Come True (2020)

Usually when I see a film like this, I do the usual review and mention about how I love it, but never want to see it again. The best examples of this are Hereditary, The VVitch, and Vivarium. All three films I love, but I’m not sure I could get through again. This had a similar effect with how it made me feel, but weirdly I want to see it again. In fact, I need to see it again. It has one of those endings which I know will make me appreciate the film more on a second watch. It feels low budget, but in a good way. In a way where it feels like everybody who worked on it was pushed to their limit to create the best thing possible, a film made possible by true dedication to the art of film-making.

I apologise for those of you who personally know me, and who like horror and sci-fi movies, because I will tell you to watch this film, and I will tell you it until you watch it. It’s one of those films that I feel you really need to experience. Turn the lights off, sit in the dark, and truly let it take you into it’s world. I’ve said this about a lot of films but it’s especially true with this, the fact I didn’t get to see this in the cinema is a great disappointment to me as I feel that would have been the optimum way to watch this.

I suppose if i had to describe this in a word I’d say “retro”. The music and visuals all combine to make it seem like something from the 80s, but in a good way. Not in a way that seems dated, but in a “this is a classic film from that time that you are now watching”. It’s hard to compare it to anything else but if I had to? Dunno, maybe a smattering of Nightmare On Elm Street, Alien (not with the plot, but in terms of the visual aesthetics), along with a side of….I’m not really sure, but there’s definitely a third element which I’m familiar with but can’t quite place. In terms of modern films, the closest I can find to this in terms of tone would be It Follows. A weird throwback but keeping a modern sensibility to it.

It’s hard to talk about the plot to this film, without spoiling it. So watch the trailer first, then decide if you want to watch it. The plot isn’t technically important, in terms of, if this was a book I wouldn’t advise reading it. But the way the plot and the technical nature merge together makes a lot of sense.

Almost all of the greatness of this film is down to two people: Anthony Scott Burns, and Julia Sarah Stone. Sure, the supporting cast are great, but it’s those two that anchor the movie. Stone gives a performance that if this film was better known, would be considered starmaking. She portrays so much in this movie, the fear, the exhaustion she faces is all written in her performance. She genuinely has some of the best non-verbal nuances I’ve seen in a long time. On that topic, there’s a few moments where I’m uncertain if the acting from some of the supporting performers were really good, or really bad. A few incredibly subtle facial tics where you can tell someone is actually happy when they’re supposed to be putting on a front of being sad/horrified. Either it’s really bad acting, and the performers can’t hide their actual emotions, or it’s REALLY good acting and all those incredibly subtle facial movements are just great character work. I’m leaning more towards the second one, as I don’t think Burns would allow anything less.

Right, Anthony Scott Burns, time to mention him. I mentioned how much of this movies greatness is down to him. He wrote it, and directed it. Which is not too unusual, but still good to see. But he also did the music, and that is SUCH a big part of why this film works. The music sounds blue (if that makes sense) and suits the colour scheme. He’s insanely talented and not gonna lie it makes me a little jealous. Although I know a few people who are looking to do similar roles, and it’s nice to see that it is possible, and how it can help create an artists true vision.

So in summary, if you get a chance you have to see this. It really deserves to be on Shudder, but until then, find other ways to watch it, you pretty much have to see it.

2020 Awards

Worst Film

Babyteeth

A film that by all rights, I should have loved, instead I hated it with a passion. Part of that is probably just because I didn’t like the characters. But part of that also might be because it has a euthanasia sex scene.

Fantasy Island

The only film I paid to see at the cinema this year. But even if I got in using my trusty cineworld card, I would have been disappointed with this. A lot of the things made no sense. Character motivations were muddled, and it was a complete waste of the potentially exciting premise.

Brahms: The Boy 2

I’m assuming this is bad, I genuinely can’t remember anything from this movie. For all intents and purposes, it’s like I never watched it.

Unhinged

An ugly film with an ugly soul, seemingly directed at similar people.

“Winner”

Artemis Fowl

Fuck you, disney. Your desire to do a book series yet take out the one thing that made the series stand out is a ridiculously stupid idea. It would be like if the makers of Harry Potter didn’t want to put any magic in the films. This film was doomed from the moment they posted the casting notes. I don’t get how you can fuck up a property more than this unless it’s deliberate.

Most Disappointing

See the section about the worst? Yeah, but every single film from that list (with the exception Of Brahms: The Boy 2 Electric Boogaloo) there. All of them I had, well maybe not high, but I had hopes for them. I expected them to be fun, or in the case of Babyteeth to make me feel things. But added to that list are:

Harley Quinn

No I’m not putting the full title here. I really wanted this to be more fun, but for a lot of the time it felt restrained, like it was an 18 film cut down to a 15. It had bits of brilliance, there’s one set-piece in particular which is creative and a lot of fun to watch, I just wish the rest of the film was like it.

Run

Controversial choice, as I did really like this film. But this subject is “most disappointing”, and that, sadly, is the case for this. I went in with incredibly high expectations, I expected this to be a 10/10. I wanted this to be one of the best films I’ve ever seen, and it’s not, it’s just very, very, very good. So yeah, that’s on me.

The Witches

Again, that might be on me, in retrospect I should have realised beforehand that this would not be a good movie, based solely on the complete lack of advertising for it. I really, really wish this was better. I wanted to love this movie. I love the original, and I love Anne Hathaway. Plus I wanted it to be so unquestionably brilliant that racists wouldn’t be able to attack it “see, you change the leads to black people, and it ruins it”. Truth be told, they could have done more with the racial aspect and played it into the story, especially considering when and where the film was set.

Winner

Tenet

The film that was supposed to save cinema, and which had such bad sound design that it would have been better to watch it at home where I could have had subtitles. I’m starting to realise I don’t love Nolan films as much as it seems I should. Interstellar, Dunkirk, they all left me feeling emotionally hollow if I’m honest. They’re very well made, and I appreciate the undeniable genius of the craft that goes into them, but I have no love them. On a personal level, they mean nothing to me.

Best Music

1917

Glorious and epic. Just what a film like this needed.

Spree

If only for the SENSATIONAL use of “I Will Follow Him” over the end credits, will definitely use that in my own stuff.

Babyteeth

One of the few good things about this film. I’m not going to buy this film, or even watch it again. But if possible I would purchase the soundtrack. It created an aural soundscape that complimented the colour scheme. It was weirdly beautiful, and fantastic.

Winner

Bill And Ted Face The Music

OBVIOUSLY! The music is a big part of this, bigger than it has been in any of the previous two films. So if it didn’t work, the film wouldn’t have worked. The final scene with the song is a moment of pure beauty, and the music is a big part of that.

Best Moment

Sonic The Hedgehog – Closing Credits

Weird choice I know, and this won’t be the last time I mention a credits sequence in this section. But the closing credits are essentially the film told but in the style of the old sonic games (a.k.a, the only good ones). No reason for them to do that and nobody would have noticed if they didn’t, but they did, and it’s wonderful. It felt like the only part of the entire film made with love for the source material.

1917 – The Trench Run

Incredibly tense and wonderful. Weirdly enough, it seemed to be improved by a mistake. There’s a moment during this run where the actor stumbled and nearly fell over. It was kept in and it weirdly enhances the scene. It makes you realise that for all the chaos going on around him, he is essentially just a scared youngster. He’s not a badass super soldier, he’s human, fallible, and fucking terrified.

Vivarium – The Drive

There’s a short moment in this film where the couple drive to a house. That’s all it is, a couple driving to look at a new house whilst a song by The Specials plays. Yet the way it’s filmed means it’s one of the best things I’ve seen. Incredibly tense and creepy, a great example of how a director can change a written scene so the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

Underwater – Opening Credits

Again, a weird choice. But the way these were done were almost perfect. They set the location up, gave us plot background, and let us know the tone of the movie, so by the time the actual film started you were not only informed of what was going on, but you were also in the right state of mind and knew exactly what film you were about to see. Other films have done this, obviously, but few have done it quite as masterfully as it was done here.

Winner

Parasite – Peach Fuzz

When the family put their plan into action to get the housekeeper fired. It has the pacing and style of a comedic heist movie. It’s interesting to watch, the performers absolutely nail every moment of it, and most of all, it’s fun and playful. A bit of lightness in the darkness of the rest of the movie. If you showed someone this with no context they might think it’s just a cheerful light comedy as opposed to the genre-defining genius it is.

Best Looking

Babyteeth

Considering this was one of the worst films I saw this year, it’s appearing a weirdly high number of times in positive awards.. That’s how good it looked, good enough for me to look past the annoyance I felt. The colour schemes, the saturation, it reminded me of Lady Bird in terms of visual style. It seemed like a throwback of some sorts, but not to a specific time in reality, but to a specific time in your life. Very strange, but very good.

Birds Of Prey

Not a great film, but it had a great look to it. Like being shot in the face with a cocaine paint gun.

Onward

It’s Pixar, their films always look good. They have a certain elastic reality to them so they look both real and fake at the same time. Also, the colours! OMG the colours. Watching this film is like eating a unicorn laced with LSD.

Parasite

The colours! Nah I’m just kidding, this is not about the colours, I’m not some kind of weird person with a child-like mind who looks at films like “ooo, look at the pretty colours”, nope, this is about the pretty shapes instead. The way the director constructed each shot and used the straight lines visible in modern architecture to highlight the class divisions between the characters is masterful.

Winner

1917

This would be there based solely on a single shot. The shot of the town at night, the way shadows and light were used is a showcase for how great cinema can be sometimes. As it is, the rest of the film looks great too.

Best Character

Birds Of Prey – Huntress

Part of that is due to how Mary Elizabeth-Winstead plays her. A superhero lacking confidence and who is slightly socially awkward due to how they know they are supposed to behave. I would definitely watch a solo film by her. I really wanted more from her in this. Maybe if there’s a sequel it will be more focused on her.

JoJo Rabbit – JoJo

Brilliantly played, and brilliantly written. Yes, he’s a nazi, but he’s not fuelled by hate, more by ignorance. He has a definite innocence to him, Difficult to do, if you make him too innocent he comes off as stupid, if you make him too knowledgeable, he’ll come off as, well, like a nazi.

The Invisible Man – Cecilia

Obviously, for the reasons listed in the best performer, oh no, I’ve spoiled that section now. Ah well, I’ll live.

Winner

Onward – Ian and Barley. 

I put them together as they function as a pair. Without the relationship between the two, the film would be a lot worse. It’s essentially a family love story. It goes through the same story beats, just without the kiss at the end obviously.

Best Performance

An American Pickle – Seth Rogen

Anybody who plays two roles convincingly in the same film is doing a good job. Especially when you can always tell which character is on screen all the time. He carries both of them differently enough that even when they’re not speaking, and are in the same clothes, you know exactly which one is which. That’s not that easy to do unless you resort to extreme physical performances which can be distracting. The differences here are different enough for you to pick out, but subtle enough that you can’t define them.

JoJo Rabbit – Roman Griffin Davis

He’s 12, and this was his debut. How the hell did he manage this? I assumed he was one of those stage-school kids who’s been acting his whole life due to being related to someone in the industry. For him to come in and do THIS well shows he’s either got a hell of a future in acting, or a hell of a drug problem in his mid 20s. Either way, big things are coming.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm – Maria Bakalova

Another great newcomer. and something even more surprising considering it’s not her native language. Not just that, but she’s anchoring the film alongside someone who is an expert in this field, and she more than holds her own.

Winner

The Invisible Man – Elisabeth Moss

She has strength, but is fragile. Kind of like a flower made of iron. A lot of that is due to how well the character is, so I’ll go into that in that section. But the way Moss plays her is perfect. She needed to play her as someone who has gone through severe trauma and is still suffering mentally from the damage done to her which restricts her ability to live a normal life, yet also strong enough that you know she has the mental strength to do what needs to be done. If Moss played her too far towards either side it would have been ruined as she would have either come off too weak, or so strong that you don’t believe she’s still suffering. It’s a REALLY difficult line to walk, and she not just confidently walks it, she’s doing fucking cartwheels.

Best Film

1917

January was a great time for cinema, saw so many good films in that month (including JoJo Rabbit, which you’ll be hearing more of), but this was the first film that was simply stunning from a technical view.  Not included as the best because I’ve only seen it at the cinema, I’m not entirely sure whether it will also work on a small screen or whether you’ll lose something.

JoJo Rabbit

A film with this subject has to be REALLY good or it will be deemed a failure. It has the potential to offend so many people that the slightest flaw will cause the general public to circle around it like sharks circling around handbags at a disco, or food. Trust me, this is superb, one of the funniest and sweetest films I’ve seen all year. The rest of 2020 may have been bad, but at least it gave me this piece of brilliance.

Onward

Not a lot of love for this film, and I don’t get why. Even by Pixar’s incredibly high standards, it’s still really good. The voices are well-suited to it, and the story is emotionally satisfying. It deserves it’s place among Pixar’s greatest, and it disappoints me that people don’t seem to love it as much as I do.

The Invisible Man

A real surprise. I expected it to be kind of cheap and schlocky. Like it would not be great, but would be entertaining and fun. I was very wrong, this is not a fun watch, and it’s not cheap. This is a script that you felt the writer HAD to get out of them. It has the air of a passion project for everybody involved. The best part? It didn’t NEED to be this good. It didn’t need to have this much care to make money. It could have been made cheaply and still made money. But the fact that they spent enough money to get this film made, the fact that the script is THIS good, the fact that it has power and emotion to it, THAT’S why I love this film. A film about an invisible man has no right to be as well-crafted as this is.

The Personal History Of David Copperfield

A late entry, but deserves it’s place. This is the best of British film-making, showing the best writing, the best actors, and the best locations. The whole film is basically a showreel for British cinema. Despite watching it at home, I felt like I was watching it at the cinema. It just sucked me in completely until I forgot that I was just sitting in bed watching it while eating pringles.

Winner

Parasite

Incredibly haunting. Been almost a year since I saw it and I’m still not entirely sure I’m over the ending. This is one of those films that sticks with you, the kind of film where after seeing it, you want to have hour-long discussions in the pub afterwards. It’s annoying that soon after this we were banned from going outside, because I wanted to go out onto the streets and tell everybody to go see this film.

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. 

Vivarium (2019)

I remember when I watched The VVitch years ago and was amazed at how it made somewhat standard scenes seem creepy and scary. A shot of a tree would somehow be one of the scariest moments in film and you have no idea why, it’s just great film-making. This is similar. It has a moment where they drive up a street to a house, that’s it. Nothing happens to them, nothing jumps out at them, it’s just them driving up a street. It’s also the creepiest scene I’ve seen in a LONG time. The houses are identical, like they’ve all been copied and pasted in an unnatural manner. The whole film is like that, the mundane made incredibly creepy through FANTASTIC film-making. Normally in horror it’s darkness that makes things creepy. This is the opposite, everything is so well-light and normal and bright that it’s that that makes it creepy.

The story is good, but ultimately frustrating sometimes as there are multiple questions which don’t get answered. Normally I’d call that annoying and lazy, but with this it works. The tone is perfect for that kind of narrative. It’s supposed to be a confusing mess as that’s what the characters are feeling. It makes you feel as helpless and trapped as the characters. There’s not enough focus on how character empathy can be tied into the narrative structure. I’ve made a conscious decision to do this when I made Poppy Blooms. I intentionally kept everything in that building so that the audience would feel as limited as the character was. The best case I can think of where the opposite has been the case and the narrative structure has been hurt by it will be The Mercy, aka, the film where Colin Firth is stuck on a boat. As I said here the film was supposed to be about how isolated he felt, but it kept cutting back to other characters, and had a lot of flashbacks of him interacting with people, as such you never felt as isolated as he did.

This is the opposite, it’s a confusing mess, because the characters are confused. I refuse to believe the confusing nature isn’t intentional, the film-maker is just too talented for that to be the case. I’m basing that off one film, yes, but it is a very good film. Plus, anybody who made this scene is certainly one of the most talented film-makers the world has.

I highly recommend this film, I’m not going to want to watch it again but I’m very glad I watched it. Well, maybe “glad” isn’t the correct word but you know what I mean, if you have shudder (and if you don’t, you should), it’s available on there.