2020 In Film Day 5: The Amazeballs

1917

I don’t often like war films, particularly British or American war films. I feel I’ve already seen every story that can be told, at least by the standard studios. How many different ways can there be of saying “War is hell, but our good old British boys were brilliant! That’s it Wilfred, punch those pesky Germans in the nose”? Plus there’s often a weird nostalgia about them. We should not be nostalgic about war, it’s hell. For Brits I feel it’s more “remember when we mattered?” mixed with “We were the good guys twice! This is why Britain is great. Ignore everything except those two moments in history. Even the bits straight after where we interfered in the Middle East and caused most modern Arab conflicts with our decision making in regards to Israel. So ignore that”. It would have taken something incredibly new for me to be into this, and it was. It’s done almost like a single shot, with only one really obvious edit. It’s almost like the film knows you’ll be disappointed by the obvious edit, so follows it up with an incredibly lit sequence set in a bombed out city. The look of that entire sequence is incredible and I love it. 

Original review here.

+The fact they pulled it off

-the opening section seems a little bit too “walk to point A, now walk to point b, now back to A again”, it’s the only part where I felt the film needed a cut.

Best moment: the run across the battlefield. It’s cinema at its best.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Who would have expected this film to be so beautiful? Yes it’s also horrifying in the things that people say and believe, showing a real nasty undercurrent to American culture in the age of the Tangerine Tyrant. The writers must have known that they would be showing the uglyness of it, but I’m not sure they realised the beauty they would capture as well. An elderly holocaust surviver who’s response to anti-semitic hatred is to embrace the the person doing it and give them love. There’s even love within the hate. There are people who think that democrats and journalists should be executed, but even they show a glimpse of warmth, pointing out how sexism is wrong. 

Original review here

+The Rudy bit. It probably isn’t the best bit of the film, but the way it effected reality and seemed to cause a real switch in the way that the media viewed him.

-With how heavily focused it is on both Covid and Trump, it will seem outdated really quickly.

Best moment: There’s a bit at the very end where Borat turns towards his daughter and says “you were amazing”. But it was said in Hebrew, so it’s more like it’s aimed at the actress and is from Sacha-Baron Cohen, not Borat. It’s beautiful.

JoJo Rabbit

I can say a lot about this film. I can tell you how funny it is. How heartwarming it is. How, sadly, relevant it is in modern times. But everybody has already said that. There’s nothing I can write which will convince you to see it if you’re undecided. I haven’t written it yet, but there is a good chance this will win most of the awards in the end of year awards. Everything it does, it does brilliantly. It will hurt you, and you will love it for it.

Original review here

+The character work. JoJo is superbly written. Even though he is wrong, you can still like him and you get why he believes the things he does. 

– Controversial opinion; I don’t think Scarlett Johansson was that good in this. She never became the character, throughout she was constantly still Scarlett Johansson just doing an accent. If she was any other actress she wouldn’t get the plaudits she did for this.

Best moment: The sentence ““You’re not a Nazi, Jojo, you’re a 10-year-old kid who likes dressing up in a funny uniform and wants to be part of a club.”

Onward

I’m going to start off by talking about the worst part of it. It made it look like I was crying when I totally wasn’t, it was just dusty. I don’t cry, because I’m a man. Beer. Sports. Chicken Wings. But yeah it’s wonderful. It’s not the strongest Pixar film, the story itself is a little weak, but the way they tell it is brilliant. You can always depend on Pixar to bring something special to the table, and it does here for sure. A story about family love, particularly the love between brothers, something which isn’t really touched upon in film. Almost definitely the best kids film I saw this year, although considering the other films were things like The Witches or Artemis Fowl, that’s not saying much.

Original review here

+The sheer beauty that can be seen throughout. The look, the heart, it’s just so nice.

-The plot is a little weak and it definitely wastes a lot of what it can do..

Best moment: When the dad fully comes back. You don’t see it, but it is fucking beautiful.

Parasite

A film so good it made The Academy admit that foreign-language films exist. I saw this in probably the worst circumstances; knowing nothing about it, but hearing it was really good. So I went in with high expectations, but still not sure what it actually was. Was it a horror? Comedy? Drama? Porn? I had no idea. By the end, I’m still wasn’t sure exactly how to categorise it. It’s kind of a comedy, but one that leaves you feeling hopeless at the end. This film will annoy you and inspire you in equal measure. I had a chance to watch this on the plane before I saw at the cinema. I refused, despite knowing nothing, I knew it was going to be wrong to watch in that environment. I was correct, despite not being “spectacle” cinema, I simply cannot imagine watching this on a tiny screen. It would have felt like a disservice.

Original review here

+It pleases me how well it was received. Hopefully it builds to more eyes on Korean cinema.

-Can feel a little mean-spirited at times.

Best moment: The moment where we see them conspire to get the housemaid fired. It’s a glorious piece of cinema that could have worked at any point in the last 70 years.

The Invisible Man

This film is good, I can’t recommend it to some people. The way it uses the idea of someone gaining invisibility, and uses it to tell a story about gaslighting and domestic abuse is harrowing. It’s almost too plausible, as such I can’t really recommend this to people who have survived an abuse relationship due to how it will almost certainly trigger negative memories and create new worries. But if you’re not someone who has survived that stuff, you have to watch this film. This is how remakes etc should be done. Using old ideas in new ways to comment on 21st century life. If they tried to kick off their “Universal Monsters Universe”with this, I would have been into it. Oh god, that means I would have gone to see The Mummy in cinema.

Original review here

+Elisabeth Fucking Moss. I remember when I was on set for a scene which required the actress to cry

-The audio let it down at times, just using loud noises instead of carefully placed music for tension.

Best moment: Choice of two. Either the ending where she gets her revenge, because of how immensely satisfying it is. Or the throat slit in the restaurant due to how sudden and shocking it is. If we’re judging it based on the scene itself, the throat slit. In terms of how it fits into the actual narrative of the film; the ending.

The Personal History Of David Copperfield

I didn’t get to see this at the cinema, and that is a huge regret for me. I watched it on Amazon Prime and as soon as I finished it I knew I needed to have it on DVD. I needed to be able to show this to people, it’s that good. It has an intangible feeling to it that causes it to feel timeless and modern at the same time. Part of that might be due to the source material, but a lot of it is due to the director and the performers. Dev Patel gives a performance where you just want to see him talk on stage and describe things for hours. A lot of the supporting characters are also injected with such warmth and humour that you instantly connect with them. Not all of them though, some are so disgusting and slimy that you want them to get their comeuppance.

Original review here

+The way the film envelops you and takes you over, drawing you in so you can’t help but feel a part of the world.

-Some of the characters just disappear from the film. This could be the book though.

2020 In Film Day 4: The Good

Bill And Ted Face The Music

I was so close to putting this in the Amazeballs section. It was close to greatness, and it’s definitely what the world needed at the time. It provided hope in the dark days of 2020. Was one of the few films that you knew going in would make you happy. It just doesn’t seem quite “enough” to justify being considered amazing. Too small to be considered big, but it feels too big to be considered a small movie so the limitations would be forgivable. Don’t get me wrong, it is very enjoyable and you will like it. But you won’t FEEL it for long afterwards. It won’t stick with you for an extended period of time

Original review here

+Brigette Lundy-Paine. I don’t know who this person is, but they are AMAZING.

-Isn’t as smart with the time travel mechanics as the first two.

Best moment: The ending song. Some people may disagree but to me it was perfect and was the only way that song could go. 

My Spy

A film which didn’t get to come out at cinemas in the UK due to *motions in general at 2020* which is a shame as I feel it deserved that. It certainly would have improved my experience as it would have meant I wouldn’t have watched it on Amazon Prime and it’s non-working subtitles. It was a very sweet movie. But again, didn’t do much to push it to that next level. It’s a shame this wasn’t the film to push Batista to the next level in terms of marketability, but it is a good start as it shows he has more strings to his bow than you’d expect. This is probably his best non-MCU film. A lot of the laughs are cheap but they do work. It also has more genuine heart than you would expect.

Original review here

Best Moment: The opening hostage situation. Sets the tone perfectly, and has foreign language covers of modern pop songs

+Very, very funny.

-You can predict every moment just from watching the trailer

Palm Springs

It’s not often I get to describe what is essentially a rom-com as “truly horrifying”, at least not good ones (I would still describe PS I Love You as horrifying, because I paid to see it). But most romcoms aren’t this. Most romcoms don’t deal with the situations this does. Most romcoms aren’t, and it pains me to say this, as smart as this. The character work in this is great to see. You can truly sense the unsaid backstories of everybody in it. They don’t feel like characters, they feel like actual people.

Original review here

+It’s new. I like new ideas, and this is definitely one.

-It could do more with the location. It doesn’t do much in terms of memorable music or shots.

Best Moment: I can narrow it down to a single line: “Being a source of terror is not fun and it’s not fulfilling, I know from experience“. Oh my blog, that line. It says so much about him and his history.

Run

I was very excited for this. I loved Searching (as anybody who has spoken to me for more than two minutes can tell) and was curious what the creator would do next. I think that might be its biggest flaw; it wasn’t as good as one of my favourite films ever. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the film, I just expected something a lot smarter. It is still good, the way it builds tension is superb, the cast are all great, and it’s directed perfectly. It’s just…..it’s not a 10/10 movie like I wanted.

Original review here

+The minimalist cast and location mean that you feel as trapped as the character. Really simple piece of film-making but one that so many would be scared to do.

-Not as clever as it needs to be. 

Best Moment: The scene at the very end where the daughter has turned the tables on her former “mother” by visiting her in prison and drugging her in revenge for what she’s done. It’s beautifully chilling and haunting, probably the best closing shot I’ve seen all year. 

The Lovebirds

I saw the trailer for this before watching Fantasy Island, and that probably turned out to be the best part of that film. I wish I saw this in the cinema as I feel it deserved that. It’s on netflix which isn’t too bad (and means you definitely should watch this if you have it). It reminded me of a more cynical and bitter Date Night. Whereas that film was focused on a couple who were very much in love but still frustrated, this is focusing on a recently-ex couple. So recent that they haven’t really had time to process single life yet, and that informs a lot of their decisions. This isn’t a “oh they broke up but still love each other and are kind” break up, this was a break-up where they said things that can’t be unsaid, when they argued they brought out the big guns, and when they do that it hits fucking hard. Importantly, they are based more on “I don’t think you’re doing as good as you can be” so even the hate is kinda coming from a place of love. The dynamic between the two is wonderfully written and that goes for the rest of the film. It’s smart, funny, and was SOOOO close to being in the amazeballs section.

Original review here

+The characters

-Very cliche in parts.

Best moment: At the end when the police tell them they obviously weren’t being investigated for murder as everything was on camera. Very funny and original, reminded me of the end of Keanu. 

Vivarium

Again, something VERY close to being in the amazing section. There’s just something that stops me putting it in there. If this was objective then I would definitely put it there. But these are subjective, and I will never pretend otherwise. I did love this film, but it’s not something I will ever want to see again, and for that reason it goes here. Similar to Hereditary or The VVitch. You definitely should see this at least once though. It’s available on Shudder (at least for people in the UK, don’t know about other territories). So it’s worth a watch, but you might not need to watch it again. Delightfully uncomfortable viewing with possibly a career-best performance from Eisenberg. 

Original review here

+The general feeling of dread that is over the whole thing.

-Can be frustrating at times and feels a bit pointless

Best moment: When they’re driving to the house. So creepy despite the fact it’s just two people driving to a house. 

2020 In Film Day 3: The Meh

Films which had moments, but I felt nothing.

An American Pickle

This should have meant more to me. It was heartwarming, and featured Seth Rogen doing something original. So why didn’t I? I guess it’s the script. It feels like it’s never quite sure what the story is, going from possible plot to possible plot before any of them get a chance to develop. Maybe it would have been better as a miniseries I don’t know, all I know is that there was a lot of ideas in this that could, and should, have been expanded upon but instead only lasted for about 10 minutes before never being mentioned again. This meant that it felt nothing in the film mattered as it wasn’t a story but a series of sketches, so if you missed something you wouldn’t have needed catching up on anything as what you missed didn’t effect the plot at all. 

Original review here

+Seth, without a shadow of a doubt. He carries this movie.

-The lack of identity the film has.

Best moment: When we find out what the company is named after. Very sweet.

Sonic The Hedgehog

A film that is nowhere near as terrible as I expected it be. Yup, high praise indeed. The script is an inconsistent mess, it sacrifices logical storytelling for jokes which sometimes aren’t that great. I can’t tell whether Jim Carrey ruins or makes this movie. His character seems to be from a completely different movie, at times it resembles Kate McKinnon or Will Ferrell at their best, adding an air of manic energy and humour to scenes which otherwise would have been dull, and at times it resembles, well, Kate McKinnon or Will Ferrell, being embarrassingly unfunny and just awkward to watch. 

Original review here

+Has some genuine laugh out loud moments (the line about a duck stealing a bagel made me lol)

-Seems very “first draft”

Best moment: The scenes of Sonic at superspeed resemble the Quicksilver moments from the X-Men movies, in the best possible way.

Tenet

Some people may be surprised that this film ranks so low and may think less of me for putting it here. Maybe they’re annoyed that I rate it so low. Well prepared to get even more annoyed: it’s very lucky to be in this section and not the “bad”. It JUST made it into here. Nolan is a great director, but oh do I hate his choices when it comes to sound. He seems to make a conscious choice to make his films difficult to listen to. His defence of this is that it makes the audience “lean in”, but to be honest it makes me tune out, there’s a reason Taxi Driver didn’t have all the dialogue drowned out by the sound of traffic, or why when you’re filming a scene and a plane flies overhead, you stop filming until the sound dies down.  It ended up frustrating me to the point where it soured me on the film, especially when important plot details get told in a single line of dialogue which you can easily miss. I think from now on I’m only going to see Nolan films at cinemas if they have subtitled screenings. And considering how little cinema seems to cater towards those who are hard of hearing, that might prove difficult.

Original review here

+The fight choreography was amazing to see.

-The waste of talented performers.

Best moment: Hard to pick, so let’s just say the action scenes. 

The Gentleman

The cinematic equivalent of a greatest hits album that confusingly is missing a few of their best songs. Guy Ritchie needs to adapt, and needs to do it soon otherwise he runs the risk of seeming like a relic. He needs to justify why he belongs in a modern cinematic world instead of just replaying the Lock Stock formula. Not the easiest thing to do for him as his moves away from that have been his biggest flops, so he inevitably comes back to what he does well. And he does do it well, there’s no denying that, but we’ve seen it all before. There’s nothing new, nothing that makes you sit up and take notice. Really, there’s no reason you HAVE to see this.

Original review here

+Fun at times.

-The ending is too “oh look how clever we are” for my tastes.

Best Moment: Everytime Hugh Grant is on screen.

2020 In Film Day 2: The Bad

Films which were bad, but had at least one moment I would recommend

Becky

Oh Becky, what a pity, you don’t understand, what makes a good movie. This should be better than it is. At the very least it should be fun. It should not be as utterly boring as this is. It’s a teenage girl killing nazi’s, if I’m looking at my watch during this film, that’s on you and your script. So why is it here? Because of the performers and the make-up. It is occasionally very bloody, and when it is it looks great. There’s a moment where Kevin James gets his eye gouged out and has to cut it off. It’s great and you really feel the pain. It’s a shame that watching the rest of the movie is just as painful.

+It’s good that Kevin James is trying new things.

-It seems way too restrained at times.

Best Moment: The aforementioned eye-gouge. It’s just a shame it doesn’t effect the plot at all

Birds Of Prey: And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn

First off, what the hell is with that title? Secondly, all this film seemed to do was do was remind me of Suicide Squad. It made the exact same mistakes as that did; having a group of people bond WAY too quickly, not being sure if it’s gritty and realistic or a Tom and Jerry cartoon when it comes to violence, the terrible characterisation. It’s all here. I’m not sure if this was supposed to set up a spin-off film series for Birds Of Prey but if it was an attempt for that it failed as they’re not featured enough to be memorable. The only one I can remember fully is The Huntress, and that’s partly due to Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s performance. But the rest are not given enough attention. Black Canary in particular doesn’t have her powers discussed until near the very end. It did have a unique look though, and I love to see that.

Original review here

+Mary Elizabeth Winstead

-What is the villain’s gimmick? He is so underwritten it’s hard to tell

Best moment: The fight in the amusement park. Fun, chaotic, and hella inventive.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga

A film which belongs on Netflix. I would have hated this if I saw it at cinema. But because I saw it at home I didn’t hate it quite as much. I mean, I still don’t like it. It’s still way too cliche to be considered great, and too annoying to even be considered good. It’s also way too American, no film about Eurovision should have, as a supposed centerpiece of their film, a musical medley consisting of Black Eyed Peas, Cher, and Madonna. You do one of songs from EUROVISION, you know, the thing the fucking film is based on. Even if people don’t know the songs, it will be pushing the concept of the contest. As it is you’re just saying that all of Europe’s musicians secretly wish they could be American. 

Original review here

+Fun at times.

-The story doesn’t work. At all.

Best moment: The opening song. It’s bombastic and weird, perfectly eurovision.

Scoob!

The world needed a Scooby Doo movie. They needed something light and fun and nostalgic. Instead they got this. It suffers a real identity crisis where it seems to be trying to aim itself at children, and people who grew up watching the original cartoons. But it handles it badly to the point of alienating both its potential audiences. Also features possibly the ugliest animation I’ve seen all year. It looks cheap and like it’s made for tv, it will age horribly. Although I do have to ask, if you had a talking dog, would you really be annoyed/disappointed if it had a lisp?

Original review here

+At least they tried something new. And if you’re a fan of the original Hanna-Barbera cartoons you will see a lot of references that make you feel things.

-Yet another Scooby Doo film based around “what does Shaggy do?”

Best moment: it is nice to see how the gang all met each other. Very sweet

The Witches

I don’t often say this, but Anne Hathaway was fucking awful in this. Her accent wavered like it was standing on a surfboard in a tsunami. I don’t know what she was thinking but the director should have stopped her. Was she supposed to be Russian? Because it seemed like she was just Russian to get to the next accent in her rolodex. Actually most of the adult performances in this were pretty bad. The only saving graces being Octavia Spencer and Jahzir Bruno. That, and the cosy nature of the opening sequences, are the only things that keep this film being an absolute shit show.

Original review here

+The ending is more in keeping with the original book, as opposed to the weirdly saccharine ending of the first film.

-Completely pointless.

Best moment: There’s a scene where the witches click their lobster-like claws together in unison. Incredibly creepy and echos back to how creepy the original film was at times.

Underwater

A Cthulhu film that tries to hide the fact it’s a Cthulhu film. Bit of a weird choice there, I would have led with that. For me my main issue with this is the inconsistent identity. It tries to be both a slow-paced atmospheric thriller, like Alien, and a disaster movie. So you have a film that’s attempting to be both atmospheric and quiet, as well as bombastic and loud. Those are two things which don’t mesh together at all. As such the thing from the Alien franchise it resembles most is Colonial Marines. It’s a shame as the opening is as close to perfect as I’ve seen in a while. It just never matches that for the rest of the film. Plus, personal preference, I fucking hate shakey-cam.

Original review here

+The music, very creepy at times.

-The inconsistent tone.

Best moment: the opening credits. Sets up the story, and the tone. Perfect.

2020 In Film Day One (The Awful)

This was meant to be posted earlier but I caught COVID so got delayed. And yes, I will be using that as an excuse for everything. “why have you sat about eating chocolate all day?” “COVID”. “Why haven’t you been productive?” “COVID”. “Why did you genetically engineer ducks so they had knives for feet, then try to invade Luxembourg?” “Funny innit? And COVID”

These are the worst of the worst, films I can comfortably say you should avoid. The ones I hate so much that even these short recaps frustrate me. There are two here I think people might disagree with, at least one was highly rated by quite a view people. But again, these are all personal opinions, so fuck it. Eugh, at least after this things can get better.

Artemis Fowl

It’s a good thing I don’t write these immediately after seeing the film. If I did it for this then this section would just be “No. No No. Noooooooooooooo. No.” This could have been good, as it is, it is a film made for nobody. People who aren’t familiar with the books will dislike it because it’s a bad movie, and people who like the books will HATE it due to the changes made. In the original book, Artemis Fowl is kind of a sociopathic genius. In this, he surfs. He’s in trouble at school, but we’re not entirely sure why. He’s not an evil genius, he’s just a kid. It also destroys a lot of the relationships between characters. The relationship between Holly and Root is changed completely due to Root being a woman now, so we don’t have that “you’re the first female here, I put you to a higher standard as you will be used a scapegoat if you fail” relationship. Butler is known by his first name so you don’t have that moment where he whispers his first name to Artemis as he dies. This film inspires nothing but hatred. I know a few people who love the books, I’ve yet to hear a single possible good thing about this.

Original review here

+There’s a chance someone might read the books from this. I doubt it, but there’s a chance.

-What does the thing they’re searching for actually do?

Worst moment: Butler does a twirl. That will mean nothing to those who haven’t read the books but will infuriate those who have.

Babyteeth

Quite a few people liked this, but to me it just sat wrong. The characters weren’t likeable, and didn’t even have a glimmer of humanity yet we were supposed to buy them as a good couple. For this “girl falls for bad boy” film we need to see a reason for her to like him. Yet all he does is steal her shit, break into her house, and kiss other people in front of her. I don’t just not like him, I actively dislike him. And he never gets any better throughout the film, he just continues being a prick. I dislike a lot of films, but this is one of the few films where I actively felt like a worst person for having watched it.

Original review here

+The colours and music are superb. 

-You know everything else I said about this film? Yeah, that.

Worst moment: Three words: Euthanasia Sex Scene.

Bloodshot

The trailer ruined this film. It gave away the key plot point (that he was being manipulated), but that didn’t happen in the film until much later than you’d think. So you can skip most of the film if I’m being honest. That lack of thought and care can be seen throughout the film. There are logical inconsistencies throughout, and some of the background characters are just there to exist, they’re not fleshed out at all. 

+The scene with the flour (although for that to be good, you have to ignore that flour is flammable)

-The lack of thought that went into the script

Worst moment: The trailer. Impossible to enjoy this film when the trailer ruins the plot.

Brahms: The Boy 2

The only saving grace of this film is that it is so forgettable that it’s hard to insult it. I can’t pinpoint specific scenes or moments to tear apart and dissect. I can’t critique a performance or a directorial moment. I’ve got literally nothing. If you were to ask me questions about this film I don’t think I’ll be able to tell you anything. I’m not even sure I can tell you the title to be honest. 

Original review here

+Not as long as some movies

-It gave me NOTHING to work with

Worst moment: The retcon of the first movie. 

Downhill

I like everyone involved in this film, so I should have loved it. It just….it does not work. I feel maybe Ferrell and Louis-Dreyfus’s comedic styles don’t work together, they’re incompatible and so when they try to lead a film it just comes off kind of ugly and disjointed. It’s a good idea, a remake of a french film that I think I should watch. But it seems like it’s meant more for an awkward character-based comedy, rather than the “ohuh” kind of comedy this goes for. Maybe Steve Coogan would have worked better? Hard to tell. All I can say is that you probably should avoid this.

Original review here

+Some funny bits

-How small it feels. It feels like a TV episode, not a movie.

Worst moment: None really. There are no peaks and valleys from which to judge it, it’s almost all valleys

Fantasy Island

This looked interesting. I almost expected it to be akin to W.W.Jacobs “The Monkey’s Paw”. A short story about a monkey’s paw (OMG that’s why it’s called that) that grants wishes but with horrific consequences. It’s a tale (or tail, if you want to make a monkey pun) that has inspired episodes of both The Twilight Zone and The Simpsons. It’s an iconic short story that would be perfect for a full-length horror film. They didn’t do that though. It’s nothing like The Monkey’s Paw, and is instead like a big pile of monkey crap. This should have been great, it should have been clever and scary, instead it’s neither. It also features possibly one of the dumbest twists I’ve ever seen. With this, and Truth Or Dare, I think Lucy Hale is becoming a red flag for dumb blumhouse horror movies.

Original review here

+More horror movies should take place on tropical islands. Allows very unique sets.

-The wasted potential.

Worst moment: I’m tempted to say the twist ending. But really the moment where someone asks for a second wish and gets it granted because “plot reasons”. Without her first wish the film has even less emotional impact than normal. Yet without her second wish it would be impossible for the plot to develop. So the script needed both to happen as it wrote itself into a corner. 

Spree

I never brought into this movie. At no point was I sold, outside of the concept. An uber driver/streamer who livestreams as he kills should be a lot of fun. It’s not. I think part of it is due to the character. He comes off as a whiny little bitch. Incredibly annoying to the point where I don’t want him to succeed. And some of the people he kills are also awful racist and other youtubers. So it’s just pathetic people killing horrible people. And the kills aren’t even that imaginative. It could have been an interesting study into how people can be so desperate for fame that it can drive them to do horrible things. That’s a story that’s been told before, but can be very compelling when done right as it’s not done too often. As it is, the film is just “internet bad”, whilst being aimed at people who watch youtubers. It’s insulting to the audience, it’s insulting towards the culture, and it’s insulting to the people involved that they had to work on this.

Original review here

+Good idea.

-The youtube-style editing of constant close-ups.

Worst moment: When he watches clips of a stand-up comedian. We just see punchlines, we don’t see the setups. So we actually don’t know whether she’s good or not, we’re just taking the films word for it. 

The New Mutants

I’m hoping that Morbius will finally give us a mainstream comic book movie with darkness and fear. Maybe my expectations were wrong and I was expecting something it was never meant to be. But then again, even without that, there are still a lot of flaws with this film. Woefully inconsistent characterisation (especially when it comes Anya Taylor-Joys character), CGI that should not be this bad in a film this big, and incredibly unsubtle symbolism. The X-men series seems determined to keep being an embarrassment and every time you think it can’t continue being bad, it proves you wrong. If the series ended with Logan it would have been great, but it’s not just that they continued, but that the films after that are so bad. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as bad as Dark Phoenix. But that’s like saying “well at least the shit I did in my pants isn’t liquid”.

Original review here

+The central romance REALLY works. Even when the characters are just sitting near each other, you can sense the sexual chemistry between them.

-A sad end to the franchise

Worst moment: The narration, it happens multiple times yet doesn’t really add anything. 

Unhinged

This film had an ugly soul. It adds nothing and just seems like someone working through a mid-life crisis. It’s not a film but a series of scenes. Stuff happens but it very rarely matters what order as even after killing people in broad daylight, that doesn’t seem to increase the presence of police. The reaction to it has been even worse, with people sympathising with Russell Crowe’s character in this, despite the character being as despicable as his band was. But this film kind of plays into that. In terms of how the camera treats him, it doesn’t show him as a horror movie villain, it almost films him like the hero in a western. This isn’t helped by the moral of the story seeming to be “let people walk over you, if you stand up for yourself the people you love will be killed and it will be your fault”

Original review here

+Neat idea.

-Very stop start. This would have been improved if it was one long journey of chaos and destruction (sort of like Mad Max)

Worst moment: A long-ish scene that takes place at a restaurant. This occurs AFTER he’s run someone over and killed them, and after he’s burnt his ex-wives house down. Still no police turn up though

2019 Film Awards (lost blog)

So I’ve now run out of films to review and might not be able to review any for quite a while. So to make up for it I’m going to be doing other blogs to fill in the time. This is a blog that was half-written but never posted as I realised it would be a bit weird to post a blog about the best films of 2019 in March of 2020, it felt a bit late. It felt like a shame as some of the films deserved me gushing over how brilliant they are, so now’s the time. Simple enough, I just needed to complete the half-written blog and post, easy. Well, it would have been if I didn’t delete the original like a fucking dumbass. So keep in mind a lot of this is based on films I haven’t seen for over half a year.

Most Disappointing

Killer Kate

I thought this would be fun. It looked fun, and it had a short run time, which for a film like this is usually an indicator that it will move at breakneck pace. The opening scene is a discussion between the killers, and it’s dull. The actual plot doesn’t kick off until way too far into it. Nowhere near as fun as it should be.

It Chapter Two

Far far too long, not enough Pennywise, and it had too many flashbacks of characters we knew were going to survive. It’s a shame as I genuinely love the first one, and I thought I enjoyed this. But the more distance I have from this film, the more the flaws are apparent.

Brightburn

I sent the trailer for this to someone I used to work with, that’s how much faith I had in this film. That faith was totally misguided. This film just did not work. The story was boring, it was too in debt to the Superman mythos to stand out on its own, and it wasted a brilliant premise. On the plus side I’m interested to see what happens next.

Ma

The trailer made it look better than it was. The issue is that it was building towards something we knew was happening. We were waiting for something to happen and to see how it would develop, instead what we were waiting for turned out to be the end. It would be like if Halloween only featured Michael Myers in the last 20 minutes.

Winner

Wolf

“It’s a werewolf movie set during ancient Roman times, this is going to be great”. Spoilers; it was not great. Yeah, you’re going to be seeing this film getting mentioned a lot in this blog, and there’s a reason for it.

Best Music

Wild Rose

I don’t really like country music, but I loved it in this. “Three chords and the truth” is how the character describes it, and when she sings, you believe it. I’ve watched the film once, about a year ago, and I still find myself occasionally singing the main song from it.

Childs Play

For two reasons: 1) the new version of the classic theme. 2) The Mark Hamil song that manages to be both kind of creepy, and like it comes from a kids TV show.

Us

Almost entirely because of the really good remix of I Got 5 On It. Although the use of Les Fleurs was damn near perfect.

Winner

Rocketman

It’s a shit load of Elton John songs, so of course it’s going be good. Taron Egerton is REALLY good at capturing his voice.

Best Looking

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu

This film should have more uncanny valley moments than it does. Plus the visual world-building is a sight to behold.

Rocketman

It’s not easy to do a film about Elton John. You need to make it look flamboyant without being distracting. This film manages it. It turns out Dexter Fletcher is really good at this, genuinely wouldn’t have guessed.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Yes, I didn’t like the film, but the look was perfect. It genuinely felt like it was from a different time. The atmosphere it created was near perfect.

Joker

The world design for this was picture perfect. This is a gotham that NEEDS Batman. This isn’t a neon-dreamspace you can sell with McDonalds toys. This isn’t “avoid the bad areas”, EVERYWHERE is a bad area with a few exceptions of where the rich live.

Knives Out

Purely for the number of times I watched this film and thought “that would make a cool poster”, it also has one of my favourite closing shots of all time.

Toy Story 4

There were a few moments here where I thought “hmm, they look slightly plastic” and then realised that the characters are plastic, they’re toys. I was so taken in by the animation that I occasionally forgot that. Plus they made rain look real, which is REALLY hard to pull off in this kind of animation.

John Wick 3

The action scenes in these are usually the highlight of the year in terms of how well designed they are, this was no exception. The choreography is again great, and the world they take place in really suits it. The colours, the set design, the cinematography, all of it adds up to some superb visuals.

Us

The colour schemes, the visual foreshadowing, all of it was just so damn magnificent.

Winner

Ad Astra

Normally “a good looking film” means it’s visually busy and crammed with intricate details, this is the opposite. The use of space (lol, pun) in this film is masterful. It genuinely confused me how this film didn’t do better. You watch this and you really feel his isolation. Everything seems so empty and hopeless. I love it.

Worst Looking

Hellboy

Almost entirely for the woeful CGI in one of the final scenes. I’ve genuinely seen better in PS2 games.

Wolf

The make up in one moment of this was AMAZING. They genuinely made it look like the actress had been savaged by a werewolf, the scars looked real and they looked aged. If this was just a “worst make-up” award this film wouldn’t be listed at all. But this is “worst looking” in general, so that’s make-up, visual effects, directorial choices, and editing. It’s that last one where this REALLY fails. There are scenes where it cuts to a character every time they speak, no matter how short what they say is. That line about the bad editing for Bohemian Rhapsody? It could easily be used here, except I don’t want to find an example of it, lest I accidentally watch a single second of this turgid piece of crap ever again.

Winner

Captain Marvel

No, this did not look worse than the others in this list. But I believe it’s a worthy winner because a film with a budget this big should not have CGI as ropey as this. It’s shameful how bad it was at times. It sucks but expectations to have to be taken into account for things like this. If you went to an open mic comedy night and one of the comedians there stumbled over their words and had to rely on notes, you’d still find them funny. If, however, you paid through the nose for a gig at Wembley Stadium and the comedian did that, you’d consider it money wasted. That’s why even though it’s not the worst, it “wins” the worst.

Best Performance

Rocketman: Taron Egerton

He didn’t really look like him, but his performance completely encapsulated the character.

Wild Rose: Jessie Buckley

The whole film is anchored on her performance, and she carries it expertly. It helps that she has a good singing voice, but her non-singing vocal performance is also to be commended. Her emotions and worries are there for us all to see, as is the characters attempts to hide them.

Joker: Joaquin Phoenix

What can I say about this performance that hasn’t been said already? Absolutely nothing considering how much the awards wanked over it. There’s a reason for it though; his performance is utterly compelling.

IT Chapter Two: Bill Hader

I was genuinely surprised by how great his performance is in this. He’s sharing the screen with Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Bill Skarsgard. His performance outshines all of them. It is mostly comedic but the emotion he gives it really elevates it.

Winner

Us: Lupita Nyong’o

Everyone in this plays their dual roles perfectly, but Lupita carries it off best (with Winston Duke as a very close second). It’s not just her movements and vocals that show the difference between the two, the way she holds herself is different too. You can have pictures of the two of them sitting in a chair and figure out which one is which.

Worst Performance

Wolf: Everyone

It’s hard to narrow it down to a single performance in this, they were all so bad. Such a talented cast too, starring the writer/director, the editor…..okay I see what they did. Even as a film student I wouldn’t have pulled that shit, I got actual actors (and paid them in cake), so there’s no excuse for a feature film aiming at cinema release to pull this shi.

Hellboy: Sasha Lane

A bad accent can make you forget everything else about a performance. Does anybody remember Dick Van Dyke’s mannerisms from Mary Poppins? Or how he carried himself? No, because they were too distracted by the terrible accent. It’s similar here, it’s distractingly bad. At times it wanders into slightly Australian via New York. It was directed by someone who’s directed a few episodes of Game Of Thrones, so he MUST have been able to recommend an actual English actor. It was being filmed in the UK, so it’s not as though “oh, well it will be easier to get an American performer”. I’m not saying you have to be English to play an English character, but if you’re not then you have to put at least some effort into convincing us you are, and she doesn’t.

Winner

Killer Kate: Alexandra Feld

No matter how good she was, it would not have saved this movie; but it might have made it slightly watchable if her performance was tolerable. The trouble is that it is so wooden I don’t even have the energy to make an immature erection joke at the word “wood”. It reminds me of me when I try to act, not believable and with zero emotion. It’s so bad I’m convinced it’s a parody. I felt kind of nervous about writing this in case it seemed like bullying. But it is SO bad. I have no idea how she passed the audition, but the fact she was married to the writer/director must have had a hand in it (but for his sake I hope he got more than a hand out of it).

Best Character

Ben Is Back: Holly Burns-Beeby (played by Julia Roberts)

Over the last few years I’ve really started to GET Julia Roberts. I think it’s because of how great she was in the supremely underrated Secret In Their Eyes and Money Monster. She’s picking really interesting characters lately, and this one is no exception. A mother who has to stand by her drug-addicted son. Her character is one borne of frustration, anger, and love. The moment where she yells at the Alzheimer-riddled doctor who was responsible for her sons’ addiction is brilliant to see and really highlights the role of prescription drugs in drug addiction.

Happy Death Day 2 U: Tree Gelbman (played by Jessica Roth)

She is a big part of why this film works. She is so…human. Even her stupid decisions are ones which you understand her reasons for making. Her growth over the two films are a sight to behold. This is the best example of that character though. Underneath all the bluster and confidence is someone who is still haunted by her mothers death. When she has to make the decision about going back to her own reality and abandoning her mum in the present multiverse, you truly feel her pain.

The Day Shall Come: Moses Al Shabaz (played by Marchant Davis)

This is heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking. You are rooting for this character throughout the film, so when the inevitable happens it just breaks you. His motivations are clear, his relationships with the other characters make sense, and his actions always make sense. Every single decision he makes is based on a weird kind of logic. This is one of the few films where I wanted a happy ending, yes it would have felt unnatural, but damn this guy deserved a break.

Good Boys: All of them

I’ve said it before and I will say it again; these characters were so smartly written. They’re in that awkward age where you start making sex jokes, but you have no idea what sex is. It’s a tricky line to walk, if you write them as too young they seem like idiots, but if you write them as too old it seems unrealistic. This strikes the perfect balance between the two and is all the better for it.

Winner

Knives Out: Marta Cabrera (Played by Ana De Armas)

Her character would be quite easy to dislike if she was badly written. Thankfully the script injects her with just enough warmth that you are rooting for her throughout the film. Her character, more than any other in this list, is helped by the other characters reactions to her. Every time one of the family members talks to her they say “I wanted you at the funeral, but other people objected”, every single one. Plus, every time they mention where she’s from they say a different country, indicating that they don’t actually pay much attention to her. It’s almost as though they don’t see her as a nurse (and certainly not as a close family friend, no matter what they say), and instead see her as “the help” for the family. This is best showcased in a scene where a character is mid-conversation with her and hands her his empty plate, as if to say “go take that out for me”. The best part about these moments? They’re easily missed. They don’t have attention drawn to them, not explicitly mentioned, no reaction shots, nothing.

I Don’t Get It

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile

I just didn’t vibe with this. Part of it may have been because I was watching it on a laptop, which is never a good way to watch a movie and always requires a film to work hard to overcome it (so far the best example of a film doing it is The Last Word). I get some people would like this, but for me it was just a bit dull. I was never invested in the story or the characters. It spent a lot of time treating the audience like they didn’t know that Ted Bundy was a serial killer, and I don’t really get why.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

It seemed like almost everybody loved this film, except for me and about 2 people I know. I just found it lacking any form of coherent structure or purpose. So much of it felt like it was just padding, like it didn’t justify it’s own existence.

Crawl

I saw quite a few good reviews for this, oddly enough praising the things I didn’t like about it; how the characters were dumb and some bits didn’t make sense. Why are these seen as good things?

Joker

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy this movie. But for it to get THAT many Academy Award nominations? No, just no.

Winner

If Beale Street Could Talk

I wanted to like this film, it seems very important and with a story that needs to be told. I just felt it wasn’t told in an effective way. For two reasons: the narration and the length. Some scenes had a natural ending point, and then decided to continue on for a few minutes long. The narration didn’t really add anything a lot of the time and it felt like it assumed the audience were dumb.

Best Scene

Alita: Rollerball

The rest of the film was nice, but the way these scenes were set up…I loved it. Was so well done, and you could easily follow the action because of how well directed it was.

Avengers: On Your Left

Yes this film was all over the place, yes it closed off many other potential films which would have been interesting. But that moment, where everyone we love from the franchise starts making their return? Very satisfying.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: Leonardo DiCaprio Acting

Okay that’s not exactly what happens. But there’s a moment in this film where DiCaprio’s character forgets his lines. But then gives a superb performance motivated by his own fear. It’s an incredibly powerful moment full of nuance and unsaid character motivations.

Spiderman Far From Home: Post-Credits

The scene which changed the arc going forward, and is without a doubt one of the most important post-credits scenes in the MCU. Not only is JK Simmons in this franchise, but Peter Parker’s identity has been revealed. A great double whammy and a genuine shock.

Us: reveal

When you realise what’s actually happening, and how widespread it is. I distinctly remember thinking “you magnificent bastard”. It was set up SO well and was an incredibly satisfying reveal.

Winner

Knives Out: Ending

Truth is, there are so many perfect moments in this that it’s hard to pick just one. If I had to narrow it down to one then it would be this bit. The first reveal is incredibly satisfying and goes against all your expectations, but the ending for this is sooo well done. The genuine reveal leading up to it is superbly written, and the closing shot might just be one of the most simplistically brilliant that I’ve ever seen.

Worst Scene

Childs Play: the ending

Okay, not the very end. But once everyone was locked in the toy store the carnage felt incredibly subdued, it should have been bigger. It felt like the whole film was building to this scene and it felt really neutered.

Stuber/Good Boys: fight scenes

I’m counting these as one because they do the same thing, and it has the same effect on both films. They’re fight scenes which just break up the momentum of the film, not only that but there are things done in the film which would kill someone if they actually happened. So when they’re just shaken off in this it reminds you that you’re watching a film.

I Love My Mum – Fake Cancer

Right near the end the mother character admits that she faked having cancer because she didn’t want her son to leave. Now already she was unlikeable, but that pushed her into being hateable and ruined any dynamic the two of them had.

Escape Room – The Opening

There were a lot of options from this film. I was tempted to go with the cliche “rich people are placing bets” ending. Instead, I went with this because it showed a character alive, then spent 80% of the film catching up to that moment, so any scenes where that character nearly died were devoid of any tension.

Winner

The Wolf – The Opening

5 seconds. That’s all it took for me to go from “this film is going to be amazing” to “this will be a steaming pile of shit won’t it?”. That’s a record (Hellboy came close with the narration though). Too much happened offscreen, the acting was bad, and the editing was woeful. Kind of like the film itself tbh.

Most Awwww-ful

Fishermans Friends

This is your typical British film, which means it’s incredibly heartwarming. Yes, you’ve seen it before, but it knows the best way to engage emotionally with you, and you’ll have to have a heart of stone to not feel affected by it.

Ben Is Back

This has a different kind of beauty, the beauty of love that a family has for each other. A love that involves you hating each other occasionally when they deserve it. But this means that when the sweet moments do hit, they hit a lot harder than they would otherwise.

Good Boys

This film is incredibly sweet in a way I didn’t expect. It really showcases that awkward age where you’re not mature enough to be a teen, but you’re not a kid. It’s a weird time in life and it’s refreshing to see a film approach it so honestly whilst talking about male friendships during that stage in life.

Stan And Ollie

A tale of friendship, of loss, and of age. It’s helped by the performances, but the film, in general, is just so touching that you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be affected. This was one of the first films I saw in 2019, so it set a kind of high bar for the rest of the year.

Winner

Wild Rose

This film shows the power of music, how it can change peoples lives and how much of themselves people put into their art. incredibly powerful and a real surprise highlight of the year.

Most Disgusting

Childs Play

Yes it could have gone further, but there were quite a lot of moments in this which did make me wince. Plus the scene where the guy in the costume sprayed blood all over a group of kids was disgustingly brilliant

Greta

For one moment and one moment only; someone’s finger being chopped off with a cookie cutter. Came out of nowhere and you REALLY felt it.

IT: Chapter 2

This film had many flaws. But it was visually well done, and some of the gore was incredible. This is mainly here for one other moment: the homophobic beating at the start. It’s…..it’s ugly.

If Beale Street Could Talk

The racism inherent in the American law system is disgusting, and this film highlights it incredibly well. To the point where you yourself feel beaten and trapped by the end of the film.

Winner

The Day Shall Come

The film alone is depressing, but when you read up on it and read the cases it’s based on, it becomes even more so. This is a film which should light a revolutionary fire underneath you, but because everything is so bleak and depressing at the end it just makes you wonder what’s the point; the system will win and will rig the game to keep certain people down, and it’s all legal. We’re fucked as a species.

Worst Film

Hellboy

This film lost me in the opening scene. It was trying so damn hard to be mature that it came off as childish. I’d have loved this if I was a 14-year-old boy, but when I was 14 I also thought that one day I’d be happy, so I was fucking idiot back then. It also features some of the most embarrassing CGI I’ve ever seen.

Dark Phoenix

“surely this can’t be as bad as everybody says?” It can, and don’t call me Shirley (I make the most original jokes). A film so bad it taints the X-Men franchise (and this was a franchise that survived Last Stand and Origins). I think that’s the worst thing about it, it takes all the goodwill built up by Logan and flushes it down the toilet, and then blocks the toilet and makes you unblock it by hand, leaving you holding shit and shit-water and wondering what the point is.

Songbird

I can’t remember the plot of this film, and I don’t think the people who made it can either. It was apparently mostly improvised, and it shows. The scenes don’t move forward, don’t serve the overarching narrative, it was like watching someone’s holiday videos.

Killer Kate

I’ve said a lot of bad things about this movie, and will continue to say more, and for a good reason; it’s awful. It starts off with a way-too-long scene of the killers just sitting around talking in a manner which isn’t consistent with their later characterisation (and we don’t see them again until the 40 minute mark. We then cut to boring family drama for about 30 minutes before the horror starts. It’s not even good family drama which lets us enjoy the characters, so many of the scenes are not needed; I would love the makers of this film to explain the purpose of a 2-minute scene where characters flip through television channels. The entire film is full of moments like that, scenes which don’t advance the plot, aren’t scary, aren’t funny, and don’t tell us anything about the characters. Essentially, they’re worthless

Winner

Wolf

Obviously, this was going to win. I maintain this will remain the worst film I ever see at the cinema in my entire life. This wouldn’t even get a passing grade at a film school. I saw it for free and still want my money back. The acting, the script, the fact that they couldn’t afford tracks so every time that characters spoke they had to stand completely still even when they were supposed to be moving quickly to escape something. I forgive every bad word I’ve said about any film, because this film is the one that truly deserves my vitriol.

Best Film

Rocketman

Academy Award nominations for Bohemian Rhapsody: 5. Academy Award nominations for this: 1. That should not be the case. Everything Bohemian Rhapsody did well, this did better. It suited the artist better, it had a more unique visual look, it was more honest about the subject etc. Whilst we’re on the subject, how in the blue holy hell fuck did Bohemian Rhapsody win “best editing”. Look at it! That scene’s got so many cuts it’s being used to execute people in China. The Bohemian Rhapsody finale was about the performance, the finale of this was more focused on the personal. You learn a lot more about Elton John through this than you ever did about Mercury in the Bo-Ho. Also, it reminded me of how many great songs Elton John has done.

Toy Story 4

I can’t think of another franchise which has maintained this high level of quality four movies in. By this point of a franchise, the quality has got so bad that the next movie is a soft reboot. This continues the high benchmark that the first three have set. I’ve been nervous about the quality of these films every single time I’ve been to watch one, and every time I’ve been shown to be a fool (I’m used to that though). Normally Toy Story films wait until near the end to hit you with emotions, this goes the Up method of teabagging you with its emotional balls right off the bat.

Us

Films like this just highlight how stupid the Academy are for ignoring horror films so much. This film is a visual and thematic masterpiece. Is it as good as Get Out? It’s hard to tell, this had higher expectations thrust upon it because of Get Out, and the fact that it managed to not be hated despite that points to how strong a film this is.

Winner

Knives Out

I think this was the last film I saw of the year, and it seemed like 2019 saved the best for last. Warning, you will see a lot of mentions for this film in this blog. So if you didn’t like it, prepare for a lecture on why whilst opinions are subjective and as such can’t be right or wrong, yours is still wrong. A near perfect film that I REALLY struggled to find negatives with. Every so often I remember a moment from this film and think ‘damn that was impressive”

2019 In Film Day 6: The Amazeballs

Avengers: Endgame

I wasn’t going to put this in this one originally. It’s so deeply flawed, not within the film itself, but in terms of what it closes off. It basically means so many things I was excited for will now never happen; Civil War meaning anything, a villain taking advantage of the chaos of half the universe disappearing to motivate himself, or even one that’s motivated by his family disappearing, blaming the Avengers for not doing enough to stop him. None of that will happen now. I decided to put it here because it’s a three-hour film that I watched on a flight and didn’t feel the urge to skip any of it.

Original review here

+The sheer sense of scale.

-What it closes off. Also the “big emotional moment” was incredibly obvious.

Childs Play

Damn this was entertaining. This had a lot working against it, not only was it a remake (I say “was”, still is, not as though it’s status as a remake has changed), it’s a remake of a film franchise which I’m very familiar with and kind of love. It was made without the consent of the original creators, whilst the franchise is still going strong (unlike Nightmare On Elm Street etc, where it’s pretty safe to say the original franchise is dead). If this had major flaws, trust me I would have picked up on them and used them as a stick to beat the bloated corpse of a terrible movie with. But it was hard to think of any major flaws with this movie. The biggest one isn’t even a dealbreaker for me; it’s just that it feels a little restrained, like it could go further. I’ve read some reviews which talk about the teenage characters being annoying; personally, I found them funny. They weren’t fully realised people, but then again teenagers aren’t. Their decisions made sense considering their age and personalities. So yeah I enjoyed this film. I found it a worthy addition to the name and a good way to kick-off a new franchise (which this is so obviously trying to do)

Original review here

+Mark Hamill’s performance.

-The scene in the toy store near the end REALLY needs to be more brutal and more chaotic. Some scenes feel slightly neutered, and none more so than this.

Fighting With My Family

Personal bias; I loved this movie. I found it heartwarming with great performances and engaging characters. Yes it takes A LOT of, shall we say, “creative liberties” with the truth but I feel it has to. Professional Wrestling is a really weird industry at the best of times, once you get into “yeah she was in the developmental company which gets higher review ratings than the main show, but MUCH lower ratings, so whilst she was never likely to lose her job, her promotion to the main roster was still a bit of a surprise”. This film would not work if it wasn’t for Florence Pugh. She doesn’t do a great impression of who she plays, but she embodies the character so perfectly that it’s hard to unsee her as who she’s supposed to be. Essentially she’s not doing a good impression of her, she’s doing an impression of what your memory thinks of her. Subtle difference but very important.

Original review here

+So darn lovely at times.

-The woman it’s based on was forced to retire before this movie came out and the movie never mentions it, just bad timing.

Happy Death Day 2 U

This is not as tight as the first one, not by a long shot. It’s still a great movie though. Yes the sci-fi based plot isn’t as good as the more straight-up horror of the first one, but there’s just something so endearing about this film. A lot of if is down to the performances of the two leads; Jessica Roth and Israel Broussard. Not only do they have great chemistry but they are great individually too. There’s a scene where Jessica Roths character is in an alternate universe and realises her mother is alive in this one, I defy anybody to watch it and not feel for her. Similarly when she’s trying to decide whether to go back to a universe without her parent in it, or to stay in one with a parent who has memories of things she doesn’t. It’s a compelling character piece and would be ideal for a really depressing short film.

Original review here

+The montage editing is superb. Plus it feels like a second part of the first movie, rather than a sequel. It doesn’t feel tacked on, it slots in perfectly.

-Not quite as good as the first one, and the ending feels a bit cruel

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum

This film features Keanu Reeves riding a horse in a city and killing people. Of course, I’m going to love this. I will admit this is not as good as the first two; it goes on a little bit too long and the sequel-hook is a little bit too obvious. Quite a few scenes really drag to the point where if the cinematography wasn’t as impressive as it is you’d be bored. This rating all depends on the next move though. If the next film is poor then this will be known as the film where the cracks started showing. I have faith that the next film will still be good though, so it stays here, for now.

Original review here

+The world building is immense.

-A bit too long at times.

Knives Out

Was genuinely surprised by this, which is a bit weird as it had really good reviews and people seemed to love it. I guess I just thought that it would be one of those films that I would just not “get”. But yeah I loved this. I have a soft spot for ensemble cast films, mainly because they’re really hard to do without having some characters seeming underwritten. Now that I think of it though, that’s usually a bigger issue with multi-story films (such as Men, Women And Children) than ensemble films. I’m also a sucker for mystery films, I like it when they’re so well written that when the reveal happens you feel like an idiot for not getting it earlier because in retrospect it was obvious but you didn’t realise at the time. This gets it out of the way by revealing the “killer” very early on, but then giving you another mystery to solve, albeit one which isn’t as unobvious as it thinks it is.

Original review here

+The script, it’s that damn good

-Not quite as slick as it could be.

Late Night

I have a lot of personal love for this film. I loved the story being told, the characters, and how funny it was. It had a real warmth to it, but not a nice warmth that you feel envelop you like a hug, this was a warmth that stings. The satire is razor-sharp and accurate, to the point where it’s kind of depressing as the points they’re making are ones we should be past as a society by now. The main draw is the chemistry the two leads have; the role was allegedly written specifically for Emma Thompson by the other lead (Mindy Kaling) and you can tell this is kind of a dream project for Kaling. When I criticise films I often say “I can’t imagine someone fighting and dreaming to write this script”. With this I can. It feels like a script that Kaling NEEDED to get out of her.

Original review here

+So damn relevant

-Doesn’t seem to make the most of opportunities to make it seem like it exists in this world. There are a lot of chances to have cameos but it doesn’t take them.

Rocketman

Why was this not a bigger film? The fact that this film got less Oscar nominations than Bohemian Rhapsody is a travesty. Everything Bohemian Rhapsody did well, this did a lot better. The performances, the directing, the story, all of it was better; plus it didn’t tell lies about a real persons death to sell the narrative. Some people didn’t like that the film occasionally resembled a musical, I thought that was a perfect way to do it though. This is Elton John, you can’t do a standard film for someone like him, it has to be something extravagant and extra. Let’s be honest, does Bohemian Rhapsody really tell us ANYTHING about who Queen were as a band? This film tells you who Elton John is through the style, and that’s brilliant. It also shows you how many brilliant songs he’s done in his life.

Original review here

+Incredibly honest about his flaws.

-Some of the supporting characters seem a little underwritten.

Shazzam

So damn warm. The second best DCU film (Wonder Woman is top in case you were wondering) I’ve seen. I realise this film is heavily flawed; the pace is slow at the start, there are sections where the villain is missing, and it doesn’t have a unique visual style. It didn’t matter to me though. It was so enjoyable it allowed me to ignore the multiple flaws. I realise now that feeling matters a lot to me in films. If it gives my cynical self that feeling of magic it increases the chance of me loving it. If when I watch it I’m genuinely transported outside of myself. This does that perfectly.

Original review here

+Zachary Levi NAILS the performance perfectly.

-Needs a distinct visual style to truely be great.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

OMG, Mysterio turned out to be the bad guy? Who would have guessed? Well, everybody, let’s face it. It still worked though. We knew he’d be bad, but the way they did it was brilliant (albeit the worry that both of the Spider-Man villains seem to hate Iron Man more than they hate Peter Parker won’t go away). Watched this again recently and it still holds up. It’s probably one of the most visually interesting earth-based MCU films, some of the hallucination sequences are stunning to watch, incredibly inventive. You do have to question the logic of having such an obvious sequel hook when you’re not 100% certain you’re going to retain the rights to the character though.

Original review here

+So funny.

-Can we please have a Spider-man villain who’s motivation isn’t Tony Stark?

Toy Story 4

I had doubts about this, how can you make this film work after the almost perfect ending of the third one? Well, you do it like this. The Toy Story franchise has a great approach to sequels. You never think they’re essential until you watch them and then you wonder how the franchise coped without them. The new characters work well too, Tony Hale, in particular, gives a wonderful performance full of just enough depth and comedic background to make a suicidal spork seem like it fits into the universe.

Original review here

+It looks GLORIOUS

-Wait, so sporks are sentient now? Great, I now have to feel guilty about how I treat cutlery. Thanks.

Us

Expectations were high for this after the success of Get Out. Personally, I think this met them. The story is great, with smart social commentary and absolute genius use of foreshadowing meaning you don’t fully get it until the second viewing, when you can watch it and appreciate all the genius moments in it. The performances are great two, almost everyone plays two distinct characters in it, yet I think even without the costumes you’d be able to understand who is who due to how the actors distinguish each character through facial expressions and how they carry themselves. Best horror I saw all year, by a long shot.

Original review here

+The sense of unease over the entire thing so that even something as simple as a family walking on a beach is somehow unsettling.

-Not quite as well written as Get Out.

Wild Rose

Another film that I feel was robbed from an Oscar nomination it deserved; specifically, best original song. Bear in mind that’s coming from somebody who doesn’t like country music. But the music in this is so well done, so full of emotion that it doesn’t matter to me. It’s helped by the central performance. Jesse Buckley plays the role with such iron vulnerability that it’s hard to feel anything but joy for her when things start to go well for her.

Original review here

+The heart to it.

-Occasionally it seems like things only happen because the story needs it to.

2019 In Film Day 5: The Very Good

Now we get into the “seriously?” stage. The one where people wonder how I can be so petty to put a film in this category just for something inconsequential. Truth is, there could be an argument for any one of these being in the next blog (the amazeballs). But this is the most personal, the ones which I really really liked, but for whatever reason, just didn’t make me love them. For most of these, in fact, it will be really hard for me to find negatives about them, to the point where I’m going to come off as a really picky mother-fucker. Some of these films are BEAUTIFUL, and there’s at least one I’m genuinely surprised didn’t get more Academy Award nominations.

Ad Astra

Oddly enough, this film is timeless. Yes, it’s about space, but really the story it’s telling could have been written hundreds of years ago. It’s a story about exploration and isolation. Replace “space” with “Ocean” and “spaceship” with “regular water-based ship with cannons and things” then this story would still work. It came at just the right time for me, I had just seen *shudders* Wolf and needed something to reaffirm my faith in cinema. This was perfect for that, a fantastic CINEMA film. Sadly you don’t seem to get as many of them any more, films where you really gain something by watching it at the cinema (and to those who say “Endgame”, f*ck off, you’re wrong. I watched that on a plane and didn’t lose anything from the movie, unlike the time I tried to watch A Quiet Place on a plane and it just did not work). How this didn’t get nominated for more Oscar’s is a genuine mystery to me.

Original review here

+The sense of scale is awe-inspiring

-Lacks emotion at times.

Beautiful Boy

I kind of want to put this in its own section. Because it was better than good, but it wasn’t as good as Ben Is Back, which wasn’t good enough to be awesome. It’s a shame that this film came out the same year as Ben Is Back to be honest, as it means comparisons will be made between the two. And when you do that then this film can’t compare. It’s a shame as this film is still really good on its own merits. The central performances are believable, and it looks great. It’s a great depiction of the effect addiction can have on families.

Original review here

+Breaks your heart at times

-Everything it does well, another film does better.

Ben Is Back

So damn good. In the last few years I’ve come to really love the work of Julia Roberts. Her work in this is superb, the emotional frailty is there to see, but you still recognise her as a badass. This film does a great job of humanising addiction and showing us why it happens. Importantly it’s the first film in a long time which talks about the role of the medical profession in causing addictions.

Original review here

+Will break your heart

-I appreciated it more than I loved it.

Blinded By The Light

A film which had a genuine love for Springsteen. This film showed the power of music, just how it can affect peoples lives. Music changes everything, and this film shows just how. At times it was genuinely heartwarming. So what stops it being awesome? There are quite a few moments which seem pointless, particularly the opening. There are also moments where you get the feeling the film only had the budget for a select few Springsteen songs so there’s quite a bit of repetition. It’s a shame as with a few tweaks this could have been great.

Original review here

+The general feeling it gives you.

-Viveik Kalra’s performance is occasionally flat.

Captain Marvel

This film is not just good, it’s also incredibly important. When I originally reviewed it I said:

I did genuinely love this movie and it’s likely to be one of my favourites of the year.

I was wrong. Now I’ve had time away from it the flaws have become more apparent. The big one is the complete lack of narrative tension. We know she survives this movie, so we always knew she’d be fine. The CGI was ropey at times, and the soundtrack was just not good (one scene, in particular, was made a lot worse by the choice of music). On the plus side, it was a lot of fun, and Brie Larson is pretty much perfect in it.

Original review here

+A great popcorn movie

-The turn is super obvious

Good Boys

Very, very funny. It’s marked down because of one scene which totally took me out of the film. Sat there watching it and thought “they should definitely be dead”. It’s also excruciating to watch, but in a good way. It reminds you of how much of a dick you were when you were younger. If, by the way, you’re reading this and thinking “I wasn’t a dick when I was growing up” then that means you’re still a dick now, and just haven’t realised it. Sorry, those are the rules.

Original review here

+It has a refreshingly suitable attitude to women. The women in this film aren’t just props, they’re fully developed characters. That’s depressingly rare in this genre.

-The one scene.

Joker

Yeah, that’s right, I’m putting it in this blog, not the amazing one, come fight me. Actually please don’t, I have the muscle mass of a damp tea bag. The more distance I have from this the less I like it. I don’t think it would have the audience it does if it wasn’t for the batman connection, but those parts are the weakest of the film. Yes, Phoenix is amazing as the lead, but the rest of the cast are sorely underused to the point where it seems like a waste of a lot of good talent. It’s also incredibly unsubtle and derivative to the point where it doesn’t so much wear its influences on its sleeves, but fashion an entire suit out of them. It in no way deserved all the academy awards it was nominated for, I don’t get how anyone can genuinely say the costume design for this was better than Rocketman for instance. This film reminds me of Fight Club, in that a lot of the audience is made up of angry white men, and if you mention anything bad about this film they do not take it well at all. Seriously, mention to someone that you don’t like Fight Club and prepare for a lecture on how you’re wrong and it’s the best film of all time you’re just too stupid to understand it, it’s the same with this. And I don’t want to be part of a fandom filled with that mention assholes.

Original review here

+Phoenix is amazing.

-Tremendously overrated.

Jumanji: The Next Level

Actually really enjoyed this movie. The cast improved upon their performances from the first one. It’s exactly the same as the second one, but bigger. The stakes are higher, there are more characters, it’s all a very natural progression from the previous one. Plus it makes me really excited to see what’s next, so it has to be deemed a success. The downside? I don’t think I’m going to purchase it on DVD until after the next one has come out.

Original review here

+So funny.

-A bit obvious in places.

Long Shot

I really enjoyed this film. It’s incredibly smart and funny, and it’s just what’s needed right now. It has a lot to say about gender in a supposed “post-feminism” world. It does a great job of showing how “but we’re all equal now” is bullshit. It helps that it’s REALLY funny. On the downside it is a bit long, the opening especially feels like it drags.

Original review here

+Incredibly important.

-Very predictable. You’ll be able to guess the whole story by the trailer.

The Lego Movie: Part 2

Not as good as the first one, but I feel part of that might be due to expectations. Nobody had any expectations of the first one being any good, so it’s thought of as being better than it really is (don’t get me wrong, it is still REALLY good). This one had the expectations of that already there, plus of The Lego Batman movie (which I personally love). I would consider this better than the first film if it wasn’t for the opening. The first half of the film is incredibly dull. The second half is amazing though, full of emotion and incredible depth. It’s the first film I’ve seen which seems to realise that being overly serious is not the same as being adult. Not enough films will outright state that that is just as juvenile.

Original review here

+The message is incredibly important, and one I haven’t seen in a film before. It’s essentially “it’s okay to enjoy things. Being happy is valid”

-The first half doesn’t really work

Zombieland: Double Tap

If you liked the first film, you’ll love this. That’s all there is to it really. The pacing is a little off and one of the sub-plots really feels like it drags the film down. One of them has a pacifist character who is really underdeveloped and we’re not really sure how he’s survived that long, could have been interesting to find out. On a plus side; the chemistry is still there between the leads, and it’s a lot of fun to watch.

Original review here

+Bill Murray’s ending cameo is perfect

-Not necessary. 

2019 In Film Day 4: The Good

Okay, stay with me here because this is where it gets complicated. In this one I’ll be talking about films, that (get this), I think, are good. I tried to subtly imply that with the title but I wasn’t sure whether I was too subtle or not. So, here goes.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

This film is so good it almost makes up for [insert terrible Melissa McCarthy film, and let’s face it, there’s a fucking lot of them). This is a good one to start this blog off with actually, and not just because it’s alphabetically the first in the list. This one has a definitive thing which stops it being anything better than “good” in my eyes. It has almost zero narrative suspense. You better get used to that concept because it’s going to come back in a big f*cking way later on in this blog. The trailer showed her being put on trial for her crimes, but the entire film is seeing the scheme unfold, the trial isn’t until near the very end. So what we’re doing is watching people hatch a plan that we as an audience know doesn’t work. It’s not just that for me. The music and visual style were weird. They were good but they make it hard to place it in the time frame. They make it seem as though it happened a lot earlier than it did. The film is set in 1991 but the colour scheme used in the film, and the soundtrack, make it seem like it’s set from the 1960’s or earlier. So when you do get something 90’s happening, it can be somewhat jarring. I recognise that’s just a personal opinion, but this entire blog is a personal opinion, so meh.

Original review here

+Richard E Grant, he’s just great.

-Won’t stick with you.

Greta

I think I may need to watch this film again to fully come to terms with it. It’s a deeply flawed film, but it is incredibly fascinating to watch. Part of that is the performances, but also the pacing is pretty damn good too. It’s slow, but it is constantly moving forward. So the story is constantly going, albeit much slower than you may be used to. It also doesn’t treat the audience like they’re stupid, it’s a much more fulfilling film if you notice little details and remember certain situations repeating themselves. It just doesn’t, for some particular reason, stand out as a film that I have a great personal love for. I appreciate it more than I liked it, but I did appreciate it a lot.

Original review here

+The cookie-cutter scene. A great moment to hear the entire audience wince at once.

-Occasionally struggles to hold the attention of the audience.

Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans

I thought I loved this film, but it’s been out on DVD for a few weeks now and I have no desire to go out and buy it immediately, so I guess I didn’t. It was funny enough, but I guess it was just a little bit too childish for my tastes. I know, a children’s film was childish, how dare it? If I was younger I’d probably have liked it enough to annoy my parents by constantly watching it. This is never more evident than during one of the songs which completely brings the film to a halt and goes on too long. It’s weird as there are other moments where it seems like the filmmakers have a firm eye on the adults in the audience, references to Monty Python, Jay-Z etc you can argue the kids might understand. But does anybody really think that there are any kids who would understand a reference to the 1970’s television show I, Claudius?

Original review here

+Battle Of Watling Street song. It advances the narrative, is funny, and incredibly catchy.

-The Nero song is kind of cringy

IT: Chapter Two

The further I distance myself from this film, the less I enjoy it as the faults become obvious. The flashbacks contain zero dramatic tension in them as you know the characters are not going to die. It’s also extremely unsatisfying in terms of expanding the lore. It feels like there’s a lot of stuff left to say, but not in an exciting way, but in a way that the whole thing feels unfinished. The way the film is structured and the lore is revealed makes it seem like there’s a third one, but there’s not, so it’s just a bit strange. It’s also way too fucking long. If you include trailers and traffic time you were looking at almost a 4-hour commitment, and that’s just too much.

Original review here

+Bill Hader is amazeballs

-It drags like a 1-legged drunk hyena

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu

This film is weird, in a good way, mostly. The tonal shifts are a bit jarring though. It goes from incredibly serious to Ryan Reynolds in a fucking instant. The humour too is slightly inconsistent, ranging from simple slapstick and dick jokes, then suddenly you get a joke about torturing someone for information by pouring petrol on them and setting them ablaze. So strange, yet kind of wonderful.

Original review here

+The visual world-building is incredible. It all feels real.

-Some of the human characters are so flat they’re almost 2-dimensional

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

I expected this to be a bit lighter than it was. I basically expected something similar to Goosebumps. This feels more like the next natural progression from those films. So a kid would watch goosebumps, then this, then start killing everybody as that’s what horror films cause people to do, obviously. After watching the Nightmare On Elm Street series I went through a phase of haunting people’s dreams and killing them in increasingly outlandish ways. That stopped when I watched the Saw movies and just became awful. So, this film. It’s not original, but it is a very good watch. It has some great body horror moments in. Actually, that’s a point I haven’t mentioned, the variety of scares in this. It has a somewhat scattergun approach to them so if there’s not one fear that works there’s another which will. It’s a risky approach but it’s really effective in this.

Original review here

+The sense of dread never leaves the screen.

-A bit too restrained at times, plus I found one of the characters really annoying.

Stan And Ollie

This was the first film I saw in 2019. So the film got off on a pretty good year. Very heartwarming and emotional. Maybe my opinion of it was somewhat muted by not knowing much about the pair. As such I couldn’t really catch any references, also the film didn’t give much background about the pair, assuming we were familiar with them. Because of this I always felt slightly like I was watching two strangers, as opposed to two characters.

Original review here

+It seems very honest. Fully aware that they have flaws and made mistakes.

-Too slow at times

Stuber

This is very funny, but that’s all it is. It never goes beyond that. If I caught this on netflix I’d love it. But paying full price at the cinema sours it somewhat. This would have been the perfect film for video rental stores. It’s not quite good enough to push either of the leads into superstardom (they are huge, but not like “build a multi-million dollar franchise around them” huge yet), but it is a worthwhile addition to both of their filmographies. I really wish this was better, but it just doesn’t do enough to take it to the next level. Plus there’s one scene which just feels like padding and takes you out completely.

Original review here

+Great chemistry between the leads.

-A few moments take you out of the film and remind you that what you are watching is not real.

The Day Shall Come

It’s funny because it’s true, but it’s also super depressing for the exact same reason. I don’t mind downer endings sometimes, but in this case it just seemed odd. The film had spent 90 minutes punching you in the face and it never gave you that catharsis of a happy ending. I don’t think it was helped by the high standards I have of the creator. His stuff is some of my favourite stuff of all time, so when something is only very good, it seems worse by comparison.

Original review here

+It could inspire people to go fuck shit up.

-The satire is a little unfocused at times.

So that’s it for this one. Don’t worry, I’m finishing with 2019 soon, I realise now I’m stuck more in the past than an Empire fanatic (both British and Imperial/Galactic), and so far from 2020 the films have been good. So you’ve got that to look forward to.

2019 In Film Day 3: The Thoroughly Okay

Films too good to be meh, but not good enough for me to like them.

Alita: Battle Angel

At least it’s unique. The world-building for this is superb, especially in terms of visuals. It’s one of the best-looking films I saw. Plus I like to reward inventiveness in film, so why is this rated so low? I think it comes down to the lack of internal consistency. It features robots beating the hell out of each other, but you don’t know whether the hits are bad or not. Sometimes limbs get sliced off and they just get reattached like nothing happened, yet other times it ends up severely incapacitating them. So you have no idea whether to feel worried for characters until after the fact. It’s really frustrating to watch and means that you can never really lose yourself in the film as you’re constantly second-guessing whether things matter.

Original review here

+Rosa Salzer is perfect in it.

– Forgettable story.

Booksmart

I wanted to like this, I really did. It had a great cast and a lot of people I like enjoyed it. It seemed like the kind of thing I would love. But I just felt slightly underwhelmed by it. I think it is because the characters were slightly meh. The performances were okay (Kaitlyn Deaver, in particular, was perfect) but a lot of it seemed a bit too much like a Will Ferrell movie which couldn’t decide whether it wanted grounded characters or unbelievable ones so settled in a mediocre middle ground.

Original review here

+Very funny in parts

-Frustratingly paced at times

Fisherman’s Friends

Have you seen a heartwarming British film in the last few years? Then you’ve seen this. Yes it’s charming and heartwarming, but you’ve seen it all before. That’s the biggest problem, it brings absolutely nothing new to the screen. Unless this is the first film you’ve ever seen you won’t be surprised by any of it. The music is good (which is handy as the film depends on it) and the performances are fine. It just doesn’t do anything interesting enough to stand out in a very crowded genre.

Original review here

+So gosh darn delightful.

-Predictable

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Hey, this movie exists. I genuinely forgot I saw this film this year, I assumed it came out years ago. But nope, this year. It’s so forgettable, left almost zero impact on me. It’s a good thing I write notes otherwise I’d have no idea what to say. I mean, I still have no idea what to say without repeating myself, but still. The whole thing just feels so unnecessary, like I can’t imagine anybody feeling their life is better because this movie is in it.

Original review here

+It looks BEAUTIFUL

-Completely forgettable

If Beale Street Could Talk

This is a film that just wasn’t for me. I found the narrative frustrating in terms of the pacing. Characters appear and disappear with a frustrating lack of care for the audience. Also, there was WAY too much narration. At times it felt like it was treating the audience with contempt, feeling the need to spell everything out for us. This occasionally comes through in the story as well, things which we are told are then shown again and again and again, just to make sure we get it.

Original review here

+Very important film that is worth seeing

-Kind of dull

So that’s it. I know this was the shortest one, but a few got moved at the last minute during writing when I realised I liked them more than I thought I did.