2017 In Film: Part 3 (The Pretty Good)

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. One’s 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)

Catfight

A shockingly visceral film, not just in terms of the fights, but also in terms of the story and the tone. The punches in the narrative hit just as hard as the actual punches (of which there are many). A film I first saw on Netflix, and very glad for that as I don’t think I would have liked it at all if I saw it at the cinema.

+The pacing and the way they tell the story is sublime.

-Only really has one major idea.

Dunkirk

One word to describe this: impressive. Visually, in terms of performance, in terms of the way the story is told, it’s all very impressive. This is the one I think I’ll get the most flack for putting in here. Now don’t get me wrong, this is a VERY good film. But I had the same problem with this I had with Interstellar, I was never really pulled into it. It was so cinematic that I was constantly aware I was watching a movie, I never really lost myself in it completely. As such it was hard for me to be 100% invested in it.

+Pretty much everything. Is a fantastic watch.

-Doesn’t really connect emotionally.

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This guy, this guy is going places. AMAZING performance.

Going In Style

A tale of two films in terms of directing. The opening section is really weirdly shot in terms of colour, kind of ugly. But once the story gets going and the heist gets going, it starts to look a lot better. The main performances are good, but Joey King, who plays Michael Caine’s granddaughter is really good in the short amount of time she’s given. Logical story, but sadly one that doesn’t have the guts to stick the knife in emotionally when it should.

+Joey King. Her performance in this almost makes up for Wish Upon. Almost.

-Plays it safe far too often.

Justice League

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.

+The Flash. That character is so well done in this. I’ve never watched the show, and I’m not a big comic reader so I don’t know much about him, but if he’s like he is in this film, I love him.

-DC really suck at doing compelling villains. And pacing. Also, it’s overshadowed by everybody being excited about Infinity War.

Kong: Skull Island

I went into this with low expectations. I was thinking “but I’ve already seen everything, how can spectacle cinema work in this day and age? And you showed too much Kong in the trailer, you idiots, you ruined everything I hate you, I wish I’d never been born!”. Looking back at it, that may have been an overreaction. The film was, well it was solid. It showed that spectacle can still work in a post Avatar world. It’s not a “I must buy this film immediately”, kind of film, but if it’s on TV at some point, grab a couple of mates, get some beers in, and leave your brain at the door. Of the non-Marvel films that attempt to set up a cinematic universe, this is one of the best (although that is damning with faint praise).

+There’s a fantastically brutal scene where people walk through the island and a giant spiders leg pierces someone through the throat. Deliciously brutal and sets up that this film won’t shy away from destruction.

-Very little substance to it. Also, bits of it were so obviously made with the intention of being viewed in 3D, so when you watch it in 2D you’re kind of disappointed.

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Moonlight

Oh wait, forget what I said about Dunkirk. This is the one that I’ll get shit for. 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. This deserves all the accolades it received, was a phenomenal piece of cinema, and one that everyone does need to see at least once.

+The story is a deeply personal one, and if you don’t connect with it in some way then you may be dead inside.

-I felt there was a lot left out between the years we saw that never really got into which personally I would have loved to see. I’m not going to say this about many films, but this could have been improved by being A LOT longer. It had so much to say in such a relatively short time that it didn’t say all it needed to.

Rough Night

A film that really earns it’s R-Rating. Also has the second most random Bo Burnham appearance I’ve seen in film this year.

+Very very funny.

-Kate McKinnon’s Australian accent slips more than a pensioner walking on ice.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Very well made. The scene near the end on the canals is a particular highlight. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson have really good chemistry, I think this is the first time they’ve worked together but I hope it’s not the last.

+Does what it needs to, very very well.

-Tries so hard to appear adult, it occasionally comes off as juvenile.

The Limehouse Golem

Incredibly British, with a stunning twist. The film equivalent of a murder mystery book. I’d be very surprised if this was anybody’s favourite film, but I’d also be surprised if anyone actively hated it. In fact, it’s hard to feel anything too strong about it. It’s like an odd mix between a BBC miniseries and a Telltale Game, but not quite as good as either.

+Does a great job of sucking you into the world. Almost immediately you feel like a spectator for it unfolding. Also, you actually want to find out what happens. You’re not sitting there thinking “just get to the end and let me know”, you allow yourse’f to observe and wonder.

-Not quite memorable enough to be worthwhile.

How We Got Through…September

A Drink Before The War

Pretty good read. Not something I would exactly call “fun”. Harsh, brutal, but extremely well written. A prequel (kind of) to Gone Baby Gone, which I really need to read some time.

Grabbers

The concept is better than the execution. Is about a place being attacked by aliens, but they’re poisoned by alcohol, so everyone tries to get drunk to stay safe. Great concept, but it didn’t really work for me. Think it’s because it didn’t really make use of the concept until more than half way through. A film like this is ALL about the concept, so you need to launch into it quickly, ideally, at the end of the first act, this doesn’t really do it until the last act.

Gremlins

Been a while since I’d seen this so had forgotten a lot about it. I remembered it being quite violent, I remembered gizmo being adorable, and, of course, I remembered the greatest scene in cinema history. But I had forgotten one thing; how superb the theme is. Seriously, listen to it, how is that never brought up when people talk about great movie themes?

Gremlins 2

Deliciously fun; starts with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, has Christopher Lee in it, and features a scene where Gremlins sing Frank Sinatra. Almost like a parody of the first film.

 

Logan Lucky

It goes nowhere, and is overly American to the point where it almost seems sarcastic, basically, it’s the film equivalent of NASCAR. I fucking hate NASCAR.

Man Up

First time I saw this I went into it with low expectations, I expected an okay but not great romcom, something very predictable and formulaic. Kudos to the script then for making it very very good. I have an unwritten rule for how you can judge a great script mixed with a great performance. So much so it’s easy to imagine that the lead actor wrote it, that’s how on-point Lake Bells performance is (she didn’t, Tess Morris did, but still). A great date movie for people who hate date movies.

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Patti Cake$

A lot better than I thought it would be. Has both a great and not great soundtrack. I mean, the songs are fantastic, but the music/story integration could be done better. You don’t really get the feeling that the film is influencing the music, or the other way round, they seem kind of independent from each other. Oddly enough, I think this is the only film I’ve seen this year which has had absolutely nobody in it who I know from another film.

Rough Night

A lot different than I expected. I think it’s R-Rated, and if so it really earns it. Wonderfully filthy and funny. Kate McKinnon’s Australian accent slips more than a pensioner walking on ice.

Super

Incredibly violent, kind of like a more realistic Kick Ass, showing how someone who wants to do that kind of thing obviously has some issues. Pretty good soundtrack too.

Superman: Doomsday

Did more with Doomsday in 20 minutes than was managed in the entirety of Batman Vs. Superman. Really looking forward to watching the rest of the DC animated universe, so far seems enjoyable and quite intense. I thought that it was a mistake killing Superman so early into the DC cinematic universe, but then I saw them do it here and realised the problem was just the film was very badly written. This one however is great, highly recommend watching this.

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I absolutely love this line.

The Best Of You

Unpopular opinion; I’m not a big fan of Foo Fighters. They’re one of those bands who I think could put together one really good album of their stuff, but otherwise their career has too many songs which are basically filler. This is one of them.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Not going to change anybody’s life, but very funny. Selma Hayek swears too much though, it’s like just her swearing was supposed to be a joke. I think you have to be careful with swearing in films, if you do it too much it just comes off incredibly juvenile.

The Limehouse Golem

Very British, very smartly made, and a great twist ending. Sadly whilst it is very well made, it’s not very memorable.

What We Do In The Shadows

Without a doubt the best vampire mockumentary from New Zealand that I’ve seen in a long time. Perfect film to put on whilst just need a laugh distraction from the relentless crushing existence that we call life in 2017.

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