You Were Never Really Here

There’s so much to love and admire in You Were Never Really Here and it’s a film I dearly wanted to love. Unfortunately it suffers from one of my pet peeves in modern film-making – a lack of volume control. Now, after watching this I realized that this partly may be a problem with my TV set up, but I watched via TV and on my Kindle and the same issue occurred. After a bit of tinkering I was able to make things better, but the damage was already done. What is this problem I speak of? Essentially, the soundtrack is too loud, but the vocal mix is too low. What this means is that I’m constantly turning down the volume when the music is playing only to frantically turn it up for the dialogue, completely taking me out of the experience.

It’s a pity, because if this hadn’t been an issue for me then this would likely be one of my favourites of the year. There are few better visionary directors working today than Lynne Ramsay and here she is partnered with a rejuvenated Joaquin Phoenix. The film frequently looks spectacular, Ramsay’s visuals and the jarring editing and directing interweaving wonderfully with Jonny Greenwood’s superb score. On the surface, it’s another one of ‘those’ films – a guy with a gun goes through a bunch of bad guys to save an innocent soul, but in truth it isn’t really interested in the violence or the action, nor is it even really interested in the plot. The plot is simple to the point of irrelevance – Joe is a killer who specializes in saving kids. He is tasked with saving the daughter of a politician who has somehow been sucked into a child sex ring. Those in charge of the sex ring fight back. That’s it, a story you’ll see three times this year in Liam Neeson movies alone.

For Ramsay, it’s an excuse to peel back Joe’s damaged brain and see what’s inside, a soldier suffering from a life of abuse and bad shit – PTSD from warzones and a violent, abusive upbringing have turned him into a suicide fantasist whose dreams, reality, and flashbacks all wrestle for control. Normally these characterizations would lead to hackneyed scenes where the audience isn’t clear what is real and what is not, and while there is a touch of this to what Ramsay does, the more sudden and quick outbursts are more obvious to the viewer, giving us a greater impression of the level of breakage within Joe. The only other character worth speaking of is Joe’s Mother played by Judith Roberts (who somehow at 80-something years old is more beautiful than almost any other woman you’ll see on screen this year, apologies but it’s something I kept thinking while watching), who needs help with even the most simple task and is seemingly the only thing keeping Joe breathing. Nina, the girl Joe is tasked with rescuing, is nothing more than a maguffin – a blank canvas who is apparently so numb to the point that she doesn’t care if she is rescued or if the people around her are killed.

The violence in You Were Never Really Here is never front and centre – in fact much of it is off-screen or viewed at a glance. There’s a scene right at the end which could be shocking for some – I’ll leave it up to you to decide if you feel its resolution was a cop-out or not, but either way you get the impression that the future will not be as beautiful as the day Joe and Nina comment on. It’s another notch for Ramsay, but for me she hasn’t made the film which will define her and allow her to reach her full potential.

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The Night Eats The World

Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend is my favourite book of all time. Beyond its influence on horror (no I Am Legend, then no Night Of The Living Dead, no Stephen King, and nothing which either of those two examples have influenced) it remains a stone-cold classic, chilling, prescient, written with a surgeon’s precision and nerve, and it is filled with horror, humour, despair, and acceptance in defeat. It’s so rarely included on any best books of the 20th Century lists as to render those lists worthless. Aside from the many films, TV shows, and books which it has spawned, there have been a few direct or pseudo direct adaptations – The Last Man, The Omega Man, and Will Smith’s I Am Legend. None of those are worth watching more than once, and none come close to the majesty of Matheson’s original. Although it is completely unofficial and not mentioned anywhere as being an influence, The Night Eats The World is the best film version of Matheson’s story we have so far. Interestingly, the movie is in fact an adaptation of a different book by Pit Agarmen/Martin Page which I have not yet read but almost certainly borrows from Matheson.

Just to expand further on that point – both works see a man left seemingly alone in the world, surrounded by the undead. In I Am Legend they are vampires, and here they are zombies, but they are fairly interchangeable – all they want is to kill the lone survivor. The survivor in each spends his days barricading himself up, scavenging for food and supplies, keeping fit, and trying to not go insane. I Am Legend has a dog, The Night Eats The World has a cat. Both are character studies on the nature and notion of survival, on humanity, on loneliness, and while Matheson goes all in on the scientific side, here director Dominique Rocher is more concerned with philosophy, with tone, with cinema. Both works discuss whether the human is now useless – a soon to be extinct relic no longer required by nature and that the undead are the new normal. Our hero in the movie, Sam, discusses this as he descends into madness with a zombie named Alfred which he traps in a lift shaft. Those viewers looking for a straight horror movie may want to look elsewhere because while there are scares – effective ones – this is not supposed to be a visceral experience and instead is a rumination on existence when there seems to be no future – an idea so horrifying you’d struggle to name one worse.

Sam is a musician living in Paris. The film begins with him visiting an ex-girlfriend to pick up some of his recorded pieces of music. Unaware that she is having a monumental party in her apartment block he struggles with the pretentious people, the strangers, the crowds, and the sheer awkwardness of being there. With little to no dialogue or interaction we are put firmly in his shoes and know pretty much everything we need to know about him. A series of unfortunate events lead to Sam falling asleep in a locked room while the camera slowly zooms towards the door as familiar sounds of carnage erupt briefly. The next morning Sam wakes, finds the apartment empty but destroyed and filled with blood. He meets his zombified ex-girlfriend, locks himself away, and soon discovers that some cataclysmic event has unfolded leaving him abandoned an alone. Cultured viewers already know the zombie tropes, so the film doesn’t need to bore us with explanations or examples of how you’re turned, how to kill them, et cetera, and Sam simply resigns himself to the facts. He is alone, he needs food, he needs water, he needs shelter. The rest of the film is a showcase for these struggles, but more importantly what to do with his time and with his existence once these struggles have been overcome.

Sam is as uncomfortable with people as he is without. His descent towards insanity is gradual, shown in clever ways such as terrifying nightmares, possible hallucinations, definite hallucinations, and other subtle and not so subtle changes in his personality and actions. I’ve often wondered how I would cope under the same strains. Part of me thinks I would have the time of my life – free to do whatever I wanted and perfectly fine with never meeting another living soul again. Then again, that was before I had a family. And I’m essentially useless at DIY, cooking, farming, and anything else needed for surviving under these conditions. And most of the things I’d want to do would be rendered obsolete by the fact that electricity would be gone and a step outside would likely lead to certain death. Like many of its ilk, the film forces these questions and assumptions upon the viewer, though this is the most effective example I’ve seen since Dawn Of The Dead. 

The film is a slow-burner. There is almost no dialogue, and any violence and action when it comes is swift and brief. For me this worked, especially knowing Sam’s character and within the self-defined constrictions of the piece, but I understand that other viewers may get frustrated or even bored by the unfolding story. A few negative reviews have gone so far as calling it dull and a few have been angered by the open-ended conclusion. This isn’t a film which has a beginning and an end. This is a few months in the life of a man trapped and buried by insurmountable odds, and the conclusion is simply one more step – a step towards more of the same, or a step towards whatever is next is down to the viewer to assess. Again, you’ve asked what you would do if faced with the same situation – what would you do faced with the ending?

Anders Danielsen Lie is an up and coming star, with a number of notable releases and performances in this and recent years. The film belongs almost entirely to him and the director, who I can only assume worked closely on most aspects. His performance is gritty and quietly powerful, avoiding many of the usual hallmarks of the ‘guy goes mad’ story. Without becoming too extreme in any single direction, he runs the gamut of emotions and remains convincing throughout. Rocher is surely a name to watch now too, the latest director to wield a more subtle approach to terrifying audiences, and I will be excited to see what her comes up with next. His camera rarely jump-cuts or moves beyond a pedestrian pace and he is more interested in how desolate a room or a city can look than how bloody a person can be when being torn to shreds. The decision to make zombies almost completely silent is more potent than it sounds and leads to some of the more frightening encounters in many years. A strong soundtrack fills out some of the empty spaces and a few supporting characters add to the overall quality and effect. Although I admit to being predisposed to loving this, it is a highly recommended voyage into the horror of solitude. Train To Busan came from nowhere and thrilled audiences and rejuvenated a genre everyone was sick with – The Night Eats The World does the same, but in an entirely different style. In a year where horror saw a number of major financial and critical successes, and in a year where I read countless best movie of the year posts featuring every Superhero movie under the sun, The Night Eats The World is not being discussed by anyone but should be leapfrogging its way onto every series movie fan’s list.

Best Make-up – 1974

My Nominations: Young Frankenstein. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Flesh For Frankenstein. The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad.

Once again there was no official award this year, so you’ll have to take my word on what was good. As would continue to be the case, the nominees mainly fall into the horror and fantasy genres – not genres which The Academy pays much heed to – but which nevertheless have created some of the finest examples of the craft. Young Frankenstein does subtle work to Peter Boyle to turn him into The Monster, but not so much that Boyle’s features and abilities are blocked. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre screams blood and guts, but there are only a few very minor scenes of such in the movie – it’s the make-up on Grampa and lighter touches on the rest of the family which transform them into something gruesomely human. Flesh For Frankenstein on the other hand goes all in on the gore effects, with viscera spilling all over the place. Finally, The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad is mainly notable for its stop motion and assorted effects, but the Make-up also gives a convincing sense of time and place.

My Winner: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Let us know your winner in the comments!

2019 In Film – A Preview – July

Annabelle 3

The first one wasn’t great and I haven’t seen the second one. These must still be making money – not a surprise when they’re cheap to make, but this will almost certainly be more loud jump-scares and little else.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

I’ve seen the Raimi trilogy, but haven’t seen any since. Was there another trilogy before this latest series? Or just a couple of films? I’m sure I’ll get to them one day.

17 Bridges

A cop thriller with a cat and mouse chase around Manhattan. They could go classy on this and make it like Sicario or more likely it could be like a TV movie or stretched TV episode. The cast is okay – only Keith David really stands out to me as someone to get me interested, and the director is mainly known for his TV work.

Stuber

Looks like a modern buddy movie – I don’t think many of these have worked recently and this will most likely go the same way. When these work they’re always entertaining, and it will be cool seeing Bautista and Iko Uwais going toe to toe. Director Michael Dowse has so far directed the sorts of comedies I actively avoid so I can’t see this being too hot.

The Lion King

Yet another Disney remake and yet another ‘why’. I’m not as precious about The Lion King as some people are, but beyond money there is no reason for this to exist. I’m sure it can’t possibly capture the magic of the original – like any of these remakes – but it’ll be pretty to look at.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

The big one. Tarantino’s movies have been more on the average side for me recently, not since Inglorious Basterds. Django was okay, and The Hateful Eight was probably his weakest. This is the film he has wanted to make for years and it’s the one fans like me have wanted to see. I’d rather he made this in his early days than now, and I’d rather it wasn’t related to the Manson stuff as that seems needlessly exploitative and I’m more interested in Tarantino’s vision of 60s/70s Hollywood.

Wish Dragon

I don’t know what this is, other than it is an animation with voice work by Jackie Chan.

Is that it? Where did all the movies go? Which ones are you looking forward to?

My Blog – January 2019

People love crap like this, right?
People love crap like this, right?

And now for something completely different. I usually don’t do these sorts of self-promotional things, if that’s what this is. I don’t go out of my way to share on Twitter or Facebook or try to advertise what I write here (though I do sometimes share links to the fan pages I’m on), mainly because it’s for me and also I like the idea of people just randomly stumbling upon the blog and liking it. I don’t want to be the centre of, or even the outskirts of attention, but I’m not some clammed up introvert either who falls to pieces when someone looks at me. I do think a lot of what I write is more interesting (and dare I say better) than many of the blogs out there who do similar stuff – in fact, I’ve unfollowed a few movie review blogs for being little more than a synopsis of the film, a couple of lines about personal feelings, a final score, and wondering how they have followers in the high hundreds or even thousands.

But that’s fine – this isn’t jealousy or a cry for attention. If you happen to come here, great. If you happen to come back, that’s fantastic and I am truly thankful for those of you who stop by regularly or comment or like whatever I post. I do believe that all art is selfish and while no blog could ever be considered art, you get what I mean. If you have your own blog – write it for yourself first. If you’re after money or likes or clicks or whatever, that stuff should be secondary, not the main goal of putting finger to keyboard, and you’re probably someone I’m not going to be interested in. Would I like more people to follow me, and comment on my posts? Of course. I’m not so far up my own ass that I’m going to turn people away and pretend that I don’t like compliments – everyone does. I’d love for this place to be more of a community and have more people waiting with baited breath for my next life-changing post… but then I’d probably have to put in more effort. That’s the thing with me – at least when it comes to this blog – I write whatever comes into my head in the moment, and post it. I rarely plan, I almost never rewrite, but I do write posts months in advance, then come back and add a screenshot or run spell-check, and then post. A lot of the blogs I follow – it’s obvious you guys but a lot more effort in to make your writing more engaging, more eloquent, and bursting to the rafters with more metaphors than a drunken Irishman. The irony being that I am a drunken Irishman and don’t care.

The point of it all. If you’re a regular visitor – one of my beloved Glancers – then you know the score. If you’re new here, then you probably stumble around the home page looking for something interesting before checking out the About page. If you’re a bot or if you stumbled here looking for big breasted Japanese women then may I hand you over to one of the internet’s many more specialized sites? For everyone, new or just passing through, I’m going to try to post something like this once a month – not as rambling and needless as this – but just a recap of what I do on the blog. Maybe I’ll give some info of what has been happening in my life or a preview of upcoming attractions. For example – I went for a promotion recently, didn’t get it, and now I have to train the person who did get it. Ain’t that a slap in the nuts?

For now I’m going to give a semi-exhaustive list of the various categories I write about. Feel free to click around the site. Feel free to share my blog. Tell your mother. Tell your dog! Everyone is welcome, and there’s bound to be something for everyone. A lot of the info below is copied and pasted from my About Page, but if I post this once a month it’ll be easy to see for whoever miraculously materializes here.

A-Z Reviews: This category is a single post with links to all my movie, music, and book reviews. It’s the best place to start and you can check it via THIS LINK. I try to update it regularly.

Amazon Vine: I’m a member of Amazon Vine, a program where Amazon’s best reviewers are provided with free products for reviewing purposes in order to drum up publicity before the product is released to the general public. You can find links to the Products I have received here.

Book Reviews: Something I don’t really do anymore, even though I still read plenty. I need to get back into this, but movies are so much easier to review. Maybe I’ll come up with a different format.

Blogging: A new category! This is where I’m going to put this exact post, and the others like it to follow.

Changing The Past: This category is where I go back through every Oscars since 1960 and pick my winners from almost every category. I pick my winners from the official choices, and then I add my own personal list of who I feel should have been nominated. It’s based on personal preference, but it’s also not based on any of the usual Academy political nonsense and I bypass most of their archaic rules. It’s not quite me just picking my favourite films, but it’s close.

DVD Reviews: I should probably just change this to Movie Reviews. It’s what you would expect – reviews of the movies I’ve watched. I’m not a big fan of reviewing every new film which comes out – there are a billion other blogs out there all doing the same thing. I don’t often watch new movies as they release, unless they’re streaming, so instead you’ll be getting reviews of those films a few years later, once I get around to them. Here you will find horror, actions, classics, foreign, indie, sci-fi, comedy, drama – everything. A word of warning – I frequently post reviews that I wrote almost twenty years ago when I didn’t have a clue – they’re crap, but I add them here in all of their badly written glory.

Essential Movies: I’ve only published an intro post for this category, but I have written some other posts for the future. I’m basically questioning what actually makes a film Essential, because it cannot be a definitive statement. What’s essential for you, may not be for me, so I’ve broken down the defintion into a few generic user types, then gone through some lists of the best movies of each year to see which ones are essential for each viewer. It’s pretty boring, and I already regret starting it, but that’s me.

Foreign Cinema Introduction: This category hasn’t been published yet, but once again it exists and I’ve written a bunch of posts for the future. The idea came from my many years of hearing people I know IRL or on the internet dismissing anything not mass-produced by Hollywood. If you only watch movies made in the USA – you’re not a movie fan, it’s as simple as that. I follow a few Facebook fan pages and blogs on WordPress which completely dismiss foreign movies – it’s ridiculous as you are missing out on many of the best films ever made. More than that, you are missing out on films which I know for a fact you will adore. So, this is me breaking down all that bullshit about subtitles, about foreign stuff being boring and every other excuse you’ve ever heard, while giving some very basic thoughts and introductions of the various countries of the world from a film perspective.

Lists: Here I post lists – some with comments, some without. All sorts of lists – from monthly previews of the year’s upcoming movies, to my favourite movies by actor or director, to best horror anthologies, best Christmas songs and TV shows, best movies for Halloween, my favourite episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, my ranking of Bond movies, songs, and girls, my favourite albums by decade, my favourite songs by artist, bands I’ve seen live etc. I love lists.

Manic Street Preachers Song By Song: One of the first reasons I started this blog was to try to spread the Gospel of my favourite band, especially as they are not well known outside of Britain. Defo not in the US. Then I found out there were other blogs doing it too. Ah well. These are my thoughts on each song. Don’t know them? They are a Welsh rock band who have been around since the late 80s, early 90s. They are highly political and intelligent, on the left wing, and they are probably the finest lyricists in the world. Their main lyricist suffered from various addictions and mental health issues and disappeared in 1995 – although there have been sightings, nobody has ever confirmed they have seen him and no body has ever been found, though the band, fans, and family are still looking. After three albums with him, they suddenly became commercially successful after his disappearance. If you like rock music… if you like music in general, please give them a try.

Music Reviews: This is the same as movies, except for music. Reviews of albums I’ve always loved, as reviews of albums as I’m listening as a virgin. I take a look at the Top Ten UK Charts from a random month in each year and review each song, while giving my own alternative ten songs from the same year, I am reviewing albums that I’ve never heard by artists I am familiar with – filling the gaps in those discographies. I’m listening to spin-offs of my favourite bands, I’m reviewing the Disney soundtracks. I was a metal and grunge kid, but also had a love for the best in 80 pop when I was young, so I like to listen to anything though since around the mid-noughties chart music has gone from extremely bad to entirely worthless.

The Nightman Scoring System ©: This is something I truly love, but something which nobody really pays attentino to. You’ll notice in my reviews I don’t give a score. I just talk about the thing I’m reviewing. Scores are arbitrary and when given, people jump to the score and form a conclusion and a bias. If they read the content of the review, there will be a better discussion. That made me think, in a very unprofessional, semi-scientific, ill-examined way, to come up with a fair, universal scoring system which tries to avoid personal and systematic bias as much as possible. If you look at sites like Rotten Tomatoes which are stupidly becoming reference points for quality or to convince you to watch something, or used by advertisers, it’s a completely flawed system. Anyone can post whatever they like, and drag down or push up an average. The same used to happen on IMDb. There are a lot of posts online recently about the disparity between Critical and Audience consensus on RT and it leads to more worthless arguments, because if there’s something the world needs more of these days, it’s people fighting online about pointless stuff.

I devised two scoring systems – one for movies and one for music. To use it, you have to follow the guidelines and be honest. If you’re not honest, it will be obvious, and your review won’t be valid. For both music and and movies, I break down the scoring into twenty different categories of equal weighting – out of five, for a total out of 100. Categories include acting, directing, sales; or for music – charts, influence, musical ability etc. Say you hate the Marvel movies or The Beatles. You can’t score them a 1 out of five in the Sales category because both of those were factually monster hits – they can really only be 5 out of five. In other words, some of what is opinion and bias is removed from the equation. In the same vein, the disparity between critics and audiences is reduced – typically you may think that a movie or music critic care more about how arty or original or influential something is, while the audience might care how many boobs are seen or how catchy the melody is. I’m making sweeping assumptions – but you get the idea – each category is equally weighted so that influence is only worth five points, chart performance is only worth five points, directing, advertising, whatever – each is five points. I’d love to see people use this, and I’d love to run an experiment where a group of people each use the system to score the same thing, and see how similar or different the results are. I’m positive the average would be a more true reflection than anything on RT or IMDB or anywhere else. The only issue with it is, it’s more suited to scoring once something has been out there for a while rather than a pre-release or first week review.

Nightman’s Favourite Films By Year: Self-explanatory. I list my favourite ten films from every year since 1950, with no comment. Then I give a list of my top films from each decade once I’ve done each year, but this time share some comments. There’s also some stats in there, such as how many films I picked which were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, which were top ten grossing movies etc.

Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: A journalist called Colin Larkin made several of those popular ‘Top 1000 Albums Ever’ books. I grabbed one of them, I removed the ones I had already heard, and in this series I go through the ones that I haven’t heard, give my virgin thoughts, and whether I think it deserves to be called one of the best ever. I want to sync up my Nightman Scoring System © with these. Just one word of warning – I don’t plan or put any thought into these ‘reviews’. I literally listen and type at the same time. Not the best way to give thoughts I know, but that’s the format.

The Shrine: People die. Famous people die. But they live on, in our hearts and minds and in the work they left behind. Here I offer the chance to remember and offer thanks.

The Spac Hole: Each Monday I post a random lyric from a random song. Every so often I write something which doesn’t fit in any other category. Usually it’s weird. That stuff all goes here. There are more semi-regular pieces like those posts where I use Google translate to change the lyrics of (s)hit songs or dreadful imaginings like what I would do if I owned my own Cinema.

The Spac Reviews: Carlos Nightman is my alter ego. Derek Carpet is his alter ego. He is an idiot. He likes movies. These are his reviews. They are…. different.

TV Reviews: I sometimes review TV too. I talk about my current shows and my all time favourites.

Unpublished Screenplays: Derek Carpet sometimes likes to pretend he’s a writer too. Here are some of his original works, based on other movies and TV shows.

Videogame Reviews: I do these sometimes too. Usually retro. Usually with a humourous bent.

Walk Of Fame: Hollywood has a Walk Of Fame. I have one too. Mine’s better, except I don’t update it anymore. Not only do my inductees get a star, but they get a statue too! And, in each post one lucky soul gets a special building concerning their work or life dedicated to them!

That’s that. Congrats if you got through it. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see me write about, or if there are any ideas concerning blogging or life you’d be interested in hearing my thoughts on!

2019 In Film – A Preview – June

Dark Phoenix

The recent X-Men movies haven’t been as strong as the first two Bryan Singer ones – they’re still watchable, but they’re fairly forgettable and incoherent. I imagine this will be more of the same. It’ll tide them over before they decide to reboot it again or merge it all into one epic Marvel/DC/Beano nuke of crap.

The Secret Life Of Pets 2

I enjoyed the first one, my kids loved it… are animated sequels ever any good though?

Flarsky

Directed by Jonathan Levine who is very much hit and miss – often decent ideas as a writer, often generic or just plain bad in execution. This time around it sounds like a bad idea – loser chases successful woman he knew as a child. Romantic comedy stuff, with probably more ‘adult’ humour.

Men In Black International

I don’t think I ever saw the third one. Does International mean they’re looking at the different MIB agencies on each country? Does this mean Liam Neeson is going to be head of the Northern Ireland branch, headquarters in Ballymena? That would be possibly worth watching, if only to cringe at the accents.

Shaft

Seriously? Again? Why do we need this? Actually, this is sequel to the Sam Jackson one and sees all three generations of the Shaft family popping up, the story sounding like a standard murder mystery. Expect cool one-liners and the odd bit of action.

Toy Story 4

Like MIB, I don’t believe I ever saw Toy Story 3. I suppose I should. I like the other two, just not as in love with them as most people are.

Grudge

Speaking of reboots and remakes and sequels, is any franchise more confusing than The Grudge? It’s already been remade about twelve times. Shit, I still watch them, though I’m sure this is the final straw and will be rubbish.

Child’s Play

I’m not sure if we need a reboot of this especially as we have had plenty of sequels in the original series recently. I haven’t actually seen any past 3, but I always intended to. Same rules apply – kick him off a bridge and walk slowly away.

Untitled Danny Boyle/Richard Curtis Film

Oh fuck, it’s a musical, even if it is Danny Boyle. Keep it away from me. Far far away.

Ford Vs Ferrari

Remember what I said about food, horses, and dancing? The same applies for cars – don’t care.

Limited Partners

Two women from different backgrounds start a beauty company. All you need for this to be any less interesting to me would be a love for horses, food, or cars and have it be a musical. Director hasn’t made anything better than ‘just above average’ though I’ll watch Rose Byrne and Salma Hayek in any old shite. As you can guess, this is not for me.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged

The first wasn’t great, but if it has sharks and people being eaten by sharks then you don’t have to tell me twice.

All You Need Is Love

Ah ha! So this is actually the Unnamed Danny Boyle/Richard Curtis musical. At least the idea is interesting, and if it is actually about Beatles music then I may give it a shot. Just when you think it might be interesting, you see Ed Sheeran in the cast and want to rip your own skin off with a skull.

Which of the above films are you interested in? Let us know in the comments!

2019 In Film – A Preview – May

The Kid

Another Indie flick directed by Vincent D’Onforio, this time it’s a Western about Billy The Kid and Pat Garrett. We’ve seen that story on screen countless times now, but it looks like here it’s viewed through the eyes of some random child. For an Indie film there are a couple of big names starring – Ethan Hawke and Chris Pratt.

UglyDolls

This sounds like it could be terrible – an animation by Troublemaker Studios with voice ‘talent’ including Pitbull, Kelly Clarkson, a Jonas etc, based on a toy fad from 20 years ago. The music in the trailer is atrocious…. and that’s about it. One for the kids.

The Hustle

A remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Well, I didn’t like that film and it’s being directed by a semi-popular English stand-up comedian that I’m not too interested in. He’s starred in TV shows over here too, but none I’ve seen. Looks like they’re going the Ghostbusters remake and making it about the ladies. That worked well last time. Why not just create an original story? The only reason the original was interesting was because it was about old guys. This time it’s about the young and pretty. I have no reason in the world to see this beyond saying I’ve seen it.

Detective Pikachu

This caused a bit of a ruckus though? Not sure why. I’ve never played a proper Pokemon game so I have no attachment. It’ll probably be bad, but they might go The Lego Movie route and get lucky.

My Son

French film about a man searching for his son, directed by Christian Carion. He starred in Tell No One which I liked, and he directed Joyeux Noel which I liked. Plus, Melanie Laurent is in it, along with Guillaume Canet. This is actually a 2017 film, getting a US release now.

Wild Rose

Scottish singer dreams of being a star in Nashville. No thanks. I like Sophie Okonedo, but everyone else and everything thing else about this screams ‘avoid at all costs’ for me.

The Third Wife

So, the poster is supposed to be a bleeding vagina, right? Set in 19th Century Vietnam, which is something new to me and it’s about a young girl about to be married. Don’t know anything else about anyone involved.

John Wick 3

I haven’t seen the second, I liked the first, and I’m usually up for anything Keanu wants to do. More guns, more bad guys getting blasted to pieces, what more do you need?

The Sun Is Also A Star

The synopsis simply reads ‘a teenager finds love at a difficult time in her family’s life’. Directed, written, and starring mostly women I’m not familiar with so possibly a unique perspective or possibly more of the same.

Ad Astra

This one has been talked about for a while – a sci-fi thriller with Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland heading a large extended cast. It’s James Gray’s follow up to The Lost City Of Z which I thoroughly enjoyed so I’m hoping for more adventure and soft philosophical ruminations.

Aladdin

Another Disney remake and more howling of ‘why’ at the sky. I don’t see how they can improve upon the original, but that’s not really the point is it. This is nothing more than Disney showing off how rich they are, how fancy they can make a world look, and how much more money they can make off us. No doubt it will be perfectly serviceable, but why they would give a Muslim love story of magic and wonder to Cockney hack Guy Ritchie, who hasn’t had a hit in ever, is anyone’s guess.

Booksmart

Olivia Wilde’s feature directing debut. Unfortunately the plot sounds terrible – two smart girls realize they spent their time in school studying instead of ‘having fun’ and decide to pile in all the fun in one night. In other words – I don’t care.

Bright Burn

So, I’m writing all these Preview posts on the same day and in one of the later or earlier months there’s an X-Men spin off where I mention how superhero and horror movies seem like the perfect – no, that’s not the right word – seem like the correct crossover. It looks like we’re getting a few of these this year, with Brightburn looking like another. If studios are all playing this game then of course it means it’s going to get saturated pretty quickly, but this will be one of the first. Lets hope it’s not cheapened and they go full horror. I’m not a huge fan of Elizabeth Banks and don’t have a definite opinion on the rest of the cast, but I’m hoping for something good with this.

Minecraft: The Movie

I’ve never played the game, but you’d have to have been living under a block (heh) to know exactly what it is. I’m surprised it’s taken till now to cash in with a movie, but I’m also fairly certain there’s already been a TV series/movie on it. Surely the only question here is how bad it can actually be?

Godzilla: King Of The Monsters

I need to go back and watch Godzilla and Kong Island again – I liked them at the time but can remember very little about them. A director I like, a cast I like, and the trailer makes it look huge. lets hope the story is good and not just an excuse for big beasties to knock lumps out of each other.

Rocketman

I never liked the original… it was boring, too nicey nice. Only joking, this is Elton John we’re talking about, not the superhero. I’m not an Elton fan either so I’ll pass. Is this going to be the next thing – bios of 70s pop rock stars – after that Queen one? How long until they get to someone I’m actually interested in, like Alice Cooper or Led Zep? Never? I’m fine with that, cheers.

The Rosie Project

This has a long history, which has become gradually less inspiring – originally Jennifer Lawrence was attached, dropped out, Linklater was due to direct, turned it down, and now it’s all people you’ve never heard of. It’s a romance based on a hit Australian novel about a scientist who is useless with women who decides to make a questionnaire to assess how suitable each woman he meets is for him. In other words, this should be a horror movie, not a romance. Then again, we already have Audition, so good luck topping that. Won’t be seeing this.

Let us know which of the above movies you’ll excited about seeing!

Best Writing (Adapted) – 1974

Official Nominations: The Godfather Part II. The Apprenticeship Of Duddy Kravtiz. Lenny. Murder On The Orient Express. Young Frankenstein.

The Godfather Part II wins this one easily enough, though I would love to have seen Young Frankenstein getting it too. Lenny is an interesting one – the need to balance the on stage material with the off stage reality is handled well, while Murder On The Orient Express is always told well in any adaptation. The Apprenticeship Of Duddy Kravtiz is the offbeat choice this year, a film with an unfortunate name which I imagine would turn away most potential viewers nowadays. It’s a fun coming of age story though, with a great lead from Richard Dreyfuss, and it has its share of funny moments.

My Winner: The Godfather Part II

My Nominations: The Godfather Part II. Young Frankenstein.

There’s absolutely nothing I want to add this year – there are a number of possibilities but nothing as strong as my two picks above, so what’s the point?

My Winner: The Godfather Part II

Which film gets your vote – let us know in the comments!

2019 In Film – A Preview – April

Shazam!

David Sandberg joins the comic world takeover….. I don’t really know what this is. Again I’ve heard bloggers and people on Facebook talk about it but I don’t know anything about the character. I thought he was meant to be some sort of joke? No idea, I’m sure I won’t see this for many a year.

Pet Sematary

King’s book is one of the most legitimately horrific books in history, utterly heartbreaking, bleak, and horrible. Everyone knows the original movie, with its great make-up and one-liners. I have a feeling this will be more tame, but you can be sure I’ll see it anyway. If it really goes for the throat, it could be a classic, but mainstream horror these days usually avoids going full dark, though there has been a turn in the tides somewhat. I’ve no idea who the directors are, so I don’t have high hopes.

Farmageddon

It’s Shaun The Sheep. These are usually funny and charming enough.

Hellboy

The Hellboy movies, and those comic book movies in general which don’t form part of some extended universe are always more interesting to me. There’s no concern about what’s going to happen next and no as much worry about pissing hardcore fans off. That being said, I don’t think this needs to be rebooted and even though it’s Neil Marshall directing and Milla Jovovich, I can’t get too excited. This should have been part three of the original trilogy with Perlman and Del Toro, but alas.

Missing Link

It’s stop motion animation so at least it might look different from the norm, and the cast is interesting enough, but how often are these none Disney/Dreamworks movies any use?

Breathrough

It seems to be another one of those religious movies which have been getting more popular recently. In other words – no chance I’m seeing this – not until they make a good one.

Little

Okay… ex Nascar driver directs a movie based on an idea by a fourteen year old child actress from a TV show I’ve never seen. Indeed.

The Curse Of La Llorona

I’ve kept tabs on this for a while – set in 70s LA with a primarily Latino cast, dealing with Mexican supernatural folklore – sounds right up my alley. Then again, these are rarely better than watchable… hopefully it goes for more than generic jumpscares and loud noises.

Under The Silver Lake

It’s A24, it’s David Robert Mitchell, and it concerns missing people and conspiracy theories – there’s no reason I shouldn’t like this.

After

Apparently New Adult Fiction is a thing. The purist in me is really struggling not to say something like ‘so it’s for people barely intelligent enough to graduate from YA and with the emotional maturity of a brick’ but every so often I read shite like this. If there’s zombies. This doesn’t have zombies, but it does have a story about ‘a good girl’s relationship with a bad boy’. People are idiots.

Avengers: Endgame

Haven’t seen anything past the first Avengers movie so don’t care about this, at least not until I catch up with the other four hundred Marvel movies I haven’t watched yet.

The Intruder

A couple buys their dream home, but the previous owner isn’t happy. You’ve seen it a million times, but here it’s brought to you by Dennis Quaid and Deon Taylor who always seems on the verge of making something good.

The Best Of Enemies

Normally a title like that would be enough to turn me off, but it stars Taraji P Henson and Sam Rockwell and it’s based around the relationship between a Ku Klux Clan guy and Civil Rights activist. Should be good, not sure when I’ll get to it. With North America in the state it’s in now (read – the state it’s always been but only owning up to it once again now) this should be a timely drama – lets see if it has the balls to go the distance.

Peterloo

 I’m not the biggest Mike Leigh fan, but at least he makes stuff that you don’t usually see. I’ll see it as long as it doesn’t go down the overly dry, stiff route because the cast is strong. Seems like another timely one as Britain is facing a shitstorm just as bad as whatever mess the US is in, though to be honest I know nothing of the history of this event.

Teen Spirit

On principle alone, being a huge Nirvana fan, I’m outright refusing to see this. Yes, I know it has nothing to do with Nirvana but you seriously think they didn’t pick that name by association? By all means use that title for an interesting film, but using it in what seems to be yet another story of a pop stars rise to fame? Fuck right off. Right now.

Girls Of The Sun

Yes. Sold. Mostly female cast with female director about the women fighters in Iraq? This should be on everyone’s list ahead of the latest Marvel attempt at action. Of course there’s every chance this could be terrible too, but at least it has a hook.

High Life

Claire Denis does sci-fi. Fair enough, I’ll give it a shot. Throw in Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche and I’m double sold.

Rafiki

A Kenyan movie about a lesbian relationship. Already banned in Kenya, because of course it is, this should hopefully give hope to anyone there who manages to see it. I don’t know anything else about it, but can’t say I’ll ever see it unless it does big business and gets a wider release.

Which films of April are you looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!

2019 In Film – A Preview – March

A Madea Family Funeral

I haven’t seen any of these. I don’t think I’ve seen a single Tyler Perry movie yet. That’s who this is, right? Can’t see me starting now.

Climax

You had me at Gaspar Noe. There hasn’t been a single of film of his that I haven’t ‘enjoyed’, as much as you can use that term to describe your feelings while watching. There’s really no-one else like him. My only concern, if you can call it such, is that it’s about dancing – something I don’t care in the slightest for, or even really understand. I mean, I get wanting to leap around when your favourite song comes on, but dancing as an art and actually wanting to do it is completely foreign to me. I never said I was normal. I haven’t read anything about this, but from the trailer I’m hoping it’s his twisted version of They Shoot Horses. 

Greta

Neil Jordan, Chloe Moretz, and Isabelle Hupert? Any one of those names is usually enough to grab my attention and the fact that it seems to be at least horror adjacent has very excited. This has vibes of the great Audition and of course Hansel And Gretal, one of my all time favourite stories.

Captain Marvel

As you know, or can at least assume, I follow a lot of other movie blogs on WordPress and I’m a member on quite a few movie groups on Facebook. I know all the Marvel and DC movies are super popular, but it really takes following these groups to appreciate just how rampant this popularity is. Every day, every hour, multiple posts about your favourite Marvel film of the year, ranking the favourites, scores and reviews etc etc. I’m constantly surprised by how high these rank because they have so far to me been distinctly average – watchable – but painfully generic and repetitive. Fair enough, I haven’t seen anywhere near all of them, but what this means is that I couldn’t care less (yes, that is the correct way of writing that phrase) anytime a trailer drops for the latest installment, or even when one of the movies comes out. I’ve yet to pay to watch a single Marvel movie at the Cinema or on streaming (unless the Netflix and Prime subscription counts). Apparently this trailer, or the fact that Brie Larson is starring, or that she’s a woman or something has pissed a lot of people off. If I’m honest, I wasn’t even aware that there was a Captain Marvel character, or if I was I forget the second my balls dropped. I have no doubt this will be more of the same – depressingly successful, frustratingly generic, yet watchable. Like the way a dog squeezing one out on the road is watchable.

Gloria Bell

Sebastion Lelio’s latest offering sees Julianne Moore, Sean Astin, Michael Cera, John Turturro arsing about and falling in love. Yes, it’s a romantic comedy and those never inspire anything within me beyond punishing indifference. I’m sure it will be much better made than most, well acted, and probably better written than most but it seems to have a lot of dancing (see above) and talk about relationships and stuff that I just don’t care about.

Us

Jordan Peele is back, and it seems pretty obvious that it’s another horror outing. I enjoyed Get Out –  I wasn’t as wowed by it as most critics and felt it was a clever, funny, good time. This will prove his worth as a filmmaker – if he can score a critical and financial success here then the world will be his. Of course at some point he’s going to have to branch out of horror to be truly accepted, but until then he’s one of us. I’d advise against watching the trailer if you don’t want any spoilers, but I imagine there will be twists aplenty.

Wonder Park

A non Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/Illumination/Ghibli animated movie. It looks like it has money behind it and if it launches at the right time it should make money. Doesn’t mean it’ll be good though. I love theme parks though, not enough movies are set in that world, but it does have that samey animation which almost all studio movies have now.

The Aftermath

It’s Keira Knightly, once again starring in clothes no normal human would ever wear. Period pieces, especially those starring Knightly don’t do anything for me. I do like Knightly, just not doing this sort of thing. Romance, lustful affairs, that ludicrous message that if you leave a woman alone for five minutes she’ll fuck the first bloke who comes along – zero shits given.

Ash Is Purest White

I don’t know anything about this, beyond it being some sort of violent gangster love story. Still, I like the director and cast so I’ll probably see it at some point.

The Hummingbird Project

I’m not a fan of Jesse Eisenberg, I don’t particularly care for the director, and the plot sounds like balls. Pass.

The Mustang

The cast looks decent – Bruce Dern, Connie Britton, Matthias Schoenaerts, but it’s about horses. Training horses, riding horses. Why’s it always horses? Why not go all in and make it about tigers? Can’t see me ever seeing this.

Five Feet Apart

Yet another romance about people with a debilitating illness. The 50s had giant spider movies, the 90s had meta self aware movies, and the whatever this decade is called has people falling in love while dying movies. Are we going to study these in twenty years time the same way people study the others? No, because every one of these so far has been wank.

Greyhound

Tom Hanks writes and stars. Doesn’t sound overly interesting from what I know so far, but it’s Tom Hanks.

Where’d You Go Bernadette

Didn’t I preview this one last year? What happened to it? It’s still Linklater so it can’t be bad, surely?

The Beach Bum

This could defo go either way – it’s Harmony Korine, it’s McConaughey dialed up to fifteen, and there’s also Jonah Hill, Zac Efron, Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher. It’s more likely this will be awful, but it could be amazing.

Ramen Shop

I feel the same away about food as I do about horses and dancing; each of these things exist, but none of these things are exciting and by extension films which revolve in these worlds either do little for me or keep me at such a distance that it feels like I’m watching them on a neighbour’s television through binoculars. This one is about food.

Captive State

There’s a tonne of trailers out there for this but I don’t want to watch any others. The idea and cast are enough to sell me so I don’t want any more info – set in Chicago ten years after an alien invasion with John Goodman, Vera Farmiga, and a bunch of others.

Dumbo

The Disney money-making sham rolls on – they have about 12 of these remakes coming out this year. Dumbo was never the most interesting film to begin with and watching these remakes just makes you remember how much better the originals were. Still, people are going to keep paying to see them so I don’t expect the trend to end. Tim Burton is directing, but it looks like a for hire job instead of his own vision. To be fair, the cast is great – Eva Green, Danny Devito, Michael Keaton, Colin Farrell, Alan Arkin, but surely this can’t be anything better than average?

Hotel Mumbai

Thriller based on the real life terror attack. Dev Patel stars, Anthony Maras directs, looks cool, intense.

Chaos Walking

Doug Limon’s back, this time directing the latest YA adaptation none of us have ever heard of. It’s about a future world where there are no women, but maybe there are, and people can read each others’ thoughts, and animals too…. these rarely work anymore since around the time of the second Hunger Games movies, but there’s talent directing and starring so you never know. I probably won’t see it unless reviews are stellar.

Cliffs Of Freedom

It’s another period romance, so typically I’d be out, but check out the cast – Tania Raymonde, Patti LuPone, Christopher Plummer, Lance Henriksen, Billy Zane, Costas Mandylor, and a bunch of other eclectic faces if not instantly recognisable names. I’ve no idea what this will be like, TV movie or underrated epic, but it’s over two hours long so I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Wounds

Babak Anvari’s follow up to Under The Shadow this is another horror movie seemingly about a bartender’s breakdown. You better believe I’m down for this.