2020 In Film Day 4: The Good

Bill And Ted Face The Music

I was so close to putting this in the Amazeballs section. It was close to greatness, and it’s definitely what the world needed at the time. It provided hope in the dark days of 2020. Was one of the few films that you knew going in would make you happy. It just doesn’t seem quite “enough” to justify being considered amazing. Too small to be considered big, but it feels too big to be considered a small movie so the limitations would be forgivable. Don’t get me wrong, it is very enjoyable and you will like it. But you won’t FEEL it for long afterwards. It won’t stick with you for an extended period of time

Original review here

+Brigette Lundy-Paine. I don’t know who this person is, but they are AMAZING.

-Isn’t as smart with the time travel mechanics as the first two.

Best moment: The ending song. Some people may disagree but to me it was perfect and was the only way that song could go. 

My Spy

A film which didn’t get to come out at cinemas in the UK due to *motions in general at 2020* which is a shame as I feel it deserved that. It certainly would have improved my experience as it would have meant I wouldn’t have watched it on Amazon Prime and it’s non-working subtitles. It was a very sweet movie. But again, didn’t do much to push it to that next level. It’s a shame this wasn’t the film to push Batista to the next level in terms of marketability, but it is a good start as it shows he has more strings to his bow than you’d expect. This is probably his best non-MCU film. A lot of the laughs are cheap but they do work. It also has more genuine heart than you would expect.

Original review here

Best Moment: The opening hostage situation. Sets the tone perfectly, and has foreign language covers of modern pop songs

+Very, very funny.

-You can predict every moment just from watching the trailer

Palm Springs

It’s not often I get to describe what is essentially a rom-com as “truly horrifying”, at least not good ones (I would still describe PS I Love You as horrifying, because I paid to see it). But most romcoms aren’t this. Most romcoms don’t deal with the situations this does. Most romcoms aren’t, and it pains me to say this, as smart as this. The character work in this is great to see. You can truly sense the unsaid backstories of everybody in it. They don’t feel like characters, they feel like actual people.

Original review here

+It’s new. I like new ideas, and this is definitely one.

-It could do more with the location. It doesn’t do much in terms of memorable music or shots.

Best Moment: I can narrow it down to a single line: “Being a source of terror is not fun and it’s not fulfilling, I know from experience“. Oh my blog, that line. It says so much about him and his history.

Run

I was very excited for this. I loved Searching (as anybody who has spoken to me for more than two minutes can tell) and was curious what the creator would do next. I think that might be its biggest flaw; it wasn’t as good as one of my favourite films ever. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the film, I just expected something a lot smarter. It is still good, the way it builds tension is superb, the cast are all great, and it’s directed perfectly. It’s just…..it’s not a 10/10 movie like I wanted.

Original review here

+The minimalist cast and location mean that you feel as trapped as the character. Really simple piece of film-making but one that so many would be scared to do.

-Not as clever as it needs to be. 

Best Moment: The scene at the very end where the daughter has turned the tables on her former “mother” by visiting her in prison and drugging her in revenge for what she’s done. It’s beautifully chilling and haunting, probably the best closing shot I’ve seen all year. 

The Lovebirds

I saw the trailer for this before watching Fantasy Island, and that probably turned out to be the best part of that film. I wish I saw this in the cinema as I feel it deserved that. It’s on netflix which isn’t too bad (and means you definitely should watch this if you have it). It reminded me of a more cynical and bitter Date Night. Whereas that film was focused on a couple who were very much in love but still frustrated, this is focusing on a recently-ex couple. So recent that they haven’t really had time to process single life yet, and that informs a lot of their decisions. This isn’t a “oh they broke up but still love each other and are kind” break up, this was a break-up where they said things that can’t be unsaid, when they argued they brought out the big guns, and when they do that it hits fucking hard. Importantly, they are based more on “I don’t think you’re doing as good as you can be” so even the hate is kinda coming from a place of love. The dynamic between the two is wonderfully written and that goes for the rest of the film. It’s smart, funny, and was SOOOO close to being in the amazeballs section.

Original review here

+The characters

-Very cliche in parts.

Best moment: At the end when the police tell them they obviously weren’t being investigated for murder as everything was on camera. Very funny and original, reminded me of the end of Keanu. 

Vivarium

Again, something VERY close to being in the amazing section. There’s just something that stops me putting it in there. If this was objective then I would definitely put it there. But these are subjective, and I will never pretend otherwise. I did love this film, but it’s not something I will ever want to see again, and for that reason it goes here. Similar to Hereditary or The VVitch. You definitely should see this at least once though. It’s available on Shudder (at least for people in the UK, don’t know about other territories). So it’s worth a watch, but you might not need to watch it again. Delightfully uncomfortable viewing with possibly a career-best performance from Eisenberg. 

Original review here

+The general feeling of dread that is over the whole thing.

-Can be frustrating at times and feels a bit pointless

Best moment: When they’re driving to the house. So creepy despite the fact it’s just two people driving to a house. 

My Spy (2020)

I mentioned in my review of Stuber last year my hope that this would be the film that causes Batista to go from “oh yeah, that guy” to “THE guy”. Sadly that’s not the case. This film is predictable, the villains are SEVERELY underdeveloped, and a lot of the actions of the characters don’t make any sense if you think about it for more than a minute. It’s also REALLY fun and well worth a watch.

Yeah it has some flaws, but I seriously doubt you’ll regret watching it. It’s funny, sweet, and has enough unique parts to stand out. It sets its tone very early on with a hostage situation that turns into laugh out loud comedy, and a reference to Iron Man 2 (although if the MCU exists in this universe, who played Drax?), and then plays a car chase to foreign language covers of I Will Survive and My Heart Will Go On. It’s a cheap laugh, but it’s a laugh nonetheless. It’s also something you don’t really expect in this film, a bit like the high number of Notting Hill references compared to most comedy action films.

Now when I say “things that don’t make sense” they’re mainly character-based mistakes rather than impossibilities. For example he stands in front of a class and admits he’s a spy. Number one on the “list of things needed to be a good spy” would be “never mention you’re a spy” yet he never suffers any backlash from this. (Number two on the list, by the way, is “a preference for cheese sandwiches over ham”, I don’t know why that’s important, it just is.) It’s strange as he suffers for other things he do which aren’t spy-like, but not for this. It’s a very sweet moment, and incredibly funny, but like I said it doesn’t make that much sense. I mean, it is worth it for his description of his time in the service when he mentions killing people: “they were all terrorists, human traffickers, or really annoying”

One thing is made abundantly clear in this film: Batista is f*cking huge. You don’t normally notice it because he’s paired up against similarly muscled men. But when you see him standing against normal people, you realise he’s a massive human being. Like, scarily large.

So in summary I think you do need to see this. It’s not like “omg that was so smart and brilliant” but near the end they think a helicopters about to explode so she begs to do a slow cool-guy walk away from it. it doesn’t blow up so he throws a grenade at it so she can do it. How can you not love a film like that?

Stuber (2019)

I’ll admit this film didn’t need a lot to win me over. I was won over by its mere existence from the first time I saw the trailer. Kumail Nanjiani is really funny, and even when he’s only in a film for one scene is usually the funniest part of the movie. As shown by The Big Sick he’s more than capable of leading a film too. His characters are usually kind of similar, so I was curious as to how that character would work out in what is essentially an action movie. Dave Bautista is a weird one, as he’s been in a lot of very good action films, and played major parts in very big films, yet he’s still not thought of as a big movie star. I think the issue is that the films he’s been in, are very good films, but they’ve never really felt like his. The movies have always felt bigger than he is, and it’s hard to imagine someone buying a ticket based solely on his presence. It’s weird as he is VERY good at what he does. Also, he’s a big guy, and one who’s not afraid to do comedy, so I don’t think any of it is down to him, I think he’s just missing THAT film to launch him to the next level.

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There is a chance this might be it though, this looks great.

Sadly, this isn’t that film. It is very good though. One of those films where you walk out of the cinema and feel good. You’re happy with what you just saw. You don’t need to see it again immediately, but if it’s on Netflix or Amazon prime you’ll definitely rewatch it. This is the kind of film that was made for 90’s video rental stores. It is very funny, to the point where the audience laughter was so loud at some points it felt like the film had a laugh track. The plotting, too, was REALLY well done in terms of setting things up, forget Chekov’s Gun, this is more like Chekov’s Slightly Disturbingly Sized Armoury (quite possibly the most “film-student” joke I’ll ever make. Although I feel “joke” should be in quotes too, and look, now it kind of is, the magic of writing).

So why is it not great? Well, the action scenes feel a little lacking at times, not much really stands out in that aspect. Also, despite being only 93 minutes, it still seems to take a while to get going. In fact, I’d argue it doesn’t really get going until they go the strip club and interact with the male dancers there. Yes, once again this is a film saved by the presence of naked men, just like The Emoji Movie (it’s possible I walked into the wrong cinema for that movie). It also doesn’t really have the heart it thinks it does. It nearly does, but for some reason, a lot of the emotional beats don’t hit home fully (with the exception of one near the end which the film REALLY earns). It also has issues with the side characters not really having much characterisation. But the most annoying moment for me was one of the fight scenes. There’s a moment where the two main characters come to blows in a sporting goods store, and it just seems like padding. It also breaks the realism as there are moments where you think “well that would kill them, or at the very least severely injure them” and it reminds you that you’re watching a movie (which explains all the people sitting near me eating popcorn). It brings the story to a complete halt for a few minutes and didn’t really do enough to justify its inclusion in the movie. So yeah, I would say you should watch this once, but you don’t need to see it more than that. It’s a film you’ll like and enjoy very much, but not one you’ll love.