A busy start to the year with twelve films in three weeks (I was on holiday for the first week). None of the films I have seen ahave been bad, a couple have stood out as being excellent:
Silence: Possibly Martin Scorsese’s most personal movie for a long time, certainly his most weighty. While it is brilliantly made and impeccably acted I struggled to connect with it making it a really good film but not a great one.
Assassins Creed: The buzz was that this would be the best video game adaptation, it isn’t bad but there are some serious flaws. The biggest problem, is a total lack of fun. The 15th century Spain action scenes are brilliant, the present day are terrible and the plot is incoherent at best.
Live By Night: What starts out looking like it is going to be a prohibition era outlaw movie becomes a gangster epic. Ben Affleck’s weakest film as a director but not without merit.
Manchester by the Sea: What is essentially a small family drama is elevated to greatness by great acting and a perfectly structured script. Casey Affleck is brilliant in the lead, Michelle Williams totally steals the movie in a couple of tiny scenes.
Donnie Darko: Back in cinema’s for its 15th anniversary and as good as ever.
Underworld Blood Wars: The fifth installment of the vampires v werewolves franchise. The plot is paper and silly thin at best but it looks great Kate Beckinsale is excellent as ever.
A Monster Calls: Juan Antonio Bayona tells a story that looks like it’s going to be a family drama, it then develops into what appears to be a monster movie but ends up being so much more.
La La Land: The musical Oscar favourite is neither the masterpiece that some are claiming or The Emperor’s New Clothes that others suggest.
Trainspotting: Re-released in time for the sequel, the cult classic from my student days is, great to see it, it hasn’t lost anything in the 20 years since I first saw it.
XXX: Return of Xander Cage: Vin Diesel returns to the franchise. Poorly made with terrible dialogue but fun and filled with great action.
Split: M. Night Shyamalan’s career as a director has been hit and miss at best. This horror/thriller/exploitation movie is something of a return to form. James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy are both excellent.
Jackie: Technically not a biopic of first Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, more precisely a glimpse at a small but significant moment in her life, a significant moment in the 20th century. A well structured story with an amazing performance from Natalie Portman at its centre.
T2 Trainspotting: The world is a very different place twenty years on, I worried that there wasn’t a place for this sequel, there was no need to worry. Both more nostalgic and melancholic than I expected but no less enjoyable.
Denial: The true story of the court case that followed Holocaust denier David Irving’s attempt to sue historian Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher Penguin Books. The script is a little by the numbers but the acting is brilliant from Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson and Timothy Spall.
I have excluded the two reissue movies and only considered the ten new releases, the movie of the month is: