/ January Film Thread
All The Money in the World, 8/10
The Greatest Showman - I can't really put a score on this as I don't like 95% of musicals, and this fits into that 95%. It would be like sending a vegan to review a steak restaurant. I only went to see it because Michelle Williams is in it. It was colourful and well shot and everyone seemed spirited and the story is decent. It does have the worst CGI big cats since the tigers in Gladiator, but they are only there for 2 seconds.
Will witter on about Hostiles and All the Money in the World later.
Just watched Three Billboards, for which I've been eagerly waiting, being a big fan of Martin McDonagh. I wasn't disappointed: the script is as sharp as broken black glass and Frances McDormand turns in a magnificent performance of enormous emotional range and brilliant technical detail. I would have thought another Oscar is on its way to her. Mind you, the whole cast is impressive. Rockwell's performance is particularly engrossing as his character shifts and unexpectedly develops. Enjoyable and impressive as In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths were, I think this is a big step up. Alongside the dark comedy is genuine tragic gravitas and hard-earned redemption. This seems to have confused and upset some reviewers, but for me the complexity of tone is part of the point and one of the film's many strengths. A modern masterpiece, I reckon. 9/10.
Cheers, it's certainly on the list - I gather that the trailers are rather misleading in their emphasis on comedy. Might see it tonight, failing that, probably at some point over the weekend. Along with The Darkest Hour.
a bit more on Hostiles, FWIW
7.5/10. For about 50 minutes, it was on for 10/10 and "greatest Western ever" but it did start to lag and lose pace and engagement and focus - still very good though.
Believe the posters - Christian Bale is astonishingly good in this, as a dark haunted troubled complex character. I know that can seem like his stock in trade, but here it is used to great effect. Rosamund Pike at least for the first two thirds of the film, is certainly his equal.
It's basically a massive PTSD film (PTSD on national and personal levels) with great scenery and acting.
NB the "great scenery" is interesting, it's not your usual epic Monument Valley shots, but a rather more muted (yet equally vast, just a bit bleak) landscape.
A bit more on All the Money in the World, FWIW
Luckily I was able to totally forget the whole Kevin Spacey thing (I somehow missed the news when it first broke) so that aspect was not the distraction that it seems to be for the rest of the world.
Truly fascinating story, regardless of how many liberties the screenwriters might have taken with it. There is seething bitterness bubbling under, in several key characters, and it's good to see this played out.
Michelle Williams is as usual brilliant in this, she really carries the whole film (as her top billing suggests).
It's also really well shot, the muted colour palette suits it well.
Not the most complex characterisations of all time, to be fair, but there's enough story to fill the 135 minutes running time without bogging it down with character studies. Basically: Plummer as a wily greedy old bastard, Williams as a plucky resilient devoted mother, Wahlberg as, er, the Mark Wahlberg character, other Plummer as a pawn, and various kidnappers as "out of their depth kidnappers".
Three Billboards Outside Ebben, Missouri. 7/10
Darkest Hour. 5/10
More on these thrilling opinions after I’ve sat through 140 minutes of Molly’s Game
8/10 on Molly’s Game
Just watched The Post. I do love a damn good newspaper movie, and this is a damn good newspaper movie. Gripping stortytelling, done with the usual Spielbergian panache. Very polished performances from Streep and Hanks - in 21st century Jimmy Stewart mode. But the whole cast is extremely strong. Great period detail, revelling in the romance of old typesetting technology: a fine final print room shot pulls out revealing conveyor belt columns of newspapers rising and falling like the pillars in some cathedral of free speech. As usual a stirring soundtrack from Williams, with some pointed echoes of the idealised Americanism of Aaron Copland. And of course this is a thrilling ride for those who cling to decent liberal principles - and an obvious clarion call given the shameful attacks on the press made by the current incumbent of the oval office. Who would have thought a president could have been found to match Tricky Dicky? Very assured moviemaking - not quite Spotlight, but thoroughly enjoyable. 8/10.
Just been to see The Darkest Hour. A good portrayal of what Churchill was up against, not least from his own party, in May 1940. I came out of the cinema wondering how Halifax et al would have reacted had negotiations with Hitler taken place with the ensuing unleashing of the full horrors of nazism right across Europe and the UK.
Glad you enjoyed it so much more than I did
Interesting, it looks dull beyond belief but knowing me, I'll end up seeing it. Possibly tonight. That you say it's not quite Spotlight is a bit worrying, as Spotlight for me outstayed its "welcome". But you admit you like a newspaper movie. Aside from Sweet Smell of Success, I don't think I've enjoyed much in the genre (although shock horror, I have not sen All The Presidents' Men)
An interesting thing about The Post is that Spielberg pushed back other projects to make it early to win hearts and minds against the Trump administration and his war with journalism.
> Glad you enjoyed it so much more than I did
What didn't you like about it?
I went in with low expectations and it did not even meet those. Some good bits, none involving Streep.
Three Billboards - 7/10
Slightly disappointed, it seemed to lose its way at times after an enjoyable first hour. The plot seemed predictable and a bit formulaic which alone would probably warrrant a 6/10. Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell and Frances McDormand's performances raise it to 7.
> Three Billboards - 7/10
> Slightly disappointed, it seemed to lose its way at times after an enjoyable first hour. The plot seemed predictable and a bit formulaic which alone would probably warrrant a 6/10. Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell and Frances McDormand's performances raise it to 7.
Almost exactly my experience of it. I think it lasted a bit longer than an hour. Just the last 30 minutes kind of killed it. Really frustrating because it was SO good for SO long (being careful not to do spoilers here, I'll say that the voiceover reading those letters was an incredibly moving scene). It didn't just lose its way, it totally changed direction. The very very end of it was utterly stupid. And the whole thing with bringing the "romance" thing in? Seemed only to be a way to fit in [actor name omitted to avoid spoilers] after casting him initially and realising they had nothing for him to do.
One problem I had was that although I'll buy into the "small town a bit like the Wild West", there were seemingly no repercussions for anyone blatantly doing vandalism and GBH!
> What didn't you like about it?
The "chocolate box" neat tidy representation of "the past". Like Downton Abbey with some politics thrown in. It seemed like a lot of soundbites and some recreations of the famous speeches, padded out by, frankly, a lot of cliche cheesy film making. Great acting from Oldman, Mendelsohn (the King) and Dillane (as Halifax) and Pickup (Chamberlain), and the bit from the trailer ("You can not reason with a Tiger when your head is in its mouth.") is enough to secure Oldman's second Oscar nomination, but mostly I just sat there literally wanting the film to end; I've never felt like that in a cinema since Chocolat in 2000.
Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, they throw in the most time-dilated tube ride I've ever seen and fill it with horrendous dialogue (actually a lot of the film's dialogue was awful - unrealistic and expository - but it hit a real low point on the tube ride)
But as I say, I am glad you liked it.
As mentioned late last night, 5/10 for Spielberg's "The Post" I found it very muddled.
Lots of characters who were barely introduced so you weren't sure who was going to be important, especially as they all kept coming and going.
I think it might have benefitted from a few captions explaining who was who. But not just muddled in terms of number of characters. It was hard to tell what the film was trying to be ABOUT.
You have the whole "woman in charge, and how that is difficult for her in the 1970s" thing.
You have the unseen scoop journalist who sounds like HE might become a key player.
You have (related to above) the New York Times retaining that journalist - so is this going to be about The Washington Post competing with New York Times? T
his all detracted from what I guess was the main "point" (a simplistic "censorship is BAD, kids" message).
There were some very good scenes. Perhaps 2 strong scenes and 2 half-good scenes. Oddly none of them involved Meryl Streep. Ben in the motel room with the papers and Dan Ellsberg was good. But I didn't know exactly what Ben's JOB was. Any scene with Jesse Plemons (the young lawyer) is worth watching. Going back to Streep - I think Spielberg has a long track record of not really being able to work with female characters effectively, often wasting very good actresses in roles that should be interesting and strong but simply AREN'T (e.g. Julianne Moore in The Lost World: Jurassic Park). Here, he has the great Sarah Paulson just making sandwiches, and the great Alison Brie just, what, being attractive...
I was just bored.
Robot Overlords: looked every inch a potential cringeworthy sci-fi B movie but the line-up was too good. Great fun teen movie after a slow start. Think Star Wars on a Dr Who budget!
Mountain. Utterly stunning camerawork as expected from Renan Ozturk as well as the clips from other films, especially the drone footage of the climbers on the narrow ridge. I started yawning during the Red Bull section; mountain bike crashes are interesting only for the participant. For the most part I thought the music fitted quite well, though would have happily lived without any. I thought the commentary, while making some good if obvious points, was vacuous and if I hadn't already known it was MacFarlane I'd have probably guessed. I managed to endure about 30mins of the interview at the end before leaving without reflecting on what I might have missed had I stayed.
> Mountain. Utterly stunning camerawork as expected from Renan Ozturk as well as the clips from other films, especially the drone footage of the climbers on the narrow ridge. I started yawning during the Red Bull section; mountain bike crashes are interesting only for the participant. For the most part I thought the music fitted quite well, though would have happily lived without any. I thought the commentary, while making some good if obvious points, was vacuous and if I hadn't already known it was MacFarlane I'd have probably guessed. I managed to endure about 30mins of the interview at the end before leaving without reflecting on what I might have missed had I stayed.
I've just seen it and found it quite dreadful. I disagree about the music – I thought it was a very crude music editing job indeed. I happen to be a great fan of Ludwig, so when we had big chunks of the Violin and Emperor concertos, I just shut my eyes and enjoyed the music – though what it had to do with the Khumbu Icefall I've no idea. And for that matter, what has Vivaldi got to do with Tibetan Buddhism? The commentary, as you say, was vacuous ... at times so much so that it almost defied belief. Mindboggling clichés, almost back to back (with almost no real understanding of mountaineering and climbing whatever) and – scarcely believably coming from a historian of mountain aesthetics – the Pathetic Fallacy loomed very large indeed.
Shallow eye candy. 3/10.
> A friend of mine saw it and hated it, but he is a grumpy bastard so it's hard to tell if the film was good or bad based solely on his opinion
> But he made it sound a bit like a remake of this.
Gosh, that is amazing. Thanks for the link. It's many times better, deeper, truer about climbing than anything in 'Mountain'. A real attempt to say something meaningful about climbing, and Shatner makes a lot of very good points. I'd give that clip (on same scale) at least 5/10.
Teeny tiny fingers and toes. Sinewy bodies.
Again a DVD viewing despite my general tendency to only post about cinema viewings, but this one is kind of legitimate because it's a film I had hoped to see in cinemas last year.
Denial, starring Rachel Weisz and Timothy Spall.
All about self-proclaimed self-taught non-academic historian David Irving who challenged the American academic historian Deborah Lipstadt to provide evidence that the Holocaust actually happened.
BBC Films were a co-producer so, despite the star quality (Tom Wilkinson and Andrew Scott are also in it) it does have a bit of TV movie feel to it, but that's OK.
It's essentially a good nuts-and-bolts courtroom drama, well made and very well acted especially by Spall who relishes the opportunity to legitimately ham it up a bit. Andrew Scott also stands out but all the cast are fine.
Bits of it are excellent but in the end it just gets a 7/10, for that TV movie feel and for some disappointing pacing in parts.
All that said, I think it is almost essential viewing in terms of giving some small insight into the "logic" of Holocaust deniers.
Plus Tom Wilkinson's reaction to Timothy Spall at the conclusion of the trial (no spoilers here!), is a superb piece of "body-language acting" which elicited involuntary applause from me, viewing alone at home! It's worth it for that.
> Gosh, that is amazing. Thanks for the link. It's many times better, deeper, truer about climbing than anything in 'Mountain'. A real attempt to say something meaningful about climbing, and Shatner makes a lot of very good points. I'd give that clip (on same scale) at least 5/10.
For some fun, look up "Shatner on the Mount" by Fall on your Sword. It's a musical cut-copy-paste of that monologue and it's supremely executed.
Great feel to the photography, eye opening on some aspects of culture and touches nicely on the "what constitutes art" debate.
> Darkest Hour. 5/10
Agreed (saw it last night). The script was very weak, and because it was dramatically weak, it all had to be exaggerated, so that it gave a very simplified view of the true history. A kind of mild caricature - particularly Churchill's relationship to the King. Gary Oldman put a lot into his performance, yet it never quite rang true for me. Nothing like as convincing as Robert Hardy in Churchill, the Wilderness Years.
Tread carefully, I am gathering dislikes for not worshipping Darkest Hour , ha ha! I’ll get some for this post
Early Man (the new one from Aardman Animations)
4/10. Rubbish. Giving it a few points because it raised 2.5 smiles and possibly the slapstick and fart jokes will entertain the target audience. The jokes aimed at adults (references and puns) were tired. Stuff like Sing and Zootopia piss all over stuff like this, regardless of the high-calibre voice cast.
Pixar do it again. Beautiful visuals (especially the cityscapes) and I really like how they did the humans. Some truly moving scenes(*). Points lost for a succession of relatively minor things (not much development, explanation, or overall point of existence of, the "spirit animals"; a midway lull where the plot twist presented in this lull should be more dynamic; and a failure to cast Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo )
But never mind all that. It was fab.
* nothing to beat the unbeatable first 15 minutes of UP, but UP did go downhill after that. There's an incredibly moving moment in Finding Dory but it's a flashback, a single moment, and something happy. In Coco, the moving bits are all about loss, which is really really good.
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