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.

2017 In Film: The Bad

Okay, the title is oversimplifying it a lot. These are just films I didn’t like, some aren’t necessarily bad, but were more a victim of hype. There’s going to be a few (and I can guess which ones) which a lot of people will disagree with, but taste is subjective so here goes, if you disagree, let us know with which ones. How I chose what to go in this was simple: these are the films that even if they were on tv and I had nothing to watch, I’d unplug my television and leave the house just so I don’t accidentally watch it. Oh, and there’s plenty of spoilers, so, be wary of that. In alphabetical order because, well how the darn else would I do it?

CHiPs.

Why does this exist? Seriously, was anybody calling out for a remake of a pretty forgettable tv show? Doesn’t really work, at all. I think it’s because the show itself doesn’t have a massive fanbase, it hasn’t really entered the popular culture that much. Also, the film itself is bad. Not just bad, kind of problematic too. I don’t want to get all “SJW” here but one of the female characters in this film is basically just a vagina that rewards the main character with sex. She starts off hating him then grows to like him because, well, because the script tells her to.  It’s not just her, most of the female characters are written as trophies for people to attain.

+ At least the cast look like they’re enjoying themselves.

-Almost everything else.

Fist Fight

Genuinely thought this came out a few years ago. Would not have guessed this came out in 2017, I’d have guessed 2015 or something like that. Pretty much the film equivalent of a cheap cheeseburger, disposable, and you won’t remember it a few minutes after you finish it.

+Kumail Nanjiani is really funny in it. Not his best work this year, but he provides the best work in this film. Also, the story itself actually works. Characters motivations make sense.

-Doesn’t have enough jokes that land to really be effective.

Geostorm

Again, and this will come up a lot for this year (this blog in particular); why does this film exist? Is it the 90’s again? I don’t know too much about science (as my GCSE results show) but this film still set off my “that seems like bullshit” sirens (not as bad as the complete abomination that was After Earth, but still). Oh, and the ending was a fucking cop-out. Did one of those “the hero sacrifices himself for the greater good, everybody cry. Oh wait, nevermind, they got saved so the death doesn’t happen and meant nothing just for the sake of a happy ending” endings so they can have both the emotional climax and the happy ending instead of actually having to risk anything. Which reminds me, fuck Iron Man 3, I like that film more than most people but they should have had the guts to kill Paltrow in it.

+The action set pieces work and look good.

-Ed Harris turns out to be the bad guy, I think we were supposed to be surprised by that but it just seemed really obvious.

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And some films were never meant to be made

King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword

This is what happens when you write a film with the sole intention of setting up a franchise and deliberately hold back so much for sequels that you don’t put enough in it. The story and the style of directing didn’t mesh well together, it would be like directing Halloween using lots of bright colours and a spice girls soundtrack.

+Technically well directed.

-The box office returns have pretty much killed all hopes for it to be a franchise, so this story will forever be incomplete.

Shut In

On rotten tomatoes this film has a score of 8%, I think that’s too high. Overly earnest and with a twist that’s so obvious I’m not sure it’s really a twist. A complete waste of both the audiences time and the actor’s talents. Everyone involved is much too good to be in this film.

+Very well directed, the story isn’t great but Farren Blackburn at least made it look good.

-Predictable as hell.

Sleepless

I’ve seen quite a few bad films at the cinema, but rarely are they as 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, yet considering everybody in the cinema stood up the very second the credits started, I don’t think it’s going to be looked forward to that much. Maybe I’m spoiled by John Wick, which set my standards unbelievably high, but still, not a great film, it’s not even a good one. Which is a shame as it should be good, the story is at its base a very compelling one; a severely injured person in an action movie in a city that never sleeps. Opportunities for lots of good set pieces and should look superb. But nope, just dull.

+Good idea

-So dumb and flawed that it’s impossible to look past them.

Snatched

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

+Joan Cusack is brilliant.

-The sense of disappointment that this is Goldie Hawn’s first film in over a decade.

The Belko Experiment

Not really a fan of it. For this film to work you need it to be one of two things:

  1. Really stylish and brutal.
  2. Really clever.

This is neither. It seems to run out of ideas by the end of the trailer. It would be a really good short film, but for it to be a full-length feature it needs something else, it needs a twist, it needs to amaze and surprise you in the final third, it needs something, ANYTHING that you didn’t see coming. As it is….nothing. It doesn’t say or do anything really unique and fresh.

+Good performances in it. John Gallagher Jr. is particularly impressive.

-Pointless

The Bye Bye Man

A film that really earnt the bad reviews it got. This film fails because of one thing; it does a TERRIBLE job of mythology setting. It doesn’t build up the villain at all really. As such you don’t really know much about the motivations, powers, etc. It also did something that way too many horror movies do lately that I detest: hallucinations as scares (seriously, that’s happened in a ridiculously high amount of films lately). Basically “argh, scary thing, oh wait it’s not real, OR IS IT? no, it’s not, OR IS IT?” repeated ad nauseam.

+Would be a good first draft.

-A lot of things are bad about this film, but the worst is still the title.

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Don’t Watch It (and with that this film wins Easiest Diss Of The Year award)

The Dark Tower

It’s very, very bad. Idris Elba really needs to fire his agent, out of a cannon, into a brick wall so he can’t convince him what roles to take any more. Really, he deserves better than this, actually, he deserves better than most films he’s in. A shame as he is good, he just seems to pick bad roles when it comes to film. Very disappointed with this as I was intrigued by the trailers, I thought all the bad reviews were wrong, but nope, they were accurate. It’s just as bad as the reviews say. I read a review that summed it up well:

“Elba’s a good Roland in a movie that doesn’t allow him to actually embody the character in any meaningful way. He’s undercut at every turn. The strongest stuff in the film is when Roland and Jake are bonding, but that relationship is so accelerated that there’s no room for an arc.”

I don’t say this often for terrible films, but this really could have benefited from being longer. 95 minutes is waaaaaay too short to delve into the mythology the books created.

+Matthew McConaughey is compelling as hell as the villain.

-A PG-13 adaptation of a Stephen King book that’s also really short. No way in hell this would work.

The Emoji Movie

So bland. Not even bad enough for me to say anything funny about it. Despite what some reviewers may say it’s not proof of all that is wrong with society, it’s not entirely evil, it’s just shit. Product placement was so blatant that it is slightly uncomfortable though.

+The non Emoji bits are actually pretty good and tell a good story. If this was done by Pixar it could have worked.

-This movie exists. This is like if you made a Tetris or Minecraft movie. Oh, wait, what’s that? Both of those are happening? F*ck you Hollywood.

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

A very Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller movie, for better and for worse (mostly worse). I don’t think I like Noah Baumbach as a writer. Nothing personal it’s just his stuff kind of grates with me for some reason. Basing this entirely on this and While We’re Young, but they both seemed very similar to me. Uncompelling characters talking way too much and being way too old to be acting like they are. Also, it’s the sense of false cosiness, it’s like a fake fireplace in a chain restaurant. You get what they’re going for but didn’t really hit it.

+Dustin Hoffman is delightful.

-During way too many moments did the thought “Stop whining and just move on already” enter my head.

The Mummy

You know what I said earlier about CHiPs having no reason to exist? Yup, same here. You know what I said earlier about King Arthur showing how it’s a bad idea to make a film with the intention of setting up a franchise? Yup, same here. You know what I said earlier about Geostorm attempting an emotional ending that backs away at the last minute? Yup, same here. And if you think this entry was repetitious, just try watching this fucking film.

+Sofia Boutella is really good in it and her character is actually very well done.

-Can be best summed up in two reviews I read: “The film delivers all the chases, explosions, zombies and ghosts you could ask for, and there are a few amusing lines and creepy moments, but, between the headache-inducing flashbacks and hallucinations, the narrative would be easier to follow if it were written in hieroglyphics”. and “some nice moments but is basically a mess. The plot sags like an aeon-old decaying limb, a jumble of ideas and scenes from what looks like different screenplay drafts”

The Space Between Us

I was actually looking forward to this. But no, just no. Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, and Gary Oldman do the best with what they can, but what they’re given was not great. My main issue is the obvious lack of scientific accuracy. May seem a bit nerdy, but it’s not high-level science they fail, what they do is the equivalent of a medical TV show saying “she got pregnant because she held hands with a man”. You wouldn’t see that on a TV show as it’s obviously false and only belongs in Alabama sex education classes.

+An interesting story underneath it all.

-Albeit very badly told.

 

Wish Upon

A really good idea; a box that grants wishes but needs blood sacrifice to work. Could be a really compelling script about the moral quandary that goes on with an item like this. But nope, the main character is never bothered by what she did. She seems selfish and hateful to the point where when (spoilers) she dies at the end you don’t really care, you just think “okay, the villain’s dead now, good”. Shame as Joey King was REALLY good in other films but now I don’t trust her as an actress. The film itself also is kind of bland,  Every idea it has comes from a better film.

+Shannon Purser is fantastic in this.

-Slightly racist in parts, really badly developed characters, a main character it’s impossible to root for.

How We Got Through: July 2017

Alien: Covenant

I can’t really make a fair judgement on this as I have never seen any of the others. Despite that, I did recognise a lot of scenes from this that seemed to be taken straight out of the other films in the series.

ASDF

Funny, easy to get through, and kind of quotable too. Great youtube series.

Baby Driver

The opening scene alone ranks it among one of the best films of the year. Very well done. Great films usually inspire you into film-making. I think this has the opposite, this is like “yeah we can’t match that”. Bound to inspire a lot of poorly-done imitators.

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Canadian Bacon

Not the best film ever but a great time-waster. The kind of film which I could see buying on VHS from a boot fair in the 90’s. Some great jokes, and very unsubtle. Odd that this is seen as a John Candy movie, I see it as more of an ensemble piece. Alan Alda, in particular, is great. Unlike a lot of satire, this has actually aged REALLY well, particularly in regards to the American invasion of Iraq/Afghanistan/Cornwall. There’s one line in particular which has aged, erm, weirdly. When they’re trying to find a new enemy to declare war on, someone suggests international terrorism, to which someone replies:

“Well, sir, we’re not going to re-open missile factories just to fight some creeps running around in exploding rental cars, are we, sir?”

Cars

Doesn’t really seem like Pixar. More like Dreamworks. Even the way they use music seems very Dreamworks. Pixar movies are supposed to be monumental events that change your life, this really isn’t one.

Cars 2

The worst Pixar film I’ve seen (and I think I’ve seen all of them). Doesn’t help that it focuses on the worst character from the previous film. I usually describe Pixar films I don’t like as being “almost like a Dreamworks movie” (see above for evidence). This was more like “Mid 90’s Disney straight to video sequel”

Cherry Blossoms – Ala.ni

A song I loved so much I used it in a script almost immediately after hearing it.

Despicable Me 3

Too much going on. Has about five separate plots going on. The story (well, stories) are only there as an excuse to tie chaotic scenes together. It’s like the scenes were written first, then the actual story was thought of later.

Dunkirk

One word to describe this: impressive. Visually, in terms of performance, in terms of the way the story is told, it’s all very impressive. The one thing that stops it being perfect (in my eyes, anyway), is that it’s missing that one standout scene. That one “even if you don’t watch the film, you have to watch this” scene.

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This guy, this guy is going places. AMAZING performance.

Ever Fallen In Love – Billy Talent

Picture what you think this song sounds like, yup, that’s exactly what it sounds like.

Gone Baby Gone

Amy Ryan is really good in this. Almost unrecognisable from her role in The Office. I wrongfully assumed she was just a comic actress, but her performance in this is sensational, almost makes me wish this was released this year so I could put her in the “best performance” category at the end of the year. Casey Affleck is, erm, he’s okay. Nowhere near as good as he was in Manchester By The Sea, but you can see the genesis of his performance in that film in this one. It also has one of the most brutal endings I’ve seen in a while.

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Honey – The Hush Sound

The sound of a drunken party in New Orleans. But a “teenage movie” drunken party where the worst thing that happens is somebody spills their drink. Nobody vomits, nobody fights, and nobody gets angry. They just drink and dance.

It Comes At Night

I liked it, but not as much as I thought I would. Probably because I saw at the cinema. I know some horror works great at the cinema, but I feel this would work better on your own in a small room. You need to feel part of that world, feel isolated, like a visitor in their world, and sitting in a vast room full of other people takes you away from that.

Next Goal Wins

A documentary about the Western Samoa national football team (or “soccer” team to those of you are wrong) who suffered one of the biggest defeats in international football when they lost to Australia. Interesting moment in here where they talk about one of the players who is “third gender”. At first, I was annoyed at how they talked about it, to me that seemed like a much more interesting story than the one being told, then it hit me; the fact they’re not treating it as a big deal is fascinating, and is a big deal. It’s not about them, it’s about the team as a whole. The fact they are so nonchalant about it is wonderful, and kind of beautiful.

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Saw

Some of the dialogue makes me think the writer has a rom-com in him somewhere. So natural and brilliant. Performances are a little stilted at times, very “end of year school play” air to some of the line deliveries. There’s a child in it, very briefly, who has the best delivery out of all of them. Her tortured cries are so realistic it makes me wonder whether this is actually a snuff film. This film is actually a lot better than its reputation would have you believe. Yes, the series did eventually descend into torture-porn, but the first film has one hell of a plot (also, one hell of a plot-related issue, but meh). Remarkably restrained, a lot of the horror comes from the situation, and one of the most brutal scenes is one where you don’t actually see anything, you just hear it.

Spiderman: Homecoming

I love it. So so much.

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This scene is genuinely one of the best-written scenes so far this year

Stuart Saves His Family

Dark, but could afford to be darker.

The Fuzz

The opening episode features a puppet prostitute getting shot in the head. What more do you want from a TV show? A buddy cop comedy set in a world where puppets not only exist, but deal jelly beans instead of drugs. The main character is called Herbie Smooshiloops, and at one point gets a ukelele out for a police press conference. Very funny, and a really good story. That kind of thing is usually not done in comedy, people have a tendency to think “well if the laughs are good, you don’t need a story”, wrong. Very very wrong.

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The Last Word

Holy crap where did this come from? It’s like High Fidelity mixed with Christmas Carol. Really good. I really wish this film had a better marketing campaign so that more people would have seen it. Genuinely one of my cinematic highlights of the year. Seemingly just with me though, a lot of reviewers really hate. I loved it though, very dialogue and character-heavy. Genuinely sweet and heartwarming, there’s a scene near the end which is a bit “meh”, but other than that I loved it. A story about an elderly woman who hires someone to write her obituary before she dies, only a lot better than I made it sound.

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The Omen

Weird references to 9/11 and Katrina (i think it’s Katrina anyway). On the one hand, it places it in the world. On the other, it seems a bit, I dunno, weird to use those things where thousands of people died as a plot point in your piece of shit movie. I think that might actually be my biggest problem with it, not that it uses real life deaths in a film, but that it uses real life deaths in a shit film.  This series will definitely have to suffer through a Halloween-watching live blog at some point.

The Space Between Us

I was actually looking forward to this. But no, just no. Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, and Gary Oldman do the best with what they can, but what they’re given was not great. My main issue is the obvious lack of scientific accuracy. May seem a bit nerdy, but it’s not high-level science they fail, what they do is the equivalent of a medical TV show saying “she got pregnant because she held hands with a man”. You wouldn’t see that in a TV show as it’s obviously false and only belongs in Alabama sex education classes.