Another monthly round up from one of our members Robin!
April is almost over and it’s been a good month for film viewing. The years 2014 continues to be a great year for cinema trips and an awful year for comedy viewing. This month I’ve got a top 6 and a bottom 6 as I saw enough films to divide it in that way. I would recommend all of the films in the top 6 but as for numbers 1-5 in the bottom list… nah! Without further ado let’s get started. Honourable mention: Adam, a touching and well written romantic comedy with a difference. It’s underrated and a really nice movie.
6 that rocked:
6. Locke: 8/10 one man in a car driving down the M6 talking on his phone. Sounds boring right? Not so. Tom Hardy plays the construction worker who is trying to solve personal and professional problems on his phone while driving. Although it feels abrupt at times, this is an excellent drama film. Tom Hardy has never been better and he plays an ordinary man brilliantly aided by a great voice cast. Writer/director Steven Knight does a good job, creating a deeply moving script and directing the film effectively. Definitely worth a look. File this under Watch it now.
5. Rush: 8/10 this excellent sports film depicts the rivalry between 2 brilliant though deeply flawed racing drivers. It is based on a true story. Thankfully you don’t have to like car racing (Since it’s one of the most tedious sports around) to appreciate this. Despite its occasional detours into more generic territory, the film is a slick, intelligent and high-octane thrill machine with exhilarating editing and deft performances. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl are great as the 2 racing drivers. What is most impressive is that 2 deeply flawed characters are made human and relatable by the acting and writing, and the final result is utterly thrilling and emotionally involving. File this under Watch even if you don’t like F1.
4. My Neighbour Totoro: 8/10 if you’re looking for good animated films, don’t waste your time on the rubbish that DreamWorks makes (When’s the last time they made a memorable film seriously?) and either watch Disney, Pixar or Studio Ghibli. Ghibli is a Japanese studio which produces beautiful and memorable anime films, such as the dazzling Princess Mononoke or the truly magical Spirited Away, and they deserve your attention. This film, about 2 girls who befriend forest spirits is a very slightly weaker effort due to its short length and slight lack of substance but it’s still filled with dazzling visuals, enchanting surreal sequences and a sense of wonder not found in many kids movies. File this under Watch urgently.
3. Captain America The Winter Soldier: 9/10 the latest instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the exception of Iron Man 2, all of the films have been good with the Avengers Assemble being the standout. This is easily the best standalone film. One of the best sequels I’ve seen? Maybe. This follows Captain America as he tries to adjust to life in the modern world and deals with a new threat. As usual, it delivers on the visually stunning and adrenaline pumping thrills, but delivers a lot more. It’s very suspenseful, excellently written, surprisingly political and very well acted and the result is a great superhero movie filled with character, suspense, humanity and appeal for non Marvel fans. File this under Watch even if you’re not a Marvel fan.
2. Children Of Men: 10/10 this exceptional Sci-fi masterpiece sadly didn’t do well at the box office and was only nominated for 3 Oscars even though it’s very close to perfect. In 2027, humans have become infertile and Clive Owen is helping a mysteriously pregnant refugee escape the country. It’s even better than Gravity (This is an earlier Alfonso Cuaron film) and the film is engaging and brilliant from the first moment. Every single actor is at the top of their game, the screenplay is haunting and brilliant and the direction is fantastic, with Cuaron filming with a load of terribly effective long takes including a fantastic final battle and a brilliant long take inside a car. Thrilling, powerful and utterly riveting. File this under Watch. It. Now.
And the best is…
1. The Godfather: 10/10 it couldn’t have been anything else. This masterpiece of cinema focusses on a crime family and one of the sons who initially doesn’t want to be a gangster becoming more and more involved in it. There is nothing wrong with this. Seriously. It’s 3 hours long and the pace is slow but it draws you in. The actors (Marlon Brando, Al Pacino among others) are exceptional and the screenplay and story and powerful, brilliantly written and filled with a load of quiet scenes with exceptional dialogue, and then shocking and riveting bursts of violence. Francis Ford Coppola directs to perfection, and it is actually better than Citizen Kane. The only negative thing was that it made the memory of seeing Al Pacino humiliate himself in Jack and Jill even more painful. File this under Watch, treasure and preserve for years to come.
Now for the 6 I disliked:
6. Pan’s Labyrinth: 5/10 let me explain. We all have films which we consider overrated and this was one of them for me sadly. It’s about a girl retreating into a fantasy world while staying with her vile stepfather in 1940s Spain during the war. It has plenty of good things. The performances are all very good, with the stepfather proving an especially horrifying villain. There are some very powerful moments especially towards the end and the special effects are pretty good. But I found the tonal shifts from the real to the fantasy world jarring. The fantasy part of the film (Where the girl must complete 3 tasks) is actually very dull and the tasks are unimaginative. Plus, I found the direction a bit ordinary and the cinematography very routine. I will give this a second viewing to see if I misunderstood the film, but I only saw it as an Ok but not great fairy tale which happens to be full of an excess of totally unnecessary violence. File this under Watch without listening to the hype.
5. Sharknado: 1/10 this one is difficult to review as they knew they were making a bad film. A waterspout picks up loads of sharks and strikes Los Angeles, with a small group of people trying to stop the sharknado. The direction makes Michael Bay look like Alfred Hitchcock, the editing is all over the place, the sharks look like cartoons from Cbeebies, the premise is the stupidest thing you’ll ever hear and the actors make the cast of Twilight look like the cast of the godfather, with a script so bad listening to it is a bit painful. Still, that was the point. It’s enjoyable up to a point, but only for some viewers. It’s unintentionally funny but not that funny. File this under Watch for a laugh.
4. Would You Rather: 5/10 I doubt you’ve even heard of this. This is a horror film (On Netflix’s awful horror film selection) about 8 people trapped at a dinner party in a deadly game of would you rather trying to win money. It’s undeniably shocking, with some genuinely disturbing moments. The performances are surprisingly good and there are tense moments, but the film is also repetitive, blandly filmed, ugly and unimaginative. It has an effect on you and it shocks you but you may also feel ‘What was the point of that?’. It’s an acquired taste and shows an admirable restraint on gore but the truth is, if you want to see a good horror film on Netflix watch Carrie instead. File this under For genre fans only.
3. Pacific Rim: 4/10 this wildly unimaginative blockbuster has a bunch of humans controlling robots fighting Godzilla like aliens that come out of the ocean. That’s pretty much all there is to it. The visuals are stunning, with an interesting colour choice and an awe-inspiring fight sequence in the middle. But the truth is the film is so cartoony it’s surprising it wasn’t a 2 hour Cartoon Network special. The script is weak, the acting is dull and it’s not even that much fun, especially since there’s almost an hour between the first and second action scenes and the film tries to engage us with these boring one-dimensional characters. Those who saw this in the cinema will probably rate it higher. File this under Watch only on a big screen.
2. Grown Ups: 1/10 in this Sandler comedy vehicle, 5 men, played by a bunch of comedy veterans, reunite after 30 years and go to a lake house after their former basketball coach dies and act immature. That’s it. No seriously, that is it. No substance, no structure, no character development and no conclusion. Just 5 repulsive men who are being sexist, immature or annoying (Often at the same time) throughout the whole thing messing about. With a couple of laughs, it’s better than Jack And Jill but it’s pretty darn shocking. All 5 of the comedy stars (Kevin James especially) are awful while Dennis Dugan proves himself once again a thoroughly unimaginative director. The true blame lies at the feet on screenwriters Adam Sandler and Fred Wolf, who drag us through an endless stream of lazy and unfunny jokes with the mentality of a 3-year-old. Oh ha ha! An old lady keeps farting! Kevin James is swinging into a tree! The men are all peeing in the pool (That’s it)! The grown ups are being sexist! Funny right? NO! Wolf and Sandler sadly couldn’t comprehend that what they were writing was as funny as 12 Years A Slave. It naturally made $271 million worldwide. File this under burn immediately.
And the worst is…
1. The Devil Inside: 0/10 in this found footage horror turkey a woman goes to Italy and becomes involved in a bunch of unauthorized exorcisms. The found footage genre, popularized by overrated films like The Blair Witch Project (Which is still scary today for about 5 minutes) and the actually awful Paranormal Activity. Now, we reach the space below the bottom of the barrel with this: An insultingly lazy, utterly moronic and truly scare free bomb. Blander than Twilight, lazier than Little Fockers, less engaging than The Last Airbender and less scary than an episode of In The Night Garden, this is the perfect piece of evidence for opposers of bad found footage horror. It’s acted appallingly and dreadfully written. Shaky cam, washed out shots of slightly creepy buildings, mildly creepy nuns, possessed women doing gymnastics, a whole load of annoying screaming and boring characters talking about demons are always scary right? Er no! This mortifying, hopeless and completely scare free film is a disgrace to the genre. Watch an episode of Thomas The Tank Engine as that’s scarier than this movie. The direction is awful (Awful shaky editing with no suspense) and it concludes with the worst ending ever. File this under Use for your pet’s litter tray. Then maybe it’ll finally have a purpose.
It’s been a good month for film viewing overall.