/ June film thread
starting the month by again “breaking my rule” and reviewing a film seen not at the cinema but on my laptop, on a work trip.
Young Adult, 2011’s offering from Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody, the team behind Juno and this year’s Tully (8.5/10 for the latter)
like Tully, this one stars Charlize Theron.
and like Tully, it is really good, except better
Incredibly bold in presenting us an unlikeable lead who never really learns or grows but who still engages us. Perfectly played by Theron. It’s a bit of a “nothing” story in terms of plot but it’s an amazing character study. It reminded me of About Schmidt which similarly suffered from a terrible misleading poster campaign.
Young Adult and About Schmidt are NOT comedies. They are painfully real downbeat dramas with some nice comic relief here and there.
Young Adult follows a “failing in life” woman in her late thirties. Divorced, alcoholic, friendless former high school queen bee returns to home town to perhaps try to wreck an ex’s domestic bliss. What a nasty character . And yet so compelling to watch...
New Jurassic Park film was so bad that my iPhone in collusion with UKC, refused to post my review! It’s disappeared!
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Yes it really was that bad. For context, I enjoyed Jurassic World, I thought it did well in the difficult task of rebooting the franchise with all-new characters etc.
This new one pretty much throws all that away.
It is witless, charmless, thoughtless, toothless, and soul-less.
The two leads from the previous film are back, but the writers and by extension the actors, just sleep-walk through it all. We are given two new young techies who are then given almost nothing to do aside from having the young woman be bolder and more feisty than the young man. It's just lazy.
The action shots and set pieces are unimaginative and badly edited. And there are plot holes, continuity errors and bad science that are all unforgivable even within the suspension of disbelief required to enjoy one of these films (e.g. three people have a near-drowning experience as terrain explodes around them on a random side of the island, and are soon seen conveniently near a big ship, bone dry with good hair and looking unperturbed. There's no continuity of scenes, it's all disjointed, like "this happens, and it's finished now, and now we move on to the next bit"
Rafe Spall and Toby Jones perhaps enjoyed playing the cartoony plummy-accented bad guys. There is zero character development, they had potential with the back story of one new major character but they didn't explore it.
The special effects in scenes featuring larger groups of dinosaurs moving at speed, were awful. Woeful animation and I am sure there was one running scene that was recycled.
Better when they had just one or two dinosaurs.
I said "toothless" above because this one really holds back on the graphic violence, cutting away before we even see much blood - surprising after the infamy they got for the Zara scene in Jurassic World; I thought they would go for more of the same.
Don't waste your time on this, the weakest in the franchise (and that is really saying something as I didn't like The Lost World and its tacked-on 40 minute San Diego scene)
Went to see Hereditary.
An unusual experience, difficult to encapsulate in a pithy phrase. With about 10 minutes to go, as the horror has built up over the course of the last two hours, the director pulls the rug from under your feet and the phrase 'what the...' never quite completes in my head as I struggle to understand what has happened.
The difficulty I have is not plot related. I understand the story. Its the style, the near total descent into cliche and abandonment of terror, for what is frankly unintentionally comic, right at the point where you hope for the horror to overwhelm. Its like a wave you see offshore, building in power and strength only to hit the beach and break, sending minor waves over your toes as you stand there wondering what happened to the fury. What happened to the director? Endings take time to construct, sets are built and actors learn lines. Did no-one think, 'Really? This?, Come on, lets have a word with Ari'.
The part which delivers the greatest horror, takes place much earlier and had me captivated, is a scene involving a fast car. That placed me right into the movie, wondering how you get out of this. For that scene alone and what unfolded from it, was worth going to see, as was Toni Collette's acting. Its just a shame about the lame ending.
Score 9/10 for the first 110 minutes. Final scenes? They should be reshot.
Oh, yes, I loved the sound track. Suitably sparse and creepy. Bad trip, man!
Pretty much agree with everything there, thanks for saving me from having to write it all out
I am sticking with 9/10 overall, it was on for 9.5 and I knocked off a half point for them ending it actually very similarly to The VVitch.
I did like how the marketing campaign TOTALLY deliberately misled and wrong-footed us.
It's barely a horror film, it's a family drama centred on grief and guilt and the mental state of a woman who's been troubled since birth, and for that, it's brilliant (thanks to Toni Collette)
Yeah. Why?? Likewise The Witch. Ditch the clumsy hackneyed tropes.
My screening was quite admirably well attended, unfortunately this meant that audience members who were (reasonably and understandably) unable to stifle some giggles, made the bad parts of the film even worse.
Happened in mine too, from the point where Peter gets trapped in the attic. Doesn't help that alcohol is allowed in.
A bit late with reviews of two I saw in the cinema last Friday.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch, screened as "Mystery Movie" at my local independent.
I didn't realise this film was already 17 years old!
I am not sure that there is an obvious target market for it, it all seemed a bit "obvious" to me, just an "in one ear, out the other" camp extravaganza. However, it is really well shot, the songs are good, the costumes etc are great, and the central performance from John Cameron Mitchell is superbly committed.
So I'll give 6/10, generously as I don't want to mark it down just because _I_ don't really like musicals
Hereditary, discussed upthread already and I have little to add to Flinticus' comments but hey I'll add something anyway.
I score this film 9/10 as it is brilliantly compelling and holds your interest for its relatively long (for the apparent genre) running time of more than 2 hours.
I say "apparent genre" because it is being marketed as a horror film along the lines of The Babadook etc, and a lot of soundbites mentioning The Exorcist blah blah. This is misleading, and for some reason I LIKE that, and I feel that the way the marketing has wrong-footed us, is almost like a part of the film which even in itself, continually surprises and wrong-foots the audience. You think it's about such-and-such, then it seems like it's about something else, then something else again. All in a GOOD way. It is impossible to say much more without doing major spoilers so as above, I'll say that it is glued together by a towering performance from Toni Collette as a character troubled from many directions.
It goes bonkers and NOT in a good way, in the last 5-10 minutes, but I'll only knock one point off for that.
Two positive surprises this weekend.
Ocean's 8, which I expected to be doubly painful (as a poor film firstly, and as a waste of some good star talent secondly), turned out to be a lot of unpretentious "does what it says on the tin" fun and as such, under my scoring system, gets a ludicrously high 9/10 as it does very little "wrong"
Then I went to see Solo: A Star Wars Story for a second time, as a friend fancied a cinema trip and this was the best thing on offer from his PoV. I warned him that I might doze off just cos I was tired and it wouldn't matter as I have seen it already.
Turned out that the film improves on a second viewing! This is not uncommon with films that have con-men, con-women, tricks, double crosses and general chicanery. I don't normally do this but I am giving it 8/10 for a second viewing yet sticking with 6/10 for a first viewing
Hawking... one of those forgotten films
Good fun Horizon linked biopic especially for proto-physics nerds and fans of pop physics. Despite this a fine cast does an impressive job. Not a patch on the brilliant Theory of Everything, but then again hardly anything is.
The cinema week's second pleasantly surprising sequel....
Sicario 2 - Soldado
I saw Sicario and I remember being hugely impressed by the whole style of it - the casting and acting, the arty overhead shots, that oppressive yet minimalist brilliant score, the cinematographic compositions, and the way scenes were put together.....yet I also don't really remember the actual story beyond some vague stuff about the Emily Blunt character being at the forefront of the story and then revealed to only have been a pawn and bait in a bigger story. That's my fault and not the film's fault, by the way.
So I wondered whether I would need to watch it again before seeing the sequel.
No such requirement.
The Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro characters are retained, as is the straightforward and "gritty" serious drama approach to things, and screenwriter Taylor Sheridan. Denis Villeneuve was unable to return to direct this one and Stefano Sollima ably takes the reins. Do not be put off by the lack of the "name" director on a sequel in this case. Johan Johansson was unavailable for the music, due to his tragic death, but the score on this one is in keeping with the first film.
ANYWAY. This works great as a standalone - there is perhaps a little reference to the first film, regarding the working relationship between Brolin and del Toro, but that's explained anyway in some not-too-clunky expository dialogue (a device that is dropped in at several points in the film and that could be jarring to some but to be honest I let it slide).
This film is an absolutely brutal and rather convincing insight into the murkier side of government and military intervention in global events. An opening scene shows us how uncompromising and badass the Josh Brolin "dirty hands" agent can be. And then the canvas expands (albeit whilst quickly bringing things back to the Tex-Mex border). It's quite an epic film. Imagine the intense "like you are there with them" feel of Black Hawk Down, the multiple narratives of Traffic (or, better, the TV series Traffik!), the unpretentious non-Oscar-grabbing craftsmanship of the underrated Brooklyn's Finest, and even at times the truly tense unpredictability of the strongest scenes in the massively overlooked Savior (Sicario 2, like Savior, has a fist-chewingly tense scene involving a "good soldier", a girl, a bus, and some antagonists under pressure to save face...). A great cast including a couple of young "unknowns" all get a chance to shine in dramatic one-on-one dialogue scenes.
9/10. Would be higher but some of the exposition is just a bit much and there is a little bit of cheese and a bit of "plot device" stuff going on, but those are minor niggles for such a compelling piece of adult-oriented action-drama-thriller which doesn't really let up once in 2 hours.
> Sicario 2 - Soldado
I'm glad you gave it a good score - I really liked the first one and had been quite keen to see this, but then saw a review that essentially said it was a pointless remake of a film that didn't need a sequel. But I'm inclined to give it a go anyway now after your 9/10, to see if I agree
It does admittedly fall back on a number of genre tropes and this could be said to be bringing nothing new to the table but that is why I mentioned Brooklyn’s Finest as a reference point - that is a police drama that perhaps doesn’t do anything new yet it is really well done and perfectly enjoyable for it.
Also in case it wasn’t clear enough, this is barely a sequel. You could make the same story as an “original” film with barely any changes.
I saw a preview screening, I don’t know the normal release date
Maybe choose the right review?
The Ghost Writer .
Seen it 2 weeks ago. I would give it 8/10.
Pierce Brosnan plays a dodgy ex PM (yes) hiding in Maine (actually shot in Germany) who is having his dodgy memoirs 'ghosted' by Ewan MacGregor
> Maybe choose the right review?
Those are much more encouraging, thanks
Phew! I had got paranoid yesterday that I’d been too positive
Oddly this year's second semi-major movie dramatisation of a real-life sailing disaster!
This one is about Tami Oldham who spent 41 days on a stricken yacht trying to reach Hawaii (or any land really) after smacking into a massive storm and knacking the boat.
Directed by Baltasar Kormakur who made "Everest" a few years ago, and based on Oldham's book about the incident (spoiler - she lives!), this is a thin story indeed. It gets straight to the bare bones - young impressionable American on an endless summer in Tahiti, falls in love very rapidly with slightly older Englisman and agrees to accompany him on a job, to sail someone's 44-foot yacht back to America. That's it, that is all the characterisation and back story.
And yet...this film was excellent, mostly thanks to great shooting and a compelling, bold, committing and physical performance from the seemingly always-reliable Shailene Woodley (I have only seen her in The Descendants and Snowden, I haven't watched those Maze Runner films etc). Kormakur knows how slight the story is and wisely keeps the whole thing to just over 90 minutes.
I give it 9/10. People who know about sailing and know more about the true story might mark it down a bit but as I know nothing about sailing, I have no comment about technical inaccuracies etc. I thought it seemed convincing. Average score on imdb is somewhat lower, but screw them.
In the Fade. 7.5/10
Quite strong drama about the aftermath of a racially motivated bombing that leaves the Kurdish husband and son of a white German one dead. All the hype is about Diane Kruger’s performance which is indeed very good, due to great characterisation in the writing and great direction .
Superb courtroom scenes sadly give way to a rather trite and obvious final act. Also it was a fairly conventional film, so much so that I couldn’t help casting the Hollywood remake whilst watching (I think Charlize Theron, Jake Gyllenhaal, William H Macy and Elizabeth Olsen....)
Leave No Trace
Fittingly (wrt the title) I knew nothing about this film until I saw a poster for it at the cinema on Monday, and then the trailer too.
Very very good little drama starring the always-masterful, always-overlooked Ben Foster and newcomer Thomasin Harcourt Mackenzie as father-and-teenage-daughter living alone in a tent in the woods outside Portland (Oregon). Remarkably little back-story is provided aside from some references to war and PTSD (it is a fairly contemporary film although could be taking place at any time in the past 15 years).
It seems that they are totally off-grid and she's never been to school (she is about 15 or 16 [edit - I am now told 13 but I don't think they pulled that off tbh]). Inevitably things catch up with them and efforts are made to integrate them into society, and some downbeat drama and characterisation ensues.
It's a bit like if Ken Loach watched Captain Fantastic and thenHunt for the Wilderpeople and decided that what those stories needed was a massive dose of Ken Loach
I really liked it, it lost pace a little toward the end but overall a strong 8.5/10. Foster totally inhabits his role as usual. Mackenzie was great too, hard to judge as I haven't seen her in anything else but she was totally convincing (although a bit too clean and hair too neat, also reflected in my score there) Beautifully shot and scored. FWIW and not that I usually make a point of noticing these things, but the producing, writing and directing crew were all women.
It's based on a novel written by a man. [edit - duhh nunmbnuts here hadn't noticed that it's much of the same team that made Winter's Bone, another downbeat well acted film about a teenage girl, a father, and the woods ]
Great recommendation because I thought Winter's Bone was exceptional. ... But not seeing any movies at the moment for a whole lot of reasons (not just the weather).
Good to see you pop up Gordon, I had been wondering about you for a whole lot of reasons (not just the weather).
Leave No Trace also has a score from Dickon Hinchcliffe who scored Winter's Bone.
Tony the Blade, of this parish, sent me a link to a "proper" review
I saw it in an incredibly incongruous setting. Not some little independent, but the Cineworld embedded in some temple to corporateness that I couldn't even comprehend. "Resort Village" or some such thing - very near to Birmingham Airport and I think connected to the NEC and the "Genting Arena". I understand shopping malls. I understand overblown conference/exhibition centres like NEC. I understand multiplex cinemas. But this "Resort Village" made no sense unless it is a shopping mall and food hall (all chain stores and chain eateries of course) for people on long term stints at the NEC....but they could be in lovely country pubs for dinner within ten minutes on the road....gaaaah
I'll be interested in Sicario2 as I thought the first one was terrific for a genre I have little interest in.
That said, I watched Transpecos last night. Atmospheric, great characterisation and performances even if the character of Hobbs seemed a bit of a stereotype, not that those characters don't exist (unfortunately...). I loved the slow burning pace. I wasn't so convinced about the ending, (spoiler alert so stop here if you haven't seen it). I thought the more plausible scenario would have been if the cartel members had just finished them off, and maybe buried them and disposed of the truck. It would have been an unspeakably bleak ending but the whole film, like Davis, is hostage to the reach and brutality of the cartels, as the Mexican refugees are hostages to the inhumanity of the US border control. Not that the actual ending turned it into a happy film.
> Sicario 2 - Soldado 9/10
I watched it yesterday, and while I thought it was good, I don't think I'd give it quite as high a score as you, and I still think the first one was better overall.
It seemed to quickly ignore the setup from the opening scene (I think this was brushed off in a throwaway line a bit later), and it wasn't really clear what was going on for the big action sequence (sorry, I'm trying to avoid giving away specifics), not only in terms of who was who but also why they were doing what they were doing just then. But perhaps that was partly the point, to give a sense of chaos.
I also thought the first one was a bit better at giving a sense of place and in using the landscape as a character, as it were, though there were some nice nods to the style of the first film.
And I realised I was very tense for the bus scene and build-up, so I must have managed to get into things properly by then. The music was good too, very sinister and brooding
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