2022 In Film: Day Eight (The Very Good)

Belfast

Ups: Does a great job of putting you in the shoes of someone living in that time.

Incredibly personal.

Great performances.

Very funny at times.

Downs: Unless you have knowledge of history, specifically the “why”, you could be lost in regards to character motivation.

Has Van Morrison on the soundtrack. I knew it would be busy so did a COVID test before going to the cinema to see this, and for the next few days after. All that for a film with a fucking anti-vaxxer on the soundtrack

Some people might not like that it’s mostly in black and white. (although I love the moments when it’s not)

Best Moment: His mum dragging him back to a shop in the middle of a riot to make him return something he looted.

Best Performer: Jude Hill. But I did like Lara McDonnell too.

Opening: Sets the scene perfectly. The overhead shots of the are wouldn’t be missed if they weren’t there. Although the transition between colour and black and white, present and past, is visually glorious and I love it.

Closing: “for the ones who stayed, for the ones who left, and for all the ones who were lost.” over a colour scene of the area. Beautiful, poignant, powerful.

Best line: The Irish were born for leavin’, otherwise the rest of the world’d have no pubs

Original Review here

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Ups: Handles a delicate situation perfectly.

Very emotional.

Some great performances.

Sets up the future well.

Downs: Too many moments which don’t go anywhere.

Waste of potential moments.

Best Moment: The attack on the ship. Was like something from a horror movie.

Worst Moment: The final fight. Only because it involves people wearing blue, fighting blue people, against a sky blue background.

Best Performer: Angela Basset. Easily.

Opening: T’Challa dies. Really it’s the only way they could have opened it, they had to address it, so it’s brave they did it immediately.

Closing: T’Challa had a son. Bit of a predictable ending, lets it down.

Best Line: Ramonda’s whole speech in the UN.

Original Review here

Clerks 3

Ups: When it hits hard, it hits VERY hard.

Funny.

Nice to see these characters again.

Downs: It’s strange to say but this is trying to hard to be a comedy. It’s so scared to be serious.

Takes a bit too long to get to the actual story

Best Moment: Dante’s rage. It’s the only scene with no laughs and it’s the best part by a long way.

Feels like these characters only exist in the movies, they don’t exist when the cameras not on them.

Worst Moment: Kevin Smith narrating over the credits, explaining what happened to the characters afterwards. Feels incredibly lazy and last minute.

Best Performer: Jeff Anderson. O’Halloran is close, but Anderson takes it.

Opening: Starts with Welcome To The Black Parade, always a good start. Feels weirdly out of tone with the visuals though. The visuals are low-fi, and Black Parade isn’t exactly low-fi. Kind of weird , feels like it’s just playing over and they’re completely separate.

Closing: One of the characters dies. Heartbreaking, I wish the film was more of this and less “typical Smith”

Best Line: “i wish I had a life worth fucking saving”

Original Review here

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness

Ups: Scarlet Witch is a truly sociopathic villain

The closest the MCU has got to a horror movie.

Damn fine special effects.

A decent third act.

Some incredibly inventive action set pieces.

Downs: Offscreen inertia is definitely in effect. There are times where it feels like the characters must be just standing around twiddling their thumbs when the camera is not on them

Should be a 15.

If Scarlet Witch is redeemed it will be a complete waste of her potential.

Best Moment: The Illuminati scene.

Worst Moment: The final scene. Easily.

Best Performer: Xochitl Gomez.

Opening: America Chavez and an alternate version of Strange being chased by a demon, then Strange tries to save the universe by killing Chavez. Good choice of opening, introduces America, shows off the visuals, sets up the multiverse, and shows that stakes are high.

Closing: Strange is walking down the street and is suddenly in pain, developing a third eye. Awful closing. Just leaves a “wait, what?” feeling.

Best Line: “What mouth?”

Original Review here

Lightyear

Ups: Emotional.

Deals with very heavy subjects in a way that’s easily understandable.

Fun.

Good characters.

Downs: Doesn’t feel 90’s enough.

Still not entirely sure why it exists.

Best Moment: The montage of failure.

Worst Moment: The twist about the villain. Doesn’t feel earned.

Best Performer: Taika Waititi. A lot of fun.

Opening: “In 1995, a boy named Andy got a Buzz Lightyear toy for his birthday. It was from his favourite movie. This is that movie”. Setting up the general concept very quickly.

Closing: You know how this ends, from the second this film starts, you know how it ends, come on now.

Best Line: “That was utterly terrifying and I regret having joined you.” That’s also what I say after any social activity

Original Review here

Olga

Ups: The gymnastics themselves are astounding.

Beautiful shots.

Made astounding by current circumstances.

Downs: Made depressing by those same circumstances.

Some side characters feel inconsequential

Best Moment: When Olga has to give up her Ukrainian passport and get a Swiss one. It does a tremendous job of selling her guilt at giving up her national identity.

Worst Moment: One or two of the scenes halt the momentum.

Best Performer: Anastasia Budiashkina. Easily.

Original Review here

On The Count Of Three

Ups: Directed very well, especially for a first-time director.

Incredibly funny but also not.

Good performances.

Downs: The ending third felt like it didn’t belong in the same universe.

Best Moment: Character has a meeting with his boss, then calmly walks into a toilet cubicle and attempts to hang himself. No music. All takes place in real time. Meanwhile a guy walks in and pees in a urinal while singing cheerfully, not knowing about the potential unaliving happening in the same room. It’s bleak and horrifying, plus weirdly funny.

Worst Moment: The very last scene. Dialogue-free, only for a few seconds. But I felt it kind of detracted away from the story. I get why it was done, but could have been a better way of doing it.

Best Performer: Christopher Abbott.

Opening: The two characters pointing guns at each other, ready to fire in a suicide pact, gunfire, cut to black. Great opening, gets you immediately invested, and in that short moment you get their love for each other. You get personality, you get motives, you get relationship with each other. Crams so much.

Closing: A suicide. It’s obvious. It’s one of those films where it all feels inevitable. It’s beautifully written. The other guy is in prison. That coda wasn’t really necessary it felt like. Would have been a stronger ending if it did just cut to black with the gunshot.

Best Line: “Do you know that I have been going to doctors since I was 8 years old in foster care. And most of them had private practices by the way they weren’t this state-employed bullshit. And if any of you guys knew how to help me by now you would have fucking done it. Why the fuck are you guys so obsessed with keeping everyone alive anyway? You think all life is precious? All life? If you lived in my head for one minute you realise it fucking isn’t”. The sheer outpouring of emotion and helplessness.

Original Review here

The Black Phone

Ups: Very creepy at times.

Original concept.

Downs: The Grabber isn’t built up enough by the town. You never get the feeling this is a town in fear.

Serious issues with pacing.

Best Moment: The final fight. Very narratively satisfying to see all the knowledge come together.

Worst Moment: The brother of The Grabber realising the truth. His actions don’t really ring true.

Best Performer: Ethan Hawke.

Opening: Standard “meet doomed character” horror opening. Quite weak, especially compared to how creepy the opening credits are.

Closing: Finn sits next to his crush and says hi. Only works because of the age of the characters, if they were older that would be a slightly pathetic closing. As it is, kind of sweet.

Best Line: “Yeah I took him down cause obviously I’m the grabber you dumb f’ing fartknockers” Great line delivery

Original Review here

The Justice Of Bunny King

Ups: When characters do stupid things, they usually make sense because of how well they’re written.

Heartbreakingly true.

Downs: Overwrriten towards the end.

Best Moment: Being shown around the house.

Worst Moment: Her holding someone hostage feels a bit out of tone at the time.

Best Performer: Essie Davis

Opening: Characters washing cars in the rain to the tune of what I always assume is an Alanis Morrisette song. She then goes and helps someone who is having trouble with social services. Says a lot about her character and situation. Very quickly establishes her.

Closing: A phone call with her kids. She knew she’s screwed up, and she knows she’s made it a lot worse. The kids don’t seem phased though. Which makes it worse. They’re too young. Their innocence comes off as apathy and you can tell she’s doomed. Then the police shoot her. It’s really the only way it could end. It’s emotionally devastating but narratively satisfying. It also says a lot about her character that when she’s being loaded into the back of the ambulance she points out the windows are disgusting

Best Line: “why are you talking to her like that?” After a social worker speaks to the character’s disabled child like she’s an idiot.

Original Review here

The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent

Ups: The most Nicholas Cage move that exists.

Cage and Pascal have great comedic chemistry.

It’s weird.

Downs: Pedro Pascal is too big a name to not play himself.

JCVD is much better.

Best Moment: The wall scene. Yes it was in the trailer, but it’s so silly.

Worst Moment: The two Cage’s bit could go weirder. Weirder than them kissing each other.

Best Performer: Pedro Pascal. He should do more comedy. Okay, he did also do The Bubble this year, but is it really a comedy if nobody finds it funny?

Opening: Someone gets kidnapped, coincidentally whilst watching a Nicholas Cage film. There was room to be more creative here but they didn’t take it. I’m glad they didn’t do the “fight scene opening, but turns out to be a scene in a movie”

Closing: A film based on the events on this film has been released. Cute.

Best Line: The line of coke Nicholas Cage presumably done before shooting this.

Original Review here

Thor: Love And Thunder

Ups: Works as a standalone.

Rescues Jane Foster as a character.

Love is a great character

A lot of very good scenes, and some real creative visuals.

Downs: Tonal issues.

Occasionally goes a bit too silly.

Feels like a lot of wasted potential of some stories.

Best Moment: The montage of Thor and Foster falling out of love. Works as a mini-film on its own.

Worst Moment: Everything with the goats.

Best Performer: India Hemsworth. Not in it much, but owns every scene she’s in.

Opening: Thor is fighting with the Guardians, and ruining everything. Funny, but does make the rest of the Guardians feel a bit weak. Plus, do they just not care about looking for Gamora now?

Closing: Foster dies, Love lives with Thor. Bit weird, he hasn’t expressed much desire to be a father before. Sweet though. But I still can’t shake how out of nowhere it feels.

Best Line: “Once we bring the children back, we shall feast! Not on them. We don’t do that any more. That is a dark part of our history”

Original Review here

Three Thousand Years Of Longing

Ups: Phenomenal visuals.

Interesting stories.

Downs: Really loses steam in the third act.

The romance feels rushed.

Sub plots aren’t picked up on.

Best Moment: That trailer. That got you hyped up for it like a good trailer should.

Worst Moment: When you realise it’s a box office bomb.

Best Performer: Idris Elba

Opening: Alithea goes to Istanbul and suffers hallucinations. The hallucinations are kind of a weak point for the film. But it does have some interesting visuals.

Closing: The Djinn visit Alithea and says he’ll check in every few years. Kind of sweet, but they never really felt like a couple so it’s a bit weird he has this connection with her.

Best Line: Love is a gift. It’s a gift of oneself given freely. It’s not something one can ever ask for.

Original Review here

Umma

Ups: A great opening credits sequence.

Shows that the director is meant for great things.

A haunting look at family trauma

Everyone feels like real people.

Downs: Some jump scares are a little corny.

Best Moment: Really clever scare involving a face under a sheet. Really creative.

Worst Moment: There’s a moment where the main characters mother attacks from the grave, using clothes. It looks a bit hokey and silly.

Best Performer: Sandra Oh

Opening: The sound of knocking and someone asking their mother to open a door. The daughter apologising, the mother rejects her apologies and we hear electric noises and screaming. Good start, suitably creepy.

Closing: The daughter goes off to college, showing she’s being allowed an independent life. Yes, it’s cliche, but really it’s the only way this narrative could end.

Best Line: Look, I know you think people think you’re weird, and I’m not gonna lie, you are. But, no, you think being weird is a bad thing, you think you’re the only one. But you know what? You’re not. There are tons of other weirdos out there, cool interesting people like you. You just have to out into the world and find them.

Original Review here

Violent Night

Ups: Very bloody.

Clever allusions to Home Alone

Deeply cynical whilst also heartwarming.

Downs: A bit longer than it needs to be.

Could go deeper with the satire.

Best Moment: The reveal of Santa’s past.

Worst Moment: The villain’s motive is a little meh.

Best Performer: Leah Brady is incredibly adorable and likeable. I’d also like to point out Mitra Suri, but that’s for different reasons.

Opening: Santa is drunk. Seen this kind of thing before, but the fact it’s actually Santa does mean we can get a scene of him drunkenly vomiting from up high.

Closing: The reindeers come back, with gifts. Little bit plot convenient that they happened to miss the whole thing.

Best Line: Now, I know you’re an idiot, but don’t be an idiot out loud.

Original Review here

We’re All Going To The Worlds Fair

Ups: Some great make-up. Best demonstrated when someone puts his fingers under loose skin in his arm and starts pulling out tickets. Incredibly creepy and weird and disgusting.

Reminds me of Gone Home, and I’ll always appreciate thinking of that game.

The scene where she paints her face and tears her stuffed toy apart is weirdly creepy.

Weirdly hypnotic.

Both the lead performer, and the writer/director, are clearly meant for bigger things.

Downs: Definitely too slow and weird for a lot of people.

Needs a clearer narrative.

Best Moment: The message she gets with the image of her face distorted. It’s so simple but it’s expertly done.

Worst Moment: The ending where it changes focus. Bit of a narrative miss-step.

Best Performer: Anna Cobb

Opening: Casey sitting in her room on her own, eating (I think) cheesestrings before introducing herself and saying she’s going to take the “Worlds Fair Challenge”. Good use of silence as it makes you lean in and pay attention. But it goes on a bit too long. Especially since she stops, changes the lights, and then starts recording again and continues talking to the camera. Which consists of her saying “I want to go to the worlds fair” into the camera, smearing blood on the computer, then sitting in strobe lights. The opening credits, much more effective, just a series of shots of the local area in ruin. Not “apocalpyse” ruins, economic ruins. Shops are closed down and boarded up. This plays alongside a great piece of music which may well be one of the best original compositions of the year in terms of made movie soundtracks (although the one for Olga was close)

Closing: She has (possibly) met up with JLB. There’s a strange ambiguity to it that could leave an audience frustrated. It’s all done from JLB’s perspective. It reminds me of the opening, in a bad way. That sense of “nothing is happening”.

Best Line: I swear, someday soon, I am just gonna disappear, and you won’t have any idea what happened to me.

Original Review here

On The Count Of Three (2021)

Quick Synopsis: Val (Jerrod Carmichael) and Kevin (Christopher Abbot) are two friends on a mission: have one last good day before killing themselves.

This is a unique film. I sent a few people the trailer for this and the responses varied from “are you sure you didn’t write it?” and “that’s very concerning. are you okay?”. It’s something which is going to be off-putting for a lot of people. It’s an acquired taste, and one that a lot of people won’t like. Personally, I loved it, and a large part of that was the dialogue. That’s what I’m going to base this review around, the dialogue. Here goes:

“I didn’t know I had to set a Save The Date for a double suicide”/“I’m not listening to Papa fucking Roach on the day I commit suicide”

Kicking off with a big one. Yup, this is about two people planning a double suicide (which is a good number of people to have if you are planning it: one is not enough, three is too many, and fifty-six is just silly). None of this would work if the relationship between the main two wasn’t believable. I’m not that familiar with the work of either of the two performers, but they make a natural double act. They bounce off each other so well that it feels like they’ve been performing together for years, but (judging by the IMDB credits anyway) this is the first thing they’ve starred in together. They will also be in Yorgos Lanthimos’s (best known for The Favourite, The Lobster, and The Killing Of A Sacred Deer) Poor Things; alongside Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe, and Mark Ruffalo. If a studio had any brains they’d sign those two guys up and get them to lead an action franchise together.

“if the guests can’t follow the rules then visitation rights will be revoked”

That’s a much more important line than you’ll think. It’s delivered by someone in the facility Kevin is in after he attempts suicide. It demonstrates that it’s not really about caring for the people in the facility. If you have a heavily suicidal person, you don’t threaten to cut off their connection to the outside world. You don’t threaten to isolate them from their friends just because their friends decided to smoke. That’s shitty behaviour and is the kind of “rules are more important than results” bullshit that leads to increased suicides and ineffectual “well we did what we could” platitudes from people who in reality did nothing. That’s very early on in the film, so it sets up how seriously this film takes the subject. It doesn’t hide away from the dark reality of not just having it, but how other people deal with you when you have it.

“not waking up tomorrow is the most beautiful thought I’ve had in a long time”

On the subject of beauty, there are some beautiful shots here. Jerrod Carmicheal does a fantastic job of making ordinary shots look good. It’s not quite at “oh my god these are the most beautiful visuals I’ve seen” levels, but there is a dark elegance to the normality he portrays. He’s mainly known for acting, playing a semi-fictionalised version of himself in The Carmichael Show, which I’ve yet to see but I’ve heard is absolutely astounding in how it tackles some of the issues, especially the Bill Cosby controversy. His directing has mainly been documentaries and stand up specials. Those have been enough that even without this film you’d know to keep an eye on his future. For example, Drew Michael was an incredibly unique way of shooting a stand up special, so made clear to everyone how creative Carmichael can be. While he is a great performer, I’m much more interested in what he brings to the table as a director in the future.

“You just tried to kill yourself three days ago don’t tell me suicide is not the answer”

That made me laugh, so much. As did a lot of lines in this. While it is about depression, it does still make you laugh, but never about the situation, you laugh at the characters. It’s really difficult to a film about a subject like this, and not have it offend people. It’s a really tricky line to walk, to make a comedy like this, and not have it feel like it’s exploiting the situation. This walks that line brilliantly and is a testament to the very clever script.

“good times, nice to see you”

Said by a former bully of the main characters. The “good times” he’s referring to by the way, are when he ran Kevin over in his truck, causing him to undergo physical therapy for a year. It’s brutal, but is also kind of honest in how people like that never see themselves accurately. They see what they did at school to people as funny and just something that happened, they don’t see the horrific impact it has on peoples lives. Just shows that the script knows what it’s like to live that life.

“that unhappiness, it’s a good thing, it will push you”

Usually, this is portrayed genuinely, the myth that depression is good because it can be used as a motivating tool for artists. You don’t need happiness, you don’t need enough money to pay your bills, just stay miserable and poor. It’s good that this film has that line be said by a character who is an abusive prick, but who is also rich. The character who says it? Henry Winkler, a.k.a The Fonz. He’s in it, as are other big names like JB Smooth and Tiffany Haddish, but not much. This is mainly about the two leads, somewhat to their detriment. It would have been nice to pull away from them once just to see how people are reacting to them. Because the focus is so small that it feels like a small-time story, and to go from that to the ending is a huge shift.

“guns are crazy, how are these legal?”

This is such an American film. From the way that it treats mental illness, to how easily they can get guns. This wouldn’t work as well in another country. Especially at the end when Val is in prison. That’s my negative for this film, the closing third feels a bit too much like a story someone has written in class. All feels a bit too fake compared to the grounded nature of the rest of the film. Him being in jail at the end also doesn’t answer some questions, did he actually get jailed for the murders? Or was he just charged as an accessory? That changes everything. Yes, it does seem like he’s happier now than he was. But him being locked for a few years while his child grows up is a very different ending than him being away for decades. I get why it ended like that, to show the irony that he was free and miserable, but now he’s locked up but happy.

“When a customer is talking, you listen bro, it hurts to be ignored”

And there it is. What this film is. Frustration. Frustration with yourself, frustration with your past, frustration with your lack of future. So while it is funny, and it is sad at times, really the emotion I’m most left with from this story is pain. It’s incredibly real, and if you have ever been in a place to recognise that reality, this film will speak to you like few others will.

So in summary I’d say you should watch this. It’s not among the best films I’ve seen, but it is definitely the most “me”.