the one being told, then it hit me; the fact they’re not treating it as a big deal is fascinating, and is a big deal. It’s not about them, it’s about the team as a whole. The fact they are so nonchalant about it is wonderful, and kind of beautiful.

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Saw

Some of the dialogue makes me think the writer has a rom-com in him somewhere. So natural and brilliant. Performances are a little stilted at times, very “end of year school play” air to some of the line deliveries. There’s a child in it, very briefly, who has the best delivery out of all of them. Her tortured cries are so realistic it makes me wonder whether this is actually a snuff film. This film is actually a lot better than its reputation would have you believe. Yes, the series did eventually descend into torture-porn, but the first film has one hell of a plot (also, one hell of a plot-related issue, but meh). Remarkably restrained, a lot of the horror comes from the situation, and one of the most brutal scenes is one where you don’t actually see anything, you just hear it.

Spiderman: Homecoming

I love it. So so much.

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This scene is genuinely one of the best-written scenes so far this year

Stuart Saves His Family

Dark, but could afford to be darker.

The Fuzz

The opening episode features a puppet prostitute getting shot in the head. What more do you want from a TV show? A buddy cop comedy set in a world where puppets not only exist, but deal jelly beans instead of drugs. The main character is called Herbie Smooshiloops, and at one point gets a ukelele out for a police press conference. Very funny, and a really good story. That kind of thing is usually not done in comedy, people have a tendency to think “well if the laughs are good, you don’t need a story”, wrong. Very very wrong.

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The Last Word

Holy crap where did this come from? It’s like High Fidelity mixed with Christmas Carol. Really good. I really wish this film had a better marketing campaign so that more people would have seen it. Genuinely one of my cinematic highlights of the year. Seemingly just with me though, a lot of reviewers really hate. I loved it though, very dialogue and character-heavy. Genuinely sweet and heartwarming, there’s a scene near the end which is a bit “meh”, but other than that I loved it. A story about an elderly woman who hires someone to write her obituary before she dies, only a lot better than I made it sound.

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The Omen

Weird references to 9/11 and Katrina (i think it’s Katrina anyway). On the one hand, it places it in the world. On the other, it seems a bit, I dunno, weird to use those things where thousands of people died as a plot point in your piece of shit movie. I think that might actually be my biggest problem with it, not that it uses real life deaths in a film, but that it uses real life deaths in a shit film.  This series will definitely have to suffer through a Halloween-watching live blog at some point.

The Space Between Us

I was actually looking forward to this. But no, just no. Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, and Gary Oldman do the best with what they can, but what they’re given was not great. My main issue is the obvious lack of scientific accuracy. May seem a bit nerdy, but it’s not high-level science they fail, what they do is the equivalent of a medical TV show saying “she got pregnant because she held hands with a man”. You wouldn’t see that in a TV show as it’s obviously false and only belongs in Alabama sex education classes.

How We Get Through: June 2017

Films

Submarine Kid

A few months ago I made a slight adjustment to my “to do” list. I started adding names next to them so I would remember who to thank for suggesting them. I really wish I started that sooner, I want to find whoever suggested this film to me, and slap them very very hard round the face. Why? Why would you put me through this? Very Channel 5. Extremely bad dialogue. Can’t tell if it’s too American for me or whether it just doesn’t work as a film.

Under The Shadow

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I liked it but can understand why some wouldn’t. It doesn’t become a traditional horror film until the closing section. Until then it’s horror on a more personal level. Wonderful blending of a war-time drama and horror that doesn’t depend too highly on the usual tropes of one or both genres. Never seen anything like this before in my life, but I really wish I had. Side note, I’ve now seen two Iranian films, both of which have strong female leads, is Iranian cinema better at female representation than Western cinema? Or is it because women are treated as second class citizens there it makes them better characters so the quality of films are likely to be higher, which increases my chances of seeing them?

The Final Girls

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Genuinely emotional, a lot more than it should be. It’s basically a horror film about a group of people who get sucked into a horror film. It’s done by a team who obviously really love the genre, and love film-making in general. Lots of fun little moments in it, from the closing credits appearing in the sky above them, everything changing colour when they appear in flashbacks etc. It’s really good and I wish I made it first.

The Skeleton Twins

Turns “two characters lipsynching” into one of the most emotional, character developing scenes you’re likely to see. Funny, but very very dark.

Let’s Pollute

Bit preachy, very one note and simplistic. Talks about how people are selfish because they work somewhere different from where they live, as if getting a job in a Tesco the town over means you should move house.

The End Of The Tour

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I think part of the reason I like this is because of how great the dialogue is. It flows beautifully, as was described here;

“a funny and heartfelt road movie that meditates on fame, creativity, and loneliness, through the indepth and witty conversations of its protagonists. Whether you know David Foster Wallace’s work or not, this is an accessible and great film”

7:35 In The Morning

This was on my watch list as the writer/director also made Colossal, which I loved. You can kind of tell it’s the same guy by the story, the visuals are pretty bland though. Much like Colossal, I’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s a short film about a guy who holds an entire restaurant hostage so he can sing to a woman about how much he likes her. Keeps on the line between silly and frightning in a way that’s very hard to do.

We Need To Talk Kevin

VERY film student-ey. Spends so long laying on symbolism that it forgets other things.

Spy

Jason Statham is amazing in this. Plays his role to perfection. Everyone else is still good, but not as good as him. I’d love to see more of him in a sequel. When I first saw it I expected this to be a one joke film “haha, a fat woman as a spy”, but was actually really really funny.

Gifted

A lot less Nicholas-Sparks than I thought it would be. Bit formulaic but it plays to the formula very well. Chris Evans is very good in it, but is overshadowed by Mckenna Grace, who is very very good, probably one of the best performances this year. Is it just me or are child actors getting better? Manages to do a performance which is funny, moving, and hits all the right spots in terms of body language and facial acting. Great performance. Jenny Slate was also REALLY good in it, but wasn’t in it as much as she should have been.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil

Has some continuity issues but still very good. Kind of sad to think both leads have sadly passed on. They had amazing chemistry here, you don’t really tend to get acting double acts anymore. You have “groups” that work together, but that’s normally in a certain directors films as opposed to just always together. It’s a shame as that kind of thing can really help sell a film “oh, I loved the last film I saw those two in”. It also means unscrupulous marketers can change the title of the film in foreign markets so it looks like a sequel. Which is always hilarious. “yes, the first film ended with them both being shot to death, but here’s a sequel, where they have different names and characters, but they look the same. Now give money.”

Wonder Woman

I explained my thoughts on this here. Spoilers; LOVED IT! Even the closing credits were amazing. They were like a water colour painting. Haven’t seen any this good since A Monster Calls. I like when films take the time to attempt to do something with the credits, it shows a real dedication to what they’re doing.

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The moment where where he tries to do the monty python reference is really awkward and cringey, if anything it’s worse when you know it’s coming. Only just realised how heartbreaking some of the performances were, Sally Hawkins in particular.

Books

The Stars Tennis Balls

Always takes me forever to get through the opening chapter of this for some reason. Shame as the final third is absolutely superb, it just takes a while to get there (about two thirds of the book I’d guess).

Books Of Blood

The biggest issue this book has is that it starts with Fear, which is one of the best horror short stories ever written. Anything after that would just be disappointing.

Albums

Maps

Can’t remember how I heard this band (probably the Figure 4 Leg Rock podcast), great EP, available for free, which is my second favourite price to pay for things. Trigger Happy in particular is one of my favourite songs I’ve heard this year.

Panic Prevention

The moments in songs are usually better than the songs themselves. Although “Sheila” is pretty damn fine. Listed on my itunes as “Chavvy Acoustic Punk”, because I couldn’t think of a better way to describe it.

Look For The Woman

B-sides are remixes, which is always okay. But the song itself is amazing.

Punk Rock Is Your Friend Volume 6 (Hardcore Is Your Friend Too)

I miss samplers like this. Epitaph, Burning Heart, Kung-Fu records etc all used to do really cheap albums showcasing their bands. Doesn’t really happen anymore, probably due to the rise of streaming etc. Is a shame as these were great ways to get into bands. You pick them up barely knowing any of the bands and before you know it you’ve found your new favourite band. I got this for one reason and one reason only; new Tsunami Bomb song. They were one of my favourite bands at the time and I was obsessed with them (how I felt when they split is how the rest of the world feels when celebrities die) so the chance to hear something new excited me, made me look forward to a new album by them. Sadly they split soon after, but I’ll always have that song, and no more new ones, ever *cries*.

Just The Way I’m Feeling

Relatively pedestrian, listened to it today and I still can’t remember the b-sides.

Goodbye Blue And White

It’s a Less Than Jake album with at least two Slayer covers. Weird.

Stopgap EP

Probably the most American pop-punk band that’s ever come from England. Just an EP meant to tide people over until their new album came out a few years ago. Has some good stuff on it but the best song by a mile is the cover of “Everytime You Go Away”. I do loves me some covers.

How We Got Through….May 2017

Films

Snatched

Not bad, just disappointing. Very bland, the kind of film you see and then immediately forget. Shame as it has some very good moments in it, but some of the jokes fall flat and land not with raucous laughter, but with silence. Same with directing too, a lot of the visual and editing decisions are kind of strange. All in all it seems like every part of it was a first draft, every shot closing not with “perfect, one more for safety” but “that will do for now”. Same with the script, entire scenes seem like bits which should have been taken out in a second draft.

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Joan Cusack is really good in the small amount of scenes she’s in though

Colossal

One of the best films I’ve seen all year. Oh it’s flawed as hell (particularly in terms of time and establishing exactly “when” certain scenes take place in relation to each other) but all those flaws do is take it from a 10/10 to a solid 8. Anne Hathaway gives a performance which equals Rachel Getting Married (which if you haven’t seen, you really should, it’s superb), and Jason Sudeikis is creepier than I ever thought he could be, the kind of performance which makes you think he could easily move into more dramatic roles, or play a serial killer. So well written too, so much so that I immediately looked into the writer and made a note to watch everything he’s done. It’s also extremely unique, I can’t think of a film to compare it too, stands alone in a genre of one, and I can’t see anybody doing it better.

The Promise

A 2 hour film about the Armenian genocide, no, wait, come back, it’s actually REALLY good. Brutal without being exploitative, which is the risk you take when doing a film like this. If you don’t do it right it can come off like you’re exploiting the reality for the sake of drama, you have to stay grounded enough, and honest enough, for the film to work. It also REALLY annoyed a certain group of people, who flooded IMDB with negative reviews of it, calling it propaganda and lies without a hint of truth, saying that the genocide never happed. Most of these “reviews” were posted before the film was even released, so you know they’re definitely trustworthy. Oscar Isaac is REALLY good in this by the way, believable throughout, but special mention has to go to Marwan Kenzari, who plays his character with such conviction, and does such wonderful facial work throughout that it’s one of the most genuine performances of the year. I would highly recommend seeing this, and not just because it annoys genocide deniers (which is always fun)

Sleepless

I’ve seen quite a few bad films at the cinema, but rarely are they as f*cking tedious as this was. You’d think a 90 minute action film set in Las Vegas would be exciting, you’d be wrong. The only reason certain things happen are because characters are idiots, for example at one point the villain points a loaded gun at the main character, now instead of shooting him, he takes a few steps backwards and gets run over a van (which he somehow didn’t hear coming, in an empty parking lot, the emptiness of which I have a problem with also). I’ve seen defences of this say “yeah but as long as you don’t think too hard about it it works. It’s just dumb fun”. And they’re half right, it’s dumb. It’s not nitpicking to point out that someone who has been stabbed (and for whom the wound continues bleeding for 4 hours) should be weakened by that. But nope, the only indication of it is that he occasionally stops and goes “ah”. A stab wound has the same effect as an ice cream headache. It’s a shame as the cast do their job well, it’s just the script is kinda dumb. There’s some odd choices when it comes to directing too. You know that “shakey cam fight scene” that the Bourne movies use? They do that here, only they do it for EVERYTHING in the fight. Someone walks away after the fight; Shakey Bourne Camera, someone gets their phone out to phone someone: Shakey Bourne Camera. It also ends with the most obvious sequel hook in a long time, yet considering everybody in the cinema stood up the very second the credits started, I don’t think it’s going to be looked forward to that much. Maybe I’m spoiled by John Wick, which set my standards unbelievably high, but still, not a great film, it’s not even a good one. In fact, probably one of the worst films I’ve seen this year.

Suburban Gothic

See, now this is dumb fun. Very very fun. I can’t remember who told me to watch this, but whoever it was; thank you very much. Best watched whilst drunk and with other people. It’s on netflix now so if you’ve got that, watch it, and if you don’t, get netflix, watch it, then cancel after the free month.

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TV Shows

The Office (US)

A US remake that is without a doubt superior to the original. I have a major issue with the UK version; the main character starts off disliked, then ends up with all the characters embracing him, without changing anything about his personality. His character does not deserve his happy ending, all he’s done is bitch and moan and be bitter and spiteful, he should not be the good guy and it feels like it’s done mainly because he was played by the writer. The US one handles it differently, because it has more episodes it allows the main character to have more depth and be a fully developed person, so he comes off a lot more likeable. This show is also helped by the fact that Jim and Pam are one of the best relationships I’ve ever seen in television, so often everything about them is said just with a look, or with body language, you could watch it in silence and get a sense of how they respond to each other.

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It also provided me with a lot of good Cover Photos for facebook

Books

1000 Years Of Annoying The French

A book that’s pretty self explanatory, a look at complex history of anglo-french relations. Definitely has an English bias, but never really comes off as hateful and angry. Fascinating read which goes in depth into a lot of historical fallacies, and tries to examine why the two countries occasionally seem like one of those couples who constantly argue and cheat on each other, yet still stay together for some reason.

Cash

Really interesting, but I don’t think you need to read it more than once. Very honest about his own flaws, yet seems to hold back when discussing others. So it’s interesting but kind of frustrating, yet it makes sense, a biography shouldn’t be entirely about settling old scores, and I’ve read many biographies which have been ruined by hot angry and bitter the person has seemed.

The Damned United

Almost exactly as good as the film, and the film was amazing. Possibly the only sports story where the hero comes from ahead and loses.

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Also a reminder of how quotable Brian Clough could be

Death Note

One of the best (read: the only) manga series I’ve read. Fantastic character work, it can be difficult to write genius’s as sometimes writers just research a lot of information and have the characters repeat what they’ve researched, so it comes off kind of sterile and bland. The two main characters in this are obviously incredibly intelligent, but this isn’t shown through facts and figures, it’s shown through logic. They come to nonsensical conclusions, and then explain how it’s not only logical, but the only possible thought you should have (much like the Sherlock series often did). Kind of an intellectual cold war between the two characters, they both KNOW whom the other one is, but need to try to get the other one to drop their guard and reveal more information.

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This quote is life

 

How We Got Through…..April

Films

Life

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Pretty darn good sci-fi. You watch it and think “you know what would be awesome? If x happens”, and then it does happen, or something better happens. Was worried when I saw the trailer that it would be another cliche “parasitic alien takes over people”, but nope, this is an alien beating people using pure brute strength. And the ending? So harsh, absolutely perfect for the genre. Definitely need to see it again, if only to see whether the opening scene was one shot or whether it just had minimal cuts.

Boss Baby

Better than the abysmal trailers would make you think it is. Some genuine laugh out loud moments.

Scream Film Series

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This was the first horror series I liked growing up. I had watched a few horror films before (enough to recognise and be aware of the tropes and conventions) and it was amazing to see this film not only acknowledge them, but tear them apart as well. It seemed to fall apart slightly in the third one (which, fun fact, until I purchased the box set, was the only one I owned on DVD). The impact of the series has been lessened somewhat by the fact that everybody now does what it did. It’s like watching Seinfeld in a modern context, you think “but why does everyone go on about this? It’s just doing what every other sitcom does”. In reality the reason Seinfeld does what every sitcom does now, is because they’re all following its lead. What was once revolutionary is now standard. Will probably be the series that I blog about this halloween (because it’s good, and because I think it’s the only horror franchise I own which I haven’t already blogged about).

Their Finest

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Have you seen Suicide Squad? You know that bit near the end where the fire guy goes “we’re family”, and the audience is like “how? You’ve only known each other for like a day”? Basically that happens here, certain things between characters don’t feel earned enough and feel kind of forced. Which is a shame as it’s actually a really good story, with great performances and impressive dialogue. When I went to see it there were trailers for Dunkirk, and Churchill. So that’s three films this year which are based around World War 2, oddly high amount for one year. If was World War 1 I’d understand it is 100 years since. Has some pretty good lines about truth in film, well, more accurately, the importance of lies in film.

Going In Style

A tale of two films in terms of directing. The opening section is really weirdly shot in terms of colour, kind of ugly. But once the story gets going and the heist gets going, it starts to look a lot better. The main performances are good, but Joey King, who plays Michael Caine’s granddaughter is really good in the short amount of time she’s given. Logical story, but sadly one that doesn’t have the guts to stick the knife in emotionally when it should.

Guardians Of The Galaxy, Volume 2

Did you enjoy the first one? Then you’ll enjoy this. Just as impressive, funny, and brilliant as the first one. Also it has a brilliant soundtrack, possibly the best one of the year so far. Short I know, but it’s highly likely I’m going to give this a blog of its own at some point.

Fanboys

Wall to wall Star Wars references, and I get the feeling if I had actually watched Star Wars I’d realise the references are also ceiling to floor.

Table 19

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I enjoyed it, a lot. It’s what I deem “social mystery” film. Where the audience has to work out why certain characters are who they are, what caused them to be like that. It’s like an Agatha Christie murder mystery if the victim was good manners. It’s a hard film to describe the plot about without it sounding really bad, it’s mostly just people talking. But the characters are so well created and acted that it works. A lot of people dislike this film, and I kind of see why, nothing really happens. But to me it was wonderful, one of the most emotionally honest films I’ve seen in a while.

The Belko Experiment

Not really a fan of it. For this film to work you need it to be one of two things:

  1. Really stylish and brutal.
  2. Really clever.

This is neither. It seems to run out of ideas by the end of the trailer. It would be a really good short film, but for it to be a full length feature it needs something else, it needs a twist, it needs to amaze and surprise you in the final third, it needs something, ANYTHING that you didn’t see coming. As it is….nothing.

The Night Before

Not a bad Christmas film, but not one I can imagine being needed to be seen again. Basically the film equivalent of drinking a Bucks Fizz at breakfast, acceptable at Christmas, a bit weird at any other time of the year

Madagascar: A Journey Diary

Extremely personal, and touching. Everything a short film should be.

Books

Hitchhikers Guide

Really funny, but also kind of bleak and says a lot about humanity. Which is kind of what all good science fiction should do, it should be used to hold a mirror up to humanity and expose all our flaws. Straddles the fine line between being smart and incomprehensible, in the most glorious way possible.

Music

A Poet’s Life – Tim Armstrong

A really good album to listen to in the summer, so of course I listen to it in April. Relaxing and mellow, really good to chill to.

Cex Sells – Blaqk Audio

A LOT of people hate this, probably because it’s not A.F.I. I like it though, if A.F.I is the sound of Davey Havok going through teenage rebellion, this is the sound of him having cocaine-fuelled orgies with strippers.

Blink 182

A really good album, but not very Blink. At least, not the Blink we were expecting at the time.

Dude Ranch – Blink 182

Listening to this album it’s easy to see how they became one of the biggest pop-punk bands. The melodies, the lyrics, and the occasional hint of darkness are all there. It would take until Enema before they perfected their style, but the basic elements of it are here for everyone to see. Nowhere is this more evident than in Dammit, surely one of the greatest pop-punk songs made?

 

How We Got Through…March 2017

Film

A Cure For Wellness

As you can read here I liked it, but it made me want to self harm. It’s basically this years Nocturnal Creatures, but not quite as great. I do wish Celia Imrie was in it more, she was in the trailer but her role in the film was really nothing more than an extended cameo. Mia Goth was superb however, as was Dane DeHaan (which reminds me, I really need to see Chronicle)

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“Why don’t we do the poster for Slither, but sexy?” “Genius! More cocaine”

Deadpool

Still very very funny, still lacking a compelling story though, but it’s so funny that that makes up for it. One of my favourite soundtracks from last year, although there were a lot of REALLY strong soundtracks last year; Deadpool, Edge Of Seventeen etc all showed that art of the mixtape method of soundtrack making isn’t dead whilst Moana and Kubo showed how you can use a soundtrack as an extensive mood piece for the film.

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Get Out

As you read here, really really good and I can’t wait to see it again to catch things I missed the first time. Got an almost perfect Rotten Tomatoes score, and it fully deserves that.

Hidden Figures

It was good, I wouldn’t call it “Oscar Worthy”. The main trouble with these sorts of stories is it’s impossible to have a good villain. The key to a good villain comes in two separate flavours:

  1. The “nobody knows anything about him” (usually used in horror films)
  2. The “I can see his point, but he’s very very wrong”.

Because these films are character pieces you can’t have the villains be the first one, so you need the second one. But they never work in these films for one simple reason; there’s no logical defence of racism. There’s no way of seeing their point. I had similar problems with Selma too, the villains are so clearly wrong that they don’t make compelling characters. Now I know this is what it was actually like at the time, and it is a truly fascinating story, but it does mean as a cinema experience it never really stays with you. So really my problem isn’t with the film, it’s with reality not conforming to my expectations, so maybe the problem is me.

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Definitely not with the performances which were strong all round

John Wick 2

If you enjoyed the first one, you’ll enjoy this. It’s basically the first film, but more so and in a way that never feels like it’s walking in the same footsteps. One of the first times in a while I remember leaving the cinema and being incredibly excited for the sequel.

Kong: Skull Island

I went into this with low expectations. I was thinking “but I’ve already seen everything, how can spectacle cinema work in this day and age? And you showed too much Kong in the trailer, you idiots, you ruined everything I hate you”. Looking back at it, that may have been an overreaction. The film was, well it was solid. It showed that spectacle can still work in a post Avatar world. It’s not a “I must buy this film immediately”, kind of film, but if it’s on on TV at some point, grab a couple of mates, get some beers in, and leave your brain at the door.

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Logan

One of the best films I’ve seen this year, without a shadow of a doubt. Fully deserves all the plaudits praising it, and more so.

The Great Muppet Caper

I always assumed The Muppets weren’t self referential until the new films came out, like all generations I assumed it was my generation that invented meta-comedy as we’re all so much smarter than all the previous generations. Yeah, I was wrong, and I’m an idiot. Some people say a good film is one that makes you ask questions, the major question of this film is “how the hell did they do that bicycle scene? That’s superb”

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Books

We Need To Talk About Kevin

A very very good book, but not a very nice one. Has a unique way of telling the story and very rarely comes off as exploitative. I’ve yet to see the film but I’m very excited to get round to it.

TV Shows

I should point out; a LOT of these are going to be BBC based. I went on a website I frequent to see what will be taken off netflix soon. There was A LOT of BBC based stuff coming off at the end of the month. As such I had to watch a lot before it got taken off. I got halfway through Doctor Who (which I was watching whilst I was reading Hitchhiker’s Guide, never do that as it creates a weird mash up in your head) and whatever legal issues there were with contracts ending etc was resolved, and a lot of the stuff stayed on. I went off list for no reason.

Extras/The Office

First season of The Office; very very good. Second series; still good. Christmas special; he tried so damn hard to make the main character likeable it’s like he forgot the point of his own story. Extras however is the point where Ricky Gervais just started angrily complaining about the state of comedy in a smug “I’m better than you all, only my comedy is true comedy” way. Which would be admirable if one of the points he was making wasn’t about people releasing comedy singles in-character, which he has since done.

Fawlty Towers

Surprisingly, I had never seen this show before, not all of it anyway. I’d seen an episode or two here and there, but never the whole thing. I get why people love this, very very funny. Does more in 14 episodes than most comedies could hope to do in 14 series.

That Mitchell And Webb Look

Like all sketch shows it’s a bit repetitive but not as obviously as most shows of the genre. I think the reason for this is the history behind it. A lot of sketch show characters have the catchphrase as the joke; so every line in the script is building up to a new way to say that catchphrase. This show tends to put the catchphrases at the start, due (it would seem) to the shows history on radio, which necessitated you put the catchphrase first so that the audience would know which sketch you were in. Has some sketches which are just brilliantly funny (I will never not find a way to use “our caps have got skulls on them, are we the bad guys?” in political discourse). But is also one of the few sketch shows which made me hate life and cry, the “Dementia Sherlock Holmes“. Completely heartbreaking.

The Trip

Yes, it is very up itself, but it is also very very funny, and features two actors self-evaluating every criticism they have of themselves, and they have a lot. New series starts next month, but not on the trusty BBC, instead on Sky Atlantic.

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The Wrong Mans

I’m a sucker for long-form storytelling, particularly in sitcoms (it’s one of many many reasons why I love Crazy Ex Girlfriend and Bojack Horseman), and this has a fantastic story thread running through it. It’s hard to explain just how tightly and intricately plotted this is without it seeming like hyperbole. Hopefully now that James Cordon is huge in America this will start to get strong DVD sales.

Twenty Twelve

Very very BBC. Not going to change your life, but a pleasant enough way to wile away the hours. Funny and enjoyable, just not very memorable.

Music

Shenanigans

Weird to think this is now halfway through Green Days career in terms of albums released, six albums either side of the releases of this and International Superhits. But let’s forget about how this makes me aware of my own mortality and focus on how good this album is; B-sides which are better than most bands release as singles. “Ha Ha You’re Dead” is still one of my favourite songs by the band but you can’t say that without sounding like a hipster douche who’s all like “oh, you probably won’t know my favourite song by them”, and nobody likes those kind of people.

Best songs: Ha Ha You’re Dead

Do Da Da

Suffocate.

Also check out; they have this album called Dookie that you might not know about, pretty good. Also, check out this other super rare album that nobody knows about called American Idiot

All That She Wants – Wizo

I love pop punk covers of songs, and this is no exception. The original is a simply wonderful slice of summer pop (and yes, to me that is a genre) and a pop punk version of it suits it so well.

Podcasts

Toku Podcast

A podcast about video games, biscuits, films, biscuits, tea, biscuits, tv shows, and biscuits. The two hosts are extremely likeable, funny, smart, and kind of strange in the most wonderful way. They spent a long time discussing which avengers would be which biscuits that was hilarious ((in case you were wondering what my choices would be: Iron Man; Jammie Dodger. Captain America; Hob Nob. Hulk: Those oat biscuits that crumble all the time. Spider-Man: Jaffa Cake (is it an avenger, is it a cake? Nobody knows)).

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They also have the best episode titles

So that’s that for this month; I’ll see you in April unless I get hit by a bus and die, then I might have to delay until May.

How We Got Through…February 2017

Film

The Girl With All The Gifts

Actually really disappointed I missed this last year now. A lot less cliche than I thought it would be. I wasn’t completely sold on it until one moment; there’s a scene where shits going down and a doctor is standing in front of a window, in background you see someone running towards the window, you assume it’s a soldier but it’s one of these evil dastardly zombie people, who bursts through the window. This achieves one of those rare things in film; a surprise which hides nothing prior to it. You are shown everything you need to be shown before it happens, yet it still somehow shocks you. Probably the best non-comedic zombie film of the last few years.

Split

Nothing inherently wrong with this movie, I just never brought the central concept. It’s like if I was watching a film where Ryan Gosling plays a character who is too ugly to get a date, they’d need to be a moment in the film which means you can buy the central concept as otherwise you’ll just be sitting there thinking “yeah this is BS”. This film never has that moment, as such it kind of fails. The acting in it was superb though, Anya Taylor-Joy continues to impress after last years The Witch, whilst James McAvoy does fantastic facial work, it gets to the point where you can tell which personality is in control of him from a still shot of his face.

Lego Batman Movie

Will probably not be the best film I see this year, but will definitely be the most fun. The quickest I’ve been sold on a film so far, usually it’s taken me about ten minutes into a film to think “okay I’m into this”, this film sold me in the first sentence. Plus, there’s a Christian group in America protesting it and calling it “gay propaganda”, so you have to see it, even if only to annoy them.

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Zootropolis

Still one of the greatest animated films of 2016. Big downside is it doesn’t seem to have led to more work for Ginnifer Goodwin, which is a shame as she was fantastic in this and deserves more roles.

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Red State

Has some fantastic monologues in it, which Michael Parks knocks out of the….erm, area. Him and John Goodman stand head and shoulders above everyone else in the film. I think it’s more interesting than good, I don’t think it really works as a horror film, horror is a REALLY difficult genre to direct well as everything needs to work, you need the right music, the right lighting etc, if just one of those things doesn’t work then you won’t scare people. Also the film has serious pacing issues, especially in the opening third which half-asses its way into building the universe, but doesn’t do it well enough. Despite that there is something inherently watchable about it, I think it’s because the story is interesting, it just should have been better told.

Inside Out/Lava

I have a huge problem with this film, every time I sit down to watch it my allergies start playing up so it always looks like I’m crying. The allergies get particularly bad during the scene where Bing Bong dies.

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Damn ninjas

La La Land

I liked it, but I didn’t love it, and I feel it wanted me to love it. It looked fantastic, and the soundtrack was good, it just left me feeling nothing. Probably wasn’t helped by the fact that I felt Ryan Gosling’s character was a bit of a dick and the romance made zero sense. It’s biggest flaw I feel is its dependence on music, if you took away the songs you’re left with a fairly average story. Whilst the songs were good, they all sounded a bit too familiar, every song sounded like another one, so when you listen to the soundtrack you just think “what song does this remind me of?”, “wait, this has same tune as the song from The Muppets sequel”, and “Seriously, what is this one? I think it’s Amanda Palmer but I’m not sure”.

Rings

Unpopular opinion time; this film should not have been a horror, it should have a psychological drama with scary moments. I feel under the service of this story is a really solid detective/ghost story, but it’s restricted by being a horror so puts in scares which don’t do much to enhance the film. Also, I’m getting very annoyed with films being ruined by their trailers. I’d seen two trailers for this; one of which I saw back in November and was mainly focused on one of the characters in the shower and freaky shit starts happening. A well made scene, but it’s also the final scene of the film, it takes place after the “monster” is supposed to have died, so after the “death” you just sit there thinking “I know it’s not the end as we haven’t seen the scene which the entire advertising campaign was based around”. Especially since I think the revelation at the end was supposed to be a twist. It would be like if The Usual Suspects had the tagline “Kevin Spacey is….Keyser Soze”. On the plus side the way the film opened was fantastic and was one of my favourite 10 seconds of cinema of the year so far. They put the Paramount logo into the film itself, by showing it on tv screens on an airplane. They also distorted the logo as it was playing. I love when films do things like that, it grabs your attention immediately.

Manchester By The Sea

A lot has been said about the performances of this film, I feel enough hasn’t been said about how good the script is. It’s so good that the dialogue doesn’t feel written, it was like they just filmed people talking naturally. It was also the lack of words that was masterful, there were moments where most films would have had characters deliver impassioned monologues, the kind of monologues which sum up their characters and the film, monologues which are so masterfully written people will quote them for years. This film doesn’t have monologues in that moment, it condenses those moments down to a single line. But you understand everything in that sentence, you feel the weight of that sentence, how crushing it is and how much is held within it.

TV Show

Not Going Out

I don’t know what it is but it seems to have lost something. I think it’s because of how the concept of the show has changed. It used to be about two friends, one of whom was living with the other ones ex in a flat in London. Then it became two friends, one living with the other’s sister. Then one of the cast members left and it just became a standard flat sitcom. Now they’ve moved out of the flat and got a family. It’s good that the story has progressed and it’s interesting to chart the change throughout the seasons, but the new series seems more like a spin-off than a continuation. Also the show has still refused to answer one question; why are these two characters in a relationship. Before they were a couple it was clear there was an attraction from one character to the other, but there was never any indication that there was any attraction the other way. The most likely solution is probably Stockholm Syndrome, but they don’t outright say that due to the terrorist connotations, bloody political correctness.

Book

The Saga Of Darren Shan – Darren Shan

My favourite vampire story. A 12 book series detailing someone growing up, and handles it very well. When you read the earlier books the sentence structure is very childlike, which makes sense considering he is a child, yet as the series develops the author changes the style to a more mature style as the character ages. It’s subtle enough that you might not consciously notice, but on a subconscious level it does register with you and is a genius bit of storytelling. If you haven’t read it I should warn you; it gets VERY weird towards the last few books.

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Songs/Albums

I Will Follow you into the dark – Death Cab For Cutie

How did I not hear this song before? This is a song I should have heard for the first time when I was a bitter cynical 15 year old, I would have clinged to this song like a barnacle clings to a ship, like chewing gum clings to school tables, like I cling to the idea that there’s an adequate way to complete this simile. As it is I heard this when I was a bitter cynical 30 year old.

Actual Results May Vary – Babypuncher

One of the best songs from a simply amazing EP released last year (available for free download here). The lyrics in this song are simply sublime. My favourite line being:

“I can’t fix you and you can’t fix me, but we can both be broken together”

That line resonated so much with me when I first heard it, and sums up the feelings of characters in a script I’m working on at the moment (a longer version of this). This is a perfect song to listen to whilst sitting on a train in the rain and looking out of the window.

Please Come Home – Dustin Kensrue

Unpopular opinion here, I prefer his solo stuff than his stuff with Thrice. Although it can be hard to get past the feeling he sounds like that guy on your college course who carries an acoustic guitar everywhere and plays Wonderwall shirtless under a tree like a dickhead (that’s actually pretty much the genre it’s listed as on my ipod).

Best song:  I Knew You Before.

If the rest of the album was as good as this song, it would be one of my favourite albums.

I’m With Stupid – Aimee Mann

Aimee Mann makes me feel things, and I’m not ashamed to say that. Has the perfect mix of snarky and heartfelt, like a clinically depressed comedian. Also has a line which I absolutely love for some reason:

“Row, row, row your boat

gently down the stream

hope you drown and never come back”

And you have to love an album which is melodic and beautiful yet starts with the line

“you fucked it up, you should’ve quit”

Best song: Long Shot