Another busy month with a varied array of films seen:
The Equelizer: Denzel Washington reteams with director Antoine Fuqua to in a film based on the Edward Woodward 80’s TV show. They won’t trouble the Oscars this time around but the film is good pulpy fun. It feels like the start of a franchise, the reasonable box-office performance means it probably is.
Gone Girl: David Fincher’s movie based on Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel. Joyfully bonkers dark and twisted and as enthralling as you would expect from Fincher. Expect an Oscar nomination foir Rosamund Pike.
Dracula Untold: An unnecessary origin story of Dracula. It looks good and has some well good set pieces but does nothing new. Parts of the story make me think the writers have seen lots of Dracula movies (particularly Francis Ford Coppola’s) but haven’t read Bram Stoker novel.
The Imitation Game: The true story Alan Turing, the farther of computing and the man most responsible for cracking Naval Enigma during World War II. It suffers from a lack of focus, not knowing if it wants to be a biography of Turing or a story of the cracking of Enigma. Benedict Cumberbatc’s performance is monumental and is well deserving of an Oscar nomination.
The Maze Runner: The latest in a long line in dystopian movie based on YA novels. It isn’t The Hunger Games but is still worth a look. Will Poulter is on great form but Kaya Scodelario is underused. Part two is in pre production and will be out next year.
’71: A young British soldier gets separated from his regiment and as to negotiate the perils of Belfast at the height of the troubles in 1971. Jack O’Connell again shows why he is one of the most interesting young actors working today. I have heard it compared to John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 but it really has more in common with Walter Hill’s The Warriors.
The Judge: Family drama or crime thriller? I don’t know, and the film suffers because the filmmakers didn’t seem to know either. It remains watchable thanks to a great cast headed by Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall. Billy Bob Thornton makes the most of a small part but Vera Farmiga isn’t given much to work with.
The Babadook: A dark psychological drama dressed up as a supernatural horror. At its heart it is a story about despair and depression but to its credit leaves enough ambiguity for audiences to decide it that is the story or the subtext. A lot of the success of the film is an intense performance from Essie Davis.
Annabelle: A sort of prequel to last years The Conjuring. It offers nothing different from the numerous similar films that have been made in recent years but does have some effective scenes, the 70’s setting is well constructed and looks great.
Nightcrawler: Louis Bloom is a socially awkward, possibly sociopathic man, he falls into a career as a freelance cameraman selling footage of car crashes and murders to the TV networks. Imagine Travis Bickle in Michael Mann’s LA and you will have an idea of and you will get a good idea of Nightcrawler. Jake Gyllenhaal is at his creepy best and almost unrecognisable. It is fantastic to see Rene Russo get her first decent part in years.
Fury: War films changed in 1998 with the release of Saving Private Ryan, Fury’s is a descendant of this new direction. Set during the final month of war in Europe in 1945 and telling the story of a tank crew. The film is at its best with the graphic, brutal and visceral war scenes than in the quieter more philosophical moments.
Serena: North Carolina, during the depression. The owner of a timber empire (Bradley Cooper) seems to be complete when he meets and marries Serena (Jennifer Lawrence) but things gradually begin to spiral out of control. Well acted and stunning looking but the story is hampered by a lack of direction and focus, it plods along to an unsurprising conclusion.
This month it is a near impossible choice, The Babadook and Nightcrawler are probably the best films, but Gone Girl is the movie of the month simply because it’s the one I most want to see again.
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