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. 

The Lovebirds (2020)

Earlier this year I reviewed Fantasy Island, and in that review I said “the”,which was probably the only word I used in the review which wasn’t insulting it. It’s time to admit there was something good from that film, before it I had the trailer for this. If it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t know about it, which would be a shame.

I mean, it’s also a shame that this film got put on netflix, it would have been nice to see this in the cinema (and I get the feeling I’ll be saying that A LOT this year), as I feel it deserves that.

It’s not the best film in the world, but it is pretty solid with nothing to truly hate about it. The characters are well-written and all their decisions make sense, even when they are stupid decisions they have a certain logic to them.

The core of this film is the central relationship between Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae (while we’re on the subject; how refreshing is it to see a film like this being lead by two non-white performers and not have that being their defining character trait?). This film does the smartest thing I’ve seen in a while in how it shows their relationship, it shows them first meeting and awkwardly flirting, and then cuts to years later when the relationship is in turmoil. The fact we see them happy means that we are invested in their relationship as we know what they can be together, otherwise we’d just be sitting there screaming “FFS just end it”, but because we know how happy they can be, we want them to work it out, and you need that. Trust me, you do need that, because the break-up scenes hit HARD. Much much harder than you’d expect a film like this to. You genuinely feel like both characters are a single comment away from a complete breakdown. Whether it’s criticising their work on documentaries “documentaries are reality shows that nobody watches”, or their personality types. When they argue, they aim low, and it’s painful to see (in a good way).

Now onto the actual story, about them attempting to uncover the truth behind a stranger getting in their car (who they think is a cop) and running someone over, repeatedly, to incredibly uncomfortable silence. Since it’s in their car, and they get found by two hipsters (one of whom takes a photo of the body, called it) who call the police “I’d like to report a murder or whatever”. They assume they’re going to be blamed for the murder, so run away and try to solve it themselves, all the while arguing. It’s not exactly the most original plot, but it is a lot of fun to watch. It does become original at the end though where the police say that they were never suspects, the original murder was caught on camera (obviously), and they just wanted to speak to them as they were witnesses. I like when films twist the common tropes like that, it was also done well in Keanu where the main characters were arrested because despite being innocent of murder, they still broke a lot of laws trying to clear their name.

So should you see this? Well it’s on netflix so you really should. The director’s previous film was The Big Sick, and whilst it’s nowhere near as good as that, it is still worth a watch.