July round-up

So, I’ve been thinking, and I’m changing the format for my ‘reviews’ a wee bit. The IMDB rating system I’ve been applying just isn’t working for me anymore. Most of my numbers for the previous six months are not inaccurate: it only works as a consensus system, so that gimmick is gone.

Without further ado:

88. Baby Driver (2017): In which a talented young getaway driver is driven by music and romance and the need to escape his criminal life. It’s incredible, honestly, I could gush about how much I adore this movie for several hundred words, but I won’t. Suffice to say Edgar Wright nailed it: the soundtrack is on point, choreography perfect, the casting spot on and the story both satisfying and surprising. I saw it at the theatre twice.

89. Despicable Me 3 (2017): In which Gru meets his rich, charming long-lost brother who wants to team up with him for a criminal heist. If you like Despicable Me and/or Despicable Me 2 then you’ve made a solid choice here. It’s more of the same. It’s family friendly fun with an 80s villain.

90. Hampstead (2017): In which an American widow living in Hampstead sparks an unlikely relationship with the man who lives in a shack on the heath. This is what I call a Sunday afternoon movie, it’s easy, it’s simple, and it’s not too heavy. I have big love for Brendan Gleeson and he’s great as always, but it’s not a fresh, exciting or challenging film: it’s just sweet.

91. Wonder Woman (2017):  In which Diana, Princess of the Amazons, sails away from her homeland with a US pilot to fight in World War II and become the Wonder Woman we know today. Finally, DC stepped up its game. This is far and away, by huge super-hero leaps the best new DC cinematic universe offering so far. It’s the right balance of funny and sincere, although it has its share of trite ridiculousness. I’m also a bit concerned that Wonder Woman’s home island is so close to the UK, yet hasn’t been discovered before.

92. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017): In which Peter Parker juggles his home and school life with his masked alter-ego, and find himself on the trial of a winged menace set to terrorize New York City. Spider-Man is probably my favourite superhero and after a string of slightly disappointing entries into the Spider-Man film canon, here he is done right. Tom Holland is perfectly cast as Peter Parker’s friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, and Michael Keaton’s Vulture ranks as one of the most relatable and interesting villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It feels right, the humour is well-pitched. It’s a joy to watch.

93. Paris is Burning (1990): In which drag queens are fabulous, but it’s not all rainbows. This is a seminal documentary that chronicles the lives of some New York queens and their hopes and plans, it’s fascinating and it’s human and it’s desperately sad in places.

94. Des vents contraires or Headwinds (2011): In which a man, thinking his wife has abandoned him and their two children, moves back to his childhood home in the French countryside. It’s an okay film, the Uncle and his relationship with the two kids was far and away the best part in a sea of confusing character motivation and terrible decision-making.

95. Stranger Than Fiction (2006): In which a man begins to hear his life narrated in real-time, he’s understandably confused. This is wonderful and unique. Both funny and clever and at times surprisingly profound.

96. Boom Bust Boom (2015): In which Terry Jones and a series of experts, puppets and animations explain the history and nature of the boom-bust cycle. This is an excellent multi-media documentary that explains in layman’s terms the economics of the boom-bust system, provides examples from throughout history and explores the inevitability of the 2007 Global Financial Crisis.

97. Frailty (2001): In which a man confesses to an FBI agent his family connection in a series of murders. This is a solid mystery, and I love a good mystery. This one kept me gripped.

98. Brick (2005)*: In which a high schooler searches for his troubled ex-girlfriend and takes a bunch of beatings in the process. Top-notch Neo-Noir from Rian Johnson, with a boss cast and great use of leitmotif.

99. Trampoline (2014): In which a girl moves home to a small Irish town to become a teacher. Impressive given its tiny budget. The protagonist is likeable enough to maintain interest in a sparse, excruciatingly understated story and, quite intentionally, dull locale.

100. War for the Planet of the Apes (2017): In which the apes are forced to confront their enemy and Caesar seeks vengeance. It’s a tidy end to the trilogy, but open enough for a fourth film. It’s visually impressive and there’s enough comic relief and humanity to make up for the really dark tone and themes. There are some very fortunate coincidences and it spoils some of its own surprises with on the nose foreshadowing, but its overall fulfilling.

101. Dunkirk (2017): In which British and Allied soldiers are surrounded by the German army on the beach at Dunkirk as they await rescue. Expertly paced, as per usual for Nolan, and told from three perspectives over three different, intersecting time frames:  1 hour with British pilots, 1 Day with a civilian rescue boat, and 1 week with the soldiers on the beach each overlapping and filled with little moments that encapsulate the desperation, futility and suffering of war and the perseverance, bravery and frailty of humans in the face of it, tied together with a little bit of fanfare and a whole lot of tension and some really fantastic sound design.

 

Film of the Month: Baby Driver 

 

(*) Indicates a film I rewatched this month. These films, however good they may be, will never be considered for my ‘Film of the Month’.

*I tend to watch films that I think I will like so rarely will there be a negative review. It’s all subjective. Enjoy whatever you want to enjoy.*

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