25 April 2017

The Love Witch, 2016 - ★★★½

There's so much to appreciate and enjoy in Anna Biller's film (her name is most of the credits). Unfortunately there's not quite enough to sustain a 2 hour running time. This would have been so much better if it was less than 90 minutes and also a lot easier to rewatch.

April 24, 2017 at 10:49PM

18 April 2017

Easter Parade, 1948 - ★★★★

It may just be a collection of song and dance sequences, with very little story, but what songs and dances.

It was also great to see Judy Garland in something other that The Wizard of Oz and "why didn't you tell me I was in love with you?"

April 18, 2017 at 10:49AM

Moana, 2016 - ★★★½

I was expecting more from this and found that the moments that didn't work stood out much more than those that did, which doesn't make it a bad film. There's something odd about the human animation, it has a rotoscoped/motion-capture that didn't feel like "Disney" to me. Only two of the songs stood out (You're Welcome and Shiny) so I still need to be converted to Lin-Manuel Miranda. That chicken made me laugh far too much though.

April 18, 2017 at 10:44AM

The Great Muppet Caper, 1981 - ★★★★

Second part of a Muppet double bill and another I don't remember seeing before. I think I preferred this slightly over the first movie because it has more of a story. It feels like a film from a different time and would work just as well without any Muppets but would be nowhere near as much fun.

I'm in amazement at the cycling sequence, even after finding how (vaguely) how it was done. I genuinely can't remember the last time I wondered how something was possible.

April 18, 2017 at 10:35AM

The Muppet Movie, 1979 - ★★★★

I was surprised to find that I'd never seen this before (at least not as an adult that I remember). It's enjoyable and has aged really well, with only the cameos placing it as a (nearly) 40 year old film. The practical full body effects are so much more fascinating and magical than their modern CGI counterparts. It's only a slight story which now feels overly familiar but it's told and performed with such love it's hard not to be impressed.

April 18, 2017 at 10:31AM

11 April 2017

My Life as a Zucchini, 2016 - ★★★★

Ron Swanson! I'm convinced Nick Offerman make anything worth watching and this is no exception. Even without Offerman this would still be fantastic. Beautifully animated, lovingly told, it feels so honest and true to life despite being animated but that's no surprise when it's from the writer of Girlhood and Tomboy.

It's best not to think about the ending too much or you start to realise how messy things may become which is a slightly disappointing conclusion.

April 11, 2017 at 10:55PM

04 April 2017

A Good Day to Die Hard, 2013 - ★★½

It's not that bad, it's not that good but it certainly isn't a Die Hard film

April 04, 2017 at 10:10PM

Listen to Me Marlon, 2015 - ★★★

Interesting enough but didn't do much to completely capture my attention.

April 04, 2017 at 10:04PM

29 March 2017

The Fits, 2015 - ★★★

A film I'd been looking forward to seeing since it's US release last September. Unfortunately it didn't really work for me, I found it too slow and lacking something and even though it's only 71 minutes long it felt much longer.

I had a sense of what this was trying to achieve so perhaps seeing it another time or in another frame of mind I'd appreciate it differently. Or perhaps it just suffers in the UK from coming after The Falling which I loved and is hard not to think about.

March 29, 2017 at 08:28PM

23 March 2017

Beauty and the Beast, 2017 - ★★★½

I'm unsure if there's anything particularly wrong with this remake; it seems faithful, looks great and I enjoyed it but it's lacking any real magic. It feels like an imitation, a pantomime using Disney costumes and I was just left wondering why you'd choose to watch this over the animated version. The moment with the ballgown reveal was quite special though.

March 23, 2017 at 05:24PM

19 March 2017

Our Little Sister, 2015 - ★★★★

Koreeda is becoming one of my favourite directors with each film I see. This is a film where you just enjoy spending time with all the characters. Others have compared it to Ozu but I was mostly reminded of the non-fantasy Ghibli films.

March 19, 2017 at 10:14AM

Warcraft, 2016 - ★★

I really hoped that I'd like this and it wouldn't be as bad as most people were making out. Unfortunately there isn't much to recommend and for me it just came across as fantasy nonsense. Everytime it switched to an animated sequence or back to the humans it threw me out of what little engagement I had. One positive this was the way different languages were portrayed on screen, although I think this was only in one scene early in the film.

March 19, 2017 at 10:07AM

Demolition, 2015 - ★★★★

I had a feeling I'd like this but didn't think I'd like it as much as this. I'm not entirely sure why, it perhaps isn't a great film but something about it just connected with me.

March 19, 2017 at 10:03AM

14 March 2017

Florence Foster Jenkins, 2016 - ★★★

A fairly unremarkable film about a really remarkable character. It's entertaining and amusing with really strong performances from all. However, it's hard to know how to feel about the manipulation and overall tragicness, which is portrayed sympathetically but lacks any real depth.

March 14, 2017 at 06:52PM

11 March 2017

The Greasy Strangler, 2016 - ★★★½

What.
The.
Actual.
Brilliant.
Fuck.

Starts off brilliantly but struggles to keep the momentum for the whole 90 minutes.

March 11, 2017 at 03:55PM

09 March 2017

O.J.: Made in America, 2016 - ★★★★★

Completely fascinating

5 episode TV version on iplayer (although they paired up the first four episodes)

March 09, 2017 at 08:48PM

05 March 2017

The Man from U.N.C.L.E., 2015 - ★★★★

A nice reminder of why people once got excited about Guy Ritchie films. This is slickly put together, stylish, funny and much better than the often overblown nonsense of Bond. I guess a sequel is unlikely which is a shame because I'd like to see more.

March 05, 2017 at 06:19PM

Free Fire, 2016 - ★★★★

After a brief setup up this is essentially a feature length (75 min?) gun fight and it's all incredibly good fun. It's a simple concept, masterfully executed (and mapped out in Minecraft before filming) which I don't remember seeing before.

It did feel like it was lacking something (but I don't know what) to make it truly great. I suspect I'll like it more on subsequent viewings which at 90 minutes I'm likely to do unlike the bloated Hateful Eight.

Q&A with Ben Wheatley and Sam Riley

March 05, 2017 at 06:12PM

02 March 2017

Christine, 2016 - ★★★

It's Rebecca Hall's haunting portrayal of depression that's the reason to see this film. How well it works as a whole is questionable because if you already know what's going to happen it feels rushed and if you don't, it comes out of nowhere. This is one time when I think I would have preferred the film to end much earlier with some title cards explaining what happened next.

March 02, 2017 at 07:25PM

27 February 2017

20th Century Women, 2016 - ★★★★½

Just beautiful. I can't decide if it's life affirmingly brilliant or depressingly sad but it all feels so very real.

February 27, 2017 at 09:16PM

26 February 2017

The Lego Batman Movie, 2017 - ★★★★

Probably the best comic book film of recent years, definitely one of the better Batman (Batmen?) films. It's just a huge amount of fun from the opening studio logos to the closing credits. It occasionally threatens to become too schmaltzy but never crosses the line.

I can't wait to see it again.

There appeared to be no reason (apart from the end credits) to see this in 3D and I wonder if the 2D version also has weird background focussing.

February 26, 2017 at 04:08PM

22 February 2017

La La Land, 2016 - ★★★★

I thought I might like this more away from the expectation and after listening to the soundtrack so much over the last month. However I'm not sure if I did, I still think it's great and was happy to defend it when it didn't go down so well with a lot of the Keswick audience.

February 22, 2017 at 09:53PM

Toni Erdmann, 2016 - ★★★★

Appreciated this a lot more but can't buy the director's comments that we have to put up with so much tedium to be rewarded with the good stuff. The middle 90 minutes could easily be edited down, removing every other irrelevant scene to make a much slicker, leaner and altogether better film.

February 22, 2017 at 09:49PM

White Mischief, 1987 - ★★★

Quite a strange little film but also very enjoyable. Another Q&A with Greta Scacchi was a wonderful experience as well.

February 22, 2017 at 09:45PM

The Salesman, 2016 - ★★★

Festival fatigue set in early for this one, as I sat down I realised I hadn't eaten anything all day and suddenly felt really hungry. That might be the reason why I struggled to engage with this in any meaningful way. It looked like it was a much better film than I was experiencing and think it's one I need to give a second chance at some point in the future.

February 22, 2017 at 09:43PM

The Player, 1992 - ★★★½

I'm not sure how well this has aged. It's still impressively made and surprisingly (yet disappointingly) relevant though.

Followed by a Q&A with Greta Scacchi where she provided wonderful and entertaining insight into working with Robert Altman.

February 22, 2017 at 09:36PM

The Unknown Girl, 2016 - ★★★★

I'm still not sure how much sense any of this made but it didn't stop me enjoying it although that may have just been a result of developing a crush on Doctor Davin.

February 22, 2017 at 09:31PM

Manchester by the Sea, 2016 - ★★★★★

Part of the reason I liked the film so much the first time was the slow reveal behind all the grief. Knowing what happened from the start just made everything more devastating. When it got to the "I haven't got anything big to say" scene I wondered if I could actually sit through it again, I did and it's phenomenally good.

February 22, 2017 at 09:28PM

Tanna, 2015 - ★★★½

One of the reasons why I love film is getting to see parts of the world and cultures without all that travelling malarky. Tanna is a great example of this and it's great to see a glimpse of life on the titular island. Others have commented on how good the non-professional actors were but apart from the leads I thought they seemed a bit off (but that might have been a result of the sound sync problems in this screening). I have to mention the volcano shots just because they are stunning. I wish I hadn't seen the film compared to another famous story because that flagged up how the true story was going to turn out.

February 22, 2017 at 09:22PM

21 February 2017

Mahana, 2016 - ★★★

Great opening film for Keswick Film Festival. Manages to jump between light and dark moments and even makes sheep shearing exciting.

February 21, 2017 at 08:39PM

20 February 2017

The Films of the 18th Keswick Film Festival Ranked

All the films shown at the 18th Keswick Film Festival which I've seen but not necessarily at the festival.

  1. Casablanca
  2. Manchester by the Sea
  3. Son of Saul
  4. La La Land
  5. Arrival
  6. Toni Erdmann
  7. Paterson
  8. Life, Animated
  9. American Honey
  10. The Unknown Girl

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

February 20, 2017 at 06:34PM

My 18th Keswick Film Festival: Ranked

Everything I saw at the 18th Keswick Film Festival.

  1. Manchester by the Sea
  2. La La Land
  3. Toni Erdmann
  4. The Unknown Girl
  5. Raw
  6. Mahana
  7. Tanna
  8. The Player
  9. The Salesman
  10. White Mischief
February 20, 2017 at 06:23PM

16 February 2017

Prevenge, 2016 - ★★★★

A brilliant debut and a hugely satisfying dark horror comedy drama.

Introduced and Q&A with Alice Lowe.

February 16, 2017 at 02:27PM

13 February 2017

Loving, 2016 - ★★★★

I'm just going to agree with Mark Kermode's words "A very very impressively low key work".

February 13, 2017 at 09:46PM

12 February 2017

The Rack Pack, 2016 - ★★★

An entertaining but somewhat familiar rock biopic only with a snooker player (who I only knew from the Amsoft World Of Snooker computer game - which I was disappointed didn't feature)

February 12, 2017 at 06:26PM

07 February 2017

T2 Trainspotting, 2017 - ★★★½

It is Trainspotting but it's nae Trainspotting.

I wish I had liked it more, Danny Boyle is definitely one of my favourite directors but this just feels like it's trying too hard. Compared to the subtly of Steve Jobs the visual flairs really stand out here and the overuse of the freeze frame quickly becomes annoying. For me it never came together and feels too fragmented but I did enjoy it and there are many great moments.

February 07, 2017 at 10:49PM

05 February 2017

The Lady in the Van, 2015 - ★★★★

A lot better than I was expecting. It fumbles the ending(s) a bit but I'm willing to forgive that because I enjoyed everything that came before.

February 05, 2017 at 08:38PM

Trainspotting, 1996 - ★★★★★

Still just as good as it was twenty years ago. There isn't a wasted moment although I was surprised by the order in which things happened as I'd remembered it slightly differently.

I fear watching this again may have damaged my chances of liking the sequel.

February 05, 2017 at 08:33PM

02 February 2017

31 January 2017

2017: The Rest

The other new films I saw in 2017 which didn't make my best of list.

January 31, 2017 at 09:44PM

Jackie, 2016 - ★★★★

Focussed and exquisitely framed, the look and structure are only outmatched by the haunting score and the totally absorbing performance from Portman.

Along with Manchester By The Sea and A Monster Calls January has been quite the month for cinematic grief.

The original White House tour film is available on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbFt4h3Dkkw

January 31, 2017 at 09:40PM

29 January 2017

Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor, 2013 - ★★★★

Perhaps not as good as I remembered. I was watching this as a tribute to John Hurt and he is still excellent in this.

January 29, 2017 at 05:44PM

Belle, 2013 - ★★★½

The element of race adds something different but for much of the running time this is familiar Austen-esque material. It's only when the focus of the film switches to the legal case that it steps up and really shines.

January 29, 2017 at 05:36PM

The Croods, 2013 - ★★★

A lot better than my admittedly low expectations. There are some really beautiful scenes and several very funny slapstick moments.

January 29, 2017 at 11:39AM

22 January 2017

Gimme Danger, 2016 - ★★★

A well made documentary making good use of various types of footage but it wasn't interesting enough (or I was too tired) to fully convert me to The Stooges (and I do already like them and have seen a version of them live).

January 22, 2017 at 08:52PM

19 January 2017

Manchester by the Sea, 2016 - ★★★★½

My only real complaints were that the music often felt out of place and Michelle Williams has very little screen time. It would be great to see another film focusing on her side of the story because as one other reviewer stated containing something this intense in two hours is hard.

Unlike the grief in A Monster Calls which steadily flows towards a devastating climax here it's just ever present and unlikely to go away. It's that intensity and how Lee deals (or doesn't deal) with it that makes it feel so authentic.

January 19, 2017 at 06:55PM

2017: Misleading/Spoilery Posters

It's only the middle of January, it's been a great year for film in the UK but a terrible year for posters.

  • Silence

    "and Liam Neeson" i.e he's hardly in it.

  • Manchester by the Sea

    Best scene in the film but it doesn't happen by the sea and Michelle Williams is hardly in the rest of the film.

  • Toni Erdmann

    I think anyone who's seen the film will think the posters are spoilers.

January 18, 2017 at 11:38PM

16 January 2017

Sherlock: The Final Problem, 2017 - ★★★★

Watched on Sunday January 15, 2017.

January 16, 2017 at 08:21AM

11 January 2017

David Bowie: The Last Five Years, 2017 - ★★★★

A lovely tribute to the last five years.

January 11, 2017 at 05:19PM

09 January 2017

To Walk Invisible, 2016 - ★★★

Thought I'd like this a lot more and it might even make my film of the year list but just thought it was fine.

January 09, 2017 at 04:15PM

10 Cloverfield Lane, 2016 - ★★★★

Only really let down by the title and an unnecessary sequence from another film in the finale.

January 09, 2017 at 04:10PM

My Scientology Movie, 2015 - ★★★

Does enough to justify the cinematic outing but struggles to bring much new to a well covered subject. It's still a pleasure watching Theroux investigate anything though.

January 09, 2017 at 04:06PM

Sing Street, 2016 - ★★★★★

Another end of year rewatch because it felt like I'd forgotten about Sing Street. Reading back my original review it does sound like I enjoyed it a lot more than I remembered. My one criticism was that I didn't enjoy the songs that much and perhaps because they are more familiar to me now is why I definitely liked it a lot more on this viewing. The Drive It Like You Stole It sequence is as good as anything in La La Land, if not better.

January 09, 2017 at 03:58PM

Hunt for the Wilderpeople, 2016 - ★★★★½

Like La La Land, my most anticipated film of last year also left me slightly disappointed so I wanted to watch it again to give it another chance. As expected I bought into it a lot more and it be moving up my 2016 list. Not quite five stars but a step closer.

January 09, 2017 at 03:47PM

La La Land, 2016 - ★★★★

There are many reasons why I've been waiting to see La La Land for what seems like such a long time. The next film from Whiplash's Chazelle, or even Stone and Gosling, a modern day musical, nothing but critical praise since it debuted at Venice, that magical piece of City Of Stars used in the trailer. I tried lowering my expectations but it was perhaps inevitable that I was going to be slightly disappointed.

Disappointment is perhaps too strong a word for a film which fixed a smile on my face more or less throughout. I'm not doubting that it's anything less than a solid four star film but for me the magic of the early scenes faded and only reappeared for the brilliant epilogue. There's a huge section in the middle where La La Land stops being a musical and that's perhaps is the source of disappointment.

I'll almost certainly be seeing the film again next month when it closes Keswick Film Festival and I think with some distance (not to mention listening to the soundtrack which I'd avoided before seeing the film) I'll enjoy it a lot more.

January 09, 2017 at 03:43PM