The film that I  co-directed, co-wrote and co-produced just won an award.

I am suitably excited.

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Closedown submission

Closedown submission

Remember when I wrote a collection of weekly posts about filming a short film?
It was over a year ago, and since then we’ve not stopped working on it. There was a lot of editing to do, and a lot of editing takes a lot of time. It takes even more time when you have actual jobs, a house move and the need to hold onto some semblance of a social life (and sanity). Peter has done an amazing job, and I publically apologise for all the nagging.

Now, if you follow me on twitter you may already be aware, we submitted the finished short to some film festivals (there’s a poster and everything); and I find all of that super exciting.

I have no idea if we’ll get selected, but I sure hope so. At least one festival. Just to be screened would be amazing for our first proper project.

That’s not to say we have everything riding on this one film, there are other things going on; now we’ve finished the work and are playing the waiting game,  we can move on to other projects, and I think that’s pretty darn exciting, too.

 

My top titles from 2017

I was going to do a definitive ‘Best of 2017’ post, but honestly, there were a lot of awesome movies, and I couldn’t possibly choose only one, so, these are my favourite  10 films that were released last year (according to IMDB) that I think people should see if they get a chance. They are listed in the order I watched them.

43.  I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore 

61. Get Out

88. Baby Driver

92. Spider-Man: Homecoming

101. Dunkirk

121. Logan Lucky

126. IT

135. Blade Runner 2049 

152. Okja

170. The Disaster Artist

There are a bunch of other excellent 2017 releases that just didn’t quite make my list, it was a really good film year.

 

December round-up

I know it’s been 2018 for a while now, but still, happy new year.

I’ve watched a lot of TV over the last month as well, I have a recommendation for you if you have Netflix: Korean crime drama ‘Stranger’, it is ace and well worth its sixteen or so hours. Yes, this is what I do with my free time. I also watched some movies. Here are my thoughts on those…

158. Dallas Buyers Club (2013): In which a man works outside of the system to provide unsanctioned treatment for HIV after his own diagnosis. Powerhouse performances, and an interesting story. Ron Woodroof has a real arc from hateful and debauched, to defiant and open via desperation. It’s heart-wrenching but ultimately unsatisfying.

159. Shimmer Lake (2017): In which a small town sheriff investigates a bank heist, backwards. When I say ‘backwards’ I mean that in the sense that, a-la Memento (2000), the film begins at the end and works backwards scene by scene until the revelation at the start. It’s tonally weird: part black comedy, part mystery drama but it doesn’t always blend these genres effectively. It’s entertaining, if not wholly successful.

160. Bridesmaids (2011): In which a down-on-her-luck baker is invited to be maid of honour at her best friend’s wedding, things don’t go as planned. I don’t know how I hadn’t seen this already. It’s a hilarious and relatable comedy. Also, I love Kristen Wiig.

161. Monsters (2010): In which a photojournalist escorts his boss’s daughter through an ‘infected zone’ between Mexico and the USA. It’s a character-driven, low budget invasion movie, with minimal actual aliens. And I liked that about it. It’s a personal story with a science fiction backdrop more than it is a science fiction film in the stereotypical sense. It’s an interesting set up for a simple story.

162. Murder on the Orient Express (2017): In which eminent Belgian detective Hercule Poirot solves a murder on the eponymous train. While not a necessary remake of the classic Agatha Christie, it certainly looks good, all the cast hold their own, however, I’d have prefered to see more of the passengers and less of Poirot’s meanderings. Also, not a glimpse of David Suchet which is, for someone who grew up watching his Poirot, jarring, confusing, and scary; I suppose Kenneth Branagh and his walrus moustache is okay, though.

163. The Martian (2015): In which a man gets left behind on mars by his crewmates and friends. Tense and surprisingly funny, uplifting science-fiction.     

164. Hell or High Water (2016): In which two Texan brothers rob some banks to save their family’s land. It’s a fantastic, moody crime movie. It hammers home its message, it doesn’t feel preachy. The characters are strong and relatable and the landscape is stunning. The opening sequence alone is exemplary.

165. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997): In which four high school friends are stalked by a killer a year after a terrible road accident. It’s not a good movie; it’s schlocky, silly and dated, but easy to watch.

166. Edge of Winter (2016): Two boys are stranded with their deadbeat, slightly unhinged father in the wilds of snowy Canada after their car breaks down on a hunting trip. I like the cast, I like the setting, and the premise is interesting on paper, but the film is somehow less than the sum of its parts, quickly descending from character study on fatherhood and failure into an overly melodramatic and ill-conceived ‘thriller’.   

167. Star Wars: The Force Awakens* (2015): In which a runaway stormtrooper and a scavenger from a nothing planet team up with the resistance to combat the rising threat of the post-Empire power, The First Order. I quite enjoy Star Wars, and the Force awakens is excellent both for its technical quality, and for its nostalgia–following the blueprint of the first Star Wars Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope to great effect and kicking off the new trilogy with style and emotional depth. The characters are strong, especially Kylo Ren (the fantastic Adam Driver), and the story leads nicely into…   

168. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017): In which Rey works with Luke Skywalker to hone her Force powers, and the out-matched Resistance face off against the First Order. Where The Force Awakens works because of its parallels with A New Hope, The Last Jedi works because of its lack of reference, making it fresh and surprising entry in the Star Wars saga. I am aware of the backlash this film has weathered, and I find many of the criticisms unfounded. I have a lot of love for this film, and I think Rian Johnson did a good job. Is it perfect? No, of course not, but it’s a Star Wars film, and none of them are without their clunky sections. Holdo is a stand out for me and the ever fabulous Laura Dern slayed the role; Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren continues to intrigue me; and the theme of failure was a really good, effective and new take on an established universe. The sound design was great, the salt planet was beautiful and the Porgs, delightful. A fitting tribute to the departed Princess, Carrie Fisher.      

169. The Intern (2015): In which a retired widower takes a new job as a ‘Senior Intern’ for a burgeoning fashion start-up. DeNiro and Hathaway have a good rapport, and this film that I picked as a light daytime watch had much more to it than I had expected. I sweet, funny and optimistic fish-out-of-water comedy. I haven’t seen Nancy Meyers’s other films, but I might check them out.   

170. The Disaster Artist (2017): In which a young wannabe actor called Greg Sestero meets and moves to LA with the eccentric and mysterious Tommy Wiseau to follow their dreams of becoming famous and successful actors like James Dean. I adore The Room, I have had the pleasure of seeing it more times than is probably reasonable–in friends houses and sold out movie theatres. The tale behind that masterpiece of terrible filmmaking is just as strange as The Room itself, and The Disaster Artist is an excellent and hilarious testament to that fact. James Franco’s performance is incredible as Tommy and Dave Franco is good as Greg, but their relationship really helps sell the friendship between two seemingly disparate people. They really are friends, and that’s what The Disaster Artist is really about: true friendship, and following your dreams no matter what.

171. The Dish* (2000): In which the team manning a satellite dish in a small Australian town play help NASA with the first Apollo moon landing. An extraordinary and humorous film with a cast of quirky and believable characters led by the great Sam Neill, for whom I have an ever-growing fondness.

172. Battle Royale* (2000): In which a class of school children are released onto a remote island with a range of weapons and ordered to kill one another in a government mandated ‘Battle Royale’. It’s a visceral, grotesque and disturbing adaptation of an (apparently even more disturbing manga), and it is amazing; an absurd, character-focused satire. Takeshi Kitano is in it and that more than enough to sell a movie to me, but c’mon, it’s Battle Royale, it’s a bloody classic (literally)…    

Film of the Month: The Disaster Artist

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

 

October and November round-up

It seems as though I start all of these round-ups with some excuse or another–bad form, I know. This one is even later than usual, mostly because almost all of November was spent writing a novel as part of National Novel Writing Month, which took up an unreasonable amount of my life; it was worth it though because I did it.  I may well write a short post about that in the new year when I start the edit.

Also, for transparency’s sake, as I no longer apply the IMDB system that I began with, I will be removing that from the older posts that still employ it.

Enough dilly-dallying, let’s get to it.

October:

133. There Will Be Blood (2007): In which an oil man strikes oil and drinks milkshake. Its obviously much more than my description makes it out to be, and I would go so far as to consider it a modern classic: gripping, with powerhouse performances and spot-on direction from the ever amazing Paul Thomas Anderson.

134. Joe (2013): In which a gruff ex-con meets a hard-working teen and finds it in him to help the kid out. It’s a lot of things, but cheerful is certainly not one of them, although I do love to see Nic Cage giving a more restrained performance (who am I kidding, I love Nic Cage giving any kind of performance). Joe is a surprisingly low-key film, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its share of shocks. 

135. Blade Runner 2049 (2017): In which a replicant blade runner’s investigation leads him to track down the original Blade Runner‘s Deckard. It’s astounding. Respectful to the original, while bringing something new. Villeneuve is going from strength to strength with another legitimately beautiful film (much thanks to the one and only Roger Deakins–who is hands down my favourite cinematographer, I could gush for paragraphs about why, but I won’t). This is arguably an unnecessary sequel, but I’m glad that it exists.

136. Blade Runner: Blackout 2022 [short] (2017): In which there is a blackout, and it is a huge deal.  Gorgeous animation from Shinichirô Watanabe that explains a key moment in Blade Runner lore.

137. Blade Runner 2036: Nexus Dawn [short] (2017): In which a man has a meeting to demonstrate his ‘Nexus’ technology to the police department. Neat and disturbing introduction to a 4049 character, all set in one room (and I am partial to single-location stories).

138. 2048: Nowhere to Run [short] (2017): In which a replicant on the run acts to protect a kid. The direct precursor to the feature Blade Runner 2049 that introduces and expands upon Dave Bautista’s character and the environment he inhabits. 

139. Loom [short] (2012): In which an employee at a meat growing facility is growing something at home. Well made and well cast. All in all an interesting, weird low-key science fiction, but it doesn’t explain itself as well as it could (or maybe I was too tired to fully appreciate it). 

140. The Dark Tower (2017): In which Roland (a Gunslinger) strives to save the world (or worlds?), from Walter (The Man in Black) with the help of a kid from NYC. It’s clearly competently made and there are some nice setpieces. But, I didn’t read the Stephen King Magnum Opus on which this film is based, and as such found a lot of things pretty confusing and messy, which I assume is due to condensing an eight-book series into an hour and a half. My partner, who has read and loves said series,  said it was inaccurate and overly simplistic. So, a disappointment for book fans and non-fans alike.  

141. Gerald’s Game  (2017): In which a woman finds herself ties to the bed in a holiday cabin after her husband has a heart attack during their romantic get-away.  It has some made-for-TV vibes, but it is effective, often upsetting and genuinely quite disturbing Stephen King adaption. I was pleasantly surprised.  

142. Prayer of the Rollerboys* (1990): In which a young rollerblader in dystopian LA tries to save his little brother by working with the police to infiltrate The Rollerboys: a racist gang of drug-dealing eugenicists who fight for control of the city. I adore this movie both because of and in spite of its numerous flaws. It’s not a good film, but it’s excellent viewing.

143. Now You See Me (2013): In which a disparate group of magicians are summoned by a mysterious benefactor to rob some banks, and are pursued by Interpol and the FBI. Silly and so much fun. There is a sequel, and I’d like to watch it. 

144. Mom and Me (2015): In which a collection of ‘tough guys’ talk about their relationship with their mothers. Heartwarming and relatable. Laugh a little, cry a little and then call your mother.   

145. My Scientology Movie (2015): In which Louis Theroux investigates the Church of Scientology. This is an insular church, and they don’t want scrutiny to say the least. I don’t know much about them, but their lack of cooperation and treatment of the crew and their ex-members is suspicious. It’s damning but ultimately inconclusive. Theroux is unshakably calm and persistent as always: a suitable presenter for a topic such as this.   

146. Dial M For Murder (1954): In which a man plots to murder his wife. Ingenius single-location mystery. I love it.   

147. Ashby (2015):  In which a high school kid befriends his mysterious old neighbour.  Good cast (mostly), and I’m a sucker for a quirky comedy, so I’m willing to forgive its weird b-story and general mediocrity.  

148. The Daughter (2015): In which an American man returns to his family home in Australia for his father’s wedding. Decent family melodrama, compelling but occasionally frustrating.

149. 7 Años (2016): In which four business partners hire a mediator to help them decide which of them will go to prison for seven years for a crime they all committed. Tense and well-thought out. Good premise, well executed.

150. Dave [short] (2016): In which a detective is called to investigate a murder. Unexpected. I hope it leads to bigger things, but I’ll say no more about it. 

Film of the Month: Blade Runner 2049



November:

151. V for Vendetta* (2005): In which a masked freedom fighter (known only as ‘V’) plots to overthrow the tyrannical British government with the help of a young woman (aptly named Evey). Still a great film and an annual bonfire night viewing staple.

152. Okja (2017): In which a young girl helps raise and bonds with a genetically modified ‘super-pig’ named Okja, then fights to save her animal friend from the multi-national corporation that seeks to take her away. One of the best Netflix originals and a standout film in its own right, Joon-ho Bong has a clear perspective and Okja follows nicely from Snowpiercer in this regard. It not a kid’s film (despite its fluffy description and adorable central characters), it’s funny and colourful and then descends into a horrifying and heart-wrenching comment on the meat industry.

153. Thor: Ragnarok (2017): In which Thor is stranded on a trash planet and then has to defend Asgard from the wrath of Hela, a powerful goddess. Quite possibly the funniest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as I would expect from the ever-talented Taika Waititi, and his cast really deliver. It’s been nice to see Thor (and Loki) develop through the series. However, Ragnarok seems split, the trash planet storyline is fun and colourful and genuinely refreshing, but the Asgard parts suffer from an uninteresting villain and underdeveloped and underutilised supporting cast (particularly Valkyrie, who’s backstory is merely touched upon, but was interesting enough to warrant more time). My biggest issue is the mistreatment of Hulk, or rather Bruce Banner, whose storyline is more serious than the film gives it credit for. Despite the issues I have with it, it’s still Thor’s best film and a worthwhile watch.  

154. Perfect Blue (1997): In which an actress (and former ‘Idol’) finds her sense of reality unravelling as she is stalked by a crazed fan. It’s fantastic: artfully told anime thriller from Satoshi Kon that blurs the line between reality and imagination to disturbing effect. I highly recommend it.

155. What We Did On Our Holiday (2014): In which a London family travel to Scotland for a family birthday party. It’s nice and uplifting, but not altogether believable–although there are some relatable moments. Bonus pins for Billy Connolly who I adore.

156. Justice League (2017): In which Batman and Wonder Woman join forces with Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg to fight a powerful enemy. The Flash is the best bit (as Ezra Miller tends to be). It’s entertaining but messy and uneven. It suffers from Superman’s presence, which starts off interesting but quickly devolves into another Superman film, rendering the other heroes useless in comparison. It’s still one of the best of DC’s post-Nolan film universe (second to Wonder Woman).

157. The Death of Stalin (2017): In which Stalin dies. Armando Iannucci has again made a hilarious, satirical triumph. It has a stellar cast, featuring some of comedy’s best older gentlemen; an absurd but brilliantly played premise; and a tight script. A surprising gem of a film.

Film of the Month: Perfect Blue

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

August and September round-up

I had a really crazy September with a lot going on, some good, some not so good, unfortunately. I did not get the chance to write up my August films, nor did I get to watch that many films; September will be brief, to say the least.

August:

102. Lucha Mexico (2016): In which famous luchador, Shocker, guides us through the world of Mexican professional wrestling, its history, its cultural significance, and life as a luchador, with interviews and archive footage of other well-known wrestlers with and without their masks. If you’re into wrestling you’ll love it; I am into wrestling. It’s a surprisingly intimate portrait of Shocker and other interviewees as well as a fascinating guide to Lucha Wrestling, the importance of the masks, and how the sport has changed with time; a bit of a rollercoaster, but I recommend going along for the ride.

103. The White Helmets [Short] (2016): In which a band of volunteers risk their lives to rescue civilians from air-struck sites in Syria. These men are heroes, and I don’t have much more to say about that. It’s upsetting and uplifting and less than an hour long so go and watch it.

104. In the Heat of the Night (1967): In which an African American police detective is dragged into a criminal investigation in small-town Mississippi. Tense and frustrating and still somehow relevant in 2017, the performances are unsurprisingly excellent from Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger (who won an Oscar for his turn).  

105. The Lesser Blessed (2012): In which a First Nation teenager deals with life in a poverty-stricken town in the Northwest Territories, Canada. Based on a novel by Richard Van Camp, The Lesser Blessed provides a welcome, albeit bleak, insight into the difficulties faced by working-class kids in small-town Canada, but it is ultimately too vague and too indie-film-conventional to be particularly memorable.

106. The Fall (2006): In which an injured and distraught stuntman befriends a little girl with a vivid imagination in an LA hospital circa 1920-something. A visually stunning an emotionally satisfying fantasy from Tarsem Singh. I love every inch of this gorgeous film: the story within the story is a fantastic, colourful mask behind which an honest and bittersweet tale unfolds.

107. Pit and the Pendulum (1961): In which a young man visits a castle in sixteenth-century Spain in search of answers about his sister’s untimely death. Classic Edgar Allen Poe adaptation, really entertaining, even though you probably know the story, it’s still very much worth its runtime.

108. John Q (2002): In which a father takes a hospital room hostage in order to secure a replacement heart for his dying son. I love Denzel Washington, and I love crime movies, what I don’t love is feeling emotionally manipulated. It’s not that it’s completely terrible, just a clumsy and heavy-handed take on a really important subject that is still a discussion point today.

109. Without Gorky (2011): In which two sisters discuss their memories of family life with and without their father, Armenian Abstract Expressionist, Arshile Gorky. This is a highly personal family story, film-maker Cosima Spender documents her mother, aunt, and grandmother as they discuss Gorky and their relationships before and after his suicide in 1948. It’s a raw and involving film, despite its minimalism, although it feels a touch voyeuristic at times.

110. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993): In which Batman is implicated in the deaths of a series of mob-bosses and must find the true culprit. This is super cool, really lovely characterisation and animation. The joker is ace.

111. Kong: Skull Island (2017): In which a group of scientists and soldiers explore an uncharted island shortly after the end of the Vietnam War. It’s pretty excellent. This film knows exactly what it is and make no claims to be anything more. Kong is the star and it shouldn’t be any different. Revel in the well-pitched ridiculousness and enjoy some destruction.

112. Coraline (2009): In which a little girl, ignored by her parents, finds a doorway to a parallel world, where her ‘other’ family are attentive and everything is too good to be true. Suitably creepy and magical tale about respecting and appreciating what you’ve got. I like Laika films in general and this is no exception.

113. The Captive (2014): In which an estranged couple and a team of detective refocus the search for a kidnapped girl, eight years after her initial disappearance. Beautiful landscapes, an outstanding performance by Ryan Reynolds, and (director) Atom Egoyan’s signature non-linear style, are not enough to prevent this film from veering way into the realms of ridiculousness. It’s a probably well-meaning, but over the top take on a difficult subject.

114. Le Balon Rouge or The Red Balloon [short] (1956): In which little boy befriends a red balloon, which follows him around town. Wonderful.

115. The Tell-Tale Heart [short] (1953): In which man murders his landlord and descends deeper into madness. A hypnotic take on the Edgar Allen Poe classic short story, stylish animation with fantastic use of light and shadow.

116. What Happened to Monday (2017): In which septuplet sisters live as one woman in a world with a stringent one child per household policy. Entertaining science fiction starring the endlessly watchable Noomi Rapace as all seven sisters. I bought into it and enjoyed myself.

117. Mumbai Cha Raja or Mumbai’s King (2012): In which a teenager roams the streets of Mumbai with his young friend, a balloon seller. The kids are charming, particularly Arbaaz (Arbaaz Khan), and you can’t help but feel for their plight. While not a huge amount happens, it’s still compelling.

118. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012): In which a meteor is about to destroy Earth and a reserved man takes a road trip to meet his high-school sweetheart, accompanied by his flighty, young neighbour. I love my quirky indie films; I also like Steve Carell, so we were always on for a winner. Throw in some apocalypse (which I am also partial to) and it’s a wonder I hadn’t seen this film ages ago. It’s pretty good.

119. Clue (1985): In which six dinner guests in a strange mansion must work with the staff to solve a murder. Cluedo is a great game, and it makes for a really fun madcap mystery movie.

120. The Collection (2012): In which a man, not long after escaping the grip of a brutal serial killer, is forced to return to help rescue a young woman from a house of horrors. I knew nothing about this film going in except that I like horror films and had some time kill on a Thursday afternoon. Turns out this is a sequel to a film (The Collector, 2009) that I didn’t see. Now, I’m not sure if seeing The Collector first would make it better, but I just can’t picture it making a difference. I don’t recall feeling so angry and cheated after watching a film, especially one I assumed would be formulaic and kinda schlocky. It has actors that I’ve seen give good performances in other roles; it has an acceptable starting premise; it has pretty decent set design, yet it’s still so inexplicably shit. Just don’t.

121. Logan Lucky (2017): In which two brothers attempt a heist during a NASCAR race. Brilliantly pitched Steven Soderbergh crime caper, it’s clever, surprising, and so funny (but not at the expense of its characters). An unexpected treasure.

122. The Change-Up (2011): In which two friends, with wildly different lifestyles, switch bodies after… pissing in a fountain. Yeah, it’s rubbish. If you’re into crass humour you might like it, but it’s just not for me. It’s not original and everyone involved can do much better.

123. The Birdcage (1996): In which a gay cabaret owner and his flamboyant, drag queen partner agree to pretend to be straight for dinner with their son’s fiancee’s right-wing parents. On the one hand a hilarious farce, and on the other a tender family tale, both played out perfectly by the fantastic Nathan Lane and the late great Robin Williams.

124. Kung Fury [short] (2015): In which the eponymous martial artist cop travels back in time to kill Hitler. A loving homage to ’80s science fiction, action and kung fu movies all wrapped up in a crazy 31-minute package. Fully excellent.

 

Film of the Month: The Fall


September:

125. Detroit (2017): In which a group of corrupt (white) police officers terrorize the predominantly black residents of the Algiers Motel during the Detroit Riots of 1967. That this is based on a true story is shocking by itself. Detroit is a timely indictment of police racism that is slow to start, and brushes over some intricacies, but ultimately makes for some tense and uncomfortable viewing, especially when held against the current political climate United States.

126. It (2017): In which a band of misfit kids battle a shapeshifting demon clown to save the town’s children. While not always scary-scary, even with Bill Skarsgård’s striking turn as Pennywise, the film is consistently gripping and effectively conveys the individual concerns of each young protagonist. The kids are really great and bring a warmth, honesty and genuine sense of camaraderie to an otherwise disturbing film. I just loved it.  

127. Best F(r)iends (2017): In which a down on his luck man meets and befriends a quirky mortician and an unlikely business partnership is born. Playing to the strengths of it’s leading men (Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero), this film manages to be both new and interesting as well as knowing and referential (to Wiseau’s magnificent disaster The Room). It pays fan service enough to feel welcoming but invites us to see that there’s something more.

128. Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge/Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017): In which Captain Jack Sparrow teams up with Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner’s son to find the ‘Trident of Poseidon’ and evade the vengeful pirate Captain Salazar. A solid action adventure movie, Salazar is a good villain, and the visual effects are top-notch.

129. Man In Van [short] (2009): In which a man explains how and why he’s been living in a van in New York’s west village for 8 years. Director Sean Dunne provides an intimate little glimpse into Jimmy Tarangelo’s life and shows that you can’t judge a man by his circumstances.

130. Stray Dawg  [short] (2011): In which a musician prepares to run a marathon. A well-crafted portrait of Jonny, a mild-mannered, eccentric country singer-come-marathon-hopeful.

131. The Archive [short] (2009): In which a man discusses his archive-the largest vinyl collection in the world and the state of the record industry in the United States. My third Sean Dunne short documentary in a row. A fascinating insight into a niche subject, The Archive is as sad as it is interesting, as its subject Paul Mawhinney laments the decline of the record industry and his own worsening health.

132. Prometheus (2012): In which a team of scientists explore a distant moon in search of the progenitors of humanity. A predictable plot and obvious ‘twists’. But, while it’s disappointing from a story standpoint, it looks stunning and has some really good effects and some stand-out performances from its talented cast.

 

Film of the Month: It

 

(*) 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.*

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.*