2019 In Film Day 5: The Very Good

Now we get into the “seriously?” stage. The one where people wonder how I can be so petty to put a film in this category just for something inconsequential. Truth is, there could be an argument for any one of these being in the next blog (the amazeballs). But this is the most personal, the ones which I really really liked, but for whatever reason, just didn’t make me love them. For most of these, in fact, it will be really hard for me to find negatives about them, to the point where I’m going to come off as a really picky mother-fucker. Some of these films are BEAUTIFUL, and there’s at least one I’m genuinely surprised didn’t get more Academy Award nominations.

Ad Astra

Oddly enough, this film is timeless. Yes, it’s about space, but really the story it’s telling could have been written hundreds of years ago. It’s a story about exploration and isolation. Replace “space” with “Ocean” and “spaceship” with “regular water-based ship with cannons and things” then this story would still work. It came at just the right time for me, I had just seen *shudders* Wolf and needed something to reaffirm my faith in cinema. This was perfect for that, a fantastic CINEMA film. Sadly you don’t seem to get as many of them any more, films where you really gain something by watching it at the cinema (and to those who say “Endgame”, f*ck off, you’re wrong. I watched that on a plane and didn’t lose anything from the movie, unlike the time I tried to watch A Quiet Place on a plane and it just did not work). How this didn’t get nominated for more Oscar’s is a genuine mystery to me.

Original review here

+The sense of scale is awe-inspiring

-Lacks emotion at times.

Beautiful Boy

I kind of want to put this in its own section. Because it was better than good, but it wasn’t as good as Ben Is Back, which wasn’t good enough to be awesome. It’s a shame that this film came out the same year as Ben Is Back to be honest, as it means comparisons will be made between the two. And when you do that then this film can’t compare. It’s a shame as this film is still really good on its own merits. The central performances are believable, and it looks great. It’s a great depiction of the effect addiction can have on families.

Original review here

+Breaks your heart at times

-Everything it does well, another film does better.

Ben Is Back

So damn good. In the last few years I’ve come to really love the work of Julia Roberts. Her work in this is superb, the emotional frailty is there to see, but you still recognise her as a badass. This film does a great job of humanising addiction and showing us why it happens. Importantly it’s the first film in a long time which talks about the role of the medical profession in causing addictions.

Original review here

+Will break your heart

-I appreciated it more than I loved it.

Blinded By The Light

A film which had a genuine love for Springsteen. This film showed the power of music, just how it can affect peoples lives. Music changes everything, and this film shows just how. At times it was genuinely heartwarming. So what stops it being awesome? There are quite a few moments which seem pointless, particularly the opening. There are also moments where you get the feeling the film only had the budget for a select few Springsteen songs so there’s quite a bit of repetition. It’s a shame as with a few tweaks this could have been great.

Original review here

+The general feeling it gives you.

-Viveik Kalra’s performance is occasionally flat.

Captain Marvel

This film is not just good, it’s also incredibly important. When I originally reviewed it I said:

I did genuinely love this movie and it’s likely to be one of my favourites of the year.

I was wrong. Now I’ve had time away from it the flaws have become more apparent. The big one is the complete lack of narrative tension. We know she survives this movie, so we always knew she’d be fine. The CGI was ropey at times, and the soundtrack was just not good (one scene, in particular, was made a lot worse by the choice of music). On the plus side, it was a lot of fun, and Brie Larson is pretty much perfect in it.

Original review here

+A great popcorn movie

-The turn is super obvious

Good Boys

Very, very funny. It’s marked down because of one scene which totally took me out of the film. Sat there watching it and thought “they should definitely be dead”. It’s also excruciating to watch, but in a good way. It reminds you of how much of a dick you were when you were younger. If, by the way, you’re reading this and thinking “I wasn’t a dick when I was growing up” then that means you’re still a dick now, and just haven’t realised it. Sorry, those are the rules.

Original review here

+It has a refreshingly suitable attitude to women. The women in this film aren’t just props, they’re fully developed characters. That’s depressingly rare in this genre.

-The one scene.

Joker

Yeah, that’s right, I’m putting it in this blog, not the amazing one, come fight me. Actually please don’t, I have the muscle mass of a damp tea bag. The more distance I have from this the less I like it. I don’t think it would have the audience it does if it wasn’t for the batman connection, but those parts are the weakest of the film. Yes, Phoenix is amazing as the lead, but the rest of the cast are sorely underused to the point where it seems like a waste of a lot of good talent. It’s also incredibly unsubtle and derivative to the point where it doesn’t so much wear its influences on its sleeves, but fashion an entire suit out of them. It in no way deserved all the academy awards it was nominated for, I don’t get how anyone can genuinely say the costume design for this was better than Rocketman for instance. This film reminds me of Fight Club, in that a lot of the audience is made up of angry white men, and if you mention anything bad about this film they do not take it well at all. Seriously, mention to someone that you don’t like Fight Club and prepare for a lecture on how you’re wrong and it’s the best film of all time you’re just too stupid to understand it, it’s the same with this. And I don’t want to be part of a fandom filled with that mention assholes.

Original review here

+Phoenix is amazing.

-Tremendously overrated.

Jumanji: The Next Level

Actually really enjoyed this movie. The cast improved upon their performances from the first one. It’s exactly the same as the second one, but bigger. The stakes are higher, there are more characters, it’s all a very natural progression from the previous one. Plus it makes me really excited to see what’s next, so it has to be deemed a success. The downside? I don’t think I’m going to purchase it on DVD until after the next one has come out.

Original review here

+So funny.

-A bit obvious in places.

Long Shot

I really enjoyed this film. It’s incredibly smart and funny, and it’s just what’s needed right now. It has a lot to say about gender in a supposed “post-feminism” world. It does a great job of showing how “but we’re all equal now” is bullshit. It helps that it’s REALLY funny. On the downside it is a bit long, the opening especially feels like it drags.

Original review here

+Incredibly important.

-Very predictable. You’ll be able to guess the whole story by the trailer.

The Lego Movie: Part 2

Not as good as the first one, but I feel part of that might be due to expectations. Nobody had any expectations of the first one being any good, so it’s thought of as being better than it really is (don’t get me wrong, it is still REALLY good). This one had the expectations of that already there, plus of The Lego Batman movie (which I personally love). I would consider this better than the first film if it wasn’t for the opening. The first half of the film is incredibly dull. The second half is amazing though, full of emotion and incredible depth. It’s the first film I’ve seen which seems to realise that being overly serious is not the same as being adult. Not enough films will outright state that that is just as juvenile.

Original review here

+The message is incredibly important, and one I haven’t seen in a film before. It’s essentially “it’s okay to enjoy things. Being happy is valid”

-The first half doesn’t really work

Zombieland: Double Tap

If you liked the first film, you’ll love this. That’s all there is to it really. The pacing is a little off and one of the sub-plots really feels like it drags the film down. One of them has a pacifist character who is really underdeveloped and we’re not really sure how he’s survived that long, could have been interesting to find out. On a plus side; the chemistry is still there between the leads, and it’s a lot of fun to watch.

Original review here

+Bill Murray’s ending cameo is perfect

-Not necessary. 

Long Shot (2019)

I think I’m at the point where “new film by Jonathan Levine” will sell me on a movie. 50/50, Warm Bodies, The Night Before, and now this. I mean, it won’t be enough to make me pay full price for a DVD of a film I haven’t seen by him, I mean, he did still make Snatched which was pretty woeful and a waste of Goldie Hawn. This film is entertaining as hell and well worth a watch. Everything works well and flows together in this film, it’s a great example of everybody working well to create something great. The director brings the best out of everybody, Theron and Rogen have great chemistry, the ensemble cast work well together, the soundtrack is fun, and the script is superb.

Actually, I’ll give more about the script here because it really deserves plaudits, yeah the dialogue is a little too “Seth Rogen” at times, but mostly it’s a pleasure to sit through. The comedic set-pieces are hilarious, some of the dialogue is razor sharp, and when it uses the film to state something about the world, it does it in a way that is unsubtle enough for you to notice, but subtle enough that it doesn’t smash you over the head with it. It says a lot about modern news, modern politics, and modern gender. “The woman who stays with the man who has cum in his beard gets more flack than the man with cum in his beard” (I’m paraphrasing I think) is a gross way to make a very pertinent point. That’s what this film is GREAT at, focusing on what modern women have to put up with on a daily basis from a supposedly post-feminist world. A world in which “but women are equal” is said five minutes before “We can’t have a female president, what about when she’s on her period?”. And that is this world btw, make no mistake about it, it definitely is. Female politicians get described in one of two ways: icy and unemotional, or hysterical and emotional. If they show any form of passion they get slated, if they show none they get slated too. Think of how many of the criticism of Hilary Clinton were based ENTIRELY on her gender. Things like that annoy me, because I think Theresa May is an awful person, but it’s not based on gender, it’s based on the fact she seems to hate evidence-based policies and instead focuses on things to gain headlines. This is probably the most satirical film Rogen has been involved in since The Interview, but whereas that was focusing on large-scale politics, this focuses more on day-to-day stuff which effects everybody in modern countries; from the aforementioned gender issues, through to news all coming from one giant conglomerate, it takes a lot of shots, and hits like 81% of them. There are a few which probably won’t date well. Actually, considering a large part of this film is about Theron becoming the first female president, I really hope this film becomes outdated quickly.

This film isn’t perfect at all, it’s a bit too long and formulaic. The length is a definite issue, the opening spends too long setting up the characters so obviously that it doesn’t make them seem real, it only really tells us what we need to know, and doesn’t leave anything unsaid either, as such you feel like these characters don’t really exist outside of this film. Also, you can basically plot out the entire film from the opening. But I suppose that’s not the point with this film, it’s not about where it takes you, it’s about how it takes you there. It’s a bit like a really good cover song, whilst it’s not original, it does something different with what you already know to create something wonderful. So yeah if you get the chance, go see this, and not just because it features this song, which is one of my favourites and genuinely made me slightly squee when I heard it in the film. Also, Andy Serkis is delightfully disgusting in it. It’s also delightfully sweet and lovely, but gross in parts, a bit like having sex with someone who doesn’t wash.