28 May 2014

Godzilla, 2014 - ★★★★½

People are a problem, in real life and in the films. I try and avoid reviews of films I'm going to see but I'd heard a variety of people complaining about the human characters in the new Godzilla. Those who didn't like Godzilla are complaining that the humans had too much screen time and lacked any character development. Both points are valid but it didn't make the slightest bit of difference to my massive amount of enjoyment. The humans serve only to set up the next sequence and yes there is a lot of initial setup but that only makes the pay off so much more rewarding.

The titular creature is kept out of the limelight: glimpsed on television screens, through rain soaked wind screens and up close dwarfing humans in the foreground. Action scenes bravely and brilliantly cut away before the weakness of the effects are exposed and it's this constant teasing that provides much of the joy.

It's amazing that Gareth Edwards has made such a massive film. Taking influences from the Spielberg trinity of Jaws, Close Encounters and Jurassic Park but also legitimising the monster B movie so it feels real and not a fantasy. The film is also spectacularly beautiful and easily one of the best looking films I've seen this year.

The technicalities of the plot may not make sense (it doesn't matter) and the tiny human lives are insignificant (it doesn't matter) but as a summer blockbuster piece of entertainment it's hard to imagine anything that will be bigger.

May 28, 2014 at 09:05PM

27 May 2014

The Pervert's Guide to Ideology, 2012 - ★★★

Similar to Mark Cousins video essays such as the recent Story Of Children And Film, this is as likely to irritate as much as it is to educate. It remains mostly entertaining even when you don't agree but the scattershot approach lacks focus. It's too long as well and perhaps would have been better suited to a series of shorter films.

May 27, 2014 at 01:14PM

Valkyrie, 2008 - ★★★½

There isn't anything especially wrong here, in fact it's a nicely put together film with an interesting story and a great cast. But a day later I was struggling to remember what film I'd watched which suggests there is also something missing (or my memory is getting much worse).

May 27, 2014 at 01:07PM

25 May 2014

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, 2013 - ★★★½

Fun sequel building on the original but taking a more formulaic path. Your enjoyment may depend on how funny you find food based puns of which there are many.

May 25, 2014 at 01:29PM

Throne of Blood, 1957 - ★★★

I've enjoyed catching up with Kurosawa's films and was looking forward to this but it left me a bit cold. I'm unsure why perhaps it was too familiar, maybe I was in the wrong mood but it just seemed a bit dull. I could see it was well made but I needed to be more involved and I wasn't.

May 25, 2014 at 01:22PM

X-Men: First Class, 2011 - ★★★★

I remember liking First Class when it first came out and after this rewatch in preparation for the sequel, it feels even better. A bit obvious in places and rushed in others but it's mostly effective and enjoyable and doesn't fall foul of the final third problems. Perhaps most significantly it was possible to watch Kevin Bacon without thinking of the awful adverts, something I feared may never be possible again.

May 25, 2014 at 01:17PM

22 May 2014

A Poet In New York, 2014 - ★★★

A great performance from Tom Hollander and an alluring recreation of 50s New York make this worth watching. Unfortunately the flashback to Wales don't rest easily with the New York parts and scanning other reviews it seems that people are likely to have an issue with one of these settings.

May 22, 2014 at 07:03PM

Rio 50 Degrees: Carry on CaRIOca - ★★½

By now I know that Julien Temple is more than capable of combining new footage, archival material and great music into effective documentaries. The problem with this look at Rio is that there's too much to fit in and the film jumps around in a distracting way. It's especially noticeable with the snippets of music which always seem to cut out too early making me wonder if it was actually a licencing issue (unlikely, as it's a BBC film). Worse though is that the first half of the film isn't that interesting or touches on topics covered elsewhere. The second half of the film has more focus on the corruption and the impact of the upcoming sporting events and ends up being a lot more interesting.

May 22, 2014 at 06:51PM

20 May 2014

Blue Ruin, 2013 - ★★★★

Blue Ruin starts with a shot of three remote controls on a coffee table. This really stood out for me because three remote controls feels genuine, people have multiple remotes and most set dressers would probably only use one. It's something that carries on throughout the film, everything feels genuine and the story unfolds in a completely realistic way.

There's a scene not long into the film which would be the climax of another revenge thriller. Most of what happens in Blue Ruin is dealing with the consequences of those actions, something I often think about when credits are rolling. Pitched as No Country For Old Men but where the protagonist is a total idiot seems a little unfair, he's just a normal guy dealing with the unexpected events as they escalate out of control. Dark but frequently funny (although I appeared to be the only person laughing out loud in the cinema), full of beautiful imagery and packing more into it's 90 minutes than films twice the length. One of my films of the year.

May 20, 2014 at 10:00PM

18 May 2014

Bullhead, 2011 - ★★½

There's perhaps too much going on in Bullhead but more worrying I found none of the different story strands engaging in any way. It's possible that I was in a restless mood because the film looked like it should be better than my experience (it was nominated for Best Foreign Language Oscar in 2012).

For a debut film it's trying to be too ambitious, scaling things back and providing more focus could've produced a better film. There are some great moments (the boys running away and the brutal consequences, the staircase towards the end) which means it's worth seeing what Roskam does next.

May 18, 2014 at 05:42PM

Goon, 2012 - ★★★

Like the titular character, the film has a lot more heart and depth that you'd really expect.

May 18, 2014 at 05:33PM

Stalled, 2013 - ★★

This sounded like a great idea for a low budget B-movie so it's a shame that it really doesn't work. Early on the film has a Nuts style scene which lowers the tone and the film never recovers. Nearly every scene defies logic and makes little sense. A bizarre casting choice completely undermines what should be the moral message of the film.

I wanted to like the film more, even just as an amateur B-movie, it might have worked better as a short. As it stands it's not terrible but feels like a series of missteps occasionally interrupted by a great moment.

May 18, 2014 at 05:27PM

12 May 2014

The Lion in Winter, 1968 - ★★★★

Theatrical in its nature The Lion In Winter is a strange film that moves between comedy and drama and at times verges on the edge of being farcical. Despite being too long it all works because the dialogue is so fantastic and delivered so well. Apparently it's The West Wing's Jed Bartlet's favourite film and knowing this it's easy to see how it has influenced Sorkin's writing.

May 12, 2014 at 07:38PM

We're the Millers, 2013 - ★★★½

Well I enjoyed this and a lot more than I was expecting. The plot elements may not always make sense but the jokes hit more often than they miss. I'm also sure adding Nick Offerman to anything is a recipe for success.

May 12, 2014 at 07:27PM

07 May 2014

Frank, 2014 - ★★★½

A day later and I'm still struggling to pinpoint exactly what I thought of Frank. Like Jon in the film, I constantly felt like there was something special in Frank and kept waiting for it to make an appearance but it never does. It's a shame because there are lots of great moments, but they never come together in a meaningful way, perhaps this was a deliberate reflection of Frank himself.

I was left wanting more and have bought Jon Ronson's short book which inspired the film (59p on Kindle store), perhaps it will offer further insight but I suspect Frank will remain a mystery.

May 07, 2014 at 08:03PM

05 May 2014

Mulan, 1998 - ★★★

Fails to recapture the magic of Aladdin which it obviously was trying to do. Murphy may be the worst thing about the film and every time his voice appears the standard of the film drops and it wasn't that high to start with. Mulan herself is a good character but nobody else is particularly memorable and the songs are just as forgettable.

May 05, 2014 at 11:19PM

04 May 2014

Charade, 1963 - ★★★★

Sparkling dialogue, great characters and fantastic chemistry cumulating in a tense and satisfying finale.

Happy Birthday Miss Hepburn.

May 04, 2014 at 03:51PM

5 Broken Cameras, 2011 - ★★★★

Simply fascinating.

May 04, 2014 at 03:34PM

Captain America: The Winter Soldier, 2014 - ★★★★

Ironically The Dark World turned out to be quite a light but still fun film and it's the Captain America sequel that gets all serious and dark. Stylish, intelligent and action packed it's reminded me more of Greengrass's Bourne films than the 70s conspiracies. It suffers (inevitably, it now seems) from a overblown final third set piece which is a shame because I think I liked the low key (no pun intended) climax to Thor 2 more. I liked the first Captain America which for me now makes this the most solid series in the Marvel universe.

May 04, 2014 at 03:30PM

03 May 2014

Thor: The Dark World, 2013 - ★★★★

I really enjoyed this sequel and whilst I was watching kept thinking this is how a fantasy action film should be made. I was surprised to see so many negative reviews and still don't understand why, it's not a masterpiece but it's always enjoyable. Despite the budget, stars and great effects it feels televisual (is that a word?) at times. Perhaps it's the London setting or host of TV stars (a Doctor, a Broke Girl, Chuck, IT Crowd) that make it easy to reimagine it as a Doctor Who story, but I like TV and Doctor Who so this wasn't a problem for me.

May 03, 2014 at 09:56AM