2010’s In Film Day 5 (2015)

January – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)

Oh yes, damn this is good. This film is so good you forget how pretentious the title is. It’s a two hour film that’s made to look like one continuous shot, and it manages it. You’re not sitting there going “oh, well that was the obvious cut there”. It’s done SO well that you can’t help but be impressed by it. Also, Keaton is amazing in it.

February – The Interview

It Follows also came out this month, and I’d much rather talk about that as it’s a SUPERB horror film, set in somehow the past and the future, it’s great. So why am I talking about this? Because this had a bigger influence on reality, nearly starting a war between America and North Korea. Can you imagine if that actually happened? Historians would have to mention a comedy film in regards to a war. Wars are supposed to be about important things; for a country to get freedom from the nation that’s oppressing it, to stop a genocidal Charlie Chaplin invading Belgium, or because a president is facing impeachment and wants a distraction. To me, the most interesting part of this story isn’t that it happened, mainly because most of the leaks were standard industry bullshit and backstabbing. The most interesting part was when Sony threatened to sue any news agencies that reported on it. Bold tactic, and one I’m very glad didn’t work. “Oi, news, stop reporting on things!” The news is mostly bullshit anyway, if it had any less substance it would qualify as toilet roll (very hard to do with the digital edition).

March – The Voices

I had to mention this. This is one of my favourite films of all time. I was looking forward to this film since it was first announced, when all I knew was the director and the actor involved. Persepolis is one of my favourite things of all time (as evidenced here), so the fact the author of that was directing this piqued my interest, then Ryan Reynolds was announced as the lead actor and I was more excited than I should have been. The only film I have been checking the internet for information for during production. If this was bad it would have ruined everything, but luckily it’s REALLY REALLY good. Funny, beautifully shot, and the most WTF ending I’ve seen in a long time. It both comes out of nowhere and makes perfect sense. Also, it’s a surprisingly good take on mental health. Yes it’s horrifying at times, and sometimes it’s hilarious, but it’s also surprisingly poignant. Fuck it, I’m linking the trailer too, you have to see this.

April – The Duff

Yeah, Age Of Ultron came out this month, but I said everything I needed to about that here. John Wick came out too, but there are 2 sequels to that I can talk about, plus I mentioned it in depth here. Plus I don’t talk about this film that much when I really should. It’s better than Mean Girls, and that film is enjoyable. It really hits the marks you need it to. If it wasn’t for Edge Of Seventeen then this would be the best teen movie I’ve seen at cinema.

May – The Big Game

You know what? I’m not going to say anything here. I’m going to directly quote our other writer and what he said about it back in 2015:

“”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 Olympus has 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.””

June – Spy

Yeah, it was really slim picking this month. I blame Minions. That also came out this month so studios didn’t release much against it. This is probably the best one of the month. Definitely, my favourite Jason Statham performance as he just leans into the ridiculousness of who he is.

July – The Gallows

I’m going to quote the same blog that the Big Game quote came from for this.

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.  

Still accurate, although on reflection, maybe Big Game was worse.

August – Vacation

Over 4 years later and I’m still trying to figure out who this film is aimed at. It contains lots of nods and winks at the previous films in the Vacation franchise, but the type of humour is very different so the odds of someone liking both are quite low, but people who didn’t watch any of the others are unlikely to get the references. Although the weirdest comparison between the two is how much Chevy Chase has changed. The story is kind of bland. In fact, let’s be honest, the story is completely irrelevant, the jokes carry the story, not the other way around. Not so much a film, more a series of different sketches. But let’s face it nobody is watching this for the story are they? They’re watching it for the laughs, and this film does have that. But a lot of them are so predictable, you can spot a lot of jokes coming miles away, you just sit there waiting for the inevitable punchline, by which time the wait has meant it is almost as painful as being punched in the face.

September – Bill

A wonderfully silly kids movie. The closest we’ve got to a modern Monty Python movie. Not as educational as the TV show it’s based on, and the songs aren’t as impressive, but it’s still very funny. Side note; I was going to talk about another film here, one which horribly disappointed me. But then I read about how the writer is a massive sex pest, so fuck that guy.

October – Macbeth

This is mainly here to remind me that I really need to see it. It was mentioned on a podcast I listen to called How2Survive and they highly recommended it. Probably the best movie podcast I listen to at the moment, and I’ve picked a terrible time to recommend it as they’ve just gone on a break for a few months. But essentially they take a film and discuss how to survive (OMG I just realised why they called the podcast that) it, whilst also discussing the film. I love it, it’s a unique idea. Although I have to be honest I very rarely remember their how to survive tips, I mainly recall the random discussions (especially when they refer to wikihow) and the obvious love for films that they have. Also their politics (by which I mean, they also think women are people) match mine, which is always nice to hear. Listen to it here.

November – Lady In The Van

Damn this was a good month, a month where Bridge Of Spies isn’t the best movie of the month. It’s mainly the script. The dialogue is delightful. There’s a plot device which isn’t utilised enough to be truly effective, and the author cameo is too obvious to the point where I didn’t know what he looked like but I still knew that was him.

December – Christmas With The Coopers

This film tried to be Love Actually, and failed (or as one person I nearly worked with would say “this film tried to be love. Actually and failed”). Mainly because the characters are quite unsympathetic, and it goes on way way too long. They have a good ending point but then someone gets taken to hospital and it adds another 20 minutes. I can barely remember anything from it, without looking at the poster I can’t even remember who is in it. I think Steve Martin voiced a dog.

How We Get Through: June 2017

Films

Submarine Kid

A few months ago I made a slight adjustment to my “to do” list. I started adding names next to them so I would remember who to thank for suggesting them. I really wish I started that sooner, I want to find whoever suggested this film to me, and slap them very very hard round the face. Why? Why would you put me through this? Very Channel 5. Extremely bad dialogue. Can’t tell if it’s too American for me or whether it just doesn’t work as a film.

Under The Shadow

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I liked it but can understand why some wouldn’t. It doesn’t become a traditional horror film until the closing section. Until then it’s horror on a more personal level. Wonderful blending of a war-time drama and horror that doesn’t depend too highly on the usual tropes of one or both genres. Never seen anything like this before in my life, but I really wish I had. Side note, I’ve now seen two Iranian films, both of which have strong female leads, is Iranian cinema better at female representation than Western cinema? Or is it because women are treated as second class citizens there it makes them better characters so the quality of films are likely to be higher, which increases my chances of seeing them?

The Final Girls

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Genuinely emotional, a lot more than it should be. It’s basically a horror film about a group of people who get sucked into a horror film. It’s done by a team who obviously really love the genre, and love film-making in general. Lots of fun little moments in it, from the closing credits appearing in the sky above them, everything changing colour when they appear in flashbacks etc. It’s really good and I wish I made it first.

The Skeleton Twins

Turns “two characters lipsynching” into one of the most emotional, character developing scenes you’re likely to see. Funny, but very very dark.

Let’s Pollute

Bit preachy, very one note and simplistic. Talks about how people are selfish because they work somewhere different from where they live, as if getting a job in a Tesco the town over means you should move house.

The End Of The Tour

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I think part of the reason I like this is because of how great the dialogue is. It flows beautifully, as was described here;

“a funny and heartfelt road movie that meditates on fame, creativity, and loneliness, through the indepth and witty conversations of its protagonists. Whether you know David Foster Wallace’s work or not, this is an accessible and great film”

7:35 In The Morning

This was on my watch list as the writer/director also made Colossal, which I loved. You can kind of tell it’s the same guy by the story, the visuals are pretty bland though. Much like Colossal, I’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s a short film about a guy who holds an entire restaurant hostage so he can sing to a woman about how much he likes her. Keeps on the line between silly and frightning in a way that’s very hard to do.

We Need To Talk Kevin

VERY film student-ey. Spends so long laying on symbolism that it forgets other things.

Spy

Jason Statham is amazing in this. Plays his role to perfection. Everyone else is still good, but not as good as him. I’d love to see more of him in a sequel. When I first saw it I expected this to be a one joke film “haha, a fat woman as a spy”, but was actually really really funny.

Gifted

A lot less Nicholas-Sparks than I thought it would be. Bit formulaic but it plays to the formula very well. Chris Evans is very good in it, but is overshadowed by Mckenna Grace, who is very very good, probably one of the best performances this year. Is it just me or are child actors getting better? Manages to do a performance which is funny, moving, and hits all the right spots in terms of body language and facial acting. Great performance. Jenny Slate was also REALLY good in it, but wasn’t in it as much as she should have been.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil

Has some continuity issues but still very good. Kind of sad to think both leads have sadly passed on. They had amazing chemistry here, you don’t really tend to get acting double acts anymore. You have “groups” that work together, but that’s normally in a certain directors films as opposed to just always together. It’s a shame as that kind of thing can really help sell a film “oh, I loved the last film I saw those two in”. It also means unscrupulous marketers can change the title of the film in foreign markets so it looks like a sequel. Which is always hilarious. “yes, the first film ended with them both being shot to death, but here’s a sequel, where they have different names and characters, but they look the same. Now give money.”

Wonder Woman

I explained my thoughts on this here. Spoilers; LOVED IT! Even the closing credits were amazing. They were like a water colour painting. Haven’t seen any this good since A Monster Calls. I like when films take the time to attempt to do something with the credits, it shows a real dedication to what they’re doing.

X+Y

The moment where where he tries to do the monty python reference is really awkward and cringey, if anything it’s worse when you know it’s coming. Only just realised how heartbreaking some of the performances were, Sally Hawkins in particular.

Books

The Stars Tennis Balls

Always takes me forever to get through the opening chapter of this for some reason. Shame as the final third is absolutely superb, it just takes a while to get there (about two thirds of the book I’d guess).

Books Of Blood

The biggest issue this book has is that it starts with Fear, which is one of the best horror short stories ever written. Anything after that would just be disappointing.

Albums

Maps

Can’t remember how I heard this band (probably the Figure 4 Leg Rock podcast), great EP, available for free, which is my second favourite price to pay for things. Trigger Happy in particular is one of my favourite songs I’ve heard this year.

Panic Prevention

The moments in songs are usually better than the songs themselves. Although “Sheila” is pretty damn fine. Listed on my itunes as “Chavvy Acoustic Punk”, because I couldn’t think of a better way to describe it.

Look For The Woman

B-sides are remixes, which is always okay. But the song itself is amazing.

Punk Rock Is Your Friend Volume 6 (Hardcore Is Your Friend Too)

I miss samplers like this. Epitaph, Burning Heart, Kung-Fu records etc all used to do really cheap albums showcasing their bands. Doesn’t really happen anymore, probably due to the rise of streaming etc. Is a shame as these were great ways to get into bands. You pick them up barely knowing any of the bands and before you know it you’ve found your new favourite band. I got this for one reason and one reason only; new Tsunami Bomb song. They were one of my favourite bands at the time and I was obsessed with them (how I felt when they split is how the rest of the world feels when celebrities die) so the chance to hear something new excited me, made me look forward to a new album by them. Sadly they split soon after, but I’ll always have that song, and no more new ones, ever *cries*.

Just The Way I’m Feeling

Relatively pedestrian, listened to it today and I still can’t remember the b-sides.

Goodbye Blue And White

It’s a Less Than Jake album with at least two Slayer covers. Weird.

Stopgap EP

Probably the most American pop-punk band that’s ever come from England. Just an EP meant to tide people over until their new album came out a few years ago. Has some good stuff on it but the best song by a mile is the cover of “Everytime You Go Away”. I do loves me some covers.

Secret Life Of Pets/The Boss

Two very different films, but both suffer from from the same flaw: the background characters are the best ones in the entire film. Not the only problems however.

Secret Life Of Pets

I have two problems with this film:

  1. As I alluded to earlier; the main characters are the least interesting ones, which, considering one of them is played by Louis CK is kind of unexpected. It’s not just the characters, the main plot is not that interesting either. The entire main plot is shown in the trailer, nothing new or exciting. There is, however, a fantastic B-story that shows up; the idea that animals that were once pets were thrown away and are now bitter and angry and ready to get their revenge. THAT’S a film, that’s the kind of thing that Pixar or Disney would do. On the subject of Disney there’s already been a lot of controversy about Finding Dory. People are saying that it could lead to an increase of people having exotic fish as pets and then discarding them when they get bored (like they did with owls after Harry Potter And The Quantum Of Solace or whatever it was called). The idea of an animal-led film that has discourages people from getting pets just because they saw them in films? Not only would that be good but it would also be a subtle attack to Disney and Pixar, a “This is why we have a problem with you, you’re irresponsible, not like us, we’re truly wholesome and safe for children to watch with their families”.
  2. The realism. I know, it’s an animated film aimed at kids so I shouldn’t expect 100% realism. But at the very least I should expect it to stay consistent within the world it’s created. The world within the film is supposed to be our world. This is decided very early on when a human character hear’s one of the main characters “talking” and it’s just barking. Yet there’s lots of moments in here which break that realism, moments such as a rabbit and a dog driving a bus off a bridge. Pixar usually does this kind of thing very well. Look at Finding Nemo etc, it takes place in our world, and we do see humans, but the interactions between the humans and the main characters is minimal, and the main characters, although living in a human world, don’t effect that world that much. This film has way too many instances where the animals have a major influence on the human world, there’s the aforementioned bus crash, there’s a break in at a sausage factory, a rabbit beating up a dog catcher etc.

But other than those two problems how was it? It was thoroughly ok. The closing shot was beautiful. It’s one of the great things about animation is that you can occasionally get absolutely gorgeous visuals, but apart from the closing shot it never really does that. In fact it doesn’t look great throughout, the animals just look ok, and the humans in it look like they’re made of twigs. The story is serviceable and does what it needs to, but I don’t feel I need to see it again. It’s biggest flaw isn’t the fault of the film, it’s just circumstance. A lot of times studios release films which (judging by poster alone) look very similar. Has happened a lot before: Antz/A Bugs Life, Finding Nemo/Sharks Tale etc. This films competitor? Zootopia. For this film to come anywhere close to that would be difficult. Zootopia (so far) is probably in my top five films of the year. This? Well be at the bottom of the top half so far. But considering Kubo isn’t out yet, this can easily be pushed down. Although this film did have a subtle Mario green shell reference, which is kind of cool.

The Boss

Nope. Just no. Here’s my massive problem with this film: you have a character get arrested, then when they’re released they go to a Girl Scouts meeting and decides to set up a new business luring Girl Scouts from their group into a new group helping her in a business with communist workers overtones (their logo is a red badge with a picture of a girl raising her fist in the air and wearing a hat). When one of the mothers at the group objects to this, she calls her a cunt, then insults her daughter, whom she later knocks out. The daughter’s age? Between 11-15. So, the “hero” of this story bullies and beats up a school girl just because she doesn’t like her mum. Comedy!

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Actually this film, tonally is kind of weird and all over the place. It attempts to get cheap laughs and sacrifices story to do that, destroying all story momentum for the sake of a joke. For example: there’s a scene where she goes to her old business associates, and they all tell her they hate her and want nothing to do with her. It’s the kind of scene that’s like a large roast dinner, it’s a lot to take in and you need to give it time to settle. Instead, just after the scene takes place the film makes her fall down a flight of stairs, thereby pouring custard on the emotional roast dinner of the previous scene. It’s like the film was written by different writers who never contacted each other to check if their bits lined up. You have important characters turn up for one or two scenes and then are never mentioned again.

It’s a shame as I really want to like Melissa McCarthy; she was great in Bridesmaids, and Spy was excellent. I just feel she has a habit of picking bad films, films where she is only asked to do her usual shtick and doesn’t allow her to stretch herself (otherwise known as Jim Carey syndrome). Which is a shame as when she’s good she’s amazing, check out the aforementioned Spy for evidence of that, and St. Vincent, where she manages to be one of the best characters in a film which contains Chris O’Dowd and Bill Murray (or to give him his full title: Bill Fucking Murray). She can do better than this, and her continual choosing of below-par films just provides ammunition to her increasing number of detractors. Luckily the next film she has lined up is Ghostbusters, I’m sure that is under no pressure.

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I also saw Independence Day; a film which (ironically) seemed like it was written by aliens, completely devoid of human emotion and everything seemed slightly fake and contrived.