29 April 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron, 2015 - ★★★½

Once again it's the quieter more intimate character moments where Joss Whedon's work really stands up. It's a shame then that this is such a big noisy action packed spectacle and those smaller moments get lost. That's not to say it isn't a huge amount of fun because it absolutely is, but it often feels like it's showing off or setting up another film rather than being truly special itself.

Helen O'Hara's review for Empire ends with "When we’d happily watch this cast of characters just cook dinner together, it’s hard to complain because they also save the world instead." it only highlights that perhaps I would rather watch them in between missions.

April 29, 2015 at 10:45PM

28 April 2015

The Falling, 2014 - ★★★★½

Hooked from the start and completely engrossed by every single minute. A film that defies genre and expectations, where it feels like absolutely anything could happen and still manages to shock and surprise. Every scene is beautifully shot and perhaps sounds even better. It's not just the songs but the sound design that has a real impact, the scene with the therapists really stands out.

From the audience reaction I know it's not a film for everybody but I can't wait to see it again. Along with Mommy this feels like film making breaking free from decades of rules and expectations and it feels so refreshingly great.

April 28, 2015 at 06:47PM

25 April 2015

Bitter Lake, 2015 - ★★★½

I do like Adam Curtis' work but this iPlayer exclusive perhaps suffers by giving Curtis too much free reign. At over two hours there's an awful lot covered and it's often fascinating/terrifying but also difficult to take it all in. I ended up watching in three sessions and can't help feel it would have been better suited to 30 minute episodes.

April 21, 2015 at 11:12PM

19 April 2015

Mysterious Island, 1960 - ★★½

I was only watching this to try and complete my Harryhausen collection and it's only his effects work and the Bernard Herrmann's score that really stand out. The rest of the film is quite ropey and not that engaging.

April 19, 2015 at 01:58PM

Citizenfour, 2014 - ★★★★

Even though I already knew a lot of what's covered this is still completely terrifying. As a documentary it loses some of it's focus towards the end but the subject remains incredibly important.

April 19, 2015 at 01:56PM

Force Majeure, 2014 - ★★★½

I was a big fan of Östlund's Play and have been looking forward to this since it's US release last year. High expectations may be one reason I left feeling slightly disappointed although not as much as other people who I overheard complain "that's how you treat your friends by dragging them to that on a Friday night".

There are many really great moments (or strained family portraits as everybody seems to be calling them) which manage to convey such depth often without saying a word. My main problem was the pacing never felt right; for example it seems to take far too long to get to the setup which most people probably know is coming. The moments between each of the great scenes feel like they are dragging, perhaps deliberately, but it's usually worth it.

April 19, 2015 at 01:47PM

12 April 2015

While We're Young, 2014 - ★★★★

For a while I thought this was going to be one of my favourite films of the year. It's so perfectly observed with great characters being incredibly funny. Then a plot kicks in and everything gets a bit muddled and less enjoyable. A false sounding "happy ending" also feels like a disservice to the characters.

April 12, 2015 at 11:38PM

Mommy, 2014 - ★★★½

It always feels like a cheap way out to complain about the length of a film but it is something that frequently causes me problems. In the case of Mommy it's not so much the length but the fact that the longer things go on the more diluted the brilliance becomes. There's an intensity not only in the performances but also the characters which is only heightened by the 1:1 aspect ratio. That shooting style never feels like a gimmick and forces a concentration and focus in the opposite way of something like the vastness of Lawrence of Arabia create an epic moment. It also feels fresh in cinema but reflective of the instagram age and works so well with the story. Even more effective is the standout moment (unfortunately I knew it was coming) which raised the hairs on the back of my neck and feels so revolutionary but also so simple.

Had the film finished on what would have been a perfect (ambiguous?) ending, reprising the earlier cinematic magic trick, I'd have been a lot more forgiving of some of the dilution that occurred earlier. Unfortunately there felt like very little was added in those final scenes apart from a suggestion of a previously unrealised depth to the relationship between neighbours.

April 12, 2015 at 11:33PM

07 April 2015

I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story, 2014 - ★★★★★

Heartwarming and heartbreaking, informative and inspiring, entertaining and enlightening. During the 90 minutes there are very few emotions that are left untouched. Chatting afterwards, somebody pointed out that it was a room full of adults trying not to cry at a Sesame Street character and for me that's incredibly high praise.

There's always a potential issue with documentaries that even if you find the subject matter interesting the film itself isn't that great. The best documentaries are the ones which make you take note in a subject where you previously had no interest. Being a fan of The Muppets I always expected to be interested in a film about one of it's biggest stars but I wasn't expecting it to be so carefully constructed and so damn emotional.

April 07, 2015 at 10:36PM

06 April 2015

The Green Hornet, 2011 - ★★

I still can't believe this was directed by Michel Gondry. Apart from a few funny moments there really isn't anything noteworthy. It feels like something Badger from Breaking Bad would come up with and in a way it maybe was.

April 06, 2015 at 12:04PM

A Letter to Momo, 2011 - ★★★★

I had no idea what to expect from this, I only knew it was a Japanese animated film. As it started it felt like fairly standard stuff but something happened along the way and by the end I was completely charmed. It's hard to know exactly what made me feel this way but I left feeling like I'd seen one of my favourite films of the year.

April 06, 2015 at 11:31AM

Strangers on a Train, 1951 - ★★★★

Expertly made, although not even Hitchcock can convince me that endless games of tennis are thrilling. It says a lot about how well the film is made that it continues to be thrilling and engaging throughout the many nonsense moments that I suspect a modern audience would struggle to overlook. It will be really interesting to see what Gillian Flynn and David Fincher do with their planned remake.

April 06, 2015 at 11:24AM

A Matter of Life and Death, 1946 - ★★★★★

Simply put this is just masterful filmmaking. It's a shame that the trial sequence is so badly written resorting to pointless patriotic tittle tattle that makes no sense to the story or case (apparently created to improve Anglo-American relationships in the real world) . It's also a shame that for a vision that is so forward thinking there's a lack of female representation in the juries. However those minor complaints don't really damage the film.

April 06, 2015 at 11:05AM

What We Do in the Shadows, 2014 - ★★★★★

Third viewing and it's still just as funny. I maybe didn't spot anything new but still laughing in different places, this time it was all the pre-reveal lines about The Beast.

April 06, 2015 at 10:51AM

Edward Scissorhands, 1990 - ★★★★

Not only one of Tim Burton's best films but also one of the best original and modern fairy tales. It's not without flaws but still feels special.

April 06, 2015 at 10:46AM

The Witches, 1990 - ★★★½

It's Dahl's story rather than Roeg's direction that carries the film. Smart, creepy and funny it stands up incredibly well to adult eyes 25 years later (even if most of The Witches appear to be bald men in dresses). The effects all work incredibly well and the puppet mice are much more adorable than their modern day CG counterparts would be.

April 06, 2015 at 10:31AM

05 April 2015

It Follows, 2014 - ★★★★

If you know the premise of It Follows then the opening pre-title sequence makes a wonderful short film. Things continue to be great for much of the main feature with a fantastic 80s John Carpenter-esque soundtrack keeping things going. Towards the end things start getting a bit messy and it isn't completely clear what the rules are, let alone if they are still being followed; perhaps that ambiguity is deliberate but it feels like they need to be more solid. Once doubt starts creeping in, other questions begin to surface and pick away at the logic of the film. It's a shame because for most of the running time It Follows is stylish, creepy and surprisingly original despite it's many influences.

April 05, 2015 at 01:35PM