The Columnist aka De Kuthoer (2019)

Quick Synopsis: Femke Boot (played by Katja Herbers) is an author who is fed up with the constant abuse she gets online, so decides to fight back with murder in a slick social satire.

I was looking forward to this since I first saw the trailer. I showed someone it and they said “Oh that looks right up your street”. And it is, it’s funny, has something to say, has a good look, and looks violently fun. The closest to this I’ve seen is probably I Blame Society. But that wasn’t as focused as this is. This has a definitive villain, but also doesn’t. The problem the main character is dealing with isn’t a single person, it’s a societal imbalance. When that’s handled badly it can ruin a film as it makes the characters journey seem hopeless as if they can’t win, what’s the point of trying? But when done well it will annoy you and you’ll love seeing the character fight back. This is in the second category.

It’s a film that’s deeply uncomfortable to watch, in a good way. The handy thing about this type of plot is you don’t need a big breaking point. You don’t need a “oh, this is what set her off”. There’s no “this is the one incident which caused her to be angry”, it’s just “she’s a woman that has expressed opinions about sexism on the internet”, and everybody will automatically understand her rage and annoyance.

The film would fall apart without the performers though. If you don’t buy what the performers are selling, it won’t work. I know nobody in this film, so I went in with a blank slate in terms of expectations, and I love so many of them. Claire Porro plays Femke’s daughter, and she injects a mischievous energy to her performance, making you aware that even when she’s sitting there looking beaten, she has a plan. She’d make a great villain in a Bond-like movie. Tremendous talent for someone so young. She injects a level of fire to a film that’s already burning, simply fantastic to watch.

While Porro is good, it’s definitely a showcase for Herbers. She gives a great performance. It’s weird to judge performances in foreign languages as it’s based almost entirely on physical performance, you’re not aware of word emphasis etc which could be ruining it. So for all I know, she did terribly and her line delivery was terrible. But for me, judging by what I saw, she was great. It’s a difficult role to do as she has to be likeable, but also a serial killer. So she has to have that weird mix of danger and sweetness. It’s a testament to both her performance, and to the writing, that it works as well as it does.

Now onto the writing, I kind of assumed this was written by a woman, or at the very least directed by one. Not the case, written and directed by men. I kind of like that as it shows that it’s not just women who are disgusted by this behaviour, other men are too. It could be argued that they’re taking away women’s voices, but alternatively it could also be argued that they’re using their position of privilege to amplify issues which others face. If they stay silent, nothing changes for them, they can go on and live their lives. They put themselves in the firing line by calling out their peers, and doing it in such a visceral and clever way that it’s hard to ignore.

Trust me, this film is bloody, and this film is violent. But it’s also very very funny. Not just in the actions but the dialogue too. There’s a sense of playfulness to it that is artfully done enough that it never takes you away from the violence you’re seeing. And it’s very violent, there’s a fantastic montage of her killing misogynistic assholes and I’m all for that kind of violence in cinema.

I guess it’s time to talk about the misogyny that drives this film. It’s a story that so many people will be familiar with. A woman posts an article online saying something like “hey, maybe blackface isn’t a good idea and we should really stop it, and just saying It’s Tradition isn’t good enough”, and gets a lot of hate mail, most of which is misogynistic in nature (“This woman should be impaled cunt first”) . Lots of death threats, lots of people calling her an ugly cunt etc. It’s an ugly part of the film, but it’s an honest part of the film. Whether we like it or not, that is what the internet experience is for a lot of women, and it’s, well it’s not “nice” to see a film say this, but it is good to see a spotlight shone upon it.

Weird thing about this film is something that was completely accidental. Now, there was an incident last week where a twatface dickhead shot people because he wasn’t getting laid enough (that’s not me being glib, that’s pretty much what he said). And here’s a picture of him, and a picture of one of the guys in the film who sent the aforementioned “impaled cunt first” message.

There’s…..there’s definitely a similarity there isn’t there? Very creepy, and the fact it reminded me of such a horrible event does slightly taint it somewhat. But that also kind of shows the power of the film and how accurate the portrayal of the culture is. Good satire reacts, great satire predicts.

So, the downside of the film? The ending, it’s in the trailer so you know it’s coming. Although I suppose with this it’s not so much the destination as it is the journey, and it’s one hell of a journey. There also will be some people who don’t think the ending is complete, but I loved it. It just required you to step away from the film and realise the next steps for every character, I love when that happens as it makes the characters seem like real people.

One final thing: De Kuthoer does not translate to “The Columnist”, it actually means “Cunt whore”. So don’t compliment Dutch writers by calling them Kuthoers. That’s a mistake you only make once.

Jungle Cruise (2021)

Quick Synopsis: Emily Blunt and Jack Whitehall ask for The Rocks help to take a small boat down the Amazon river so they can find a magic tree.

To say I went into this with low expectations would be an understatement on the scale of “cheese is good on toast”. So much of it pointed to it being a bad film. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Rock and he’s always entertaining to watch, but he’s not someone that will make me go see a film just because he’s in it, he does have a history of films which are kind of forgettable and bland (I’ve seen San Andreas, cannot remember anything from it). Plus as much as I find Jack Whitehall amusing, his character seemed incredibly one note and stereotypical.

I was wrong. Not about Whitehall, his character is quite one note and once you’ve seen him in one scene you know exactly how his character is going to react to everything. You can also guess he’s gay. It’s not explicitly stated, but it is signposted more than Disney usually feel comfortable doing, with him saying that none of the women he was asked to marry “were really suitable for him”. That’s as obvious as they make it, and they count this as progressive, doing the bare minimum.

Other than that, it’s actually fun. It’s not a movie that’s going to change your life. But it is one that you can put on and comfortably watch. It’s the kind of movie they don’t make anymore. A fun adventure movie for kids that will inspire kids. It won’t inspire them to buy merchandise, or to go online, or purchase the video game. It will simply inspire kids to play. To go outside, pretend to be the characters and jump around the park. That’s something weirdly sweet coming from a film based on a theme park ride.

It’s not all fun though, the CGI is unforgivably bad for a film of this budget, normally when I see something this ropey in this type of film, it’s a bridge going over a canyon. The pacing is a mess, and the story is so incredibly formulaic and bland. It also is too obviously hoping for a sequel. It’s also lacking a truly impressive scene. There’s no big action sequence that the film builds towards. No “holy shit” moments. A film like this requires a big marquee moment which everybody who watches will remember. It needs a cinematic mountain to climb, this doesn’t have that. It has the occasional action sequence but they’re more like cinematic small hills. The excitement level stays pretty constant throughout, with no notable highlights.

Maybe kids won’t notice, but adults will. They’ll still have fun though. The film is a wonderful throwback movie to a simpler time. It’s not saying anything major about the human condition or society. You won’t learn anything, and you won’t be changed as a person. But you won’t be annoyed or angered either. You’ll just be taken to a different place for the duration of the film. And sometimes that’s enough.

Nomadland (2020)

Knew nothing of this film going in, that’s becoming a running theme with these reviews lately. Truth be told I don’t actively seek out films, I don’t go onto film sites and search for recommendations. My knowledge of what films to see come from four sources:

  1. Trailers at the cinema
  2. Personal recommendation (is why I watched Love And Monsters)
  3. If it gets nominated for a lot of awards (Sound Of Metal)

My fourth one is the one I’ve used the most this year. And if you ever wondered how the hell I found some random films, it’s likely to be from this. I go onto https://filmdistributorsassociation.com/release-schedule/this-weeks-releases/ every week to look at the films that have been released that week, if I haven’t heard of it at all I’ll quickly google it and see if it intrigues me. That’s why I end up hearing about films such as Come True (very much yay), Blithe Spirit (very much not yay), and I Blame Society (I don’t know yet as I haven’t seen it, but it looks great). When I say “it intrigues me” I mean that I read a quick one line synopsis, if that hooks me I usually just add it to the list. So there’s a lot of films where I haven’t even seen the trailer (if I had then I wouldn’t have seen Mouthpiece as I’ve since watched the trailer for that and it did nothing for me, which is a shame as it would have meant missing out on one of my favourite films of the year).

So yeah, despite it being one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year (well, technically last year. I’ll stop using parenthesis soon I swear), I went into this knowing very little. Highly recommend going into it this way as seeing everything unfurl in front of you is a delightful experience. I say “delightful”, it’s actually horrible. This has the tone and look of an apocalyptic future. It resembles a word in the near future left ravaged by war. So when is this film set? 2011. That’s a stunning indictment of American capitalism.

But that’s not really what this film is, it’s not about dystopia and bleakness. It’s ultimately about humanity and hope. It’s about beauty and life. It’s about everything and nothing all at once. It feels all too real, but sometimes that realness gives you a warm glow inside.

The feeling of reality is helped by the cast, mainly because Chloe Zhao decided to cast non-actors, instead reaching out to people who actually live the nomadic life. Risky strategy, but it definitely works. These characters know the perfect way to play every single piece of dialogue, bringing the characters to life in a way that few other films could. I should also mention the way that Zhao shot a lot of it. She doesn’t go to make it look like a dramatic film, it’s shot almost like a documentary. Again, this makes everything feel real. It doesn’t often feel like you’re watching a film, but more like you’re standing there alongside them, it truly makes you feel like part of a community (then the film finishes and you’re back to a reality where you’re alone with just a cup of tea for company, and you cry). Considering this film stars Frances McDormand, one of the best performers around, making you forget that she’s an actor is something incredibly difficult to do. But both the talent of the film, and the talent of McDormand herself, make that easy to do.

I suppose it is also helped by being based on a non-fiction book (Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century) which I now need to read I think. You’d think being based on a non-fiction book would mean it lacks narrative. It kind of does, but also doesn’t. It’s not a standard “A leads to B, which leads to C” style plot. It’s the cinematic equivalent of just wandering around somewhere (almost nomadically you could say) and observing. Sometimes you meander, taking stock of what’s in front of you at that moment, sometimes you move forward quicker, and sometimes you stand still. It’s the moments where characters just sit around talking which are the highlights. A key example of this is a guy explaining how his son committed suicide. He talks about how living on the road means you never say goodbye, because you know you’re going to see everybody further down the road. That’s why he does it, because he feels it means his son hasn’t said goodbye, they’ll always meet each other later on. Just writing that bit and remembering it almost brought me to tears just now. That’s how powerful it is.

In summary, you really need to see this. It’s one of the most compelling things I’ve seen all year, and it deserves everything you could give it. Plus it’s available for free on disney+ right now so….yeah.

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

I really enjoyed the first one. Probably one of the best all-round superhero movies of the last few years. When I saw the trailer for this I thought it looked a lot of fun, it brought to mind Thor: Ragnarok. I felt sure that this would be incredibly fun, just balls out insanity and slickness. Then it came out, very quietly, in December, I think. That was not a good sign. If it was a film the studio had faith in, they would have delayed it until the cinemas were open (like what happened with A Quiet Place 2), or made a bigger deal of what streaming sites it was on to purchase (like Disney+ have been doing with their stuff). The way they released it had all the hallmarks of a “let’s quietly put this out and hope nobody notices”. I delayed watching this as I was certain it was going to get an actual cinema release when they re-opened.

So yeah, that put a few worries in me, and then those worries increased when I heard people talk about it. Well, they didn’t talk about it much, which was the problem. The only time I’ve heard it mentioned was when I made a reference to The Monkey’s Paw in an earlier review and someone asked if it was about this film. The fact that nobody talked about this film is not a good sign. Now I’ve seen it has my opinion changed? Well I’ll say this, the fact that I knew NOTHING about the post-credits cameo is a sign of how few people discuss this film. I’ll spoil it here, it’s not really relevant to the plot so I think it’s okay. It has Lynda Carter do a cameo, the original Wonder Woman, she turns up, saves a child, says she’s been doing this a while, then winks to camera. Holy crap the implications for this and the future of the DCEU are huge, yet nobody talks about it.

Turns out there’s a reason for that, this film is not great. It seems like the type of sequel that was made by completely different crew from the original, which is weird as it had same director for both. Although it has to be said that Patty Jenkins only directed the first one, she didn’t write it, whereas she did write this one, so maybe that’s the problem. The script is just so poor, full of logical inconsistencies. A big issue is that it is a prequel, yet the events of it were not mentioned in Justice League or Dawn Of Justice. Nobody seems to have remembered the time a guy gave everybody in the world a wish and how it led to chaos. It doesn’t seem like everything from it was forgotten, just the effects reversed (although considering a few people died due to wishes, do they come back? The film doesn’t say). Also, she doesn’t use some of the things from this film again, and they would have come in very useful.

Also the way the film plays with the wishes is inconsistent. At one point the villain says he can give out any number of wishes he wants because he is the wish-stone, yet before that he asks someone to make a wish on his behalf. And some of the wishes only seem to work in a way that advances the plot, it’s like it knows it has a narrative to fulfil. It’s a shame as it could have been interesting, if they made it smaller. Having it all over the whole world makes it TOO big. If it was focused on one city it would have allowed the audience to get a better look at the effects of the negative side of the wishes. Instead we spend way too much of this film in watching people travel. Plus, it would have given plausible deniability for this film never being mentioned again. You’re telling me that a worldwide event like this wouldn’t have caught the attention of Mark Strong’s character from Shazam?

Here’s the thing; if I wasn’t thinking, I might have enjoyed this film. It looked good enough and the performances were good. But as soon as you think about this movie for more than a second, the flaws are too apparent to ignore. Some are just basic storytelling mistakes like how the main villain had a difficult childhood, a fact which informs a lot of his decisions during the movie. Also a fact which isn’t properly explored until right near the end of the film, bit of a weird choice, and not a good one. Also the opening scene isn’t needed. There’s a whole opening set during an athletic event in Wonder Woman’s childhood where she got caught “cheating” and admonished for it. seems to be just so they can tell her about the dangers of not putting effort in, but there must have been a much more natural way to do that, and one that doesn’t take about twenty minutes. The film is two and a half hours, and does not justify that length at all. I could have forgiven the film not making sense, but I can’t forgive how dull it is a lot of the time. Looks great though.

So in summary; see it if you must, but there’s nothing saying you must.

Undergods (2020)

I was intrigued by this. Anthology films are always really interesting to see. I like seeing how the different stories interact with each other and how the writer tells different stories in the same universe. Also it looked like it could be fascinatingly brutal.

It’s not though. It’s not brutal. It’s bleak, there’s a difference. There’s not really many “holy shit” moments, it’s just an unending sense of dread, the cinematic equivalent of a boot stamping on a human face forever, then laughing as they do so. I think that was what made the film not for me. It was just so bleak and nihilistic that I didn’t really care or get emotionally invested. I wasn’t even emotionally devastated by the bad things that happened to these people, I was just so apathetic that I didn’t give a shit. I don’t think it helped that two of the stories seemed somewhat similar, in fact, all the stories were so similar in tone there wasn’t much emotional difference between the three. It felt like it was just three ways of making the same point. I can’t really remember the stories themselves in terms of how they unfolded, I can remember bits and pieces of them, but none of them really stuck with me, which is a shame. I think part of that is a location. The stories, and the way the film looks (and more on that later) brings to mind more Eastern European work, something about it just screams “former Soviet country”, but the story is in English, just seems kind of strange.

Now onto the good: from a technical standpoint it was pretty damn impressive. The music was cool, kind of synth-ey in a way that made it seem both retro and timeless. Reminded me of Come True, which as anybody who has been keeping up with these reviews knows, is pretty high praise. The look is good too, the use of colours to create the universe is brilliantly done. I don’t know when they filmed this, it could have been in the middle of summer, but the use of colour and set design makes it look absolutely freezing. You feel cold just looking at it (which probably leads to me feeling it feels more like a Soviet state).

The messages are depressingly timeless too, the themes present throughout the narrative are ones you will always see in art that has something to say. It’s just concerning that it happens to people who we don’t care about, and is dependent on characters behaving in a very certain way.

So in summary, I’m much impressed by Chino Moya’s work as a director than I was by his as a writer. I wouldn’t be tempted to see a film he only wrote, but I wouldn’t hesitate to watch something he only directed. It’s a film you’ll be impressed by, but not one you’ll really feel anything for.

Soul (2020)

Two minutes into this I knew it would break me. Somehow I hadn’t even seen a trailer for this so I genuinely had no idea what to expect, I knew it had something to do with music, but other than that, nothing. This is the part where I say “and I’m glad as it meant I went in with no expectations so I enjoyed it more since it was all a surprise). I’m not entirely sure thats applicable here though as I feel that even if saw a trailer, I still would have enjoyed this. It has so much heart and soul (OMG that’s the title of the movie) that no trailer could have ruined this movie for me. It could have put all the plot points in, ruined the ending, used a Black Eyed Peas song, all things I normally hate from trailers. It could have done all of that and I still would have enjoyed the film.

By this point, you know what you’re getting with Pixar, you’re either going to get one of the greatest kids films you’ve ever seen (Monsters Inc, Ratatouille, Finding Nemo), or you’re going to get something that at some point will make you cry like a baby cutting onions while wearing menthol-shooting glasses in front of a stranger. This is the second one, and very much so. I’m not really sure whether this would count as a kids movie, would you show this to a child? It seems you’d only show this to a child if you wanted them to have an existential crisis. Disney have done stuff like this before, the obvious one being Inside Out, but that distracted you with it all taking place in a childs head, and having a colourful playfulness to a lot of the darkness. This is different, it has a certain playfulness to it, yes. But it’s still a playfulness rooted firmly in the concept that the main character is dead and scared of moving onto nothingness as he feels he’s accomplished nothing. There’s no sugarcoating the medicine in this, it’s incredibly in your face and there is a chance that this will hurt its chances of being loved among kids.

For someone like me? I loved it. Pixar know what they’re doing. They generally make films which can only be made as animated (with the possible exception of Wall-E maybe) and this is no exception. Yes, a lot of it takes place in this world featuring a person and a cat talking, so you can do that live action. But the moments taking place outside of the real world, which exist as more of an abstract concept than a reality? That does things that ONLY animation can do. The fluid nature of the characters being shown as shapes and concepts is not something that would be possible in live action.

So in summary, if you have disney+, you HAVE to watch this. If you don’t, find another way to watch it. The first truly great film I’ve seen this year, and in terms of animated films it will take something truly special to upstate it.

Becky (2020)

Hadn’t heard much of this film, but it has Kevin James playing a Nazi and a sociopathic 13 year old hunting him down. This should be a lot of fun. Plus it’s short enough that it won’t outstay its welcome. Basically I wanted schlocky fun.

With that in mind it’s weird how the main issue with the film is how empty it is. It has nothing. The entire film could be done in 4 minutes and you wouldn’t really lose anything. I’m not asking for a Die Die You Nazi Bastards film to double as a philosophical insight into the unbearable lightness of being but I expect it to scratch a little deeper than the surface. I mean, it has 100 minutes to fill, give us something we wouldn’t have got from the trailer. The only added moment is that the nazi’s are searching for a key that will help them with their agenda of saving the world from the curse of black people existing. Why do they need the key? The film doesn’t say. It could be for a weapons cache, but that would be a bit weird as they already have the capacity to kill people, and it’s not as though guns are difficult to buy in America, you just need to prove you’re white and boom, you have your license. The way they treat it, like it is the only thing they need to bring a cuntpocalypse on the world, so maybe it’s something mystical? We don’t know, and to be honest I’m not entirely sure the film-makers do either.

I guess that’s the biggest issue, just the complete lack of care and thought that went into it. It’s like they had the general idea and thought that would be enough to carry the film. The only people that seemed to care were the performers, and the make-up team who do really good work here. There’s a scene where Kevin James’s character gets his eye gouged out so it’s just dangling there, he cuts it off. It looks and feels brutal to the point where you almost have to look away as it happens. Weirdly, this doesn’t effect the film at all. There’s no moment where him losing an eye changes the plot at all. That’s weird, and again shows the lack of thought and care that went into the script. I’m not asking for it to become his entire personality, but at the very least have it change SOMETHING.

So yeah, it’s a shame. It’s worth seeing for the performances, and the weirdness of seeing Kevin James in a role like this, but once you get past that, it really has nothing to offer.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020)

Well this was a shock. The character of Borat was thought to be dead, and for good reason; how can you trick someone when everybody knows who you are? Plus, what would it have to say? Didn’t it say everything it needed to say in the first movie?

So it was a genuine shock when they announced this film, not that it was being done, but that it had already been completed and was being released in a few weeks time. I love a surprise release, and they haven’t come more surprising than this.

What’s a bigger surprise is how easy it was for him to get people to say some really stupid shit. The character may be from Kazakhstan but the film is very reminiscent of Russia, in that it’s funny, until it very suddenly definitely isn’t. And it happens very quickly when he goes into a shop and asks whether one of the gas they sell will kill gypsys. The shop assistant replies that he needs to get the bigger one.

It gets much worse, with a scene late on in the film where he gets a festival full of people to sing that journalists should be executed, after choosing between that or injecting them with COVID. Oh yeah, this film mentions COVID, and brilliantly. COVID is the first pandemic in the age of mass misinformation, and the stuff that people say in this is shocking, but also not unexpected. Maybe that’s a weakness. A few years ago, someone saying that the leader of the opposition in America created a disease in China and then unleashed it on the world just to take down the president would seem insane. Today it’s actually US government policy. So how can it be possible to shock and surprise when stupidity and hate is the default setting of half the population?

Enter Rudy Giuliani, a guy who led New York through the aftermath of 9/11, and has since destroyed his reputation with, well just his general personality, although launching a fundraiser and asking guests to donate $9.11 probably didn’t help. In this film it’s not so much what he says, but what he does, he goes to a hotel room of young woman who is interviewing him, lays on her bed, and then he, well he fluffs himself. It’s incredibly creepy and is filmed in almost haunting silence, like you’re watching a slow-motion disaster. This was huge news, in that it made the actual news. On the downside this meant you knew it was going to happen, on the upside it means that there’s a slight chance (very slight) that Borat decided the election, weird.

What’s also weird is that this actually has a good plot(brilliant segue there, fucking seamless). It acknowledges the first film, and focuses on Borat living in shame and Kazakhstan being ashamed of him (which is very based in reality considering their reaction to the film), which causes him to have to go in disguise for this, travelling US with his daughter. Oh yeah, he has a daughter (Tutar, played expertly by Maria Bakalova), and truth be told she provides some of the most shocking moments. Not only the aforementioned Rudy moment, but she swallows a plastic baby from top of a cupcake and goes to get an abortion, saying her dad put it inside her. To which the doctor tries to talk her out of having an abortion because America.

She also provides a lot of the emotional weight. Particularly when a babysitter (Jeanise Jones), is genuinely shocked and tries her best to help Tutar. She’s not scripted, her initial behaviour was to help this poor woman, that’s her genuine human nature, and it’s wonderful to see it in this film. Obviously people agree, as they raised $150,000 for her. I think that’s thee important message of this film, and I don’t know where it was intentional or not. But when rich white guys are dicks to people, there will always be others there who are looking to help. Whether it’s a black babysitter who is concerned for Tutar, a young white girl who calls her own father out on being a creepy bastard, there will always be kindness in the world, you just need to find it. There’s a moment where Borat goes to commit suicide by hugging a Jew (it makes sense in context) and ends up having a beautiful conversation with a holocaust survivor. Keep in mind he enters the synagogue dressed in what can only be described as “Jewface”, dressed head to toe in hate. And this woman, who has seen what this hate leads to, she approaches him without hesitation and gives him a hug. It’s stunningly beautiful and incredibly heartwarming. Sacha Baron Cohen obviously thought the same as he actually broke character and told her that he was just playing a character.

The most beautiful moment comes at the very end, and I’m not entirely sure if it’s Sacha Baron Cohen as himself, or as Borat. He tells Tutar (or Maria), “you were amazing”. It makes sense in the film to be said by Borat, but he says it in Hebrew, which makes me think it was Cohen. It’s…..it’s beautiful. And weirdly, that’s what I’ll remember from this film, the love. And I NEVER thought I’d say that coming into this.

The Personal History Of David Copperfield (2019)

When 2020 comes to an end I will have a multitude of regrets, as will any year. But one of the big film-related ones will be that I did not see this at the cinema. I feel I owed the people involved in the making of this film that much. It truly is worth seeing. Luckily for you it’s easy to watch as it’s available on Amazon Prime. I highly recommend watching it on that, even if you just get a free trial then cancel after.

Anyone who has ever watched a television show is familiar with A Christmas Carol, and I LOVE The Muppets version, but no matter how good an adaptation I see of it, I never feel the urge to read the book. After this I felt the urge to read the original book to see if some of the brilliance is in that, the well-written characters and situations, the dialogue etc.

I just felt entranced when watching this movie, I was lost in the lush visuals created by director Armando Iannucci, who also did the screenplay. I feel I can’t judge the screenplay completely as, like I said, I don’t know what is taken from the original, and what he created. But either way he deserves plaudits for this, if he kept the dialogue then he should be applauded for having confidence in it and knowing to keep it (much like Muppets did with Christmas carol), but if it’s all his own dialogue then it’s one of the greatest scripts of the year. I feel it was a blend of the two with some of the original dialogue merged with specially created dialogue.

The performances too are great. Dev Patel gives what has to be a career best performance as the lead, giving a slight playfulness to a character which in other hands could be seen as a bit annoying and pretentious. It also has a great supporting cast, Morfydd Clark plays a duel role, and plays both great, but her performance as Dora is incredible, giving the character verbal tics which just make her incredibly loveable and easy to root for. Ben Whishaw is normally one of the most likeable people in any film he’s in, he has a kind face which makes him easy to root for. So his performance as Uriah Heep is stunning, he provides him with a level of sliminess where you never ever feel comfortable when he’s on screen.

If I had a downside it would be that some important characters disappear from the plot, in particular the narrative disappearance of Darren Boyd’s Edward Murderstone. This might be unfair though as it could happen in the book.

So should you see this? I feel you have to. It’s a delightful piece of film-making which is guaranteed to have you having a warm feeling inside you when you reach certain points. I haven’t felt this much cinematic magic emanating from a screen since I watched The BFG, and as anybody who has spoken to me can attest, that’s high praise.

2010’s In Film Day 7 (2017)

January – A Monster Calls

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

February – A Cure For Wellness

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

March – Logan

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

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Or this, a penis with a gun

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

April – The Promise

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

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I’ll just post this picture again for no reason

May – Sleepless

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

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Again, posted without context.

June – Gifted

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

July – The Big Sick

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

August – Atomic Blonde

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

September – Kingsman: The Golden Circle

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

October – Happy Death Day

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

November – Murder On The Orient Express

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

December – Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

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

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