30 December 2015

Scenes of 2015

The best scenes of 2015.

Based on UK release date in the order I saw them. Although The Case Of Hana and Alice has yet to be released in the UK but screened at festivals.

  • Whiplash

    The opening scene wastes no time in setting up the two characters and their relationship, I wish more films would just get to the point.

    However it was the ending that convinced me this was a five star film.

  • Ex Machina

    Perhaps the moment of Ex Machina where things really passed the turing test was when Ava asked Caleb to close his eyes.

    When Nathan tears up the dancefloor is a pretty special moment as well.

  • Big Hero 6

    Just about any moment when Baymax is on screen but let's go for the batteries running out.

  • Appropriate Behavior

    The final scene on the train is a great ending.

  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

    Fleeing the palace.

  • Still Alice

    Alice finds her own video message

  • Wild Tales

    So many great moments to choose from the freeze frame title shot came close but it's the climax of the road rage sequence that stands out the most.

  • It Follows

    The opening sequence is a wonderful condensed version of the entire film.

  • Mommy

    Yes, that moment. I knew it was coming and it still completely floored me.

  • Girlhood

    "Let's try something new" followed by crazy golf.

...plus 8 more. View the full list on Letterboxd.

December 30, 2015 at 10:39PM

2015 The Regrets

The films of 2015 (UK releases) that I didn't see but wanted to.

Hoping to catch a few of these in the first few weeks of 2016.

  1. A Most Violent Year
  2. Clouds of Sils Maria
  3. Eden
  4. Enemy
  5. Love & Mercy
  6. Magic Mike XXL
  7. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
  8. Phoenix
  9. Slow West
  10. Sunset Song

...plus 6 more. View the full list on Letterboxd.

December 30, 2015 at 08:39PM

The Dresser, 2015 - ★★★

Part of the reason I've never got into theatre is that a lot of time it feels solely like it is written and performed only for the sake of the writing and performances. That certainly seems the case here and although everything is done very well I was failed to be engaged.

Really glad it showed up on the BBC though.

December 30, 2015 at 03:59PM

Swallows and Amazons, 1974 - ★★★

Nothing too remarkable but not bad either.

December 30, 2015 at 03:57PM

28 December 2015

The Emperor's New Groove, 2000 - ★★★

This never feels like a Disney film which seems to be the reason most people like it. For me it felt like it never got going and was just a series of unrelated gags.

December 28, 2015 at 04:17PM

27 December 2015

Mr. Holmes, 2015 - ★★★½

Apart from the 2.35:1 aspect ratio there's really nothing here that wouldn't have been more suited to a TV film. That's not to say it's bad; it's a nice idea, ably performed especially by newcomer Milo Parker but it the mystery element is disappointing and most of the film lacks any urgency until the final scenes.

December 27, 2015 at 11:31PM

25 December 2015

It's a Wonderful Life, 1946 - ★★★★★

I now know just about every line but it's all still wonderful.

December 25, 2015 at 08:53AM

24 December 2015

2015: The Time Capsule

If I could only save 20 films from 2015 it would be these.

(24th Dec - Not finalised this yet but it seems unlikely to change now)

...plus 10 more. View the full list on Letterboxd.

December 24, 2015 at 05:21PM

22 December 2015

Best 2015 Releases on Netflix UK

A response to Shortlist's terrible "12 movies released in 2015 you can watch right now on Netflix" list.


December 22, 2015 at 05:57PM

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 2015 - ★★★★

The Force Awakens is hugely enjoyable but lacking something to make it truly special. That missing something could be the music which is one of the few areas where the film disappoints. It's also a shame that at least one fully CG character sticks out like a sore thumb and another CG heavy scene feels completely superfluous - if only these had both been physical effects. I'm sure the plot could be picked apart but that really doesn't matter because everything is so much fun (which is saying something considering the darker elements of the story). Everything plays up the nostalgia to maximum effect without over doing it, although the reliance on echoing earlier moments in the series could become tiresome. It also feels like a direct continuation of the original trilogy whilst feeling contemporary. Perhaps more than anything this will be the film to bridge the gap between old and new and allow the rest of the trilogy to become classics.

In a great year for blockbusters and strong female roles this feels like the perfect way to bring 2015 to a close.

December 21, 2015 at 11:52PM

21 December 2015

Home Alone, 1990 - ★★★★

The last time I watched Home Alone (properly in 2008 although partially more recently) I remember thinking how much better it was than people probably realise. Everybody remembers the home invasion part (which probably only lasts 15 minutes) and seeing that in a cinema full of laughing children was a joy. But the film works on many other levels. It's a really great script, probably Hughes last great piece of work, with echoes of Ferris Bueller amongst other things. It's a great Christmas film with a solid message about the importance of family and only occasionally steps into mawkishness. But it also has that fantastic third act which remains incredibly funny.

December 20, 2015 at 11:57PM

14 December 2015

Black Mass, 2015 - ★★★

Mostly unremarkable until the final third when things step up a notch.

December 14, 2015 at 09:51PM

Scrooge, 1951 - ★★★★

I was unsure if I'd seen this version (apparently I have on TV back in 2011) and it's faithfulness to the story makes it instantly familiar. It's the moments when Dickens' words are on screen that make this really stand out. The problem with this is there are not enough Muppets or songs because that's the version which is lodged in my mind as the best version (even if I did only give it 3.5 the other year).

December 14, 2015 at 07:52AM

Orion: The Man Who Would Be King, 2015 - ★★★½

The truth really is stranger than fiction and once again Jeanie Finlay has put together a really engaging documentary.

December 14, 2015 at 07:42AM

12 December 2015

The Duke of Burgundy, 2015 - ★★★

Strange and sadly beautiful but I'm not really sure what else to make of this.

December 12, 2015 at 01:07PM

Trainwreck, 2015 - ★★

A huge disappointment. I've been looking forward to this since I discovered Amy Schumer but this doesn't even come close to the greatness of her TV show or stand up. Also, Mr Apatow there are people in the film industry called "editors", please find some and listen to what they have to say.

December 12, 2015 at 01:04PM

06 December 2015

That's Entertainment! III, 1994

A step backwards to the dull format of the first rather than the enjoyable seques of the second. Also some dubious "tropical makeup" and "we weren't really racist" moments.

December 06, 2015 at 10:16PM

05 December 2015

White God, 2014 - ★★★★

The scenes with just the dogs are spectacular and once they've started it always feels like a disappointment whenever we return to the humans. Those early scenes feel like a live action Disney film and are a joy to watch. It's a bit unsettling then when things start to get more brutal and that's before things get weird. It's almost a complete genre change for the final acts and it is completely ridiculous. But for me it didn't matter; the many, many plot humps were small enough for me to still massively enjoy the ride. There's just a niggling feeling that the whole thing could have been more smartly handled and resulted in a better film.

December 05, 2015 at 08:41PM

03 December 2015

Bridge of Spies, 2015 - ★★★★

A solid, engaging and entertaining film. There's a timeless quality about the film so it's not surprising so many people are saying it could've been a James Stewart film. The only weak moment also betrays that timelessness, a CGI heavy sequence featuring a plane feels horribly out of place.

December 03, 2015 at 06:26PM

29 November 2015

The Great Beauty, 2013 - ★★★½

Like a beautiful dream but one that your subconscious is unlikely to produce.

November 29, 2015 at 06:29PM

Assassination Classroom, 2015 - ★★★

A second viewing didn't change my original opinion that this is incredibly funny in places but doesn't stretch out to sustain a two hour film.

November 29, 2015 at 06:21PM

Night and Day, 2015 - ★★★★

A wonderful collection of clips taken from 40 years or archive footage and assembled into a 24 hour cycle. There are so many fantastic and surprising moments.

Available on iPlayer until 22nd December.

November 29, 2015 at 06:13PM

That's Entertainment, Part II, 1976

An improvement over Part I by having Astaire and Kelly reunited for new segments where they sing and dance instead of dryly introduce the clips.

More background viewing so no rating.

November 29, 2015 at 06:03PM

That's Entertainment!, 1974

Not rating this because it was just on in the background and it isn't really a film. There are obviously some great moments but there's an awkwardness (contractually obliged?) to the links.

November 29, 2015 at 06:00PM

Love Is Strange, 2014 - ★★★★

Such a beautiful tender elliptical film.

November 29, 2015 at 05:58PM

Beasts of No Nation, 2015 - ★★★★

It's a shame that one of the most cinematic films of the year will not be seen by many in the cinema. I'm not against Netflix's strategy and I doubt I would have made the effort to see this at the cinema myself but there is a danger that it will go unnoticed.

As for the film, it's really quite brilliant. There are echoes of Apocalypse Now and Lord Of The Flies. It's manages to be sweet, disturbing and terrifying and contains at least two fantastic performances from Elba and Attah. A nightmare of a great film.

November 29, 2015 at 11:11AM

25 November 2015

A Syrian Love Story, 2015 - ★★★

An interesting and (perhaps too) intimate look at how a family is really affected by the revolution and conflict. The documentary is fairly unremarkable though.

November 25, 2015 at 11:41PM

22 November 2015

Steve Jobs, 2015 - ★★★★★

My favourite screenwriter and my favourite director, why did I doubt them? I was actually bracing myself for disappointment, especially after the poor US performance (and low turnout at the cinema). This is Sorkin's film and it's a shame that Boyle's direction doesn't get more opportunities to shine through, but when it does it's fantastic. I was already fully on board but then the film delivers the most subtle sucker punch of an ending that cemented it's place as my favourite film of the year*.

Oh and whilst everybody else is talking about Sorkin, Boyle, Fassbender and Rogen, it's Kate Winslet that's the real standout.

*Whiplash still feels like it was last year's film.

November 22, 2015 at 11:50PM

LIFF29: The Films I Missed

It's never possible to see everything, here are the films I couldn't fit in but still want to see.

...plus 15 more. View the full list on Letterboxd.

November 22, 2015 at 02:44PM

21 November 2015

Bill, 2015 - ★★★

At it's best Horrible Histories worked because it appealed to everybody. With Bill it's hard to know exactly who it's aimed at. The plot is hard to follow and doesn't make much sense for an adult let alone a child. They're also pushing the PG rating with "buggers", prostitutes, sex-dances and cojones which sit uneasily amongst the rest of the child friendly material. It's clever-funny rather than laugh-out-loud-funny but at least it is funny, just not the family friendly Python-esque comedy it could have been.

November 21, 2015 at 08:25PM

The Other Guys, 2010 - ★★½

Very funny in places but it suffers far too much from improvisation out of control. It looks like they had more fun making it and nobody stepped up to make sure it all fitted together.

November 21, 2015 at 05:19PM

Heir, 2015 - ★★½

Watched on Saturday November 7, 2015.

November 21, 2015 at 03:25PM

A Boy's Life, 2015 - ★★★★½

Watched on Saturday November 7, 2015.

November 21, 2015 at 03:24PM

AD 1363, the End of Chivalry, 2015 - ★★★★

Watched on Tuesday November 10, 2015.

November 21, 2015 at 03:23PM

Sry Bsy, 2015 - ★★★½

Watched on Tuesday November 10, 2015.

November 21, 2015 at 03:22PM

Sundae, 2015 - ★★★

Watched on Tuesday November 10, 2015.

November 21, 2015 at 03:22PM

The Reinvention of Normal, 2015 - ★★★★½

Watched on Tuesday November 10, 2015.

November 21, 2015 at 03:21PM

20 November 2015

Carol, 2015 - ★★★

The opening scene of Carol tells you everything you need to know. Like the rest of the film, it's wonderfully performed and when it eventually concludes it's really quite magnificent. Unfortunately there's an overlong flashback in the middle of these scenes which I thought failed to add much. The result is the whole thing feels quite predictable and very familiar.

November 20, 2015 at 12:17AM

The Assassin, 2015 - ★★★

Hard to understand either the 1-star of 5-star reviews, it just seemed very average to me. All films are a series of moving photographs but this is in a different way, with occasional fights.

November 20, 2015 at 12:02AM

Room, 2015

Technical problems meant I only saw the first hour or just after what I imagine is a fairly obvious splitting point in the film.

That first hour was fantastic though and that it's climax still managed to be one of the most tense scenes despite the film stopping and starting every few minutes speaks volumes.

If the second half is anywhere near as good as the first I'll be giving it a five star rating when I eventually see it.

November 19, 2015 at 11:53PM

19 November 2015

Youth, 2015 - ★★★★

I really enjoyed Youth perhaps having low expectations and knowing nothing about it helped. There was a moment (with a monk) where if it had ended I'd have walked out and given a 5 star rating (Letterboxd 4.5). Unfortunately there's another 30 minutes and these are the worst parts of the film. There are moments in the final half hour which work really well and it felt like there was a good ending in there but not the one that was presented.

November 19, 2015 at 11:43PM


The strangest films at 29th Leeds International Film Festival.

These are just the ones I saw, I'm sure there were others I missed.

November 19, 2015 at 11:02AM

Green Room, 2015 - ★★★★½

So it's not as good as Blue Ruin and it's covering similar territory to other films but it still manages to be brutally thrilling throughout. There's a sense that anything could happen which is so rare that just makes this an unpleasant joy to experience.

November 19, 2015 at 12:31AM

Tag, 2015 - ★★★

Lots of really great moments but too loosely strung together. It (perhaps deliberately) comes across as a bad video game and some of the more questionable moments sit uneasily, even in a 'weird' Japanese film. Attempts are made to justify things but it doesn't really change what you've already seen.

November 19, 2015 at 12:21AM

17 November 2015

Home Care, 2015 - ★★★

Not sure where all the festival praise came from, there's nothing particular wrong (although the alternative medicine direction was scarier than The Witch), it just sort of happened. Perhaps I was too tired to appreciate it.

November 17, 2015 at 11:07PM

Nina Forever, 2015 - ★★★★

This is the kind of assured film making that makes the Blaine Brothers filmmakers to watch out for. Tonely Nina Forever is all over the place but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

November 17, 2015 at 10:39PM

Apocalypse Now, 1979 - ★★★★★

Still magnificent.

November 16, 2015 at 10:25PM

15 November 2015

Men & Chicken, 2015 - ★★★★

Starts off as a 5 star film; incredibly funny, dark and full of intrigue. Unfortunately it ends in a rather obvious way but still funny, dark and strange.

November 15, 2015 at 11:44PM

The Idealist, 2015 - ★★★★½

A compelling drama based on uncovering real life cold war secrets. I was fully engaged, if not quite on the edge of my seat, throughout it's running time and would have happily carried on watching a longer version (which is saying something when I think every film is too long).

November 15, 2015 at 11:40PM

Assassination Classroom, 2015 - ★★½

I was looking forward to seeing this but got the feeling I was the only person in a fairly packed cinema who didn't 'get' it. It felt like one joke stretched out over a far too long running time. It's frequently very very funny and certainly strange and perhaps in another mood I would have liked it a lot more.

November 15, 2015 at 11:10PM

Love & Peace, 2015 - ★★★★

A completely bonkers story that jumps all over the place but is all the more brilliant for doing so. Charming, funny, bizarre and a whole lot of fun.

November 15, 2015 at 11:08PM

Deathgasm, 2015 - ★★★½

Very funny, very gory and very slight.

November 15, 2015 at 01:49AM

One Floor Below, 2015 - ★★½

Such a great premise that offers up so many potential stories it's a shame that it really fails to deliver anything better than what you thought could happen. It's a film where nothing happens or things happen for no real reason. Or maybe they do, I was too tired to make any sense of it all.

November 15, 2015 at 01:46AM

Leon: The Professional, 1994 - ★★★★★

In the late nineties I would have claimed that Leon was one of my favourite films but I can't remember when I last watched it. I was slightly nervous about getting to see it on the big screen (possibly for the first time), would it be better left in my memory? It turns out that it is just still as wonderful as it always way and probably always will be. All three main performances are just phenomenal, New York looks amazing and the action set pieces always have an emotional connection that is so often lacking.

November 15, 2015 at 01:40AM

Demon, 2015 - ★★★½

I really only went to see this to fill a gap between other films at the festival and it turned out to be nothing like I was expecting. One of the best (i.e worst) cinema weddings that just happens to revolve around a demonic posession. It's a shame it didn't have a stronger ending because it just seems to fall apart but there's also something wonderfully ambiguous about how it does so.

November 15, 2015 at 01:27AM

Liza, the Fox-Fairy, 2015 - ★★★★

This is the quirky kind of brilliance that comes up time and time again at Leeds International Film Festival. Beautiful, funny, sweet, charming, dark, weird and really just wonderful.

November 15, 2015 at 01:20AM

The Iron Giant, 1999 - ★★★★½

Is this the closest America has come to capturing the magic of the best Ghibli?

November 15, 2015 at 01:10AM

13 November 2015

Sume mumisitsinerup nipaa, 2014 - ★★½

A perfectly fine documentary but not especially cinematic. Unlikely to be that engaging to those without an interest in the subject matter.

November 13, 2015 at 09:17PM

12 November 2015

Grandma, 2015 - ★★★★

A huge amount of fun but lacking a certain oomph to make it really great.

November 12, 2015 at 10:06PM

The Big Blue, 1988 - ★★★★

The Big Blue was one of the first art-house films I saw when I started getting into cinema. It may even be one of the ones that kick started my passion. I can still see why because it's unlike anything else I would have been watching in the early nineties. That's part of the problem watching it now it's all over the place and seems to vary a lot in quality as it almost jumps between different genres. However at its core there's an awful lot to like.

November 12, 2015 at 08:03PM

11 November 2015

Warrior - ★★★★

A charming documentary that highlights some important issues. Perhaps if I'd not recently seen Difret and Next Goal Wins which separately cover the two main subjects of Warriors, it would have seemed more enlightening.

November 11, 2015 at 11:31PM

Nanook of the North, 1922 - ★★★★

Bolstered by a energetic organ accompaniment Nanook of the North is always interesting, often amusing and sometimes brutal. It still feels like a well made documentary, even if it's authenticity has now been questioned.

November 11, 2015 at 11:17PM