The Festival (2018)

I’m not proud of some of my reviews. Looking back at them,  y review of Darkest Minds said this:

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My review of The Meg said this:

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I really need to stop mentioning semen in these reviews, you don’t see Barry Norman or Roger Ebert talking about cumshots every review (maybe for their reviews of Basic Instinct I’m not sure). So I’m not going to reference it at all this review. Going to be completely clean and innocent.

So, this film. It’s very funny.  The opening scene shows the main character and his girlfriend having sex, he pulls out and ejaculates (DAMNIT, I lasted one sentence without mentioning it) over his graduation robe. When he’s at graduation his mum sees the stain, thinks it’s something else, so licks her finger to rub it off, then licks her finger again, an understated look of recognition and disgust on her face. THAT’s how this film starts, and it’s no false dawn in terms of vulgarity and general “eww”ness. Also in this film; the main character gets pissed on, his nipple ring gets torn off when it gets stuck on a fence post, and someone fucks a goat. This is not high-class cinema. It’s gross, vulgar, and very funny. That last one is subject to opinion, I mean, I found it funny, but I did spend a lot of it feeling like I should turn away as it was so cringe-ey, in a good way. The temptation as a director with this will be to cut away, quickly get to the next joke and move on, pack as many jokes as you possibly can into the short time, maximise the laughs. He does the opposite though; he holds, he keeps the scene going, wringing every drop of awkwardness past where it stops being funny, becoming incredibly awkward and hard to watch, in the best possible way. It’s a risky strategy but it pays off. This is a film definitely made by people who know what they’re doing, this isn’t shown just in the directing, but the writing too. Considering the level of humour in this it would be easy to just make it funny, but this has moments of genuine insight and pathos in it. One thing in particular came as a surprise; a piece of dialogue which was genuinely inspirational. In summary it was this:

“just because you’re a dick, doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. Gandhi was racist yet still one of the greatest humans. Lance Armstrong was an abusive drug cheat yet raised millions for charity”. It’s an interesting piece of dialogue, and it really deserves to be in a more important film than this. Don’t get me wrong; it was a funny movie, and if it was on netflix I’d watch it. But I don’t need to get it on DVD. It just doesn’t do enough to stand out in a crowded field of similar movies. If somebody would ask “why should I see this film NOW?” it would be hard for me to think of a response. It’s a “I’ll watch it when I can” movie. It’s also got a dreadfully bland title which will be a bitch to search for in a few years time. Claudia O’Doherty was great in it though and I really want to see her in more stuff. And it is nice that the girl he meets and has sex with turns him down afterwards, and he accepts it. It shows the futility of placing all your hope on one person liking you, and also how to deal with it when it doesn’t work, which is an incredibly mature piece of film-making, and one I wish I saw more often.

How We Got Through…October 2017

A Monster Calls

Just as depressing as the film, actually slightly more so. This isn’t something you enjoy as such, but it is something you appreciate because of how brilliant and heartbreaking it is. Also, the book I got looked beautiful in terms of artwork, is like everything was drawn with charcoal, really suited it. Although the film had a unique look as well, but that was more “watercolours”, this is very different, childlike, but an advanced child.

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Ayoade On Ayoade

I got this, was a fun read, but I don’t need to read it again. I can’t imagine what it’s like to read this if you have no idea who he is.

Bachelor Number 2

I actually love Aimee Mann, first heard her on an Anti-Valentines Day radio show. That single show was probably the most influential radio show I’ve ever heard, I got into Aimee Mann, Regina Spektor, and a few other bands whose names don’t occur to me anymore (one was basically a woman leaving a series of increasingly angry voicemail messages set to a dance beat, loved it for some reason). I describe Aimee Mann’s music as basically “Acoustic Snark”. She’s best known for her work on the Magnolia soundtrack (almost said Memento there for no reason whatsoever, because they both begin with M? That’s stupid even for my mind, might as well have said Monty Python And The Holy Grail, that’s an M too) but her other stuff is great too (in particular The Forgotten Arm, and yes, I would understand it if you forgot that prior to this was a full sentence that you forgot how it began, what with the extended parenthesis).

Danny Collins

Kind of sweet. You can tell Pacino is having the time of his life here, it seems like the role was written for him. A very well-written and performed film, with a pretty cool soundtrack. When I first saw it I expected it to be just okay but it’s actually really good. The music is good, the performances are good, and the background characters are rich in terms of characterisation. The trouble with a lot of films is making everybody seem like they’re actual people, making them seem like they exist when the cameras aren’t pointed at them. This does that very well, even the minor characters feel fleshed out.

Detroit

This film suffers from the same problem as a lot of films about the subject do, the villains are so 2-dimensional that it’s hard to buy into the film. The trouble with doing films about race set in 1960’s etc US is that you can’t create a compelling villain. To me, a good villain is just a misguided hero, one where you can kind of see their point. You can’t have that with this, the bad guys are so obviously wrong they’re impossible to defend, they’re obviously pricks. Which is depressing as that’s what it was like back then, a lot of people in power were indefensible pricks who deserved to be punched in the kidneys. Also, the pacing is weird, you have an entire subplot about a band that doesn’t really add anything except 30 minutes to the runtime.

Fist Fight

Pointless. Not entirely sure why this exists. Slightly funny in parts but seems like one of those films that perpetually came out a few years ago and you missed it and forgot it exists.

Flatliners

Brave move killing off who they did. It’s weird as it’s not really sure what it wants to be, is it a remake, a sequel, or something entirely new? Nobody knows, least of all the film itself.

Geri’s Game

One of the very early Pixar films. Shows a lot of promise but lacks that certain Pixar magic. They got a lot better but you can see the early glimpses of what makes Pixar pixar.

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How To Be A Serial Killer

Really enjoyed this. A lot of fun, the kind of film I wish I wrote. Funny, original, and stylish.

The Inbetweeners

Funny, crude, but the second film is a massive disappointment. Weird how quickly this series has left the public consciousness.

IT

Wonderful soundtrack. Some films have had better songs, but few films I’ve seen this year have had songs which suit the film better.

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Also, fucking terrifying.

Keanu

The best use of George Michael in cinema. Ever. Has a great ending too.

Laid

Probably the only sitcom I’ver ever seen which features a scene where the main character tries to fashion a splint out of ice lolly sticks so that they can rape a guy who will stop everyone they’ve had sex with dying.

Solace Of The Road

Not too great a start, but a great closing stretch. The writing reminded me very much of someone I went to uni with, but less good.

The Mountain Between Us

When it was just “two people trapped on a mountain”, was a superb film. Once they added the romance bit I kind of tapped out, just didn’t work at all. And the “realisation shot” was straight out of a low-budget music video for a James Blunt soundalike.

The Ritual

This film did something I will forever love it for; it put most the bits from the trailer in the opening half. I liked this as it meant you weren’t thinking “ok, what from the trailer haven’t I seen yet?”. Chilling, well told and well performed. Book is now on my “to-read” list.

The Snowman

A lot more brutal than I expected. The reveal of the killer could have been done better, and it juggled too many characters at once so was a bit of a bloated mess. Not as terrible as I thought it would be though.

The Witches

Loved it!

The Young Offenders

Kind of charming, rather funny. Has a scene where a disabled drug dealer shoots someone with a nail gun. Seems like a tv show, which as of next year it will be, and I can’t wait.

You Can’t Kill Stephen King

Not a fan. I expected it to be funny and meta, but was just a bit nonsensical. Just wasn’t very fun. Not saying it was serious, far from it, it just seemed a bit “meh”, the film equivalent of dust in the wind.

 

Why We Love….Breaking Bad

Well where do you start? There’s just so much about this show that works. It didn’t outstay it’s welcome is an important one. I don’t think there’s many fans of the show who think “well it started good, but it went a bit downhill in the later seasons”. This might be because it only had 5 seasons, but American dramas have gone downhill in less.

Just leaving this picture here with no comment
Just leaving this picture here with no comment

In fact it could be said that the final season was one it’s best. It certainly contained one of the best episodes in Ozymandias. Usually the best episode in a final season is the final episode as that’s the culmination of everything, but in this case the third from final episode is one of the greatest, not just of the season, not just of the show, but of any series. People say the calm before the storm is the best narrative place to be, but in this case it’s the storm before the calm. The moment where the entire episode is basically soundtracked by someone next to you going “oh shit, holy shit! Holy mother of!” until you send them off to make tea.

Then they come back and you try to explain this
Then they come back and you try to explain this

The narrative for the show made sense. There weren’t any (that I recall) moments where you felt someone acted out of character or inconsistent with earlier characterisation. Everything people did made sense, ok, maybe it didn’t make logical sense because a lot of the decisions were stupid, but they made narrative sense, you can see why everyone did everything they did.

This is actually more creepy in the show
This is actually more creepy in the show

There’s something else about this show that I love, Walter White Jr. He’s a character with cerebral palsy, but it’s never really mentioned. It would have been so easy to make it a big deal, to discuss it and make it a big part of the father’s motivation. Or even to make him holier than thou, the kind of weirdly condescending attitude a lot of television has towards disabled people, where it makes them oddly overnice and friendly. Here, he’s occasionally a dick, because he’s a teenager, and teenagers are usually dicks.

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Dicks who eat a lot of breakfast

Finally: the performances, it’s been said before that Bryan Cranston gave the performance of a lifetime, but it deserves to be said again: he’s damn good in this. He gave one of the best performances I’ve seen in a drama. He’s matched by the supporting cast too, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Giancarlo Esposito (thank you google) et all create a fantastic ensemble cast, great performances and great chemistry, there’s barely a weak link between them. I think I have to bring up the performance of Cranston again though, before this he was mostly known for the role of the dad in Malcolm In The Middle. For British audiences, this would be like Jay from The Inbetweeners next role being the lead in Threads.

Or this guy being the lead in an intense medical drama
Or this guy being the lead in an intense medical drama

I think that might be a small part of why people love this, it’s a genuine surprise. Nobody saw this coming. The brilliance of it kind of sneaked up and surprised everyone, so if you caught on early enough you felt like you were in some kind of secret club. By the time it caught on it became so well known that anybody starting to watch it would have surely felt the slight bit of doubt that it could be overrated. So yes, that’s why we love Breaking Bad, and you should at least give it a try, you owe it that much, and I doubt you’ll regret it.

Oh, and watch Threads, but have something comforting to watch after
Oh, and watch Threads, but have something comforting to watch after

Like it if you like:

  • The Wire
  • House Of Cards
  • Hannibal