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February 2020 Film Thread

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 Blue Straggler 03 Feb 2020

Busy/quiet weekend for me faffinf with domestic chores which means I was staying local and ended up seeing four films at the cinema to escape the drudgery of cleaning. 
And now I am busy so the longer reviews will have to wait, but I saw:

The Personal History of David Copperfield
Queen and Slim
The Rhythm Section
Bad Boys For Life

It is only February but one of the above films is already a contender for worst of the year. See if you can guess which one, and I'll answer later today!

Post edited at 11:54
 Simon Caldwell 03 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Not seen any of them but based on the trailers it ought to be The Rhythm Section.

But I expect it'll be David Copperfield because I'm looking forward to that one

 Blue Straggler 03 Feb 2020
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

It was actually the one that looks like the most worthy, most "Oscar bait" one. Queen and Slim. Just very very weak indeed. 

In reply to Blue Straggler:

I thoroughly enjoyed The Personal History of David Copperfield. Full of joie de vivre and a number of eye-catching turns from stars like Tilda Swinton as Betsy Trotwood, Ben Whishaw as Uriah Heep, Peter Capaldi as Micawber and Hugh Laurie as Mr Dick. Although you wouldn't know it from the list I've just given, the casting is in fact colour-blind - most obviously with the very good Dev Patel starring as David/Daisy/Doady/Trotwood/Davidson - and gives the movie a warm inclusive atmosphere. No doubt there are some irritated Laurence Fox-style anti-wokeness tweets out there in the gutterverse. I particularly liked all the metafictional fun as David searches not only for his true name but also his authorial voice: the opening theatrical backdrop is walked through and becomes real, he watches fascinated at his own birth, a Terry Gilliam-style hand of God/Fate/Omniscient Author breaks through the ceiling, his own scribblings pop up onto screen as he records his personal odyssey and Dora Spenlow discusses her own literary demise. My only carp is that the darkness of the novel is mainly missing, although Aneurin Barnard brings some of this to his Steerforth. But this is still a highly entertaining journey celebrating the acceptance of eccentricity and difference - a not untimely message. 7.5/10.

 Blue Straggler 03 Feb 2020
In reply to Andy Clarke:

Agree 100%. Maybe 8/10 from me. Did you spot that Dora was played by the same actress who played David’s mother? I didn’t! 

In reply to Blue Straggler:

Didn't realise till I looked up the cast in Wikipedia! Nice touch. 

 Hat Dude 04 Feb 2020
In reply to Andy Clarke:

Full marks to Armando Ianucci for bringing a freshness to a well known story, rather as Greta Gerwig did with Little Women.

In the last 3 weeks I've seen

1917 - Which I was looking forward to very much but was disappointed with.

Little Women - I wasn't expecting to particularly like this but found it very enjoyable and a well crafted film.

The Personal History of David Copperfield - Very enjoyable, the tone is set from the first minute by Dev Patel's charming performance.

 Blue Straggler 04 Feb 2020
In reply to Andy Clarke and Hat Dude:

One odd thing about David Copperfield 

Did you think the focus puller on the production of David Copperfield was drunk? I am sure it was not the projectionist at my cinema. There was a lot where pointless foreground field crops were in sharp focus while a blurry Dev Patel ran around in the background. And vice versa . It didn’t strike me as artistic intent. Not a massive problem but it was there enough to make me notice 

 MonkeyPuzzle 05 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

The Lighthouse. Oh my, what an experience. Two men begin a four-week shift on an isolated rock as lighthouse keepers, set late 1800s/early 1900s (I think). Robert Pattison (of vampire/virginity willtheydoit Twilight fame) is on his first shift and working under absolutely barnstorming Willem Dafoe's grog-drinking, shanty-singing, curse-laying salty seadog. Personality clash established, Dafoe works Pattison like a dog at all the work routines going except that only Dafoe is allowed to tend the light itself. Why? What's Dafoe doing up there alone at night? Wait, is he naked? Was that a tentacle?! Are we losing the plot?

The steam driven intensity of the engine and the relentless howl of the wind and sea, and the deafening lighthouse klaxon seems to increase by the minute, as does the intensity of the two main (only?) characters and it starts to feel like you're on a runaway train. 

Strange, I realised the next day, that I watched on Brexit day a film about being isolated on a rain-drenched rock and the descent into paranoid enmity of the 'anywhere' vs the 'somewhere', but that's only superficial. Watch it if you can. You can't take your eyes off Dafoe when he's on screen he's that good and there are some shots that will stay with you for a long long time. A classic, I reckon. 9.5/10

 Blue Straggler 05 Feb 2020
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:

Thanks. Dafoe is on such a roll these past few years! It's like he's enjoying a second career high. The Florida Project, his Oscar nomination for the van Gogh biopic "At Eternity's Gate" (which I haven't seen), being by the far the best thing in the somewhat overrated Motherless Brooklyn (it's good when he's on screen at least ) and now this. I will put the effort in to seeing it. 

edit - how could I forget his intellectual highbrow turns in John Wick and Aquaman?!

Post edited at 08:43
 MonkeyPuzzle 05 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Or Finding Nemo/Dory!

 Simon Caldwell 05 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> There was a lot where pointless foreground field crops were in sharp focus while a blurry Dev Patel ran around in the background. And vice versa 

I thought it was something to do with real/imagined and/or present/past?

Saw the film last night, and despite not being a great Dickens fan managed to thoroughly enjoy it.

A bit disappointed that Barkis went AWOL though.

 climb41 05 Feb 2020
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:

Looking forward to seeing this film. Sounds like great performances.

Made me remember that we saw The Vanishing last year, in an absolutely packed cinema in Stornoway which I’m sure added to the enjoyment of the film..though, tbh, there was a lot more violence in the film than I was expecting.  

 Hat Dude 05 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> One odd thing about David Copperfield 

> Did you think the focus puller on the production of David Copperfield was drunk? I am sure it was not the projectionist at my cinema. There was a lot where pointless foreground field crops were in sharp focus while a blurry Dev Patel ran around in the background. And vice versa . It didn’t strike me as artistic intent. Not a massive problem but it was there enough to make me notice

Can't say I really noticed this; do you not think it could have been a deliberate device to differentiate between when David was acting as the onlooking narrator and when he was directly involved in scenes?

In reply to Blue Straggler:

1917. Thought it was an absolutely outstanding piece of movie making: rivetting, shattering, moving. Very good tight script by Mendes and another writer. Technically, outrageously accomplished, particularly the cinematography by Roger Deakins (as always, but surely his best ever?) The sets and make-up, too, deserve a special mention. But perhaps the outstanding accomplishment in the film is George MacKay's performance in the lead role. One of the greatest I've seen for a very long while, and he's in it virtually non-stop for two hours. (Which feel more like 90 minutes, so tight is it.) Disappointed that he was not nominated for an Oscar. But I'm sure it'll pick up several other Oscars, and perhaps even Best Picture?

 Tom V 06 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Decided to watch "At Eternity's Gate" after your mention of it.

Some aspects of it are excellent such as the acting (not just Dafoe) but I found particular sequences of  camera work very annoying, almost a badly made home movie feel where someone forgot to remove the plastic wrapper from the lens when they unboxed it.

And the piano score had me reaching for the paracetamol at times.

 Offwidth 06 Feb 2020
In reply to Tom V:

An unusual but outstanding tale of the ills and faint hopes of some intertwining lives  in modern northern china (with some serious trauma and a 'glass well below half empty' viewpoint). Also unapologetically long, with camera work lingering on the main players and the shattered industrial location. Highly recommended for those who like epic bleak but still compellingly human drama.

An amazing directoral debut for Hu Bo, and sadly his last film.

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/an_elephant_sitting_still

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Elephant_Sitting_Still

 Padraig 06 Feb 2020
In reply to Offwidth:

I just watched this over the last two days...yes it is by far the longest film i have stuck with..

3.5 hours iirc. But you can ff the bits with no subtitles.....

 Offwidth 07 Feb 2020
In reply to Padraig:

From last night I quite enjoyed the dark black comedy cartoonish crime movie that is Lowlife (not for the squeemish!)... the lead anti-hero is unforgettable...  a masked man, destined to defend the weak, unfortunately distracted by his history and circumstances into the opposite. It has quite clever twists on how (apart from the crime boss, who is 'Ming' level evil), no one is initially who they seem.

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/lowlife_2018

Also saw Holy Motors, another memorable movie but I suspect, from being left rather mystified (in the context of all the critical acclaim), it must have rather gone over my head. It was worth the watch though, being visually splendid and the conceit of the lead character's role was certainly played with gusto. On the downside, the ending scene was so incongruous that it looked like it had been sneaked in at final editing as a kid's practical joke (unless I'm being exceedingly thick, this alone should have removed any chance of anyone regarding the film as a masterpiece)

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/holy_motors

 Padraig 07 Feb 2020
In reply to Offwidth:

Yes really enjoyed "lowlife" There were a few bits i couldn't watch tho. Classic tattoo!

Just finished watching the 1972 version of "Solaris" which is also excellent.

 Blue Straggler 08 Feb 2020
In reply to Offwidth:

Holy Motors

iirc the “finale” is all the cars talking amongst themselves. Is this correct and is this what you think should be removed? 

 Offwidth 08 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Yes. 

 Blue Straggler 08 Feb 2020
In reply to Offwidth:

You could take the view that the entire film has been inserted as a joke. I think this was Leos Carax intention, he is surely referencing his own evergreen “enfant terrible” reputation. 

 Sean Kelly 08 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Watched 1917 this week and thought it very average in  terms of storytelling or character development. I look forward to watching Black Hawk Down again next week, a much more riveting piece of film-making in this genre.

 Padraig 08 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Anyone seen "Parasite"? Touted to be a surprise Oscar winner. Going to see it tomorrow.

 HB1 08 Feb 2020
In reply to Padraig:

We saw it today. It would be a surprise to me if it was to win an Oscar. It had it's moments, but really . . . (we were reminded of the recent Japanese (?) film "Shoplifters" also a Palme d'Or winner, which had much more humanity - none of that in Parasite, more's the pity)  . . . however, enjoy (or not!)

In reply to Padraig:

Came to the thread looking for the Stragglers view. Kermode has it as near perfection. Best film of the decade.

Post edited at 22:41
 Blue Straggler 08 Feb 2020
In reply to The New NickB:

Look in the January thread, I wrote about Parasite there 

 Blue Straggler 09 Feb 2020
In reply to Sean Kelly:

I think that expecting character development in films like 1917 and Black Hawk Down is a bit harsh!

 Blue Straggler 10 Feb 2020
In reply to The New NickB:

> Best film of the decade.

Hang on. Which decade? We are barely into the sixth week of the current decade! 

 Blue Straggler 11 Feb 2020

The Personal History of David Copperfield. 

I liked this. I have never read it (nor any Dickens) nor seen any other adaptation, so I didn't know the story but I vaguely had the idea that it was a bit more "picaresque" than the more linear storytelling of Oliver Twish and Great Expectations. I was intrigued that Armando Ianucci had created this adaptation and guessed that he would mine it mostly for clever comedy. 
Others in the thread have already given positive reviews and I have little to add; I will agree with at least one poster who mentioned that the potentially distracting "multi-ethnic" casting (not only Dev Patel as the title character but also - for example - Steerforth's mother) was somehow not distracting at all; I'm not quite sure how Ianucci pulled this off but it helped that nothing was made of it, story/dialogue-wise. 
It certainly delivered on the "picaresque" front too, as I sort of remember it as a series of vignettes (I saw it 10 days ago and have seen and done a lot of stuff since then!) rather than a standard narrative with plot. 
The entire cast is great as an ensemble but I must give special mention to Ben Whishaw as Uriah Heap. Whishaw is always good, and a very versatile actor, but I think this is him at his peak. 

8/10

 Blue Straggler 11 Feb 2020

Queen and Slim. 

Appallingly wasted opportunity. This is being pushed as a social-conscience story about how race issues are still massively significant, and also as a strong and mature drama in itself. 

I try to keep my reviews spoiler-free but this one by necessity will have some minor ones, and of course I need to describe the premise itself (as, presumably, shown in trailers etc). as I don't think it's been heavily promoted. 

Premise - a contemporary young black American couple have a late night incident with a white policeman, which escalates to the point that the policeman is shot dead and the couple go on the run, and the coverage of the manhunt sparks a national awareness of race issues. Sounds like good quality serious stuff, maybe along the lines of Kathryn Bigelow's excellent "Detroit". Something to raise social awareness and also be a solid piece of "entertainment" too. 

Unfortunately, all this potential is ruined by a screenplay (both story and dialogue) which appears to be a first draft that nobody bothered to check, edit and improve. It is in fact a fine example of how a good premise, good actors, decent production values, and good cinematography, cannot rescue a bad script. 

I might as well just list a few major problems:
1) our titular protagonists are not likeable or even actually a couple - the film starts with them on a first date and instantly Queen announces she is not interested in Slim, she was just bored and fancied a night out

2) clunky exposition. For example, conveniently, Queen is a lawyer so she gets to state story-essential facts about law, in a really clumsily written way. 

3) almost contradicting point 2, annoying things are teased and not explored (e.g. Queen claims she has very little family or friends but the lack of the latter is never really discussed)

4) this is supposed to be mature and a bit gritty but the ridiculous decisions made again and again by the protagonists and some other characters, just beggar belief. They are the sort of decisions you see in badly cliched horror movies where the characters investigate the scary noises in the dark cellar, and they just don't fit into this sort of film

5) character inconsistencies. Attitudes, approaches, decisions, plans, demeanour, all lurch all over the place, sometimes between one end of a sentence and the other. 

As mentioned, some good acting and cinematography but considering what seem to have been the film's goals - to be a serious critique of ongoing issues - this is a 3/10 and frankly I'll be disappointed if I see a worse film in 2020 (mind you I plan to see "Underwater" which does look poor!)



 

 Blue Straggler 11 Feb 2020

The Rhythm Section

I went to see this with somewhat low expectations based on the trailer, a few early reviews, and the fact that hardly any of the slew of somewhat b-movie generic "gritty female agent kicks ass" non-superhero/comic-book films (from the bigger ones like Atomic Blonde(*), through "barely made it to the cinema" rubbish like Unlocked, and down to the straight-to-DVD fare that Olga Kurylenko seems to keep end up doing) have ever really delivered

* ok I am aware that Atomic Blonde is from a graphic novel series

However, I've always liked Blake Lively, I've not seen her yet in something that wasn't' at least interesting. I've not seen her in a lot (The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, The Town, Cafe Society, The Shallows, A Simple Favour, and yes the disaster that was The Green Lantern, except I didn't think it was that bad!) and Jude Law seems to be enjoying a successful "second chance" in his middle age. So I went to see this anyway. 

If you haven't seen any promotion, it's a simple premise - woman sets out to exact vigilante assassin revenge on all people involved in the death of her family. Not original, not that promising, and it's from a series of books about this character, so we know she's going to survive whatever is thrown at her in this film. 


And.....wow what a nice surprise. It was really good, for what it is. 
Screenplay by the author of the books Mark Burnell, and directed by Reed Morano who has an interesting filmography as former cinematographer who's only recently turned to directing (I haven't seen any of her work - just two feature films prior to this, one of which I am now interested in, and some television). 

I mention the writer and director because I really liked that they made this generic sounding material into something that at least credits the audience with some intelligence. 
I know I bang on about clunky expository dialogue a lot. This film has to give lots of exposition, by the very nature of its genre, but it does it really deftly, you never feel you are being spoon-fed. 
It has a neat structure, it's well shot with a mostly muted palette that really fits the tone and characters, and you properly engage with the protagonist who does have a proper character arc. All of these things particularly stood out to me because I saw this straight after seeing Queen and Slim, and of the two films, you would expect Queen and Slim to be the grown-up intelligent one, and The Rhythm Section to be throwaway fluff. 
Well, OK, The Rhythm Section maybe IS throwaway fluff, but it is throwaway fluff of the finest quality. One might guess from the casting and the book series, that they were hoping for a franchise like a female Bourne, but this has tanked badly at the box office and I think the reviews haven't been strong (apart from mine here). 
Premise in a bit more detail - our protagonist is a middle class posho from a well-to-do family who are all wiped out in a plane crash, and she hits a downward spiral, turning to heroin and prostitution. So she starts the film at rock bottom, and gets a hint that the plane crash wasn't accidental. 
Cue "film becomes Leon with an adult" as our unskilled lead enjoys an extended training montage with Jude Law as some sort of rogue independent ex-MI5 agent. Lively is great during all this, and fair play to her, she takes some punishment, training in a very cold looking Scotland. You have to suspend some disbelief that she so easily comes off heroin, but this IS a "suspend your disbelief" sort of film...to a point. 

What is really good is that it doesn't make her some sort of instant unstoppable super-agile killing machine who can beat three men all double her size. She starts off a bit crap and inept actually. This is what also made the film stand out for me. Despite its genre and premise, it's almost believable. 

Of course it ends up with the usual tropes (some new twists and reveals regarding who was really behind the crash) but honestly its sequel-bait ending is only annoying because it's clear that there won't BE any more. 

8.5/10, see it if you can (I think it is already gone from most cinemas to make way for Birds of Prey because of course you can't have two films out with tough women....)

 Blue Straggler 11 Feb 2020

Bad Boys Live Forever. 

Yes, the sort of film that I only went to see because I have a cinema pass, a cinema near my house, and I had an idle Sunday night and thought "oh go on then". 
It's 25 years since the first Bad Boys film became Michael Bay's calling card, ushering Bay in to big budget Hollywood to turn out lots of mildly obnoxious noisy hardware-porn films, but I sort of liked the first Bad Boys film despite its laboured plot device of the witness insisting that "the smooth talking one" (Will Smith) be her security and the bumbling one (Martin Lawrence) somehow having to pretend to be smooth talking a lot on the phone, or something (sorry, it's been a while!)
I never saw Bad Boys 2, wasn't interested. 
I am puzzled as to why a third one is being released 17(?) years after the first sequel. Was there public demand?

Anyway, this one played out as expected - mildly obnoxious, noisy, seems to totally rely on the audience really loving these characters and the pairing of Smith and Lawrence. But their banter seemed laboured, the plot somewhat predictable predictable, and there seemed to be zero irony in piling on the cliches (e.g. fatal wounding of kindly mentor police chief close to retirement). 
However one aspect was interesting and redeems the film, and I wonder if it is an attempt at a spinoff. 
One of the cliches of this sort of film is that the lead cop or cops want to make their own investigation and not be saddled with bureaucracy, and as a compromise, the department assigns them an additional team member and they have to get along with the new member who turns out to be more useful than they expect. Blah blah seen it all before. 

However in this one, it's a new TEAM that gets attached to them, a small sort of SWAT squad of specialists, and this team is the one that enjoys the mismatched banter both within itself and with Smith and Lawrence. I don't imagine many people reading this are really going to go and see the film so I won't detail it much but what was interesting in this boys-own testosterone flick, is that it's the female characters who carry it. Paola Nunez turns in a performance that this film really doesn't deserve, she's bloody great as the team leader and it's criminal that she is billed three places below Vanessa Hudgens (ok a bigger name and she is more than adequate as a younger team member). 
If they do do a spin-off with this lot (add a comedic Alexander Ludwig as a massively bulky IT specialist and Charles Melton as a sassy cool undercover expert) I'd be up for it. You almost get a sense of Smith and Lawrence handing the franchise over to them. 

Therefore an acceptable 5.5/10

 MJAngry 11 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Spin off has already occurred - L.A. Finest

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7555294/

Really good I thought, quite different.  Settle into it and by the end of the second episode, its all going off!

 Blue Straggler 11 Feb 2020
In reply to MJAngry:

Blimey, Jessica Alba back in a lead role in something (she's had a lot of years almost semi-retired, taking extended cameos or easy comedy roles in stuff that might not be particularly good but just maybe a bit of fun on set and a little boost to the bank balance)

 Blue Straggler 11 Feb 2020

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn 

I go to see all of these big comic-book films. DC, Marvel, whatever. I have never read any of them. 

Suicide Squad three years ago was a bit of a mess but everyone did say that Margot Robbie's terrifically committed performance as Harley Quinn was almost enough to be that film's saving grace....and so 3.5 years later here we are with a film almost entirely centred around her, and involving none of the rest of the Suicide Squad. 

The first hour of this is excellent, terrifically enjoyable and self-aware, with a clever sarcastic voiceover narration which even gets around the obvious tropes and cliches, all along the lines of  "ooh, pause here, see this cop, she talks as if she is in a bad 1980s cop drama" 
It starts with a helpful montage about Harley Quinn, presumably DC were aware that a lot of people never even saw Suicide Squad so they all need to be told her origin story again, but it is done very deftly in a cute animated pre-credits sequence, very neat and efficient. 
There doesn't seem to be much STORY in the first hour, and this worked in its favour. It's basically just a character study of Harley Quinn who basically makes The Joker (Heath Ledger version) look positively sane, normal and driven. She is essentially a delinquent punk with no mission aside from getting over splitting up with her boyfriend (The Joker, Jared Leto version, keep up at the back there!). 
Some slightly laboured plot stuff happens and soon there is a price on her head and multiple Gotham City goons and assassins are after her....cue the Birds of Prey, some other vigilante kick-ass women all with a common nemesis. 
The second half sadly starts to drag on a bit as we are forced to get involved in a rather pedestrian plotline bereft of any surprises or twists, and a downright awful performance from Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain (who in some iterations, has the alter ego Batgirl), sadly she gets quite a lot of screen time and drags down every scene she is in, I have no idea why she was cast, and it's such a shame because the rest of the female cast is strong - Jurnee Smollet-Bell who is new to me, as basically the second lead and right-hand-woman to Harley, and an old reliable favourite, Mary Elizabeth Winstead who is virtually the essential "straightwoman" in this mostly crazy ramshackle fun trifle of a film, but who also gets one of the best laughs in the culmination of a repeated minor gag. Rosie Perez rounds off the strong ensemble of women with a relatively toned-down (for anyone who remembers the Rosie Perez shrieking schtick of the early-mid 1990s) performance. 

In a universe of comic-book movies full of superpowers, huge amounts of characters and big scenes and major events threatening cataclysmic consequences, it's almost refreshing here to have a simple story based only on a bit of financial greed. It keeps things relatively grounded and small scale, and largely, nobody has any special superpowers, they are just normal humans. Sure there are there some ace fighting skills and Winstead's character is handy with a crossbow, but even Marvel's "no superpowers" Black Widow comes across as invulnerable compared to these characters. 

Back to Harley Quinn herself. She is a fascinating character - for those who don't know, she is a former psychiatrist and psychologist who took a post at Arkham Asylum and somehow fell in love with the incarcerated Joker, and lost her mind somewhat, and turned into a kind of Tank Girl crazy punk criminal alongside the Joker, with no big goals aside from just creating chaos and having fun. Basically an antihero. And Margot Robbie is absolutely outstanding in this. If you thought she was good in Suicide Squad, well here she turns it up to 11. I don't know if one can describe a role in such a film as "bold" but I will. She is fearless and committed, and regardless of how much effects work and stunt doubling there might have been, her physical presence is astonishing - the action scenes in this film seem so much more involving than in some of the bigger films of the genre, probably because it is smaller scale and all feels a bit more real. Robbie really throws herself into this stuff, literally.  It suffers from the usual problem of a too-big-and-messy big melee toward the end, but I challenge anyone not to buy into (for example) the evidence-room fight scene, or Harley on roller boots towed behind a motorbike in pursuit of a villain's car. 

All that said, it does drag in the second half, Basco is awful, and Ewan McGregor is his usual bland self, not so much his fault but the villain he plays is written quite blandly....so in the end it's a "Birds of Meh" 6.5/10. It is also a bit let down by an unnecessary bit where one character in this otherwise grounded film, does turn out to have a special power. That was just jarring. Worth a watch just for Robbie, but also Smollet-Bell, Winstead, Perez, Chris Messina as the main henchman, the colours and brightness and sheer fun of it all in the first half, and a fun soundtrack. It's interesting that the major crew on this was even more female-heavy than on some other films which were hyped partly around their female crew: Captain Marvel (co-written and co-directed by a male-female team) and Wonder Woman (directed by a woman, written entirely by men). Going off official credits, Birds of Prey is directed by Cathy Yan and written by Christina Hodson, and the credited producers are two women (Sue Kroll and Margot Robbie) and one man (Brian Unkleless). Whether that is significant, I don't know. 

Post edited at 22:29
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:

> The Lighthouse. Oh my, what an experience...Was that a tentacle?! Are we losing the plot?

Crikey, that was a helluva ride. Never mind the tentacle, were those a mermaid's genitalia? Nothing much to add, except to say I thought the black and white cinematography was superb and the square format worked beautifully. Going for a long lie down now.

 Blue Straggler 15 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Second viewing of Parasite. Everything I said in my first review, totally applies. 

 Blue Straggler 17 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Underwater (2017? 2019? 2020?)

Saw this on Wednesday. This was produced in 2017 but for whatever reason, it has been repeatedly shelved. 
Premise. Deep sea undewater oil drilling rig. 6 miles deep. 
Structure is massively compromised by what at first seems to be an earthquake. Very few survivors, and the rig is still collapsing so they need to evacuate and reach another structure which may have surface escape pods. 
Evacuate by walking across the seabed in closed-circuit hard suits. 
While being attacked by undersea aliens, and inevitably getting picked off one by one. 
So it's basically a rehash of loads of alien/monster/survival-in-hostile-environment/underwater films, plus a bit of "Gravity"

As such, it is kind of tricky to review, as it doesn't particularly do anything "wrong" aside from a few expected logic holes and inconsistencies regarding the hardware, which I am slightly willing to overlook in this sort of film. 

It's interesting that it is shot really murkily, I assume this was artistic intent rather than "save some budget by not showing much", as it plays into the story (they can barely see where they are going). 

Kristen Stewart is her usual reliable self (I am a fan, she takes far too much flak for the crime of having done the Twilight franchise), and Vincent Cassel is really good in this. 
It didn't offer much theorising about the aliens, nor much character development, as it wisely stuck to a short 90 minute running time. 

But on the whole, there was not much satisfaction or enjoyment so it gets a soggy 5.5/10

 Padraig 17 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

"The vanishing of Sidney Hall". Watched this last night and was VERY impressed.  Was gonna give it a miss but glad i didn't!

 Mike Stretford 17 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> Second viewing of Parasite. Everything I said in my first review, totally applies. 

I don't see many films on release, but went to see Parasite because friends were going. It was ok but if that really is the best film of 2019 then it's true what some say... telly is now better than the cinema.

 Blue Straggler 17 Feb 2020
In reply to Mike Stretford:

It wasn’t the best film of 2019 in my opinion 

 Offwidth 20 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom: a hilarious and optimistic fairy tale of adolescent love in the context of failed adult love.  Sumptuous almost painter-like staging and cinematography. I should imagine the stylised dialogue wouldn't be for everyone but it just added to the comedy for me. Pitch perfect from the two young leads and a stellar support cast. A must for anyone who has ever been in an organisation like the scouts when teen hormones were starting to kick in?

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/moonrise_kingdom

 Blue Straggler 20 Feb 2020
In reply to Offwidth:

I just don’t click with Wes Anderson 

 Mike Stretford 20 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> It wasn’t the best film of 2019 in my opinion 

I saw that, I was commenting on the Oscars. What was the best film of 2019?

 Mark Edwards 20 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Sonic the Hedgehog (its half term and I’m trying to keep my 7 year old grandson entertained)

I saw the reviews earlier in the year so wasn’t expecting much, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. The one big disappointment was Jim Carrey. Normally he brings a certain zany something to all of his characters but this one seemed lacking. Perhaps it was the script but that certain Carreyness just wasn’t up to his usual standard, but not a bad performance. Also with kids films there are normally some nods to the adults in the audience (the Ice Age films are a good example) but again sadly missing. But other than those points not too bad and the adult leads were quite good.

My companion on the other hand obviously loved it and claims it’s the best film he has ever seen.

Target audience 10/10, their minders 6/10.

 Blue Straggler 20 Feb 2020
In reply to Mark Edwards:

I was really surprised to see Carrey’s name and face on the poster! He’s famously had a sort of spiritual awakening, and huge personality change. I think he (independently) followed Jay Roach’s lead (Jay directed the Ace Ventura films) and literally gave away huge amounts of his worldly goods. I assumed that also meant turning his back on movie making! Nope! 
 

as for Sonic....I don’t have kids and didn’t know Sonic was still “a thing”. I know Nintendo keep Mario going but didn’t know if kids knew Sonic! 

 Blue Straggler 20 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

quick one for now - Autumn de Wilde’s new adaptation of Emma was an absolute delight, far better than expected and frankly far better than it had any right to BE! 

 aln 21 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

In the last wee while on DVD - The complete Harry Potter, Knowing, Moon, Another Day In Paradise, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers.

 Blue Straggler 21 Feb 2020
In reply to aln:

Another Day in Paradise starring James Woods, Melanie Griffith, Vincent Kartheiser and Natasha Gregson Wagner? Peculiar little film, I kind of liked it. One of the most effective overdose scenes I’ve seen, is buried in this obscurity 

 Offwidth 21 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

"Exasperatingly supercilious and smug - unfocused, self-consciously cute, nostalgic and empathetic, but never properly funny. It feels like someone else's long therapy session."

Hey I can join you and completely disagree with a Peter Bradshaw review.

I thought this was a fairly natural portrait of an unusual extended 'family' set nicely in the context of the times.  Not a great movie but very well acted and well worth the time spent.

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/20th_century_women

In reply to Blue Straggler:

> Hang on. Which decade? We are barely into the sixth week of the current decade! 

I may have been misquoting Kermode slightly, I very much got the impression that he thought it was the best film he had seen in the last 10 years.

 Blue Straggler 21 Feb 2020
In reply to Offwidth:

Gerwig deserved an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for that .

Having said that, I tried several times recently to watch it a second time at home and just could not get into it! 

Post edited at 20:45
 aln 21 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

That's the one. Lou Diamond Philips is also in it (whatever happened to him?), although he has a small part. I liked it too, Wood is always watchable. It says on the box if you liked True Romance you'll like it. It's not as good as TR, but worth a watch if you like films about low life's. It doesn't actually show the overdose, just the aftermath, but I know what you mean, it was definitely affecting. Unfortunately the rest of the drug use seemed a bit unrealistic, particularly when Griffith injects heroin in the changing room at a clothes shop and it appears to have zero effect on her.

 Blue Straggler 21 Feb 2020
In reply to aln:

The bit where James Woods is repeatedly gently smacking Kartheiser’s head in a deliberately irritating way, is great 

 Tom V 21 Feb 2020
In reply to aln:

>  Lou Diamond Philips is also in it (whatever happened to him?),

Among other things he became the rather sanctimonious Henry Standing Bear in the TV series Longmire.

 DaveHK 22 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Did anyone else think Parasite was like a feature length, Korean version of Inside No.9?!

 Offwidth 22 Feb 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

Two from last night's catch-up movies.

Firstly,  Theeb, a bleak but beautiful tale of a beduoin boy who tags along with his older brother, guiding an English soldier across the desert in WW1. A massive bonus for climbers is much of the movie is situated in Wadi Rum.

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/theeb

Even more bleak was Leviathan which distils Russian pessimism into an art form. It weaves a tale, explicitly linked to the Book of Job (and apparently to Hobbes) of a good man blighted at every turn by corrupt officials, and eventually his friends and even his family. Inspired by an American citizen who was driven crazy by his travails and drove a tank on a trail of destruction in his local town. This movie is excellent but I was more than somewhat surprised by the superlative level of it's critical acclaim.... and so smiled at the freudian typo on rt.

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/leviafan

 Blue Straggler 23 Feb 2020
In reply to Offwidth:

Leviafan is almost a Mondegreen 

 Offwidth 23 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Finally got round to watch Manchester by the Sea.  An amazing directoral construction; dealing with tragedy in a clever and sympathetic but honest way,  revealing the depth in this case only as the shattered lead character is forced to face it. Surprisingly funny at times.  The acting, cinematography and soundtrack all add to the quality of the art.

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/manchester_by_the_sea

 Blue Straggler 23 Feb 2020
In reply to Offwidth:

Nice one. Take a guess as to how many minutes of screen time Michelle Williams had 

 Offwidth 23 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

You mean in scenes as opposed to the main focus in scenes? I'd guess 5 or less and no more than 2 as the focus??

 Blue Straggler 23 Feb 2020
In reply to Offwidth:

Really?

its a bit more than that

eleven 

most people think 20-25 

her “big speech” scene is about three minutes

Post edited at 18:24
 Blue Straggler 23 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Emma. (2020)

Context, I have never read Emma or any Jane Austen novel. I saw the mid 1990s film starring Gwyneth Paltrow and I am big fan of its contemporary update “Clueless”. I know the general story and that the the titular character is often seen as rather unlikeable and therefore quite a challenge to portray on screen.

I didn’t expect much from this new adaptation written by newcomer Eleanor Catton and directed by first-time feature director Autumn de Wilde (from a background of glossy cool indie videos for the likes of Rilo Kiley)

It was mainly the lead casting that interested me. Anya Taylor-Joy is rarely less than intriguing, and British musician/actor Johnny Flynn has proved his acting ability several times, and they both ooze charm in different ways.

And to my great and pleasant surprise, this was excellent. 
 
Taylor-Joy does manage to make the haughty meddlesome spoiled Emma Woodhouse into a likeable character who grows and develops. Flynn, although possibly looking a bit too stylishly dishevelled for a man of Knightley’s standing, has the right level of sneering yet benevolent aloofness and judgment, especially with his “mentoring” of Emma. The rest of the ensemble are great. It is easy to scoff at Miranda Hart and Bill Nighy somewhat rehashing their popular screen personas here but in this case they fit the characters really well.

I was concerned at the 125 minute running time but honestly there is barely a wasted moment here , with Catton and De Wilde and their talented cast and crew weaving wit and wonder into so many scenes, without particularly trying to make anything contemporary or revisionist or to “over-sex” anything. The pacing is spot on eg stretching the pontifications of the ever-boring Miss Bates, wittering on about her superwoman niece Jane Fairfax, almost to breaking point so we can feel the characters cringing.

The film is like a lot of very positive contradictions. Classic period stuff yet it DOES somehow have a modern feel and energy to it. Chaste yet at times sexy. Comedic yet at the same time offering a subtle judgement of what is basically an entire cast of privileged toffs.

A strong 9/10. Would have been higher if there had been occasional caption reminders of who was who, what their relationships were, and where they lived relative to each other.

I mentioned that the ensemble support is very good but I’ll give special mention to another youngish actress who is generally also in interesting stuff. Mia Goth playing Harriet Smith. Brilliant. I couldn’t help thinking of the late Brittany Murphy I’m Clueless (playing Tai, the contemporary version) and there is surely no way this wasn’t deliberate .

And a final note for the unsuspecting. Don’t be distracted by the fact that Jane Fairfax looks like she is being played by some CGI de-aged Rachel Weisz (who is about 48 but admittedly could pass for 34-5 still). It is a different actress who bears a striking resemblance to her!

 Blue Straggler 23 Feb 2020
In reply to aln:

> . It doesn't actually show the overdose, just the aftermath, but I know what you mean, it was definitely affecting. 

 

Maybe I meant the bit before the OD when she is snuggling around the carpet desperate to find some dregs.

Wagner hasn’t really done much on screen but if you thought she was any good in this, I recommend “Two Girls and a Guy” whose title sounds like horrendous rom com stuff but it’s actually a good piece of filmed “theatre” (filmed as a film but it’s just three characters in one confined location) and a lot of it feels improvised dialogue, certainly Robert Downey Jr, and large parts of Gregson Wagner, maybe less so for Heather Graham. It’s a dark relationship comedy-drama, no classic but certainly a worthwhile curiosity . Downey Jr is at the top of his game in his “wayward period” and Gregson Wagner gives as good as she gets 

 Blue Straggler 24 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Snuffling , not snuggling 

 Tom V 24 Feb 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Calibre. (Netflix)

Pretty good Scottish thriller about a stalking trip going badly wrong

 Offwidth 26 Feb 2020
In reply to Tom V:

Andrei Rublev... a proper Russian epic from the Russian master Tarkovsky: heavily censored originally and subsequently remade; over 3 hours long.  The main protaganist is a medieval icon painter in a medieval Russia beset by war, raids, famine and plague. The film contemplates and celebrates the artistic achievements of the time, despite the troubled circumstances, and how they helped form Russian identity. 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrei_Rublev_(film)

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/andrei_rublev

 Padraig 26 Feb 2020
In reply to Offwidth:

Watched this couple nights ago and thought it was excellent. The acting  was incredible. I particularly liked the bell section.


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