2017 In Film; Part 2 (The Meh)

The qualifier for this is somewhat more complicated than the previous one. These aren’t necessarily bad films, just films that I don’t need to see again. Mainly films that I didn’t like, but can appreciate one thing in it. So quite bad, but had a single redeeming feature that makes them slightly worthwhile as a curiosity. There’s a few here which I can see people being annoyed about are in here. So I should point out that this is nearly all personal opinion, so please don’t firebomb me.

Alien: Covenant

I can’t really make a fair judgement on this as I have never seen any of the others. Despite that, I did recognise a lot of scenes from this that seemed to be taken straight out of the other films in the series. And if I managed that I can only imagine how infuriating it must have been for people who are fans of the series, must have felt like they were watching a remake.

+Katherine Waterston is fucking superb.

-Doesn’t really do enough to stand out on it’s own. I can’t imagine anybody saying “you know what? I hate most of the Alien films, but I really love Covenant”

American Assassin

Not quite as good as the trailer would make you think. Not slick enough, not polished enough, not quite good enough.

+Really good opening scene showing off the panic that attacks can have on the general public.

-A weird view of revenge. Constantly told how revenge poisons the soul but then shown lots of shots of the lead actor kicking ass and being awesome. It’s like when you play Grand Theft Auto IV and dialogue about how the main character doesn’t want to go back to crime is interspersed with him shooting everybody in the face. A film that tries to not just have its cake and eat it, but also spends all the time telling you how unhealthy cake is and nobody should ever have any.

Annabelle: Creation

It’s odd, these films always have REALLY good trailers, full of tense moments and good scares, but they never really work full length. That being said, this is a lot better than the first one. Although considering that is still one of the worst films I’ve seen, that’s not difficult. Renders the original (which is technically the second Conjuring film, and a sequel to this, it’s odd) completely pointless as an origin story. Has some okay performances in it but most of them are just standard. No actual scares really, all jump scares. The scariest moments in this film had nothing to do with this film; 1) I thought there was only one other person in the cinema, who was sitting behind me. But near the end a phone went off near the front. Made me jump. 2) A seat was broken and had a white sheet covering it. Whenever someone opened the door (like when a cinema worker came in to check things were okay) it caused a draft which made the sheet rise, made it look like someone was standing up underneath it.

+A few scenes are spectacularly done. And it ties in well with the rest of the franchise.

-Only does so by rendering the previous origin film pointless. It would be Batman Begins having a prequel where it turns out he was bitten by a radioactive bat whilst in the well, and the rest of the films are a result of that.

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She got better as the film went on, in the closing section she was superb.

Battle Of The Sexes

Great performances, Steve Carrell, in particular, seems to be throwing himself into this with everything he’s got. And the story is compelling and it does a great job of setting the time and place it’s in. So why so low? This is a one scene film. No matter how good the rest of the film is, the audience knows it’s all building up to a single event/scene. In a film like that you need to make sure that scene is superb, and in this, it’s not. It’s quite blandly shot. It’s shot like an actual tennis match from the time would be, which I suppose at least gives it an air of authenticity, but also makes it quite a dull watch. Compare this to Creed from a few years ago, the boxing scenes in that were not filmed like a TV channel would film them, they were filmed like a movie scene, it gave them angles which you’d never get in an actual boxing match, and it was all the better for it. This doesn’t do that, most of it’s filmed from a distance, and this robs the scene of so much.

+Set design/costume were brilliantly done, to the point where just a still photo would set the scene.

-That final match. Just doesn’t work.

Baywatch

Why? Why does this exist? Who is an r-rated version of Baywatch for? People who liked the original won’t like it, and people who didn’t like the original won’t like this. Nobody was calling out for it and it feels like it was one of those films that were only made so they could hold onto the copyright. Also, does it need an R-rating? The only point of it would be nudity, to be as sexually exploitative as they can be, but it doesn’t really do that. Only has the rating because of the swearing, which I also have a problem with; there’s far too much swearing just for the sake of swearing. Now onto the actual film; the opening scene is basically “Look how fabulous The Rock is. He’s basically perfect”. Just full of other characters complimenting him so much that it almost seems sarcastic.

+The line “I can’t save you if you’re being a dick” made me laugh.

-As with a lot of these sequel/reboot it’s far too in debt to the original to make its mark as an original film.

Cars 3

I liked this a lot more than the previous two. Although it should be said that I detest the previous two. I think they’re the only blots on Pixar’s record. Ties into the first one a lot better than the second one did, making the second one seem kind of like a spin-off.

+Genuine emotion in a lot of scenes. And there’s less Larry The Cable Guy, which is always a good thing.

-For a film called Cars the plot is really pedestrian.

Death Note

Oh dear. Oh dear. More like “Death No”, amirite? But yeah this was not a good film. Quite annoyed actually as I wanted this to be good. If only to prove people wrong. This had people against it from the start just because it was a remake. So when bad reviews came in I thought “that’s just idiot fanboys who can’t let go and see objectively, I’m going to watch it and I’m going to like it”. I was wrong, it was bad. The characterisation is completely wrong. They made a lot of mistakes but the biggest is they made Light average. There’s no sense of a tense cat and mouse game between Light and L, and a lot of the rules from the book have actually been changed for the sake of the film for seemingly no reason at all.

+Soundtrack/cinematography. And Willem Defore.

-Doesn’t so much throw away the mythology of the series, so much as burn it then piss on the ashes.

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L was good though

Despicable Me 3

This came really really close to being in the previous one. Like, really close. Then I remembered the amount of 80’s music and references in it which made me slightly smile.

+A love letter to the 80’s, albeit not a very well written one.

-Waaaaaaay too scattergun. Has no idea what the main plot is, there seems to be about 4 of them all vying for attention and it never really focuses on any of them. It’s basically cinematic ADHD.

Detroit

This film suffers from the same problem as a lot of films about the subject do, the villains are so 2-dimensional that it’s hard to buy into the film. The trouble with doing films about race set in 1960’s etc US is that you can’t create a compelling villain. To me, a good villain is just a misguided hero, one where you can kind of see their point. You can’t have that with this, the bad guys are so obviously wrong they’re impossible to defend, they’re obviously pricks. Which is depressing as that’s what it was like back then, a lot of people in power were indefensible pricks who deserved to be punched in the kidneys. Also, the pacing is weird, you have an entire subplot about a band that doesn’t really add anything except 30 minutes to the runtime.

+From a technical viewpoint it looks superb, and has moments which feel really claustrophobic and tense.

-Occasionally seems like it doesn’t know what it’s wanting to say.

Flatliners

Brave move killing off who they did. It’s weird as it’s not really sure what it wants to be, is it a remake, a sequel, or something entirely new? Nobody knows, least of all the film itself.

+Looks and sounds superb.

-Entirely forgettable.

It Comes At Night

I liked it, but not as much as I thought I would. Probably because I saw at the cinema. I know some horror works great at the cinema, but I feel this would work better on your own in a small room. You need to feel part of that world, feel isolated, like a visitor in their world, and sitting in a vast room full of other people takes you away from that. I think I’m going to need to watch it again on headphones on my own, I might appreciate it a lot more then, but watching it on a massive screen in an empty room gave me a sense of freedom that the film couldn’t stop.

+Superb job of keeping you invested in the story.

-Doesn’t quite know what it’s doing sometimes. Some scenes are oddly unsatisfying

Jigsaw

Well it’s better than the last one, I’ll give it that. Trouble with these films is all the crimes exist on their own, there’s no investigation into the crimes effect on the outside world. Is crime going down because people are scared of being punished? Are there a lot of copycat killers? Do people see him as a hero or a villain? This is never touched upon, except in some of the posters for the one before this. Very disappointing. 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.

+Brilliantly inventive traps.

-Pointless and adds nothing to the franchise. Would have been acceptable a year after the last one, but a massive gap means it’s a waste.

Power Rangers

Pure nostalgia fest.

+Some moments are a lot of fun. Especially in the opening “did you just slap me?” “yeah, weird right?” made me laugh.

-Takes itself far too seriously. You cannot make this film seriously, yet they attempted.

Rings

Unpopular opinion time; this film should not have been a horror, it should have a psychological drama with scary moments. I feel under the service of this story is a really solid detective/ghost story, but it’s restricted by being a horror so puts in scares which don’t do much to enhance the film. Also, I’m getting very annoyed with films being ruined by their trailers. I’d seen two trailers for this; one of which I saw back in November and was mainly focused on one of the characters in the shower and freaky shit starts happening. A well made scene, but it’s also the final scene of the film, it takes place after the “monster” is supposed to have died, so after the “death” you just sit there thinking “I know it’s not the end as we haven’t seen the scene which the entire advertising campaign was based around”. Especially since I think the revelation at the end was supposed to be a twist. It would be like if The Usual Suspects had the tagline “Kevin Spacey is….Keyser Soze”.

+The way the film opened was fantastic and was one of my favourite 10 seconds of cinema of the year so far. They put the Paramount logo into the film itself, by showing it on tv screens on an airplane. They also distorted the logo as it was playing. I love when films do things like that, it grabs your attention immediately

-That closing scene does so much damage to the film.

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Split

Nothing inherently wrong with this movie, I just never brought the central concept. It’s like if I was watching a film where Ryan Gosling plays a character who is too ugly to get a date, they’d need to be a moment in the film which means you can buy the central concept as otherwise you’ll just be sitting there thinking “yeah this is BS”. This film never has that moment, as such it kind of fails. The acting in it was superb though, Anya Taylor-Joy continues to impress after last years The Witch, whilst James McAvoy does fantastic facial work, it gets to the point where you can tell which personality is in control of him from a still shot of his face.

+McAvoy is great. And it’s got me very excited for the sequel.

-Was this film just to make a sequel to unbreakable? Seems like a waste, because that film seemed like it was only made to be a prequel.

Suburbicon

Disappointing. Has a sub-plot which goes absolutely nowhere. It keeps seeming like it’s going to interact with the main story but never does, it could be cut entirely and the film wouldn’t change. It seems like it’s just there to say “people used to be racist, which is bad”, and then does nothing else other than that.

+Tremendous ensemble cast.

-Doesn’t live up to its potential.

The Book Of Henry

Read this was the worst film of the year, and responsible for director losing Star Wars job. I actually kind of liked it. I never need to see it again but it wasn’t the worst film I’ve seen. I mean, yeah it does seem like two different films awkwardly put together but the performances are compelling enough.

+Opening half is great character work.

-Closing half doesn’t match it, at all.

The Lego Ninjago Movie

Doesn’t seem to be done with as much love for the subject matter as the original lego movies. The Lego Batman movie was obviously done by someone who loved Batman (or at the very least knew a lot about it), this isn’t. There’s no subtle references to films of the genre, it’s just a standard boring film with the only lego-ness being a villain who’s a cat.

+The villain being a cat is very very funny.

-Bit dull.

The Mountain Between Us

When it was just “two people trapped on a mountain”, was a superb film. Once they added the romance bit I kind of tapped out, just didn’t work at all. And the “realisation shot” was straight out of a low-budget music video for a James Blunt soundalike.

+The first two thirds are fantastic. Brilliantly tense and haunting. And it looks great.

-The romance bit is a bit, erm, shit. And the make-up team needed to do better. Despite them being near death, they never really looked it physically.

The Snowman

A lot more brutal than I expected. The reveal of the killer could have been done better, and it juggled too many characters at once so was a bit of a bloated mess. Not as terrible as I thought it would be though.

+Looked superb, and was suitably brutal.

-Really unsatisfying reveal. And a lot of the scenes were hard not to laugh at.

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I much prefer this version

Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets

I get both the love the hate for this film. Nothing I can say will do it better than I did earlier in the year here.

+The opening scene is tremendous. Like, seriously brilliant. Almost worth watching the film for, sets the world brilliantly. From that moment I had seriously high hopes and thought I’d love this film.

-The visuals, the story, the characters. In short…so so much. I can forgive bad films, I can’t forgive dull ones.

 

 

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How We Got Through….November 2017

Brooklyn

Really wish I saw this when it came out. Very sweet, very funny, just kind of charming. Shame I didn’t get a chance to see it until just before it got taken off netflix, but that just means I’m now more likely to buy it on DVD.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Any TV show which ends a series with the phrase “fuck you, you car wash cunt” yet also have a genuinely heartwarming ending is okay with me. A bigger review will be going up at the end of the series.

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This is also my starbucks order.

Death Note

More like “Death No”, amirite? But yeah this was not a good film. Quite annoyed actually as I wanted this to be good. If only to prove people wrong. This had people against it from the start just because it was a remake. So when bad reviews came in I thought “that’s just idiot fanboys who can’t let go and see objectively, I’m going to watch it and I’m going to like it”. I was wrong, it was bad. The characterisation is completely wrong, they made Light average. There’s no sense of a tense cat and mouse game between Light and L, and a lot of the rules from the book have actually been changed for the sake of the film for seemingly no reason at all. On the plus side the music is superb, and it looks fantastic.

Geostorm

Why does this film exist? Is it the 90’s again? I don’t know too much about science but this film still set off my “that seems like bullshit” sirens. And the ending was a fucking cop out. “the hero sacrifices himself for the greater good, everybody cry. Oh wait, nevermind, they got saved so the death doesn’t happen and meant nothing just for the sake of a happy ending”. Which reminds me, fuck Iron Man 3, I like that film more than most people but they should have had the guts to kill Paltrow in it.

Glory Daze

You know how you sometimes read of small gigs by bands where it turns out everyone in the audience became a member of another band later down the line? This is like the film equivalent of that. Has early appearances by Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Brendan Fraser, Sam Rockwell, Alyssa Milano etc in it before they broke. So 90’s, so, so 90’s. Has a pop punk soundtrack, uncomfortably high usage of “fag”, and the main characters have a black friend. Very flawed, kind of shit, but endearing in it’s own way. (that should totally be my About Me if I did online dating)

Happy Death Day

This was just a lot of fun. Very, very, funny, and really well written. Some films you watch and you think “”this is so meh, I can’t imagine a writer thinking “I have to write this film”. You do with this, you can just imagine someone toiling over this night and day, a true passion project. One of the funniest films I’ve seen all year with a genuinely great story.

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Actually love this image

Jigsaw

Well it’s better than the last one, I’ll give it that. Trouble with these films is all the crimes exist on their own, there’s no investigation into the crimes effect on the outside world. Is crime going down because people are scared of being punished? Are there a lot of copycat killers? Do people see him as a hero or a villain? This is never touched upon, except in some of the posters for the one before this. Very disappointing.

Justice League

Solid. That’s all I can say about it. It’s not going to blow you away but it gets the job done. You do have to sit back and just watch it whilst not thinking, but occasionally that’s all you want. It’s not as good as Wonder Woman, but then again few films are. Bigger review will be up soon.

Kung Fury

Hilarious. I thank the person who recommended this to me as it’s simply bonkers (well some people say it’s bonkers, I just say it’s free). It has Hitler as a kung fu master, and a dinosaur cop shooting nazis in the balls, what more do you want from a film?

Mindhorn

Very British, I can’t imagine this playing well in other countries.

Money Monster

A big regret of mine is not seeing this at the cinema, I thought it would be overly preachy and dull. Nope, so tense, a great thriller which just goes to show how talented Jodie Foster is behind the camera. I can’t see her winning an Oscar for it, but she could definitely get an Emmy if she moved to TV. Clooney is great as well.

Moonlight

Read a review of this which sums up my feelings on it completely “is more personal and important than it is great”. I appreciated it more than I loved it.

Murder On The Orient Express

A lot better than I thought it would be. 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.

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You can definitely see why I was mistaken though, right?

 

Suburbicon

Disappointing. Has a sub-plot which goes absolutely nowhere. It keeps seeming like it’s going to interact with the main story but never does, it could be cut entirely and the film wouldn’t change. It seems like it’s just there to say “people used to be racist”, and then does nothing else other than that.

The Book Of Henry

Read this was the worst film of the year, and responsible for director losing Star Wars job. I actually kind of liked it. I never need to see it again but it wasn’t the worst film I’ve seen. I mean, yeah it does seem like two different films awkwardly put together but the performances are compelling enough.

The Crane Wife

Patrick Ness is a weird writer, he seems to write updated fairy tales, kind of like a Neil Gaiman type, but not quite as magical (because few people are). This book takes a while to get going but has some great lines and the final section really becomes something else brilliant.

The Dark Tower

Finally a film as bad as everybody said. Fed up with people saying “oh my God, this film is awful, worst ever” and the film is mediocre at worst. Finally, this is a film that I feel deserves its bad reviews. It’s very, very bad. Idris Elba really needs to fire his agent, out of a cannon, into a brick wall so he can’t convince him what roles to take any more.

The Death Of Stalin

Incredibly funny and biting satire, which seems mostly historically accurate too. And it almost got banned in Russia, which is a bonus. Caused a Russian politician to describe it as a plot aimed at discrediting the figure of Stalin. Yeah, damn those films and their “anti-genocide” blinkered viewpoints.

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Plus, look at that cast

The Eyes Of My Mother

I didn’t like it. Seemed a bit too film student-ey for my liking. I didn’t get the hype, I think it’s just because it seems like a middle eastern horror film that’s too incomprehensible for Westerners to understand, but nope, it’s American. Just didn’t click with me at all.

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.

The Lego Ninjago Movie

Doesn’t seem to be done with as much love for the subject matter as the original lego movies. The Lego Batman movie was obviously done by someone who loved Batman (or at the very least knew a lot about it), this isn’t. There’s no subtle references to films of the genre, it’s just a standard boring film with the only lego-ness being a villain who’s a cat.

How We Got Through….May 2017

Films

Snatched

Not bad, just disappointing. Very bland, the kind of film you see and then immediately forget. Shame as it has some very good moments in it, but some of the jokes fall flat and land not with raucous laughter, but with silence. Same with directing too, a lot of the visual and editing decisions are kind of strange. All in all it seems like every part of it was a first draft, every shot closing not with “perfect, one more for safety” but “that will do for now”. Same with the script, entire scenes seem like bits which should have been taken out in a second draft.

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Joan Cusack is really good in the small amount of scenes she’s in though

Colossal

One of the best films I’ve seen all year. Oh it’s flawed as hell (particularly in terms of time and establishing exactly “when” certain scenes take place in relation to each other) but all those flaws do is take it from a 10/10 to a solid 8. Anne Hathaway gives a performance which equals Rachel Getting Married (which if you haven’t seen, you really should, it’s superb), and Jason Sudeikis is creepier than I ever thought he could be, the kind of performance which makes you think he could easily move into more dramatic roles, or play a serial killer. So well written too, so much so that I immediately looked into the writer and made a note to watch everything he’s done. It’s also extremely unique, I can’t think of a film to compare it too, stands alone in a genre of one, and I can’t see anybody doing it better.

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)

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 are 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’s some odd choices when it comes to directing too. You know that “shakey 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; Shakey Bourne Camera, someone gets their phone out to phone someone: Shakey Bourne Camera. It also ends with the most obvious sequel hook in a long time, yet considering everybody in the cinema stood up the very second the credits started, I don’t think it’s going to be looked forward to that much. Maybe I’m spoiled by John Wick, which set my standards unbelievably high, but still, not a great film, it’s not even a good one. In fact, probably one of the worst films I’ve seen this year.

Suburban Gothic

See, now this is dumb fun. Very very fun. I can’t remember who told me to watch this, but whoever it was; thank you very much. Best watched whilst drunk and with other people. It’s on netflix now so if you’ve got that, watch it, and if you don’t, get netflix, watch it, then cancel after the free month.

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TV Shows

The Office (US)

A US remake that is without a doubt superior to the original. I have a major issue with the UK version; the main character starts off disliked, then ends up with all the characters embracing him, without changing anything about his personality. His character does not deserve his happy ending, all he’s done is bitch and moan and be bitter and spiteful, he should not be the good guy and it feels like it’s done mainly because he was played by the writer. The US one handles it differently, because it has more episodes it allows the main character to have more depth and be a fully developed person, so he comes off a lot more likeable. This show is also helped by the fact that Jim and Pam are one of the best relationships I’ve ever seen in television, so often everything about them is said just with a look, or with body language, you could watch it in silence and get a sense of how they respond to each other.

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It also provided me with a lot of good Cover Photos for facebook

Books

1000 Years Of Annoying The French

A book that’s pretty self explanatory, a look at complex history of anglo-french relations. Definitely has an English bias, but never really comes off as hateful and angry. Fascinating read which goes in depth into a lot of historical fallacies, and tries to examine why the two countries occasionally seem like one of those couples who constantly argue and cheat on each other, yet still stay together for some reason.

Cash

Really interesting, but I don’t think you need to read it more than once. Very honest about his own flaws, yet seems to hold back when discussing others. So it’s interesting but kind of frustrating, yet it makes sense, a biography shouldn’t be entirely about settling old scores, and I’ve read many biographies which have been ruined by hot angry and bitter the person has seemed.

The Damned United

Almost exactly as good as the film, and the film was amazing. Possibly the only sports story where the hero comes from ahead and loses.

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Also a reminder of how quotable Brian Clough could be

Death Note

One of the best (read: the only) manga series I’ve read. Fantastic character work, it can be difficult to write genius’s as sometimes writers just research a lot of information and have the characters repeat what they’ve researched, so it comes off kind of sterile and bland. The two main characters in this are obviously incredibly intelligent, but this isn’t shown through facts and figures, it’s shown through logic. They come to nonsensical conclusions, and then explain how it’s not only logical, but the only possible thought you should have (much like the Sherlock series often did). Kind of an intellectual cold war between the two characters, they both KNOW whom the other one is, but need to try to get the other one to drop their guard and reveal more information.

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This quote is life

 

How We Got Through…January 2017

Let’s face it, this year has not got off to a good start. Not even a month in and we’ve already lost John Hurt, our governments have been so devastated by that news that in tribute they’ve decided to turn the world into a fully interactive version of 1984 running 24/7  . In times of crisis we have two options; we can either 1) Help solve the problem. 2) Ignore the problem and lose ourselves in film, television, video games and music. Obviously we did number two. So here’s how we got through the first month of this year

Film

A Monster Calls

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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. Definitely the best looking film I’ve seen at the cinema this year (note: it’s the only film I’ve seen at the cinema this year). One of the few downsides is Sigourney Weaver’s English accent, which is slightly uneven throughout. 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 only previous film I’ve seen of his was The Impossible, and that was in 2012 so can’t remember too much about it, but I can remember being really impressed with the way he directed certain moments in it and was really good at creating visual tension, which is a good sign for his next film; the Jurassic World sequel.

Tyrannosaur

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Whilst A Monster Calls is bleak, it cannot hold a candle to this. A film which begins with someone kicking a dog to death, gets progressively bleaker, and then culminates in the lead character decapitating a dog and sitting there with it’s head in his lap, with tales of domestic abuse and rape in the middle. If you know someone who is annoyingly optimistic and happy, show them this film, you will break them. Still a major disappointment that Olivia Colman didn’t win a BAFTA for this, didn’t even get nominated which is a shame as I truly believe she’s one of the best British Actresses around at the moment, nobody can wring emotion from a story like she can.

The Lego Movie

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This was mainly to recover from Tyrannosaur. Brought for £5 from Morrisons and I feel like I cheated them somehow by getting it so cheap. The film equivalent of a rainbow emanating from a bowl of skittles and raining sunshine and joy onto people below. One of the few films this year which has made me genuinely laugh out loud multiple times, which takes some doing as I’m a miserable bastard.

Books

Artemis Fowl – Eoin Colfer

Slightly too anvilicious in it’s environmental message, but otherwise it’s fantastic literature. Brilliant characterisation as well, the series is basically about somebody becoming a hero over the course of 8 books, and he was very evil in the first book so it was a long journey. A tale of growing up, a tale of greed, and a tale of humanity. One of the the best children’s book series I’ve ever read, it’s basically Die Hard with fairies, if the lead character was Light from Death Note. A film adaptation directed by Kenneth Branagh is hopefully on the way, and he’s a director who I feel can really do it justice.

TV Shows

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

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I know, I go on about this all the time, but there’s a reason for that; because I love it so much. Funny, heartbreaking and with songs so catchy it’s almost suspicious.

Insert Name Here

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An odd panel show on BBC (previous episodes available on iPlayer) about people. Basically they answer questions about historical figures and celebrities who all share the same name. Each episode focuses on a different name, so, for example, the episode this week was based on Charlie, so you had the teams answer questions about famous people called Charlie. Hosted by Sue Perkins, with Josh Widdicombe and Richard Osman From Pointless (to give him his full name) as team captains. A show which I can’t imagine working on any other channel than the BBC, and which wouldn’t be made by any other country than this one. Very very funny, and you learn a lot too.

 

 

Music

Lonely Daze – Kate Tempest

Completely different from what I imagined Kate Tempest would sound like, but oh so good. A wonderful piece of lyrical storytelling that you can just put on and lose yourself to.

Stars – Nina Simone

I first heard it in Bojack Horseman, and it has stuck with me ever since. Beautifully emotional, like proper tears and angry shaking emotion. The kind of song you’d drink yourself to death to.

 

So that’s how we got through this month, what did you use?

Top 10 favorite anime part 2: 5-1

5- Kino’s journey: the Beautiful World

transition-screen2A largely episodic, slow paced and thought-provoking road series, we follow the titular Kino on a journey around a strange other world with her talking motorcycle (not as goofy as it sounds). As they come across many strange lands and characters with startlingly different cultures and beliefs, as Kino waxes tumblr_m0l9im9XYH1qmpg90o1_500philosophy about the many meanings behind human nature. Though not to say she isn’t a fun and interesting character in her own right, delivering a lot of deadpan humour, and the episode that deals with her back story is just as interesting as any other. Every episode is like a parable, seeing Kino in bizarre places and meeting bizarre people, that aren’t what they seem; like a country only run by robots, warring countries with a genocidal secret, or simply railroad workers who think

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It’s a flying talking tank…what?

they’re only doing their job. The way the stories pan out and how Kino reacts to them is never what you expect. But unlike a lot of other episodic journey based shows, Kino is not a hero going round liberating cities and saving the day, she is only ever an observer, there to see the world not change it.

Not a particularly action packed or thrilling series, Kino’s journey is beautifully vivid, kinoand has the vibe of a cold snowy night in, and is for when you’re in the mood for something more cerebral and thought-provoking. At only 13 episodes Kino’s journey is a must for those who watch anime for more than tits and Kamehame Waves.

 

4- Baccano

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If Quentin Tarantino made an anime, it would be something like this. A

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This is Firo…he’s a bad-ass

sprawling, insane mulch-character driven gangster epic that weaves three interlinked but out of order stories, of the same characters from different points of 1930’s New York. Bringing together smooth talking gangsters, thuggish mobsters, goofy yet lovable thieves, good-hearted mercenaries, a variety of psychotic serial killers, and sinister immortal cultists. It sounds a lot, and it is, but it’s a hella good time and a fun ride.

Dramatic, action packed, scary, thoughtful, really really funny,

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Come on…watch it!

and just damn good entertainment; its Pulp Fiction-esque turned up to 11 plotting is a feat of storytelling, but if you can get your head around it you’ll discover one of the most bizarre gems anime has to offer. And it’s only 16 episodes long!

 

It also has one the coolest openings this side of Cowboy Bebop!

 

3- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

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Actual development!!

In many ways and overall better than the original series in my opinion, as Brotherhood follows the manga’s story much closer, so the overall plot is better paced and planned out and there is actual character development.
Set in a fantastical world where the science of alchemy exists, we follow the young Elric brother’s as they travel the land, having many misadventures, trying to discover a way to fix their mistakes, and for the older brother Edward to find redemption for the sins of his youth. Almost as funny as it is dramatic and action packed, the story spans years as we see these characters grow, change and come to terms with the kind of world they d485627469945e22a38aa6ff49e9e5c33688105b_hqlive in; diving heavy into themes of brotherhood, redemption, religion, politics, and the meaning of life itself.

 

Really I can’t say much more without ruining it, so just watch it for yourself. Go get lost in this world that can be sweet and charming one moment, then dark and twisted the next. The characters are classic, and the story is huge. It’s everything you want anime to be and more.

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If you’ve seen the original series and think you don’t need to see this because of that, DO! Only around the first 15 episodes of the 64 cover what the original series did, and from then on it goes in a startlingly different direction. And that goes double for if you haven’t seen either.

2- Yu Yu Hakusho

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yu_yu_hakusho_-_032_-_knife_edge_death-matchThe series follows the adventures of a genuine jackass of a high school punk Yusuke, who after he is brought back from the dead becomes the after life’s Spirit Detective, tasked with protecting the world from demonic threats.
Though in many ways your typical battle Shonen fare (and doesn’t it sound it), what sets it apart from its kin is just how well it does it’s fare and builds around the tropes; as well as it’s generally darker tone. It’s a Shonen where people actually die, and the hero kills. But what makes it so great is its wide well developed cast of eclectic ch1931240-n30characters that constantly  blur the lines between good and evil (shades rarely touched upon by Shonen anime). Interesting worlds with different laws and cultures that are well explored, and though nearer the end its action gets a bit too DBZ-y, for the most part the fights are diverse and amazing, focusing more on martial-arts with super-powered twists, than just yelling till the other guy explodes. Though a bit slow and goofy at the beginning, when the main plot of the series begins developing from the second season it gets vastly more interesting. The villains become jusyuyu_full_192t as important and developed as the good guys, and the pace picks up perfectly, never falling into the DBZ trap of overly long fights and slow plot progression, instead keeping fights to two-ish episodes a piece at most and every episode actually pushes the plot forward.

It also has a fantastic dub that plays it fast and loose with language and indexhumor, and the manga writer himself as said he thinks the Dub captured the spirit of his story better than the original.

It’s a real gem from the 90’s anime flux, and one of the all-time greats. Watch it…if you have time for a 100+ episode series…

And it too has one of the bes…okay not best, but just odd opening themes, that doesn’t suit the show, but is perfect for it non the less.

 

1- BECK: Mongolian chop squad

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I’ve already done a full look at this series. So to see why it’s my number one go read that here.

Honorable mentions (or shows that should really be on the list)

Ping-Pong: the animation

tumblr_inline_n9jq40RZu31ridabgAn odd ball of a sport’s anime, that is much more about the characters and growing up than the sport, and does so brilliantly by telling this tale of reaching for the top from multiple players’ perspectives. But that doesn’t stop the sport being mesmerizing and intense as hell to watch. Relatively new so I’ve only watched it once, but give it time I could see this finding its way high on the list.

Trigun

OEqahC3The classic sci-fi western series, that starts as a goofy action comedy, and becomes a dark science fiction thriller, all with one of the most charismatically likable yet tragic leads ever put to anime. It is full of great characters that defy expectations, an expansive world like you’ve never seen before, and a rich and original mythology. Really it should be on the list, and I’m not sure why it isn’t!

Hellsing: Ultimate

tumblr_mh1llo4xP61rbrys3o1_500There’s anti-heroes, and then there’s Alucard the ‘hero’ of this dark, gothic action, horror show, who is basically just a villain, but just isn’t as evil as the other villains because well, even vampires aren’t Nazis. Gruesomely fun, with strong characters, action, and plot; just make sure you don’t confuse it with the other Hellsing series which pales in comparison, and is another case of the series that sticks closer to the manga being the better.

Death Note

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It’s fucking Death Note, does anyone need to say anything more about it!

 

 

Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy_Bebop_9Another show considered an absolute classic, I kind of had the opposite experience with this than with Evangelion, as I went in with far too much hype, expecting the show to change my beliefs in the world and all that…and it really didn’t. But after having watched the show a few times with my expectations lower, I can’t deny how damn good it is. Great characters, great subtle storytelling, and it just oozes style from every pour, when it’s not just being funny. Don’t think I’ll ever 2500430-8244495395_dc9e0f48b7_zlove it as much as most people, but it DOES have one of the best ending lines in all of anime. So what else can I say but….bang

 

 

 

 

Well I hope you enjoyed my list of my personal favorite anime shows. Agree, disagree, what are some of your favorite anime shows? Let us know in the comments below.