30 October 2016

Doctor Strange, 2016 - ★★★★

It's so refreshing to see a film that doesn't feel formulaic especially one from Marvel. Having said that Doctor Strange is hardly original, it's heavily influenced by Inception, Nolan in general, The Matrix and the climax is inspired from one surprising source. However it all works together so well and that's why it feels refreshing. If there are problems then it's that the action scenes are too busy. I can't help feel that they would have been more effective if there was less going on but although perhaps these scenes will stand up to repeated viewing. I also though the opening sequence was unnecessary and would have preferred to build to the special effects showdown. All the twisty-wisty stuff does feel like a dumbed-down-over-the-top Inception it's the films "second chance" scene that's the real highlight. I don't think I've seen anything like this before and I'm sure it will be copied elsewhere in the same way that The Matrix's bullet time was.

October 30, 2016 at 08:49AM

25 October 2016

I, Daniel Blake, 2016 - ★★★★

An important film that manages to be both heartwarming and depressing. The story is strong enough to hide the flaws of which there are many. Apart from the two leads the weak (non-professional) actors are distracting and the frequent fade to blacks get annoying quickly. It's really obvious what's going to happen especially if you've seen any of the marketing material or even just heard how audiences have reacted so far. But at it's heart it's a really powerful film perhaps highlighted the most by the scene at the food bank.

October 25, 2016 at 10:36PM

23 October 2016

The Keeper of Lost Causes, 2013 - ★★★★

It feels more like a pilot for a new TV series and doesn't stray too far from what is now a well known formula. Somehow it manages to rise above the cliches to be an entertaining and engaging mystery.

October 23, 2016 at 11:03PM

Black Mountain Poets, 2015 - ★★½

Beautiful looking improvised comedy that never really amounts to much.

October 23, 2016 at 10:53PM

20 October 2016

The Look of Silence, 2014 - ★★★★½

A more personal story than Killing and as a result I found it much more effective. The scariest thing watching it now is feeling that we are moving closer to a world where these things can happen again.

October 20, 2016 at 06:20PM

16 October 2016

American Honey, 2016 - ★★★★

For a film that doesn't appear to have a plot or much structure there's an awful lot going on. I was worried about the lengthy running time but I'd have happily spent more time staring out of the van's window watching America pass by; or spent another night at a motel with their ubiquitous dogs.

Music plays a big part of the film and for me it was also one of the problems. Usually if it's a type of music I don't normally like I find it still works in the right context of a film but here I struggled to accept the music - perhaps more of a sign of my age than a flaw with the film. My other problem with the film is also personal and not helped by the fact I was visited by a door to door salesman earlier in the day. In this day and age I really struggle to understand how anybody buys anything from a cold call. So I found myself struggling to believe that this group could exist from selling magazines - even though I know it still happens and is based on a real thing. Both these problems aren't a fault of the film but did cause me enough issues that I couldn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to.

I also thought the film had a great ending with the final shot of the scene set to the titular song, unfortunately there a whole other scene before the film ended. The real final scene was good but I do wish it had ended earlier.

So I'm left being impressed by so much of the film but not being able to get fully behind it, which is a shame.

October 16, 2016 at 06:55PM

12 October 2016

My #LIFF30 Plan

The films I plan to see at the 30th Leeds International Film Festival

...plus 39 more. View the full list on Letterboxd.

October 12, 2016 at 06:08PM

07 October 2016

30th Leeds International Film Festival

A list of most of the films showing at the 30th Leeds International Film Festival (LIFF30)

3rd-17th November 2016


The following films are known to be missing:

Cinage: Mining the Memories
Films from Nowhere: Utopian Visions of Leeds
Mirrors to Windows: The Artist As Woman
Old Czech Legends
Paris Tower 13 at Left Bank
The Land Beneath Our Feet at the University of Leeds

...plus 132 more. View the full list on Letterboxd.

October 07, 2016 at 02:03PM

A United Kingdom, 2016 - ★★★★

An ordinary romance with extraordinary consequences. This prestige film signals the start of the awards season and it does it with style. It does have that 'oscar bait' feel to it but it's also incredibly funny in places and better than a lot of recent award winners.

October 07, 2016 at 10:44AM

03 October 2016

Shaun the Sheep: The Farmer's Llamas, 2015 - ★★★

Pleasant enough but the loft hatch moment was just fantastic - even if I could see it coming.

October 03, 2016 at 07:38PM

The Girl with All the Gifts, 2016 - ★★★★

Combining elements from so many familiar sources has the surprisingly result of creating something that feels original. Apart from the ending, there's no doubt about how well this has been put together. It's good enough to ignore any minor plot mishaps that often come up. The ending feels odd though. For a film that feels inspired by many games it was strange to later realise that the ending I thought didn't like wasn't that dissimilar to how I chose to end Life Is Strange and so it can't be that bad.

October 03, 2016 at 07:36PM

Terminus, 1961 - ★★★

Interesting documentary although I guess it's what we'd now call constructed reality. I'd really like to see a remake showing the modern equivalent.

October 03, 2016 at 07:25PM

Exhibition, 2013 - ★★½

Even expecting this to be slow it was a lot harder to watch than I had anticipated. The characters are so distant it's hard to feel much. I did like the ambient sounds, hearing everything going on in the background was much more interesting to me than the artists' lives.

October 03, 2016 at 07:23PM

01 October 2016

The Counselor, 2013 - ★★

At the end of the film I was asked "so what actually happened to The Counsellor", I flippantly replied "nothing" which is unfair but also kind of true. Of course things do happen throughout the film but it never feels like anything of any interest.

When this was shown on Film4 people on Twitter were suggesting the original bad reviews were unfair and it wasn't that bad, perhaps it isn't bad but it just feels like a waste of time. With the people involved it should've been better. Ridley Scott has made bad films before, it was Cormac McCarthy first screenplay so he was untested but for me it was
Michael Fassbender who disappoints the most, I didn't realise it was possible for him to act badly.

October 01, 2016 at 02:47PM