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.

Booksmart (2019)

I was kind of looking forward to this, I loved Beanie Feldstein in Lady Bird and was hoping to see more of what she can do. She’s starred alongside Bette Midler on Broadway so she’s obviously very talented, but I didn’t really feel her in this. Her performance seemed a bit too over the top, a bit too Will Ferrell. That kind of overblown over-dramatic comedy performance is loved by some people, but it never really works for me, just a personal opinion. Kaitlyn Deaver, on the other hand, is great in this. I’m not that familiar with her work which is weird as she’s been in things I’ve seen before: but those things have been Detroit and Men, Women And Children, two films which are definitely ensemble pieces (in the case of MW&C, to its detriment), so this is the first time I’ve really seen her take centre stage, and she nails it. Giving enough vulnerability and frustration to her performance that you can’t help but root for her in her struggles, and she’s involved in the main heart-breaking moments of the movie.

A lot of the media focus has been on this film being Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut. So how does she do? Well firstly, I feel the need to point out that writers are severely underpraised in terms of media, and that’s something that needs to change immediately. We need to see “from the writer of…..” more, but that’s an argument for another day. Does Wilde work as a director? Kind of. There are some complicated scenes which she handles beautifully, and there’s one scene near the end where the main characters are arguing and you see camera-phones gradually light up behind them, incredibly subtle and brilliant. Sadly this then leads to the dialogue being drowned out by music, which is a weird choice, as if you do that, and it’s not a montage, it kind of feels like the director wasn’t confident enough in the dialogue being said and wasn’t sure it would do what was needed. The argument is the best scene in terms of how it develops these characters, and I personally feel we kind of need to hear what’s being said to have the full impact. There are other scenes which cut weirdly and don’t really flow together well. But mostly she does it well, I mean, there is one scene where she focuses way too long on something and makes it obvious what’s going to happen, but I can see why that was done. There are a lot of scenes here which look superb, the party scenes, in particular, have a lot of background detail which you could easily miss if you’re not paying attention. I feel she’s about 1 film away from truly being great, but it’s definitely one of the strongest first-time comedies I’ve seen in a while.

This does manage to be the only film which has characters which are both underused and overused. Okay, let me rephrase that, they’re misused. There are some characters introduced at the beginning who only come back later on because they were introduced earlier on, I would have liked to have seen more of them if the writing had a more natural reason to bring them back. As it is it feels like when you watch a holiday episode of a TV show and it features the exact same characters and it just feels a bit weird as why would they all go at the same time when half the characters hate each other? So should you see this? I’m not sure, I wouldn’t pay full price at the cinema to see it, but if it’s on netflix or you get a chance to watch it in a group of people whilst drinking, do it, and you’ll enjoy it.