I have really enjoyed using my Unlimited card over the last three years, and may yet buy another one, nevertheless, I have turned my daughter's and my own cards in, for a number of reasons, but primarily because that by the time the Oscar nominations for 2016 were announced, of the nine in the best film category, I had only seen, only had the opportunity to see, two of them. Since the nominations I have been able to download and watch all of them, for free, and apart from the odd occasional stamp have been at least satisfied, if not overjoyed, with the reproduction quality, which is more than can be said for some of those shown at Castleford.
Rant over. 2016 in film was not what I would call a classic year. La La Land has swept the Golden Globes and has been touted throughout the Oscars yet, at least for me, it is not that big a deal. Lots of very very good solid films, but will people be talking about this year's crop in the same hallowed terms as some other years? Is it 2009 without Up and Inglorious Basteds? I have placed these films in reverse oder of preference, and right at the top even Ghostbusters is not the worst film I've seen, just the most dissapointing. I've highlighted the Oscar nominations, of which Arrivalis a long tenth in front, and I reckon give Amy Adams the actress for body of work, and Ben Affleck best actor for The Accountant. Oscars should be shortlisted from three a season, I can't believe my favourite film has been so ignored. Would that it twer so simple
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Andy García, Charles Dance, Michael Kenneth Williams, Ed Begley Jr., Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts, Ozzy Osbourne
Director: Paul Feig
Is this the most disappointing film I have ever seen? It is probably not the worst, though it could easily win this year's Golden Raspberry; it is just heartbreaking to see an absolutely classic film from one's yoof turned into something so much less. Kirsten Wiig is watchable, Melissa McCarthy delivers the kind of role you fear she will after you have seen one of her trailers and everything else swings from being a waste of time to abhorrent. Notable negatives include the reliance upon The Nitpicker's guide to Star Trek Technobabble generator, and the morphing of Jar Jar Binks into two different characters, one the comedic disaster half, the other the happy natives playing banjos in the sun stereotype, both 'halves' actually performing an exponential magnification of the eww factor, making Jillian and Patti at least 4 times more annoying than the clumsy, well-meaning Gungan outcast.
The thing is, given the tools at their disposal, the film makers could have made something terrific. Great franchise, sweet concept, New York locations, practically unlimited budget, available talent, how could they even do this? I'm actually angry! They even had Bill Murray, but not as Venkman! He was an old professor, but a different character, identical in demeanour, who seemed shoehorned in for no purpose whatsoever and then defenestrated without having contributed dick to the story. As each minute ticks by my opinion of this film sinks. I left after about an hour, I wish it had never been made. Yes I'm racist, yes I'm a misogynist, but I beg for films to illuminate and amuse me, and perhaps influence me to making better choices. This just makes it worse.
Starring: Rick Gervais
Director: Rick Gervais
This may not be quite as bad a film as my sub-five rating may indicate. We left after nearly an hour of quite uncomfortable, not particularly funny voyeuristic witness to a poor man's personal tragedy. There may have been redemption in the end, but I couldn't visage how David Brent was ever going to extricate himself from the dead end money pit he was allowed to dig himself into. David Brent was only the pathetic lens through which to view the flawed humanity which surrounds us all. saddens me to say it, because I know the pilot of Derek captured that pathos perfectly, and let's face it, Ricky Gervais has given us some of the most seminal TV of the last three decades. :(
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones, Emma Thompson
Director: Sharon Maguire
I can't really review this objectively, because it is so not my cup of tea. I am 58 and well past my sell by date, Jeezus I'm past my give away to charity date, and this kind of film, with it's ironic humour about old people in a similar situation that actually find themselves above it just, quite frankly, annoys me. The festival scenes were why I hate festivals, the London scenes were what totally turns me off about London, full of self centred, not particularly clever, egotists who make you feel great but basically don't really give a fuck about you. I like René Zellweger and Colin Firth, I love Studio Canal, but the humour was yawningly repetitive, just in case you didn't get it, and the music just paled compared to Hell and High Water (which I watched beforehand); it was perhaps the most boring soundtrack I have ever come across. House of Pain were passé two decades ago. Now it is whored out as just a sad unamusing lip-synch that maybe still puzzles some of the Ken Bruce listeners in the audience but had me leaving my shoes on ready for a quick getaway. For crying out loud, old people have plenty to offer in terms of experience, but only if they have wisdom in the first place. I am proud of what I am, but hopefully realistic. For fuck's sake you boring old farts, grow old with dignity!
PS, SPOLIER ALERT. Hugh Grant is not dead (but that might as well have been written in Neon Lights during the church scene) (and I walked out after half an hour so did not read the newspaper clip, which I have just this moment looked up, before this bracketed sentence).
Starring: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney
Director: Jason Zada
I stayed for the majority of this film, the jumps were done quite well, but it depends so heavily on human stupidity and so little on story that... It's just not my cup of tea. I'm off to Wikipedia now to see how it all ended - That's saved me 30 minutes
Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Kate McKinnon, Sean Penn, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage
Director: Clay Kaytis, Fergal Reilly
Colourful, but ultimately lacking in original story or empathic characters.
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie, Leslie Mann
Director: Christian Ditter
Left after half an hour. I already know. (How To Be single). I don't doubt that if you like Friends, and have never seen Rebel Wilson in a film before you will like this, but there was nothing new in it for me. Still better than Gone With The Wind!
Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett
Director: Dave Green
Stayed for 15 minutes, laughed at the chicken dance, confirmed Megan Fox was skanky, smiled wryly at the humour and realised I was not going to really enrichen my life that much by staying for the duration. Not excruciating, just predictable without putting anything interesting on the table
Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Jessie Usher, Maika Monroe, Sela Ward, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, William Fichtner
Director: Roland Emmerich
OK if you like this kind of thing. The whole principle is back to front and the stupid triumphalism is so playgroundy. Geoff Goldblum gets on my tits and Liam Hemsworth has done so much better. I guess it could have been worse. I stayed 'till the end, which it probably did not merit, and I have forgotten it already!
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jeff Daniels, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Zoë Kravitz, Maggie Q, Ray Stevenson, Daniel Dae Kim, Bill Skarsgard, Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts
Director: Robert Schwentke
Not my cup of tea. It kept me awake, but exactly like the last Maze Runner I watched, I can't really pin down what is happening in the series. I mean there was plenty to look at, and nothing so cringing as to make me want to leave early, but i think a world populated by 16-27 year olds with a smattering of kids and the isolated oldie for wisdom or hate would have more appeal to a world populated by 12-21 year olds etc etc.
Starring: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Keke Palmer, Jennifer Lopez, Simon Pegg, Nick Offerman, Jessie J, Neil deGrasse Tyson
Director: Mike Thurmeier
I would love Martin Pampel to watch this and highlight all the references/rip offs, from Chuck Jones Road Runners. That is a compliment, the gag timing was excellent. Apart from that it had the audience giggling, if not even guffawing, and I found it kind of watchable. I would suggest that unashamed lack of science is a more noble aspect of filming than pretence to it (I am thinking of The Good Dinosaur here), and although i find these things sometimes irksomely cutie, I think that may be my cynicism, I mean, there are only so many tricks in the storyteller's bag, and I guess one might become inured to some of them. There are plenty worse films for you to take your kids to see
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Ron Perlman, Jon Voight, Josh Cowdery, Ronan Raftery, Faith Wood-Blagrove, Jenn Murray, Johnny Depp, Zoë Kravitz
Director: David Yates
The J.K. Rowling backlash starts right here, but it should have started a long time ago. J.K. Rowling is a wonderful story teller, absolutely. . But...
How do you measure excellence in the arts? Well, there's the rub, because there is no quantitative measure, it's all generally subjective, so basically within science 2+2 make 4, and Mt Everest is just over 8,000 metres high, but really the only number we can put on a Jackson Pollack painting is how much somebody will pay for it, the only number we can put on a film is how many people go to see it.
Without doubt zeitgeist, the emotions of one's contemporaries effects perceptions - why the hell do you think they put laugh tracks on TV programs?, what is advertising? What I am saying is we all 'go with the flow' Some perhaps more than others, but generally we just can't help smiling back if someone smiles at us.
To capture the public's imagination I would suggest that, in general, it really helps if an artist has some talent to start with. There are many artists with some, if not immense talent. For recognition beyond one's own village however, the most important ingredient (with exceptions) is luck. Luck may manifest itself in many ways, but often it might be being in the right place at the right time. Elvis Presley was good, but really, if it hadn't been him it would have been some other young white kid with a twinkle in his eye who could sing like a nigger. It certainly wouldn't have been a black kid. Elvis presented a persona who was not at all dangerous yet people could pretend he was. Far from threatening white America he stole swathes of alt culture and assimilated it for the benefit of the ruling clade. But I'd bet my bottom dollar he wasn't even the best singer in Tupelo.
So back to J.K. Rowling. Quarter of a century ago she wrote The Philosopher's Stone. It was a great read. It was funny, imaginative, eminently 'readable', sufficiently complex to delight without being to obtuse to alienate, It had a character for everybody, It could be picked up and put down easily, would fit in a reasonable pocket, the goodies and baddies had recognizable demarcation, yet leaving just enough ambiguity in some, and it took the standard tried and tested trope of David and Goliath and ran with it quite exquisitely.
Over her first three books Harry Potter became a global phenomenon, Elvis had competition, Rowling, was the kids, if not total, literature market, and you know what? Good for her, 'cos those three books kept up the pace. The Prisoner of Azkaban nailed it.
Now I delve into hypothesis. By the time of her fourth book Rowling was the absolute golden egg. She could do what she wanted. And I suggest what she wanted was greater editorial control, i.e. more of her writing left in, and, whereas the first three books would have had considerable editorial input, from professionals with vast experience in pruning work to present a more marketable product, by the time we get to Goblet of Fire, J.K Rowling, in addition to her undoubted talent had two more things going for her, the absolute undivided devotion of millions of fans (sources of revenue) and the consequent level of control over her work. And like any artist she was unlikely to think that her work could be improved by a mere muggle. Consequently the subsequent books became much larger, and, at least for me, a little unwieldy, because hell, she could do what she wanted. I'm not saying they were bad books, I'm saying that there will have been people at Bloomsbury secretly wishing, but NEVER admitting that they could perhaps just miss out a little bit here or fix a bit of continuity there.
And then the film series..
And now Fantastic Beasts... It is one of the most expensive 60 films ever made, and it is, in effect a $180,000 dollar vanity project. Oh hell, I know there is a demand for it, and I'm not saying this is Ghostbusters 2016 or anything like that, I quite enjoyed it, but it is merely a moderate story populated by a cast that as individuals are sometimes interesting but more often padding for those that are. Newt Scamander is frankly boring, and the whole lingo/naming thing just seems a little trite. Granted the special effects are truly special, but give me Colin Farrell sitting on a Belgian bench with Brendan Gleeson any day over him watching some ball of smoke trashing entire avenues of New York.
Fundamentally, in Harry Potter, we had personalities driving the stories. In this it is .. magic! That is not meant to be a compliment, it is a moan that the whole shebang seems like ""I know, let's put something here that is .. magic!, just wave a wand and .. say ""smoothinox fluffyflora"" .. and kapow .. oh golly .. wide eyed wonderment .. cute critter ... yawn.
Guess you've got to go and watch it, but if you know J.K. Rowling stop sucking up to her so much. She's great, but so are lots of people around her. "
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Daniel Radcliffe, Lizzy Caplan, Jay Chou, Sanaa Lathan, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman
Director: Jon M. Chu
Stellar cast perform a somewhat eyebrow cocking heist movie. I am vexed by the fact that magical trickery is just not a medium for film. I mean, it would be impressive it were live, but this left me thinking "Oh they've done that in the edit suite". There is also a lot of me thinks that if I were celebrating the launch of a mobile phone or New Year's Eve in London, I would not have quite the level of enthusiasm depicted my the thousands of people in the film for my occasions being gatecrashed by some very good club turns.
Whatever, I suppose it'll do if you like Daniel Radcliffe.
Starring: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson
Director: James DeMonaco
I think that this film, as of writing, is the most enjoyable one I have ever walked out of. When one has a tight schedule and is aching for a Subway, something has to give, and today it was the last 50 minutes of this. It's not my cup of tea and given that the whole premise is quite piss-potical (like groups/villages/towns/cities, ergo countries would not organise mutual defence associations, ergo governments, beggars belief), once the bad-ass bitches came for whatever they wanted with a whole new kind of crazy, I just heard the honey-oat calling.
So if you liked the first you will like this, but make get your food and beer in advance.
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Gina Rodriguez, Dylan O'Brien, Kate Hudson
Director: Peter Berg
Spoiler alert. A 60 minute explosion with 30 minutes to get to it. I would have loved to see this be a documentary. It hardly gets anything for story, it gets a bit for characters and a lot for action cinematography. I mean real respect for that, but
let's face it, we are all to blame. I counted 150 people leaving the theatre and I bet you I was the only one not using petrol to get home
Starring: Tom Hiddlestone, Elizabeth Olsen
Director: Marc Abraham
Tom Hiddlestone was really good, the film a little disappointing. I would have preferred to see more music biography and less music. It seemed a little like a hagiography. Shame really :(
Starring: Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer, Keegan-Michael Key, ordan Peele, Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell, Danny Trejo
Directors: Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland
One of those films that puts me in two minds. Without doubt it had its moments, after all it is hard not to be moved by family and babies, nevertheless it had a deal of ancillary gawkiness or just plain annoyance about it. I have never seen a character as pointlessly irritating as the pigeon, which never even began to be funny or interesting and yes, I know it's 'just a kids film' but I really think a lot of this doesn't give credit to children's intelligence. Tulip, with her curly ginger hair and sassy attitude did remind me of Alex!
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie
Director: Robert Eggers
Nice, a 'horror' film which doesn't insult the intelligence too much. Some great acting, terrific dialogue, still all bullshit, but with a little bit of gravitas too it. This almost was a 'good film'; I could well understand it being described as such. Lisa Aryn's tits don't get as good roles as Lily James's
Starring: Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali
Director: Barry Jenkins
Brokeback Mountain meets The Wire and looses some zip in the process. I was bored shitless by Boyhood, and this has a similar feel to it, though it is redeemed by a reasonably interesting story arc. I have to ask myself "is it an anti-gay thing on my part", and the answer is "don't be stupid". That I find the overtly gay scenes discomforting is because I am heterosexual, that I don't give it a stellar mark is because that's the same mark I would have given it had it been a heterosexual relationship. It doesn't make me homophobic anymore than preferring prawns to anchovies makes me somehow bad - it's just a matter of taste. I can't help thinking this film may have been accoladed with six Oscar nominations because of its colour and sexuality rather than it's content. It is still a decent, particularly well-intentioned, film; just not my bag, that's all.
Starring: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken, Garry Shandling, Jon Favreau
Director: Jon Favreau
Disappointing. Not terrible by any stretch of the imagination, and if CGI is what your looking for, I have never seen better, but... When Disney did the original cartoon I went to the cinema five times in the week it was on. But we are not here to talk about the original, with it's absolutely everlasting songs in their definitive versions, the superb casting of Sterling Holloway, Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, George Sanders and Louis Prima, the mesmerising emotions, innocent and simple philosophy and timeless humour.
Like Pan, this didn't need doing. And Shere Kahn was right all along.
Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Alon Moni Aboutboul, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Melissa Leo, Radha Mitchell, Charlotte Riley
Director: Babak Najafi
A quite excellent opening 40 minutes, I thought I was going to mark it higher. The second half of the film was just a shoot-em-up which got mundane after a while. I do find Gerard Butler very watchable, and its funny in a Team America way, but I actually think it is meant to be, so don't go if you want anything too cerebral, but if you like gunfire and explosions I am sure you will like this. Fuck yeah!
Starring: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Chris O'Dowd, Allison Janney, Rupert Everett, Terence Stamp, Ella Purnell, Judi Dench, Samuel L. Jackson
Director: Tim Burton
Green is the new Bonham Carter. Was the topiary in the garden cut by Edward Scissorhands? Was this X-Men for eight year olds? Look, It wasn't so bad, but even for childish fantasy there seemed some lack of believable continuity. Still, Samuel L Jackson kept his part of the deal, but right now I feel like marking it down a couple of little notches. I will. Six point eight is still a good film, but it is one of those borderline ones when you could have read the précis, revised the quiz stuff and dug out Mrs Miniver or something. We are spoilt for films, I know.
Starring: Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky
Director: Duncan Jones
I don't think I'd want to watch it at home, but sat with our Graham eating a Subway it definitely had its moments without ever straying from what one would imagine a modern epic fantasy about hoards of Orcs invading a medieval kingdom through a magic portal would be like! OK.
Starring: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Julia Stiles, Riz Ahmed
Director: Paul Greengrass
Well you get lots of bangs for bucks here. Normally bangs for bucks is a metaphor for good return on investment, but in this case I mean it literally! Apparently Matt Damon has less than 300 words in the whole film, but I wouldn’t have noticed. The action was an end in itself, and they didn’t call the bad guy Reg or Olav or anything like that, he was “the asset”. It was good action, but not good enough to rate this as more than adequate; for the fan it may have been more of a trip
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher, Jr., Bradley Cooper
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
I've seen plenty worse sci-fi horror movies. This was quite enjoyable to sit through, even though, in retrospect it was so full of holes, but at least they didn't spoil a great performance from John Goodman in an interesting situation. A real plus for this film is you never knew quite which way it was going to go. (Until the end when she turned right)
Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O'Neill, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Bob Peterson, Andrew Stanton, Bill Hader, Sigourney Weaver, John Ratzenberger, Willem Dafoe
Director: Andrew Stanton
Although nothing absolutely outstanding is bought to the table here, this is a competent enough movie. We see frying pans and fires and protagonists finding themselves along the way, kinda cute faces and habits and dialogue, recycled music from American Beauty by Thomas Newman, wonderful 3d animation, but it's not quite got that 'magic'. If you like animations you will probably like this, but don't expect too much above Finding Nemo
Starring: David Morrisey
Director: Martin McDonagh
This was one of those stage productions beamed to the cinema, and though I enjoyed it, the atmosphere was two points less than the real thing, and the story, dialogue etc, was two points off In Bruges It was good, but not good enough to justify £8 with an Unlimited Card when Star Wars was on for free
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie, Djimon Hounsou, Jim Broadbent, Christoph Waltz
Director: David Yates
So lets say all the execs are sitting 'round the table saying "what can we reboot?" and some bright spark says "Tarzan!" After some brainstorming they decide to get somebody who's ripped to play Tarzan, an FHM top tenner to play Jane, who can we have for a malevolent and heartless northern European? Ah yes Christopher Waltz, and hell, its set in 1889 but lets give Samuel L Jackson a part. Let's put loads of good looking CGI, and make sure we don't have any women talking to each other and the goodies win, and lets have a bit of broody and rewarded romance and - bingo. Hope I've not given too much away. In the vein of The Mummy this is harmless, predictable and fun eye candy.
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Rhys Ifans, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall
Director: James Bobin
One where I got put off by the pre-publicity. I was sat thinking "wow I'm impressed" at several junctures of this film, and I hope it gets recognised in some of the technical categories. I bought into the Mia Wasikowska Alice big time, it took 60 seconds but really, forget the billing order, she is the absolute star of this. Anybody could have done the other parts (which were done well but relied almost entirely on CGI and make-up. That's not to diss 'em, that is just a statement of probable fact. The story might have been more understandable with a hefty dose of acid, but having said that, I 'got it' and loved the way I did not recognise an iota of the narrative. Kudos for a better take on the hundred year old children's novel than Pan
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter
Director: Zack Snyder
Glad I saw it. Good, but disappointing in that it was overcooked. It could have been three films with a bit more patience and development, and been a real set of stories rather than a two hour edition of Power Rangers. The cast were good, the premise fantastic, the action typical, but the science doubtful. It was like the stock characters outlined at the beginning of Deadpool have all been put here (apart from Jeremy Irons not being a criminal).
Batman has always delivered crazy villains with humour. Superman likewise, with the bad guys getting more and more deranged throughout the tale. It's a great trope. Jessie Eisenberg, though suitably deranged and malevolent is like that from the get go, he hasn't been given enough "I want to be accepted" to work with. Whatever. Go and see it, but don't expect Batman Begins.
Amy Adams, if you ever read this, I love you, but am not sure if your beauty and sweetness is just an on-screen persona, or the real you. If you are ever in Yorkshire and would like a date, we could take the dog for a walk, catch a movie, share a bottle of wine, whatever, just to see how it goes.
Starring: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Patrick Heusinger, Aldis Hodge, Danika Yarosh, Holt McCallany
Director: Edward Zwick
I could fully understand that people might take umbrage at Tom Cruise being so super Macho. It's ridiculous, I know, but it is one of those films where I want to say to haters "Well what the hell did you expect"
I think you can imagine what this film is going to be like! I enjoyed it.
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, J.K. Simmons
Director: Damien Chazelle
Well here we go. First off, this is a good film, and absolutely beautifully made. Second off it is not IMHO anything like as entertaining as the media might have you believe, and having discussed it with Ella we had both arrived independently at the same conclusion. People who haven't seen many musicals love it. Like those classic 50s musicals it hearkens back to (I'm thinking of An American In Paris and Singin' In The Rain It is strong on dance, good on tunes, but relatively moderate on characters and story. As an out and out vehicle for tunes, it cannot hold a candle to Rent (lit or not!), or Wicked, or Sunshine on Leith, or Frozen. I could go on and on and on with that list. The thing is, it sounds like I am dissing it, but I'm not, I'm glad I saw it for its own sake, but I think a lot of people have got caught up in the hype. There has been another film this year that gives a take on Hollywood that is better in every department, even including the dance routine- Hail Caesar!
And Jon Legend is no actor
And I get sick of Americans living in beautiful apartments and imagining they are having some kind of a hard time.
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper, Judah Lewis
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
An interesting look at Americans who are so rich they can squander during their episodes of Neuroses (a Chris Cooper specialty). A good film that even already, four hours after watching, seems to be fading in the memory.
Starring: Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Édgar Ramírez, Lisa Kudrow.
Director: Tate Taylor
I liked it, Julia hated it! I can see why on her explanation, but I stayed well awake watching Emily Blunt have a tilt at best actress. Yes the wimmin were incredibly dim, but where would all these stories be without dim people and plot holes as wide as the Hudson?
Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Sheen
Director: Tom Ford
I presume almost definitely a film which falls into the 'better than my rating would suggest' bracket. This was a thought provoking and deliberately paced movie that left me wandering what had just happened, with the magnetic Amy Adams being a goody, a baddy, a bitch, a victim, a concerned individual, a superficial poseur, a narrator, a puppet? Who bloody knows!!. Not a bad turn in the whole cast, and definitely one in the Christopher Nolan department of me perhaps needing some guidance on, especially some of the subtleties of, this intriguing movie
Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence, Robert Redford
Director: David Lowery
Some films (Jungle Book don't need remaking. I've never seen the original of this, but I get the feeling this is a good take. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Wes Bentley? American Beauty dammit!
Starring: Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, Ana de Armas, Bradley Cooper
Director: Todd Phillips
This might have been even better if one hadn't seen The Wolf Of Wall Street and Lord Of War first. Jonah Hill is getting repetitively typecast (think of him in Moneyball etc), yet.. Yet... This film had enough to offer to justify the card, with Miles Teller giving his side of the story in an interesting, without being totally fascinating, true (?!) story
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn
Director: Brian Singer
Like London Has Fallen with better special effects. I actually feel like marking it down a bit now, 'cos the story was just an X-Men with more powers and more powerful enemies, but I did enjoy it.
Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Gretchen Mol, Lucas Hedges, Matthew Broderick
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Put this side by side with Boyhood and Ordinary People and it comes out miles in front. I kind of enjoyed the surprise factor, not like explosions or squirrels, but just these fairly quiet characters, behaving quite credibly without being entirely predictable. It takes deadpan humour to an absolutely new level, I mean, I am still wondering if the straight faced delivery of faintly ridiculous and awkward situations was part of the plan. It was. I think! For their faults the people described herein had enough humanity about them to involve the watcher. Don't expect fireworks, but it's a half decent night in.
Starring: Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon, Blake Harrison, Daniel Mays, Bill Paterson, Mark Gatiss, Emily Atack, Alison Steadman, Holli Dempsey, Annette Crosbie, Frank Williams, Ian Lavender
Director: Oliver Parker
There's is a great deal to dislike about this film, but a lot more to like. Catherine Zeta Jones is easy to root against, it is extraordinarily clichéd, the laughs are cheap, like watching a one and a half hour special of Last Of The Summer Wine, and I did nod off during parts of it. If you are fan of the original series who is expecting a whole new angle you are doomed to disappointment. If you didn't like the original series, you will hate this!. Having got all that out of the way, It is a faithful homage to the original, it had a lot of people laughing out loud in the cinema (which I found annoying, but nevertheless, that's my problem), It was filmed in God's county, which was a huge plus for me, and though Pike, Jones, Fraser and Walker were decent subs for the originals without ever exceeding the distinct framing of the original actors, Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon and especially Toby Jones just did a perfect job. Don't expect Saving Private Ryan!
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton.
Director: Scott Derrickson
Far from dull, this is, nevertheless, stock Marvel fodder. The visuals are amazing, totally mind blowing, and the people, especially Cumberbatch and Swinton, eminently watchable, the visuals would win a show, and IMHO, Marvel now pitch the humour just right, but, like American in Paris, there is nothing particularly intriguing about the story, which depends almost entirely on magic as the tool with which to move it along. I like Marvel, and I enjoyed this, and it is indicative of how spoilt we truly are when my review sounds relatively negative. It's not meant to be, it's just that the extraordinary becomes mundane with repetition. If you are a fan-boy it's an absolute must-see
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella
Director: Justin Lin
On balance definitely a worth see. I suppose we always want to see First Contact or Into Darkness and that's just not gonna happen, so like good and bad golf shots we should put the other films behind us and judge new ones on their merits (agh, I can't do it with Ghostbusters, which was the equivalent of Jordan Spieth playing the 12th in the fourth round at Augusta in 2016 except with a two put, not a single). So. Simon Pegg is so annoying you put it to bed after a while and realise that this film is more of an homage to the original series, in the context of which - it works. Very prescient to see Anton Yelchin being told to put on a red shirt. Not outstanding but still much better than any Independence Day movie.
Starring: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson, Saniyya Sidney
Director: Denzel Washington
Adapted from a 1973 play it retains the spirit of a show, it feels like a play. Just puttin' it out there. Denzel Washington does his usual excellent turn, the dialogue is Wirelike in its density and idiom, one really has to concentrate on it, but I am looking forward to polishing this one off tonight.
Starring: Sennia Nanua, Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close, Paddy Considine
Director: Colm McCarthy
Very much in the vein of Utopia, World War ZEdge of Darkness etc, a good old post-apocalyptic intrigue/zombie/action fest which was one of those that you would never pay to watch, but don't mind at all sliding into for an afternoon's entertainment
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Diane Kruger, Benjamin Bratt, John Leguizamo, Amy Ryan.
Director: Brad Furman
Brian Cranston does Narcos well gnarly. This is a true story, but as a tale it stands up, especially towards the end where it edged a few extra points for me. I think the author had a genuine love of his mate. Was that the bloke who plays Escobar the bloke who plays Escobar?
I have to mention that the trackBrothers On The Slide was written by my late brother-in-law, Julian Chapman. Way to go brother! :(
Starring: Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei
Director: Travis Knight
Laika studios produce such gorgeous pictures. I have to see this again as I think I was hypnotised, it is kind of one of the weirdest films I have seen, incorporating a very Japanese soul, this is far more Ghibli than Disney, but it is that unique stop motion of such density and high quality that gives Laika films there immediacy. Like Julia forgot it was stop motion after 2 seconds, it had me from the get go. I honestly had 20 micro sleeps during it, so am hardly in a position to judge. I really enjoyed Zootopia this year, but this may be front runner for the animation Oscar.
Starring: Rafe Spall, Andrew Scott, Kelly Macdonald, Jessica Hynes, Harry Enfield
Director: Philippa Lowthorpe
I would have probably hated this if it had been American, the story was kooky, the acting occasionally naive, the geography curious (I mean, was the island like a TARDIS?) Everybody in Cumbria had Yorkshire accents, Titty was called Tatty and Windermere was Derwent Water (but they did not have a shot of Ashness Bridge). That aside, from the opening shots it had me, as a slice of hokum, filmed in places which I know and love from the bottom of my heart and harking back to a better time. My goodness they could really do something with the Famous Five franchise. I can imagine kids really loving this!
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Russell Brand, James Corden, Gwen Stefani, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Christine Baranski, John Cleese, Jeffrey Tambor, Quvenzhané Wallis
Directors: Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohrn
A noble effort from Dreamworks which I would be happy to take any of my kids and friends to see. I am the world's biggest cynic when it comes to Juke Box musicals, yet I just can't help falling for I'm Coming Out and what has becoming the national anthem of feel-good films, September, which has been used as the closing track for four of the 750 movies I have reviewed. Why not in the eights and nines of other animations? That is an interesting thought, but I think the more identifiable lead characters of Carl, Riley, Shrek, Woody and Buzz probably strike more of an empathic chord with me.
The second consecutive film I watched in an afternoon starring Anna Kendrick with Geoffrey Tambor (see The Accountant), on a day of four films when I can't remember blinking! -A Street Cat Named Bob and Nocturnal Creatures were the others.
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Michael Peña, Theo James
Directors: John Michael McDonagh
Michael Peña really makes some watchable films, his dialogue is slick, his nuance is ubercool. This is not what you would call a mega unpredictable story, SPOILER ALERT, the bullet proof vest is always a cheap shot, but it in addition to Skarsgaard and Peña, the minor characters are very amusing, so if you like a buddy cop shoot 'em up, get the popcorn, you will like this.
Starring: Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Christopher Abbott, Alfred Molina, Billy Bob Thornton
Directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
"I think this is actually better than my enjoyment quotient might indicate. I thought it was going to be an out and out comedy, but it provides a thought provoking, yet much lighter insight into Western intervention in the Middle East, a nice contrast to American Sniper, Zero Dark Thirty, Hurt Locker (go Bigelow), etc etc. It'll not top Team America though - Fuck yeah!"
Starring: Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell, Morgan Freeman
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
If Sausage Party was a bonobo, this was the chimpanzee, all bluster and battle and belief, that made for better entertainment than the original. It was almost as if it were saying, look - this is a Judo-Christian story, but tolerate the just tolerable righteous bits and we will give you a gung ho movie with some terrific action and a predictable, yet tried, trusted, therefore enjoyable yarn. Actually a recommended watch!
Starring: Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, Katey Sagal, Ciarán Hinds, Ted Levine
Director: Ben Younger
Spoiler alert. Boxing film. OK, now that's out of the way, it's not going to put you on the canvas with surprises, but hell, it's a good story, and in this instance it is done quite excellently, with the lush ingredients of three great acting performances, I just can't choose between the solidity of Aran Eckart's Tony Soprano and Ciarán Hinds doing Peter Griffin, but I hope one of them at least gets a nod. Miles Teller is now, officially, a good actor, all added too a 'true' story which never really clags up at all, yet still surprised me.
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Naomie Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Damian Lewis
Director: Susanna White
Good cast, solid story, Stellan Starsgard was excellent, very John le Carré (he was executive producer)
Starring: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hil, Bill Hader, Michael Cera, James Franco, Danny McBride, Paul Rudd, Edward Norton, Salma Hayek
Directors: Conrad Vernon, Greg Tiernan
Interesting to watch this next to Ben Hur (2016) as two very very different, I cannot possible imagine how they could be more different, films receive the same mark. This was the major message movie for me in that I suppose it delivered the parable I wanted to hear, exposing and extolling the bonobo side of humanity in a full on pastiche using supermarket food to stereotype, praise and pillory society. I thought it was going to be annoying and juvenile. It was, but it was much more than that, beating one down with grossness and parody.
Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Ken Jeong, Benjamin Bratt, Olivia Munn, Bruce McGill, Tika Sumpter
Director: Tim Story
I really jolly film, with everything you'd expect, nothing more, nothing less, good use of Grand Theft Auto (not that I've ever played it), if I told you exactly what happened I wouldn't really be giving anything away. It works, like 21 Jump Street, like 48 Hours, like a million other films
Starring: Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Jared Leto, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood, Cara Delevingne
Director: David Ayer
Well well well! A very enjoyable fun film, with ticks all round for cast, characters and cinematography. The story was adequate if not a little clichéd, and all told a whole heap better than I was lead to expect. Margo Robbie is going to gain a few place on the FHM list, and Will Smith was ..,. wait for it... really good!!! I love the way the set up was explained to idiots like me first, and what a great way to introduce the franchise. Now they can go to the back-story films, and I can't wait. Props! (whatever that means).
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Gil Birmingham
Director: David Mackenzie
A really, really solid movie, with Chris Pine paying the fourth Hemsworth brother very adequately and Geoff Bridges being reasonably lucid (thank goodness) thereby getting that big Texas mood just right, like Tommy Lee Jones in No Country..
One of several great aspects of this film was the multi-faceted characters. This film, in its own way, justifies terrorism. It doesn't endorse it, but it explains it quite beautifully. Good action and adventure, an absolutely blistering soundtrack, which had me moderately interested until Gillian Welch came on and totally sold me. Gawd I love her style. It was a shame our screen wasn't so good, I'm pretty sure it wasn't the film's fault. The more I think about it the more I like it!
Starring: Sunni Pawar, Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, David Wenham, Nicole Kidman.
Director: Garth Davis
The first hour of this film was all at once more enchanting than harrowing, the second hour a little flatter and the resolution satisfying. There were moments during the film when I got quite cut up, the child Saroo was beautiful, perfectly cast, and Dev Patel gives a very convincing moody performance. Once again I think this film may have been even better than my kick quotient, there was actually not anything wrong with it technically, perhaps it was always going to be half an hour too long, and I just can't help thinking that given (SPOILER ALERT) he knew the area where he came from was called something like "Ginestlay", actually making the leap to Ganesh Talai did not demand the walls full of maps charts and notes, I mean Ganesh is quite the deity. That adult Saroo was not perfect is probably a really good thing. Is that my fault for demanding saccharine? I think it may be. Not far off a must-see film for anybody.
Starring: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Jay Hernandez, Jada Pinkett Smith, Christina Applegate.
Directors: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Oh, I'm sorry, I can't help liking this. So much more enjoyable, for me at least, than the latest Bridget Jones offering. It could have easily been Seth Rogan and co, but Mila Kunis was reasonably, surprisingly well convincing, totally not playing on her FHM top 10 placing yet not being frumpy with it. Christina Applegate is gold! If you like those American comedies that I think they do so well, this is just more of the same! No complaints
Starring: Zac Efron, Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Chloë Grace Moretz, Dave Franco
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Aww! There is so little to dislike about this film, once it has sucked you in (I am easily sucked in) it is classic American stoner comedy, like Trainwreck, Daddy's Home or any amount of offerings of the same genre, this is just a fine escape, which you might forget in a decade but you enjoy now
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T. J. Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand, Stefan Kapicic
Director: Tim Miller
Short on story, long on special effects and loaded with humour, Ryan Reynolds, like Paul Rudd in Antman is given a great script to work with in this cool addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I forgot to write it up immediately, could someone remind me what happened?
Starring: Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Method Man, Nia Long, Will Forte
Director: Peter Atencio
I saw four films today and this was the stand-out one. So, so much more fun than Ghostbusters, it has everything, car chases, posturing, buddies, redemption and a cute little kitten. Loved it!
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Jenna Coleman, Charles Dance
Director: Thea Sharrock
One of the most surprising films I have seen, not necessarily in the narrative or production, but in the reaction it has elicited with me. First the film: I thought it would be a walk-out, but there was nothing else on so I thought "give it a chance". After two minutes I was looking around to pick up my belongings but... it ended up kind of working for me as a piece of entertainment if not more. Despite Emilia Clarke seeming to be gunning for a Razzie, and despite the girly bait (shoes, fashion, handsome guy, lurve, heroinism), it really worked. It has a lot in common with The Intouchables, I'm sure this film will not get anything like the critical acclaim (it's not French for a kick off), but I felt a little more comfortable with this version in that it wasn't as self righteous.
More importantly it is the afterthought which makes this film actually quite special, in that it has kicked up a bit of a stir, I won't say why, that can easily be discovered elsewhere, and you may want to watch it first. I enjoyed the film though and I do believe it makes a valid point. Just because something is uncomfortable doesn't necessarily mean it is bad - I don't know the answers but it is good to ask the questions.
Oh and as for the Mother of Dragons, I am now thinking that her portrayal was very deliberate, which, if so, renders it brilliant. I mean she has the most important part in the best TV show ever made absolutely nailed, then she does this? I'd like to know what you think. Dig the Coraline look!
Starring: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, Keith David, Kim Basinger
Director: Shane Black
Ella said "This is what you go to the movies for" and I could not agree more. Two hours of buddy movie with the right balance of action, plot and comedy. Gosling and Crowe hit it off with some hilarious dialogue; the latter is actually perfect for his part. I am wondering if some of the anachronisms regarding the music were deliberate. IMHO it is an important film in that it is the first film of its kind that I have seen which takes on the car Industry in this way, hinting that many facets of it and America's obsession with it are perhaps not cool
Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Penélope Cruz, Kristen Wiig, Fred Armisen, Sting, Christine Taylor, Cyrus Arnold, Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett, Nathan Lee Graham, Justin Theroux, Milla Jovovich, Jerry Stiller, Katy Perry, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Tommy Hilfiger, Benedict Cumberbatch, Naomi Campbell, Lewis Hamilton, Justin Bieber, Jourdan Dunn, Ariana Grande, Susan Sarandon, John Malkovich, Kiefer Sutherland, Mika, Billy Zane, Joe Jonas, Skrillex, Susan Boyle, ASAP Rocky, MC Hammer, Anna Wintour, Marc Jacobs, Olivia Munn, Karlie Kloss
Director: Ben Stiller
Thoroughly sit back and just relax, watch the film, enjoy the comedy, add up the cameos, get a Subway. Really if I told you the full story I don't think I'd be giving much away, great value with an Unlimited Card. What a lame summary, but you know what too expect.
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Lee Byung-hun, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard
Director: Antoine Fuqua
A good, modern, film by numbers. There are no unsurprising surprises, the characters are all pretty much stock-in-trade, the outcome not unpredictable and the baddy does have a 'magic wand, make my monster grow' moment. So don't go and see it if you seek novelty. On the other hand if you want to see a slew of actors at the top of their game playing gnarly old stagers who are hard as fuck shooting bad guys, you can't go far wrong. I see I have not reviewed the originals, so that has to be on the agenda. Good movie.
As an addendum I went to see it a second time, and I enjoyed it even more. The thing was, I wasn't sat through the film waiting for Elmer Bernstein's theme to kick in, so had more time to enjoy the humour which actually dominates the first half of the film, and the absolutely sumptuous filming of people's faces, I have never seen a film like it for taking such interesting visages and highlighting them in such fascinating detail.
Four members of the group claim 6,5,5, and 7 kills during the initial town gunfight but Bogue says that 22 of his men died. The drape sign saying Bogue Mining is visibly taken down but reappears during the town fight preparation montage. When Bogue returns from Sacramento one can only count perhaps 70 men with him. Prior to him ordering the wagon, at least 70 are directly witnessed being shot or exploded off their horses, that's not including townsfolk and ones hidden behind the explosions. Uncounted more die in the consuming mêlée.
Starring: Marlon Wayans, Kali Hawk, Jane Seymour, Fred Willard
Director: Michael Tiddes
I really like it when a film gets panned by the critics and I love it! This movie, a parody of Fifty Shades Of Gray and half a dozen other films, so needed making, and it did the job perfectly, lampooning not just the original, but echoing all my criticisms of it (e.g.. re: 'anal' and 'fisting', see my review). I thought the acting was hilariously accurate, and really, Kali Hawk just nailed Dakota Johnson absolutely. You have to watch them both. There was a bloke could not stop chuckling about 5 yards away from me. It was infectious. Brilliant!
Starring: Luke Treadaway, Ruta Gedmintas, Joanne Froggatt, Anthony Head, Bob the Cat
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
This film's trailers had very heavy rotation at the cinema, and I was almost sick of it before its started. Was the Streetcar Named Desire certification card at the beginning deliberate?
Whatever, it was an almost great film, with a sterling performance Luke Treadway, I do believing absolutely nailing that annoying nervousness which seems symptomatic of addicts. It was a good film in that it offered some insight, ergo sympathy, with said addicts and Big Issue sellers. Like many other small man autobiographies it does smack a little of glossing over the bad parts of the hero/heroine, but in itself it was a genuine entertainment, set in familiar sights around London, a bravely simple soundtrack and people you could really get interested in - just about all of them, even the pushers on the corner. This, I suppose, completes the terrific feline trilogy of 2016 (along with Keanu and Nine Lives), the year of the cat
Starring: Tom Hanks, Alexander Black, Sarita Choudhury, Ben Whishaw
Director: Tom Tykwer
Well I loved it! It caught me at the end of a great day, so it really would have to have been Walking On Sunshine 2, starring Keith Lemmon for me not to have enjoyed it, nevertheless there were a slew of plusses which would, for me, stand scrutiny.
It seems like the people who made it went all in on Tom Hanks, and the gamble paid off, at least aesthetically. It would have had to be one of the best 100 films I have seen to better Saving Mr Banks. It was a helluva lot more enjoyable than Captain Phillips and that was half decent.
Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, Tommy Chong, Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate, Shakira
Directors: Byron Howard, Rich Moore
Thoroughly delightful film, delivering a reasonably straightforward plot with engaging characters and absolutely breathtaking pictures. Really, I keep saying it about modern animation but this, it is so damn BIG and ARTISTIC, like all the best bits about Tomorrowland and Big Hero Six, without trying to be too clever. And the best line ever, from Idris Elba as the big 'ard chief of police, dressing down Jody and her ambitions to be a cop.
"Life isn't some cartoon musical where you sing a little song and all your insipid dreams magically come true. So let it go."
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Tom Holland, William Hurt, Daniel Brühl
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Wow! I can imagine many a ten year old walking out of this imagining he had seen the best film of his little life. Good story, great protagonists, engrossing action, MCU just gets better
Starring: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rhys Darby, Rima Te Wiata, Rachel House, Oscar Kightley
Director: Taika Waititi
Several stars in this film, but the real plaudits go to New Zealand and Sam Neil. It's a buddy movie with superb New Zealand humour and actually not much wrong to spoil the experience. We went all the way to Sheffield to watch this as it was not shown at Cas, and that cinema is a step up from Glasshoughton, and not just because it shows more films. Whatever, this is an excellent companion to Big Game. Watch them both and you'll see what I mean.
Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Dorothy Vaughan, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Glen Powell, Mahershala Ali
Director: Theodore Melfi
Cracking film! Cracking because it bundles an excellent story, that of the Mercury missions, along with a several quests, and, praise the lawd, a take on American Racism which exploits the plain dumb ridiculousness of it all to get its message across. Quite honestly I am bored of films like Selma and 12 years a slave, excellent as they are, that focus on the racism and suffering of the protagonists and all become very doleful. Sounds like a strange connection to make, but like the Tom Sharpe African novels, or 'Till Death Us Do Part, this exploits the ludicrousness of the logical results of racism. This film manages to raise awareness through fun and without any loss of dignity. It shows good in a lot of (white) people and when Octavia Spencer says to Kirsten Dunst "I know; you probably believe you do" she nails what was going on at the time and what will go on for ever. People do bad things and don't even realise they are doing it, going as far as to deny it and fully believe in their own excuses.
I never thought I'd say this, but I almost wish Apollo 13 hadn't been made so I could enjoy this film even more! (watch it, you will see what I mean).
Starring: Zac Efron, Adam DeVine, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Stephen Root
Director: Jake Szymanski
The film which, for me at last, saw several of the stars become truly established. Anna Kendrick, Zac Efron, Adam Devine and Aubrey Plaza have all done absolutely fantastic work before. Now it's like shelling peas for them. Confident post-teen slightly stoner slightly rom com packed to the gunnels with great culture references. At last - a great week at the pictures
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Vince Vaughn
Director: Mel Gibson
Woah! What a great film. OK, cheese it has a more than ample quota of, but it is a story based upon events that never goes so far over the mark as to surrender belief. And that is what this film is about, belief, faith in God.
I guess it reflects Mel Gibson's ethic, but, as a gung ho atheist myself I do not mind one bit. It is not expounding the existence of some super-natural deity (like, for instance, Gods and Kings). It is exploring the phenomenon of faith and conviction is such things - And that is demonstrably extant, across time and space and culture.
In addition to this fascinating, dare I say uncritical and perhaps unintended psychological view of Andrew Garfield's eminently endearing protagonist, it is just a darned good movie, or even darned good two or three movies. The two and a half hours flew by, being divided onto three stages, each one a critical part of the overall story, each part having some aspect of excellence, non more so that the battle scenes which are right up there in terms of their immersiveness, their absolutely ground breaking brutal detail and choreography, with Saving Private Ryan.
I think that Mel Gibson has almost made a perfect package film here, at least if you are patriotic American movie goer. (You may not like it so much if you are Japanese.
Do not expect either a damning critique of war; far from it, it expounds the glory of it.
Do not expect a tub-thumping call to jihad (or whatever it is that Christians do), it is not that
Do expect those tropes of love, family and friendship and struggle and triumph to be milked to the last drop.
And prepare yourself to accept that chivalry is real, and that faith can move mountains.
Starring: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Nina Arianda, Rebecca Ferguson
Director: Stephen Frears
As I Saw The Light was less than I expected, this was a great deal more. All the three main actors have the potential to irritate, but, just as with Philomena, is it perhaps Stephen Frears carries the some credit for a triangle of absolutely superb performances, each of the protagonists increasing endearment throughout this absolutely super film. This is what storytellers do, with the added bonus that it puts a spotlight on a fascinating person from history. The love angle is incredibly refreshing, original, counter intuitive yet deeply satisfying, and for a film which might be termed a musical, the approach to the score and songs is amazing - watch it to see what I mean. Aside from numbers in which Streep/Florence sings, all the way through I am thinking "wow, this soundtrack is outstanding". Alexander Desplat - again, wow, he is awesome
Starring: Tony Blair, George Galloway et al
Directors: Sanne van den Bergh, Greg Ward
This film managed to tackle an emotive set of related topics narrated by an exceedingly emotionally motivated person, yet retain the interest whilst fascinating the mind. Finally I am putting to bed any residual sympathy I may have had for the former Prime Minister, and though I will never completely purge the institutionalised bias I have against George Galloway in my heart (and that is most definitely my bad), my head is pretty sure that he is NOT in it for the money, and if he has any faults, lack of integrity is not one. The thing is, I don't realise quite how bad the media are (in general) when it comes to moulding public opinion, but now I have adopted Jeremy Corbyn it is truly dawning on me!. This film was as almost great an indictment of our newspapers and TV as it was of the war criminal Tony Blair. Unlike A Dangerous Game, which failed to evidence Donald Trump's failings, this film has convinced me of Tony Blair's complicity in the killing of hundreds of thousands of people, the fucking up of other countries and the support of bad guys. And it entertained me too. It's quite a gulp to take, so kudos to the makers.
Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mark O'Brien, Tzi Ma
Director: Denis Villeneuve
An absolutely ace antidote to stupid Independence Day 2. I still don't buy the ultimate premise... Actually I DO. If you are going to watch it, be patient as you will be curious as to the aliens' motives, and they are revealed later on. Amy Adams, as Louise, is kind of perfect, and I think she will get at least a nomination for this. I do hope somebody will watch this and discuss it with me. (N.b. I watched three films today, and this, at 8.51 was the worst!! I love movies)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J. K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow, Cynthia Addai-Robinson (NOT Zoe Saldana!)
Director: Gavin O'Connor
Knockout stuff, Ben Affleck is Batman in a suit with aspergers, and his perfectly timed delivery of sociability (or lack thereof), machismo and cognitive powers are, despite being eyebrow cockingly surprising, entirely seductive in the context of his universe. I WANT A SEQUEL - I like this guy. The film allowed me to think I was spotting detail that made me feel good, other members of the cast were intriguing and despite a little bit too much of the noble female sleuth the whole thing was a well entertaining slice of nuttyness which combined great action with a deal of thoughtful storytelling. ****
PS "Going to the Bens" is now my synonym for going to the cinema (i.e. 'the flicks', i.e. 'Ben Aflecks')
Starring: Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk
Director: Ron Clements, John Musker
Disney by numbers. God knows what the budget was, you have your tough little princess hero, your cute animals, your suddenly bursting into motivational songs, nothing offensive, it almost gets boring. YET IT ISN'T!! What is wrong with all that when it is done as brilliantly as this? I love the way I only recognised perhaps five names on the credits, that this team have delivered another truly spectacular animation. Honestly, when she is climbing that cliff I was clutching my balls with fear! It is not Tangled but neither is it insert any Disney animated feature from 1972 to 1988 here. You see, they have got the formula right, and I really believe that there is some ethical input going into these now. I'm not talking about the right-onism of Wall-E or The Good Dinosaur but are the suits actually saying We are doing a Pacific movie, go to the South Seas, talk to people, run with the celebration of it all? (I have no evidence to back that up, it's just a feeling). This is FUN, dare I say more than Kubo?
Starring: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Autumn Reeser, Holt McCallany, Jamey Sheridan, Jerry Ferrara
Director: Clint Eastwood
Somebody told me they watched the first ten minutes of this and got bored. Retards! This is how an 'incident' film should be put together, at 96 minutes there is little self-indulgence, it tells you what went on, what went down, more than flirts with triumph and disaster, completely endears one to the hero(s) involved, and manages, like The Wind Rises to have me rooting for one of the most immoral activities (flying) devised by man. Clint Eastwood has made a semi-documentary masterpiece in this, and a lot of people will enjoy it. Thoroughly recommended.
Starring: Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton, Jemaine Clement, Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall, Bill Hader
Director: Steven Spielberg
Thoroughly thoroughly enchanting film. Having said that, it has been pointed out that it lacks some of the edge of the book. Fortunately I'm senile and forgetful, and just marvelled at the superb CGI, and the remarkable treatment of gravity. Like it says, its a collaboration between three of the greatest storytellers the world has known so it would be hard to cock it up, and how far wrong can you go with the magnificent Mark Rylance?
Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell, Dominic West
Director: Jodie Foster
I can unreservedly recommend Money Monster. Terrific concept, superbly structured, beautifully balanced tragi-comedy. Along with the ever watchable George Clooney and Juliet Roberts, I really really hope Jack O'Connell gets what he deserves for this, a seat at the Best Supporting Actors' table along with Mark Rylance and JK Simmons. The thing is, it taps into feelings that I genuinely harbour, apart from which it genuinely had be guessing at it's direction. Was that an homage to Trailer Park Boys half way through when Kyle waves his gun through the air and shouts "Fuck Off"? Great film.
Starring: Dave Johns, Hayley Squires
Director: Ken Loach
I do not think I can praise this film and its £8 million budget enough. Without doubt this is the least feel-good film in my top 100. I hear you say "What about Schindler's List?" - Well, this is bleaker, in that Schindler's List offers some redemption for humanity where as this has got a whole lot less. Yes, there are overtly wonderful humans in it, but this is not a past which we want to decry. This is the grinding evil of now, which we all participate in, which we tolerate in 2016. Yes the scale is very different, but in a way this is broader, in that we are all a part of it. David Davis says the film takes all the very worst incidents and threads them into a single narrative, that Daniel Blake is therefore atypical, unrepresentative of his group. I would suggest the only unusual thing about Daniel Blake is that he does not bend so readily as many claimants. The civil servants can be seen in every real world office and heard on every phone line. At the end of A Street Cat Named Bob there is a moment at a book signing when a lad in the queue shouts at the protagonist "I've lived every minute of it" - A cute moment, because that lad is the actual person who the original story was about. With this film, I have not lived every minute of it - but hells bells, I recognise vast swathes of it. If anything the film cannot possibly give the real experience of waiting for an hour on the phone to be cut off when you say "fuck". The most tragic thing is that we will not do anything about it, I mean you'll go to town about some FaceBook post where I say "like a pussy", and ban me for life from a quiz league for using the term "retarded lunkhead", but really, tomorrow morning you'll be hopping in your car to splash Daniel and Haley and her kids, and if they ever have the cheek to occupy a tiny bit of your space (of which you are granted five times more than they are) you will just kill em and go "Oh, I'm so sorry, he just stepped out without warning".
A brilliant, disturbing, sometimes hilarious, film. I only wish your thoughts could be provoked enough to realise your contribution.
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Garner, Robbie Amell, Cheryl Hines, Malina Weissman, Christopher Walken
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Good at the start, and got even better, one of the most enjoyable films of the year. I think maybe you have to have a talking cat at home to actually understand this film, but if you do, and you just love Kevin Spacey, this is the film for you. It works as a comedy, it works as a story, it blindsided me beautifully, just awesome
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Rebel Wilson, Penélope Cruz, Isla Fisher, Gabourey Sidibe
Director: Louis Leterrier
Fuck Terry Wogan and Dame Judy.. Sacha Baron Cohen IS a national treasure, (as is Mark Strong), once again delivering a full on slapstick, head holding, cringingly funny, no-holds barred comedy, but most importantly, a satire with the focus of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory. I am not allowing myself to give tens anymore, until I have had some 'come-down' time to reflect. My immediate reaction was ten. I loved it, and if you have a ninth of a brain, you will love it too.
N.b. So good I watched it twice!
Starring: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Christopher Walken, Mark Benton, Keith Allen, Tim McInnerny, Jim Broadbent
Director: Dexter Fletcher
What a thoroughly enchanting film! If you don't like this you really need to loosen up a little. It takes every cliché in the book and delivers them with perfect, unassuming, shameless, confident panache. 90% of it is fiction, but it does what storytellers do. You go to the cinema to escape, and this takes you there in a glorious, fist pumping, tear wiping, you know what's coming next but that's what you want anyway, slab of true British comedy, distilling the finest aspects from every underdog story ever made.
I feel like such an idiot... Dexter Fletcher directed Sunshine On Leith. There is a pattern here!
"At these Games, some competitors have won gold, some have broken records, and some of you have even soared like an eagle."
Starring: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Michael Gambon, Jack Huston, Dolph Lundgren
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
I walked out of this film thinking that it was the best film I had seen since... Grimsby (which I watched last week). I think it may be the best 'drama' film I have seen since Birdman. I know, it's more of a comedy (the humour is spot on), it's just not an out and out comedy, in that it contains some weirdly theatrical and brilliant set pieces, along with a deeply sympathetic, super hard, incredibly efficient, admirable, loving, and all-round heroic hero in Eddie Mannix (Brolin). Coupled with the 'a lot to like' about this film, there is a 'nothing to dislike' tag. I reckon it is a real film-lovers film - it, apparently, scores poorly with audiences (especially 50+ males!). A huge cast, that as individuals would carry a lot of movies solo, a surprise every 5 minutes, and not only will Roger Deakins at last get his Oscar for this (13 nominations for cinematography), I would be very happy if the whole movie did a Grand Budapest Hotel and gets many nominations and awards come ten months hence. It will not/is not the film I will most enjoy this year. If it is the best film I see all year, I would not be surprised. Do NOT believe any review which tells you the Coen brothers are dissing their industry in any way, size, shape or form. It is a labour of love, a total, respectful, incredibly well put-together homage to a golden age, which whilst acceding to that time's many faults, fundamentally illustrates why we tell stories. Watch this and Saving Mr Banks for a bit of explanation and a load of fun.