Fantasy Island (2020)

I was actually excited about this. The idea of a group of people getting what they wish for but it leading to their destruction is perfect for a horror movie. Think about it, since there’s really no limits you get to showcase some incredible set-pieces full of imagination. You can use the characters wishes to display who they are as people. Plus the whole “be careful what you wish for” allows for some creative scripting as well, the idea of your dreams being cursed or not up to what you expected. That’s definitely not the case. The script is formulaic, as is the direction and performances. I’m mainly annoyed by two things, two major issues I had with the film:

  1. The horror wasn’t linked to the dreams.
  2. The ending.

I’ll go into them in further depth. The first one: the way the wishes end up causing deaths is not really linked to the wishes themselves, there’s no sense of clever Twilight Zone/Black Mirror karma going back to get you kind of thing. I’ll go through them here:

Melanie

The wish

She wants to torture someone she went to school with.

How it goes wrong

It turns out it’s not a hologram and she is actually torturing her. I’m going to go into this specific moment in more detail later on. It then gets darker as she breaks the woman free and they end up getting chased by the torturer. So it just becomes a standard slasher film.

What would have made sense

Simple; have Melanie kill her but then realise that revenge doesn’t fix everything and she’s haunted by the memory of what she did. When she tries to sleep at night all she can think of is what she did.

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JD And Brax

The wish

“having it all” Basically a massive party at a big house

How it goes wrong

The house used to belong to drug dealers who come to the house to kill everyone

What would have made sense

This could have been the most interesting. All they needed to do was show the toll that lifestyle takes. Basically have them trapped in a never-ending party, forever. No sleep, no rest, no escape. Every time they go to leave the building they’re transported back in, every time they sit down they get forced to join a conga line. Show lots of asshole strangers there who refuse to leave the party.

Gwen

The wish

To accept a marriage proposal she rejected years ago.

How it goes wrong

Okay this is where the film gets weird. She gets exactly what she wanted but realises that her new life with her now-husband and daughter doesn’t actually belong to her and she has memories which aren’t hers. Interesting concept for a horror movie, right? This was done magnificently in Happy Death Day 2 U, in this it lasts a few minutes and then she changes her mind and asks to go back to a hotel fire she caused. Now she’s there again she changes the past by………she doesn’t. The fire still happens. It’s very important to the plot though as she sees everybody else from the island (minus Melanie) there on the night of the fire. So really this only happens for plot reasons.

What would have made sense

Have you seen The Butterfly Effect? Make it that. Show how her decision would have impacted her life; have it mean she failed in her career etc. Basically, have her first wish matter.

Patrick

The wish

To be in the army like his dad.

How it goes wrong

The army think he’s pretending to be a soldier and hold him hostage. This section actually provided the strongest moments of the film, he’s transported to the past when his dad was alive and meets him. There are some great emotional moments where his dad realises what’s happened and they have a great reunion and talk about how his dad died saving his troop. Patrick ends up disappointed when his dad goes to leave as he doesn’t want to go on the next mission because (as Patrick told him) it leads to his death. “but you dying saved your men, that’s why I thought you were a hero, you have to go do it” is essentially Patricks argument. An argument which makes no sense, the only reason he died is because he walks into an ambush he wasn’t prepared for, he’s prepared now, so can tell his men to avoid the ambush. His dad ends up dying anyway when they walk into the house where the aforementioned party is going on (in the present, and no they don’t mention the time discrepancies, the closest you get to it is “oooo magic island water”).

What would have made sense

Keep the “transported back in time to see his dad” part, that part works. But change it so it is his dad’s final mission, and he didn’t actually die saving his men in an ambush. He was part of a top-secret mission to attack something non-human; so a demon, a monster etc. Basically, turn it into a monster war movie (similar to Predator). Ordinarily, I would have gone with “show how his dad was not really a hero and instead killed lots of innocent people”, but the emotional moment of the film is the only part that worked, so it needs to stay.

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Now is as good a time as any to mention the wasted talent in this movie

There you go, it’s fixed. Now what you have is more like an anthology film, with each section having a different tone, with different scares, albeit ones which merge together well. Now onto the ending. The ending twist was that the whole thing was actually Melanie’s wish, and she wanted them all to die because she blames them for her not-boyfriend dying in a fire; Patrick because he didn’t rush in and save them, JD and Brax because they were friends with him and didn’t check he had left the room before they left the hotel, and Gwen because she started the fire. This would have worked if we didn’t see Melanie early on act really confused by the fact the powers of the island were real and she didn’t realise the woman she was torturing wasn’t a hologram. But if she was behind it all, then she knew all the time what was actually happening. So why was she pretending? She was alone in the room so the only people who were watching her were the audience. It was like the ending was written by somebody who hadn’t read the rest of the script. It makes ZERO sense and completely kills the small amount of goodwill I had towards this film. It wasn’t even needed, just play the film straight and let it scare people, not everything needs a twist. If you must have a twist, make it a different way. Cut out the fire sub-plot completely. Yes, if you had them all die and this was hell it would have been obvious, but it would have made sense.

So in response; avoid this movie. I can see 2020 having worse films than this, but I can’t imagine I’m going to see one that wastes its potential as most as this. It’s truly awful, not even worth a netflix watch.

1917 (2019)

I was worried I wouldn’t like this film, if only because I’m really bored with films based on the two world wars at the moment. There’s been so many of them and a lot of them haven’t really distinguished themselves enough to stand out (I still can’t remember which of the many Churchill films it was I actually saw). This feeling of boredom was so strong that I wasn’t even going to see this film. That was until I found out it was done as one continuous shot, I like to see interesting films, so I had to see it, and I’m very glad I did. It’s not a film I have much personal love for, it’s not really something I NEED to see again. It is something I’m glad I did see though, it’s a technical masterpiece. Even if you ignore the whole “done like one continuous shot” (well, technically two) it’s a superb film to look at, the cinematography is astounding. There’s a scene late on where the character walks through a bombed town at night, the only light coming from the buildings that are on fire, and it’s absolutely beautiful. The way the shadows interact with the scene is a real masterpiece in film-making, I wish more films did interesting stuff with shadows as they can provide a nice contrast to a scene.

None of this would matter if it wasn’t for the performances and the story, both of which are great. Dean-Charles Chapman (or as I know him: “is that Taron Egerton? Oh it’s not, ah well) has an incredibly difficult performance; especially since he needs to die in real-time on camera from blood loss. This brings me to a moment which I’m amazed they did; when he’s dying (which comes out of nowhere and is a real shock to the audience, in a good way) you can see the colour drain from his face, considering they couldn’t just cut away, apply makeup, then cut back I’m genuinely interested to see how they did this. George MacKay is the best performer though; his character looks absolutely broken by the events of the film, his eyes look haunted. It’s great that Sam Mendes got such accomplished performances from some (let’s face it) relatively unknown performers. Personally, I did find it a bit weird that it had two actors I wasn’t familiar with, and then almost cameo performances from actors you do know. Those moments do take you slightly, but not enough to ruin the film and I do know that is just a personal thing. This is still a film you need to see, even if it is only once.

The Gentlemen (2020)

I liked this film, not enough to ever need to watch it again, but it was okay while it lasted. A return to form for Guy Ritchie after the flop of King Arthur, pretty much confirming to studios that nobody wants to watch films based on King Arthur, rather than the truth, which is nobody wants to see shit films, oh wait, they do. It’s a shame as those films can be good, and whilst King Arthur did flop, I believe that The Green Knight will be the blue bill that cures the flop.

This is definitely a return to form, but I think that’s one of the biggest criticisms I have of it; I’ve seen it all before in his previous films. At times this doesn’t seem like a new film, but more like a re-recording of his greatest hits. To make matters worse, the story isn’t as clever as it seems to think it is. For a seemingly complicated plot, it’s remarkably straightforward. I hate to talk about it again (that’s a lie, I love discussing it whenever I can), when I got to the end of Searching I thought back to earlier moments in the film and suddenly a lot of things I thought were mistakes made sense, it made me immediately want to go back and watch the film again and look for more things I missed. You don’t get that with this film, there’s no “ohhhhhh, that’s smart” moment, and I feel it really needs one. There is one clever subversive moment, a gang of youtube rappers stumble into a drugs den, where they get caught by the security. I expected it to go like this:

  1. The security beat the shit out of the kids
  2. One of the kids turns out to be related to someone important.
  3. Bloody revenge

Instead, the teens beat the holy hell out of the security, then upload the video of it online. It’s clever and new, and is something I wish the film did more of.

The performances are okay, personally, I couldn’t unsee Charlie Hunnam as a discount Tom Hardy though. The real MVP is Hugh Grant though, he’s had a great last few years when it comes to weird roles; this, Paddington 2, Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists etc. He’s really developed from the “oh golly gosh if I got you a wine would you touch me?” roles from the 90’s into some incredibly fascinating ones, and is all the better for it. There are a few members of the cast I would have liked to see more of (not like that, settle down you pervs), and at times it does seem like there are so many characters the script has forgotten what’s happening. On the bright side the audience never feels lost, which is a risk with a fractured narrative like this. The editing and directing are skillful enough that you are always aware of where you are, there’s none of that “okay who was that who died, where are we now?” style editing that haunts lesser films. That being said, the ending is a bit shit.

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.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)

Now I freely admit that these reviews are purely subjective, based entirely on my opinion and tastes. As such there are times where my reviews don’t line up with popular opinion. To the point where “Well I Liked It” is an award I give at the end of every year to films which I like but everyone else seems to hate. Previous films I’ve nominated for that have included Gringo, Murder On The Orient Express, Table 19, and The BFG. Conversely, there are times where it goes in the opposite direction, where a film is loved by everybody except me. The best examples of these tend to be horror films; The Shallows, The Gallows, The Marshmallows (I may have made that last one up). Films which I just didn’t get. I mention all of this to provide context for this review. I really disliked this film, for multiple reasons.

Don’t get me wrong, from a technical standpoint it was great, the performances were sublime and it nailed the look and feel of the time. It truly feels like it belongs in the time it’s set in. There aren’t many anachronistic nods and winks, you know, where someone makes a comment that we know has comedic implications, like “Westerns will always be the most popular movie genre”, or “Rosemary’s Baby? That will never work as a film”. As such you’re not really pulled out of the film that often by the dialogue. The film itself, however, is incredibly tedious. Almost 3 hours long with 20 minutes of story. I spent so much of the film bored. 90% of the film was not needed. Actually, entire sub-plots and characters aren’t needed.

That doesn’t compare to two things which push it into dislike territory for me. One was the deification of Roman Polanski. I get he was important in the reality, but this film isn’t about reality, and if he wasn’t mentioned you wouldn’t notice his missing. I know back then people did deify him, but to a modern audience, it’s weird to hear it. It would be like watching a film about a pop-punk band in early 2000’s and they constantly mention how much they love lostprophets.

More jarring than that is something very specific to Tarantino; feet. In case you hadn’t heard, he kind of has a foot fetish. A fact he makes ABUNDANTLY clear during this film. There are multiple scenes where female characters put their bare feet up to the camera. Here’s an example:

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How is that anything but jarring? It adds nothing to the film, it just takes you out of it completely. It’s incredibly distracting and kind of weird. The only thing it adds is more material to the director’s wank bank.

Normally with films like this, I’d say it should have been cut down, with this I think it should have been made longer and made into a TV series instead. It would have allowed it to compartmentalise some of the separate plots into their own distinct sections, with the overarching themes running in the background. It also would have allowed some of the performances to have more meaning. As I said, the performances are REALLY good. Dakota Fanning is suitably creepy, DiCaprio and Pitt are on top of their game. Two performances deserve a special mention though; Mikey Madison and Julia Butters. Two people I’m not that familiar with, but I’ll be keeping an eye on as they are mindblowing in this. Julia Butters, in particular, gives the film most of its emotional weight when she’s on-screen.

It may seem like I hated this film; I didn’t. The closing scenes were too good for me to hate it. They were scenes of chaos with some amazing performances. It’s not good enough to make me like it though. Many people love this film, and I get why they would. It’s just not for me, at all. And that’s okay, I don’t have to like everything, and I sincerely doubt Tarantino will give a shit that one person didn’t like it.

Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans (2019)

I had weird expectations for this. I loved the original TV series and was thoroughly underwhelmed by the reboot. So whether I liked it or not, I wouldn’t have been surprised. Basically, I went in hoping for greatness, but willing to be let down. So how was it? Actually, it was really funny, it got some of the loudest laughs I’ve heard in a cinema in a long time. I think that might be because it was a kids film so people feel less guilty about openly laughing, some people don’t laugh loudly during adult comedies because laughter is for kids. I don’t agree with this, but it is something people do. Even at the funniest comedies, you’ll have people who react to jokes with inward laughing. There are no such qualms with this, it almost encourages you to audibly react. Not all the jokes land though, and the ones that don’t are generally the ones aimed towards a younger audience.

It’s this audience aiming which is the biggest failing of the movie. That, and doing what the TV series did. Anyone who watched the TV series loves the songs, they were often the highlight of the episode and some of them were genuinely great songs. Trouble is that doesn’t really transition well to a feature-length movie. In a sketch show-like format, you can take 3 minutes of music and just put it there, it doesn’t break up the flow or destroy the rhythm. But you can’t do that in a feature-length film with a narrative. It tends to be a signal to “stop the plot, we’re doing a song now”. There are 4 songs in this film, and at the very least one of them should have been cut. The Nero song goes on too long and completely disrupts the narrative. The one at the end is okay because it comes at the end, and kind of works but isn’t necessary. The first one you hear is the Boudicca song, I think this one is needed because it’s a great reference to the original series, also if you hire Kate Nash you probably should have her sing at some point. I’m not saying cut the songs completely, the reason for that comes in the song about The Battle Of Watling Street. You need other songs in the film otherwise that one stick out as an oddity too much. And this film NEEDS this song. It’s everything the songs in here should be; funny, catchy, and informative. Crucially, it advances the narrative. It doesn’t have a big enough budget to do a full-scale battle, so to showcase that through the medium of a rap battle is genius. If the rest of the songs were like it I wouldn’t have minded so much, but I’m willing to put up with Nero if I got this. Also, it has the line “I’ve got 99 problems but the Brits ain’t one”, which I can’t imagine many kids understood as a reference.

There are a few moments like that, things which kids won’t get, but crucially are subtle enough that kids won’t know they didn’t get them. The references aren’t staring you in the face and obvious. Two examples; the first one is where the Romans try to find out which Celt farted (sounds immature, but it works in the context of the film) and someone shouts out “I’m Fartacus”, this then catches on and everybody says it, until you get “I’m Fartacus, and so’s my wife”, in case there was any doubt this was a deliberate Monty Python reference, soon afterwards you have someone talk about the correct grammar of “Romans go home”. The second one is much more subtle, and BRILLIANT; casting Derek Jacobi as Claudius. Derek Jacobi’s most famous role; the title role in I, Claudius. That’s a fantastic piece of casting, yet one which the target audience won’t fully understand, yet also won’t be sitting there puzzled. They’ll just see a guy playing Claudius, whilst the parents will understand.

So should you see this? I’d kind of say yes but not full price, and don’t expect your life to be changed. Go in expecting fun, and you won’t be disappointed. An incredibly funny film with a great cast, also it’s definitely the only kids film to make a #metoo reference, I just wish it had the original cast in it somewhere.

Beautiful Boy (2018)

Okay so the last two films I’ve seen, well they have not been the best. Actually, it’s not been a great last month or so really; I Love My Mum, Bright Burn, Songbird, Dark Phoenix, it’s been a bad run. With a few notable exceptions (Spider-man, Toy Story) I couldn’t be blamed if I was slightly losing my enthusiasm for film. The last film I really enjoyed that wasn’t part of a franchise/reboot was Late Night. I’ve been crying out for something unique and good. Okay, this is based on a book so isn’t technically original, but it is very very good. Incredibly emotive and stylish. It’s a story about a teens addiction, and his family’s reaction to it, particularly his dad. This is not just a story about addiction, but also about family love. Their relationship is integral to the plot, and you completely buy into it. The big problem with it is how distracting it is to have Amy Ryan and Steve Carell reunited on screen and have it be so serious, they were a great comedic couple on The Office, so it’s weird to see them together and have it be so serious. Other than that weirdness, the cast is pretty solid. Carell is so good at being serious that at this point it no longer comes as a surprise. His chemistry with Timothee Chalamet is electric, you genuinely feel like they care for each other. It’s also great to see Jack Dylan Grazer in more stuff, he’ll have the lead in a sitcom at some point, I guarantee it.

It’s also a great-looking film. Don’t get me wrong, there are no shots here which you’ll frame and hang on your wall, but for Van Groeningen’s English-language debut he really shows what he can do, using his shots to tell a story, framing characters in such a way that just by a single shot you can see character relationships. There’s a stark brutality to some of the shots

I’m not saying this is the perfect film, but it doesn’t have any major negatives to it. It’s almost two hours and does kind of feel it. Also, there are moments where it seems to make certain insinuations about what caused the addiction. I don’t think some of them are deliberate, but someone with a knowledge of film language won’t fail to see the (possibly unintentional but still uncomfortable) implications.

But that aside, it’s still definitely worth your watch. I’m trying to think of one word to describe it and all I can come up with is; beautiful. It has a timeless quality and feels like a film that’s always existed, highly recommended.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)

Was kind of curious about this. I knew it was about Ted Bundy, and I knew he was played by Zac Efron. I half expected to message someone and mention how impressed I was with Efron’s performance, and how brilliantly he portrayed a psychopath. So, did he portray it well? It’s difficult to tell. Ted Bundy is kind of known for being charming, and using that to entice his victims. The film nails him being charming and likeable, but then doesn’t really show enough of the murders. It’s a Ted Bundy film where he doesn’t do much of the thing he’s best known for. Which is really weird. A lot of the film is about him being arrested and dealing with the court case, whilst protesting his innocence. This didn’t really land for me as the audience knows he’s guilty. We see very little of the Ted Bundy we know, which makes this film a bit weird, bit interesting. It’s the kind of film you watch once, but you don’t need to watch it again. I feel my issue with this film isn’t what the film is, but what it’s not. It’s not an interesting study into his psyche, it’s not stylish enough (it occasionally comes across as a lazy-Fincher), and it’s not brutal enough. At times it’s even kind of dull. It’s a shame as when Ted Bundy does kill people, Efron is great, Efron unleashed is incredibly impressive and brilliant, he just doesn’t show it enough. The rest of the cast is pretty good too, but strange. Never expected to see James Hetfield in a film like this. Same with Haley Joel Osment. John Malkovich is shockingly underused though it has to be said.

I have seen some weird articles about this film, saying that Efron is too good looking to play Bundy and that having Bundy as such a handsome and charming person is dangerous. That’s a weird take, it’s essentially saying this film is dangerous because it teaches you to judge people based on actions rather than appearance. Who’d have thought that “Pretty people can sometimes be assholes” would be a controversial opinion? Conversely, wouldn’t this mean that only ugly people can be bad? Trust me, I’m ugly as hell, and my body count doesn’t even reach double figures (unless you include the diamond spatula incident, and I still blame Marilyn Monroe for that as she forgot to lock the monkey cage). People associate beauty with good, so when you see a good-looking person commit acts of evil it’s hard to comprehend. Not that you’d really know, as like I said, most of this film is just Ted Bundy as a wacky guy escaping prisons and hanging out with women (did we really need a Ted Bundy sex scene?).

I know this has been quite rambling, but it’s hard to talk about this film with any passion. It doesn’t inspire annoyance, or love, or anything. I watched it, but never really felt truly engaged with it, and that’s the films biggest problem. It just exists, doesn’t tell you anything new or interesting, it just happens. Not sure if it’s the script or the direction but it never really grabs your attention. For a film about murders, it’s incredibly lifeless.

Stuber (2019)

I’ll admit this film didn’t need a lot to win me over. I was won over by its mere existence from the first time I saw the trailer. Kumail Nanjiani is really funny, and even when he’s only in a film for one scene is usually the funniest part of the movie. As shown by The Big Sick he’s more than capable of leading a film too. His characters are usually kind of similar, so I was curious as to how that character would work out in what is essentially an action movie. Dave Bautista is a weird one, as he’s been in a lot of very good action films, and played major parts in very big films, yet he’s still not thought of as a big movie star. I think the issue is that the films he’s been in, are very good films, but they’ve never really felt like his. The movies have always felt bigger than he is, and it’s hard to imagine someone buying a ticket based solely on his presence. It’s weird as he is VERY good at what he does. Also, he’s a big guy, and one who’s not afraid to do comedy, so I don’t think any of it is down to him, I think he’s just missing THAT film to launch him to the next level.

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There is a chance this might be it though, this looks great.

Sadly, this isn’t that film. It is very good though. One of those films where you walk out of the cinema and feel good. You’re happy with what you just saw. You don’t need to see it again immediately, but if it’s on Netflix or Amazon prime you’ll definitely rewatch it. This is the kind of film that was made for 90’s video rental stores. It is very funny, to the point where the audience laughter was so loud at some points it felt like the film had a laugh track. The plotting, too, was REALLY well done in terms of setting things up, forget Chekov’s Gun, this is more like Chekov’s Slightly Disturbingly Sized Armoury (quite possibly the most “film-student” joke I’ll ever make. Although I feel “joke” should be in quotes too, and look, now it kind of is, the magic of writing).

So why is it not great? Well, the action scenes feel a little lacking at times, not much really stands out in that aspect. Also, despite being only 93 minutes, it still seems to take a while to get going. In fact, I’d argue it doesn’t really get going until they go the strip club and interact with the male dancers there. Yes, once again this is a film saved by the presence of naked men, just like The Emoji Movie (it’s possible I walked into the wrong cinema for that movie). It also doesn’t really have the heart it thinks it does. It nearly does, but for some reason, a lot of the emotional beats don’t hit home fully (with the exception of one near the end which the film REALLY earns). It also has issues with the side characters not really having much characterisation. But the most annoying moment for me was one of the fight scenes. There’s a moment where the two main characters come to blows in a sporting goods store, and it just seems like padding. It also breaks the realism as there are moments where you think “well that would kill them, or at the very least severely injure them” and it reminds you that you’re watching a movie (which explains all the people sitting near me eating popcorn). It brings the story to a complete halt for a few minutes and didn’t really do enough to justify its inclusion in the movie. So yeah, I would say you should watch this once, but you don’t need to see it more than that. It’s a film you’ll like and enjoy very much, but not one you’ll love.

I Love My Mum (2019)

Have you heard of this film? Me neither. Turns out there’s a reason for that, it’s….well it’s kind of small. You know how some films are definite cinema pieces? This isn’t one of them, it’s made for watching at home in the middle of the day. You know what it felt like? It felt like an extended episode of a sitcom. Kind of like Young Offenders (which was turned into a tv series later on), but nowhere near as good. I watched the trailer and thought it seemed amusing but forgettable, and the film itself is the same. It’s not the funniest film you’ll see all year, but it’s a good way to kill time.

The central relationship really works though. You genuinely believe that these two characters have a love-hate relationship. Do you know what it reminded me of? Steptoe and Son. The two characters seem to dislike each other a lot, the younger one has dreams of moving and becoming something bigger, but is being held back by the parent who depends on them. This does lead to ultimately the worst part of the film where it turns out the mum lied about having cancer. She says she did it because she was worried that he would leave and she’d be alone. That revelation kind of ruins a character who was already very close to being unlikeable. There are too many moments where she gets so close to crossing the line to being awful, then gets slightly brought back. But all of them together, PLUS the ending ruin any sort of empathy you would have for her. It’s a shame as the son is actually kind of likeable in a weird way. Oddly gullible in a sweet way. There’s a moment near the end where you find out a woman he married was just doing it to convince him to smuggle drugs. When he realises the truth it’s actually kind of sad, but it makes his mum look worse as she just insults him instead of supporting him. It’s a shame as if her character was toned down it would make her likeable. All she needed was some redeeming qualities. I mean the film does work. The plot makes sense, it’s well directed and it does have some incredibly smart and funny lines.

None of that can make up for what I found the most disappointing thing about this film: former Chelsea player Frank Lebouef. Now a big part of this film is that whilst the mum has a British passport, the son doesn’t as he’s technically French. His dad is played by Frank Lebouef, and that disappointed me. Not because it’s him, but because it wasn’t him. He’s just playing the characters dad, I personally felt it would have meant more if he played himself. You could have got a lot of comedy out of the main character finding out his dad is actually a famous football player (especially if you establish that he hated Chelsea). I feel that was a wasted comedic opportunity, and that kind of sums up this film; a film of wasted opportunities and potential.