07 December 2017

Gremlins, 1984 - ★★★★

Plus Q&A with Zach Galligan

Probably more than any of the other Spielberg produced 80s films it's Gremlins that I remember the most fondly. I don't actually know when I first saw the film but I had the toys and audio books and perhaps most memorably the text adventure game (take sword, behead gremlin).

Largely because of fantastic animatronics the film still stands up today and their are only a few moments that feel their age. As Galligan mentioned after the film it's the constant battle between Spielberg's wholesomeness and Dante's mischievousness that makes the film so effective. That both sides of the film work as well as they do is quite remarkable. It's a slight shame that it never quite reaches a truly magically place but it's still a great piece of entertainment.

December 07, 2017 at 09:05PM

04 December 2017

Blood Simple, 1984 - ★★★★

Amazingly I hadn't seen Blood Simple before this, I always assumed I had. It still works 30+ years later and seems like a typical Coen Brothers film (if there can be such a thing). Impressively put together by a group of first time filmmakers it's a wonderfully enjoyable tale of mistaken revenge.

December 04, 2017 at 09:48PM

Aquarius, 2016 - ★★★

As much as I liked Clara and was intrigued to find out what would happen I found the pacing and excessive running time hard work. A great ending made it worthwhile. Despite complaining about the length I did keep thinking how I may have preferred to see more of this family in a TV series.

The introduction and Q&A with the director made several references to the Brazilian politics and Cannes protest of which I knew nothing so perhaps a lot of the film was wasted on me. The rest of the audience certainly seemed to appreciate it more.

December 04, 2017 at 09:40PM

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), 2017 - ★★★½

Unlike Okja this feels like it is better suited to home viewing although I can't help wonder if I had seen it in the cinema if I would have found it more engaging (I still struggle to not be distracted at home). Despite liking all the characters, performances, stories and filmmaking (the editing is particularly fun) it somehow never quite came together for me.

December 04, 2017 at 09:28PM

26 November 2017

Curmudgeons, 2016 - ★★★★

Watched on Sunday November 26, 2017.

November 26, 2017 at 09:53PM

Paddington 2, 2017 - ★★★★★

An unexpected candidate for film of the year. Apart from an unnecessary opening scene this is just about perfect. Suitable for all, one of the best scripts (with thanks to Sam Bain, Alice Lowe and others in the credits) where nothing is wasted, everything is a joke, plot or setting something up for later. I wavered on a 5 star rating but only because the ending felt a bit rushed and lacked a truly emotional impact that other films (Manchester By The Sea, A Monster Calls) had this year.

November 26, 2017 at 10:36AM

24 November 2017

Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, 2017 - ★★★★

When I saw this in the LIFF2017 programme it didn't really stand out. I got a ticket to see it but only because there wasn't anything else on at the time. In the end I didn't make the screening but I was surprised to find out that it jumped to the top of the audience favourites where it remained until the festival's closing film Three Billboards... eventually took the top spot. It went on general release during the festival and more positive reviews appeared so it seemed like this should be one to catch up with and despite all of this I still didn't feel particularly motivated to make the trip to see it. Obviously I changed my mind and I'm glad I did,.

It's easy to see why it scored so highly, from the title and setup it's obvious that this is going to be an emotional journey. One lot of heartbreak seems inevitable, it soon become apparent there's another sad story to be told and the way these two tales come together is incredibly moving. There's more sadness along the way but ultimately this is a film about love and it felt good to be reminded how strong that can be.

November 24, 2017 at 07:01PM

16 November 2017

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, 2017 - ★★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 48: Smart, dark, funny and sad with wonderful performances and writing. A great way to end the festival.

November 16, 2017 at 11:03PM

Wonderstruck, 2017 - ★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 47: Full of wonderous moments
but I found it struggled to hold everything together until the emotional climax which completely got me (even though I knew what was coming).

I already want to watch it again.

November 16, 2017 at 05:46PM

Dave Made a Maze, 2017 - ★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 46: Exactly the kind of fun, inaginiative, out-there film that I've missed from this year's festival programme.

November 16, 2017 at 05:42PM

15 November 2017

You Were Never Really Here, 2017 - ★★★★½

#LIFF2017 Film 45: PTSD: The Motion Picture. Despite the brutality I can't wait to experience this again.

November 15, 2017 at 11:12PM

The Endless, 2017 - ★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 44: I really wanted to like this but just couldn't get into it. Not helped by being unable to make out most of the dialogue which I don't know was a problem with the film or the venue.

November 15, 2017 at 08:07PM

14 November 2017

Animals, 2017 - ★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 43: I didn't understand this but I did really enjoy it. At 90 minutes there's a good chance that I'll watch it again to see if it makes any more (or less) sense.

Shame about the venue, Screen 4 of Everyman Leeds is barely fit for purpose at the best of times but for subtitled films it's just awful. Now it also seems to have speaker problems as well.

November 14, 2017 at 10:48PM

The Line, 2017 - ★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 42: I really enjoyed this. It may not doing anything new or special but it did it well enough to keep me engaged.

November 14, 2017 at 10:41PM

Rift, 2017 - ★★★½

#LIFF2017 Film 41: Incredibly atmospheric and surprisingly creepy. It's not really a horror (or is it?) but it uses all the horror tropes to great effect. It seemed obvious to me where it was heading so I found it did drag but it also may be another film that would have benefited from seeing it earlier in the festival.

November 14, 2017 at 10:35PM

Canaries - ★★★½

#LIFF2017 Film 40: Enjoyable horror comedy which hopefully serves as a calling card for a bigger better follow up film.

November 14, 2017 at 05:29PM

13 November 2017

Stalker, 1979 - ★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 39: I thought I'd struggle with this but it's a film I've wanted to see for a while if only to see if it really is as influential as I'd hear (it is). Despite not fully understanding, I was going along with it on a superficial level until I checked the time (never a good sign). There was still the best part of an hour left and that time really seemed to drag. It's annoying because I feel that if I watched it again when it wasn't my 39th film in 13 days (what is up with that programming?) and knew more about it I'd appreciate it more but when it's nearly 3 hours long I know I'll never find the time to do that.

November 13, 2017 at 10:57PM

Brimstone & Glory, 2017 - ★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 38: I've been disappointed by the lack of WTF films at this year's festival but wasn't expecting this to jump to the top of the list. I know I have little sense of adventure and a slight fear of fireworks but WTAF these people are just crazy. Many jaw dropping moments, and spectacular scenes and the answer to the age old question of what happens to fireworks in a lightning storm.

November 13, 2017 at 07:00PM

12 November 2017

Loveless, 2017 - ★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 37: Horrible people do nothing. Slowly. For too long. Then something happens. Horrible people still act horribly and nothing really changes.

November 12, 2017 at 11:03PM

The Rider, 2017 - ★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 36: This took me completely by surprise and not just because I hadn't planned on seeing it. For a lot of the time I was just admiring how beautiful everything looked but then it became apparent just how tender the portrayal of masculinity was on display. An emotional ending and further revelations in the credits just made this more remarkable.

November 12, 2017 at 10:57PM

Bad Genius, 2017 - ★★★★½

#LIFF2017 Film 35: Stylish and enjoyable non-heist heist film. Only let down by down by some dodgy English (Australian) acting and unecessary final lines of dialogue.

November 12, 2017 at 05:23PM

Summer Time Machine Blues, 2005 - ★★★½

#LIFF2017 Film 34: Lots of time travel fun that mostly works but one particular point nagged at me and was never resolved.

November 12, 2017 at 05:12PM

11 November 2017

The Teacher, 2016 - ★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 33: 12 Angry Parents* - some nice non-linear storytelling and a great villain in this amusing (rather than funny) satire.

* I don't know how many there were, and I know they weren't all parents.

November 11, 2017 at 11:38PM

Under The Tree, 2017 - ★★★½

#LIFF2017 Film 32: A dark comedy that's much darker than it is funny. The ending escalates quickly to a tone I was expecting much earlier in the film.

November 11, 2017 at 11:24PM

La Femme Nikita, 1990 - ★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 31: This is how to do an action film but it's also much more than that. Unfortunately the messy third act doesn't work as well as it should.

November 11, 2017 at 05:05PM

The Mansion, 2017 - ★★★★½

#LIFF2017 Film 30: This more than made up for the disappointment of the first film and it's a shame it's not part of the main festival programme. Juvenile but very funny, this time probably helped along by a keen audience. Like a drunk version of Clue with some horror elements but mostly just silly fun and seems destined to become a cult favourite.

November 11, 2017 at 12:46PM

mon mon mon MONSTERS, 2017 - ★★

#LIFF2017 Film 29: First dud of the festival and a bad start to NOTD. Playing bullying for laughs is never a great idea, and with everything that's happening in the real world it left a particularly sour taste. Worryingly the rest of the audience didn't seem to have a problem and laughed along with all the bullies. If the message was supposed to be "we're the real monsters" it didn't work. The rest of the film suffered from cliches, tonal jumps, a nonsensical plot and a general feeling that it thought it was something special which it most definitely wasn't.

November 11, 2017 at 12:30PM

10 November 2017

Journeyman, 2017 - ★★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 28: This may have broken me a little. Fantastic performances, emotional and physical punches, 90 minutes. The ending maybe felt a little rushed but otherwise really amazing stuff.

November 10, 2017 at 08:08PM

Battle of the Sexes, 2017 - ★★★½

#LIFF2017 Film 27: Perfectly fine but in a festival full of really great films it didn't do enough for me to stand out.

November 10, 2017 at 05:52PM

09 November 2017

Oh Lucy!, 2017 - ★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 26: There's so much to like here but it either loses it's way a bit or I've reached the point in the festival when it's harder to stay fully engaged. Finding out it's based on a short film didn't surprise me.

November 09, 2017 at 11:14PM

My Friend Dahmer, 2017 - ★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 25: Disturbingly brilliant.

November 09, 2017 at 11:09PM

The Bar, 2017 - ★★★½

#LIFF2017 Extra Film: Mostly really great but loses it's way towards the end.

This was shown at #LIFF2017 as part of Day Of The Dead and one of the films I would've seen but I couldn't fit it in so I watched it on Netflix on one of my mornings off.

November 09, 2017 at 01:23PM

08 November 2017

Good Time, 2017 - ★★★★½

#LIFF2017 Film 24: I've always been a fan of the 'night gone wrong' sub-genre and things go really wrong here. The coda seemed unnecessary but then a couple of lines as the credits were rolling nearly floored me. Fantastic soundtrack, amazing performances and much more than just a good time.

November 08, 2017 at 11:10PM

Dark River, 2017 - ★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 23: Great performances means it's always engaging but it lacked something and the setup of the conclusion seemed a bit far fetched.

November 08, 2017 at 11:02PM

The Florida Project, 2017 - ★★★★½

#LIFF2017 Film 22: Full of hope and despair, adventures and danger, laugh out loud moments and heartbreak. All of the performances are amazing, especially Brooklynn Prince.

November 08, 2017 at 12:06AM

07 November 2017

Jane, 2017 - ★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 21: An excellent documentary both the subject matter and how well it is all put together.

November 07, 2017 at 11:47PM

The Wages of Fear, 1953 - ★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 20: The tension is there before nitroglycerine is even mentioned and only builds once the trucks get going.

November 07, 2017 at 11:27PM

06 November 2017

Tabu, 1931 - ★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 19: The fantastic live multi instrument soundtrack from Christine Ott was completely mesmerising. The only problem with this was that I kept getting distracted from the film to watch her perform.

November 06, 2017 at 11:15PM

Takový je zivot, 1930 - ★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 18: A great live score (one of Jonathan Best's, erm, best) but the film seemed more academic than enjoyable. Amazing editing and snapshots of life which (like the Leeds On Film event last week) made me wonder how our own lives will look like in the decades to come.

November 06, 2017 at 11:11PM

Western, 2017 - ★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 17: Every festival there seems to be a film that I know nothing about, end up really enjoying but can't really explain why. Western was this kind of film. Slow in a good way, unexciting but never dull and really just a pleasure to spend time in this community.

Would have benefited from using different subtitles for the different languages.

November 06, 2017 at 11:04PM

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog, 1927 - ★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 16: A dramatic live organ score added a lot to an already great film. I thought I'd seen it relatively recently (turns out it was 5 years ago) but still couldn't see where it was going.

November 06, 2017 at 10:58PM

05 November 2017

Perfect Blue, 1997 - ★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 15: The perfect mix of reality, dreams and craziness, edited in such a way that you're never entirely convinced which is which. This confusion only adds to the story and even though I was sure I had seen the film before (now I'm not convinced) I was still constantly surprised.

November 05, 2017 at 11:29PM

Mutafukaz, 2017 - ★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 14: Not quite as crazy as I was expecting but still a whole lot of fun.

November 05, 2017 at 11:20PM

The Breadwinner, 2017 - ★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 13: Closest I've come to giving a new film a 5 star rating. Beautiful story, beautiful animation, completely engaging from start to finish.

November 05, 2017 at 11:03PM

Big Fish & Begonia, 2016 - ★★★½

#LIFF2017 Film 12: Stunning animation with an epic feel but a muddled story that I couldn't quite follow. I don't know if that was because I missed something or it just wasn't told that well.

There were a few dodgy looking CGI scenes which I later realised were for the 3D version - just stop ruining films with this 3D nonsense.

November 05, 2017 at 11:00PM

Lu Over The Wall, 2017 - ★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 11: Charming boy meets mermaid which looks fantastic, manages to be funny, adorable and just a little bit crazy.

Mer-doggie!

November 05, 2017 at 10:56PM

Call Me by Your Name, 2017 - ★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 10: A great ending with a diminished impact because of excessive running time. It may be the festival effect of watching too many films that I also had with Carol (and wouldn't be the only thing these films have in common) so it's perhaps one I need to watch again.

November 05, 2017 at 12:34AM

Happy End, 2017 - ★★★½

#LIFF2017 Film 9: I joked that this was less tedious than I was expecting but that does just about sum it up. With the opening scenes I was concerned that this was going to be hard work but it settled into what somebody else called a Haneke's greatest hits and I was mostly okay with that.

November 05, 2017 at 12:22AM

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, 1970 - ★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 8: Confession time, I was only seeing this because I couldn't be bothered to change festival venues. I didn't know anything about it going in and it's fair to say it didn't grab my attention. It felt like it was a film that was important at the time and has a surprising amount of relevance today. But it also felt very procedural and more like it would be better suited to a TV series.

November 05, 2017 at 12:10AM

The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales, 2017 - ★★★★

#LIFF2017 Film 7: A charming animation which left me wanting more and made a great double bill with Amélie.

November 04, 2017 at 11:58PM