2010’s In Film Day 7 (2017)

January – A Monster Calls

This month was STRONG. It had this, La La Land, Manchester By The Sea, Young Offenders (which is now a GREAT sitcom on BBC), so yeah it was a pretty good month. Okay, it also had Assassin’s Creed and The Bye Bye Man so it didn’t have everything. I chose this because it was the first film I saw that year, it’s also REALLY depressing. This is not an easy film to watch on an emotional level, one of the few films I’ve seen lately that seeks to emotionally blackmail the watcher. Reminiscent of a mix between Pan’s Labyrinth and a Neil Gaiman book, can be best described as a modern-day fairy tale. Bayona did a fantastic job of directing this, whilst the Liam Neeson tree is telling stories (it’s an odd film) the film switches visual styles so it almost becomes a living watercolour painting, it’s awe-inspiring and genuinely new, never seen anything that was done like this (the closest is when Hermione was telling the stories of the Three Brothers in Harry Potter and the style switched to a weird animated one). The book is beautiful too.

February – A Cure For Wellness

When I saw this at the cinema the ending of this film was met with silence. Not a “well that was shit” silence, more a stunned silence where nobody was sure what to do next. Everyone slowly came to their senses and walked out the screening, feeling like we’d been bonded by trauma. It was a unique experience, and one I loved. I didn’t love the film though, it had the unfortunate double whammy of being too long, and having underdeveloped characters. It is definitely worth a watch though. It’s ugly, but beautifully so. You may not like it, but I don’t think you’ll be able to turn away from it.

March – Logan

One of the few truly mature comic book movies. A lot of film studios (and audiences tbh) mistake “mature” with “violence” and think to make a mature film all you need to do is add tits and guns (or in extreme cases, penis’s and guns).

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Or this, a penis with a gun

This doesn’t do that, it deals with mature themes. It’s like the entire genre has grown up to lead to this moment. And they decided to follow this with Dark Phoenix? Oh hell no. THIS is where it should have ended. It provided a logical closing point to the franchise and gave it an emotional ending. It felt like closure, and that was shown even by something as small as the song that plays over the end credits. They didn’t pick a bombastic rock song, or a current pop song, they chose Johnny Cash’s The Man Comes Around. And it works. Comic book movies will never reach some of the heights this film hit again.

April – The Promise

I was going to talk about Table 19, because nobody talks about that film and it’s fucking great. Instead, I went with this, not so much because of the film, but the reaction to it. It’s a 2-hour film about the Armenian Genocide which is really good (the film, the film is good, not the genocide). But it seemed to annoy a certain type of people. By certain type, I mean genocide deniers, a.k.a; dickheads. This is one of those “debates” where there’s only a debate because one side refuses to admit they’re wrong, see also; drink driving (yes, there are people who think drink driving should be legal, at least one of which is a UKIP MP), vaccines, global warming, and the holocaust. The sides are basically this; the people who committed the genocide vs. everybody else. Well I say “everybody else”, America still refuses to officially call it one as they don’t want to upset Turkey (also their autocorrect probably changes Armenian Genocide to American Genocide and it makes them feel guilty when they think about the Native Americans, and the slave trade). This film was flooded with fake reviews condemning it, most of which came out before the film was released, so you know they were genuine. Sadly this film was a box office bomb, so it could be argued that the wrong side one.

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I’ll just post this picture again for no reason

May – Sleepless

I’ve seen quite a few bad films at the cinema, but rarely are they as f*cking tedious as this was. You’d think a 90-minute action film set in Las Vegas would be exciting, you’d be wrong. The only reason certain things happen is because characters are idiots, for example at one point the villain points a loaded gun at the main character, now instead of shooting him, he takes a few steps backwards and gets run over a van (which he somehow didn’t hear coming, in an empty parking lot, the emptiness of which I have a problem with also). I’ve seen defences of this say “yeah but as long as you don’t think too hard about it it works. It’s just dumb fun”. And they’re half right, it’s dumb. It’s not nitpicking to point out that someone who has been stabbed (and for whom the wound continues bleeding for 4 hours) should be weakened by that. But nope, the only indication of it is that he occasionally stops and goes “ah”. A stab wound has the same effect as an ice cream headache. It’s a shame as the cast do their job well, it’s just the script is kinda dumb. There are some odd choices when it comes to directing too. You know that “shaky cam fight scene” that the Bourne movies use? They do that here, only they do it for EVERYTHING in the fight. Someone walks away after the fight; Shaky Bourne Camera, someone gets their phone out to phone someone: Shaky Bourne Camera. It also ends with the most obvious sequel hook in a long time. This film somehow ended up with a B rating from audiences, which just goes to show you can’t trust the general public.

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Again, posted without context.

June – Gifted

A lot less Nicholas-Sparks than I thought it would be. Bit formulaic but it plays to the formula very well. Chris Evans is very good in it, but is overshadowed by Mckenna Grace, who is very very good, probably one of the best performances this year. Is it just me or are child actors getting better? Manages to do a performance which is funny, moving, and hits all the right spots in terms of body language and facial acting. Great performance. Jenny Slate was also REALLY good in it, but wasn’t in it as much as she should have been. I mentioned this, and not, say, Wonder Woman for this month because of how nobody knows it. And for when Mckenna Grace officially becomes one of the best actresses of our generation it will make it easier for me to find this blog and be like “I fucking told you”.

July – The Big Sick

Incredibly funny, and with the right amount of heart. You’d need to be made of stone not to feel touched by this film. I’ve seen horrors where a few people have sat there not flinching or jumping in fright, I’ve seen spectacle films where people are bored, and I’ve seen comedies where nobody is laughing. Everybody in the screen I was at reacted to this. They laughed at every joke (to the point where the laughter in the room was louder than the laughter on screen, in a scene set at a comedy club), people “awww’ed” at the right parts, it couldn’t have been more perfect if the film studio paid them to react like that. The characters are so well-written as well, every character seems fully fleshed out. They seem like they exist outside of the film. I highly recommend everybody watch this film, it’s still one of my favourites.

August – Atomic Blonde

Essentially a companion piece to John Wick. It looks superb and the music is brilliant. Had one of my favourite soundtracks in a long time And there’s one scene which everyone has to see; a single-shot fight scene that lasts about 15 minutes, one of (in fact probably the) best fight scene I’ve seen all year. It doesn’t cut away before the impact like most do, it’s mostly silent, no music so you hear every hit, and the fight has an effect on people, you can see them get gradually more exhausted as the fight goes on. It’s just so damn impressive and I want more.

September – Kingsman: The Golden Circle

It’s pretty much the first film again, but I liked the first one so it doesn’t matter. It is a very good film, and the use of Elton John is perfect. It’s just missing that something to make it different. Maybe it’s the underutilization of some of the new cast, maybe it’s the way fan favourite characters are disposed of too easily. Or maybe it’s that the villain kind of has a really good point when she points out sugar is more deadly than a lot of drugs. I was going to put “Almost Heaven” for this month, and then just sing “Take Me Home Country Roads” instead of typing anything. That would have made more sense as a video blog though.

October – Happy Death Day

Yeah I had no idea whether to go for this or The Death Of Stalin. Both are REALLY good but for different reasons. Despite not being a horror, Death Of Stalin is more horrifying. But this? This has something about it. The script is incredibly clever and brilliant, plus it’s helped by Jessica Rothe’s performance. She adds JUST the right amount of emotion needed for the role. This is probably one of my favourite horror movies of all time, I have so much love for it.

November – Murder On The Orient Express

Because fuck you this is a great movie. I knew the murderer going in and still highly enjoyed it. There was building work going on at the cinema when I saw it so every few minutes you could hear the faint sound of hammering (and not the sexy kind) going on, and I still enjoyed it. It’s so well done and I am genuinely excited for the sequel.

December – Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

I HAD to talk about this. Not because it’s good (but it is), but because it’s the only film released that month that I’ve actually seen. I was busy with stupid stuff like working two jobs so I didn’t get time to do really important things, like go to the cinema. It’s a shame, and is a regret that will forever live with me. The world has punished me for missing The Greatest Showman by making me listen to songs from it EVERYWHERE I go lately, so I believe my debt has been paid.

Trust me, SO MUCH has been missed from this blog: Baby Driver, Blade Runner, Colossal, Lego Batman, AND HOW COULD I NOT MENTION GET OUT! WTF Lee?

2017 In Film: Part 4 (The Good)

The penultimate round-up blog. In here I’m putting, get this, films, which, are, good. I know, shocking, right? I bet you never guessed that from the title. My definition of good but not great for purposes of these is this: would I consider buying if they were on sale?

A Cure For Wellness

A very very good film. But not a very nice one. As you can read here I really liked it, but it made me want to self-harm. It’s basically this year’s Nocturnal Creatures, but not quite as great. I do wish Celia Imrie was in it more, she was in the trailer but her role in the film was really nothing more than an extended cameo. Mia Goth was superb however, as was Dane DeHaan (which reminds me, I really need to see Chronicle, I mean, I’ve had it on DVD for months but still haven’t got round to it.

+Doesn’t shy away from showing terrible things. There’s a scene where someone drills into a tooth and you see EVERYTHING. Just thinking about it sets my teeth on edge.

-A bit too slow in parts. Could do with being made slightly tighter.

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“Why don’t we do the poster for Slither, but sexy?” “Genius! More cocaine”

Gifted

A lot less Nicholas-Sparks than I thought it would be. Bit formulaic but it plays to the formula very well. Chris Evans is very good in it, but is overshadowed by Mckenna Grace, who is very very good, probably one of the best performances this year. Is it just me or are child actors getting better? Manages to do a performance which is funny, moving, and hits all the right spots in terms of body language and facial acting. Great performance. Jenny Slate was also REALLY good in it, but wasn’t in it as much as she should have been.

+Genuinely heartwarming.

-A little saccharine in parts.

Hidden Figures

It was good, I wouldn’t call it “Oscar Worthy”. The main trouble with these sorts of stories is it’s impossible to have a good villain. The key to a good villain comes in two separate flavours:

  1. The “nobody knows anything about him” (usually used in horror films)
  2. The “I can see his point, but he’s very very wrong”.

Because these films are character pieces you can’t have the villains be the first one, so you need the second one. But they never work in these films for one simple reason; there’s no logical defence of racism. There’s no way of seeing their point. I had similar problems with Selma too, the villains are so clearly wrong that they don’t make compelling characters. Now I know this is what it was actually like at the time, and it is a truly fascinating story, but it does mean as a cinema experience it never really stays with you. So really my problem isn’t with the film, it’s with reality not conforming to my expectations, so maybe the problem is me.

+An important story that needs to be told and seen.

-One watch may be enough, you’re highly unlikely to need to see it again.

Jumanji

Holy hell this was a lot of fun. I think I actually might prefer it to the original. Got some of the loudest and most consistent laughs from other people in the audience out of any film I’ve seen.

+The performances. All the main characters are basically avatars of other characters. So they have to be played the same way the original characters are (think the scene in Harry Potter where Hermione pretends to be Bellatrix, like that, throughout the entire film). Not the easiest thing to do, but they all do it really well. Jack Black in particular makes a fantastic teenage girl, and Karen Gillians “no idea how to flirt” scene was hilarious.

-The entire film you can’t escape the feeling that you miss Robin Williams.

Kingsman

Pretty much the first one again, but I liked the first one. Funny, violent, and great music throughout.

+Mark Strong’s final scene is brilliant. The new characters slot into the mythos easily.

-Too long, too unfocused, and Colin Firth’s resurrection was not handled that well.

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La La Land

I liked it, but I didn’t love it, and I feel it wanted me to love it. It looked fantastic, and the soundtrack was good, it just left me feeling nothing. Probably wasn’t helped by the fact that I felt Ryan Gosling’s character was a bit of a dick and the romance made zero sense. Its biggest flaw I feel is its dependence on music, if you took away the songs you’re left with a fairly average story. Whilst the songs were good, they all sounded a bit too familiar, every song sounded like another one, so when you listen to the soundtrack you just think “what song does this remind me of?”, “wait, this has same tune as the song from The Muppets sequel”, and “Seriously, what is this one? I think it’s Amanda Palmer but I’m not sure”. It was a bit like having sex with a singing nazi. It looked good, sounded good, but ultimately left you feeling rather hollow.

+Music which seems like it’s instantly recognisable and you’ll hum for days.

-Kind of a bland story.

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Life

Pretty darn good sci-fi. You watch it and think “you know what would be awesome? If x happens”, and then it does happen, or something better happens. Was worried when I saw the trailer that it would be another cliche “parasitic alien takes over people”, but nope, this is an alien beating people using pure brute strength. And the ending? So harsh, absolutely perfect for the genre. Definitely need to see it again, if only to see whether the opening scene was one shot or whether it just had minimal cuts.

+Pretty brave decisions made in the script.

-Stands very much in the shadow of those that have gone before it.

Manchester By The Sea

A lot has been said about the performances of this film, I feel enough hasn’t been said about how good the script is. It’s so good that the dialogue doesn’t feel written, it was like they just filmed people talking naturally. It was also the lack of words that was masterful, there were moments where most films would have had characters deliver impassioned monologues, the kind of monologues which sum up their characters and the film, monologues which are so masterfully written people will quote them for years. This film doesn’t have monologues in that moment, it condenses those moments down to a single line. But you understand everything in that sentence, you feel the weight of that sentence, how crushing it is and how much is held within it. Someone this year said “if you’re depressed, La La Land will cheer you up, but Manchester By The Sea will make you feel better”. That pretty much sums it up.

+So bleak. So, so bleak.

-Revelations about some of the cast members make it hard to watch.

Mindhorn

Disappointed I didn’t get a chance to see this at cinema. Ah well, have the DVD so all is good. Incredibly British and wonderful. Exactly what you’d expect from someone who was in The Mighty Boosh.

+Julian Barrett is having a hell of a lot of fun here. Some great cameos too.

-Doesn’t quite have enough substance to be truly great.

Murder On The Orient Express

I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. The biggest surprise is that it’s not Ewan McGregor as the lead role, a fact I didn’t find out until about a week after I saw the film. When I say “enjoyed this more than I thought” I don’t mean I thought it would be a terrible film. I mean it’s a mystery film, so to enjoy it surely you have to compelled to try to figure it out? Yet all I know about the original novel is how it ends (I have no idea how I know this, and only this). So would I be able to enjoy it despite knowing the ending? Also, the trailers made it look like Johnny Depp was in full Mortdecai mode. Hands up who saw that film. Now, keep your hands up if you enjoyed it. Right *loads shotgun*

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Et tu, bruti? (yes, in this scenario the cat is called Bruti, well, was until I shot it for liking Mortdecai)

Yet despite that (and the negative reviews) I thoroughly enjoyed this. A hell of a fun watch.

+Great ensemble cast.

-Some of the exterior shots look a little ropey.

Patti Cake$

A lot better than I thought it would be. Has both a great and not great soundtrack. I mean, the songs are fantastic, but the music/story integration could be done better. You don’t really get the feeling that the film is influencing the music, or the other way round, they seem kind of independent from each other. Side note, I think this is the only film I’ve seen this year which has had absolutely nobody in it who I know from another film.

+The closing scene when she’s doing her final song.

-Some of which were in the trailer, giving it away.

Prevenge

Without a doubt the best film about a homicidal fetus you’re ever going to see. I do love Alice Lowe, she makes amazing stuff. First Sightseers now this, she’s becoming Britains go-to female film-maker for smart, original dark comedies. She really needs to do a Black Mirror episode, and more films, and more television. Basically she needs to forgo sleep and work forever, creating more content for me to watch.

+The fact that Alice Lowe made this in two weeks whilst pregnant.

-If someone doesn’t like this style of film, this isn’t going to be the one that changes their mind.

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The Boss Baby

Better than the abysmal trailers would make you think it is. Some genuine laugh out loud moments. Putting it here is a little generous I know, but I’m not the audience for this, kids are, and kids love it.

+Genuinely funny in a lot of parts.

-Great for a kids movie, only ok for a movie.

The Hippopotamus

Very Stephen Fry. In both a good and a bad way. Although it has to be said that “now will you all kindly fuck off?” is a great closing line

+Very funny, Roger Allam is terrific.

-Won’t stick with you.

The Promise

A 2 hour film about the Armenian genocide, no, wait, come back, it’s actually REALLY good. Brutal without being exploitative, which is the risk you take when doing a film like this. If you don’t do it right it can come off like you’re exploiting the reality for the sake of drama, you have to stay grounded enough, and honest enough, for the film to work. It also REALLY annoyed a certain group of people, who flooded IMDB with negative reviews of it, calling it propaganda and lies without a hint of truth, saying that the genocide never happed. Most of these “reviews” were posted before the film was even released, so you know they’re definitely trustworthy. Oscar Isaac is REALLY good in this, by the way, believable throughout, but special mention has to go to Marwan Kenzari, who plays his character with such conviction, and does such wonderful facial work throughout that it’s one of the most genuine performances of the year. I would highly recommend seeing this, and not just because it annoys genocide deniers (which is always fun).

+A story that needs to be told, and luckily is told very well.

-Occasionally shys away from the brutality that is needed.

The Ritual

This film did something I will forever love it for; it put most the bits from the trailer in the opening half. I liked this as it meant you weren’t thinking “ok, what from the trailer haven’t I seen yet?”. Chilling, well told and well performed. Book is now on my “to-read” list.

+Very scary in parts. Great story too, you’re never fully sure where it’s going.

-Comes so close to being great, but stops just short.

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The Young Offenders

Kind of charming, rather funny. Has a scene where a disabled drug dealer shoots someone with a nail gun. Seems like a tv show, which as of next year it will be, and I can’t wait.

+Incredibly funny. And having someone lose a shitload of drugs because they have a hole in their bag was very funny.

-Never really seems like a movie, more like a television show.

Their Finest

Have you seen Suicide Squad? You know that bit near the end where the fire guy goes “we’re family”, and the audience is like “how? You’ve only known each other for like a day”? Basically that happens here, certain things between characters don’t feel earned enough and feel kind of forced. Which is a shame as it’s actually a really good story, with great performances and impressive dialogue.

+Compelling story that will reach you emotionally.

-Unearned character interactions.

Thor: Ragnarok

Wait, what’s this? I didn’t hate this film? I know, I’m shocked too. This is what the first two films should have been, just an all out funfest which relishes its own absurdity.

+”the hammer pulled you off?”

-Some character actions are supposed to be shocking, yet at this point it would be more shocking if they didn’t happen.

Tickling Giants

I remember the first time I saw Mark Thomas on television. It was on a channel 4 show that I recorded for reasons I can’t quite remember. I watched it with this kid I knew from up the road and he said it’s really good as “most comedians just talk about stuff, he’s actually doing stuff”, which he was. He was not just telling jokes, he was going actively protesting and doing things to change the country for the better (the episode in particular was about corporate manslaughter laws). Remarkable story that deserves to be told. At first you think “oh, he has permission finally for satire to works, this is great”. Then the president orders an arrest warrant for him. It’s actually kind of terrifying to see a lot of this, but in a way it’s kind of heartwarming to see some people continue to support them. People still want to work on the show even when the channel it’s on disowns them. Kind of a sad ending but one that’s full of potential for the future. Would actually make a really compelling fiction film.

+A fascinating look into what it’s like under those sort of regimes.

-Might be too difficult for people not into political humour to get into, not really a way in for them.

 

So that’s the end of this blog. Final one will be soon. Exactly how many films did I see this year? Did I actually get round to seeing The Disaster Artist and Tragedy Girls? Find out the answer to these questions, and more (but not a hell of a lot more) next time. Until then, comment with where we went wrong.

2017 In Horror (From Worst To Best)

13. The Bye Bye Man

This was originally going to be a bit higher, but then I realised this has a few advantages over the one in 10, and as such should have been better. It had a higher budget, a wider cinema release, and an actual advertising campaign. Was actually kind of looking forward to this as it seemed intriguing. I thought at the very least it would be an interesting watch. I was wrong. It was boring, pointless, and did the whole “scary thing, scary thing, actually those scary things didn’t actually happen so nothing matters, repeat” thing that I hate about modern horror. Also, it has a stupid name.

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Don’t Watch It (and with that this film wins Easiest Diss Of The Year award)

12. Wish Upon

Have you heard of this film? No, there’s a good reason for that. It’s not great, the story is stupid, the characters are annoying as hell, and it’s not even original. Every idea it has comes from a better film. It also meant that I could no longer put Joey King’s performance in Going In Style in my “end of year notable mentions” list, which I’m sure she’s absolutely devastated about.

11. The Belko Experiment

Not the worst film, but definitely the most disappointing. I expected this to be either fun or smart, it was neither. Didn’t help that it completely ran out of ideas before the trailer ended. If this was 20 minutes long I’d have loved it. It just didn’t have enough ideas to stretch to a feature.

10. Annabelle: Creation

Well it was a LOT better than Annabelle (or as I call it: Annabelle, fuck that movie). But it’s a prequel to an origin story, which makes me uncomfortable. Some very good performances in it, but ultimately rather forgettable (very forgettable actually, I only just realised that for some reason this wasn’t on my list of films seen this year).

9. Rings

Only ahead of Annabelle based on thing: the PHENOMENAL opening scene. Sadly almost negated by the ending being in the trailer.

8. Split

A fun film, albeit kind of disposable and not one I ever really need to see again.

7. Jigsaw

If you bring back a dead franchise, you best do it well. You need it to justify it’s own existence. This doesn’t really do that, it seems like just the next step in a yearly franchise. It doesn’t need to exist, adds nothing new, doesn’t really do much. This does something worse than being bad, it’s pointless.

6. A Cure For Wellness

This film disturbed me. It made me feel very uncomfortable. I liked it, but wouldn’t really say I enjoyed it. Pretty gross, but a fascinating watch. Seriously, this film has a visual style and it just runs with it. I’m not sure whether Dane DeHaan is supposed to be creepy at the end, or whether it’s just because he looks kind of creepy. Either way, it worked, he was great in this. As was Mia Goth. This is one of those films I would definitely recommend you watch at least once. Actually, you don’t really watch this, you experience it.

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“Why don’t we do the poster for Slither, but sexy?” “Genius! More cocaine”

5. Prevenge

As I said in August: “The best horror film about a pregnant woman being controlled by a homicidal fetus that I’ve ever seen.”. 

Still the case. A great British horror quirky slice of cinema. Definitely worth a watch.

4. The Ritual

The book is now on my “to-read” list. Not a nice watch, but a very very good one. Chilling to the bone with a great story and remarkable performances. Probably going to be one of those films that are going to be really hard to find on DVD, I hope not as it would be a great Halloween watch.

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3. Happy Death Day

This was hard to place, as a film it was great, as a horror it was good. This is mainly here to break up the depressing creepiness of this list. Also, it was a new idea that was risky and worked, I like to reward things like that.

2. It

Holy crap! Holy crap this was great. Everyone needs to not just watch this, but to own it and cherish it. This had a lot working against it, mainly because it was a remake. If this failed it would have failed spectacularly. Luckily it succeeded, and it’s easy to see why. Good story, fantastic setting up of the universe, great performances, and most importantly, it’s fucking terrifying.

1. Get Out

This was close. Very, very close. If you asked me to do this again on a different day there’s a good chance the top two on this could be switch around. Today I’m favouring this because what’s on my mind is that weird feeling I had when watching this film. It wasn’t “arrrrrrgh” it was just 2 hours of everything being ever so slightly off somehow. Deeply, deeply unsettling and should win ALL THE AWARDS. Yup, even best musical, it’s that damn good.

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I know, the film that had this in the trailer ended up being creepy, who’d have guessed?

Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets

Ok, I’ll open this with the good: the opening for this is superb. It starts off with a (very) brief history of space travel in the past, then continues on to the future. This sets up the universe brilliantly. We see humans develop anti-gravity, set up a colony, then meet other species from the universe, all whilst Space Oddity plays. This scene is the highlight of the film, and the quality of it is never matched again.

I went into this with low expectations, and it couldn’t even meet those. I expected it to be the best looking film I’ve seen all year, but kind of bland in terms of story. Let’s start with the visuals; yes, I know it’s all very impressive what it looks like, it’s all very colourful and majestic, but you know what else it is? Sterile and cold. There’s no warmth to the visuals, nothing looks lived in. Everything in it looks like a computer generated movie setting, even the “seedy” areas of the spaceship don’t look quite dirty enough, they just have more neon than the other parts. As such nothing seems real, you can’t imagine anybody living in this world. They spent so much time making it look impressive, they forgot to make it look real.

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Okay it’s not quite THAT bad

Not just the visuals that let you down though. Their’s numerous devices and technologies which are used once then never mentioned again despite how useful they would be. For example; there’s a gun which when you fire it at someone, it means you can control them via remote control. This is used exactly once in the over two hours of the film. There are also two moments where someone’s mind gets read, both times by different things, which are never ever mentioned again.

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I don’t mind bad films, they can be amusing to watch, and can at least sometimes be fun. But a dull movie? That I can’t forgive. And this is dull. It’s not so much that “nothing happens”, more “nothing of consequence” happens. There are entire 20-30 minute sequences which could be cut completely from the film and it wouldn’t affect the story. You know how when you’re playing a video game, you get one door away from the final boss, then suddenly you get “now go collect all these scattered artefacts from around the world”, and you realise that was only done to increase the playing time so they can advertise it as being better than it actually is? That’s what watching this film is like. It’s a shame as it could have been good, maybe if it was released in the 80’s, so it would have had different lead actors. I like Dane DaHaan, a lot, I thought he was fantastic in Life After Beth, and near perfect in A Cure For Wellness. But he is woefully miscast in this. It doesn’t help that his character is kind of a dick; and not a redeemable loveable one. One where when you see him in danger you don’t think “oh no, save him Super Jesus”, you just think “meh”. It doesn’t help that the characters’ introduction consists of him in a weird “I think this is supposed to be sexual chemistry but just looks like sexual harassment” scene.

So, in closing; a film with potential, that is too long, too pointless, and just, well, just not good enough for the budget.

How We Got Through…March 2017

Film

A Cure For Wellness

As you can read here I liked it, but it made me want to self harm. It’s basically this years Nocturnal Creatures, but not quite as great. I do wish Celia Imrie was in it more, she was in the trailer but her role in the film was really nothing more than an extended cameo. Mia Goth was superb however, as was Dane DeHaan (which reminds me, I really need to see Chronicle)

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“Why don’t we do the poster for Slither, but sexy?” “Genius! More cocaine”

Deadpool

Still very very funny, still lacking a compelling story though, but it’s so funny that that makes up for it. One of my favourite soundtracks from last year, although there were a lot of REALLY strong soundtracks last year; Deadpool, Edge Of Seventeen etc all showed that art of the mixtape method of soundtrack making isn’t dead whilst Moana and Kubo showed how you can use a soundtrack as an extensive mood piece for the film.

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Get Out

As you read here, really really good and I can’t wait to see it again to catch things I missed the first time. Got an almost perfect Rotten Tomatoes score, and it fully deserves that.

Hidden Figures

It was good, I wouldn’t call it “Oscar Worthy”. The main trouble with these sorts of stories is it’s impossible to have a good villain. The key to a good villain comes in two separate flavours:

  1. The “nobody knows anything about him” (usually used in horror films)
  2. The “I can see his point, but he’s very very wrong”.

Because these films are character pieces you can’t have the villains be the first one, so you need the second one. But they never work in these films for one simple reason; there’s no logical defence of racism. There’s no way of seeing their point. I had similar problems with Selma too, the villains are so clearly wrong that they don’t make compelling characters. Now I know this is what it was actually like at the time, and it is a truly fascinating story, but it does mean as a cinema experience it never really stays with you. So really my problem isn’t with the film, it’s with reality not conforming to my expectations, so maybe the problem is me.

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Definitely not with the performances which were strong all round

John Wick 2

If you enjoyed the first one, you’ll enjoy this. It’s basically the first film, but more so and in a way that never feels like it’s walking in the same footsteps. One of the first times in a while I remember leaving the cinema and being incredibly excited for the sequel.

Kong: Skull Island

I went into this with low expectations. I was thinking “but I’ve already seen everything, how can spectacle cinema work in this day and age? And you showed too much Kong in the trailer, you idiots, you ruined everything I hate you”. Looking back at it, that may have been an overreaction. The film was, well it was solid. It showed that spectacle can still work in a post Avatar world. It’s not a “I must buy this film immediately”, kind of film, but if it’s on on TV at some point, grab a couple of mates, get some beers in, and leave your brain at the door.

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Logan

One of the best films I’ve seen this year, without a shadow of a doubt. Fully deserves all the plaudits praising it, and more so.

The Great Muppet Caper

I always assumed The Muppets weren’t self referential until the new films came out, like all generations I assumed it was my generation that invented meta-comedy as we’re all so much smarter than all the previous generations. Yeah, I was wrong, and I’m an idiot. Some people say a good film is one that makes you ask questions, the major question of this film is “how the hell did they do that bicycle scene? That’s superb”

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Books

We Need To Talk About Kevin

A very very good book, but not a very nice one. Has a unique way of telling the story and very rarely comes off as exploitative. I’ve yet to see the film but I’m very excited to get round to it.

TV Shows

I should point out; a LOT of these are going to be BBC based. I went on a website I frequent to see what will be taken off netflix soon. There was A LOT of BBC based stuff coming off at the end of the month. As such I had to watch a lot before it got taken off. I got halfway through Doctor Who (which I was watching whilst I was reading Hitchhiker’s Guide, never do that as it creates a weird mash up in your head) and whatever legal issues there were with contracts ending etc was resolved, and a lot of the stuff stayed on. I went off list for no reason.

Extras/The Office

First season of The Office; very very good. Second series; still good. Christmas special; he tried so damn hard to make the main character likeable it’s like he forgot the point of his own story. Extras however is the point where Ricky Gervais just started angrily complaining about the state of comedy in a smug “I’m better than you all, only my comedy is true comedy” way. Which would be admirable if one of the points he was making wasn’t about people releasing comedy singles in-character, which he has since done.

Fawlty Towers

Surprisingly, I had never seen this show before, not all of it anyway. I’d seen an episode or two here and there, but never the whole thing. I get why people love this, very very funny. Does more in 14 episodes than most comedies could hope to do in 14 series.

That Mitchell And Webb Look

Like all sketch shows it’s a bit repetitive but not as obviously as most shows of the genre. I think the reason for this is the history behind it. A lot of sketch show characters have the catchphrase as the joke; so every line in the script is building up to a new way to say that catchphrase. This show tends to put the catchphrases at the start, due (it would seem) to the shows history on radio, which necessitated you put the catchphrase first so that the audience would know which sketch you were in. Has some sketches which are just brilliantly funny (I will never not find a way to use “our caps have got skulls on them, are we the bad guys?” in political discourse). But is also one of the few sketch shows which made me hate life and cry, the “Dementia Sherlock Holmes“. Completely heartbreaking.

The Trip

Yes, it is very up itself, but it is also very very funny, and features two actors self-evaluating every criticism they have of themselves, and they have a lot. New series starts next month, but not on the trusty BBC, instead on Sky Atlantic.

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The Wrong Mans

I’m a sucker for long-form storytelling, particularly in sitcoms (it’s one of many many reasons why I love Crazy Ex Girlfriend and Bojack Horseman), and this has a fantastic story thread running through it. It’s hard to explain just how tightly and intricately plotted this is without it seeming like hyperbole. Hopefully now that James Cordon is huge in America this will start to get strong DVD sales.

Twenty Twelve

Very very BBC. Not going to change your life, but a pleasant enough way to wile away the hours. Funny and enjoyable, just not very memorable.

Music

Shenanigans

Weird to think this is now halfway through Green Days career in terms of albums released, six albums either side of the releases of this and International Superhits. But let’s forget about how this makes me aware of my own mortality and focus on how good this album is; B-sides which are better than most bands release as singles. “Ha Ha You’re Dead” is still one of my favourite songs by the band but you can’t say that without sounding like a hipster douche who’s all like “oh, you probably won’t know my favourite song by them”, and nobody likes those kind of people.

Best songs: Ha Ha You’re Dead

Do Da Da

Suffocate.

Also check out; they have this album called Dookie that you might not know about, pretty good. Also, check out this other super rare album that nobody knows about called American Idiot

All That She Wants – Wizo

I love pop punk covers of songs, and this is no exception. The original is a simply wonderful slice of summer pop (and yes, to me that is a genre) and a pop punk version of it suits it so well.

Podcasts

Toku Podcast

A podcast about video games, biscuits, films, biscuits, tea, biscuits, tv shows, and biscuits. The two hosts are extremely likeable, funny, smart, and kind of strange in the most wonderful way. They spent a long time discussing which avengers would be which biscuits that was hilarious ((in case you were wondering what my choices would be: Iron Man; Jammie Dodger. Captain America; Hob Nob. Hulk: Those oat biscuits that crumble all the time. Spider-Man: Jaffa Cake (is it an avenger, is it a cake? Nobody knows)).

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They also have the best episode titles

So that’s that for this month; I’ll see you in April unless I get hit by a bus and die, then I might have to delay until May.

A Cure For Wellness

Some films you see them and you have an automatic visual reaction, for example when I saw Gone Girl for the first time, after the film ended there was spontaneous applause (something I’ve only ever seen for about 4 other films), but occasionally the most interesting part is when nobody does anything. Sometimes this is bad, it can indicate disappointment or a feeling of being short changed, you have a room full of people sitting there thinking “was that it? That was so boring it almost sent me to sleep”, but sometimes the silence says more than any other reaction possibly could. For example when I saw Buried at cinema in Portsmouth, it ended and the reaction was complete silence, everyone was too depressed to move, the silence lasted for at least 20 seconds (which doesn’t seem long, but sit there and time it, it’s longer than you think) until it was broken by somebody saying “I think I need to self-harm now”. That was pretty much the reaction to this, just a sense of unease among everyone in the cinema, when we left there was a feeling like we’d all just gone through a shared trauma. Yet it was by no means a horrible film, there was beauty in the ugliness. The beauty of the way shots were composed meant the ugliness was more striking. Haven’t seen a film like this since Nocturnal Animals, and even that wasn’t as unrelenting as this was. This film starts off making you feel slightly uncomfortable and uneasy, and never gives you pause throughout the (some would say “slightly excessive) 146 minute runtime.

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Oh yeah, I suppose I should mention that, this film is very very long, and I feel it doesn’t really need to be. There are moments where characters do things which they should have done earlier (for example, the main character is constantly woken by a knocking noise, this happens throughout the film, yet he doesn’t investigate it until very late on in the film). There’s also scenes which are slightly repetitive, the film wants you to think something and doesn’t want to risk you not realising certain things. A lot of the supporting characters are also woefully underwritten, Celia Imrie’s character for example was interesting in what we saw, but we needed a bigger investment into her for certain things to have narrative weight. Not the only flaw in this film, in fact this film is deeply flawed in many areas, particularly in terms of pacing, yet (for me anyway) those flaws can be ignored because of how great the film is.

I can see a lot of people really hating this film, it’s an easy film to dislike, and not just “not my thing” dislike, more “I want to harm everybody involved in making this piece of shit” dislike, but I can also see people who like it really loving it. It’s divisive, like marmite, Batfleck, or Fantf4stic.

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The “”Was it “bad” or “irredeemably awful”” debate rages on

What this film does well though, it does very well. The aforementioned feeling of dread throughout is remarkable, it feels like the characters spend the entire film with a sword dangling over their heads, and you’re waiting for it to drop (yes, that is occasionally exactly as frustrating as that sounds). It could be argued that when it does drop it not only spends forever making it’s journey, but it also doesn’t seem to live up what it promises, it promises excalibur dropping and all you get is a sewing needle. Yet for me it worked, it won’t be for everybody but I kind of dug how they ended it.

The performances in this were also superb, I haven’t seen Chronicle, so all I know Dane DeHaan from is the woefully under appreciated Life After Beth, a film which he is good in, but the performance he gives is just kind of standard. He is amazing in his, you really feel his fear throughout the film, you feel his anger and frustration at what’s happening, if you don’t buy the characters reactions, the entire film crumbles as theres no jeopardy. Jason Isaacs is as good as you expect him to be, coming off as an English actor who was created by someone attempting to draw Jon Hamm from memory. Just realised he has never won a BAFTA, how is that possible? He’s amazing and obviously talented, it’s about time that was realised. The best performance in this film; Mia Goth. I’m not familiar anything she’s done before, was truly a revelation in this. The vulnerability of the character is shown very well in her performance, not just vocally but the way the character moves adds to the performance, you see her walking across a room and automatically feel fearful for her. Interested to see what she does next.

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Ah, a remake of this. Interesting

Is there an obvious improvement that could be made to this film? Only one I can think of is it could have been nicer. If there were more moments of joyful bliss and serenity then the underlying creepy nature would have more weight when it eventually emerges. It wouldn’t have taken long, just a few scenes of idyllic comfort at the building, make it seem more like a genuine place of joy. As it is, everything is so obviously creepy that the fact there’s an underlying creepiness isn’t really surprising. It would be like finding out “Dave The Axe Murderer” is a killer, you’d be like “well, yeah, kind of guessed that”.

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I was more confused why she was called “Dave” tbh

Which brings me on to my next point: the marketing. There was nothing special about, and I feel that was a problem. Batman Vs. Superman did a lot wrong (that’s an understatement) but one thing I loved is that they tied an advert for an airline company into the advertising for the film, it was a unique way of marketing it and I kind of dug it. I’d have loved to have seen marketing materials not about the film, but about the wellness facility featured in the film. Just a short teaser about the facilities there, with a slight underlying creepiness implying the real intentions. Even the website for it is magnificently mediocre;

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I mean, look at that, that doesn’t set you on edge, it doesn’t do anything emotionally to you. It’s dull. Nothing about it is unusual or unique. A massive disappointment. They had a perfect opportunity to have a really unique marketing campaign and they blew it. They should have a website for the facility, adverts for it etc, maybe youtube testimonials about how “there’s something in the water” which means you “never want to leave”. Maybe have an alternate reality game that allows you to delve into the mythos, maybe a quick 5 minute walking simulator released online I don’t know. I don’t care what you do, just DO SOMETHING!

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“Why don’t we do the poster for Slither, but sexy?” “Genius! More cocaine”

So, in summary. Should you watch this film? I’d say yes. This is a film that deserves to be seen, there’s a chance you’ll hate it, but there’s a chance you’ll love it, but either way you’ll have strong reactions to it.

Cure

  • Great performances.
  • Masterfully shot.
  • The two teeth-based scenes (not spoiling them here, but trust me they’re horrific).

Sickness

  • Glacial pacing.
  • Underwritten supporting characters