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Posts Tagged ‘Another Round’

My somewhat belated top ten movies of 2021 is here!  I wanted to re-watch a couple of movies before setting on both the ten, and the order.  There have been a couple of changes.  Since 1998 I have been visiting the cinema a couple of times a week averaging around 110 movies a year.  Then 2020 happened! We entered 2021 in lockdown with all UK cinema’s closed.  From when cinema’s reopened in May until the end of the year, I saw 51 movies; if you pro-rata that for a full year i would still have seen less than 80 films in a full year.  Let’s hope for an improvement in 2022!  Back to the matter at hand.  I always pick my top ten movies of the year based on films released in the UK in said year, and seen by me in the cinema.   Two things came together to prompt a slight change, I couldn’t decide on the final film in my top ten, and there was only one film I streamed that would have made my list.  That is how Promising Young Woman made the list:

1: Dune – Denis Villeneuve ‘s adaptation of (half of) Frank Herbert’s seminal sci-fi novel is finally with us.  I first watched David Lynch’s adaptation of Dune when I was around ten years old.  I loved it and have watched it numerous times since.  A couple of years later I read the book, it was even better.  Villeneuve’s film looks amazing, the cast is fantastic and the storytelling is sublime.  It hits all the same beats of the Lynch movie but is a true adaptation to a movie as it relies on show don’t tell where the earlier version uses a lot of voiceover to speed the story along and vocalise the inner monologue of the characters.  The great news is that part 2 has been green-lit.

2: Another Round – In 2012 Thomas Vinterberg made an outstanding film called The Hunt starring Mads Mikkelsen.  The pair are back with another stunning movie.  Exploring men’s relationship with alcohol, and each other it asks a lot of questions of its characters and audience, to its credit it doesn’t try to answer them.  The winner of the best foreign language movie at the Oscars this year, I think it’s a better film than the (six out of eight that I have seen) nominations for best picture. 

3: Last Night in Soho – Edgar Wright’s much anticipated movie is very different to his previous work.  Flipping between drama and thriller it is essentially  a psychological horror that owes a debt to giallo.  Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy are both sensational; it is also a fitting final performance for the great Diana Rigg.  If I am hyper critical, it loses its way a little in the final act, but it still works.

4: The Green Knight – David Lowery’s movie adapted from the 14th century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  Not afraid to embrace its origin, the narrative is poetic and ambiguous.  The photography is stunning, and  Dev Patel is fantastic.  Finally an Arthurian movie to rival Monty Python and John Boorman.  Sadly it didn’t get a much of a release, but believe me its worth the effort to see it on the big screen.

5: Petite Maman – A modern day fantasy/fairy-tale written and directed by Céline Sciamma.  Clocking in at just 82 minutes and with little plot beyond the concept, on the surface it is a very slight film, its is however enchanting and enthralling.

6: Titaine – It’s taken Julia Ducournau five years to follow up her debut feature, the visceral horror Raw, it was worth the wait.  Comparisons with David Cronenberg are inevitable both for the body horror, and the auto-eroticism, while valid there is a lot more going on.  There is so much to unpick both in the story, and the subtext, I am looking forward to a second viewing.

7: Spider-Man: No Way Home – I went into this with very low expectations, I wasn’t a fan of Far From Home, and the multiversity had already been explored to brilliant effect in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.  To add to this the MCU hasn’t had its best year.  I was so wrong, not only was the film excellent, probably my favourite live action Spider-Man movie, and also a fantastic cinematic experience as other audience members reacted to what was happening.

8: Pig – Nicolas Cage plays a reclusive truffle hunter.  When he goes looking for his stolen pig, you would expect a John Wick style revenge thriller.  What we get is a much more low-key and thoughtful movie, and Cage’s best performance in years.

9: The French Dispatch – Wes Anderson is back with an anthology film that is just about the most Wes Anderson movie ever.   The ensemble cast is filled with all the Anderson regulars and a few faces to his repertory company.  Wonderfully quirky, I have heard mixed reviews, personally I loved it.

10: Promising Young Woman – Many people got to see Emerald Fennell’s movie a couple of years ago, we only got it in the UK in 2021.  Sadly it dropped during lockdown so I only got to see it on TV.  The basic story is given away in the trailer, but it doesn’t always go where you think it will.  Carey Mulligan is devastatingly brilliant.

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Soon after starting this blog back in 2009 I started a movie of the month segment.  The first post of every month, usually on the first of the month I would name the best movie I had seen in the previous month.  I started by naming the top few contenders before crowning on the Movie of the Month.  I soon changed to writing a short paragraph review of each film I had seen at the cinema. Then cinemas closed as we went into lockdown following a global pandemic, you may have heard it mentioned once or twice in the past 18 months!  I last posted a movie of the month in August of last year when made two trips to the cinema after the first lockdown.  I managed three movies in November and December between lockdowns two and three but didn’t post about them at the time, so that’s where I will start

November and December 2020

Pixie – The titular Pixie sets out to on a mission to avenge her mother’s death, and escape her small time life by way of a heist, obviously things don’t go to plan. Somewhat derivative, but always fun, and Olivia Cooke is excellent as always.

Wonder Woman 1984 – Sequel to the best of the DCEU, by the standards of the franchise it’s a solid middling entry to the series.  Given how good the great the first movie was, it has to be considered as disappointment.  Gal Gadot remain perfectly cast, Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal are good in supporting roles, but everyone is let down by the story.

Dreamland – It’s impossible to make a dustland-fairytale of 30’s depression outlaws without invoking Bonnie and Clyde. Dreamland also has a hint of Malick’s Badlands at its core. To invoke such films you are always going to fall short, but the movie is engaging thanks to strong performances from Finn Cole and Margot Robbie.

This brings us onto 2021 and the reopening of cinemas in May.

May

Those Who Wish Me Dead – Actor tuned writer, Taylor Sheridan’s second film as a director (he doesn’t count 2011’s Vile) following Wind River (2017).  A rung below Wind River and not in the same ballpark as his masterpiece (as writer) Sicario (2015).  A nice blend of disaster movie and crime thriller, Angelina Jolie is agreat as you would expect, Sheridan regular Jon Bernthal mprovides excellent suport, as do Aidan Gillen and Nicholas Hoult.  The best supporting character is superbly portrayed by Medina Senghore.

Godzilla vs. Kong – I missed Godzilla: King of the Monsters at the cinema in 2017, but caught it on streaming during lockdown, it was really poor!  This new entry to the franchise is better, but that isn’t saying much given the seriously low bar.

Cruella – Emma Stone is fantastic as the young Cruella de Vil, she even manages to outshine Emma Thompson, who as the films villain you would expect to be the more showy part.  The only issue, the film cannot decide if it’s a retelling, or a prequel to 101 Dalmatians.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Mr Do It – Based on a true story is something of a stretch.  The weakest of The Conjuring Movies but still good fun.  Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are both great as ever.

June

Nomadland – Chloé Zhao’s third feature following the sublime The Rider won her the best director Oscar (only the second woman to win), it also won Best Picture and Frances McDormand’s second Best Actress award.  I originally saw the movie via streaming, but thought it deserved a big screen viewing.  It did! 

A Quiet Place Part II – The title tells you what you need to know, this isn’t A Quiet Place 2, this is part 2 of the story.  Picking up directly after the events of the first movie, along with a perfectly judged flashback, it is exactly the film it needed to be. 

Nobody – Writer Derek Kolstad is best known for John Wick, he hasn’t moved far from that premise with this movie.  What if John Wick was played by an ordinary person? That’s pretty much what this is with Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul’s Bob Odenkirk in the lead.  For some inexplicable reason, it really works, the movie is great fun!

The Farther – Another Oscar winner in the shape of Anthony Hopkins as best actor.  A directorial debut from Florian Zeller based on his own play.  The acting and staging always feels a little stagey, but the structure of the movie outweighs this.  Best to watch without reading too much about it.

Monster Hunter – Video game adaptation from the husband/wife, director/star frequent collaborators Paul W.S. Anderson and Milla Jovovich.  Far from a masterpiece, but filled with sufficient action and fun to make it worth watching. 

In The Earth – Ben Wheatley’s lockdown take on a folk horror is a tough film to get a handle on.  Not as inaccessible as  A Field in England but falling short of his best work, Kill List, Sightseers and High-Rise.  The performances from the small cast are all excellent.  

Fast & Furious 9 – The Fast & Furious franchise evolved from a retelling of Point Break to Mission Impossible.  The quality of the films varies greatly, but they were never dull, until now.  The bigger the stunts get, the less interesting the film becomes. At least Charlize Theron is having fun!

July

Freaky – What if the director of Happy Death Day remade Freaky Friday as a high school slasher horror? That is exactly what Freaky is, and it is so much fun!  Vince Vaughn is really good (yes, really) but is totally overshadowed by Kathryn Newton who is excellent. 

Black Widow – Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow was never the biggest star in the MCU, but in many ways she was the most interesting.  There is no way of reconciling the fact it took so long for her or any other female character to get her own movie within the biggest franchise in movie history.  Scarlett Johansson is excellent as you would expect, as are co-stars Rachel Weisz and David Harbour, but the MVP by a mile is Florence Pugh who has  genuine chemistry with Johansson.

Another Round – In 2012 Thomas Vinterberg made an outstanding film called The Hunt starring Mads Mikkelsen.  The pair are back with another stunning movie.  Exploring men’s relationship with alcohol, and each other it asks a lot of questions of its characters and audience, to its credit it doesn’t try to answer them.  The winner of the best foreign language movie at the Oscars this year, I think it’s a better film than the (six out of eight that I have seen) nominations for best picture. 

The Suicide Squad – Not to be confused with the 2016 film with a very similar title.   Notably better than that film, but then the bar wasn’t that high!  As before, Harley Quinn remains the most interesting character, although she was the best moments of the film she isn’t as well served, or the film as good as Birds of Prey. The performances are all spot on, but the plot is somewhat thin especially for the 132 minute runtime. 

To name a movie of the month from just two or three choices doesn’t really work, for this reason I will just name one movie of the month(s), and hopefully return to naming a movie each month moving forward. My movie of the Months is:

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