Category: Film Reviews

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Watched: 21 September Tedious, unimaginative buddy action movie that has clearly only been made because someone thought you could simply put Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson together on screen and get Ryan L. Jackson, a kind of genetically spliced-together two-headed charisma machine. Sadly, what you get instead is Samuel Reynolds, an eager-to-please two-headed clown […]

The Ghoul

Watched: 20 September The Ghoul is a moody low-budget debut feature by Gareth Tunley that occasionally brings to mind Ben Wheatley’s second film Kill List as well as Omer Fast’s slept-upon 2016 thriller Remainder. On the face of it it’s an undercover police story, in which Tom Meeton’s homicide detective Chris poses as a therapist […]

Strong Island

Watched: 19 September A moving, powerful documentary by Yance Ford about the murder of his brother William Jr – who was shot dead during an argument at a gas station in Long Island in the 1990s – as well as the subsequent investigation, which Ford argues was not as thorough as it should have been […]

The Great Wall

Watched: 18 September Risible fantasy nonsense from Zhang Yimou, which has been written and cast in a way designed to maximise audiences in both China and the US. As such, we have Jing Tian and Tony Lau leading an army of warriors who live on and in the Great Wall of China, and they’re joined […]

Eraserhead

Watched: 17 September David Lynch’s debut film is a mysterious, stark and troubling nightmare brought to life, in which alien-like babies are born and, uh, ‘cared for’, a god-like figure in the sky pulls mechanical levers that presumably are affecting or controlling events down on Earth (which has become, apparently, an industrial wasteland), weirdo families […]

Brighton Rock

Watched: 17 September I first watched this film adaptation of Brighton Rock while reading Graham Greene’s novel around 25-30 years ago, and it still seems like a wonderful portrait of a seaside town’s seedy, threatening underbelly to me today. The threat is most obviously manifest through Richard Attenborough’s horrible gang leader Pinkie, a vicious, violent […]

Gone Baby Gone

Watched: 16 September This is the first time I’ve seen Ben Affleck’s directorial debut since it was on in the cinema. (I say ‘directorial debut’, but that’s discounting his 1993 short I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meathook, and Now I Have a Three Picture Deal at Disney, which I am guessing […]

Airplane!

Watched: 15 September I have no idea how many times I’ve seen Airplane! over the years, or its sequel, but I had it down as being one of those comedies that would always, always make me chuckle. I don’t know what has happened, but this time round the rampant, scattergun silliness created by Abrahams and […]

Jawbone

Watched: 15 September If you’ve seen more than two or three boxing dramas in your life you might well be nonplussed by the premise of Jawbone, the British debut by Thomas Napper, written by and starring Johnny Harris (London To Brighton). Harris plays Jimmy McCabe, formerly a promising youth boxer, now in his 30s, homeless […]

The Signal

Watched: 14 September There’s a half-decent sci-fi premise here, in which the symbiosis of man with something that’s biologically very different to the human body is a major theme, though it’s never really explored in a satisfying way, and by the end the story has thrown up far too many unanswered questions for the film […]

Fifty Shades Darker

Watched: 13 September Yeesh. Having watched the first film a couple of years ago – my local cinema was unusually packed to the rafters for that and the atmosphere was electric, more so than any other film I can remember seeing there – I felt duty bound to continue with the Fifty Shades franchise despite […]

Inversion (Varoonegi)

Watched: 12 September A well-acted Iranian drama in which the pollution of Tehran, and the subsequent respiratory illness suffered by the mother of a family, eventually leads to fractious exchanges between three siblings. The youngest of these, Niloofar (Sahar Dolatshahi), is a single, independent woman, and her older brother and sister insist that she should […]

Whitney: Can I Be Me?

Watched: 11 September I had convinced myself that Nick Broomfield’s documentaries would be better without the director’s numerous intrusions, but now I wonder whether the various appearances that he makes in his most famous films, which are by their nature rather provocative, are key to the sparkiness and the controversy the documentaries generated at the […]

The Hippopotamus

Watched: 10 September A forgettable and sometimes painfully slow adaptation of Stephen Fry’s 1994 novel – in fact Fry has inexplicably been brought in to narrate the story, despite the fact that the narrator, a disgraced poet by the name of Ted Wallace, is played in the film by Roger Allam. (Why not just get […]

Shot! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra Of Rock

Watched: 10 September Despite the wafty title, which almost seems to be offering the viewer a road-map to enlightenment or some other higher plane of existence via the medium of music, this is actually a fairly straightforward documentary in which the photographer Mick Rock looks back on his long career documenting musicians like David Bowie, […]

Life

Watched: 9 September Not a taxing film by any means, and as plenty of other people have pointed out before me it’s very much an Alien rip-off, though evidently nowhere near as good or as terrifying as Ridley Scott’s original, claustrophobic horror. However, I did actually enjoy Life; if nothing else it’s perfect fodder for […]

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2

Watched: 8 September A disappointingly predictable sequel, in which they’ve unsurprisingly dialled everything that audiences responded to while watching the first Guardians Of The Galaxy movie up to eleven – so even more lashings of intra-group banter, which is a good thing, and more soundtrack-shifting AOR/MOR hits from the 1970s and 1980s – while also […]

It Comes At Night

Watched: 8 September Trey Edward Schults’ second film has much in common with his first (last year’s Krisha, a minor indie gem about a recovering alcoholic woman who struggles to get through a Thanksgiving meal with her estranged family). Both are single-location movies (give or take) and both turn houses into oppressive, unsatisfyingly-charted spaces in […]

Philomena

Watched: 7 September Despite its slew of award nominations I missed Philomena – Stephen Frears’ adaptation of Martin Sixsmith’s book The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee – when it was on at the cinema. I’m not really sure why I’m so ambivalent towards the director; he has, after all, made a diverse range of enjoyable […]

Unlocked

Watched: 7 September It’s a shame to see a figure like Michael Apted, whose career is long and distinguished, churning out such a sub-standard terrorism/political thriller as this; Unlocked, put simply, is a mess of cliches and barely-credible plot twists with more than its fair share of laughably awful dialogue and ropey performances. Still, it’s […]

Gold

Watched: 6 September Oh, you know: one of those American Dream films, if we are to understand the American Dream in the same way that inferior writers, producers and directors in Hollywood do, i.e. that it’s nothing more than the pursuit and making of a shitpile of money. This time it’s Matthew McConaughey huffing and […]

Meek’s Cutoff

Watched: 5 September The phrase anti-western is bandied around a lot, but in the case of Kelly Reichardt’s tale of settlers travelling through 1840s Oregon – my Blind Spot for September – it’s very much applicable. For one thing, there are no heroic men here – at least not in the traditional American western sense […]

Beauty And The Beast

Watched: 4 September I sat through this live-action remake of the Disney cartoon out of duty, rather than any specific desire to see it; it is, after all, the highest grossing film of 2017 as things currently stand, and thus something of a cultural phenomenon within a cultural phenomenon within a cultural phenomenon, or something […]

Raw (Grave)

Watched: 1 September The feature-length debut for writer and director Julia Ducournau, as well as the feature-length acting debut for lead Garance Marillier (who had previously worked with Ducournau on short films), Raw is a visceral, highly-stylised European horror that doffs its cap regularly to Italian giallo, both in terms of the bloody, over-the-top, exploitation-style […]

Their Finest

Watched: 31 August There are obviously things to like about this British crowd-pleaser, which tells the story of a screenwriter (Gemma Arterton) working on a propaganda drama film about Dunkirk (heh, excellent timing) during the Second World War. Arterton is on good form, smiling wryly at one point at a comment informing her character that […]

The Wall

Watched: 30 August While it’s a conventional single-location movie, Doug Liman’s low-key thriller The Wall gets enough mileage out of its wispy premise – the year is 2008 and an Iraqi sniper has two American soldiers pinned down next to a crumbling wall – to warrant its existence. Much of the heavy lifting is done by Aaron […]

Best Of Luck With The Wall

Watched: 29 August A short film by Josh Begley accompanying Laura Poitras’ documentary Risk, in which 200,000 satellite images of the Mexico-US border have been stitched together to create an abstract work of art. Not that anyone with a shred of intelligence needed confirmation anyway, but as the title suggests the film’s purpose is to […]

Risk

Watched: 29 August Laura Poitras’ lastest documentary is a study of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, the Australian programmer who has been holed up in the Ecuador Embassy in London for the past five years, despite the fact that an investigation into an alleged rape in Sweden has now been dropped; Assange would, however, […]

Seoul Station

Watched: 28 August An animated prequel to last year’s popular Korean zombie film Train To Busan, made by the same director. There are a couple of thrilling moments here, in particular a scene in which four people with one gun between them manage to lock themselves in a jail cell that’s under attack from a […]

The Handmaiden (Ah-ga-ssi)

Watched: 27 August Park Chan-wook’s latest film – another critical hit that has translated into moderate commercial success – is a twisty three-parter, effectively starting out as an elaborate, class- and race-focused period con movie and then – typically of Park – turning into something quite different indeed: a film that easily shifts back and […]

The Zookeeper’s Wife

Watched: 27 August New Zealand director Niki Caro – hitherto best known for her 2002 breakthrough Whale Rider – takes on Diane Ackerman’s non-fiction book for her sixth film. Set initially on the cusp of World War II as Germany prepares to invade Poland, it stars Jessica Chastain as Antonina, one of the two keepers […]

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Watched: 26 August A run of the mill Tom Cruise actioner – and one that never once manages to hit the same heights of the first Jack Reacher film, so there’s two good reasons not to recommend it. Sadly none of the performances are fun to watch (i.e. nothing here amuses as much as Werner […]

Aftermath

Watched: 25 August A dour but occasionally compelling drama about the repercussions after two planes collide mid-air, killing everyone on board. The story follows two men equally: one, played by Arnie (who is making some interesting late career choices, and co-produces here with Darren Aronofsky), mourns the death of his wife and daughter, while another […]

Allied

Watched: 24 August Marion Cotillard and Brad Pitt play Second World War special agents who meet while operating in Casablanca. That setting, and all that it brings to mind, just serves to highlight how passionless their relationship is in this film, the latest from Robert Zemeckis; both actors are a touch dead-eyed here, even during […]

The Levelling

Watched: 23 August Hope Dickson Leach’s debut film has been praised to the high heavens in some quarters; personally it’s one that I like, rather than love, but there is evident skill in its making and this director is certainly someone worth keeping an eye on. It’s set in the aftermath of the 2014 flooding […]

Passengers

Watched: 22 August It seems that audiences and critics alike found certain elements of this sci-fi story problematic, most notably when Chris Pratt’s space traveller – having spent a year wandering around a slumbering spaceship after his stasis chamber malfunctions, waking him early so that he faces much of the vehicle’s journey (and the rest […]

The Red Turtle (La Tortue Rouge)

Watched: 21 August It may be a simple, stripped back film in terms of the style of the animation, the use of dialogue (there isn’t any, unless you count a couple of growls from the main character, a shipwrecked man who is stuck on a desert island) and indeed the storytelling, but The Red Turtle […]

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith

Watched: 20 August OK, so having re-watched George Lucas’ Star Wars prequel trilogy – and I’m fairly sure this will be the last time I watch any of these films through choice – I probably ought to elaborate on why I don’t like them, though I’ll hardly be covering any new ground in doing so. Put simply, […]

Frantz

Watched: 19 August François Ozon’s latest is a sombre tale set between Quedlinburg, Germany and Paris after the end of the First World War, and apparently a remake of Ernst Lubitsch’s Broken Lullaby, which I’m afraid I haven’t seen. Frantz presents a Germany that is coming to terms with military defeat, and families who are […]

No Country For Old Men

Watched: 19 August This was the first time I’ve watched No Country For Old Men since originally seeing it on the big screen – incredibly, that’s nearly ten years ago. I remembered really liking it at the time, and of course its reputation has been cemented in the following decade, but it’s even better than I […]

You, The Living (Du Levande) 

Watched: 19 August More perfectly-staged and blackly comic tableaux from Roy Andersson, and a film that’s similar to the two works that sit either side of it in his recently-completed trilogy (both of which I’ve watched before getting round to this one; I don’t think the order in which you see them makes much difference). […]

The Gleaners & I (Les Glaneurs Et La Glaneuse)

Watched: 19 August An excellent documentary by Agnès Varda, ostensibly about terrible levels of food waste in France (as per the rest of northern Europe) and the people who – for various reasons – decide to ‘glean’ food that has been thrown away or unpicked. It also graudally encompasses those who sift and collect from […]

Elle

Watched: 18 August Paul Verhoeven has been at it again, grand old provocateur that he is. With Elle he has made a film that depicts the rape of its main character, played superbly by Isabelle Huppert, as well as the psychological effects that the act has upon her, and yet despite taking on such a serious subject […]

John Wick: Chapter 2

Watched: 18 August More of the same, which is to say that there are lots of carefully-choreographed action scenes in which Keanu shoots people in the head as they attack his titular hitman one or two at a time, just like the first John Wick. The most interesting parts of both of these films – […]

Where The Wild Things Are

Watched: August 17 My least favourite Spike Jonze movie to date; I would probably feel differently if the source material had been a childhood staple in the UK, as it has been for many decades in the US, but alas here we are. Still, I appreciate the noble attempts made by the film in terms […]

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

Watched: 15 August Given that I’ve never watched a single Harry Potter film, and have never read a JK Rowling book, it’s no wonder that I was a bit lost during this prequelly, originy, shared-universey thingy, starring Eddie Redmayne (a man whose name I will forever pronounce in the same style employed by his absurd […]