/ March film thread
A series of average films has led to me being a bit quiet on the recommendations front but I watched a gem last night:
A Norwegian 'Cohen brothers style' black comedy about a snow plough driver who becomes involved in a gang war. Lots of lovely winter scenery as a bonus.
I did think Jack Reacher was a bit better than some of the critical panning indicated
I enjoyed it too. I struggled really hard to find any comedy in it at all, though.
It was certainly writen that way. I laughed out loud a few times at the interaction between the deliberately overblown characters. I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry that Liam Neeson is the planned lead in a Hollywood English language version .. as it needs that gentle giant pushed over the edge feel, more than the secret hardman... Liam would be ideally comedic as his brother, bullied by his new wife into staying on the straight and narrow ;-)
> I did think Jack Reacher was a bit better than some of the critical panning indicated
Lady Bird (seen on Feb 28 but I'll put it here)
7.5/10. Enjoyable, well acted, a bit "Juno for grown-ups and without trying to be all hip and cool".
Approximately zero story to it, it's just a character snapshot and is enjoyable for that. It did feel longer than 94 minutes, somehow, so it is losing a point for pacing. Maybe that is unkind of me. On the positive, it pulls off the neat trick of making us engage and empathise with a central character who frankly gives us no reason to particularly be on her side (The Big Sick managed this nicely last year too).
Game Night. A surprising 8 or 8.5/10.
Admittedly it was just what I needed last night after a rotten week at work - simple comedic escapism, but it was a lot better than I thought.
A bit like a comedic version of David Fincher's "The Game". Rachel McAdams is fantastic in this - and I always like seeing Jesse Plemons.
Red Sparrow. 4.5/10. Maybe just 4. Utter bilge, basically. I'm not surprised Jennifer Lawrence is taking a year off from acting. Don't waste your time (and it is 2h20m!). I don't even want to write any more about it!
The eponymous first film.
> I did think Jack Reacher was a bit better than some of the critical panning indicated
Today's Jack Reacher joke:
"I enjoyed it, but it was a bit of a stretch"
> The eponymous first film.
Ah, the one in which legal executives do their overtime paperwork at home alone wearing sexy small black dresses
Of course... just too busy to change... there was a moment when Cruise faced Herzog that I wondered if there would be a twist and Pike would turn out to be compromisd in the more traditional way of thrillers.
FWIW I liked it.
Any film that can contrive its "spectacular action climax" to be Tom Cruise and Rosamund Pike stuck in a shed with Werner Herzog whilst ancient Robert Duvall saves the day with a digger, and play it all fairly straight, is a winner in my book
I love the knowing bit where Pike basically has a go at Cruise for gratuitous shirtless scene too.
The second film was OK but less endearing and with disappointing editing on what were clearly well choreographed fight scenes.
Two completely unnecessary films, nobody need even concern themselves with reading my reviews. I only saw them because I'd been essentially housebound (even bedbound) for a few days and needed to get out of the house, and regrettably decided not to treat myself to repeat viewings of Game Night and I, Tonya.
Gringo, 5.5/10. Frustrating, it had several elements that could have made it good but it was just a random jumble of plot, characters and tone. It had that feel of something that was originally intended either as a full comedy OR a straight thriller, and had at a late stage had additional thriller/drama or additional comedy asides tacked on badly. Well made, lovely location shooting, some good performances (Theron great as a sociopathic businesswoman but her character was 100% redundant; Sharlto Copley fared better; the whole Amanda Seyfried/Harry Treadaway subplot was a waste of time)
Walk Like A Panther.
7/10. Simple fare, does what it says on the tin - basically a variation on the Brassed Off / Still Crazy template, ever so slightly more comedic (as you’d expect when it’s based around 80s wrestling). In one ear and out the other but harmless enough, losing points for being way overlong (85 minutes would have done it) and being full of holes. Fun performances though
> A series of average films has led to me being a bit quiet on the recommendations front but I watched a gem last night:
> A Norwegian 'Cohen brothers style' black comedy about a snow plough driver who becomes involved in a gang war. Lots of lovely winter scenery as a bonus.
> I did think Jack Reacher was a bit better than some of the critical panning indicated
Brilliant wasn't it......my wife's Norwegian so tend to hunt out things with a Scandinavian link.
Trollhunters a good laugh as well, classed as a horror but not really
You Were Never Really Here............ very mixed reviews online but if I had more than two thumbs I'd put them all up.
My only quibble is the quality of sound. It might not matter in a Marvel type film or even a Fifty Shades offering but in one with such a fill-the-gaps-in-yourself plot it is important to be able to hear dying last words etc etc. ( I am only complaining about that one short section).
As for the rest, acting, cinematography, score, extremely impressive.
I took the opportunity to see a “secret preview” at the cinema.
Turned out to be “Love, Simon” which I hadn’t even heard of, so a real surprise for me even if it does lay all its cards on the table in the first bit of narration right at the opening
And.....it was GREAT!
8/10 (losing out on a higher score because of a couple of slightly ludicrous elements and it was about 15 mins too long)
Really good example of how even a fairly unoriginal story can shine in the right hands. Fantastic lead performance from Nick Robinson as closeted gay high-schooler Simon. And that’s pretty much the plot for you - it's a simple as that: It’s a high school film about Simon who is secretly gay. It is charming, relatable/believable, and at times incredibly poignant
I sought out Alphago on Netflix due to someone on a different thread recommending it. Many thanks to whoever that was, as I thought it was absolutely fantastic. 9/10.
I don't want to include too many spoilers, so suffice it to say that what really stayed with me after the film was the journey that the professional players (Fan Hui and Lee Sedol) went on, and how the whole process changed their way of thinking.
A film I'm confused about... why do so many people think its funny? Am I missing something??
Seemed to me self indulgant nonsense, with some impressive actors playing themselves as the apocalypse happens No laughs for me, only a few nods for clever ideas and plenty of cringes and so many missed comic opportunities. I guess it's certainly different.
I am surprised that the poster, title and cast didn’t turn you away from this immediately. Call me prejudiced but I have zero interest in this despite liking a lot of Franco and Rogen’s other work
5.5/10 although Vikander is excellent (especially considering the awful material she has to work with)
i see Little White Lies gave it a five star review because it has a tough woman in it. Patronising much?
Another DVD viewing rather than a cinema viewing but worthy of mention here is the legendary Zardoz. Often ridiculed by people like me who probably saw it once on Channel 4 when we were about 15, it turns out to be a pretty good film.
Its only real failing is that it tries to cram TOO MANY themes and ideas into its 100 minute running time. I watched it with John Boorman's commentary track so maybe he has biased me toward it although even he at one point comes out with "When I see the film now I’m astonished at my hubris in making this extraordinary farrago"
Just to recap the synopsis for those of you who remember nothing other than that it has Sean Connery running around in a red leather nappy and bandoliers...it's a 1970s future-dystopia sci-fi in which the elite are bored sexless immortals living in a sheltered bubble, and resources are maintained by a subjugated population of "savages" living in the wilds.
Connery is a savage who enters the bubble and becomes the subject of interested study by the immortals, and his presence somewhat shakes up the status quo. It's a bit like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, in that respect. But it does address themes of immortality etc quite neatly. And Charlotte Rampling is 100% Rampilicious in it 8.5/10
It's also really well filmed (cinematography by Geoffrey Unsworth and all special effects are in-camera)
I have the film poster facility turned off on my V Box... presumably like everything else extra you would need to pay for it ;-)
Zardoz has dated a bit but is still well worth a watch. Last night was Martha Marcy May Maylene, which was as impressive as I'd heard and Disconnect, a well constructed series of interlinked tales about the perils of the web. Nicely washed out the bad taste of the previous evening.
The Shape of Water 6/10
So disappointed, maybe I was expecting too much but IMO, Del Toro's weakest film to date.
Plus points, the song/dance scene which I usually hate in films was lovely, Sally Hawkins was excellent.
Minuses and what spoilt the film for me, Del Toro's usual bad guy lacked subtlety and was completely one dimensional.
i agree with your score (think I gave it 6.5) but not with your written points!
i thought the song and dance number was a cop-out that served zero narrative purpose and only seemed to be there to afford Hawkins a random moment of glam.
And, much like with the Sergi Lopez character in Pan’s Labyrinth, I was left intrigued and wanting to know more about the antagonist - he was the one interesting character in the whole thing. You could argue that because they only tease us with back story and don’t reveal much, this makes these characters one-dimensional, but they are still more interesting than the cardboard cut-outs making up the protagonist team
not sure how accurate my critical faculties were as I kept dozing off in the first 90 minutes but let’s go for 6/10, some fine performances from Mara, Phoenix and Rahim, but a mostly unengaging and overlong effort.
Did you enjoy Octavia Spencer in "the Octavia Spencer role" (i.e. physically blocking the antagonists, with arms folded, eyes rolling up and optionally saying "oh Lordy")?
> Game Night. A surprising 8 or 8.5/10.
> Admittedly it was just what I needed last night after a rotten week at work - simple comedic escapism, but it was a lot better than I thought.
> A bit like a comedic version of David Fincher's "The Game". Rachel McAdams is fantastic in this - and I always like seeing Jesse Plemons.
I went to see this again last night and I'll settle its score as 8.5/10. Remarkably it stood up very well to a second viewing just 15 days after my first. YES it's silly, but if you can ignore plot holes (as you should in a film of this type), the plot mechanics do work well. The twists are not annoying, and any time it starts to venture into "serious thriller plot" territory, it snaps you straight back into comedy within a minute.
I'll mention McAdams again here - her performance is the sort of thing that would save a mediocre film. Happily the film is not mediocre at all, therefore she is merely the cherry on the icing on the cake
Disconnect sounds interesting for the cast alone!
Mr Turner is my most recent recommendation... superb, despite a hefty running time.... bad taste in the mouth from last week all gone now.
Disconect was slightly too melodramatic but otherwise I loved it... acting, direction, ideas, music
I watched "In Order of Disappearance" a few days ago, really enjoyed it, pleasingly odd mix of the macabre and the ridiculous. Some of the laconic manners of both the Norwegians and the Serbs made me think of Local Hero.
Also, "Israfil" which was on here as part of the Iranian film festival. Beautiful and moving film about longing which succeeds in wringing empathy for almost all of the characters. Lump in throat time.
Annihilation - a sci-fi made by Alex Garland, the same guy that did Ex-Machina. I really liked this because it's original, unpredictable and unlike anything I've seen previously. I think I prefer Ex-Machina overall but nevertheless this was still a pretty good film, a well above average sci-fi. It's not all action and instead is a slowly unravelling mystery with lots of emphasis on the characters and dialogue. Kept me hooked from start to finish. I think it would have been even better if I hadn't seen the trailer first. Definitely recommended 8/10.
Where did you see Annihilation? I gather that it has been granted a tiny limited cinema release and possibly debuting simultaneously online.
Ready Player One
6.5/10 and I am being generous.
Visually superb and a good exploitation of “uncanny valley” but even allowing for the fantasy future depicted, a lot of it just doesn’t hang together. One major aspect involving our team of protagonists, is particularly contrived but I won’t do spoilers here.
Very nice central scene involving The Shining, I’ll give them that.
Quite distracting that there is a young female henchwoman who looks and behaves like a cross between Sophia Boutella in Kingsman (minus the spring-blade legs) and Sylvia Hoeks in Bladerunner 2049.
Worth a look but don’t expect to be blown away.
Valerian easily beats it in the “visually spectacular Sci fi extravaganza” stakes
I heard it said it was too cerebral for general release. What times we live in.
Just downloaded it. I would have seen it at the cinema but I assumed I'd already missed it. It's visually quite interesting so would be good a big screen. And probably best to think of it as more of a mystery, suspense type of film as there's not a lot of science to it.
Sad indeed. It's not even particularly intellectual either. Perhaps that it's just not filled with explosions and space ship battles every 10s that was a problem for the ADHD gaming and internet generation?
> Sad indeed. It's not even particularly intellectual either. Perhaps that it's just not filled with explosions and space ship battles every 10s that was a problem for the ADHD gaming and internet generation?
Plenty of films not "filled with explosions and space ship battles every 10s" are given a chance at the cinema, though.
Yeah that's true. I've no idea why it's not getting a general cinema release. Perhaps someone made a poor decision somewhere. It get's 7.2 currently on IMDB so plenty of people like it.
> I've no idea why it's not getting a general cinema release. Perhaps someone made a poor decision somewhere.
Thanks and had a read of the indiewire article. I have to disagree that it was too intellectual though - unless some of it went over my head, and if that's true it still didn't detract from the overall experience. I really enjoyed it. I don't think it's particularly complicated either, no more than Arrival, and considerably less weird than 2001.
If it did badly on the opening weekend I would think that must surely be about marketing rather than content. You only know how flawed a film is after you've watched it. Not sure if they impressed the fact it was by the same director as Ex-Machina - given that film's success I would have thought that would get crowds flocking. I only realised it was Alex Garland's film after I'd seen it.
Definitely a great shame though that it wasn't released in theatre's though.
Was Ex-Machina a big commercial success? I don’t believe that it was. Maybe did ok off a modest budget but I don’t think it even got a particularly wide release. I don’t think it was big enough to use Garland’s name as a big selling point for Annihilation
Finding your feet. As high as 8/10. Excellent script, extremely well directed and acted by an ensemble cast. Very human – moving, funny and sad. The best performance I have seen by Timothy Spall, but everyone else is on top form. For those interested in the craft, the editing is outstanding.
re: 'this is the end'
Well, thats comedy for you, some hate it I loved this movie and have watched it several times....I mean, its got Emma Watson and the backstreet boys in, whats not to like?!
Loved In Order of Disappearance.
Troll Hunter was more fun and unexpectedly very good.
Valerian was visually stunning with ropey acting as is a lot of Luc Besson.
Shape of Water was excellent although I did keep expecting the fish guy to talk in the voice of Miles-out-of-Frasier like he did in Del Torro's other one, Hellraiser.
Those were two of my nods... In a reasonable film I might have been smiling (Emma was one of the few who seemed to get the idea of the necessity of acting and the backstreet boys were quality cheese). Sadly, I won't be changing my mind that the film is dreadful depite liking quite a few of the actors..
Colour me prejudiced but I took one look at the poster 2 months ago and put it on my "avoid" list!
Maybe I'll take a look, thanks
I think I remember them saying on Kermode and Mayo film review that the poster was rubbish and not at all representative of the film.
It was also the title and a cast containing some of the usual suspects - as bright and talented as Staunton and Imrie and Lumley are, they do have a habit of turning in some awful stuff! If it is still around this weekend and I have exhausted other possibilities such as the new Soderbergh film (I have only ever enjoyed one of his films, and God knows I've seen plenty...but I am intrigued by this one as it was shot entirely on iPhone apparently. With, presumably, professional lighting and post-production grading of course), I'll check it out.
The Shape of Water. 9/10. Worked at multiple levels in multiple genres. Beautifully crafted, very entertaining. Came out of the cinema with a big smile on my face.
> The Shape of Water. 9/10. Worked at multiple levels in multiple genres. Beautifully crafted, very entertaining. Came out of the cinema with a big smile on my face.
I am happy that you liked it.
Only a 6.5/10 from me though. I am not going to argue about it though.
I'm happy that you're happy, Dmitri ... Oh well, we disagreed similarly with Bladerunner 2049.
Annihilation is on Netflix for its UK release. (as no one has said it yet.)
That's on my list for tonight.
And You Were Never Really Here is quite stupendous. It won't be everyones cup of tea but I thought it was taught and compelling and deserved of top reviews. Phoenixs portrayal of a haunted man was also excellent, helped by the direction allowing hints of what might be going on without tipping into full explanations.
> Annihilation is on Netflix for its UK release. (as no one has said it yet.)
Thanks for clarifying. That info was in the link I posted (and somewhat implied in the URL and my comment about not having Netflix) but I wasn't explicit enough about it.
true story of life and demise of a German patriot Georg Elser.Patriot is probably the best word for him.
Right up my street because I like German films ,and also because as a history lesson ,I didn't know someone else had tried to assassinate Hitler.
Elser tried in 1939.
The film was both an education (I had never heard of Elser) and a typically well made and photogenic piece of Teutonic cinema.
Some familiar faces too; Burghart Klaussner was in 'The Edukators' which I watched again recently.
and some rather lovely actresses.
wonder what would have been if Elser had succeeded.A very brave man.
> Ready Player One
> 6.5/10 and I am being generous.
Just watched The Square and found it engrossing, very well acted and determinedly unsettling. Two and a half hours of black comedy about avant garde art and middle class privilege, in Swedish with subtitles - so despite winning the Palme d'Or, it's hardly likely to get general release! But catch it if you can: I found it extremely funny at times - but seldom without a sharp edge of discomfort as to how much, or even whether, one should be laughing. Checkout the pompous interview of Dominic West's celebrity artist persistently interrupted by a Tourette's sufferer. Claes Bang is excellent in the central role, and the peerless Elisabeth Moss turns in another beautifully detailed performance. There are some lovely set-pieces, including a hilarious power struggle over who's to dispose of a used condom and a show stopping performance art event featuring a hulk like figure rampaging around a posh dinner. I could certainly do with seeing it again as I'm still not sure who - if anyone - died. An impressed and unnerved 8/10.
Unsane, the latest offering from oft-feted director Steven Soderbergh. Getting some attention for being filme entirely on an iPhone and for starring Claire Foy
It is utter rubbish
4.5/10 . Nice lead performance from Foy, but the whole thing is nonsense. Don’t waste time by going to see it out of curiosity. The cinematography is adequate (bear in mind it was iPhone plus professional lighting) but obviously all feels a bit wide angle. If you want to see a feature film for the sake of novelty filming, watch Hardcore Henry
Not interested. Filming using an i-phone sounds as gimmicky as climbing Devil's Slide without hands. Yes, of course it can be done but.........?
On another point, if 4.5 is Utter Rubbish I would really like to see the adjectival grades for works of even less merit.
> On another point, if 4.5 is Utter Rubbish I would really like to see the adjectival grades for works of even less merit.
one I nicked from The Sunday Times was “beyond wretched”. The 2014(?) Robocop remake (2/10) gets that description
”Utter rubbish” maybe should have read “utter tosh”, because “utter tosh” can still be a bit engaging and watchable
Still scope for a few more putdowns though.
What's beyond "beyond wretched"?
Just watched this week a anime movie called Summer Wars. Vaguely like ready player one (Haven't seen the movie but read the book). I enjoyed it.
> Still scope for a few more putdowns though.
> What's beyond "beyond wretched"?
I think it covers the 0 - 2.5 range. Not sure what is next. assassin’s Creed got 3.5/10 and Cousin Rachel got 4/10, will have toncheck my reviews (if I bothered writing anything) to see if there is a phrase for that score range. Probably “witless” or something
I watched Game Night again last night. That's the first time I've seen a film 3 times at the cinema during its initial run. Still 8.5/10.
Tomorrow I'll watch bearded Joaquin Phoenix mumbling and killing child abductors with his hammer. Can't WAIT!
> Not interested. Filming using an i-phone sounds as gimmicky as climbing Devil's Slide without hands. Yes, of course it can be done but.........?
Why a gimmick? If it proves that high quality films can be made in this way wouldn't it open up the field to all comers.
> Why a gimmick? If it proves that high quality films can be made in this way wouldn't it open up the field to all comers.
I agree and I am sure this was Soderbergh's intention - to show people that their phone isn't limited to making cat videos or short daft films for YouTube presentation only.
You Were Never Really Here
7.5/10 or maybe just 7
Basically it is “Leon” as made by Ken Loach....or in fact as made by Lynne Ramsey.
Bleak bleak bleak, yet with some memorable visuals (not the violent bits but the mundane urbane scenery shots) and a superb score and sound design. Phoenix is magnificent but the story and characterisations are somewhat hollow, unless I was missing something. To those who have seen it - I thought the teasing elusive flashbacks, notably the "ex soldier" (?) one, didn't quite work. In defence of the film I was bizarrely and unexpectedly sleepy whilst watching it at a 6.30pm screening! Hence my "unless I was missing something" comment.
It is still good, I just wanted it to be better - I really liked Ramsey's "We Need to Talk About Kevin" and "Morvern Callar". I have not yet got around to seeing her "Ratcatcher"
Sorry for the spelling error, it is Lynne Ramsay.
It seems I did overlook a major ambiguity running through the whole film (You Were Never Really Here), having now read a few their reviews. I took it at face value. Maybe if you look at it as if it is (say) Jacob’s Ladder, you get more out of it
Watched 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri'. I thought this was superb. A great story taking unexpected turns, well told, acted and directed. 8.5/10
Lady Bird 8/10 (at least). A very gentle story - but not a zero story - it's about a teenager leaving school in Sacramento and wanting to break out of the confines of her family and the aforesaid city, and go to college in New York. Exceptionally well drawn characters, with a strong central dynamic/conflictual triangle of daughter, mother and father. There's a lot else good about it, but I'll stop there.
PS. I think I slightly preferred it to Three Billboards, which is saying something. They're very much on a par, anyway.
Sweet Country. 9.5/10. A terrifying, gripping masterpiece. Shattering, moving. Universally superlative performances. The best film I've ever seen coming out of Australia. Really good story/screenplay, superbly directed AND shot by Warwick Thornton. Phew ;)
> Sweet Country. 9.5/10.
Not a new'un, but I just watched Force Majeure.
This is where it's at, if you ask me. I like stuff like Haneke, Dogma stuff, Hitchcock, Ian McEwan, and so forth. Anyone who likes those reference points will love this - the film making oozes quality, and the content cuts deep. And it's funny - but only if you have an abysmally dark sense of humour.
Agreed on all points. Arguably a hard film to watch as "humour" given what unfolds, and yet it is perfect material for that sort of dark humour. Therefore the whole thing was very cleverly done and would not have worked if it hadn't been so well executed.
Less humourous (possibly not comedic at all - it's a while since I saw it!) and more dark but IMHO along similar lines, is "Time Out / L'Emploi du Temps", French film from around the year 2000.
About a man who loses his job and instead of admitting this, he finds it easier to pretend he's been promoted to a more physically remote job. Based on a true story which is far more over-the-top than the changed version in the film!
Thanks for the recommendation.
I find with really black comedy, they normally become funny second time round (or perhaps it just depends on my mood). I don't think I laughed the first viewing of festen, but second time round it was belly laughs all the way.
Thinking about in the cold light of day rather than in the small hours after a post-concert photo editing session.....L'Emploi du Temps isn't comedic at all! But it is still dead good.
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