Here Today (2021)

Quick Synopsis: Comedy writer Charlie Burns (Billy Crystal) forms a friendship with local singer Emma Payge (Tiffany Haddish) and starts depending on her more and more as he begins to suffer from the effects of dementia.

What is it with 2021? Normally you get a film about dementia every few years. This year there’s been three. Annoyingly, all three have been really good but in different ways. The Father dealt with the frustration of being deep into it, the confusion and panic that causes and the absolute hell that is daily life for not just the person suffering, but also the close family members. Supernova was based on the fear of knowing what’s coming, and wanting to exit it before it happens. Also the fear of loved ones watching it happening. This? This was different. This was more about coming to terms with it yourself and trying to hide it from others out of some misguided sense of pride.

All three have had one really important similarity: the performers are all a certain type, they all play people who are normally in control of the room. Anthony Hopkins normally plays people who are in control of situations. Stanley Tucci normally plays people who are smarter than everybody. And Billy Crystal normally plays characters who’s minds are quicker than everybody else, so they always have a quip ready for any situation. I’m not sure if the casting implications were intentional or not but it’s brilliant either way as it means we see them out of their comfort zone.

As an audience member I have a strange view of Billy Crystal, I never really seek out things he does. But I will always be glad to watch something he’s in. He’s clearly got a great comedic mind that never feels like bullying. His voice runs through this film, not just because he’s in it (obviously), but he also co-wrote and directed it. It’s not just about him. He’s confident enough as a writer and a performer that he allows others to take the spotlight. In this that shared spotlight goes to Tiffany Haddish, who I’ve seen before in Keanu, Lego Movie 2, and The Kitchen. She does a great job here, her character could be annoying and unlikeable if played by someone else. She provides her with enough humanity and warmth that even when she is doing incredibly cliche things, it works and you love her.

That is a downside of this film. It occasionally feels like you’ve seen a lot of it before. You will know what’s happening before it happens most of the time. But that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable because the way they do it is still great. It’s like a rollercoaster, just because you can see the track coming up doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.

There are a few moments where it feels like the film is slightly going off the rails and it has a chaotic energy that really wakes you up. There’s one scene in particular which stands out, when Crystal’s character interrupts a live recording of a TV show he works for to chastise the performers delivery. It’s genuinely hilarious and the reaction from it gives you a very warm feeling. It’s a scene that’s really needed as it closes off one of the running jokes, and it’s also the last big laugh scene of the movie. After that it gets very serious. You need that comedic high before you go to the depressing lows, it accentuates both beautifully. When this film hits, it hits hard. Part of that is because of how funny it is, the mood whiplash the film provides is perfect.

This is not a perfect film though, the plot is a little bit too predictable at times, and the moment where he has a “moment” at work in front of colleagues is never really followed up on enough. It felt like they couldn’t think of a good way to carry on that story, but ignoring it means that a huge part of his life and character is ignored, and it would have been nice to see how the cast react to the news. Either they’re told, and we get to see their concern or worry. Or they just get told he’s gone away, and we see how they react to that. As it is it’s just dropped and forgotten.

There are also moments where it seems to be veering into rom-com territory, which is just strange to watch and doesn’t really work. It works better when they focus on the friendship and don’t bother with the romantic side (which they don’t up dealing with anyway).

Is still a really good watch though. The writing is brilliant, as are the performers. I now want to see Louisa Krause in more things, there’s something of the Helen Hunt about her and she is just incredibly loveable in her role as his deceased ex-wife. Her scenes are a good example of the best and worst of the film. The flashbacks are all from his POV. It’s a brave move that takes some getting used to but it makes sense, it’s his memory so that’s how he’ll remember it. It really puts you in his shoes. Sadly she has an appearance at the end which doesn’t really work for me. Crystals character goes to a cabin they shared, he’s there with his family being all cosy and facing the future, and gets a vision of her sitting nearby. I get what they were going for but it didn’t really work for me and just seemed a little silly. Would have been better if it dissolved from him and his family there, to him and her there in the past talking about the future. Would have given the film a moment of visual beauty, which it doesn’t really have enough of (the beauty mainly coming through character moments).

The section leading up to that shot is great though. His family being told about his condition, and the instant 180 from “we hate him” to “he’s our dad and we need him, we can’t have our final interaction be what it was” is believable and is genuinely making me tear up just recalling it here. That’s what this film leaves me with. Not the dull final shot, but the emotion the whole thing made me feel. Truly beautiful and I highly recommend it (plus the ending is made up for by Haddish doing a Bob Dylan cover, which I truly didn’t expect).

Toni And Cleo (feature-length script)

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

Spoilers, so read that before you read on.

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

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

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

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

Artemis Fowl (2020)

I was REALLY looking forward to this. I LOVE the books, they’re fun, unique, and have a great plot running throughout the whole series. Sure, it made some missteps (one character in particular was set up to be a major part, and then just ignored for the rest of the series). Part of my love for the series comes from the complex characters. Artemis himself starts off the series as the antagonist, he’s essentially a child sociopath. If he was an adult he’d be a Bond villain: calm, calculating, and incredibly vicious, willing to do anything to achieve his goals (the series starts with him shooting and kidnapping a fairy, being the first person in millennia to do so). Which is why I was deeply concerned by the casting call, which described him as:

“warm hearted and with a great sense of humour; he has fun in whatever situation he is in and loves life”

It then got worse with the casting of Judi Dench as Commander Root, gender-swapping the character. Now I know how that sounds: “bloody SJW’s ruining everything, James Bond has to be a straight white male who’s hair colour, body, and personality keeps changing”. But it’s not that, it’s that it ruins one of the core dynamics of the book. In the book, Holly Short (who, incidentally has “nut-brown” skin in the book, yet is very white in the film) is notable for being the first female captain, and her relationship with Root is based on that, as he has to be harder on her than everybody else because if she fails, people will use it as a justification for keeping women away from the position forever, she has to be perfect, and he has to make sure she is. With Root also being a woman, that dynamic and backstory is gone.

Also gone, is Butler. I mean, he’s in the film, but it’s not the same character as in the book. Firstly, he’s black, not eurasian (and in the books his family have served the Fowl’s for generations, and having a black family serve a rich white family for generations is……unfortunate). Also in the books he is highly secretive of his real name, only mentioning it when he’s about to die, he insists on being referred to as “Butler”. In this, it’s the opposite, he insists on going by his first name. This is a confusing change, it adds nothing to the story, so I can’t get the justification for changing it. It seems like it was just changed for the sake of changing it. He also does a little spin for no reason, and everybody who reads the books knows how he detests that, he specifically mentions it.

So aside from being a TERRIBLE adaptation, is it a good film on it’s own merits? Lol, no. The plot is incredibly dull (and I’m still not entirely sure what the thing they’re searching for actually does outside of “driving the plot”), the characters are dull, the performances, well I feel if I said how I felt it would verge on bullying.

I detest this film for what it was, for what it wasn’t, and for what it could have been. I saw it for free on disney+, and still feel cheated. This could have been something great, instead it’s just an example of how bad Disney are at their job sometimes.

My Spy (2020)

I mentioned in my review of Stuber last year my hope that this would be the film that causes Batista to go from “oh yeah, that guy” to “THE guy”. Sadly that’s not the case. This film is predictable, the villains are SEVERELY underdeveloped, and a lot of the actions of the characters don’t make any sense if you think about it for more than a minute. It’s also REALLY fun and well worth a watch.

Yeah it has some flaws, but I seriously doubt you’ll regret watching it. It’s funny, sweet, and has enough unique parts to stand out. It sets its tone very early on with a hostage situation that turns into laugh out loud comedy, and a reference to Iron Man 2 (although if the MCU exists in this universe, who played Drax?), and then plays a car chase to foreign language covers of I Will Survive and My Heart Will Go On. It’s a cheap laugh, but it’s a laugh nonetheless. It’s also something you don’t really expect in this film, a bit like the high number of Notting Hill references compared to most comedy action films.

Now when I say “things that don’t make sense” they’re mainly character-based mistakes rather than impossibilities. For example he stands in front of a class and admits he’s a spy. Number one on the “list of things needed to be a good spy” would be “never mention you’re a spy” yet he never suffers any backlash from this. (Number two on the list, by the way, is “a preference for cheese sandwiches over ham”, I don’t know why that’s important, it just is.) It’s strange as he suffers for other things he do which aren’t spy-like, but not for this. It’s a very sweet moment, and incredibly funny, but like I said it doesn’t make that much sense. I mean, it is worth it for his description of his time in the service when he mentions killing people: “they were all terrorists, human traffickers, or really annoying”

One thing is made abundantly clear in this film: Batista is f*cking huge. You don’t normally notice it because he’s paired up against similarly muscled men. But when you see him standing against normal people, you realise he’s a massive human being. Like, scarily large.

So in summary I think you do need to see this. It’s not like “omg that was so smart and brilliant” but near the end they think a helicopters about to explode so she begs to do a slow cool-guy walk away from it. it doesn’t blow up so he throws a grenade at it so she can do it. How can you not love a film like that?

Wolf (2019)

I hadn’t heard of this film until it came out. I was going to avoid it until I saw the synopsis: a werewolf movie set during Roman invasion of Britain in 150AD. I was sold immediately. I was ready to go into this movie and enjoy it, I even had my facebook post ready for when I came out. It was going to be a true highlight of the year, and a great example of independent British cinema. I mean, that synopsis, plus that badass poster, this will be a film I rave about to everyone.

There’s just one small problem. One small thing that stops me loving this film; it’s a steaming pile of shit. I don’t say that lightly, I mean every single negative word I say about this film. Some films I don’t like and I know it’s a personal opinion and that others will love them (Wild, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood etc). In cases like that when someone says they like it I won’t disagree or think less of them. If someone said they liked this I’d assume they worked on it, and even then I’d have to ask if they’re sure. When I reviewed Father Figures (as seen here) I said this:

“I mean, it’s technically a film, but only in the same way that a Pot Noodle is technically food. I mean, it has moving images which are projected, and there is recorded sound that goes along with it, and you watch it in a cinema.”

In retrospect, that line deserves to be in this review. This film is incredibly amateurish. Almost everything about it is sub-student level. The acting (where the main cast include the director/producer, and the editor) is full of “are you sure that’s the best performance?”. Yes, the editor is in this film in a main role, and he fails as both an actor and an editor. The editing is a mess, far too many moments are cut WAY too quickly so it’s disorientating as a viewer. It’s not even during action scenes, standard conversations are cut in a way that gives you nausea. It will cut to a character who says a single syllable word, and then cut back to the other person. This doesn’t happen, but if a conversation consisted of:

“alright?”

“yeah”

“good”

“you?”

“good”

“k”

“k”

“k”

then this film would have cut between them for every single syllable. That’s not the worst part about the editing, this film makes a cardinal editing sin; the audio changes between shots. So if you have two people talking, the background noise will be completely different depending on who’s talking. That would be a failing mark in a student film, in a film you’re watching at the cinema it is simply unacceptable. There’s another issue with conversations; people stand still whilst talking. In a film where they constantly talk about how quickly they need to move because they’re being hunted by a werewolf, every time they talk they stand completely still to do it. I’m guessing it was done for budget reasons as they couldn’t get tracks to do tracking shots, and handheld would have ruined it (although there are a lot of handheld shots in this, and yeah they’re bad), so they just had static cameras. But it makes the characters look really fucking stupid.

On the plus side, the makeup was really good. There’s a scene where someone bathes in a lake and you see their back covered in scars, it looks REALLY effective and kind of horrifying, especially since it’s not mentioned, it’s just subtle enough to be disturbing. And then they mention it in a way that ruins it. The other positive about this film is that eventually everybody involved in it, and everybody who saw it, will someday die and cease to exist. I’m not kidding, and I know you’re going to be sick of me saying this, but I cannot stress enough about how much you need to avoid this film. There were quite a few people in the screening and you could hear the laughter at some of the serious parts. I technically got in for free, and I still want my money back. I’m not even going to touch on the many MANY historical inaccuracies in this film.

It’s a shame as you can tell they put a lot of effort in, and it is a GREAT concept. But the film is without merit.

Songbird (2018)

Occasionally there are some films released that for whatever reason I don’t end up seeing at the cinema. I try to make a list of the ones I’ve missed and watch them, but there are some I have sadly still not managed to watch (Anna And The Apocalypse, Ingrid Goes West, and Tragedy Girls are three films I’m still really disappointed in myself for not catching yet). It can be harder to grab my attention when I watch at home due to more distraction, yet there are some which have ended up being some of my favourite films (The Last Word and The Young Offenders being the best examples). And sometimes there’s a reason I didn’t see at the cinema, and that reason is the film is pretty terrible, incredibly boring with nothing resembling a plot, and featuring actors who I usually like yet when they share a screen have less chemistry than a science experiment which consists of throwing mud at a chicken (conclusion; it annoys the chicken). This is one of those. I really wanted to like this film. I want Cobie Smulders to be in great films, yet with the exception of MCU films the only time I’ve seen her in a film I’ve enjoyed it’s turned out to not be her but Gemma Arterton.

I also usually love Jessica Hynes, she’s usually really great in things. Plus, Mandeep Dhillon has been in so many brilliant-yet-unknown TV shows (seriously, check out Some Girls if you haven’t already). Plus it’s a film about a musician, how can I not love this? The last British film about a struggling musician I watched was Wild Rose, and that movie was emotional to the point of sheer brilliance at times.

Well, one issue is the music. It’s established she’s a musician who was in a band that had a massive hit in the 90’s and is now reduced to tiny pubs. That doesn’t affect the plot much, like there’s nothing really that happens that could only happen to someone with that background. There are not many moments where people recognise her (which would have led to some great comedic scenes) or (and this is the biggest wasted opportunity), press intrusion on her private life. The film is ostensibly about her band breaking up and so she decides to go to university to study marine biology, I think. I mean, that’s what happens are the start of the film and seems to be the inciting incident, but it never incites anything. We never see her in classes, or studying, or meeting large groups of new people. We see her meet her dorm mates, but that just leads to more story dawdling. Apparently, this film was highly improvised, and it shows, there’s zero focus to the scenes, the scenes happen yet nothing happens in them. They’re just people filling time with dialogue. This means that a lot of moments feel false, particularly the main romantic relationship. It never feels real and they never seem to feel fully comfortable with each other.

This would be fine if it was a great example of an art-house film. If the mood and beauty of the whole thing rendered it a work of cinematic brilliance. But it’s not, it looks okay, but never more than that. Because of the improvised nature of the film that makes it really hard to tell a story visually as you don’t know what the story is when you’re filming. So everything looks kind of, I don’t know, standard? Like it’s been filmed, but in a way that doesn’t showcase film language. I’ve seen it described as “shot like a student film” and that seems painfully accurate. Actually no, it doesn’t. Film student directors tend to put A LOT of thought into shot composition, the good ones do anyway. So yeah, that’s how I’m ending it. It’s a film without love, without story, and without care.

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Very exciting today as I’ve got a guest reviewer. For the first time ever we have a star of the movie here to talk about it. So, here we go:

Pika, pika. Pika pika pika pika? Pika, pika, pika pika pika (pika pika, pika pika pika). Pika pika! Pika, pika pika pika? Pika, pika pika pika pika. Pika pika, pika, pika pika pika. Pika pika? PIKA! Pika pika pika! Pika!

God damn it Pikachu you’re the fucking worst. Guess I’ll have to do it. This film is weird, tonally it’s a complete mess. You’ve seen the trailer, so you’re probably expecting a silly lighthearted movie that makes you happy and warm inside. That’s definitely not the case here, this is tonally incredibly dark at times. The film starts with a kid finding out his dad died in a car crash, then moves on to themes such as abandonment, slavery, and of course a scene where the heroes flat-out torture someone. It’s not as funny as you’d expect it to be, there are long sections with no humour in them at all, but that doesn’t lessen the film in any way. When it veers into comedy it does so naturally and veers into emotional moments well too. It’s not going crazily from one extreme to the other like a drunk driver, it’s slowly changing lanes so subtly that sometimes you don’t realise. Some things that don’t work quite so well; the human characters are a bit flat, and the villain reveal is incredibly obvious from anybody who has seen a film before.

On the upside, the world-building has to be commended. There are a few moments where you think “that’s definitely London, I recognise that building”, but mostly the city feels real, it feels like a place people actually live with a vibrant history. So I’ve talked about the look of the city, now how about the pokemon? Anybody who has seen the Sonic trailer can see that translating something from a video game into real life can go incredibly wrong. While we’re on the subject here’s my thoughts on the sonic trailer: it looks like it was made for kids from the 90’s, but forgot that those kids are now adults. So the core audience seems to be adults people who were in comas for 20 years, and time travellers. So with that in mind how does this look? In a word: phenomenal. In a sound effect: *sharp intake of breath*. They look amazing, they look so good that sometimes you don’t notice them. There are scenes with a lot of them in the background and they are so well made that you don’t realise they’re there. That’s this films greatest achievement, not the performances (which with one or two exceptions are kind of just “there”), not the story (which wastes so much time on pointless things), and not the emotion it makes you feel, the greatest achievement is it feels incredibly real. And that’s the biggest worry for something like this. It really works, the visual style, the pokemon in the world, visually it’s incredible, and cannot be faulted for that. This may not be the best film in the world, but I get the feeling it’s going to influence something phenomenal (but not Sonic The Fucking Hedgehog).

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.

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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2016 In Film (Part Three: The Good)

Films I like but don’t love. One’s that I won’t rush out to buy, but if I saw them at a good price I’d feel compelled to get them.

the-5th-wave
I actually liked this film. Okay, the “romance” moments were really bad but the rest of the film was good. The destruction scenes were very well done and really showcased the horror that’s going on. There’s very little “implied” deaths here, they’re shown, and shown in detail. For example; during a scene where an earthquake induced tsunami where the wave washes through a building, rather than just show it from the outside, or show people getting knocked down, the wave actually knocks someone off a balcony and they land (painfully) on a rail below. The plot itself was really tight as well, it held together beautifully and I’m genuinely invested in the characters and want to see what happens next. A mix of both terribly cliche teen bullshit, and REALLY strong plotting.
The Accountant
Aflecks best film of the year (although that’s not saying much).
Bridge Of Spies
I expected to be really bored by this. But the plot, and the performances, were strong enough to keep me emotionally invested in the story. I loved it.
Carol
A lovely film, seemed to come straight from the 70’s. Very disappointed it wasn’t nominated for Best Picture and Best Director at Academy Awards, it fully deserved it. I also found it kind of weird that Rooney Mara got nominated for Best Supporting Actress considering she was one of the leads. It’s like the academy doesn’t want to admit that a film can have more than one female lead. And in a year where Jennifer Lawrence got nominated for the “oh yeah I forgot that film existed” Joy, it’s not as though there was lots of very strong competition to keep her out, okay she would have still ended up losing to Brie Larson from Room, but still.
Creed
A film that almost made people forget about the last few Rocky movies. It does follow a few of the same story beats as the original, but it’s done so well that you don’t really care. Possibly the best boxing film of the year (and one that reminds me I forgot to put Bleed For This in the “bad” blog so I’ll just quickly mention it here; the important car crash from the trailer? Doesn’t happen until over the halfway mark, it’s horrifically paced, we see the main character lose a fight, train and make a comeback, win that fight, THEN get in the car crash. Cut the first fight and would improve it immensely). But back to this film; it was basically a remake of an iconic film, featuring a black character as the lead, yet the internet didn’t shit on it, THAT’S how good this film was, even racists like it, and they usually only like burning crosses on lawns, drinking beer, and being terrible people.
Had a lot working against it, film adaptations of television shows very rarely work, neither do remakes, and this is both. I went into this with low expectations but it was very enjoyable, funny enough and enjoyable, very entertaining.
Eddie The Eagle
The kind of film you put on at christmas when you’ve got family round and need something funny and innocent whilst you stuff your face full of celebrations and pringles. Very very funny, and not just “slight chortle to self” laugh, but “full on laugh out loud” laughs.
Eye In The Sky
Pretty much a bottle episode, starts off very tense and maintains the tense nature throughout the entire film, which is very hard to do. A worthy last film for Alan Rickman.
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
This was very close to being put in the “meh”, it doesn’t have enough “wow” moments, moments where you truly embrace the magic of the moment, just kind of ordinary. Elevated into “good” by the performance of Dan Fogler and his characters romantic sub-plot, which really works. Is sweet and heartwarming, one of the rare examples of a romantic sub-plot really elevating a film. I think that might be because he’s the only non-magical main character in the film, so he’s our point of reference, he’s the one we identify with.
Florence Foster Jenkins
Some reviewers complained this film was uneven, saying the audience was unsure whether we should be mocking or sympathising with the main character. That’s a strength to me though, the fact that we can do both. She was clearly delusional, but her delusion came from a place of warmth and honesty so we could easily sympathise with her. The fact that the audience can laugh at this character, yet also feel her pain throughout, is testament to both the script and Meryl Streep’s performance (I know, Streep gives a good performance, what a surprise, right?)
Again, went in with low expectations yet really liked this film. Can be best defined as a horror film aimed at pre-teens. Not scary enough for adults, but entertaining enough to justify its existence.
Grimsby
Very close to being in the “Meh”, but Mark Strong’s performance just about pushes it into this one. Funny, disgusting and full of obvious inaccuracies, it’s basically South Park without politics.
Keanu
It’s an action comedy about two people stealing a cat from gangsters, and it features Anna Farris playing a drugged up Anna Farris, this was either going to be awful or charming and funny, luckily it manages the second one. Very sweet and very funny.
Ridiculous plotting, stupid characters, and coincidences that even JK Rowling would consider “a bit much”, yet bombastic enough that it kind of works. Plus Radcliffe seems to be having the time of his life.
Great songs, and a film which could teach Zoolander 2 a thing or two about how to do celebrity cameos; do it to enhance the film, keep the focus on your characters, not on the celebs.
Race
Obvious oscar bait, but a remarkable story that’s very well told. Also Jason Sudeikis gives a career best performance, one scene in particular stands out as fantastic, where he’s in a locker room as a football team shouts at him, he’s ignoring them and continues talking to his athletes about how all the yelling is “just noise” and doesn’t matter.
Secrets in their eyes
A film that nobody really talks about, which is a shame as it was very good. Yes it was a remake, but it’s very well made and has a great story. Plus it’s the first film where I’ve truly understood why people like Julia Roberts.
Storks
Expected it to be terrible, yet was actually quite funny. Not the greatest plot but very charming. Plus it has a fight scene where all the characters are trying to not make any noise so they don’t wake a sleeping baby, which was one of my favourite scenes of the year, was hilarious.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Worth seeing, even if only to hear Martin Freeman call someone a “cunt” in a Scottish accent.
The Witch
Very very scary. But not enough iconic scenes/shots. And maybe it would have been better if there wasn’t actually a witch so it would have been about puritanical paranoia, as it is their paranoia was justified, I feel it would have been a stronger film if it wasn’t a witch that destroyed them, but was their own religious beliefs that did so instead.