Watching more films – some good, some truly terrible

I did a blog recently about watching films I’d never seen before, it was good fun and while some of the films were films I’d probably have gotten round to there were some that I probably just wouldn’t have bothered with if not for making myself watch them so I could write about them and watch something that might be a bit of my comfort zone. With that in mind I thought I’d do another one, again there’s going to be some that are obvious ones that I’ve just not got round to yet but all being well there be some stuff I hadn’t considered. I may also deliberately watch some shite films just so I can slag them off.

Frozen 2 – I loved the first one but it was film where a sequel wasn’t really needed I don’t think, and having watched the second film that’s the over riding feeling still. Let’s be clear it’s visually stunning and a very good film overall, it’s just wholly unnecessary. There’s a lot to like about it, I appreciated that it didn’t have a villain as such so there was no manufactured conflict and I liked it focussed on the bond between Elsa and Anna, that was the emotional heart of the film and it’s excellent. I didn’t like that it took so long to get going and I was disappointed that the songs weren’t as memorable as the first film for the most part. As I say not a bad film by any stretch, and well worth checking out, just nowhere near as good as the first film for me, though still much better than most films to be fair.

Revolver – I have a soft spot for most Guy Ritchie films, they’re usually fun and self aware enough not to take themselves too seriously. This one is bollocks, it takes itself far too seriously and is just needlessly convoluted. It’s a shame too as Jason Statham is usually great fun because he plays everything 100% seriously and it’s brilliant when he’s in a film that’s a bit tongue in cheek as it usually makes him the funniest thing in it. This is just largely pretentious shite that tries too hard to be deep and clever, looking at the release dates it was the film Ritchie did after Swept Away which was by all accounts utter shite so it’s possible this was just part of a bit of a blip as he did much better films after this. I think the worst thing about it is just how dull it is, even the dialogue is largely wank and that’s usually what I find the most entertaining in a Guy Ritchie film. Overall it’s just a soulless sack of shit that isn’t worth the near 2 hours of your time, I think the only thing I can recommend is that Mark Strong is quite good in a supporting role, it’s honestly bloody slim pickings though.

Aladdin – Another Guy Ritchie film and one that’s very different to his usual output as you’d expect of a live action remake of the animated classic. I wanted to like this or hate it to be honest, at least then it would have made me feel something, whereas the only thought I’ve had is how soul crushingly average it is. In terms of positives it looks nice and most of the actors in it are decent and to be honest it’d be serviceable were it not for the original which is an absolute classic. In terms of the negatives the special effects of the genie are pretty poor, the guy that plays Jafar has absolutely no presence as a bad guy whatsoever and the new song is shit and feels like it belongs in a different film. Will Smith tries his best but realistically he never convinces though to be fair he had an absolutely impossible task following on from Robin Williams. Ultimately the films winds up being completely forgettable and just feels like a soulless cash grab, I honestly wish I could hate it and slag it off or like it and praise it but it’s honestly just not worth the effort on either front.

A Silent Voice – This is an anime film about Shoya Ishida who is an utter bastard to a deaf girl, Shoko Nishimiya, at school and how this impacts him when he eventually goes too far with the bullying. It starts off surprisingly darkly where you pick up with the the guy as he gets ready to kill himself. He doesn’t and we then get a look back at how he treated Shoko and how that essentially led to him being ostracised. What follows is him feeling guilty about how he acted and attempting to be a better person, especially to Shoko. The film manages to be sweet without ever being too overly sentimental and manages to handle some pretty heavy stuff with a sensitivity I wasn’t expecting. I have two complaints, one is that Shoko confesses something to to Shoya which never really seems to be implicitly addressed which I’d have liked to have seen, and the other is there’s a scene late in the film that really isn’t believable at all though it’s clearly there to move the story along as it’s followed by an incredibly sweet exchange between the two main characters. I went into this not expecting much and to be honest it was a really pleasant surprise that it wound up being as good as it is, I seem to be a sucker for anything that stirs up the emotions at the moment and this definitely manages to do that, I really can’t recommend it enough.

I Want to Eat Your Pancreas – Possibly the worst film title I’ve ever seen and makes the film sound more like a horror film than what it actually is, which is oddly endearing. The reason for the name becomes apparent in the first 5 minutes and actually makes sense in context, the story follows Sakura, a high school student who has a terminal pancreatic illness, as she forms a friendship with her classmate Haruki. You essentially know what’s going to happen to Sakura as the film opens with her funeral, what it doesn’t prepare you for is how brutal and senseless her death actually is and it comes dangerously close to derailing what’s left of the film but thankfully its doesn’t. It’s a very moving story which never strays too much into bring excessively sentimental and that’s largely thanks mainly to the personality of Sakura, who largely remains upbeat despite her situation and is a genuinely delightful character. Haruki is harder to like but as he starts to let his guard down with Sakura he becomes much more likeable.I was getting ready to bitch about the ending as it leaves things in a very unsatisfying place but thankfully there’s a post credits scene which leaves things in a much happier, if slightly bittersweet, place. I’m really glad I watched it though, it’s a film I’d been looking at for a while and have always put it off as the title really didn’t inspire much confidence that the tone wouldn’t be all over the place but I’m honestly glad I got past it. The focus on the 2 main characters allows for a genuine connection with them which really adds weight to the more emotional scenes, and christ there are a lot of them, but they’re never anything other than utterly compelling. I’m honestly glad I’m getting to watch films like this and A Silent Voice as I’m lucking into some of the best films I’ve ever seen.

Your Name – This film is the tale of Mitsuha, a girl bored of living in a small town in the sticks, and Taki, a boy living in Tokyo, as they begin to switch bodies intermittently and live each others lives. You’d think this premise would be the start of a freaky Friday type film filled with shenanigans and there’s a little of that to start with, but then the plot takes a turn off the serious and it becomes part disaster movie and part love story, I don’t want to go into the specifics of the story as it’s fucking brilliant and deserves to be appreciated. It benefits massively from the 2 main characters being excellent and from a likeable cast of supporting characters, thankfully the voice acting is up to scratch too. It’s also one of the most visually stunning films I’ve ever seen, there’s so much attention to detail in terms of the backgrounds and the visual style that I’d honestly quite like to get a book of the art to be able to appreciate it more, the sequence towards the end in the snowy city is frankly beautiful but there are so many things that I could mention, and some of the panning shots are breathtaking. Honestly if you’re a fan of art I’d recommend checking the film out just on that basis as it’s really something special. I only really have 2 complaints, the first is that I’d have liked for there to have been more, on the plus side it never outstays it’s welcome but to me it also feels like it leaves a little too soon, which I don’t find myself feeling about many things. The second is the ending 10 or so minutes feels like it’s stringing the viewer on a little, teasing the emotional pay off longer than is strictly necessary and while the pay off is satisfying and sweet it definitely leaves you wanting that little bit more to show you what comes after, the advantage to an ending like that though is that it leaves it to you to imagine what comes next for the characters meaning it sticks with you where other films don’t, it’s honestly one of the most unforgettable films I’ve ever seen.

Jackie Brown – I’ve avoided this one predominantly because it’s a Quentin Tarantino and I invariably tend to just get annoyed with them these days as the basic premise is usually great but he can’t restrain himself and I find that things seem to end up being over the top bollocks. I was interested in this one though as it had a great core cast and was adapted from an Elmore Leonard story and I’d heard of Leonard due to him having created the character of Raylan Givens who is the main character in a TV show I love called Justified. Watching it Samuel L Jackson is as excellent as he always is, Robert De Niro is solid and Pam Grier basically has to carry the film and she does an amazing job of it, Bridget Fonda does a good job with her screen time and Chris Tucker is in here briefly and is decent, and pretty restrained compared to literally everything else he’s on. Realistically the only complaint about the cast is that Michael Keaton is completely under-utilised. What I think Tarantino is excellent at is build up, he’s great at moving the pieces around to setup up the ending, what I’ve found with his modern output is that his lack of restraint and need to go over the top takes me out of the film and ruins all the build up that’s gone before. I have to say though on this one he gets it pretty much spot on, things unravel as you’d expect but it’s always restrained and understated, preferring to focus on the characters rather than the action and I honestly really appreciated it, I’d honestly put it in my top 3 Tarantino films along with Reservoir Dogs and the Hateful Eight. I think this is why I get so frustrated with his films as a rule, there are so many things he does that I like but he’s also equally capable of doing things I utterly hate, though I appreciate he’s not making films with me in mind so ultimately who gives a shit.

Catwoman – Jesus fucking christ! Full disclosure I decided to watch this as I knew I was more than likely going to hate it and figured it’d be quite amusing, I’d therefore set my expectations what I thought was suitably low enough given the films reputation. Turns out I’d not lowered them anywhere near enough for this absolute pile of dog shit, I actually feel betrayed by the world for underselling just how much of a fucking abomination this is. There are good actors in here, Halle Berry had won an Oscar for fuck sake, but it’s like they were all told to just forget about all that acting malarkey and just put in performances that would make modern day Nicolas Cage cringe with embarrassment. The cinematography can be summed up best as being wank and at worst an absolute goddamn travesty, the soundtrack is shit and feels like it belongs in a film with a completely different tone to this one, the special effects are bollocks plain and simple and the dialogue is fucking diabolical. I think the worst item on this list of cinematic crimes though is the complete disregard it has to the source material. I can understand wanting to make changes to the lore to make a better film but to basically have it so that the main character dies and gets brought back to life by a cat breathing on her, this super natural resurrection has the added benefit of giving the ability to have magnifying eyesight, jump high, eat lots of cans of fish in a single go and be really good at basketball and fairground attractions, you know, just like a cat is (I like to feel you can sense the eye roll at this point), coupled with a villain that’s super hard skin from a beauty cream with side effects and you know you’re a one of a kind film and I don’t this as a compliment in any way shape or form. Quite possibly the worst film I’ve ever had the misfortune to watch (and I’m very aware I inflicted it on myself), this clusterfuck has literally one good thing going for it and that was that I knew it had to end at some point, please for the love of all that’s holy don’t ever watch this.

Still Waiting – This is a sequel to Waiting which I didn’t even know existed until I started looking through Amazon. It some how manages to get quite a few of the original cast back onboard, not the really big names naturally, but still seems impressive though you get the impression they know they’ve been conned into it some how. I essentially decided to watch to see just how shit it was going to be, lessons learned from Catwoman were to basically expect the absolute worst. Needless to say it’s fucking atrocious, the original had no plot as such but was carried by the cast, in this one they’ve got a guy who’s basically doing a really shit Ryan Reynolds impression but without of the likeable charm, and he constantly strays into offensive territory and just doesn’t have the charisma to get away with it, what I’m saying is that he’s shit. The other new cast members aren’t exactly great but are at least not attempting a piss poor impersonation of someone else so there’s that. It also attempts to just recycle jokes from the original film but shit, and it’s far to reliant on trying to re-tread what worked before that it doesn’t try to have its own identity. It’s also incredibly mean spirited, pretty everyone in the film treats everyone else like utter shit and it makes them incredibly unlikeable, there’s a fine line with bastardry and it’s hugely advantageous in a film to not make everyone utter pricks. They also somehow managed to get Justin Long back for a cameo and while he is comfortably the best thing in the entire film it complete ruins his character arc from the first film, fuck knows how they got him back for it also, I’d assume a ridiculous amount of money as nothing else makes any sense. On the plus side I knew going in it was going to be absolute dog shit and it didn’t let me down on that front, there is honestly no reason for this film to exist at all and honestly the world would have probably been a better place for it. I’m currently cursing the morbid curiosity that convinced me to watch this, if you’re even remotely tempted to watch this pile of wank please don’t just watch the original instead, which while not a good film is at least entertaining. 

Interstellar – I’ve seen most of Christopher Nolan’s films at this point, can’t remember why I never saw this at the cinema but the reason I’ve put if off to date is the near three hour run time as I’m at a point where the thought of a film of that length just exhausts me. The first 45 minutes are setting the scene of what’s to come and I have to say the Earth that’s present in this is scary and fascinating given that it shows an earth that’s incredibly similar to the one we’re on but with subtle differences like the mention of new text books where human history has been changed and children being forced into jobs and the fact that the planet is dying just adds to this. The one thing you’re pretty much guaranteed with a Nolan film is that it’ll be visually impressive and the cinematography will be excellent and this is no exception, the scenes on Earth are pretty fucking bleak and scenes on other planets are sparsely beautiful. Matthew McConaughey as Cooper is absolutely amazing, it’s probably the best performance I’ve seen him put in and every other member of the supporting cast is nothing short of excellent, it’s also worth giving a special mention to the two robot characters, they have awesome designs and really unique personalities. One thing I really liked was the concept that one hour where they travel to is the equivalent of 7 years on Earth, this allows for a time jump which has Coopers kids grow up and their messages to their father are help add a hell of a lot of emotion to proceedings and the shifts to their stories help ground things and really emphasise what’s at stake with the main story. I also liked the fact that it manages to be genuinely tense in places, there’s a real sense that things might not end how you expect and that’s a novelty and makes the film even better. In terms of the ending it’s equal parts unbelievable, hopeful and bittersweet which I absolutely loved, it’s something that’ll stick with me for a while I think. Honestly I’m a little annoyed at myself for having waited so long to watch it, I’d go so far as to say it’s probably my favourite non Batman Nolan film, even the long run time doesn’t seem so bad as it whips along at a decent pace, and I actually don’t think there’d be a single thing I’d cut out to make it shorter.

I’ve semi enjoying this watching films I’ve not seen before, writing the blogs is definitely finding me some fun films that I probably should have watched far sooner than I did. It’s also mildly amusing to watch some truly shit films, I obviously regret it but it’s fun to be able to rip a film apart although it does mean having to sit through a load of bollocks to get to that point which is obviously less than ideal. Still I figure it’s a good excuse to make sure I’m trying to work in films that might be a little out of my comfort zone so there’s an element of risk there naturally.

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