Archive for the ‘Movie Of The Month’ Category

Of the nine movies I have seen this month five are eligible for this year’s Oscars , all five are nominated.  Fifty Shades Freed is eligible for next year’s Oscars, it is unlikely to feature, but it does have eight Razzie nominations.  None of this matters, what really matters is the winner of my my movie of the month, here are the contenders: 

Phantom Thread – I have a strange relationship with the films of  Paul Thomas Anderson, I like most of them but don’t love any of them.  I have seen all of his films, but have only seen one or two of them for a second time.  Phantom Thread is one of his most restrained and constrained movies, that is what is so great about it.  Daniel Day-Lewis is as brilliant as you would expect, he is however totally overshadowed by Lesley Manville and Vicky Krieps.  The best thing about it: Jonny Greenwood’s score. Phantom Thread

Roman J Israel, Esq – A strange film about the inadequacies of the overburdened American legal system.   The film is good, Denzel Washington’s Oscar nominated performance is outstanding.Roman J Israel Esq

I, Tonya – The title card tells us “based on irony-free, wildly contradictory, totally true interviews with Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly”.  This tells you as much as you need to know about the movie.  The story is so bonkers, if it weren’t a true story you would dismiss it as unbelievable! Margot Robbie is amazing, Allison Janney is even better, but the real star is the editing, both in the format of the film, and its composition.I Tonya

Loveless – On the surface, this is film about a young boy, unwanted by his parents who goes missing. This all happens in the first couple of scenes, most of the film deals with the parents search, but there is far more going on. Reminiscent of Michael Haneke in both it’s Stark depiction, and it’s stunning but measured photography. The full metaphor is probably lost on me as an outsider but I certainly got a sense of a society whose glossy veneer is collapsing or rotting from within, it is after all set in Putin’s Russia! Hopelessly bleak and full of despair, I loved it but don’t know many people I would recommend it to.Loveless

Black Panther – So much has been said about Black Panther, possibly the most significant is the quality of the villains, Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klae, the over the top moustache twirling comic villain and Michael B. Jordan as the more interesting and nuanced Erik Killmonger (with a name like that, he was never going to be a hero!).  The supporting cast is fantastic, all the characters played by Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, and Daniel Kaluuya were interesting enough that they could have had their own movie. Angela Bassett is sadly underused. Not as original or as fun as Thor Ragnarok, but it certainly has enough going on to please Marvel fans and for those who are new to the series. Importantly, It also works as a standalone film.Black Panther

Fifty Shades Freed – On a positive note, the film is competently made. The acting isn’t as wooden as the previous film. Dakota Johnson isn’t terrible in the lead. That is about all I can say on a positive note! The downside; to call the plot wafer thin would be an understatement. The story is poorly told at best. The most damming thing about the film is how dull and boring it is. For a film that markets itself as a kinky BDSM movie, the only pornographic thing about it is the gratuitous displays of wealth.Fifty Shades Freed

Lady Bird – Writer, actress and darling of the indie scene Greta Gerwig turns her hand to directing; she is clearly a natural. Coming of age drama told with an easy and style that elevates it above its genre. Saoirse Ronan is brilliant in the lead as are Tracy Letts and Laurie Metcalf as her parents, that latter picking up a well deserved Oscar nomination. The brilliance of the storytelling is that most viewers will see something of themselves in at least one of the characters. I look forward to what Greta Gerwig does next whichever side of the camera she decides to work on.Lady Bird

Dark River – A woman returns home to the family farm for the first time in fifteen years following the death of her farther. All the bleakness and despair of God’s Own Country without the hope. Ruth Wilson is brilliant as you would expect.

Dark River

Game Night – Surprisingly good comedy: The trailer for Game Night is terrible, on the strength, or weakness to be precise, I nearly didn’t bother watching the movie. The movie however is extremely funny and well worth a look. Its greatest strength is the combination of the script and the performances. No matter how absurd the story gets Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman and especially Jesse Plemons play it straight and deadpan. Like all the best comedies, it doesn’t hide from the aforementioned absurdity, it embraces it.Game Night

I, Tonya, Loveless, Lady Bird, Dark River and Black Panther are all brilliant, and could have been winners in previous months.  Game Night was the most presently surprising movies this month, Other movies have won for less.  The clear winner of movie of the month is: Phantom ThreadPhantom-thread-poster


Read Full Post »

2018 has started well, as you would expect for awards season we are getting some of the big hitters that came out in the back end of last year in America.  Here are the movies I have seen in January, I expect one or two of them to be in contention for my top ten come year end: 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – A mother personally hires three billboards to challenge a local sheriff to catch the person who raped and murdered her daughter.  So much more than its synopsis.  The cast are all fantastic particularly Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell.  Dark and devastatingly funny in equal measure.Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri - Copy

Hostiles – Revisionist western; in his last mission before retiring, an army captain reluctantly agrees to escort a Cheyenne chief (a former adversary) and his family home. Brutally violent but compelling drama.  Christian Bale is at his intense best.Hostiles

All the Money in the World – True story of the kidnapping of the grandson of the richest man in the world J. Paul Getty.  Overshadowed by the recasting (after the film had wrapped) replacing Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer.  As it turns out, Plummer is the best thing about the film.  Good, but not great.All the Money in the World

Happy End – Michael Haneke’s family drama set in Calais against the backdrop of Europe’s refugee crisis.  I don’t think anyone is expecting a happy end from a Haneke film called Happy, this isn’t as bleak as you may expect!  Intelligently shot and always interesting, Isabelle Huppert is as brilliant as ever.Happy End

Darkest Hour – During his first month in office, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, is under tremendous pressure to make peace with Hitler.  His only hope, bringing the British troops, stranded at Dunkirk home.   The film is good, Gary Oldman’s performance is outstanding. The film is best summed up by a line of dialogue, spoken by Viscount Halifax “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle” (I believe broadcaster Edward Murrow said it in real life).Darkest Hour

The Commuter – Liam Neeson, plays the commuter of the title.  A contrived plot forces him to do things he doesn’t want to do in order to keep the story flowing and the action moving.  A by the numbers thriller with all the clichés and telegraphed plot twists you would expect.  Vera Farmiga is wasted in a confused supporting role.  Generally entertaining with an excellent opening sequence.The Commuter

The Post – Spielberg, Streep, Hanks; Three names that come with an expectation of a classy movie, it doesn’t disappoint. Streep and Hanks play the owner and editor of The Washington Post during the time of the publication of The Pentagon Papers.  Clearly made as reaction to the world today, and as such sadly relevant.The Post

Coco – Set on Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), a twelve year old boy is transported to the Land Of The Dead and must seek the help of his ancestors to return home  before dawn.  Pixar’s best movie since Inside Out.Coco - Copy

Downsizing – High concept satirical Sci-Fi about shrinking people to about five inches tall to solve the worlds overcrowding problems.  The ideas are better than the execution resulting in a film that is always interesting but rarely thrilling.


12 Strong – True story of the first Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11.  Having more in common with a classic western than a war movie.  Entertaining, informative, well made with a great cast but too gung-ho for its own good.12 Strong

Early Man – The latest from Aardman Animations is advertised as a Bronze Age comedy history, it is actually a football comedy.  A little lightweight but amusing movie.Early Man

The Shape of Water – A mute woman working as a janitor at government facility forms a bond with a captured amphibious creature.  Another dark fairytale from Guillermo del Toro full of the themes you would expect, a beautiful and moving movie, his best since Pan’s Labyrinth.The Shape of Water

Maze Runner: The Death Cure – After losing its way in the second movie the YA adaptation finds its way in a the final instalment. Retaining the action throughout, it doesn’t offer anything new but is enjoyable and exciting film, the opening sequence is particularly good.Maze Runner The Death Cure

Easy choice, my movie of the month is: The Shape of Water Poster

Read Full Post »

Happy New Year.  As always, my first post of the month is the movie of the month for the previous month, here are the contenders:

Good Time: Robert Pattinson continues to take interesting roles.  This time working with the Safdie Brothers after approaching the pair.  Shot on a low budget in New York, many of the street scenes were shot guerrilla style.  A gritty and visceral character driven story. Good Time

The Man Who Invented Christmas: The story of Charles Dickens struggling with writer’s block following a series of flops.  He comes up with the idea for a Christmas story but only has three weeks to finish it.  Lightweight but enjoyable. The Man Who Invented Christmas

Blade of the Immortal: Takashi Miike’s 100th film is a stylish ultra-violent action samurai movie.  Samurai in the 70’s B movie sense, not the Kurosawa.  Fantastic violent fun as you would expect from Miike.Blade of the Immortal

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Rian Johnson picks up the rein on the Star Wars juggernaut and makes some bold choices that are dividing opinions.  I loved it.Star Wars The Last Jedi

The Disaster Artist: James Franco’s passion project tells the true story of Tommy Wiseau and the making of “the worst film ever made”, The Room. You don’t need to have seen The Room to enjoy it.The Disaster Artist

Pitch Perfect 3: The characters are still likeable and there are a few funny moments, but they have really run out of ideas, the story is terrible.Pitch Perfect 3

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle: Follow-up to the 1995 Robin Williams movie.  Amazingly it really works and is tremendous fun.Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle

The Greatest Showman: I am not much of a fan of musicals so only went to see this because there wasn’t anything else left to see.  It actually wasn’t bad.  The songs were inoffensive and the cast is good.The Greatest Showman

Movie of the month is:Star Wars The Last Jedi poster

Read Full Post »

This month’s contenders are:

Murder on the Orient Express – Kenneth Branagh’s lavish and glossy take on the classic Agatha Christie murder mystery.  All the A-list cast are outstanding especially Michelle Pfeiffer.  Is it better than the revered 1970’s Sidney Lumet version? Probably not, however, it offers enough new gloss to make it worth seeing especially for those who haven’t seen any of the many other versions.Murder on the Orient Express

The Killing of a Sacred Deer – As with director Yorgos Lanthimos previous movie, The Lobster, it may be hard to decide if it is a masterpiece or an esoteric rant. I would go with the former on both counts.The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Professor Marston & the Wonder Women – The unusual origins of the Wonder Woman Comic book are explored in what is either a tender love story, or the most vanilla BDSM movie depending on your point of view.  The performances are excellent, particularly the always brilliant Rebecca Hall.  Not the best Wonder Woman movie of the year, but by far the best of the month!Professor Marston & the Wonder Women

The Florida Project – Poignant drama set on the edge of society just outside Disney World in Florida.  There is little in the way of plot, this doesn’t matter as the cast of newcomers and unknowns (along with an excellent as always Willem Dafoe) tell the powerful story of the shame of our generation, the so called hidden homeless.The Florida Project

Paddington 2 – The first Paddington movie was so much better than expected.  This sequel doesn’t disappoint.  Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson are excellent additions to the cast.Paddington 2

Justice League – The Avengers (2012) was the sixth film of the MCU after introducing all its main characters.  It did a great job of bringing this disparate group together.  Justice League was the DCEU’s chance to do the same, they really screwed it up.  The film spends the first half a movie introducing characters, the second half battling a the worst, most uninteresting villain in the history of comic book movies.Justice League

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool – True story of the romance between a young British actor and fading movie star Gloria Grahame.  I am a big fan of both Gloria Grahame and Annette Bening who plays her here, so the stakes were high, it doesn’t disappoint.Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool

Battle of the Sexes – Billed as the story of the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, reportedly the most watched televised sports event of all time.  The film is so much more; a love story, the story of King’s coming out, and most notably the origin of the WTA.  The biggest surprise, the story isn’t just about King, Riggs’ story is sympathetically told and interesting.  Emma Stone and Steve Carell are both brilliant.Battle of the Sexes

Ingrid Goes West – obsession and stalking in the cyber generation.  I didn’t exactly like or enjoy this movie, probably because I hated most of the characters, Dan (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) being the exception. However, it was strangely compelling.  The end is perfect anchors the films context.  You expect Elizabeth Olsen to be good, and she is in what a supporting role, Aubrey Plaza is brilliant in the lead.Ingrid Goes West

Molly’s Game – Shown as a secret screening a month before its UK release.  Writer Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut tells the true story of Molly Bloom, the woman who ran a high-stakes poker game for the rich and famous until the mob and the FBI got in the way.  The snappy dialogue that you would expect from Sorkin comes to life thanks to the brilliant Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba.Molly_s Game

Before I started writing this, I didn’t know what the movie of the month would be,  It suddenly became clear it had to be: The Florida ProjectThe Florida Project movie poster

Read Full Post »

Ten movies, most good, a couple are great, here are the contenders:

Home Again – Enjoyable but lightweight rom-com.  Pairing a forty year old woman with a twentysomething man is a welcome reversal of the cinematic norm.  Reese Witherspoon is always a likeable screen presence. Home Again

Goodbye Christopher Robin – The story of author A.A. Milne and the creation of the Winnie the Pooh stories is a deeper and darker one than you would expect.  Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie are both excellent, Kelly Macdonald is better. Goodbye Christopher Robin

Blade Runner 2049 – My love of the original Blade Runner is no secret, it is therefore no surprise that I was apprehensive about a sequel.  If anyone was going to make it work, it is Denis Villeneuve, and he really does make it work.  Truly a sequel picking up the story of the original film and taking it in an interesting direction. Blade+Runner+2049-1

The Snowman – A first rate cast does a great job in a stunning looking adaptation of Jo Nesbø’s novel.  Unfortunately the Tomas Alfredson directed movie is a mess with disjointed plot.  Not even three time Oscar wining editor Thelma Schoonmaker could save it. The Snowman

Double Date – A young man desperate to lose his virginity is pushed into approaching two women by his cocky friend.  Unfortunately for them, the two sisters are serial killers looking for a virgin.  Comedy horror is so hard to get right, but this low budget British offering really gets it right. Double Date

The Death of Stalin – Armando Iannucci made an interesting choice with his cast using a mix of British and American accents in this story of the power struggle in the days that followed the titular death of Starlin.  Farce and satire in equal parts, with a really dark undercurrent, the risk pays off, it is brilliant and hilarious. Andrea Riseborough

The Party – One location, a 71 minute running time, and a small cast (Patricia Clarkson, Bruno Ganz, Cherry Jones, Emily Mortimer, Cillian Murphy, Kristin Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall), The Party is essentially a filmed play. The cast are all excellent mainly playing unlikeable people.  Sure to divide opinion, I was unsure to begin with, but loved it by the end.  The Party

Happy Death Day – You can imagine the pitch “its Groundhog Day, meets Scream”.  That is essentially what it is, a college student is murdered but has to re-live the day over and over until she solves the crime and survives the day.  Disposable but surprisingly enjoyable. Happy Death Day

Thor: Ragnarok – Taika Waititi movies are bonkers, given a major franchise movie you would expect him to tow the line and make a generic sequel or find himself out of a job (Phil Lord and Christopher Miller!!!), fortunately that isn’t the case.  Ragnarok is as barmy and as funny as you would expect.  In Hela, played brilliantly by Cate Blanchett Marvel have found their best villain since Loki.Thor Ragnarok

Breathe – Andy Serkis’ first movie as a director.  Remarkable true story of a couple’s life together after one contracts polio and isn’t expected to survive for long.  A little jolly and lightweight but well shot with great performances and likeable characters. Screen-Shot-2017-06-29-at-6.47.39-PM

The two funniest films of the year; The Death of Stalin and Thor: Ragnarok came close, but the movie of the month is the monumental Blade Runner 2049Blade runner 2049 poster

Read Full Post »

Eight really good movies in September, but which will be movie of the month?

Detroit: Based on a disputed true story of an incident during the 1967 Detroit riots.  A tense drama that at times plays like a horror, at others like a legal drama.  Only a director with the skill of Kathryn Bigelow could have pulled it off.  John Boyega and Algee Smith are both excellent, Will Poulter is sensational. Detroit

Patti Cake$: The feature debut for director Geremy Jasper tells the story of a white female rapper.  Told with right amount of humour and humility, the film is warm and funny.  Danielle Macdonald is excellent in her first significant role. Patti Cake$

Wind River: An FBI agent is sent to investigate when the body of a young Native American woman is found.  She is a assisted by the reservation sheriff and a tracker with the Fish and Wildlife Service.  Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen are both perfectly cast.  Written and directed by Taylor Sheridan and forming a loose “frontier trilogy” with Hell or High Water and Sicario that he also wrote.Wind River

Gods Own Country: Lazily compared to Brokeback Mountain, it is actually a better film than Ang Lee’s multi Oscar winner.  A young Yorkshire farmer is struggling to find his place in life, spending his evenings drinking and having casual sex.  He finds purpose and a possibility of happiness when they employ a Romanian migrant worker for the season.  Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu are good as the young leads, Ian Hart is the standout as the farther. Gods Own Country

mother!: Lower case m and followed by an exclamation mark, even the title of Darren Aronofsky’s parable is stylised.   Possibly the most divisive movie of the year, everyone who sees it seems to have strong feelings about it, personally, I loved it! The film is laden with subtext that could be read two or three different was, it’s a shame  that Aronofsky and star Jennifer Lawrence (who by the way is fantastic) feel the need to explain the film in interviews. mother

Kingsman: The Golden Circle: A far-fetched theatrical plot, gentleman spy and a colourful megalomaniac villain; Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, and as spoiled by the trailer and posters, Colin Firth are back for more of the same.  It lacks the originality of the original but retains the politically incorrect fun.  Julianne Moore is great and is clearly having a blast as the villain.Kingsman the Golden Circle

IT: Having passed the half billion dollar mark, the adaptation of Stephen Kings novel his officially the most successful horror film of all time.  Criticised by some for its lack of scary moments, it plays as more a disturbing undercurrent and forgoes cheep scares.  The young cast are all fantastic. IT

Borg vs McEnroe: True story of the rivalry between the top two tennis players of the era told against the backdrop of the 1980 Wimbledon tournament, particularly the epic final.  Well told story with Sverrir Gudnason and Shia LaBeouf both excellent in the title roles. Borg vs McEnroe

One film stands out as being the most enjoyable, the one that lingers most in the mind, and the one I most want to see again.  Movie of the month is:Wind River poster

Read Full Post »

August has been another stellar month, eight trips to the cinema, most have them have been good, I have enjoyed them all in some way.  Only one can be movie of the month, here are the contenders:

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – Two decades after The Fifth Element Luc Besson returns to space for a sci-fi adventure.  Adapted from Besson’s favourite comic strip Valerian can’t decide if it wants to be the camp fun of Flash Gordon, or something more nuanced.  Cara Delevingne should feel a little miffed as despite being the main character and best part of the film, her character  Laureline has had her name expunged from the comics original title.  The content of the film seems to divide opinion one thing that can’t be disputed is how fantastic it looks. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Atomic Blonde – Charlize Theron proved with Æon Flux that she had a affinity for action, sadly the film wasn’t much good.  It wasn’t until Mad Max: Fury Road that she had a suitable vehicle for her talent.  Former stunt man/coordinator David Leitch, half the team behind John Wick has created the perfect movie for her talents.  Based on the 2012 graphic novel The Coldest City, Theron gets to play a character somewhere between James Bond and John Wick.  There is a little more plot than the movie needs but the action is great and it looks amazing. Atomic Blonde

A Ghost Story – Director David Lowery reteams with his Ain’t Them Bodies Saints stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara.  Not much happens, and it happens very slowly without much dialogue, what should be terrible and boring, is actually brilliant.   A Ghost Story

Overdrive – Low rent rip-off of The Fast and Furious franchise.  The multiple twists and tunes in the plot are clearly signposted and are unlikely to surprise anyone. There is some good action and the survival rate of the classic cars is better than the aforementioned automotive franchise. Overdrive

The Dark Tower – Having not read any of the Stephen King sauce material I didn’t know what to expect from this adaptation.  The narrative is a bit of a mess and lacks the epic feeling I was led to expect, but I actually enjoyed it.  Idris Elba is excellent, Matthew McConaughey shows moments of brilliance but on the whole his performance is as disjointed as the film.  Not a disaster, but it could have been better.The Dark Tower

Annabelle: Creation – Prequel to the spinoff of The Conjuring.  Well constructed horror that is as enjoyable as the Conjuring movies largely thanks to the right balance of creepy build-up and jump scares; not to mention a supremely creepy doll._T2A7437.dng

American Made – Based on the true story of Barry Seal, an airline pilot recruited by the CIA to take reconnaissance photos, he soon finds himself working for the Medellín Cartel.  Tom Cruise makes a charismatic star as ever. Directed with verve and style by Doug Liman, one of the most underrated directors working today. Domhnall Gleeson is wonderfully slimy.  American Made

Logan Lucky – Steven Soderbergh returns from retirement with a blue collar Ocean’s Eleven. Channing Tatum and Adam Driver are great in the leads but the best performances come from Riley Keough and Daniel Craig.  Not the best that Soderbergh has to offer but still a really good and enjoyable film. Logan Lucky

Ever since seeing it I intended the movie of the month to be A Ghost Story, a movie that has haunted me (pun intended) for weeks.  However, as is so often the case, my movie of the month, is the one I most want to see again: Atomic Blonde.Atomic Blonde poster

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »