2019 In Film Day 3: The Thoroughly Okay

Films too good to be meh, but not good enough for me to like them.

Alita: Battle Angel

At least it’s unique. The world-building for this is superb, especially in terms of visuals. It’s one of the best-looking films I saw. Plus I like to reward inventiveness in film, so why is this rated so low? I think it comes down to the lack of internal consistency. It features robots beating the hell out of each other, but you don’t know whether the hits are bad or not. Sometimes limbs get sliced off and they just get reattached like nothing happened, yet other times it ends up severely incapacitating them. So you have no idea whether to feel worried for characters until after the fact. It’s really frustrating to watch and means that you can never really lose yourself in the film as you’re constantly second-guessing whether things matter.

Original review here

+Rosa Salzer is perfect in it.

– Forgettable story.

Booksmart

I wanted to like this, I really did. It had a great cast and a lot of people I like enjoyed it. It seemed like the kind of thing I would love. But I just felt slightly underwhelmed by it. I think it is because the characters were slightly meh. The performances were okay (Kaitlyn Deaver, in particular, was perfect) but a lot of it seemed a bit too much like a Will Ferrell movie which couldn’t decide whether it wanted grounded characters or unbelievable ones so settled in a mediocre middle ground.

Original review here

+Very funny in parts

-Frustratingly paced at times

Fisherman’s Friends

Have you seen a heartwarming British film in the last few years? Then you’ve seen this. Yes it’s charming and heartwarming, but you’ve seen it all before. That’s the biggest problem, it brings absolutely nothing new to the screen. Unless this is the first film you’ve ever seen you won’t be surprised by any of it. The music is good (which is handy as the film depends on it) and the performances are fine. It just doesn’t do anything interesting enough to stand out in a very crowded genre.

Original review here

+So gosh darn delightful.

-Predictable

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Hey, this movie exists. I genuinely forgot I saw this film this year, I assumed it came out years ago. But nope, this year. It’s so forgettable, left almost zero impact on me. It’s a good thing I write notes otherwise I’d have no idea what to say. I mean, I still have no idea what to say without repeating myself, but still. The whole thing just feels so unnecessary, like I can’t imagine anybody feeling their life is better because this movie is in it.

Original review here

+It looks BEAUTIFUL

-Completely forgettable

If Beale Street Could Talk

This is a film that just wasn’t for me. I found the narrative frustrating in terms of the pacing. Characters appear and disappear with a frustrating lack of care for the audience. Also, there was WAY too much narration. At times it felt like it was treating the audience with contempt, feeling the need to spell everything out for us. This occasionally comes through in the story as well, things which we are told are then shown again and again and again, just to make sure we get it.

Original review here

+Very important film that is worth seeing

-Kind of dull

So that’s it. I know this was the shortest one, but a few got moved at the last minute during writing when I realised I liked them more than I thought I did.

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

This is one of the most critically acclaimed films I’ve seen so far this year. And I can see why; the performances are mesmerising, and the film looks beautiful. It’s an important tale of race and relationships. It just….it wasn’t for me. I found the story-telling too slow and fragmented. Things happen and then are forgotten about, 20 minute scenes cover what could take just 2 minutes, characters you think are going to be important end up appearing in one scene and then disappear.

It’s a shame as it is a wonderful film, you feel an entire universe in this film, every character seems to have a backstory you can’t wait to explore. It’s a fantastic slice of the characters life that we explore. It’s just narratively frustrating. Slice-of-life films are risky as they can end up lacking a definitive story. Some of them I do love (Ghost World in particular will always be a favourite), but some just kind of annoy me. This was in the second category. It’s mainly about someone in jail for a false rape allegation after he was framed by a racist cop (thank god THOSE aren’t a problem in America anymore). It feels like the story is building towards the trial, but that’s skipped over at the end and we go to about 3 years later. It’s a powerful ending as it illustrates how the system can just keep delaying trials to keep people incarcerated until they get frustrated and accept a plea bargain. It’s just a shame that it’s not done well; they give us this information by narration, and it doesn’t really feel natural. The film doesn’t really make us feel as frustrated at the system as it should to make that feel effective. It does it once or twice, but you never really get the sense that this is his only option.

I feel I need to mention the narration again. There’s waaaaay too much of it. The film doesn’t like silence or ambiguity, so if there’s a scene which would be silence and we have to actually think about what the characters motivations are, we get narration straight out telling us. It’s frustrating and doesn’t seem to mesh well with the overall aesthetic of the movie. Everything about this movie, from the story, to the look, to the name actors in small parts, just screams ARTHOUSE cinema, yet the needless narration makes it seem like it’s aimed at mass market. I suspect that’s not the case and it’s just the most effective way to get a lot of things from the book in. I just really wish they found another way.

This review has seemed overly negative I get that. But everything positive about is stuff you’ve already heard. I would recommend seeing this film, and I am glad I saw it, and I do know it was an absolute superb piece of film-making, it just wasn’t for me, and that’s okay. Everything is not for everyone, and that’s okay.