Sunday, 2 April 2017

March 2017 In Review

A quarter of 2017 has now passed us by, how times flies. Many of my viewings this month were rewatches, especially involving a certain Best Picture winner. Enough of me waffling on, let's see what I viewed this past March.


Whiplash [rewatch] - 5/5 - Fresh off his Best Director Oscar, I decided to view a Damien Chazelle film that's just my tempo.

Moonlight [rewatch] - 5/5 -After a long and difficult day at work, nothing helped me to unwind more than seeing this in cinemas a second time. But the knowledge it's a Best Picture Oscar Winner helps. The end to Act ii makes my heart beat unbelievably fast. Seriously, it's like Miles Teller was drumming it under the taunting tutelage of J.K Simmons. 

Dark City (1998) - 3/5 - What can't be denied is how this influential this film is. Alex Proyas' imaginative picture is certainly a precursor to genre changing flicks, such as Inception and The Matrix. It brings along fantastic ideas and wonderful visuals (even if the effects look dated nowadays). Unfortunately, things are hampered by lacklustre writing, and a bland lead in Rufus Sewell. It's a combination of his weak performance and the poor writing, which leaves it difficult to care for this lead. Just because the lead lost their memory, it isn't enough to make me care for them. A personality would help, and generic acts like saving a goldfish doesn't count. 

Jackie (2016) - 4.5/5 - By the end of the picture, I was left thinking about how Natalie Portman was absolutely robbed this awards season. This film pretty much rests on her shoulders, and she is more than capable of delivering a phenomenal, stunning performance. I can't comment on how closely she matches the mannerisms and voice of Jackie Kennedy, but she perfectly gets across this woman who's dealing with the sudden loss of her husband, while trying to ensure he has a legacy to be remembered for, and coping with having to pack up her things and move out of the White House. It's a lot for any person to deal with, and Portman more than delivers. Thank goodness that Pablo Larraín manages to package all of that into a completely engrossing picture, taking on grief in a superbly gripping manner, complimented by the sumptuous cinematography and Mica Levi's haunting score.

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Best film of the month, Best film seen in cinemas,
 and Best film rewatched: Moonlight

Logan - 4/5 - The best Wolverine film, wonderfully setting itself apart from other superhero genre films, and a perfect send-off for Hugh Jackman's time in the role.

The Truman Show [rewatch] - 5/5 - It's been far too long since I last saw this. While I've been a fan of Jim Carreys since my younger days, his comedic performances have nothing on this, which is easily his best performance. Peter Weir crafts a sharp satire on reality TV and our obsession with it, bursting with wit and moments of heartfelt sincerity. 

Se7en [rewatch] - 5/5 - One of the strongest reasons David Fincher is one of my favourite directors. A masterful crime thriller that chills, thrills and grips, with a terrific duo at the center of it. And that ending? Stunning. 

Café Society [rewatch] - 3.5/5 - Quick review: The scenes with Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart are charming as hell. The scenes with Corey Stoll are jarring in comparison, especially with the jaunty music playing his murders for "laughs".

Get Out - 5/5 - A strong mixture of relevant satire & horror. Jordan Peele has one heck of a directing career ahead of him.

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Best film watched for the first time: Kill List

All About My Mother - 4/5 - My second from Pedro Almodóvar, and it's an utterly touching picture. Through the multiple female leads, brought to life thanks to a strong cast, what's been delivered is a heartfelt ode to women everywhere (especially mothers). Consider me absolutely keen to check out the rest of Almodóvar's work.

Life, Animated - 4/5 - A heartwarming story about Owen Suskind, who suffers from Autism, but uses the magic of Disney films to help understand the world. This was a perfect showcase for the power of cinema, Disney or otherwise, with director Roger Ross Williams using clips from the House of Mouse's back catalogue, expressing the situation in a wonderful way. A wonderful insight into Owen's life and his families, complete with touching moments. One bonding moment sees them walking in France while singing "Be Our Guest". The devotion of Owen's brother is sweet, while his discussion of what he calls "Disney porn" to be humorous. But the reality is a tad sad, how Disney limits Owen's knowledge as to what happens after kissing. 

Logan [rewatch] - 4/5 - Took my brother to his first 15 rated film. We grew up loving Marvel films, especially the Hugh Jackman fronted ones, so this was a wonderful bonding experience for us. Plus, we got the Deadpool 2 teaser this time around. 

Sing (2016) - 3.5/5 - Garth Jennings' animated picture certainly delivers on the fun, as the (MANY!) musical moments succeed. Unfortunately, for a film that's supposed to be a comedy, there's a complete absence of laughs. The biggest problem lies in the scattered focus, as the film flits between the sprawling cast, giving not enough time for any of their stories. A notable improvement would've been excising Seth Macfarlane's unlikable crooner mouse, whose only contribution to the plot is being a catalyst for one forced moment of conflict. But, it's safe to say that the talented cast do good work in their roles. The performances go a long way to breathing life into these characters, succeeded where the writing and direction weren't up to snuff. But by the time the film reaches its final act, I was invested enough in the majority of the characters to hope for satisfying resolutions.

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Biggest Disappointment: Serpico

Fences - 3.5/5 - It can't be denied how powerfully acted it is. Denzel Washington does stunning work as Troy, the storyteller who's prone to delivering his version of the truth, believing his way to be the right way, no matter how it affects his family. Viola Davis knocks it out of the park, delivering a performance that's more Best Actress than Best Supporting Actress (but a stunning one, regardless of what category it's in).

But, in adapting the play for the screen, it feels little has been changed to make it feel more cinematic. The drama is often confined to the house, with all characters prone to monologue wherever they can. I could buy that Troy monologues his way round his family, but I can't buy that the other notable characters also do the same. Ultimately, the decision to tell about what happens outside the house, as opposed to actually showing some of it, leaves it all feeling a bit too stagey.

Moonlight [rewatch] - 5/5 - With this, Barry Jenkins' masterful drama is the second film I've seen three times at the cinema. A touching drama about identity, self-acceptance, and the need to connect, told masterfully. 

Resident Evil: Extinction - 1.5/5 - From the characters to the action, this third entry into the franchise is an all-round forgettable and dull piece of work. It delivers a set-piece with infected crows that oh so wants to be The Birds, but can't even be Birdemic. Rather than delivering decent writing or somewhat passable effects, the film seems more focused on justifying why a character is named K-Mart. An intriguing way to end things, but I have a feeling it'll be squandered in the next film. 

The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane - 3.5/ 5 - Now this was a nice little find on Netflix. A creepy thriller, powered by a general sense of intrigue, and fantastic performances by the talented Jodie Foster, as well as an intimidating Martin Sheen. Granted, the romantic angle is a bit lacking, and it feels a bit too staged at times, but the result is largely effective.

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Biggest Surprise; Free Fire

Empire of the Sun - 4/5 - Steven Spielberg does an exceptional job in crafting this war drama, utilising an engaging narrative to deftly capture the struggles faced by young Jamie. In one of his earliest roles, Christian Bale perfectly encapsulating how his character is forced into adulthood, as the horrific reality of his surroundings changes him. The supporting cast does tremendous work, but Nigel Havers disappears after a particularly pivotal scene. Did I miss something? Because this seems odd for Jamie's father figure. However, I can't deny the powerful ending, delivering in the way Spielberg has mastered. 

The Adjustment Bureau [rewatch] - 3/5 - George Nolfi's directorial debut brings to life an intriguing idea, but does it in a really dull way. This sci-fi thriller isn't as smart, engaging, or well written as it thinks it is, but it at least has an engaging romance going for it, powered by the great performances of Damon and Blunt. 

Johnny English Reborn [rewatch] - 1.5/5 - Why did I give this one another go? The film sees itself as both a hilarious spoof of Bond, and a competent spy picture in its own right. The picture is left in limbo, struggling to make either element work, or even be passable. All it has is Rowan Atkinson understandably looking awkward. The guy is in desperate need of a better project. 

Kill List - 5/5 - My goodness. From the word go, you can feel the tension simmering at every turn. Ben Wheatley has a superb handling on it, as this slow burn thriller continues on in a gripping manner, growing all the more unnerving. Neil Maskell superbly sells his characters short fuse, as he grapples with a past trauma, while Michael Smiley does terrific work as his partner. A picture that stays with you long after the credits have rolled. 

Behind The Candelabra [rewatch] - 4.5/5 - An engaging piece of work, where Damon and Douglas absolutely slay it in their roles. The sound design, cinematography, costume design, and especially the make up (Look at Rob Lowe!) are all exceptionally done. While I would've liked some more scenes in places (like when Scott visits his former foster parents), it remains an exceptional biopic.

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Worst film of the month: Johnny English Reborn

The Boxtrolls - 3/5 - My last Laika film to watch, and it's bursting with creativity, fantastic stop motion work, while proving utterly joyful, and yet, unfolds in the most ordinary of ways. A number of the characters could've done with being fleshed out more, but it's far from a failure. 

Serpico - 3.5/5 - In the titular role, it can't be denied that Al Pacino absolutely slays it. He perfectly gets across the frustration of Serpico, as he's surrounded by police corruption, on what feels like the losing side of a war. What a shame the rest of the picture seems to veer in quality, going from utterly gripping moments, to rather meandering. 

Free Fire - 4.5/5 - A blast of an action-comedy, with fantastic rapport between the characters.

Oliver & Company [rewatch] - 3/5 - One which I used to watch on VHS all the time when I was a kid. I hold some nostalgia for this picture, as it brought back many memories for me, but I can't deny its faults. The film overall feels very dated, with its caricatures of characters proving unmemorable, while the songs feel half-baked. But I can't deny this picture delivered some heart (as well as some brutal ends to some characters!).

Kong: Skull Island - 3.5/5 - In terms of its writing & characters, it's a mess. But, in regards to its monster movie action, it's a rollicking fun time.


Best film of the month:  Moonlight
Best film seen in cinemas:  Moonlight
Best film watched for the first time:  Kill List
Best film rewatched: Moonlight
Biggest Disappointment:  Serpico
Biggest Surprise:  Free Fire
Worst film of the month:  Johnny English Reborn

Number of films watched: 25

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