Chloé Zhao directs Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan and Richard Madden in this Marvel superhero movie where ancient immortals protect the Earth from one particular nasty, and are not permitted to intervene otherwise.
Handsome but sophoric. Imagine if Terrence Malick had directed an early 1990s toyline advert… and I mean that in the least sarcastic way possible. Notable for MCU sex, MCU gay kissing and MCU’s continued complete and utter failure to try and get away with a standalone entry. The sad thing is 20 minutes in I’d thought gotten this one wrong, underestimated Zhao as a gun-for-hire. But then nothing happens… slowly. Out of nowhere there’s a fascinating cascade of revelations in the middle act, the world shattering ramifications of which are then never further explored. The ensemble of blank characters just hang out on their ship dragging their feet before an underwhelming finale. Has the time zig zagging structure of Watchmen but none of the brazen extreme confidence of a Snyder to pull such a storytelling coup off. Bryan Tyree Henry keeps his head admirably above the weak material.
Ridley Scott directs Lady Gaga, Adam Driver and Jared Leto in this true crime story of the murderous end of the Gucci dynasty at the close of the twentieth century.
Is it a drama? Is it a comedy? I giggled more than I cared. Quite the bad acting treat but never reaches a level of camp to rival Showgirls. Adam Driver is the only actor who delivers a Halal performance… which given everyone else’s levels of ham means he feels complete off key. Lady Gaga is still the worst thing in it but at least hoofs herself through it with gay abandon. The best scene is when Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons just mutually decide to give up on their accents mid meal. There’s a good true crime story here but this feels more Bonfire of the Vanities than The Assassination of Gianni Versace. The retro fashions oscillate from feast for the eyes to retro vomit. Wanted to love this, found myself fishing in a barren stream. The obviously condensed timeline and anachronistic soundtrack constantly take you out of the lengthy narrative experience. It is a film that cannot live up to its already iconic trailer moments; “I don’t consider myself to be a particularly ethical person, but I am fair.” “Father, Son, and House of Gucci.” Prestige meme cinema.
Byron Howard and Jared Bush direct Stephanie Beatriz, María Cecilia Botero and John Leguizamo in this Disney animated fantasy about the one girl in a magical family who doesn’t have any gifted fairytale powers.
The best Disney animation in years. Packed with colour and detail. There’s no way you can keep up with all the plentitude of accessories and touches. Will be just as entertaining on a second watch I’d wager. I liked the blockiness of the character design, harking back to South American art. Nice central message that goes against the current family movie trend for predestined chosen ones and protagonists whose powers are their only defining feature. Mirabel is a fully fleshed out, awkward but confident charmer. The songs are all toe tappers. The “camerawork” feels particularly daring and cinematic. Whatever magic has been bottled here is exactly the vintage the Mouse House should be aiming for.
Kim Jee-woon directs Song Kang-Ho, Lee Byung-hun and Gong Yoo in this Korean period espionage thriller where a group of anti -Japanese occupation resistance fighters attempt to convert the cop investigating them into being an ally in their cause.
Plot wise this is way too murky to follow for the first hour. I confess to pausing it and reading the Wikipedia synopsis when I realised I had fully lost track of what was going on and who was who. As a visual experience though it is sumptuous and the set pieces have a real threat to them. Just wished I cared about the characters and machinations a little more from the get go.
Chris Rock directs himself, Kerry Washington and Gina Torres in this unromantic comedy where a bored husband considers an affair with the blast from the past who keeps turning up at his office needing things and wanting him.
Chris Rock and Louis CK rewrite this remake of a French arthouse classic: Chloe In the Afternoon. You can see their stand-up personalities in a lot of the funnier moments. You can also see it as the work of a pair of men whose real life marriages will soon end in divorce. Borderline misogynistic at times but considering how unlikeable ALL the characters are, maybe it is more appropriate to say the work of at least one and half misanthropes. Still there are some chuckles and a few off the wall moments that herald CK’s later talent for hard whimsy.
Richard Linklater directs Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard and Uma Thurman in this filmed play where two friends reunite in an out-of-town motel room, one of them with an agenda to record the truth about a night back in high school.
Linklater’s attempt to do a Dogme. His usually unobtrusive visual compositions are abandoned. He puts his pixel-y digital handheld everywhere and anywhere. And considering this is a movie about shifting and a-skewed perspectives… that’s kinda apt. The acting is serviceable, with only Ethan Hawke finding nuance in what seems like quite a stagey mode of performance. A claustrophobic think piece that probably should only be a ‘one-watcher’ once experienced.
Nagisa Oshima directs David Bowie, Beat Takeshi and Tom Conti in this WWII prisoner of war movie where the officers of both sides struggle with their desires for each other.
The Bridge of River Kwai but bubbling with gay lust, mainly unspoken. The film wobbles in a boarding school flashback sequence that gobbles up too much of the third act. Otherwise it is quite strange and beautiful, much like Ryuichi Sakamoto now iconic score. Possibly Bowie’s best onscreen performance.
David Wain directs Seann William Scott, Paul Rudd and Christopher Mintz-Plasse in this comedy where two losers become court appointed “big brothers” to a pair of wayward kids.
Easily one of the funniest Hollywood comedies of this century. Punch, punch, punch. Every performance lands. “You white, then you Ben Affleck.” Bobb’e J. Thompson is a particular find. Beyond the proven and very likeable leads this is teeming with comedy THAT GUY turns that are spot on; Jane Lynch, Ken Jeong, Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio. So we spend 10 minutes too many LARPing and then another 10 on sentiment at the end. When a comedy makes you laugh this much, this often, you can forgive it the excesses of its era.
Abraham Polonsky directs John Garfield, Beatrice Pearson and Marie Windsor in this film noir where a corrupt lawyer loses what little is left of his soul when he encourages his gangster client to consolidate the numbers racket.
One of my favourite film noirs. The tropes are slightly moved back to the middle ground and the little people caught in organised crime’s merciless grind are focussed on more prominently. The violence is shocking, the pessimism unrelenting. Beatrice Pearson, the good girl trying to escape the bad situation, gives a glorious performance. Shame she only made two movies. What happened there? The on-location New York shoot adds a little incongruous day light to the normally midnight set genre… the city looks fantastic, towering over the players like they are rats trapped in a maze with no escape.