Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Watch List January & February


The Gentlemen
Ever wondered what made Guy Ritchie the director he is? Some would argue that he's made some terrible films (Revolver, King Arthur) and some truely amazing films (Lock, Stock..., Snatch, RocknRolla) and when he's stepped out of his comfort zones, mixed reviews (Aladdin). But Ritchie is a creature of habbit. He is at his best in London making up stories about gangsters. That's literally what this is mixed in with a scandal. It's pure Brit grit classic gangster shenanigans with a witty script and even better weird characters that inhabit the grim ends of London. I enjoyed it for what it was but I think a lot of people were underwhelmed by Ritche's latest, saying it was the same old same old. True, it is. But its what he does best and I can appreciate him at his best. 3/5

Hustlers
Can't believe I overlooked this film when it first came out... and here I am dedicating an entire post to it. HERE.4/5

The Personal History of David Copperfield
Not my favourite Dickens as it is very depressing, however the amazing cast assembled was too good to miss and I was not disappointed. David goes from loved son to outcast to loved nephew to gentleman to poor man to author and its all mapped out through the eccentric characters he meets, collecting scraps of paper to remember each person and their mannerisms. Very funny and depressing as hell in places, but its as expected as it is Dickens. But this is one of the best adaptaions I've seen of his works. 4/5

Queen & Slim
Starts out like other films but takes the 'lovers on the run' genre trope and twists it on the head. Two fantastic characters in an extraordinary situation with only one way to end. Topical and socially adept, a brilliant film that I hope stretches as far as the characters in the film reach.  4/5

Weathering With You
Made by the creators of 'Your Name' so I knew I'd love it. The animation is beautiful, with dahses of fantasty one minutes and crashing reality on the streets of the city the next. Ultimately a heart warming and wrenching story at the same time throughout. The dramatics teenagers are going through is heightened to the skies when runaway Hodaka Morishima meets Hina Amano, a weather maiden who can stop the rain and pray for the sunshine. The story and the characters are even set in the same world as 'Your Name' characters but the film doesn't quite have the emotional punch the previous film had but its still a wonderfully animated film complete with indie rock soundtrack to keep you in the mood. 3/5

Parasite
Truely worthy of being the film to make Oscar history and be internationally celebrated. Without giving away the story, a family living in a basement level flat in poverty, trying to secure minimal paying jobs, work their way into a wealthy family's home. But even this small, reasonable ideal can come with a heavy price. There is so much subtext, with twists and shocks to keep you transfixed on the screen. A thriller with few thrills, a horror story with little blood and a drama that is subtle where it counts, its a fantastic film. As above, so below. 5/5

Birds of Prey
Absolutely loved this film. Far better than the other films in the DC cannon. Fun, funny and emotional. Plus now all I want is to find a sandwich that would be good enough for Harley Quin to nearly die for.  I wrote about the film in a bit more detail HERE in case you'd like to know more. 4/5

Ready or Not
The concept for this horror-esque thriller is brilliant and yet so simple. When Grace marries into the Le Domas, on her wedding night she has to pick a card to determine what game she plays to initiate her into the family. But instead they try to kill her. Its brilliant. These sort of things only happen with ridiculously wealthy people and usually Americans, lets face it. Its chilling but somehow fun at the same time along with a few laughs. Grace, is also refreshingly normal. She reacts the same way anyone would in her position, even punching a kid in the face (he deserves it, watch the film). Fun and games and the occult. 4/5

Greed
Steve Coogan playing a billionaire arsehole, its very dark, very funny and my gad does it have a gut punch third act. My full review will be over on Vulturehound HERE. 4/5

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Portrait of a Lady on Fire - BFI London Film Festival


This was one of the films that I saved from LFF because I wanted to take my time over it as I felt rushed at the time. Well it took so long to ponder over the impossibly beautiful coast, sky and sea as well as the superb women that take centre stage that the film was to be released on the perfect day, Valentines.

My full review can be read over at Vulturehound HERE.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Birds of Prey (and the ridiculous judgement of female led films)


 When it was announced that there would be a sequel to Suicide Squad, most were deterred as this possiblely meant that we'd have to sit through a 2 hour film where Jared Leto method acts again but luckily that was squashed. A film about Harley Quin on the other hand would be new, fresh and a rare things amoungst the male dominated superhero genre. With only 'Wonder Woman' to date carrying the would be DC comic franchise, holding the torch for female fronted films of this nature, DC really needed to step up. Especially as all they had to offer was a sequel. Suicide Squad could boast three female heroines/villains in their line up; (not including Amanda Waller) Enchantress (killed off), Katana (deserved better, maybe more screen time?) and Harley Quinn (dressed in very overly sexual outfits throughout). So, it was time for something extra and something more than what was offered.

Enter Margo Robbie, not just as Quinn, but as one of the producers of 'Birds of Prey', also enter Cathy Yan, director. Although not as seasoned as previous choices for previous films, she's has a smart wit and hell, she was ready for a challenge, so it seemed. BUT seeing Birds of Prey as a 'challenge' just meant that, male directors either weren't interested or weren't approached. I hoping it was the latter. Yan is fantastic. She's created a superhero genre film that not only fits into the greater universe in big and small ways but it also extends past the stereotypical genre expectations. There are plenty of jokes about the 80s cop dramas but that's really what it is. Its a crime drama with a superhero comicbook flare that works so darn well, its immensely pleasing to see such a great blend. Not only does it sound and look amazing but the fact that there are five characters' stories woven into the story and doesn't become convoluted, or confuse or infuriate, it is a smooth and ridiculously fun ride from start to finish. I honestly cannot point out anything that is not needed or doesn't feel right and I'm not Robbie's biggest fan. But she is fantastic in this. The title does only make sense by the end (but who cares, plenty of other films do the same) and the rest of the title, that is played out to perfection, again, without being overbearing in anyway. Screen time is even shared out equally between characters. This brings me to my confusion as to why the film is hated by some audiences. And sorry but the evidence is damning, it is mostly guys.

From what I've read, women either don't care enough to get into a fight about this or they LOVE the film. But the guys, they hate it, not with passion, but with pathetic generalisations. From the tweets saying Huntress doesn't look hot enough, from the box office reporting that this is worst DC has had ever (really? want to check the BOR for Suicide Squad? or Green Lantern? No?) Other films that were actually terrible such as.... well any other DC film apart from Wonder Woman were panned by everyone, not just critics, yet more films were still made. It seems the bar was set ever so much higher for a female led film. This ridiculous behaviour was happening in 2016 and its just getting worse. There's actually a moment in the film where Quinn is trying to guess why she has annoyed Black Mask and one of the guesses is just because she has a vagina. I think with that she knew why guys didn't or wouldn't like the film.



With the film now getting a crap name change because the great title is not good enough and people are too dumb to recognise actors, feels like another nail in the coffin that is equality. BOR rule the cinemas, but the fact that the film made a big profit doesn't seem to enter anyone's minds. If it didn't hit the highest bar there is, its no good. Female led films are not a niche element to a film, its just part of it. Hell, I even still have to tag my posts if there are female filmmakers attached. I really don't understand why guys don't like watching films with female leads, especally when they aren't dressed in a hideous male gaze wanting outfit, I really don't get the guys who say female fronted films are just bad when they aren't. The worst films made in history were made by men, but no one wants to talk about that. Women have to work twice as hard that men for recognition, not an opinion, that's an actual fact.

Its only February and Birds of Prey is definitely going to be one of the best films of the year by the end but some male dominated crud will come out and 'top' it, but won't in fact top it. If you haven't seen it yet, go watch it, see for yourself what a film made by a brilliant director, starring five fantastic actors with a story that is both thrilling and satisfying really looks like.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Above and Below



Like many of you, I have not been lucky enough to see 'Parasite' yet. This week, thankfully, the wait is over. But just before we enter one of the most talked about films of last year and this year (so far) let us delve deep into the mind of Bong Joon-ho and see what lies beneath. In other words, lets go back and watch his previous films an revel in his fantastic genre twisting storytelling.

I wrote (at length) for Zavvi and the full post can be read HERE.

Why Jojo Rabbit should win Best Picture


Part of Zavvi's blog leading up to the Oscars, each film critic backs one of the nominees and the horse that ran out of the gate was 'Jojo Rabbit' by a mile, in my opinion. Its a black comedy war film where director Taika Waititi also plays Hitler, that's all you really need to be a winner. But if you want to know more about why I think this film deserves the 'top prize', head over to HERE.


Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Not Just About Strippers Robbing Rich Guys...



 I’ve been quite preoccupied lately but I did manage to see a film that was talked about, praised and of course then over looked by most. I now completely understand the hype and delight surrounding ‘Hustlers’.

Looking back, I think I just over looked the film as all I saw was a poster of strippers. No context, just well-known faces playing strippers and the colours were all neon pink and purple. The buzz started on Twitter, as most things do, then it elevated to high praise quite quickly. This wasn’t just ‘some run of the mill stripper film’. This was based on a true story about how a group of strippers had fleeced quite a few wealthy disgusting men after the financial meltdown of 2008. But the film was even more than that, it was about friendship and close bonds forged and shattered. It was about finding your tribe and surviving through the worst times together as well as celebrating the best of times. It was NOT just any film.

Based on an article that was published in 2015 written by Jessica Pressler about a group of strippers who had drugged men and stolen their money. Of course, any true story that begins this way is going to grab people’s attention. It’s a fantastic story but the film has been given another edge, it’s about friendship. I avoided saying ‘female’ friendship as gender doesn’t need to be stated. Given the Robin Hood angle as these women were stealing from wealthy men, mostly disgusting men, drugging them so they wouldn’t remember and taking what they believed they were owed or rather earned. The women are given space in the story to talk and aren’t just pretty objects to be admired. They talk about the job, making a living, surviving. They have dreams, modest even, but the best part of the story isn’t the crimes their committed, is the central characters relationship between Destiny and Ramona. Key players in the article that caught the attention of many.

Without going in to great detail as this film should be watched with fresh eyes if you haven’t seen it, the film is a mix of black comedy, crime drama and female empowerment. This, much like the drug the women cook up, is a dangerous concoction that could easily be written off as weak crime thriller fodder but in the right hands, director/writer Lorene Scafaria to be exact, the film is effortless, brilliantly acted and doesn’t turn down a dark hole of hate. The love and respect between Ramon and Destiny, even til the end, is genuine. Why aren’t there more films like this?

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Watch List December


The leftovers from 2019...

Hail Satan?
 Who'd have thought that a documentart about a religion would grab my attention and even make me think twice about religion on the whole? I was surprised at how straight forward the story of the Satanic Temple was. On the surface it looks like its a group of satan worshipers who to put a statue representing their beliefs next to the 10 Commandments statue outside a courthouse BUT in fact is actually a fantastic positive group of people who came together to form the temple. They stand for all the things that those Bible bashers claim to be but aren't. As someone who was brought up Catholic, now not, I know exactly what those 'Christians' are like, maybe not to the extreme that the Americans are but I know them. Thought provoking and brilliantly told story. Hopefully the separation of Church and State will be realised, soon. 4/5

Little Women
SPOILERS
Honestly, I was very disappointed when I heard that this was to be Greta Gerwig's next feature. I haven't enjoyed the previous adaptations I've seen, I don't really like the story but I do love the characters. My main problem is that I can't understand why Jo and Laurie don't get together, not married, just not to together. His 'romance' with Amy is literally just filling the void and in any version I've seen, its always going to be like that. Anyway....I loved this film. It was full of passion, creativity, Laura Dern and four brilliant sisters. Each were given a story, each was given a personality and each were fierce and brave in their own way. I was most pleased that Beth was given the heart of the story with just a few simple exchanges and her piano playing. A fantastic film that changed my mind about the story on the whole BUT still think Jo and Laurie would have been better suited, but thats just me. 4/5

Uncut Gems

Lots of screaming, lots of yelling, lots of money, not that many gems. My full review is over at Vulturehound HERE. 3/5

Frozen 2

Unlike the truly terrible (apart from Olaf) Frozen from yesteryear, this is a rare occurance. This Disney sequel is far better, still flawed, than the first. Great songs (can't remember them really) and finally Jonathan Groff stops talking like his reindeer and is given a song and its hilarious. There's an amazing water horse spirit thing and an enchanted forest, plus the cutest little fire lizard. The highlights come from Olaf who recaps the entire first film which is, again, hilarious as well as dropping inspirational and terrifying instagram quotes all over the place. It really was so much better and there's even barely any rock troll moments!! But the entire story is flawed and alot of what Elsa has to do it a bit obvious. But who cares! There's a cute fire demon thing in it! 3/5

6 Underground
I'm not a Michael Bay fan, at all but this cast was too good to ignore. And that is exactly what it is, a fantastic cast who deserved a whole better. The concept is borrowed and twisted and not in a good way. But the characters really do save this piece of high budget trash. Ryan Reynolds wants a franchise but the only way it could work is if he took the reins and made it better, like he did with Deadpool. 3/5

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

For the full experience, please read HERE.  3/5