2019 In Film Day 2: The Meh

These are films I really didn’t like, but at least had the decency to contain one thing to admire about them.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile

This is a good movie. It just wasn’t for me. I was kind of bored by the whole thing. That might have been me and my expectations. But it felt like it was hiding a much more interesting story than the one it actually told. It was basically Ted Bundy not killing people.

Original review here

+Efron is great.

-Not really necessary

Glass

I’m more excited about what comes next, but I’m not even sure if anything will come next. I felt the same about Unbreakable, I felt somewhat underwhelmed, but I was interested in what comes next. I didn’t dislike it enough to hate it, I found it hard to feel anything about.

Original review here

+Interesting idea

-A lot of the film is “do these people actually have superpowers?” when we know they do. So it’s a complete waste of time.

Godzilla: King Of The Monsters

This is here purely for the scale. It’s massive, and it all looks real. Just a shame the rest of the film is so damn mediocre.

Original review here

+The look. It looks so damn superb. So many of the scenes look like oil paintings.

-How exactly is King Kong supposed to match him?

Ma

This film is a very slow build to the final moment. It’s an old-school horror approach that is risky to attempt to pull off in the modern age. It wasn’t helped by how the advertising all focused on the final third, so you thought that’s what the film was like. The main issue is that you know what it’s all building up to, but it keeps pulling back from reaching that point. This film could have naturally been about 20 to 30 minutes shorter.

Original review here

+The closing stretch is immensely satisfying.

-Drags too much in places.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

This is entirely personal taste. I was not a fan of this. I found it incredibly boring and I didn’t like the characters enough to spend time with them when the story was dragging. It looked great, and it felt completely authentic. A lot of people I know love this, and I do get it, it just wasn’t for me, at all.

Original review here

+The closing section is insanely brilliant.

-Did you know Tarantino likes feet? You will after this.

Sometimes Always Never

This just makes it into this blog and not the previous. Like so close. The only thing saving this? The general warmth of the whole thing. The way the characters interact with each other is incredibly sweet and warm. It’s lovely, so heartwarming that it brings the film up higher than the rest of it. The cast too. Its just a shame it’s a bit too twee at times, the cinematic equivalent of a government department making an anti-immigration campaign using a fucking ukulele.

Original review here

+Very twee

-Sometimes too much so

Yesterday

I think this film would be rated higher if it wasn’t for Blinded By The Light. By comparison, this film is incredibly hollow. Blinded By The Light (or BBTL as all the cool kids call it) was a genuine love letter to an artist, full of compassion and warmth and deep love, this was the work of someone who owns the greatest hits album of a band and nothing else. The kind of dick who only goes to gigs if they’re at stadiums, and considers Cher “rock and roll”. BBTL only really works as a Springsteen film, with Springsteen and the film working in equal harmony. With this the film came first, and The Beatles came second. Also, for a film about The Beatles, this spent a lot of time talking about how great Ed Sheeran was. It seemed to have no genuine love for the band it’s based on.

Original review here

+Cute concept and the main relationship works

-It makes a joke about Oasis not existing, but also says the guy won a talent show singing Wonderwall. No consistency

Blinded By The Light (2019)

This is a great film about Bruce Springsteen. I mean, he’s not in it (with the exception of a photo of him in the end credits) but it is very much him. Like, essence of Springsteen (worst fragrence name ever). It’s a film about the power of words and music. About how music can help you make sense of a shitty world. About how it can transcend geographical and genre boundaries, and really make you FEEL something. That’s the films biggest strength; the way it affects you on a pure emotional level.

This film has issues, not really big enough to count as flaws, more slight annoyances. There are times where Viveik Kalra’s performance isn’t QUITE what it needs to be and feels a little flat. There are other times where he completely nails the emotion, so it’s obviously not beyond him, but there are times where his performance doesn’t really work (particularly in the first half). There are some moments which aren’t needed. The opening scene, in particular, serves no purpose. It’s just a “here’s the main characters when they were children”. It kind of showcases the relationships between certain characters, but that could have been done more naturally. The music, whilst it’s good, it is a bit repetitive. There are some songs which are repeated multiple times. As such it doesn’t really compel you to go out and listen to Springsteen in the same way as Yesterday made you want to listen to the Beatles. The story is one you’ve seen before (would it be rude to call a true story “a bit cliche in parts”?). Some of the characters’ motivations aren’t clearly defined in terms of the film’s narrative, you’re not really sure what the end goal, what is the main character reaching for and aiming to achieve etc. It also has moments where entire groups of people burst into song in a way that breaks reality. We can hear the music being playing, but except for the main character nobody else can, they’re just hearing him singing, so how are they dancing to the beat of the music if they can’t actually hear it? I know that’s a really weird thing to pick out, but I’m not the biggest fan of “main characters break into song” at the best of times (which is weird as my favourite television show of the last few years is a musical) and I feel it has to be done well (and for a good reason) for it to be effective (for example, it worked PERFECTLY in Rocketman). It could be argued that it’s alluding to Bollywood tradition, merging Bollywood tropes with western music, but it doesn’t have the right atmosphere and speed for it to truly work. There are other moments with music which work a lot better. When the lyrics come up on the screen at important parts it works wonderfully and it allows you to see how the character is thinking, you can feel him connecting to those parts of the music.

It may not seem like it but I did enjoy this movie. Was incredibly heartwarming, and a lot of the supporting performances were great (Nell Williams in particular). It reminds me of a slightly below-par Nick Hornby at his best. Considering how much I love some of Nick Hornby’s stuff (High Fidelity is still one of my favourite books) that indicates how highly I rate this movie. So yeah I’d go see it. It might not be your favourite movie, but I highly doubt you’ll regret it.

Yesterday (2019)

The basic concept of this film is a guy wakes up in a world where only he can remember The Beatles. They’re one of a few musical artists that that concept would work for. There’s them, Elvis, Queen, that’s it. There are big bands (Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath), and there are influential ones, but very few are in that place where almost anybody can name 20 songs by them immediately. They’re 3 of the only bands where you occasionally forget they’ve got songs you don’t know because of how many songs you do know.

Trouble is, it takes longer than it should to get there, and doesn’t really show how different the world would be. It doesn’t seem to have removed their effects (with the exception of a quick joke about Oasis no longer existing, a very quick joke which is NEVER touched upon again, which is weird as it’s established the character sang Wonderwall at a school talent show, he doesn’t decide to then record and release that song too.) There are moments where it shows other things no longer exist for some reason (Cigarettes, Coca Cola, Harry Potter) but they’re quick one-off jokes and never built on. That feeling of wasted potential is on that I got a lot through this film. Particularly during two moments near the end.

1) There’s a scene near the end where he performs on a rooftop. A rooftop gig, in a Beatles film? This will be important. The Beatles’ rooftop gig was thought to be the end of an era, one of the true closing points of the band. In this? It’s just another gig. It doesn’t even get broken up by the police.

2) In this universe, John Lennon lives. The main character goes to see him, then decides to apologise to the woman he’s hurt. Now if only there was a John Lennon song which would be appropriate for that occasion. One where he says he didn’t mean to hurt her and he’s sorry that he made her cry. If only.

It’s things like that which make it seem like this wasn’t a passion project. It doesn’t seem written by someone with an obvious deep love for the band, it seems like someone who buys almost exclusively greatest hits and chart compilations. Someone who considers Bryan Adams “hard rock”.

On the upside; the central romance is actually believable and heartfelt. You actually want them to end up together. They play well off each other and are a cute couple. The ensemble cast itself is pretty good, although Kate McKinnon does continue to be slightly too over the top at times, which doesn’t mesh well with the other performances which are more restrained. I also question the Ed Sheeran role. He plays himself well, it just feels a bit weird. At times it feels more like it’s promoting “the genius of Ed Sheeran” rather than The Beatles. It also teases him turning against the main character and becoming the antagonist driven by jealousy and resentment, but it never happens. It also has James Corden playing himself in a scene I’m still baffled by. I think it was a dream sequence (if so it shouldn’t be in the trailer, dream sequences NEVER should be the trailer, it’s a fucking cop-out), but I’m not sure. If it actually happened then it was glossed over completely, but if it was just a dream sequence then it wasn’t needed. Just a bit weird.

I mentioned earlier how it seemed like Ed Sheeran would be the antagonist, it also performs a fake out with two other characters as well, played by “I know them from somewhere” actors Sarah Lancashire and Justin Edwards. It’s played with that they know the truth, that he stole the songs, and they do. They’re the only two other people who know the truth, but they promise to keep quiet as they just miss the music so much. It’s a very sweet moment that is beautifully built up, and leads to the John Lennon appearance which is without a doubt the emotional highlight of the film both for the audience and the main character.

So I think you should see this, but ideally in a packed screening. If you watch it in an almost empty screen it won’t quite hit as well. Failing that, gather the family around and watch it at Christmas on iPlayer (when it will DEFINITELY be on in the future)