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.

2016 In Film (Part 1: The bad)

Okay the title is over simplifying it a lot. These are just films I didn’t like, some aren’t necessarily bad, but were more a victim of hype. There’s going to be a few (and I can guess which ones) which a lot of people will disagree with, but taste is subjective so here goes, if you disagree, let us know with which ones. Oh, and there’s plenty of spoilers so, be wary of that. In alphabetical order because, well how the darn else would I do it?

The 33

Disappointed with this as I think it’s a story that needs to be told, and the story itself is really compelling, it’s just the way it’s told which lets it down. Kind of boring and bland, and the biggest flaw is you don’t feel for the characters so you don’t really care either way what happens to them. I remember this event happening, people were hooked to the news eagerly awaiting each person as they came up, the euphoria felt around the globe is something I had never felt before, and I don’t think have since, this was a breaking news story with a happy ending. A film of that needs to capture the tone of the outside world, as horrible as that sounds it’s true, the reaction to the event turned it into something else, and that’s what’s lacking from this film, context in a wider world. You either do that or you go completely the other way and make the entire thing set in the mine, never showing outside so that we feel the claustrophobia, this film tries for a middle ground between the two and as such doesn’t achieve what it could.

Absolutely Fabulous

This suffers from what I call “Extras Syndrome”. Anybody remember Extras? It was Ricky Gervais’s next show after The Office and its main “gimmick” was that it had a celebrity cameo in every episode. As such people weren’t talking about the episodes, they talked about the cameos, they overshadowed the actual stories. That’s my problem with this film, it has so many cameos that it overshadows the film, maybe I’d like the film more if I had ever watched the series, but a good film adaptation of a television series also needs to appeal to people who haven’t watched the show, and this doesn’t do that.

American Pastoral

My main issue with this film was how uneven it was, subtle as a brick in parts, annoyingly vague in others. Scenes end when they should continue, and continue when they should end so overall the whole thing doesn’t seem to flow that well. Ewan McGregor does have moments of brilliance in his directing, but they’re let down by times where his inexperience shows, maybe this was too big a film for his first attempt. I think in a few years time he will direct a film which I will truly love, but this isn’t it. The scene which shows that is the scene where one of the main characters bombs a post office. That scene should be the highlight of the film, it should seem big, it should resonate with the audience, shock and wow them. It doesn’t do that, it just kind of happens and that’s that, you feel nothing in the immediate aftermath, you don’t feel the shock that the community does. On the plus side; Jennifer Connelly is amazing in this, as is Dakota Fanning.

Blair Witch

It’s pretty much a step by step remake of the first one, only with more of a nodding wink to the audience and with a higher budget. It seems to overestimate how important the original one was. Yes, it  was very important at the time, but that time was 17 years ago, they’ll be people seeing this who were still babies when the original came out, there’s a whole new generation of horror fans who have been raised on different films (albeit, films which have been heavily influenced by the original). If this film came out in the mid 2000s then it would have been a lot better as it would have seemed more natural, as it is it just seems a bit pointless. It doesn’t seem to add or explain anything about the mythos, it just makes a bigger mess of it. I understand wanting the audience to ask questions when they leave the cinema, but they should want to ask questions, they shouldn’t need to, it shouldn’t be essential to understand the film, the film should stand out on its own. Side note; the worst horror movie ending ever? The Devil Inside. A 2012 horror film which ends with a title card telling you to go on the website to find out more. F that.

The Boss

Otherwise known as “Melissa McCarthy calls a woman a cunt then punches her daughter in the face”

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Comedy!

David Brent: Life On The Road

An odd film, funny in parts but it seems strange in the way it handles the main character. All through the film he’s shown to be a delusional person who annoys everybody. Logically this film should end with him realising the error of his ways and changing accordingly, maybe stop being such a dick to everybody. But nope, this ends with everyone else changing for him, and saying “he’s not that bad really”, “I quite like him actually”, and he the character doesn’t do anything to deserve this, they all just suddenly decide they like him now it’s reached the end of the film. I actually feel a lot of sympathy for the supposed antagonist of the film, all through the film he’s shown as someone who’s just trying to get on with his job but the main character keeps getting in the way and making so much noise he can’t do it, and when the guy finally snaps and says “look, just shut the fuck up”, we’re supposed to be angry at him, instead of just “yeah, that makes sense, he should have done that earlier”.

The Forest

I really wanted to like this film, I love seeing horror films at the cinema and this was the first one I’d seen this year, and the trailers made it look interesting. Here’s pretty much every single scare in the film: weird shit, a dead looking thing is far away, then appears close to camera. then the character wakes up. After the fourth or fifth time this happens you just start to think “this isn’t real so nothing about it matters”. Fake scare me once, shame on you, fake scare me twice, shame on me, fake scare me five times, you’ve just being silly no, go sit in the corner. It really sucks that I don’t like this film. I’m interested in the real life place as it seems kind of fascinating, and the idea of doing either a psychological horror or a thriller there is genuinely exciting, but as it is they tried to do both and ended up doing none of them effectively. Somewhere there is a really tense film about someone dealing with their own mortality whilst walking through the Aokigahara Forest, but this really isn’t it.

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How To Be Single

I just didn’t really care for the characters and found them too stereotypical to warrant an emotional reaction.

In The Heart Of The Sea

Spectacle cinema that forgot to put in any spectacle. It has no moments which visually impress you. Also, Hemsworth’s accent kept slipping and that distracted me.

Independence Day: Resurgence

The most telling thing about this films quality is this; it happened this year and yet nobody mentions it anymore. This film should be dumb fun, as it is it’s just dumb. Like a poor remake of the original, only with an obvious sequel hook at the end. It won’t impress people who liked the original, and will mean nothing to those who haven’t, so it’s hard to say exactly who it was aimed at.

The Legend Of Tarzan

Part sequel, part origin story, part retelling, and with the story basically “the only person who can save all these African people is a white guy”, all kinds of awkward. Christoph Waltz seems to be enjoying himself though.

Triple 9

I assume this film was bad anyway, I can’t remember anything from it, even after seeing the trailer, nothing.

Zoolander 2

Too many cameos, and the same problem as the David Brent film; the main character is an awful human being yet the film is about how everyone else learns to realise how great he is. Actually now that I think of it I should have called Extras Syndrome “Zoolander 2 Syndrome”. The cinema I was in had approximately five people in, as such you could hear the silence that met every joke, you could hear every “this is a bit shit isn’t it?”.

Pride And Prejudice And Zombies

I posted this somewhere else earlier this year, the film is now available on netflix so thought I’d repost as a bonus blog. Enjoy!

I went into this with both high and low expectations. High because I loved the trailer, it looked amazing and it looked brutal. Low because I heard bad reviews and it hadn’t done too well at the box office, only making £7.4million (or 31.37 million in Turkish Lira) in the opening ten days. So I was excited but prepared to be underwhelmed.

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At first I disliked parts of this film, I found Sam Riley’s Colonel Darcy voice a bit too fake and silly, and Matt Smith’s character was slightly annoying. Then I noticed that that’s kind of the point. Darcy is supposed to seem aloof and odd, and Mr. Collins was supposed to be a foppish fool. Both of them actually deserve kudos of the highest order for this. Matt Smith could’ve just played it as The Doctor again and the character would have been charming, he wouldn’t even have needed to change the dialogue. But…

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Gene Wilder

This week continues to show more evidence that 2016 is actually being written by George R.R Martin. It was announced on the 29th August that Gene Wilder had passed away due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease. The general reaction to this from people on social media seemed to be simply;

“fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck”

Almost everybody has a film he’s in in one of their favourites. He was truly a comedy icon, being nominated for an Academy Award in 1968 for his role in The Producers. Which is amazing for two reasons:

  1. 1) it’s very hard for comedies and comedic roles to be nominated for Academy Awards, in the history of the awards only six have won Best Picture (Annie Hall, It Happened One Night, Tom Jones, You Can’t Take It With You, Going My Way, The Sting).
  2. Because it just made me realise that that film is nearly 50 years old.

He actually had a remarkably high success rate; six of the films he was in are bonafide classics, which considering he was only in 22 films is remarkable to think about. But that’s not the only way that people loved him as much as they did, it wasn’t just the roles he was in, it was the way he approached those roles.

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Everyone remembers the scene in Willy Wonka where we’re introduced to him, frail, walking with the aid of a stick, before tumbling forward and springing to his feet. That was his idea, his reasoning for it “because then the audience will never know what I’m telling the truth about”, in that one decision he completely set up that character. That decision is representative of why people love him; he took comedy seriously. He saw it as an artform that you needed to work hard at, something you needed to put a lot of work into. That “it’s just a comedy” isn’t an excuse for complacency and laziness. Just look at the boat scene in Willy Wonka, he was so convincing there that the adult actors were convinced he’d genuinely lost his mind. Later on, in the scene where he yelled at Charlie the director didn’t tell the child actor what was going to happen as he wanted his reaction to be real. Gene Wilder stated this this scene almost broke him, he and the actor who played Charlie had become quite close on set and it made him feel really guilty about yelling at him, all he wanted to do was take him aside before the scene and warn him that he was just acting and he still loved him.

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Despite what this post may indicate so far, it’s not just that film that he was brilliant in. There’s also the aforementioned Producers, Young Frankenstein and his movies with Richard Pryor. One film which he was almost in was Trading Places, which was set to reunite him with Richard Pryor. But when Pryor was replaced with Eddie Murphy, Murphy requested that Wilder be removed from the film. His reasoning for this was so that he didn’t come off as a poor mans Richard Pryor. It makes sense I guess but I still wish that Wilder was in, purely out of intrigue to see what it would have been like. But I guess I can’t be annoyed, he gave us enough and to ask for more would just be selfish. But a part of me still wishes we were still given a little bit more of him. Rest In Peace, you sure as hell earned it.

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Secret Life Of Pets/The Boss

Two very different films, but both suffer from from the same flaw: the background characters are the best ones in the entire film. Not the only problems however.

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I have two problems with this film:

  1. As I alluded to earlier; the main characters are the least interesting ones, which, considering one of them is played by Louis CK is kind of unexpected. It’s not just the characters, the main plot is not that interesting either. The entire main plot is shown in the trailer, nothing new or exciting. There is, however, a fantastic B-story that shows up; the idea that animals that were once pets were thrown away and are now bitter and angry and ready to get their revenge. THAT’S a film, that’s the kind of thing that Pixar or Disney would do. On the subject of Disney there’s already been a lot of controversy about Finding Dory. People are saying that it could lead to an increase of people having exotic fish as pets and then discarding them when they get bored (like they did with owls after Harry Potter And The Quantum Of Solace or whatever it was called). The idea of an animal-led film that has discourages people from getting pets just because they saw them in films? Not only would that be good but it would also be a subtle attack to Disney and Pixar, a “This is why we have a problem with you, you’re irresponsible, not like us, we’re truly wholesome and safe for children to watch with their families”.
  2. The realism. I know, it’s an animated film aimed at kids so I shouldn’t expect 100% realism. But at the very least I should expect it to stay consistent within the world it’s created. The world within the film is supposed to be our world. This is decided very early on when a human character hear’s one of the main characters “talking” and it’s just barking. Yet there’s lots of moments in here which break that realism, moments such as a rabbit and a dog driving a bus off a bridge. Pixar usually does this kind of thing very well. Look at Finding Nemo etc, it takes place in our world, and we do see humans, but the interactions between the humans and the main characters is minimal, and the main characters, although living in a human world, don’t effect that world that much. This film has way too many instances where the animals have a major influence on the human world, there’s the aforementioned bus crash, there’s a break in at a sausage factory, a rabbit beating up a dog catcher etc.

But other than those two problems how was it? It was thoroughly ok. The closing shot was beautiful. It’s one of the great things about animation is that you can occasionally get absolutely gorgeous visuals, but apart from the closing shot it never really does that. In fact it doesn’t look great throughout, the animals just look ok, and the humans in it look like they’re made of twigs. The story is serviceable and does what it needs to, but I don’t feel I need to see it again. It’s biggest flaw isn’t the fault of the film, it’s just circumstance. A lot of times studios release films which (judging by poster alone) look very similar. Has happened a lot before: Antz/A Bugs Life, Finding Nemo/Sharks Tale etc. This films competitor? Zootopia. For this film to come anywhere close to that would be difficult. Zootopia (so far) is probably in my top five films of the year. This? Well be at the bottom of the top half so far. But considering Kubo isn’t out yet, this can easily be pushed down. Although this film did have a subtle Mario green shell reference, which is kind of cool.

The Boss

Nope. Just no. Here’s my massive problem with this film: you have a character get arrested, then when they’re released they go to a Girl Scouts meeting and decides to set up a new business luring Girl Scouts from their group into a new group helping her in a business with communist workers overtones (their logo is a red badge with a picture of a girl raising her fist in the air and wearing a hat). When one of the mothers at the group objects to this, she calls her a cunt, then insults her daughter, whom she later knocks out. The daughter’s age? Between 11-15. So, the “hero” of this story bullies and beats up a school girl just because she doesn’t like her mum. Comedy!

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Actually this film, tonally is kind of weird and all over the place. It attempts to get cheap laughs and sacrifices story to do that, destroying all story momentum for the sake of a joke. For example: there’s a scene where she goes to her old business associates, and they all tell her they hate her and want nothing to do with her. It’s the kind of scene that’s like a large roast dinner, it’s a lot to take in and you need to give it time to settle. Instead, just after the scene takes place the film makes her fall down a flight of stairs, thereby pouring custard on the emotional roast dinner of the previous scene. It’s like the film was written by different writers who never contacted each other to check if their bits lined up. You have important characters turn up for one or two scenes and then are never mentioned again.

It’s a shame as I really want to like Melissa McCarthy; she was great in Bridesmaids, and Spy was excellent. I just feel she has a habit of picking bad films, films where she is only asked to do her usual shtick and doesn’t allow her to stretch herself (otherwise known as Jim Carey syndrome). Which is a shame as when she’s good she’s amazing, check out the aforementioned Spy for evidence of that, and St. Vincent, where she manages to be one of the best characters in a film which contains Chris O’Dowd and Bill Murray (or to give him his full title: Bill Fucking Murray). She can do better than this, and her continual choosing of below-par films just provides ammunition to her increasing number of detractors. Luckily the next film she has lined up is Ghostbusters, I’m sure that is under no pressure.

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I also saw Independence Day; a film which (ironically) seemed like it was written by aliens, completely devoid of human emotion and everything seemed slightly fake and contrived.