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.