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. 

Blinded By The Light (2019)

This is a great film about Bruce Springsteen. I mean, he’s not in it (with the exception of a photo of him in the end credits) but it is very much him. Like, essence of Springsteen (worst fragrence name ever). It’s a film about the power of words and music. About how music can help you make sense of a shitty world. About how it can transcend geographical and genre boundaries, and really make you FEEL something. That’s the films biggest strength; the way it affects you on a pure emotional level.

This film has issues, not really big enough to count as flaws, more slight annoyances. There are times where Viveik Kalra’s performance isn’t QUITE what it needs to be and feels a little flat. There are other times where he completely nails the emotion, so it’s obviously not beyond him, but there are times where his performance doesn’t really work (particularly in the first half). There are some moments which aren’t needed. The opening scene, in particular, serves no purpose. It’s just a “here’s the main characters when they were children”. It kind of showcases the relationships between certain characters, but that could have been done more naturally. The music, whilst it’s good, it is a bit repetitive. There are some songs which are repeated multiple times. As such it doesn’t really compel you to go out and listen to Springsteen in the same way as Yesterday made you want to listen to the Beatles. The story is one you’ve seen before (would it be rude to call a true story “a bit cliche in parts”?). Some of the characters’ motivations aren’t clearly defined in terms of the film’s narrative, you’re not really sure what the end goal, what is the main character reaching for and aiming to achieve etc. It also has moments where entire groups of people burst into song in a way that breaks reality. We can hear the music being playing, but except for the main character nobody else can, they’re just hearing him singing, so how are they dancing to the beat of the music if they can’t actually hear it? I know that’s a really weird thing to pick out, but I’m not the biggest fan of “main characters break into song” at the best of times (which is weird as my favourite television show of the last few years is a musical) and I feel it has to be done well (and for a good reason) for it to be effective (for example, it worked PERFECTLY in Rocketman). It could be argued that it’s alluding to Bollywood tradition, merging Bollywood tropes with western music, but it doesn’t have the right atmosphere and speed for it to truly work. There are other moments with music which work a lot better. When the lyrics come up on the screen at important parts it works wonderfully and it allows you to see how the character is thinking, you can feel him connecting to those parts of the music.

It may not seem like it but I did enjoy this movie. Was incredibly heartwarming, and a lot of the supporting performances were great (Nell Williams in particular). It reminds me of a slightly below-par Nick Hornby at his best. Considering how much I love some of Nick Hornby’s stuff (High Fidelity is still one of my favourite books) that indicates how highly I rate this movie. So yeah I’d go see it. It might not be your favourite movie, but I highly doubt you’ll regret it.