Here we are, still dealing with pandemic shit and not really being able to do anything like normal life so I’m still trying to use the time to watch films I’ve not seen before. There’s a couple of films I managed to see at the cinema too which was honestly a very pleasant change of pace. Obviously I’ve tried to avoid spoilers as much as possible but there’ll most likely be a few in here, though hopefully nothing too blatant.
Weathering With You – I read about this a while ago, I forget specifically what it was but it was saying about how good the film was which piqued my interest so I’ve been keeping tabs on it and waiting on a blurry release for a while. I then found out it was from the same guy that did Your Name (which I still can’t stop thinking about) and it just made me even more excited so I was hugely pleased to eventually get it and I watched it pretty much straight away as I’d deliberately avoided reading too much about it so I could go in knowing as little as possible. Visually it’s absolutely breathtaking, it’s probably the most stunning anime film I’ve ever seen and there are certain sequences that really did make me emotional. The dub is excellent, one of the best I’ve experienced and I think every voice actor is superb. I honestly loved it, it’s got some flaws, the last half an hour is a little over the top and silly in places and climate change warning is a little heavy handed even if it makes for an incredibly evocative visual but you have some amazingly realised characters, good dialogue and incredibly sweet interactions between the characters. I have the same problem I had with Your Name where it ends at a point where I’d have maybe liked a little bit longer from that point just to see more and follow what happens next but, again, as with Your Name it sits with you and lets you use your own imagination for that. I know it’s going to stick with me like Your Name did and it’s actually made me want to go back and rewatch 5cm per Second also by Makoto Shinkai, as I hated it when I first saw it but I want to see if I just didn’t understand it back then. I’ve never had a film make me want to go back and re-consider a directors earlier work so that’s definitely a new experience and I’m definitely looking forward to whatever he does next.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – To be clear the main reason I chose to watch this is that my brother has, for almost 20 years, described this as categorically the worst film he’s ever seen so naturally I was curious to see how bad after subjecting myself to Catwoman. I’ve not read the comics that the film is based on which may be an advantage as I’d imagine they’re better than this load of bollocks. I initially thought it was visually competent, shit special effects aside, but then I noticed how sloppy it was, continuity is just a word here and appearances change from scene to scene, most noticeably with the invisible man and his makeup so he’s visible, in the first 20 minutes it had changed from his face to his whole head and back again a fair few times and the vampire lady would have blood all over her face one minute, then a few spots the next, it’s just fucking lazy. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde are just want versions of Bruce Banner and the Hulk, Hyde tears clothes when he transforms but conveniently has an oversized top hat, seriously who the fuck thought that was a good idea. The acting is bullshit and the characters are all basically a bunch of unlikeable dickheads and Sean Connery clearly has not time whatsoever for this utter horseshit. It’s actually impressive in the sense that it manages to get progressively worse as the it goes on, the special effects are so bad late on it’s like the spunked on the budget at the start of the film, realised they’d fucked up massively and then didn’t even try to half arse it. The plot is so reliant on on stupid decision making and convenience that it’s actually insulting by the end of the film, you can forgive a little of this in a film generally but it seems to be the driving force here and it’s fucking insulting, literally everyone from the good guys to the bad guys is just an utter shitting cretin. The funniest part is the clear sequel baiting right at the end, I refuse to believe that the people involved in this film thought that it was anything other than a fucking train wreck. The first thing I did when I’d finished watching the abomination was to apologise to my brother for doubting him, this might actually be worse than Catwoman purely because that at least didn’t take itself so seriously, this is just utter bollocks and I frankly don’t have enough swear words to use here, it’s so utterly shit that Sean Connery never appeared in another film again.
The Way Back – I was really looking forward to seeing this at the cinema back in April, but sadly Covid happened and fucked everything up for what feels like the rest of time. I subsequently had to wait for it to be released to buy, I could have rented it a little while ago but the rental price was more than the purchase price now is which is fucking insane, and if that’s the model for film releases if cinemas remain closed then I can’t see it being a huge success but that’s a rant for another day. This is the tale of Jack Cunningham, an alcoholic who starts coaching his old high school basketball team. I was looking forward to it as I think Ben Affleck is a great actor, more so latterly than perhaps with his earlier films (though he was the bomb in Phantoms), but knowing about his own struggles with alcohol this felt like it could be an incredibly raw performance which I was interested in. I’m not familiar with the rest of the cast, they’re all excellent though and ably support Affleck who is naturally the main focus of the film and gets the bulk of the screentime. Affleck is bloody excellent, as expected it’s an incredibly raw performance but he manages to also find the heart in it too, he’s a man struggling with his demons and as you learn more about them he becomes more and less sympathetic as you know what’s happened to him and at the same time you know the people he’s lashing out at have been part of it which makes him harder to root for, it’s a fine line to balance on but Affleck manages it superbly. The cinematography is excellent, some of the scenery shots are beautiful, even if they don’t add anything to the narrative, and the basketball scenes are frenetically engaging. The use of the score is brilliant and really conveys the tone of the scenes, moving from melancholy, uplifting or fraught as needed and it really adds to the experience. It’s not a typical sports film either, the point where a more tradition film would end happens about half an hour from the end here, what follows is genuinely uncomfortable but also very impactful, the ending isn’t what I’d necessarily hoped it would be, it’s not exactly a happy ending but it’s bittersweet and it’s hopeful and it really resonated with me. I genuinely loved it, to the point it may be my film of the year so far, my only real regret is that I didn’t get to see it on the big screen.
Tenet – I didn’t think I’d get to see this at the cinema as it was essentially released 2 months ago and a lot of cinemas are closing again due to the whole pandemic situation and most new films being delayed to next year. It was therefore a nice surprise to find a smaller cinema that was still open and showing it so I went for my first cinema trip since February I think. Anyway one of there things you know you’re going to get with a Christopher Nolan film is great cinematography and this doesn’t buck that trend, the special effects are excellent and some of the set pieces are genuinely brilliant. John David Washington is exceptional, he’s adept at the easy going charm element of the character as well as the physical aspects, he’s believable at being able to beat the shit out of people all of which is impressive. Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki and Kenneth Branagh also all stand out but the rest of the cast are all solid too. The time travel type concept is fascinating but does become somewhat complicated, it’s very grounded and the attempt to establish the in film rules around this lead to obvious questions and headaches which is pretty standard for anything where time travel of any kind is a factor. It can be difficult to follow and as things do start to click some elements can be worked out, time travel is largely bollocks as a rule and while there always seems to be problems at least Tenet manages not to dwell on them too much and keeps things entertaining. Music wise it’s odd to have a Nolan film where the score isn’t by Hans Zimmer, this apparently due to Zimmer having other commitments. Ludwig Goransson does a good job though I don’t think it was especially memorable which is a but of a shame, it works well with the action scenes though and doesn’t detract from what’s happening on screen in anyway. It’s definitely one I want to see again before I make any long term judgements on where I’d position it alongside Nolan’s other films, it definitely feels like a film that’d work well with watching it again as it’d allow you to appreciate and be on the look out for little details that may have been missed the first time round. A definite plus point though is that it’s made just that little bit more excited for Robert Pattinson as Batman, and I was pretty optimistic about that anyway.
Bill and Ted Face the Music – Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey was the first film I ever saw at the cinema, apparently way back in the good old days of 1991, so I’ll admit I was looking forward to the sequel which I never thought would happen. First thing that was a pleasant surprise was the run time, at just over an hour and a half it never outstays its welcome. It’s a time travel film so as with any time travel film it makes no sense at all and this film crumbles under even the slightest attempt to apply any logic to things, but on the other hand it doesn’t seem to even attempt to have it make sense which is surprisingly liberating as it’s just focussed on having fun and in that it succeeds. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are clearly having a blast and seem to be having more fun playing the different versions of Bill and Ted that appear while time travelling which is where a lot of the laughs are found. The other focus of the film is on the daughters of the main characters, played by Samara Weaving and Brigitte Lundy-Paine, this is fine and their side quest is fine and entertaining enough but it’s the way that it works back into the main story that works particularly well and is actually incredibly sweet. To be honest the whole film plays it safe and doesn’t do anything that is especially brave and it probably relies on nostalgia a bit too much but it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than that and I’ll take a film that keeps things simple providing it’s entertaining, which this is. I feel like I’m being overly harsh and that’s not my intention at all, it’s one of those films that’s a comfort film, something to watch when you’re wanting to be cheered up. I will say it’s very odd watching Keanu do more light hearted stuff after seeing him kill a hell of a lot of people as John Wick, he’s not an amazing actor but seems to be good at picking roles that work perfectly for him, especially in the last few years. Overall I’d recommend the film, I came away from it with a smile on my face despite the flaws, which never actually ruined my enjoyment of things.
Patema Inverted – I’ve been checking out a bit more anime of late so I’ve been looking out for films that people have recommended and then checking the synopsis to see if it grabs me. The blurb gives very little away beyond main characters Patema and Age meeting and getting dragged in an adventure of some kind, that vagueness coupled with what appeared to be an attractive visual style intrigued me enough to give it a go. The film opens with a disaster of some kind which seems to have forced Patema and the rest of her community to live in an underground shelter of some kind where they go scavenging, Patema is seemingly more curious than most and likes to explore places she shouldn’t and while doing this she falls down a hole where she encounters Age for the first time. Age lives in Aiga, a world that seems to be much like the real world though it’s a dictatorship where the kids in school are essentially indoctrinated but Age doesn’t but into this. The key difference thing that differs between where Patema and Age are from is that they’re inverted to each other so essentially Patema stands on the ceilings when in Aiga which is a little jarring initially, Age promises to help Patema get back home and thus the real story kicks off. I really like the visual style, there’s a interesting contrast between Aiga and the underground where Patema comes from and there’s some great use of panning which I’m a big fan of, there’s some use of slow motion which is incredibly janky as it looks more like it’s being paused and unpaused repeatedly rather than being slow motion which isn’t great but is probably my only issue with the visuals. The dub is fine, the voice actors for Patema and Age give the best performances which is a definite good thing given they’re obviously the main focus, the music is mostly decent but unspectacular but there are a few stand out pieces which add to the scenes they’re in. The story is interesting and actually has a genuinely excellent twist which changes alot of what comes before and the bond that grows between Patema and Age really adds a level of emotion to proceedings that may not be there otherwise. Overall I really enjoyed this, my only real complaint is that it doesn’t tie everything together as neatly as I’d like but that’s definitely more down to my need to closure than anything the film does wrong.
6 Underground – A film directed by Michael Bay and starring Ryan Reynolds, I’m not going to lie I went into this expecting a badly edited clusterfuck full of an excessive amount of explosions which Reynolds would do his best to make work and wind up being the best thing about the film,, essentially expectations were pretty much rock fucking bottom. The opening 15 minutes has an overly long car chase which largely lives up to my suspicions, Reynolds brings his trademark snark to the table and is suitably entertaining with it and Bay brings a ridiculous amount of carnage and some excessive slow motion, so far so predictable. This opening introduces the six members of the team and what they all do and then promptly kills one of them off, where they replace him with a new guy with a completely different skill set. The opening 45 minutes is essentially all about the back story that leads into the team essentially staging a coup in a country run by an utter bastard and installing a less genocidal leader as a replacement. Lets start with the plus points, Ryan Reynolds is comfortably the best thing in the film as expected, the rest of the team are decent too and their bickering back and forth is largely responsible for a lot of the humour in the film, Bay doesn’t use quick cuts like he normally would and he has an eye for a good looking shot, for the most part this is a very pretty looking film and on the whole it’s entertaining, though that does with caveats. Now onto the negatives, and there are a few for me. It’s absolutely fucking nonsensical, you’re supposed to buy into a billionaire essentially starting his own black ops unit which works completely of any other military or national security organisation, not only that you get the impression that sometimes they rely a little bit too heavily on luck. It thinks it’s far cleverer than it is and takes itself far too seriously for the most part, I think if it was played a little more tongue in cheek then it would be easier to swallow. It’s a convoluted load of bollocks, I’m all for non linear story telling but there comes a point where it becomes hard to track and the first hour is guilty of this, it becomes more formulaic as things go on though. The bad guy isn’t given a whole lot to do bar being a dictator that is a shit and murders his own people and the film as a whole is absolutely full of cliches. While the cuts are much more controlled the use of shaky cam and slow motion definitely are not restrained in the slightest and the destruction is absolutely fucking absurd, genuinely sometimes less is more and one of the mist frustrating things is that Bay could be a great director with more restraint but basically peaked with The Rock back in the 90s. Ultimately there are worse ways to spend two hours of your life, but by Christ there are many, many better ways too.
Black Mass – A gangster film starring Johnny Depp, based on the true story of Whitey Bulger who was a mob boss became an FBI informant. I knew nothing about the film or the real life tale going in, to the point where I didn’t know that the cast had people like Benedict Cumberbatch and Kevin Bacon. I obviously was also somewhat conscious of the fact that I’ve not exactly enjoyed the previous gangster films I’ve seen so far. The film mostly plays out in a linear fashion starting in 1975 and with some time jumps but does occasionally flash to interviews with members of Bulger’s gang with law enforcement which allow for a bit more exposition to be delivered which is a pretty smart way of doing this. Aside for the three actors mentioned there’s a hell of a cast here, people like Joel Edgerton, David Harbour, Peter Sarsgaard and Jesse Plemons to name a few. Everyone gives strong performances with whatever time they’re given, which for some realistically isn’t enough which is a shame. Naturally it’s Depp, as Bulger, that is expected to do alot of the heavy lifting and Edgerton too given that he’s portraying Bulger’s FBI handler who also happens to have grown up with him too. Depp is honestly excellent, it’s nice to be reminded that he can act as it seems that roles like Jack Sparrow have been his go to in the last few years, here though he looks almost unrecognisable and he’s genuinely menacing at times but he keeps him restrained and also human which is impressive. Edgerton does an impressive job too, he starts out as an FBI agent wanting to use Bulger but gradually this goes awry and he starts to actually help Bulger, which leads to people getting murdered, and gets entangled in the shady activities, he becomes very much a morally grey character and this becomes a much more difficult situation when a new guy comes in that’s determined to take Bulger down. It’s a slowly paced film, it paints a pretty vivid picture of the sort of person Bulger was at that point and how the agents handling him got themselves into serious trouble, it’s always interesting and becomes genuinely fascinating towards the end when the walls begin to close in. Visually it’s solid but as a rule I don’t tend to find anything set in the recentish past to be visually stunning as a rule but there’s nothing wrong with that, it does what it needs to when all said and done. Overall I really enjoyed this, I’d go so far as to say it’s the gangster film I’ve liked the most out of all the ones I’ve seen so far.
The Devil Wears Prada – I knew next to nothing about this movie going in, essentially that it was meant to be amazing and that it had inspired a shitload of memes over the years and that was pretty much it beyond it starring Meryl Streep and Anna Hathaway. The film follows Hathaway’s character, Andy, as she starts a job as an assistant to Streep’s character, Miranda, who is the editor of a fashion magazine. Obviously this doesn’t initially go well as Andy struggles with the demands of the role and the fact that no one actually properly trains her and the fact that Miranda is a demanding bastard. Hathaway is excellent as the idealistic journalist that takes the job thinking she’s too good for it, and gradually starts to commit to the role though then starts to struggle to balance her life. Streep seems to be having the time of her life in her role, Miranda is demanding, harsh and dismissive but you’re always aware that she’s a human and Streep somehow manages to keep her mostly likeable where I suspect it’d be very easy for her not to be at all. There are only two other actors I’m familiar with, one being Emily Blunt who is excellent as an utter bitch, but rather less sympathetic as a result. The other is Stanley Tucci who I don’t think has been anything less than superb in anything I’ve seen him in, and he’s not broken that streak in this, he’s also a bitch but does it with a twinkle in his eye and you know his bitchiness is a way of showing affection and as such he’s probably the most likeable character in the film. It’s hard to really offer an opinion on the visual style as it’s mostly set in an office, the scenes not set in the office have some really cool locations so that’s interesting and the camerawork is very good at capturing the emotions on the characters faces and frames them well which is pretty impressive. The sound track is really good, whoever picked the songs that get used did a cracking job there as they really enhance the scenes. The last 15 minutes or so is genuinely exceptional, you find out the kind of person Miranda truly is and Andy realises the she’s started to walk the same path and has a decision to make about who she wants to be, and it’s a moment that the film has been doing a cracking job of building towards and it really does a lot to show just how talented an actress Hathaway is. Overall it’s definitely not a film I would usually checked out but it’s one I’m glad I did as I really enjoyed it, definitely one that’s worth checking out.
Vengeance – My friends and I have a tradition at birthdays we give each other a seemingly shit film, I usually get someone a Steven Seagal boxset. This year I got this film which I’ve never heard of, it stars Nicolas Cage and seems to be one of a huge number of films he’s done in recent years where it’s seemingly for the money. Obviously this is all initially speculation though the fact that the full title is Vengeance: A Love Story according to IMDB didn’t exactly inspire confidence that this judgement would be proven wrong, added with the 4 and 5 star ratings quote on the cover are from places I’ve never even remotely heard of and IMDB gives it 5.2 out of 10 suggested it was definitely going to be a pile of shit so my only hope was it’d wind up being so bad it’s good. The intro actually provided some positive news in that the soundtrack is done by Frederik Wiedmann who has done a cracking job on the Dragon Prince soundtrack, and the soundtrack is largely pretty decent which was a very pleasant surprise. It also opens with a movie cliche where Cage’s partner is gunned down seconds after saying about how he’s going to propose so this seemed much more in line with expectations. It’s surprisingly good looking film in places, there’s one scene early on where the characters are walking through some woods and the use of lighting is excellent and some shots look utterly awful with a clearly fake backdrop. There’s an incredibly unpleasant rape scene which is significant to the plot but feels almost gratuitous which I’d hope to christ wasn’t what they were aiming for. There’s some really shit continuity in there, the same night as the attack happens we’re expected to believe that the police arrest the suspects and arrange an ID parade, and that they then get away with it in what is possibly the worst court scene I’ve ever seen in anything up to this point, it’s just a shambolic load of bollocks, it’s utterly unbelievable. Don Johnson is pretty great as the smarmy arsehole of a lawyer he plays although he is pretty key to the utterly ludicrous court scene. Anna Hutchison, as the victim, has to do a lot of the heavy lifting acting wise and she’s honestly excellent, as is Talitha Bateman as her daughter. Nic Cage is surprisingly restrained by his standards, to the point where he doesn’t really seem to give much of a shit and actually isn’t the main focus of the film until maybe the last 45 minutes when his character takes justice into his own hands. It has to be said that this is the point where the film picks up significantly as it’s incredibly gratifying when the pricks start getting what’s coming to them even if you have to suspend your disbelief to ridiculous levels. In all it’s an unpleasant and stupid film that is nowhere near as wank as I was expecting it to be, to be clear it’s also not a good film and I think if not for the performances of the 2 female leads it’d definitely fall into utter shite territory.
I’ve got a few films already in mind for another one of these in the future, I’ve actually found these to be pretty useful for my mental health as watching the films gives me something to do and concentrate on and then the writing about them provides something else to focus on. Not sure the watching shit films is ideal overall but it at least lets me swear about something so every cloud.