Quick synopsis: Ridley Scott directed film about the events leading up a duel between Sir Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) and Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) after Jacques is accused of raping Sir Jean’s wife (Jodie Comer).
I had heard mixed things about this. Some people had said it’s incredibly boring and muddled, some have said it’s an incredibly powerful piece of cinema. In my opinion it’s a mixture of both. It’s an incredibly powerful piece of cinema, that’s quite boring in parts. There are moments where it goes on too long, the ending in particular probably could have been trimmed. As it is the final shots are Jean and Marguerite riding out slowly on horseback through a crowd as Jacques’ body is stripped naked and strung up. It then skips forward and we see Marguerite sitting in a garden happy with her child. We’re then told she lived happily (well as happily as a woman could in those days) for another 30 years. So did we really need to see her in the garden? It’s not even mentioned on the wikipedia page for the film, that’s how unessential it is.
There are also a few moments I feel could have been longer (which in a film that’s 2 and a half hours long, is not something I thought I’d say). There’s a moment where a character essentially punches someone to death. The film cuts away just after he stops punching. Personally I’d have left it for a little bit longer so the full weight of the moment lingers with the audience, you would get a chance to sit and be truly f*cking horrified in what you’ve just seen.
That’s most of my criticisms of this film. They’re not “this film did this badly and it should feel bad”. It’s almost all personal preferences. All the flaws are “yeah that’s not right TO ME”. There’s one moment which I think exemplifies this. The rape itself. We first are aware of it from Jean’s POV, where he comes home and is told by his wife what happened. We see nothing. We then see it from Jacques’ POV, and it’s pretty clear that he did rape her. She’s a little bit more flirty than she is when we see the reality, but not enough that a normal person could justify it. That’s because we do see it. If the film stayed at looks which could be seen as flirtatious, made it so her looks back as she ran away had a more seductive air to them, then cut away as soon as the bedroom door closed, we would have a moment of ambiguity. We would wonder if it did happen as she said it, especially if they played up the pregnancy angle and made it seem like people would know the child isn’t her husbands. It would also mean that when we did see the truth, it would horrify us more. As it is we’re sitting there mentally comparing it to when we saw it play out earlier. We’re not lost in the moment, we’re thinking “okay, last time we saw this scene she stayed still, but this time she moved quicker”. Again, personal preference, and not a direct criticism of the film.
The way they this film is shown is unique, it’s really interesting to see how different people view certain events. There are a few moments where I would have liked to have seen from different angles but are restricted to just one. Not needed, but it would have been nice to get the truth about certain events we see.
It may be set in 1386, but there are some moments which are depressingly relevant in modern times. There’s a moment where people say that it’s impossible to get pregnant from rape, that a woman has to orgasm for pregnancy to occur. An idea that is, yes, woefully outdated, but also one that American lawmakers still believed in 2012, actually let me rephrase that: one that American dickheads still believed in two-thousand and fucking twelve because they’re cunts (for those asking why I didn’t censor that, but I did censor f*cking earlier I should clarify what the house style is for swear words: whatever I feel like at that particular moment is the rule).
So in summary, I feel you probably should watch this, but there’s a high chance you’ll be bored shitless. But you should admire parts of it.
Okay, this one’s harder to define. A lot of the ones in this are very, very, good films. They just weren’t for me. They’re films which I admire, but don’t really feel anything for. Ones I’m very glad I’ve seen, but I don’t need to see again. As usual these have been decided by a group of people broken down by age and money (i.e. me, because nobody is more broken down by age and money than me)
It’s done by the guys who do Wallace And Gromit, so you know it’s going to be enjoyable. The jokes are funny, but the basic plot and mediocre vocal performances let it down slightly. But I imagine kids won’t be sitting there watching it saying “well I’ve seen this story before and personally I think it was a mistake to cast famous actors in vocal performances and then get them to change their voices, very foolish from a marketing perspective”, and if a kid is sitting there saying that, they’re a twat.
This was funny, it just didn’t mean enough. I watched it, and not too long ago, but I barely remember anything from it. I remember enjoying it whilst I watched it, and some of the jokes, but I don’t remember if it made me feel. I remember being impressed with how the director kept on scenes instead of cutting away, it wrung every inch of effectiveness out of the scenes. It also had great things to say about how you shouldn’t hold your heroes up on a pedestal, and it’s possible to do good and still be a dick.
Incredibly charming. But even if it’s the first film you’ve ever seen, you will feel like you’ve seen it before. It’s not a film you need to see, but when you’ve got family round on Christmas day, dinner is finished and you’re sitting around too full of food to move, no more presents to open, THIS is the film you want to put on to keep everyone entertained. People won’t love it, but people won’t hate it either. They’ll sit and watch and be entertained.
Thoroughly okay. It’s not as good as the first one, but you wouldn’t expect it to be. But it is still a lot of fun. It continues the universe set up in the first one quite well, and sets up for a sequel. I hope, if there’s no sequel then the mark for this gets reduced drastically (this won’t be the last time the mark for a film will be dependent on the sequel btw, just to warn you). It’s funny, the characters are likeable, and it’s hard to dislike. Also, it’s short. It never pauses for breath and you don’t feel bored with it *stares at Assassination Nation intently*
Not as good as the first Goosebumps, not even as good as the second one if I’m honest. It is kind of magical though. If I saw this as a kid I’d probably have loved it. It just didn’t really do much for me as an adult. A lot of the plot developments were dependent on characters being stupid. Which is a shame as the dialogue is not stupid, even though it is a kids film, you don’t feel insulted when you watch it as an adult, the jokes still work. It also looks great, but considering the director that’s to be expected.
This is exactly what I expected it to be. It’s not the greatest film in the world, but it’s entertaining enough and gets the job done. It’s like the cinematic equivalent of a burger king. In the realm of dumb entertainment this is one of the best efforts. It’s funny, the romance sub-plot doesn’t feel forced or unbelievable, the child actor wasn’t annoying, Ruby Rose was great, and it was just insane fun. Recommended, but not highly.
This is the kind of film which awards love, yet I didn’t. It’s just too, I don’t know, bland. There’s a definitive difference between films that win awards, and films that I love. It builds up to the Meryl Streep moment well, and the performances are fine. It just felt a little hollow to me and didn’t resonate with me on a personal level. I genuinely can’t remember a single moment from this film.
I liked this, it was incredibly fun, and funny. But that’s all it was. it had little to no actual substance to it. Also, like a few films lately, it was held back by the rating. It has explosions instead of swear words. Because death and destruction is fine, but heaven help us we hear a “fuck”.
See my review of Rampage? I mean, how can you not, it’s like, right above this one. Yeah, this is similar, and not just because it has the rock in it. It’s also incredibly flat with little substance. It has moments of greatness, but it’s so bombastic that it’s hard to take seriously at times.
Funny, but again, that’s kind of all it is. It has emotional moments but not enough. I knew nothing about it going in, didn’t even see a trailer. It’s worth watching, but don’t go out of your way to see it. Luckily you don’t need to as it’s on netflix (in the UK at least). It’s well worth watching it on that when you have nothing else to do. It’s a great way to kill time, but it won’t change your life.
The best of the video game films this year. Definitely has the substance which Rampage lacks. Looks professional, to the point where you wouldn’t know it was a video game, it stands up on its own merits. This is probably the best of the films in this blog, and very nearly made it into the next blog instead. The main thing that stopped it was the fact that it is only ever “good”. It never goes beyond “good”. And it doesn’t seem to try. I mean, it is the best video game movie seen in a long time, but that’s not saying much.
The gimmick of this film is that it was shot on an iphone. You really should know this before you see it, otherwise you’d hate it as you’d think it looks incredibly cheap and slipshod. It’s worth a watch, even if only once to reward experimentation in cinema. The performances are good, Juno Temple shines in the small moments she’s allowed to. And the story is compelling, it’s just the visual nature of it is distracting. Cinema is expensive, so when you pay that much you expect a certain level of professionalism. If this was on netflix I’d be more forgiving, but full price cinema release makes me feel a little cheated.
Very funny. Very British. Both in a good and a bad way. It seems like it should be on ITV. It promoted itself as a love letter to British wrestling, but it didn’t seem to do any research on it and was seemingly written by people who knew nothing about the actual subject. To the point where the actual central premise doesn’t work if you know anything about the subject. British wrestling is actually in the best shape it’s been since it’s heyday, this is not opinion, this is fact. There are multiple independents doing incredibly well, and one of the major companies opened up a regional training facility and show over here. If you know that, it’s weird to take the film seriously. It would be like if you watched a film about World War 2 where the central premise is that Hitler was a Ghanian princess who was trying to get revenge on Britain for colonialism.
I wish this was better. I wouldn’t say I had high hopes, but I had medium hopes. I expected it to be average, and it couldn’t even manage that. The trailer intrigued me and when I saw mediocre reviews I assumed them to be wrong, kind of like Surburbicon last year. But throughout the film, I just felt that whenever the story was faced with multiple options it always picked the most boring one, kind of like Surburbicon. Multiple interesting side stories were swept to the side just to continue the story of Matt Damon, just like, well you get the idea.
Ironically, considering the subject matter, this film really needed to be cut down. It’s over two hours long and you feel every single second. I’d estimate the first hour or so can be cut down into about ten minutes. We don’t need the complete history of the scientific process involved. We also don’t need him to have a dying mother (who dies off screen after one scene and is NEVER mentioned again). You don’t need them going house-hunting or to a sales pitch for the process. You just need to set up that he’s bored as hell and is looking to change his life. Speaking of characters who just disappear (which I was, like a few minutes ago, not just now, but relatively recently), his wife. With the exception of her divorce leaving him with no money, her deciding to not get shrunk has almost no impact on the story and shows another missed opportunity. The film occasionally shows how people who haven’t got the procedure are acting slightly hostile towards those that do, saying they shouldn’t be able to vote as they’re not proper people etc. It does this for the opening, then again, never does it again. They could have had that play into the divorce settlement, have it so the court finds her more important because she’s an actual person and he’s not. But nope, they just show it as him signing a form and then he’s poor.
It isn’t completely without merit though. Hong Chau is amazing. Her performance is utterly heartbreaking. Actually, if the film was focused on her character from the start it would be A LOT better. She plays a Vietnamese activist who was shrunk against her will by the government and tried to escape to the US. But everybody she travelled with died and she lost her leg, leaving her in a lot of pain and having to work a menial job just to survive whilst essentially looking after an entire apartment complex of people; bringing them food etc so they can survive. She then meets a guy who can help her and they fall in love. It’s a very sweet story, but we see the dullest half of it. Think about it, her story contains a lot of political and social satire about the way the western world goes after other countries for the way it treats people, and then exploits those same people. It has basically everything you want from a story, so why wasn’t that one made?
Christoph Waltz seems to be having a lot of fun too, but then again he seems like that in most films. Every film I’ve seen him in he looks like he’s just having a blast making it, even when the film is terrible. Udo Keir, too, plays his role wonderfully, all the while looking like a mid-table Premier League manager who’s about to spend £40million on Andy Carroll.
So in summary; as much as I don’t want to say this I would not recommend this film. Possibly the film I’ve enjoyed least at the cinema so far this year. The one highlight is Hong Chau’s performance, nothing else in the film makes it worth watching.
Really wish I saw this when it came out. Very sweet, very funny, just kind of charming. Shame I didn’t get a chance to see it until just before it got taken off netflix, but that just means I’m now more likely to buy it on DVD.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Any TV show which ends a series with the phrase “fuck you, you car wash cunt” yet also have a genuinely heartwarming ending is okay with me. A bigger review will be going up at the end of the series.
More like “Death No”, amirite? But yeah this was not a good film. Quite annoyed actually as I wanted this to be good. If only to prove people wrong. This had people against it from the start just because it was a remake. So when bad reviews came in I thought “that’s just idiot fanboys who can’t let go and see objectively, I’m going to watch it and I’m going to like it”. I was wrong, it was bad. The characterisation is completely wrong, they made Light average. There’s no sense of a tense cat and mouse game between Light and L, and a lot of the rules from the book have actually been changed for the sake of the film for seemingly no reason at all. On the plus side the music is superb, and it looks fantastic.
Why does this film exist? Is it the 90’s again? I don’t know too much about science but this film still set off my “that seems like bullshit” sirens. And the ending was a fucking cop out. “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”. 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.
You know how you sometimes read of small gigs by bands where it turns out everyone in the audience became a member of another band later down the line? This is like the film equivalent of that. Has early appearances by Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Brendan Fraser, Sam Rockwell, Alyssa Milano etc in it before they broke. So 90’s, so, so 90’s. Has a pop punk soundtrack, uncomfortably high usage of “fag”, and the main characters have a black friend. Very flawed, kind of shit, but endearing in it’s own way. (that should totally be my About Me if I did online dating)
Happy Death Day
This was just a lot of fun. Very, very, funny, and really well written. Some films you watch and you think “”this is so meh, I can’t imagine a writer thinking “I have to write this film”. You do with this, you can just imagine someone toiling over this night and day, a true passion project. One of the funniest films I’ve seen all year with a genuinely great story.
Well it’s better than the last one, I’ll give it that. Trouble with these films is all the crimes exist on their own, there’s no investigation into the crimes effect on the outside world. Is crime going down because people are scared of being punished? Are there a lot of copycat killers? Do people see him as a hero or a villain? This is never touched upon, except in some of the posters for the one before this. Very disappointing.
Solid. That’s all I can say about it. It’s not going to blow you away but it gets the job done. You do have to sit back and just watch it whilst not thinking, but occasionally that’s all you want. It’s not as good as Wonder Woman, but then again few films are. Bigger review will be up soon.
Hilarious. I thank the person who recommended this to me as it’s simply bonkers (well some people say it’s bonkers, I just say it’s free). It has Hitler as a kung fu master, and a dinosaur cop shooting nazis in the balls, what more do you want from a film?
Very British, I can’t imagine this playing well in other countries.
A big regret of mine is not seeing this at the cinema, I thought it would be overly preachy and dull. Nope, so tense, a great thriller which just goes to show how talented Jodie Foster is behind the camera. I can’t see her winning an Oscar for it, but she could definitely get an Emmy if she moved to TV. Clooney is great as well.
Read a review of this which sums up my feelings on it completely “is more personal and important than it is great”. I appreciated it more than I loved it.
Murder On The Orient Express
A lot better than I thought it would be. The biggest surprise is that it’s not Ewan McGregor as the lead role, a fact I didn’t find out until about a week after I saw the film.
Disappointing. Has a sub-plot which goes absolutely nowhere. It keeps seeming like it’s going to interact with the main story but never does, it could be cut entirely and the film wouldn’t change. It seems like it’s just there to say “people used to be racist”, and then does nothing else other than that.
The Book Of Henry
Read this was the worst film of the year, and responsible for director losing Star Wars job. I actually kind of liked it. I never need to see it again but it wasn’t the worst film I’ve seen. I mean, yeah it does seem like two different films awkwardly put together but the performances are compelling enough.
The Crane Wife
Patrick Ness is a weird writer, he seems to write updated fairy tales, kind of like a Neil Gaiman type, but not quite as magical (because few people are). This book takes a while to get going but has some great lines and the final section really becomes something else brilliant.
The Dark Tower
Finally a film as bad as everybody said. Fed up with people saying “oh my God, this film is awful, worst ever” and the film is mediocre at worst. Finally, this is a film that I feel deserves its bad reviews. 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.
The Death Of Stalin
Incredibly funny and biting satire, which seems mostly historically accurate too. And it almost got banned in Russia, which is a bonus. Caused a Russian politician to describe it as a plot aimed at discrediting the figure of Stalin. Yeah, damn those films and their “anti-genocide” blinkered viewpoints.
The Eyes Of My Mother
I didn’t like it. Seemed a bit too film student-ey for my liking. I didn’t get the hype, I think it’s just because it seems like a middle eastern horror film that’s too incomprehensible for Westerners to understand, but nope, it’s American. Just didn’t click with me at all.
Very Stephen Fry. In both a good and a bad way. Although it has to be said that “now will you all kindly fuck off?” is a great closing line.
The Lego Ninjago Movie
Doesn’t seem to be done with as much love for the subject matter as the original lego movies. The Lego Batman movie was obviously done by someone who loved Batman (or at the very least knew a lot about it), this isn’t. There’s no subtle references to films of the genre, it’s just a standard boring film with the only lego-ness being a villain who’s a cat.
So to celebrate (or commiserate: we haven’t seen it yet) Batman Vs. Superman (or to give it it’s full title: Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of The Rise Of The Planet Of Justice League Of National Geographic) we thought we’d do a blog about it. Marvel’s cinematic universe is in full swing (although after the somewhat muted reception to Avengers: Age Of Ultron, it’s fair to say there is a lot riding on Civil War) but what about the DC one? It’s irrelevant to this blog anyway, as we’re reshaping it anyway with our traditional recasting. So here we go!
This was quite hard to do really. I say this as a completely heterosexual person, but Superman has to be good looking. And in a certain way. He can’t be hipster good looking, and he can’t be the kind of guy you imagine stepping shirtless out of a lake, he has to be 1940’s good looking. The kind of guy you imagine playing snooker in a smoke-lit bar. I was going to go for Afleck for this but then realised someone better: Wes Bentley. Otherwise known as the guy who died in the first Hunger Games film. To me he has the look, he has the hair, and he has the certain “otherworld”ness that he needs.
An American as the American icon! Perish the thought! But really, even as he gets up there in years, Damon still has the boyish charms of a boy scout, but the chin and body of a harden soldier. His charismatic roles in light-hearted films like, The Martian, Ocean’s 11, and The Informant shows he can play adorkable very well, while his Bourne franchise shows he can kick-ass with the best of them. Dye his hair black and bulk him up a bit and, BAM-BOOM-WACK, we’ve got a lovable Clark Kent and a badass and charismatic Superman. Really he seems like an obvious choice, and I’m surprised he’s never been approached before. Admittedly he’d have to be an older Superman, but what’s wrong with that?
I know, never going to happen but I think he could do it. The reason why I never really brought Bale as Batman had nothing to do with his performance as Batman, it was his performance as Bruce Wayne that I hated. Bruce Wayne is basically a swaggering cockhead, Bale never had that “I’m the smartest guy in the room” mentality. Hiddleston would. I know some people may doubt he’d be physically imposing enough and to them I say this: Michael Keaton managed it. Side note: I was also considering Tom Hardy for this.
I really like the look of Ben Affleck as Batman, and I’m not surprised the early reviews for Batman v Superman are siting him as the best thing about it; but as my co-producer said, this is recasting, so we have to recast. So I choose the grizzled British badass himself Clive Owen because… well look at him. Those eyes. That chin! He’s shown he has the charm and wit to play a convincingly smarmy Bruce Wayne in films like Closer, and the action experience and intensity to be a terrifying Batman. Again another older pick, so realistically there would be a restriction to how long he could play the part, but who cares!
Yes, I know, Gal Gadot looks like she’ll be f*cking superb. But the name of the blog is recasting so I have to recast. This choice was made entirely because of Pride And Prejudice and Zombies, for which she was absolutely amazing and kicked the right amount of ass. I was also tempted to go with Ronda Rousey before remembering I have no idea if she can act or not. There’s a real lack of women in hollywood who could make believable action heroes.
I just like Emily Blunt, can’t lie that’s part of it. But there are a lot of legitimate reasons why she would be a great Wonder Woman. One) she actually looks like a woman, not a teenager (and that’s only a small poke at Gal Gadot, who does look good). And two) with her excellent turns in the recent action heavy Edge of Tomorrow and Sicario, she’s shown she can own complex action set-pieces with the best of them, and can play intelligent militaristic characters with human flaws to a tee; traits a good Wonder Woman needs, coming from an island of Warrior Women and all.
Mainly because in my head I can hear him do the Lantern Oath in my head. And he looks like the kind of guy who’s had powers bestowed upon him, rather than having been born.
Michael B. Jordan
John Stewart has always been my favorite Green Lantern, and after the disastrous abortion of 2011’s Hal Jordan Green Lantern film, I think a change of pace with the hero is needed. Now Michael B. Jordan maybe a bit young to play the part, but he’s a fast rising star who’s already proven himself to have the chops to carry a film and do action well, so a younger take on the character could easily work, and add some needed levity to the DCCU. Honestly Jordan would make the perfect Cyborg too, having already voiced the character in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, but we didn’t include him on this list because well, who thinks of Cyborg when you think of the Justice League!
Imagine the fanservice! The film would have an excuse to have Ryan Gosling walking slowly out of a puddle of water, thereby doubling your ticket sales AND encouraging a few more puddles of wetness in the audience. He has the looks, he DEFINITELY has the star power, and if you’ve seen Only God Forgives etc you know he has the acting skills necessary. Aquaman is generally regarded as a bit lame by the mainstream audience, so it needs somebody who can kick it back into relevancy. And who better than Gosling?
I haven’t seen Sons of Anarchy, or even Pacific Rim, though heard great things about both. The only things I’ve seen him in are Crimson Peaks, which was fine, and the UK Queer as Folk series, which I didn’t realize was him till just now. So this is based purely on look and reputation, but Hunnam looks perfect to bring the king of the sea to the big screen, and would actually fit the character’s iconic (and heavily mocked) design, adding the much needed edge and toughness too it, instead of just changing it like the Jason Momoa version has.
The best kind of thriller; nailbiting, bleak, and full of characters you actually give a shit about. The director of the amazing Prisoners and Enemy solidifies his place in the Western filmmaking world with this all-star thrill-ride. Hosting an Oscar worthy Emily Blunt, a shit-ya-pants Benicio del Toro, and an oddly chilled out Josh Brolin who adds the much needed levity between all the torture and mutilation. Directed with a Finchian level of detail and pristine, it follows by the books SWAT officer Emily Blunt as she is submerged into the murky work of the War on Drugs, and is tasked along with the mysterious Benicio del Toro to bring down the head of the Mexican Cartel. Sticking well clear of action tropes this isn’t a glorious, FUCK-Yah-‘Merica tale of beating the bad guy, this is a twisted, gritty, and dark morality tale that tells us that rarely the right thing to do, is the best thing to do.
I know this is basically a comedy, but it is also an intense Sci-fi thriller and if I didn’t put it here this section would be pretty spare. Ridley Scott’s best film in years (though I think I’m the only guy with a soft spot for The Counsellor), is a beautifully shot adventure following a marooned astronaut on Mars and his optimistic fight for survival. Now I don’t think there’s much more I can say about this, its just a damn good film, Matt Damon reminds us why he’s a superstar, and “Science the shit out of this” is destined to become an obnoxious over used phrase. But what allot of people I think fail to mention, is just how damn fun the Earth team is. Yeah the focus is on Damon, but Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor and their team on Earth are just as engaging to watch as they have to ‘Science the shit out of it’ there end, to work out how to get to Damon before he dies. If you haven’t caught it already, it’s more than worth the two hour plus run time.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Screw the next film on this list, THIS was the funnest action film of the year. Essentially a spy flick parody with a real plot and its gun barrel firmly planted in its cheek; it’s bloody, stylish, and with a perfect twee British sense of humour. It’s like if the Pythons directed a James Bond flick, but not without some studio supervision. Taron Egerton proves himself a bankable action lead and rising star in Hollywood, and I can’t wait to see where he goes next; while Colin Firth does a clean 180 and flawlessly reinvents himself as a very convincing action star without losing an of his preppy Britishness we’ve come to love and treasure. The bad rep this seems to be getting from some critics should be completely ignored as high-brow snobbery and the last thing I’ll say is go in expecting something silly but amazing, and be ready for some ultra-violence
Mad Max: Fury Road
Because it Mad Max fucking Fury Road. The action is kinetic, Charlize Theron is jaw dropping, and it tells us more about it’s world with barely any dialogue than three Star Wars prequels could. What else needs to be said?
God damn I love me some good old Sci-fi mind fuckary, and I love Oscar Isaac. This was his other big Sci-Fi film of the year, you know apart from…you-know-what, and in my opinion it’s the stronger of the two. In almost every way a closed box thriller, Domhnall Gleeson plays a dweeby programmer brought to an underground house by his eccentric bro-y boss to perform a turing test on a Female robot he’s created, and work out if she really can feel. And from that it breaks out into a tense psychological game of cat and mouse and fox, and I won’t ruin who gets eaten.
Who knew the best super-hero film of 2015 would be Ant-Man. Plagued with production issues for years, worst of all being the walk out of geek god Edgar Wright from directing, but despite all that Ant-Man STILL came out kicking. Helped by a great cast led by an always loveable Paul Rudd and an enjoyably cranky Michael Douglas, Ant-Man found its strength by keeping the comedy present throughout, in character scenes, exposition scenes, and action scenes, it always stays funny. Which makes it’s few moments of seriousness hit that much harder, him shrinking to the quantum realm was truly amazing, and gave the film the weight it needed. Is it perfect? Far from it; but it was a fun ride, with good action, and a much needed breath of fresh air for the quickly staling Marvel verse.
It Follows Easily the best horror film of the year. A real 80’s throw back to the likes of Halloween and Nnightmare on elm street, you can practically see Wes Craven’s fingerprints. With a focus on building atmosphere and tension over moderns mindless jumpscares, an actually likeable cast, and an intriguing story, It Follows will leave you glancing over your shoulder and watching off into the mid-distance.
Does this have problems? Yes. Are all of them made up for by pure retro-charm and heart? YES. I don’t know what people went in expecting with this film; some epic Sci-Fi drama that would change the world itself? Who knows? But if you went in just looking for entertainment, you got it in space-spades. A glories throwback to science fiction films of the 1940-50’s when the future was still fun, Tomorrowland may be slow to launch, but when it does it rockets through so many awesome set pieces, ideas, and so much enjoyable pseudoscience and alternate history bollocks , you can’t help but be charmed. Britt Robertson proves herself to be more than Jennifer Lawrence light, George Clooney shows he can wear the old curmudgeon hat with panache, and Raffey Cassidy is becoming one of the most unique child stars acting today. Is it a perfect film, no, but not everything has to be! We seem to be living in a world where if something isn’t ‘#tHeBeSTThInG_EVEEER’ then it’s terrible…No. Not everything has to be perfect in every aspect if it wasn’t trying to be. This film wanted to be nothing more than a fun family adventure with a good message, and it was hung because that’s all it was.
Oh and like Star Wars happened I guess. It was pretty good.
NOTE: Everything written regularly is written by Producer Mark. While everything in italics is written by Producer Lee.
I’m sure this gets said every year, but every year there are a whole host of great performances, that choosing one is just too hard, but it must be done…Unless you’re a shoddy internet film blog like this one. So I picked two.
Jason Segel – End of the Tour. Known primarily for his comedic roles in…well everything else he has done, Jason Segal is revolutionary as David Foster Wallace; bringing a subtle but clearly perpetually uncomfortable nuance to his manner. Even as he runs the gambit of emotions from, funny, angry, confidant, overjoyed, and sad, he never appears at home in his own skin or mind, and is a truly authentic take on the troubled genius. And for such an orgastic turn to come from Jason Segel is the cherry on the cake.
Michael Fassbinder – Steve Jobs. It’s easy to make a bad guy unlikable but loveable, to play the asshole that treats everyone like shit and make the audience love him. It is an entirely different and much harder task to play a guy you’re meant to like and have complex emotions for, like a complete asshole. But that’s exactly what Michael Fassbinder pulls off in his embodiment of Steve Jobs. He then takes it further as we peel back the layers that make and has made him the way he is; jumping back and forwards in time to see the building blocks of his character all the way to the complete man he becomes; and it’s all perfectly portrayed to us with barely any of his actual life shown
Al Pacino: Danny Collins. I know, Al Pacino gave a good performance, what are the odds of that? But this is a different Pacino performance than the normal good performance. The usual good Pacino performance makes you want to stand up and applaud, but this is different. You completely buy into his performance in a role which could have been derailed by a lesser actor. The downside is that writing this has made me have the song from the film stuck in my head.
Emily Blunt – Sicario. She’s a badass who’s always in control, but feels constantly out of her depth. She’s tough as nails and takes no shit, but her growing fear of the morality of her job she just can’t quell. Always ready to dive in and fight for what’s right even when faced with an endless darkness, but never shallow enough to not think about and feel the repercussions of what she does. And with all that, she’s never a blank, genderless slate who could be played by anyone, she’s still a woman. Though this may read more like a look at her character than her performance, the fact is you can’t distinguish the two from the other.
Runner-up: Alicia Vikander – Ex Machina
Amy Schumer: Trainwreck. Not the best performance by a long shot, but the film rests so heavily upon her performance that the fact she’s actually really good in it really helps it.
Honorable mention: Phyllis Smith in Inside Out as sadness.
Steve Jobs: It’s an Arron Sorkin film script, so it’s expected that it will be one of the best of the year, but this isn’t just fanfare. Like most Sorkin scripts this is a dialogue driven spectacular that runs the gambit of funny, to thrilling, to heart wrenchingly dramatic, but it is also a complete reinvention for the Biopic genre. Set in three real time acts between the 70s and 90s from behind the scenes at product launches, Steve has to argue his way through his friends, enemies and family to make each launch. What should have been the equivalent of telling a life’s story with both arms tied behind its back is turned into a fascinating character piece that tells us more about Steve Jobs the man than any old cradle to the grave film ever could.
Inside out: It’s the story and ideas that this film tells and so thoughtfully executes that made it too amazing for me not to put it here too. Yes I think the plot isn’t as original as it could have been or thinks it is, and the writing while very funny wasn’t too special; but its imagery behind how the mind is put together and how we as people function is just too genius to not step back and applaud. And on top of that I was floored by its very mature message of the importance and the need for the emotion of sadness, and how it helps bring us together and grow-up.
Lady In The Van. A film like this rests entirely on script and performance. And luckily both shine through. The script is full of hilarious moments (and a rather odd use for madeira cake). The fact it is a (mostly) true story doesn’t diminish the brilliance. In fact it makes it more impressive as it’s framed in a good way and says a lot about the power of the writer.
The Big Game. Because it’s the only film I’VE seen this year that had me turn to my fellow Troubled Production’s producer and say, “We should fucking leave.” For more details look further down. I talk more about it in another section. 🙂
The Gallows. There was a lot of bad films this year but this tops the list for absolutely NOTHING about it working. It was badly shot, the actors were shit, the characters were annoying, the “twist” didn’t make sense in terms of plot and seemed to be an asspull, the jump scare ruined what would have actually been an okay ending (seriously, if you have a moment in your film where a character gives a monologue on stage and then the lights go out and the curtain goes down: END THE FILM THERE!), the characters were the most annoying people I’ve seen outside of Twitter.
Best Film Moment (scene, piece of dialogue or shot etc)
It’s an abstract – Steve Jobs. The moment in which, in the middle of a heated argument with his ex-wife, Steve Jobs turns over the Mac and shows her what their daughter had been doing on it, to prove to her (and in many ways the audience) why the computer is important and what people will use it for; and it turns out his daughter has been drawing an abstract painting in Paint. It’s a little moment, but in a film (and year) of great moments this one struck me just right. The combination of my own nostalgia for Paint, combined with the sweet little exchange between them, leads to the first time the character of Steve Jobs is humanised. It may not be the biggest moment, the most dramatic, or even the most important, but it was the moment for me that Steve Jobs went from an awesome film, to a great one.
Runner-up: and the conversation is the best one I ever had – ending scene to End of The Tour. It was a perfectly touching and an up beat way to close this melancholy true life tale.
Inside Out control room locks up. The best way to describe depression to idiots who think it’s just “being a bit sad”. A truly iconic moment in a fantastic film.
Worst Film Moment (scene, piece of dialogue or shot etc)
Focus- Woo woo. Focus as a whole is fine, it’s an okay caper with a fun return from Will Smith. But it has this one scene that involves conning an over acting Chinese Businessmen at a football game, that is legitimately one of the funnest and most thrilling scenes of the year. It’s so good that the immediate retarded explanation behind the con is such a painful whiplash, it landed itself as the worst moment of the year for me. The process to pulling off the con is sooooo over the top, ridiculous, and silly, it just destroys what was such a bad ass moment and just makes it laughable.
This is very easy for me. It’s a moment that’s so bad it stands out, even in a film made almost entirely of awful: Get Hard. Against my better judgement I watched this film, and I wish I hadn’t. It was unfunny, badly plotted and just not needed at all. I’d like to think Will Ferrell is at the stage of his career where he has his pick of films to be in, and he chose this. That says a lot either about his judgment or his cocaine addiction which I’ve just made up. So the moment: there’s a scene which is like 5 minutes of making jokes about prison rape. Rape jokes are odd as they’re the only thing that become less offensive if you put the word “Prison” before it. But this scene was just ugly, and it wasn’t needed. It was just the same joke repeated over and over again “you’re going to get raped”, and the joke wasn’t funny enough to be the focus of a whole scene.
Honorable mention: a scene in Child 44 where the camera panned to the side to showcase: a wall.
End of the Tour. I have a lot of time for films about writers, that dive into their work, their creative process, and the damage of that; hence why another of my favourite films is Wonder Boys. I also have a lot of time for Linklater-esque stories based around the conversations between characters and their evolving dynamic, instead of heavy plot. So combine those in this true life story of the five day interview of acclaimed writer David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky, played by a typically great Jesse Eisenberg and a revolutionary Jason Segel as Wallace; which cuts deep as it examines the development of their uneasy friendship, the nature of writing and interviewing, and the plights but want of fame, you have my personal favourite film of the 2015.
Runner-up(s):Steve Jobs & Inside Out. Both are great films. Steve Jobs delivering an emotionally charged intellectual punch, while Inside Out delivers an intellectually charged emotional one; and End of the Tour only tops it for me because it does both.
The Voices. And I am soooo glad about that as if it was bad it would have destroyed me. Ryan Reynolds actually seems to be redeeming himself for Green Lantern with this, Woman In Gold and next year’s Deadpool. This is the only film I’ve seen at the cinema this year which I now own on DVD. I didn’t want to wait, I knew I had to buy it. The script is hilarious, Reynolds just seems to be having hella fun, and there’s an absolutely BEAUTIFUL shot in the woods after he kills someone. A very good live action directorial debut from Marjane Satrapi.
Best Film To Look At (a.k.a: the “Serena”)
Steve Jobs. For a film that predominantly takes place inside behind the scenes in theatres this may seem like an odd choice. But its Danny Boyal’s dynamite directing, that transforms rows of seats into complex tapestries, wide shots of walls into film screens, and characters staring at computer screens into complex moments of inner turmoil, that make this a clear winner for me. Really it’s here because this film didn’t need and shouldn’t have been such a visual feast, it just needed to let the words and actors stretch, but it still found beautiful ways to elevate those aspects, and keep you as visually enthralled as you are verbally.
Runner-up:Youth. Shot on location in the Swiss Alps and married with plenty of abstract imagery; never has a testament to youth and age ever looked so beautiful and devastating.
The Good Dinosaur. Yes the film itself was bland and 90’s Disney-esque and the characters looked, well, wrong, just wrong. But the scenery? Oh my god it was gorgeous. A planet that looked lived in and liveable. The way they animated water in particular made it actually look like water as opposed to just “standard with a blue tinge”.
Most Disappointing Film
Legend. Far from a terrible film, but with the talent behind and in front of this camera this should have been one of the best films of 2015 and a major awards contender. But outside a pretty fun dual performance from one of the best actors today, Tom Hardy, it turned out to be nothing but a decently entertaining, if mostly dull and plotless thing that never found its footing.
The Big Game. The worst part of this film is it’s easy to fix. You make the kid actually an effective hunter so it’s about the president of the United States being out of his element but helped by somebody who knows how to use the environment. So basically Rambo turned into an escort mission. Instead they made the kid useless, so it was a president being helped by someone who’s shit.
Honorable mention: The Gallows. Had high hopes for this but in the end was the worst horror film I’ve seen all year. In a year that included Poltergeist remake, Insidious 3 and The Visit.
Most Surprising Film
The Martian. Surprising doesn’t mean you expected it to be bad and it wasn’t. It mean’s surprising. I went in expecting an existential Sci-fi about survival and the human will. And I got all that, but it also happened to be one of the best comedies of the year, that used the blend of dramatic thrills and comedy to make both more effective. From Matt Damon’s optimistic Martian and his crew, to Jeff Daniels smarmy NASA CEO and his quirky team of scientists. It is not an insult to this film to call it a comedy; it is a complement to comedy that this film is one.
Runner-up: Ant-Man. Who would of thought Ant-Man would have been the best Superhero film of 2015.
John Wick. I admit I expected a typical action film and didn’t have high hopes for it. But this film was a revelation. The universe and characters were so well defined it seemed like a comic book adaptation. News there’s a sequel excites me as I want to see more of this world.
The “well I liked it” award
Tomorrowland. What’s with the hate on this film? Was it a perfect feat of science fiction? No, but it’s a fun Sci-fi adventure, with an interesting world, fun likable characters, a combo of goofy and deadpan humour, and is a real harken back to classic Sci-Fi adventures. When the future was something to wonder for not fear, and technology looked like technology. Ray guns are big and bright and silly, and jetpacks are sleek and still make no sense but are too awesome. Is the plotting all over the place, yes, is the first act a bit too much like molasses on sandpaper? Also not a complete over-exaggeration, but it’s got way too much heart to let little things like that get in the way of a good time.
Tomorrowland. I really don’t get the hate for this film. It’s odd as EVERYBODY I know who saw it liked it, but outside of my social circle everybody seems to hate it. But why? It’s nice. It’s the kind of film where if I saw it as a child it would have been my favourite film.
The “I’m obviously not seeing what the reviewers are seeing” award
The Big Game. “As spectacular as it is funny” “Samuel L Jackson has his tongue firmly in his cheek”. I wish either of these statements were true about this still born mess, failing to be dumb fun. The concept is great; a wimpy President played by Samuel L Jackson is chased through the mountains by terrorists and is helped by a badass child warrior. This should be as fun and or as campy as Olympushas fallen, or White House down…but instead, the kid isn’t a badass at all and spends most the film trying to find himself and failing; and though all his lines are wimpy, Jackson still plays it like a badass, so it’s just awkward. For a film apparently just going for fun, it takes its story and characters’ much too seriously, and its biggest failure is trying to distil genuine arcs and development on these blocks of wood.
Unfriended. Seriously, fuck this film.
The “Yeah it’s bad but” award
Chappie: a perfect example of a hot fucking mess. The plot is all over the place, it’s supporting characters are unlikeable and stupid to the point of being endearing, it’s like a child’s film with hardcore violence…How can you not dig this film. Held up by the sheer adorableness and likability of Chappie himself, and some dark, dark humour, Chappie is one giant mess you don’t want to clear up.
Chappie. Always always Chappie. I know this film is bad, the plot is all over the place, the characters are unlikeable and it’s just bad all over. And yet I love it. No idea why. I just think the film works. It’s funny and kind of brilliant despite itself.