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.

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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.

Secret Life Of Pets

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.

Five great animated Batman films (that are all probably better than Batman v Superman)

With Batman v Superman: Failure to dawn getting DPed with serrated dildos right now, let’s get are minds away from all that and look at the best of the dark knight’s littler seen films, the many great animated flicks that didn’t even make it to cinema (well except one).

Batman: Under Red HoodBatman_under_the_red_hood_poster
Released 2010 (six years ago! Fuck), it quickly gained a reputation for being one of the very best batman films ever, not just animated. Visually inspired with Nolan’s gritty down to earth style; Under Red Hood is the adaptation of Judd Winick’s own batman stories, Hush and Under the Hood, both of which he manages to improve upon, tightening the narrative and sharpening the resolution greatly. The strength of this caper comes from its intriguing mystery and lean into the detective elements of Batman (something NONE of the live-action films want to do!), on top of the very emotionally charged look at Batman’s character, as it retells and develops the death of Jason Todd’s Robin, and how that redefined Batman.

Batman_mask_of_the_phantasm_posterBatman: Mask of the Phantasm
The classic one. This one actually was released in theaters all the way back in 1998, but did badly because of how terrible the live action films were around then (Batman and Robin destroyed soooo much). But unlike those travesties, this film has just gained more and more praise over the years; mostly for its complex portrayal of Bruce Wayne and the development of how his personal life, far beyond the death of his parents, defined his Batman identity, for good and for worse. Spin that round another engaging mystery of a new villain out to settle old scores, and you have one of the seminal original Batman stories. Really if you’re a fan and you haven’t seen this yet, what’s wrong with you?

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Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
The only movie based on the sometimes underrated Batman Beyond series, that may not be as classic as the original animated show, but definitely had its own thing going. Anyway, this film made the smart choice of focusing on the original Batman just as much as the new one, Terry Mcginnis. So not only do we get a compelling look at the younger Batman as he fights to define what the cowl means to him, but we also get some just plain fucked-up development for the original cape crusader, as his legacy is put into even darker contexts with the reveal of his last bout with the Clown Prince of Crime.

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 Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox
Okay, it’s not a Batman film, but a Justice League one that focuses on The Flash. But it’s more than worth a watch just for the universe the story takes place in. After the Flash does some wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff he ends up in an alternate universe from the normal DC fare; a much darker one, where Bruce Wayne died instead of his parents, Clark Kent never landed in Smallville, and many more tweaks that ripple throughout this complex and bleak DCU. The central plot around Flash is emotionally compelling enough, but it’s really the messed up elseworld setting that takes the grizzled cake here.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Batman_The_Dark_Knight_Returns_(film)
Two full length movie adaptions of the seminal Frank Miller graphic novel, best viewed as one complete film….what else do I need to say? Is it as good as the comic, no, but it doesn’t miss anything out, and finds plenty of smart ways to blend the famous narration into it without becoming exposition heavy. So if you want the real take on the story, and not the patch work #inspired one BvS has given us, this is a must see for all Batman fans.

Further watching
Honestly, almost all of DC’s animated films. I’ve missed some classic ones here for the sake of diversity; and though clearly not all great, DC’s been doing strong work in the animation front for years, delivering time after time entertaining adaptations, that either lead into their vastly growing continuity like with the last five Batman films; or with some straight adaptations, like the highly anticipated Killing Joke due later this year.

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So if the live action DCCU has ya down, depressed, and ready to go on a Superman sized massacre, just look to the straight to DVD basket for the real DC connected universe.

5 reasons Deadpool could be the best superhero film of 2016 (already)

In a year which also gives us (takes deep breath), Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, X-Men: Apocalypse, Captain America: Civil War, and Doctor Strange, some truly seminal looking films;  the special little cousins of X-Men may have already topped them all, and changed comic book movies forever.

 

1 – It’s 15/R rating isn’t just a gimmick. Outside of Watchmen, this is the first adult MTM1MzA2OTE2NDA2NDY3MDM4mainstream superhero movie, and it could have just been a selling point to get asses in seats with it being like a lot of action films just barely worth the rating and there being a clear 12A cut ready to go. But nope Mr Reynolds was not lying when he said if they made another cut there would hardly be a movie, the film revels in its vulgarness, its dirty and its violent, and it loves itself for it. But never becomes exploitative with it. I especially like the running gag of cutting away before he finishes saying “motherfucker” (which you see a lot in films) only for him to finish it in the next scene.

2 – I3b94d7dd7603e9ae54a3f957c652e086t got the
character completely right.
Living in this superhero film renaissance we have seen a lot of characters done well; Iron Man, Batman, Captain America, but they’re never perfect iterations. Iron Man never goes as dark as he should, Batman’s never the detective, and Captain America…well I just don’t know much about him. But Deadpool’s character is 10/10, he’s crazy, funny, violent, Ryan Reynolds is perfect, and knows he’s a fictional character, but not without a lil regrowable heart.

3 – It remembers to just be plain entertaining. My favorite superhero film is Watchmen, so I’m all for dark serious superhero films, but that tone seems to be too much of a trend right now, with DC being DC, X-Men being X-men, and even Marvel seeming 1454333009819to be ramping up the drama with Civil War. Okay we had Ant-Man, and that was fun but not great, and Guardians of the Galaxy which was great, but is about as much of a superhero film as Star Wars. Deadpool is a straight up superhero film and is the funnest and funniest the formula has ever been.

4 – The romance is way better than the trailer made it look. That’s actually true for the whole film, but the romance especially. Name one really good romance in a big superhero film? Then give up because you can’t. Almost all romances in superhero landscape-1452594620-deadpool-romcom-bannerfilms are either tacked on as hell or never go beyond “oh and here’s the love interest”, and that’s what the trailer made Vanessa look like, just a woman there to push the plot forward. But the marketing team wasn’t just being funny when it sold the film as a romance. Vanessa’s a real character in her own right, is just if not more lovably vulgar than Deadpool himself, and has crazy chemistry with the man she loves, she’s easily worth advancing the plot over.

5 – It ties into X-men without dragging itself down. Superhero movie continuity is the pooldeadin-thing right now, as after the success of Marvel every other studio with a slice of the moist superhero pie is scrambling to catch up, and while DC is looking ambitious but over crowded with its DCCU, FOX made the surprisingly wise choice of toning down the continuity and playing it fast and loose with itself. So yes the X-men are in it, to hilarious effect, and I doubt we’re going to see Deadpool pop up in X-Men: Apocalypse or any of those films really, but the acceptance that they exist together just adds that little dollop of cinematic depth.

6 – BONUS! The opening credits and post credit scene. And I won’t ruin them for you; all I’ll say is it starts with its right stump forward, and then has the best post credit scene this side of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
buller

 

Post blog scene
And 1 thing that didn’t work about it.

1 – It’s the Deadpool character, but it’s not a Deadpool story. It sticks a bit too close to 2288944-1526888_deadpool_cool_story_bro_superthe Superhero origin film formula and with it subverting so much else; I hoped it would pull another fast-one on us at the end. But it far from ruins the picture and leaves it wide open for the sequel to go anywhere.

Should Deadpool Be A PG-13?

Short answer: no. Long answer: nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

Why?

Well, first, let’s give it some context, after all I didn’t arrive at this blog just through looking at film releases and think “what film would be the worst if it was sanitised completely?”. Somebody actually wants a PG13 version of this. The reason: so an 8 year old kid can go see the film. Now, this isn’t an 8 year old kid who is dying, or has suffered any hardship, or is even rich enough that his opinion matters, it’s just an 8 year old who wants to see the film and can’t. As such, the creator of the petition wants a version that he can see with his mother, so he doesn’t hate her for not taking him. The petition maker wants the mother to be a hero instead of a villain. To which I say; I know opinions are subjective and as such there’s no sense of such thing as objective totality, but you’re wrong.

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But this is right, very very right

She says that since they cut a safe version of the trailer, they can cut a safe film too. Completely neglecting the fact that cutting a trailer is A LOT different from cutting a film. There’s a trailer out there that shows what Mary Poppins would be like as a horror. Now I’m just going to sit here and wait whilst you watch that. Pretty good, right? Quite effective? Now imagine making the entire film a horror movie.

why-the-2016-deadpool-movie-is-determined-to-succeed-chimichangas-434603
No, bad Deadpool! That would be a bad idea

So apparently the kid might hate the mother because she won’t take him to see the film? Who gives a shit. It’s your job as a parent to occasionally be hated. You can give your child everything you want or you can spend every morning punching them in the face, at some point in their life they are going to end up telling you they hate your guts, and your face, your stupid, stupid face.

Just because your kid wants to do something doesn’t mean the rest of the world should cater to them, if your child wants to shoot me in the face should I stand still and hand them the gun in case I upset their dewicate wittle sensibilities? (It’s actually extremely hard to baby-fy the word “sensibilities”). During the production of this film a lot of online chatter was about one thing “this film is going to suck”. You know why people were saying that? Not because they hated the character, but because they worried the studio wouldn’t have the testicular fortitude to publish the version they should, a version with blood and swear words. Well, they’ve done that version, and people are genuinely excited about it. I haven’t seen this much excitement for a non Star Wars film in a long time (although part of that might be because of the excellent marketing). The fans want this version of Deadpool as it’s the version that’s closest to the heart of the character.

It also shows a basic misunderstanding of how cinemas work. A lot of times a film will only be shown on one screen, they’re not going to put Star Wars in the same screen they use for obscure Polish cinema about heart surgeons.

So for this to work you’re asking one of two things:

  1. The cinema’s run less films.
  2. They do less showings of the “adult” version (a.k.a: the version most people want to see).

Asking for this is like asking for a kid friendly version of “50 Shades”, for it to work it’s going to be so heavily neutered that it will be pointless. Or as Ryan Reynolds said when he was asked about it:

“That would be a very short movie. It’s almost a commercial at that point”

I am somewhat skeptical of this though, as was pointed out earlier, it’s not the mother who started the petition, it was someone else. But it’s the mother that’s getting all the flack, she just wrote a letter asking them to consider it, it’s someone else who took it seriously. The “someone else” shall remain nameless in this blog for one reason: I think her motives are dubious. It’s a youtuber who is also a part-time actress. So there’s a small part of me that thinks she knows how  much people would hate this idea, but they’d watch her video anyway, so she’d get lots of views and increase revenue, and she gets her name and youtube channel mentioned in thousands of media outlets around the world. But no, I’m not falling for that, just to be safe: don’t watch anything on youtube (unless it’s our stuff, then go ahead, we’re awesome, funny, and we’re not censoring Deadpool).

Alan Rickman

As soon as I heard I tried to find a good clip on youtube. One which summed up his career, but it’s really really hard to find that one role which defines it. It’s even hard to do a top five  list,  it’s hard to even narrow it down to five. You’re going to have to leave one of the following out:

  1. Severus Snape
  2. Marvin The Paranoid Android (not the greatest film, but he was amazing in it)
  3. Hans Gruber
  4. Alexander Dane (from Galaxy Quest)
  5. The metatron
  6. Sheriff of Nottingham

Even once you’ve narrowed it down, how on earth do you rank them? Almost every single one of those performances could be considered a career best for most people. And each one required different skills, you couldn’t put one of the characters from one into another film (although try to picture Snape in Die Hard, it’s hilarious, and it would have meant no more sequels).

Random fact: he was never nominated for an Academy Award. People think that Leonardo DiCaprio never winning is a travesty, but Rickman, (or to give him his full name: Alan Fucking Rickman) was never even nominated. It’s just so weird to take the awards seriously knowing that, I mean, Shakespeare In Love has seven awards for f*cks safe.

I know that shot at that film may have been a bit rude, but it’s really really hard to write this. How do you sum up his career in a pithy line? How do you adequately capture what he meant to everybody? I feel the best way to do this is with inspiration. Remember this; He was a struggling 40 something actor when he was first cast in Die Hard. Nobody really knew who he was, all the things we love him for he did after the age of 40. Remember that: don’t give up because of age, because even in a young mans game, talent can still shine through. Pick up that pen and write, pick up that guitar and play, just do something. Don’t look back and thank “what if?” And don’t do it half-heartedly, write until you’ve bared your soul onto the page, play until your fingers bleed, and love until your heart hurts.

I don’t want to end this like an infomercial: but please, please donate what you can to www.cancerresearchuk.org, first Bowie, now Rickman, please give what you can to make sure there’s no third one.

 

Thank you

End Of Year Film Awards

NOTE: Everything written regularly is written by Producer Mark. While everything in italics is written by Producer Lee.

Best Actor

I’m sure this gets said every year, but every year there are a whole host of great performances, that choosing one is just too hard, but it must be done…Unless you’re a shoddy internet film blog like this one. So I picked two.jason-segel-the-end-of-the-tour-trailer

Jason Segel – End of the Tour. Known primarily for his comedic roles in…well everything else he has done, Jason Segal is revolutionary as David Foster Wallace; bringing a subtle but clearly perpetually uncomfortable nuance to his manner. Even as he runs the gambit of emotions from, funny, angry, confidant, overjoyed, and sad, he never appears at home in his own skin or mind, and is a truly authentic take on the troubled genius. And for such an orgastic turn to come from Jason Segel is the cherry on the cake.

steve-jobs-trailerMichael Fassbinder – Steve Jobs. It’s easy to make a bad guy unlikable but loveable, to play the asshole that treats everyone like shit and make the audience love him. It is an entirely different and much harder task to play a guy you’re meant to like and have complex emotions for, like a complete asshole. But that’s exactly what Michael Fassbinder pulls off in his embodiment of Steve Jobs. He then takes it further as we peel back the layers that make and has made him the way he is; jumping back and forwards in time to see the building blocks of his character all the way to the complete man he becomes; and it’s all perfectly portrayed to us with barely any of his actual life shownmaxresdefault

Al Pacino: Danny Collins. I know, Al Pacino gave a good performance, what are the odds of that? But this is a different Pacino performance than the normal good performance. The usual good Pacino performance makes you want to stand up and applaud, but this is different. You completely buy into his performance in a role which could have been derailed by a lesser actor. The downside is that writing this has made me have the song from the film stuck in my head.

Best Actress

bluntEmily Blunt – Sicario. She’s a badass who’s always in control, but feels constantly out of her depth. She’s tough as nails and takes no shit, but her growing fear of the morality of her job she just can’t quell. Always ready to dive in and fight for what’s right even when faced with an endless darkness, but never shallow enough to not think about and feel the repercussions of what she does. And with all that, she’s never a blank, genderless slate who could be played by anyone, she’s still a woman. Though this may read more like a look at her character than her performance, the fact is you can’t distinguish the two from the other.

Runner-up: Alicia Vikander – Ex Machina2015ExMachina_Press_20_140115.hero

 

 

 

 

 

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Amy Schumer: Trainwreck. Not the best performance by a long shot, but the film rests so heavily upon her performance that the fact she’s actually really good in it really helps it.

 

Honorable mention: Phyllis Smith in Inside Out as sadness. sadness-phyllis-smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Script

Steve Jobs: It’s an Arron Sorkin film script, so it’s expected that it will be one of the best of the year, stevebut this isn’t just fanfare. Like most Sorkin scripts this is a dialogue driven spectacular that runs the gambit of funny, to thrilling, to heart wrenchingly dramatic, but it is also a complete reinvention for the Biopic genre. Set in three real time acts between the 70s and 90s from behind the scenes at product launches, Steve has to argue his way through his friends, enemies and family to make each launch. What should have been the equivalent of telling a life’s story with both arms tied behind its back is turned into a fascinating character piece that tells us more about Steve Jobs the man than any old cradle to the grave film ever could.

Inside out: It’s the story and ideas that this film tells and so thoughtfully inside outexecutes that made it too amazing for me not to put it here too. Yes I think the plot isn’t as original as it could have been or thinks it is, and the writing while very funny wasn’t too special; but its imagery behind how the mind is put together and how we as people function is just too genius to not step back and applaud. And on top of that I was floored by its very mature message of the importance and the need for the emotion of sadness, and how it helps bring us together and grow-up.

ladyinvanLady In The Van. A film like this rests entirely on script and performance. And luckily both shine through. The script is full of hilarious moments (and a rather odd use for madeira cake). The fact it is a (mostly) true story doesn’t diminish the brilliance. In fact it makes it more impressive as it’s framed in a good way and says a lot about the power of the writer. 

Worst Film

The Big Game. Because it’s the only film I’VE seen this year that had me turnBig-Game-International-Trailer to my fellow Troubled Production’s producer and say, “We should fucking leave.” For more details look further down. I talk more about it in another section. 🙂

 

7133aU1riAL._SY550_The Gallows. There was a lot of bad films this year but this tops the list for absolutely NOTHING about it working. It was badly shot, the actors were shit, the characters were annoying, the “twist” didn’t make sense in terms of plot and seemed to be an asspull, the jump scare ruined what would have actually been an okay ending (seriously, if you have a moment in your film where a character gives a monologue on stage and then the lights go out and the curtain goes down: END THE FILM THERE!), the characters were the most annoying people I’ve seen outside of Twitter.  

 

Best Film Moment (scene, piece of dialogue or shot etc)

3052092-slide-s-3-fictions-in-the-steve-jobs-biopicIt’s an abstract – Steve Jobs. The moment in which, in the middle of a heated argument with his ex-wife, Steve Jobs turns over the Mac and shows her what their daughter had been doing on it, to prove to her (and in many ways the audience) why the computer is important and what people will use it for; and it turns out his daughter has been drawing an abstract painting in Paint. It’s a little moment, but in a film (and year) of great moments this one struck me just right. The combination of my own nostalgia for Paint, combined with the sweet little exchange between them, leads to the first time the character of Steve Jobs is humanised. It may not be the biggest moment, the most dramatic, or even the most important, but it was the moment for me that Steve Jobs went from an awesome film, to a great one.

Runner-up: and the conversation is the best one I ever had – ending scene to End of The Tour. It was a perfectly touching and an up beat way to close this melancholy true life tale.

inside-out-fear-disgust-anger-fightingInside Out control room locks up. The best way to describe depression to idiots who think it’s just “being a bit sad”. A truly iconic moment in a fantastic film. 

 

 

Worst Film Moment (scene, piece of dialogue or shot etc)

Picture1Focus- Woo woo. Focus as a whole is fine, it’s an okay caper with a fun return from Will Smith. But it has this one scene that involves conning an over acting Chinese Businessmen at a football game, that is legitimately one of the funnest and most thrilling scenes of the year. It’s so good that the immediate retarded explanation behind the con is such a painful whiplash, it landed itself as the worst moment of the year for me. The process to pulling off the con is sooooo over the top, ridiculous, and silly, it just destroys what was such a bad ass moment and just makes it laughable.

This is very easy for me. It’s a moment that’s so bad it stands out, even in a film film2-1_3-26-15made almost entirely of awful: Get Hard. Against my better judgement I watched this film, and I wish I hadn’t. It was unfunny, badly plotted and just not needed at all. I’d like to think Will Ferrell is at the stage of his career where he has his pick of films to be in, and he chose this. That says a lot either about his judgment or his cocaine addiction which I’ve just made up. So the moment: there’s a scene which is like 5 minutes of making jokes about prison rape. Rape jokes are odd as they’re the only thing that become less offensive if  you put the word “Prison” before it. But this scene was just ugly, and it wasn’t needed. It was just the same joke repeated over and over again “you’re going to get raped”, and the joke wasn’t funny enough to be the focus of a whole scene. 

Honorable mention: a scene in Child 44 where the camera panned to the side to showcase: a wall. 

Best Film

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Also the best poster of the year

End of the Tour. I have a lot of time for films about writers, that dive into their work, their creative process, and the damage of that; hence why another of my favourite films is Wonder Boys. I also have a lot of time for Linklater-esque stories based around the conversations between characters and their evolving dynamic, instead of heavy plot. So combine those in this true life story of the five day interview of acclaimed writer David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky, played by a typically great Jesse Eisenberg and a revolutionary Jason Segel as Wallace; which cuts deep as it examines the development of their uneasy friendship, the nature of writing and interviewing, and the plights but want of fame, you have my personal favourite film of the 2015.

Runner-up(s): Steve Jobs & Inside Out. Both are great films. Steve Jobs delivering an emotionally charged intellectual punch, while Inside Out delivers an intellectually charged emotional one; and End of the Tour only tops it for me because it does both.

8345_poster_iphoneThe Voices. And I am soooo glad about that as if it was bad it would have destroyed me. Ryan Reynolds actually seems to be redeeming himself for Green Lantern with this, Woman In Gold and next year’s Deadpool. This is the only film I’ve seen at the cinema this year which I now own on DVD. I didn’t want to wait, I knew I had to buy it. The script is hilarious, Reynolds just seems to be having hella fun, and there’s an absolutely BEAUTIFUL shot in the woods after he kills someone. A very good live action directorial debut from Marjane Satrapi. 

 

 

Best Film To Look At (a.k.a: the “Serena”)

Steve Jobs. For a film that predominantly takes place inside behind the scenes jobs.jpg.pngin theatres this may seem like an odd choice. But its Danny Boyal’s dynamite directing, that transforms rows of seats into complex tapestries, wide shots of walls into film screens, and characters staring at computer screens into complex moments of inner turmoil, that make this a clear winner for me. Really it’s here because this film didn’t need and shouldn’t have been such a visual feast, it just needed to let the words and actors stretch, but it still found beautiful ways to elevate those aspects, and keep you as visually enthralled as you are verbally.

Runner-up: Youth. Shot on location in the Swiss Alps and married with plenty of abstract imagery; never has a testament to youth and age ever looked so beautiful and devastating.

THE GOOD DINOSAUR

The Good Dinosaur. Yes the film itself was bland and 90’s Disney-esque and the characters looked, well, wrong, just wrong. But the scenery? Oh my god it was gorgeous. A planet that looked lived in and liveable. The way they animated water in particular made it actually look like water as opposed to just “standard with a blue tinge”. 

Most Disappointing Film

Legend. Far from a terrible film, but with the talent behind and in front of this camera this should have been one of the best films of 20mqdefault15 and a major awards contender. But outside a pretty fun dual performance from one of the best actors today, Tom Hardy, it turned out to be nothing but a decently entertaining, if mostly dull and plotless thing that never found its footing.

ganeThe Big Game. The worst part of this film is it’s easy to fix. You make the kid actually an effective hunter so it’s about the president of the United States being out of his element but helped by somebody who knows how to use the environment. So basically Rambo turned into an escort mission. Instead they made the kid useless, so it was a president being helped by someone who’s shit. 

Honorable mention: The Gallows. Had high hopes for this but in the end was the worst horror film I’ve seen all year. In a year that included Poltergeist remake, Insidious 3 and The Visit. 

Most Surprising Film

The Martian. Surprising doesn’t mean you expected it to be bad and it wasn’t. 17vZ0fzIt mean’s surprising. I went in expecting an existential Sci-fi about survival and the human will. And I got all that, but it also happened to be one of the best comedies of the year, that used the blend of dramatic thrills and comedy to make both more effective. From Matt Damon’s optimistic Martian and his crew, to Jeff Daniels smarmy NASA CEO and his quirky team of scientists. It is not an insult to this film to call it a comedy; it is a complement to comedy that this film is one.

Runner-up: Ant-Man. Who would of thought Ant-Man would have been the best Superhero film of 2015.

John_Wick_TeaserPoster

John Wick. I admit I expected a typical action film and didn’t have high hopes for it. But this film was a revelation. The universe and characters were so well defined it seemed like a comic book adaptation. News there’s a sequel excites me as I want to see more of this world.

 

 

 

 

The “well I liked it” award

Tomorrowland_posterTomorrowland. What’s with the hate on this film? Was it a perfect feat of science fiction? No, but it’s a fun Sci-fi adventure, with an interesting world, fun likable characters, a combo of goofy and deadpan humour, and is a real harken back to classic Sci-Fi adventures. When the future was something to wonder for not fear, and technology looked like technology. Ray guns are big and bright and silly, and jetpacks are sleek and still make no sense but are too awesome. Is the plotting all over the place, yes, is the first act a bit too much like molasses on sandpaper? Also not a complete over-exaggeration, but it’s got way too much heart to let little things like that get in the way of a good time.

Tomorrowland. I really don’t get the hate for this film. It’s odd as EVERYBODY I know who saw it liked it, but outside of my social circle everybody seems to hate it. But why? It’s nice. It’s the kind of film where if I saw it as a child it would have been my favourite film. 

The “I’m obviously not seeing what the reviewers are seeing” award

cWkwQf.jpgThe Big Game. “As spectacular as it is funny” “Samuel L Jackson has his tongue firmly in his cheek”. I wish either of these statements were true about this still born mess, failing to be dumb fun. The concept is great; a wimpy President played by Samuel L Jackson is chased through the mountains by terrorists and is helped by a badass child warrior. This should be as fun and or as campy as Olympus has fallen, or White House down…but instead, the kid isn’t a badass at all and spends most the film trying to find himself and failing; and though all his lines are wimpy, Jackson still plays it like a badass, so it’s just awkward. For a film apparently just going for fun, it takes its story and characters’ much too seriously, and its biggest failure is trying to distil genuine arcs and development on these blocks of wood.hqdefault

Unfriended. Seriously, fuck this film.

 

 

 

 

The “Yeah it’s bad but” award

index.jpgChappie: a perfect example of a hot fucking mess. The plot is all over the place, it’s supporting characters are unlikeable and stupid to the point of being endearing, it’s like a child’s film with hardcore violence…How can you not dig this film. Held up by the sheer adorableness and likability of Chappie himself, and some dark, dark humour, Chappie is one giant mess you don’t want to clear up.

Chappie. Always always Chappie. I know this film is bad, the plot is all over the place, the characters are unlikeable and it’s just bad all over. And yet I love it. No idea why. I just think the film works. It’s funny and kind of brilliant despite itself.