25 October 2015

Crimson Peak, 2015 - ★★½

A disappointing attempt at a grown up English language film from Del Toro. A dull opening in New York drags on for far too long with little purpose. Things improve once everything moves to Crimson Peak but the only suspense is wondering if some kind of twist will take the story off the obvious path. It feels like a bad video game as the protagonists explores the mysterious house discovering the plot via discarded audio logs (why and how do these exist?) and even the climax feels like a badly executed boss fight.

I feel like I'm being too harsh because it isn't exactly a bad film and often looks great. But it's doesn't come close to Del Toro's earlier work nor to many of the spanish language films he's produced which is why it's a big disappointment.

October 25, 2015 at 10:59PM

John Wick, 2014 - ★★★

Difficult to see why this is getting so much praise. It's very ordinary and almost completely without any purpose. It's pretty much just 90 minutes of Keanu Reeves mindlessly killing people, sometimes stylishly but often just matter of factly. There was one moment when two kills seem to be in time to the music in the club which could've made a great sequence but as it doesn't follow through I can only assume this was an accident. It is sort of fun but also hard to get over the pointless killing throughout.

October 25, 2015 at 10:36PM

AAAAAAAAH!, 2015 - ★★★½

Unlike anything else and frequently very funny. It's great to see something this unusual making it to the cinema screens and just about getting away with it. But at just 80 minutes it felt too long although that could've have just been the my tiredness at the late night screening.

Steve Oram introduced the film and did a Q&A after the film.

October 25, 2015 at 10:26PM

Tom at the Farm, 2013 - ★★★½

It's still remarkable how accomplished a film maker Dolan already is so early in his career/life. There are many moments in Tom At The Farm when it appears obvious what direction the story is going to take but then the film never does. Instead we're left with a series of vignettes which often leave you wanting more but also cover a lot of ground.

October 25, 2015 at 10:21PM

Lovelace, 2013 - ★★½

A film of two halves, neither of which really work. The first 'happy' part is formulaic biopic stuff. The second half is more interesting but never really delivers on the potential of offering up a different perspective.

October 25, 2015 at 10:10PM

Back to the Future Part III, 1990 - ★★★★

Part III succeeds with all the self referential stuff that fell a little flat in Part II. On top of that it also manages to have a great standalone story making it the second best in the trilogy.

October 25, 2015 at 04:51PM

Back to the Future, 1985 - ★★★★★

I forgot to write a review when I watched this last week to prepare for Part II's cinema trip. Fortunately my tweet at the time perfectly sums it up:

My God, Back To The Future is so well written.

October 25, 2015 at 04:48PM

23 October 2015

A collection of #LIFF29 Recommendations

These are not my own recommendations but a collection of the films I've seen other people recommend at the 29th Leeds International Film Festival.

...plus 3 more. View the full list on Letterboxd.

October 23, 2015 at 01:27PM

21 October 2015

Back to the Future Part II, 1989 - ★★★★ (contains spoilers)

This review reportedly contains spoilers.

When I found out my local cinema was showing BTTF2 I just welcomed the opportunity to see the film on the big screen. I didn't realise that Back To The Future Day was going to be such a big deal. It was a full house at the cinema which I wasn't really expecting. Nor was I expecting the moment they arrived on 21st October 2015 to be such a special and unique moment, eliciting cheers and whoops from the audience. A round of applause at the end felt like the right thing , broken up with more laughter for the concluding in 1990 caption.

As for the film, it may be the weakest in the trilogy (I now need to find time to watch Part III) but it's also the one with all the timey-wimey stuff that is such a fundamental part of the series. The problem with going to the future (technically now our past) is that it starts to date the The first film felt effortlessly smart, Part II always feels like it's trying to hard to hit the same beats but never quite succeeds. Once the action returns to 1955 things pick up a lot and it feels back on par with the first film. The way the final part is introduced is so well structured throughout the entire film but really comes together in the final moments. It's not surprising that I can still remember the moment when I initially saw the cliffhanger in the cinema and couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next.

October 21, 2015 at 11:17PM

Sicario, 2015 - ★★★½

Sicario is a good film, maybe even a very good film but I'm not sure if it's a great film. My problem is that this is just what I expect a thriller to be and so it doesn't seem special until you compare it to the majority of underwritten dross that is unnecessarily released.

There's a plot hump (which is what I've decided to call this kind of thing) I couldn't overcome whereby I didn't understand why Kate was selected in the first place, surely there was a less idealised FBI agent available? I also agree with Filmspotting's Adam Kempenaar that the Mexican cop scenes are far too obviously manipulative but having said that are they required to make the final scene work.

I'm in little doubt that this is one of the best looking films of the year. Everybody is talking about the tunnel sequence but it was the silhouetted scene before they enter which really stood out to me. It's also one of most tense films with each of the big set pieces working really effectively. The final scenes between Kate and Alejandro would have also been great if some fools hadn't announced details of a potential sequel and removed most of the tension.

There were many moments when I thought this was going to be another soundtrack for my collection but after the initial hooks the music didn't seem to go anywhere as interesting as I had hoped and that's ultimately how I ended up feeling about the film overall.

October 21, 2015 at 10:56PM

18 October 2015

The Lobster, 2015 - ★★★½

I'm still trying to think what to say about The Lobster. My first feeling was the slightly worrying thought that it didn't actually seem that strange. It definitely isn't conventional but it did have a more mainstream appeal that I wasn't expecting. When it did have more extreme moments they felt out of place and it was perhaps a problem throughout the entire film that the tone did change so much. The first half is stronger than the second although the similarities between the two groups also provide a lot of the interesting issues in the film.

October 18, 2015 at 11:38PM

Oblivion, 2013 - ★★½

I got bored by what seemed like a generic sci-fi before it appeared to get more interesting. Perhaps it was a mistake watching another sci-fi on the same day as I watched Interstellar again.

Not bad, just not very interesting.

October 18, 2015 at 11:12PM

Interstellar, 2014 - ★★★★★

My third viewing of Interstellar, this time in 70mm as part of Bradford's Widescreen Weekend. My first time was the Imax version and I was blown away. Seeing the regular 35mm version shortly after lacked some of that spectacle but was still a great film. A year later and it was this version that had the most impact on me. I still think the Imax version looks a lot better, I'm probably not supposed to say this but I don't always like how film looks on modern movies and would have preferred the digital sharpness here.

This time it was the content of the film that worked so well for me. I remember others talking about the drive before the launch and this was the first time that scene really worked me (as opposed to working for me). That was the first time it felt like some of the dust from those storms had escaped the screen and got into my eye. There are at least three other scenes that have a similar emotional depth.

Only a year old so it's probably too soon to judge how well the film will age but I'm struggling to see how it will ever feel old.

Followed by Visual Effects for 70mm Filmmaking with Paul Franklin

October 18, 2015 at 11:10PM

13 October 2015

My #LIFF29 Plan

The films I plan to see at the 29th Leeds International Film Festival.

...plus 29 more. View the full list on Letterboxd.

October 13, 2015 at 11:27PM

The Martian, 2015 - ★★★★

The funniest non-comedy film for quite some time and one of the best mainstream films of the year. Powered by a sharp script, strong performances and a compelling story The Martian is an enjoyable experience from start to finish. My only problem was once it was over it felt like that there was nothing else to give, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but with both Gravity and Interstellar (which seem like easy comparisons) I couldn't wait to see them again.

October 13, 2015 at 08:46PM

10 October 2015

29th Leeds International Film Festival

A list of most of the films showing at the 29th Leeds International Film Festival (LIFF29)

5th-19th November 2015


The following films are known to be missing:

To The Centre Of The Earth
Abandoned Goods
I Shot Bi Kidude
Doing Nothing All Day
Left on Purpose
The Amazing Equal Pay Show
Abandoned Goods
Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie
Left on Purpose
French Connections
Life is Weird
The Ambiguity of David Thomas Broughton
Kaakkaa Muttai /Crow's Egg
The Open
Love and Peace
The Ambiguity of David Thomas Broughton
Concerto - A Beethoven Journey
Doing Nothing All Day
Voice of the Eagle:

Please let me know of any other mistakes or omissions and I'll try and get them fixed or added.

...plus 110 more. View the full list on Letterboxd.

October 10, 2015 at 12:20AM

08 October 2015

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, 2015 - ★★★★

One of the reviews I've just glanced at stated that this film offered nothing we didn't already know and I have to disagree. The first half of the film covered these familiar aspects of the history (and made me want to revisit The Master). However the second half is much more terrifying with accusations of organised extortion and bullying which I wasn't aware of. If true, it's shocking, depressing and feels like a terrible injustice that it is allowed to continue.

October 08, 2015 at 08:10PM

The Go-Between, 2015 - ★★★

After the disappointment of Cider With Rosie and Lady Chatterley's Lover I didn't have much hope for this final adaptation in the series. However I was pleasantly surprised and thought it covered similar subjects and themes to Lady Chatterley's Lover but in a much better way.

October 08, 2015 at 07:57PM

Cider With Rosie, 2015 - ★★

We started reading Cider With Rosie at school but never finished it because the teacher had misjudged the suitability for the age group. I remember liking it and had read ahead but never did return to find out how it ended. This film was incredibly dull and overly familiar, similar to so many other TV series and adaptations, that I wish it had been this version rather than the book that had been prematurely taken away from me.

October 08, 2015 at 07:53PM

Lady Chatterley's Lover, 2015 - ★★½

Dull, lacking any real passion and completely overshadowed by the far superior adaptation of The Go Between later in the series.

October 08, 2015 at 07:45PM

07 October 2015

The Walk, 2015 - ★★★½

The mixed reviews meant I wasn't sure if I really wanted to see The Walk but I figured if I was going to see it I may as well go and see it in Imax 3D. It's only fair because it was the 3D trailer that made it look like a rare film that actually benefited from stereoscopy. The 3D is really effective and I was surprised to find myself wanting more. It's a shame that there were no full screen Imax sequences, especially as the Imax release was a week earlier (all these different formats are getting quite confusing now). All the visually wizardry creates actual special effects which are used to compliment a story but they still feel very much like a theme park ride.

The story is engaging and manages to capture Petit's charm not only in the performances (the accents never bothered me) but also the overall feel of the entire film. I'm still not sure if things would be as spectacular in 2D but in 3D I couldn't wait to get to the next sequence climaxing in the titular walk in a most satisfying way.

October 07, 2015 at 08:40PM

04 October 2015

Macbeth, 2015 - ★★★

A magnificent opening only raised my expectations higher which were then never really satisfied until a similar wonderful finale. Perhaps I wasn't in the right mood to appreciate Shakespeare but I found most of this version dull, plodding along without any urgency and just ticking of the key points of the story and performances.

The Scottish accents (although at one point Cotillard sounds Australian - although her real accent is all over the place), Shakespearean language and possibly bad sound design made it difficult to follow, even though this is perhaps the Shakespeare play I know the best. It feels too theatrical despite all the beautiful outdoor shots which ultimately serve no purpose and quickly become repetitive - look some more hills.

I appear to be alone in my disappointment and perhaps it's because I expected more. I thought these were the actors and director who could make a great, accessible, cinematic version of the scottish play.

October 04, 2015 at 10:43AM

Left Behind, 2014 - ★★

So bad, it's good? Well, not quite. There's no way Left Behind can be described as good. It's badly written, badly acted and badly made. Nobody seems to change or even learn anything which makes you wonder what the purpose of the film is supposed to be. However it easily passes Kermode's 6-laugh test albeit unintentionally which is one of the many reasons why it is entertaining. Surprisingly the climax does feel quite tense even if you are expecting Otto the autopilot to pop up. It also features one of the best final lines which begs for a sequel before the atrocious end credit music reduces you to giggles again.

October 04, 2015 at 10:27AM