Us (2019)

Spoilers: this film isn’t as good as Get Out. That’s not damning it though, as VERY few films are as good as Get Out. I feel that film could weigh Jordan Peele down slightly, it has given everything he is involved with INCREDIBLY high expectations which it’s going to be hard for him to match.

That being said, this film is still spectacular. I don’t see it hitting pop culture quite as high as Get Out did, but it’s still probably one of the highlights of the year, and definitely the best horror film of the year so far.

Honestly, and as much as I hate to say this, the weakest part of this film is the script. It feels like it needed adjusting slightly. I mean, it is still good, but there are moments where it’s a bit too unsubtle, a bit too unfocused, taking too long to say certain things. It’s still great, it just needs slight tweaks. While the script isn’t as good as Get Out, this film is MUCH better directed, which considering how great a job he did on Get Out, really says something. EVERYTHING seems to have purpose visually. He’s great at making sure a sense of unease looms over the entire film, giving even innocuous scenes a sense of dread. You could watch normal scenes out of context, scenes of family just walking down the beach, and they’d be SOMETHING about it which would tell you it’s slightly off.

The performances are also SUPERB. Almost everyone in it has to play two roles, and they need to make them different enough to visually identify which character we are seeing. Lupita Nyong’o in particular really nails it. The way she makes her characters move effects how you see them as people, it’s truly great.

My favourite moment of this film? The wham moment (which is not to be confused with the scene from Keanu where they argue that George Michael was a gangster, that’s a Wham! moment) is one of the best I’ve seen. This moment has slight spoilers so if you don’t want this film spoiled, look away now, and I’ll tell you when you can look back.

Those fucking idiots. If they’re looking away then they won’t see when I tell them to look back, they’re going to be walking around forever looking slightly to the left, they’re going to walk into so many open sewers. Hah!

Wait, where was I? Oh right, the wham moment. For a lot of this film it’s played like the only clones (ok, they’re not clones, but if I call them “tethereds” that will make no sense unless you either see the film, or I explain it) that exist are the ones of the family. We then find out that they exist of another family, and they’re all similar; all sociopathic killers. We then see a news broadcast and find out it’s country-wide. This moment is SUPERB. We find out that what we have been watching has been happening all over the country, that there are millions of stories just like the one we’ve seen, and they’ve all ended brutally. That is what I will remember from this film, how I felt in that moment. Also, that moment had a piece of realisation of visual foreshadowing that made me say out loud “You magnificent bastard”. So that’s that, this film made me annoying.

How We Got Through…October 2017

A Monster Calls

Just as depressing as the film, actually slightly more so. This isn’t something you enjoy as such, but it is something you appreciate because of how brilliant and heartbreaking it is. Also, the book I got looked beautiful in terms of artwork, is like everything was drawn with charcoal, really suited it. Although the film had a unique look as well, but that was more “watercolours”, this is very different, childlike, but an advanced child.

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Ayoade On Ayoade

I got this, was a fun read, but I don’t need to read it again. I can’t imagine what it’s like to read this if you have no idea who he is.

Bachelor Number 2

I actually love Aimee Mann, first heard her on an Anti-Valentines Day radio show. That single show was probably the most influential radio show I’ve ever heard, I got into Aimee Mann, Regina Spektor, and a few other bands whose names don’t occur to me anymore (one was basically a woman leaving a series of increasingly angry voicemail messages set to a dance beat, loved it for some reason). I describe Aimee Mann’s music as basically “Acoustic Snark”. She’s best known for her work on the Magnolia soundtrack (almost said Memento there for no reason whatsoever, because they both begin with M? That’s stupid even for my mind, might as well have said Monty Python And The Holy Grail, that’s an M too) but her other stuff is great too (in particular The Forgotten Arm, and yes, I would understand it if you forgot that prior to this was a full sentence that you forgot how it began, what with the extended parenthesis).

Danny Collins

Kind of sweet. You can tell Pacino is having the time of his life here, it seems like the role was written for him. A very well-written and performed film, with a pretty cool soundtrack. When I first saw it I expected it to be just okay but it’s actually really good. The music is good, the performances are good, and the background characters are rich in terms of characterisation. The trouble with a lot of films is making everybody seem like they’re actual people, making them seem like they exist when the cameras aren’t pointed at them. This does that very well, even the minor characters feel fleshed out.

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.

Fist Fight

Pointless. Not entirely sure why this exists. Slightly funny in parts but seems like one of those films that perpetually came out a few years ago and you missed it and forgot it exists.

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.

Geri’s Game

One of the very early Pixar films. Shows a lot of promise but lacks that certain Pixar magic. They got a lot better but you can see the early glimpses of what makes Pixar pixar.

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How To Be A Serial Killer

Really enjoyed this. A lot of fun, the kind of film I wish I wrote. Funny, original, and stylish.

The Inbetweeners

Funny, crude, but the second film is a massive disappointment. Weird how quickly this series has left the public consciousness.

IT

Wonderful soundtrack. Some films have had better songs, but few films I’ve seen this year have had songs which suit the film better.

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Also, fucking terrifying.

Keanu

The best use of George Michael in cinema. Ever. Has a great ending too.

Laid

Probably the only sitcom I’ver ever seen which features a scene where the main character tries to fashion a splint out of ice lolly sticks so that they can rape a guy who will stop everyone they’ve had sex with dying.

Solace Of The Road

Not too great a start, but a great closing stretch. The writing reminded me very much of someone I went to uni with, but less good.

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 Ritual

This film did something I will forever love it for; it put most the bits from the trailer in the opening half. I liked this as it meant you weren’t thinking “ok, what from the trailer haven’t I seen yet?”. Chilling, well told and well performed. Book is now on my “to-read” list.

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.

The Witches

Loved it!

The Young Offenders

Kind of charming, rather funny. Has a scene where a disabled drug dealer shoots someone with a nail gun. Seems like a tv show, which as of next year it will be, and I can’t wait.

You Can’t Kill Stephen King

Not a fan. I expected it to be funny and meta, but was just a bit nonsensical. Just wasn’t very fun. Not saying it was serious, far from it, it just seemed a bit “meh”, the film equivalent of dust in the wind.

 

Get Out

There’s a French film from 2002 called Irréversible, it’s a weird art-house psychological horror that’s apparently disturbing in many ways. During a large section of the film there’s a noise played throughout that’s played at such a frequency that it’s almost inaudible; this was done as a sound played at that level causes nausea and sickness. I should note there’s a chance that this is just an urban legend, but truth be told I don’t want to research it in case it’s not true, it’s too magical for me to find out it’s false. But what does that have to do with this film? Well that feeling, that sense of unease, is what this entire film is about. There’s not many scares in the traditional sense, it’s just almost two hours of something being slightly “off”.

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I know, the film that had this in the trailer ended up being creepy, who’d have guessed?

Nowhere is that more apparent than in some of the performances. I’ve seen films with better individual performances, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a film where every performance across the entire film was perfect. There’s not a single weak link in terms of performances, even characters who are only seen for a few minutes knock it out the park. The lowest mark you can give a performance in this is 8/10, but there’s definitely a few perfect 10’s throughout. She’s not in it for long but Betty Gabriel in particular was absolutely superb and if there’s any justice in the world she’ll use this to springboard herself into bigger roles, I’m sure studios will be falling over themselves to cast the woman who’s in one of the most popular GIF’s of the year, being seen by people who haven’t even seen the film.

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There’s a lot of VERY good eye acting in this film. I know this sounds stupid but there’s a lot of moments in this film which are enhanced by the way the actors utilise their eyes. Some of this has been seen in images of Daniel Kaluuya used in promotional material, which, whilst we’re on the subject; the promotional material for this was all delightfully understated, keeping the films cards very close to its chest. It showed a lot, but nothing that will spoil the plot. I’ve spoken a lot in the past about invasive marketing for films, and how that can help create interest for a film, and about how much I love stuff like that and I wish it happened more. Not for this though, it wouldn’t have suited it. This didn’t need marketing to create its universe, as it’s a world in which we can imagine we already live in, this really helps you lose yourself in the film. It’s also a film that sadly I can imagine being relevant for a very long time as a lot of the cultural issues it touch upon are ones which have been relevant for a long time, and will sadly continue to be part of society. Yes, this film does touch on a lot of racial issues, but not the usual “we’re from Alabama, and we don’t like those coloured folk”. The racism in here is very different, it comes not from anger or hate, but from a fetishisation of black people, a condescending view of them as being “genetically superior” but intellectually lacking. As such the film has a weird dynamic where the villains kind of worship the heroes. Very weird, very unique, and VERY well written.

GetOut

It’s kind of odd how well written and made this film is. It’s written and directed by Jordan Peele, who I’ve only seen in Key & Peele (a sketch show on Comedy Central that I really need to get around to watching one day), one of the voices in Storks (animated children’s comedy that’s actually better than you think it would be), and Keanu (an action comedy film about someone getting a cat from a Mexican drug lord). As such I always thought of  him as a comedic person, I never thought he’d be able to transfer his skills to horror so effectively, in fact I’ll go as far as to say it’s one of the best directorial debuts I’ve seen in a long time, which considering he’s basically committing genre adultery is impressive. That being said, it is still very very funny. The mood whiplash between horror and comedy is very well balanced, usually in films like this you have the comedy make the horror seem less scary, it doesn’t enhance the film, it undercuts it and stops you taking it seriously, usually because the comedy comes from a character not taking the situation seriously, they’re being chased by a monster/demon/dishwasher and they stop to make jokes. The way they do the comedy in here is believable, you can tell the jokes are being made by the characters to help them deal with the situations, and most of them are made by a character who isn’t directly involved in it, so is literally distanced from the situation already. This isn’t comedy-horror done like a mid-90’s slasher film, this is comedy-horror done like An American Werewolf In London. 

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Not to be confused with its extremely sub-par sequel.

One final note about this, I have to say my favourite thing about this film; that it’s doing well. Last I saw it had made $136million against a budget of $4.5million and had received universal acclaim from both critics and audiences. I like that, it would be a real shame if this film didn’t do well as it’s superbly well made, as it is this film has broken records and is certain to go down as a modern classic. Seriously, go see this film. In fact, you could say “Get Out, to go see this film”. You could say that, but you’d be making a really obvious comment and would just come off looking like an idiot.

2016 In Film (Part Three: The Good)

Films I like but don’t love. One’s that I won’t rush out to buy, but if I saw them at a good price I’d feel compelled to get them.

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I actually liked this film. Okay, the “romance” moments were really bad but the rest of the film was good. The destruction scenes were very well done and really showcased the horror that’s going on. There’s very little “implied” deaths here, they’re shown, and shown in detail. For example; during a scene where an earthquake induced tsunami where the wave washes through a building, rather than just show it from the outside, or show people getting knocked down, the wave actually knocks someone off a balcony and they land (painfully) on a rail below. The plot itself was really tight as well, it held together beautifully and I’m genuinely invested in the characters and want to see what happens next. A mix of both terribly cliche teen bullshit, and REALLY strong plotting.
The Accountant
Aflecks best film of the year (although that’s not saying much).
Bridge Of Spies
I expected to be really bored by this. But the plot, and the performances, were strong enough to keep me emotionally invested in the story. I loved it.
Carol
A lovely film, seemed to come straight from the 70’s. Very disappointed it wasn’t nominated for Best Picture and Best Director at Academy Awards, it fully deserved it. I also found it kind of weird that Rooney Mara got nominated for Best Supporting Actress considering she was one of the leads. It’s like the academy doesn’t want to admit that a film can have more than one female lead. And in a year where Jennifer Lawrence got nominated for the “oh yeah I forgot that film existed” Joy, it’s not as though there was lots of very strong competition to keep her out, okay she would have still ended up losing to Brie Larson from Room, but still.
Creed
A film that almost made people forget about the last few Rocky movies. It does follow a few of the same story beats as the original, but it’s done so well that you don’t really care. Possibly the best boxing film of the year (and one that reminds me I forgot to put Bleed For This in the “bad” blog so I’ll just quickly mention it here; the important car crash from the trailer? Doesn’t happen until over the halfway mark, it’s horrifically paced, we see the main character lose a fight, train and make a comeback, win that fight, THEN get in the car crash. Cut the first fight and would improve it immensely). But back to this film; it was basically a remake of an iconic film, featuring a black character as the lead, yet the internet didn’t shit on it, THAT’S how good this film was, even racists like it, and they usually only like burning crosses on lawns, drinking beer, and being terrible people.
Had a lot working against it, film adaptations of television shows very rarely work, neither do remakes, and this is both. I went into this with low expectations but it was very enjoyable, funny enough and enjoyable, very entertaining.
Eddie The Eagle
The kind of film you put on at christmas when you’ve got family round and need something funny and innocent whilst you stuff your face full of celebrations and pringles. Very very funny, and not just “slight chortle to self” laugh, but “full on laugh out loud” laughs.
Eye In The Sky
Pretty much a bottle episode, starts off very tense and maintains the tense nature throughout the entire film, which is very hard to do. A worthy last film for Alan Rickman.
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
This was very close to being put in the “meh”, it doesn’t have enough “wow” moments, moments where you truly embrace the magic of the moment, just kind of ordinary. Elevated into “good” by the performance of Dan Fogler and his characters romantic sub-plot, which really works. Is sweet and heartwarming, one of the rare examples of a romantic sub-plot really elevating a film. I think that might be because he’s the only non-magical main character in the film, so he’s our point of reference, he’s the one we identify with.
Florence Foster Jenkins
Some reviewers complained this film was uneven, saying the audience was unsure whether we should be mocking or sympathising with the main character. That’s a strength to me though, the fact that we can do both. She was clearly delusional, but her delusion came from a place of warmth and honesty so we could easily sympathise with her. The fact that the audience can laugh at this character, yet also feel her pain throughout, is testament to both the script and Meryl Streep’s performance (I know, Streep gives a good performance, what a surprise, right?)
Again, went in with low expectations yet really liked this film. Can be best defined as a horror film aimed at pre-teens. Not scary enough for adults, but entertaining enough to justify its existence.
Grimsby
Very close to being in the “Meh”, but Mark Strong’s performance just about pushes it into this one. Funny, disgusting and full of obvious inaccuracies, it’s basically South Park without politics.
Keanu
It’s an action comedy about two people stealing a cat from gangsters, and it features Anna Farris playing a drugged up Anna Farris, this was either going to be awful or charming and funny, luckily it manages the second one. Very sweet and very funny.
Ridiculous plotting, stupid characters, and coincidences that even JK Rowling would consider “a bit much”, yet bombastic enough that it kind of works. Plus Radcliffe seems to be having the time of his life.
Great songs, and a film which could teach Zoolander 2 a thing or two about how to do celebrity cameos; do it to enhance the film, keep the focus on your characters, not on the celebs.
Race
Obvious oscar bait, but a remarkable story that’s very well told. Also Jason Sudeikis gives a career best performance, one scene in particular stands out as fantastic, where he’s in a locker room as a football team shouts at him, he’s ignoring them and continues talking to his athletes about how all the yelling is “just noise” and doesn’t matter.
Secrets in their eyes
A film that nobody really talks about, which is a shame as it was very good. Yes it was a remake, but it’s very well made and has a great story. Plus it’s the first film where I’ve truly understood why people like Julia Roberts.
Storks
Expected it to be terrible, yet was actually quite funny. Not the greatest plot but very charming. Plus it has a fight scene where all the characters are trying to not make any noise so they don’t wake a sleeping baby, which was one of my favourite scenes of the year, was hilarious.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Worth seeing, even if only to hear Martin Freeman call someone a “cunt” in a Scottish accent.
The Witch
Very very scary. But not enough iconic scenes/shots. And maybe it would have been better if there wasn’t actually a witch so it would have been about puritanical paranoia, as it is their paranoia was justified, I feel it would have been a stronger film if it wasn’t a witch that destroyed them, but was their own religious beliefs that did so instead.