The LTLF Film Thread (sponsored by FBS!)

S Peel from Gedling

Stuart Pearce
Minions: The Rise of Gru​

The untold story of Gru and his dream to become the world’s greatest supervillain.

Minions really do rule the world. They are literally everywhere. I’m sure everyone owns at least one thing that has a Minion on it. You just can’t escape them. But where did them come from? That’s the question answered in The Rise of Gru. And I’m going to give a little spoiler here (I know e don’t usually do them but it doesn’t stop this scene being any less funny when you see it): Gru takes in the Minions as his henchmen because they simply turn up. That’s it they turn up and he lets them in because he needs some henchmen. I howled with laughed when that happened. But to be fair, I laughed consistently all the way through this anyway. It’s a really funny comedy that makes each joke count and when you laugh at the joke the next joke is spaced just far enough apart so you don’t miss the next one. It’s clever writing to keep the jokes that spaced apart without letting the energy drop.

So this film is a sequel to a prequel and a spin-off. Yeah, get your head around that. It’s also an origins story. So we meet Gru, who is eleven and three quarters, and he dreams of nothing but being the best supervillain. He worships a group known as the Vicious 6. He wants to be their leader but doesn’t make the cut. He then sets about forming his own alliance with the leader of the Vicious 6 who has been ousted in a coup. And you thought this film was just a basic comedy. Nooooo, there is a lot of sort of James Bond type stuff going on here. There is a secondary story about Stuart, Kevin and Bob who separate from Gru on a road trip and they learn Kung-Fu in-order to help their mini-boss (That’s what they call Gru. Which he hates) fight against the vicious 6. But then there is even more stuff just going on with other Minions and also with Gru. Basically the film is a non-stop entertainment ride that will have you laughing constantly. It’s incredibly colourful and the soundtrack is fantastic (The film is set in the 1970s so lots of funk and disco).

This film has the Minions get to do their thing while also helping Gru and there is a great Gru story at the centre of it that just overflows with hilarity. For my money, this is the best film in the franchise.

Have you not seen the Minions movie then?


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Are documentary reviews allowed?

Yesterday evening I watched Rebel Dread, about the life and influence of Don Letts. I thought it was absolutely fucking brilliant, with some fantastic interviews and super 8 footage from the 70's and 80's. Great social commentary on Brixton and the Kings Road in the 70's, along with footage form the Roxy. Don talks about the influence of reggae as well as the importance of punk.


Has anyone seen the Poly Styrene documentary which I think was made by her daughter? If so, any good?
 
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Strummer

Orel Mangala Fan Club
Are documentary reviews allowed?

Yesterday evening I watched Rebel Dredd, about the life and influence of Don Letts. I thought it was absolutely fucking brilliant, with some fantastic interviews and super 8 footage from the 70's and 80's. Great social commentary on Brixton and the Kings Road in the 70's, along with footage form the Roxy. Don talks about the influence of reggae as well as the importance of punk.


Has anyone seen the Poly Styrene documentary which I think was made by her daughter? If so, any good?
It is absolutely brilliant.

Best factual program I’ve watched this year.
 

BuckeyeRed

Jack Armstrong
The Black Phone​

After being abducted by a child killer and locked in a soundproof basement, a 13-year-old boy starts receiving calls on a disconnected phone from the killer’s previous victims.

The director, Scott Derrickson, has worked most of his film career in horror. Possibly his best film was Sinister back in 2012. If you were a fan of that film then I think you are going to like The Black Phone as it feels very much like a sort of sister movie. It’s not full-blown horror, it’s more the sense of unease and general creepiness that makes this film, and most of Derrickson’s previous films, have that slightly eerie edge to them. This film is set in the late 1970s and very much plays on the fear and paranoia that was around at that time. Not just nationally with things like serial killers making the front pages of the news, but also locally with those scare stories that many of us heard about the local bogeyman or something similar. So this film ramps up that tension from back in the day and does a really fine job of making it slowly creep into the film. So rather than this be a straight-up horror, it’s very much dealing with paranoia and the themes of dread and fear. It is smartly done from that angle.

The genuine scares come from The Grabber, as he is known here, as we only see him occasionally at first and when he does finally snatch Finney it is done in such a way that it genuinely made me scared. It never felt anything less than very real. From then on the film keeps The Grabber are arms-length for a lot of the film. He sort of appears every so often in a variety of truly horrifying masks that even the guys behind The League of Gentlemen would be proud of. What really go to me was the disconnected phone being used as an instrument of communication. So the film is very much playing in the supernatural realm here. Those first few times when it rings and there is no-one on the other end and then… finally… someone answers back to Finney. Scary stuff. But not gruesome scary, just chilling scary.

So if you are coming to this for some jump scares and being frightened about what is in the basement/upstairs in the attic, then I think you’ll be disappointed because it doesn’t do those things. Instead it plays on very real, very genuine fears of children being snatched straight off the street, and it does this during a time period when paranoia was at an all-time high. It’s a clever little horror/thriller.
Saw this yesterday. Loved it. Your review is spot on. Very good film.
 

Rosie

Youth Team
Minions: The Rise of Gru​

The untold story of Gru and his dream to become the world’s greatest supervillain.

Minions really do rule the world. They are literally everywhere. I’m sure everyone owns at least one thing that has a Minion on it. You just can’t escape them. But where did them come from? That’s the question answered in The Rise of Gru. And I’m going to give a little spoiler here (I know e don’t usually do them but it doesn’t stop this scene being any less funny when you see it): Gru takes in the Minions as his henchmen because they simply turn up. That’s it they turn up and he lets them in because he needs some henchmen. I howled with laughed when that happened. But to be fair, I laughed consistently all the way through this anyway. It’s a really funny comedy that makes each joke count and when you laugh at the joke the next joke is spaced just far enough apart so you don’t miss the next one. It’s clever writing to keep the jokes that spaced apart without letting the energy drop.

So this film is a sequel to a prequel and a spin-off. Yeah, get your head around that. It’s also an origins story. So we meet Gru, who is eleven and three quarters, and he dreams of nothing but being the best supervillain. He worships a group known as the Vicious 6. He wants to be their leader but doesn’t make the cut. He then sets about forming his own alliance with the leader of the Vicious 6 who has been ousted in a coup. And you thought this film was just a basic comedy. Nooooo, there is a lot of sort of James Bond type stuff going on here. There is a secondary story about Stuart, Kevin and Bob who separate from Gru on a road trip and they learn Kung-Fu in-order to help their mini-boss (That’s what they call Gru. Which he hates) fight against the vicious 6. But then there is even more stuff just going on with other Minions and also with Gru. Basically the film is a non-stop entertainment ride that will have you laughing constantly. It’s incredibly colourful and the soundtrack is fantastic (The film is set in the 1970s so lots of funk and disco).

This film has the Minions get to do their thing while also helping Gru and there is a great Gru story at the centre of it that just overflows with hilarity. For my money, this is the best film in the franchise.
Went to see this earlier. Loved it. I’m looking forward to getting a copy to see all the other goings-on in shot - can’t keep up with all the little jokes in one viewing.

Minion Dave is still my favourite, but Bob is so sweeeeeeeeeet! 😍

B302475D-44B4-4CFA-A49F-61AADB899EC2.jpeg
 

weejockmcplop

Youth Team
Everything Everywhere All At Once

An aging Chinese immigrant is swept up in an insane adventure, where she alone can save the world by exploring other universes connecting with the lives she could have led.
More filmmaking like this please. More films like this. Films that defy standard film tropes and conventions and instead throw everything into the mix and also make all of those things work perfectly. More individual filmmaking please because this film is an absolute delight from start to finish. It’s also a head-spinner as well. You really have to keep up because otherwise you are going to find yourself lost in the multitude of universes that the protagonist finds themselves in. I’ll say this, it is totally worth keeping up with because the film switches between family drama and Sci-Fi action/adventure with relative ease. The first couple of times it happens its all done with a lot of comedy. Then after that it switches to full-on action and it does not disappoint in those stakes either.
So what can I tell you about the film without spoiling too much?! Well, not a lot. Here’s what I can say. Michelle Yeoh is absolutely brilliant in the lead role of Evelyn. This is a woman who just wants to expand the family washeteria business, but her tax returns are under scrutiny. Then something happens as they get in the elevator to go see the tax person and suddenly the film flips everything. That’s when the adrenalin of “What Is happening?!” kicks in and the film goes all out on the action and adventure efforts. I think Yeoh’s fighting in the film is easily as good as her work in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The woman really packs a punch… and a kick. I love how easily she switches from homely housewife and business owner to full-on deranged action star in this film. I’m really not sure many action stars, male or female, would have been able to pull off this type of performance. But Yeoh does it perfectly and so naturally.
So my suggestion to you is: Don’t read or watch too much of this film before going to see it because the twists and turns and the surprises in this film are going to leave your jaw on the floor. It’s very funny, it’s violent and it’s, in a weird way, easy to follow. Marvel could never make multi-verses this easy to follow and this brutal. Top notch filmmaking all-round for this.
I saw this recently and its the first 10/10 film I've seen in a long time.
I'm genuinely amazed at the writing, how they managed to pitch it so perfectly since its trying to be both earnest and ridiculously comical, and how they somehow reigned in all the chaos and tied it up so nicely at the end.
The acting was also great. Waymond is one of my favourite characters also, and I nearly shed a tear at one point when he has his amazing monologue.
I agree with the post above, more of this kind of thing please.
 

FBS

Stuart Pearce
True Things​

Kate is a young woman living on the fringes of society. One day, at her job, she meets a man who overwhelms her quiet life and she becomes intoxicated by.

I’ve been trying to work out where this film fits into genres and also the grand scheme of story-telling, and I’m kind of stumped by it. I guess that a good thing though because this film isn’t quite what I was expecting. I thought it would be a rumination on abusive relationships after I had watched just the trailer. But I was wrong. The film is a raw look at the life of a woman who doesn’t fit into society’s brackets or “normal” or “sensible”. Kate is a quiet person. But her addiction, for it is an addiction, to Blond (that’s his name on the credits) brings out something in her that has been lying dormant and has now come alive. It is a carefree abandonment of life and the uplifting feeling of finally being free. But that freedom for Kate does come at a cost, and that cost is the work/life pay off. Her work seem to do nothing but crush her spirit every step of the way. Granted she is dating someone who she met at work after he came in for an appointment. So there is that line that Kate has crossed. But for her the line was worth crossing because now she is free and sexually liberated.

I think this film is very much about female sexual liberation. Some may find Kate’s behaviour reprehensible. Others may wish they could be Kate. This is a character that will be very divisive for people watching this film. Kate does push the boundaries a little bit too far at times. There is a scene where she is on a date with a man and tries to force herself on him in his car. He rejects her and she walks off in the rain only to find Blond waiting at her door. Her mood changes in a beat and off she runs into the rainsoaked night with him. Once again, gleeful abandonment. Kate is a character that will either draw you in or push you away. And that is down to the riveting performance by Ruth Wilson. It’s a role not many would take on because of the subject matter. Yet Wilson seems to relish going against the grain here and creating a character who is very real but also very much someone who many will find offensive and repulsive.

True Things is a tough film at times. However, I think it’s a movie that is very open and expressive about female liberation and also sexual desire in the modern day.
 

FBS

Stuart Pearce
Operation Mincemeat​

During World War II, two intelligence officers use a corpse and false papers to outwit German troops.

Wait a second, two guys using a corpse to fool people?? Where have I seen this type of story before? That’s right, Weekend At Bernie’s! So this is basically World War II’s version of Weekend At Bernie’s then. I love the idea that even during the biggest world war ever the British decided to use a cadaver to fool the Nazi’s and it worked. There is something so very British humour about all of that. And not only that, as we see in the film, they give the body an entire backstory with girlfriend and a job and loads of other things. I just love that whole idea and it did make me laugh several times throughout the film when things like creating the backstory were being completed. Joking aside, it’s such a clever ruse and one that worked an absolute treat, as you’ll see in the film.

Now, it has to be said that while it sounds like this is a laugh-a-minute movie, it really isn’t. In fact, it’s a pretty straight-laced British film telling a very serious story. It is terribly British with several British actors all doing their best posh British accent and doing it all with very serious faces (most of the time). But this is actually a serious story and I think the film tackles it in just about the right way. Everything about what the intelligence officers are doing is dangerous and it could bring about the end of the war if they succeed. But how do you succeed if you are planting a dead body with war secrets on themselves and hope that the Germans fall for it? That’s the tension in the film. It’s the constant waiting… waiting… waiting for the Nazi’s to see if they will fall for it. All of that I really enjoyed. I thought it was a tense, war drama.

There is a subplot about a love triangle between to the two officers and the only young female in the department. It isn’t that well played out. It runs for far too long as well, and then it sort of gets forgotten about. It’s all a bit of a waste and even more so when they spend so long on the story.

That aside, this is quite the film telling quite the story. Yes, I know I’ joked about it being Weekend At Bernie’s. But this was an operation that was one of the more out there ideas during the war. And it’s certainly a story I have never heard either. I think the film, on the whole, pays very good respect to the idea and the people who put this plan into action.
 

FBS

Stuart Pearce
Thor Love And Thunder​

Thor enlists the help of Valkyrie, Korg and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster to fight Gorr the God Butcher, who intends to make Gods extinct.

Have we gone past peak Marvel Cinematic Universe now? Is the MCU on the start of the downward trajectory? The reason I ask is because this film really shows up Marvel’s inadequacies quite a lot. Marvel movies have always done that thing where there is a big battle and then right at the end someone makes a joke or says something sarcastic. It’s a Marvel trait. Well, what if that was reversed and the film is mainly a comedy with small battles at the end of the long, drawn-out comedy scenes? Because that’s what has happened here, and I have to say I didn’t laugh once. There are loads of jokes about Thor not getting over Dr Jane Foster. There are loads of jokes about Thor not getting over Mjolnir. There are loads of jokes about Thor being this slightly strange being. It’s just relentless on the jokes and it exposes Marvel’s joke-y side to quite poor storytelling. But they try to get around that by having some other Marvel characters turn up and do some jokes instead of Thor. The problem is that now all these superhero/comic book movies are turning into a who’s who of characters from those universes. Why can’t a film just be about the central character anymore?

The thing is, I actually really enjoyed Dr Jane Foster/The Mighty Thor’s storyline. I thought that was the best thing in this film. But it always seems like a secondary story. There is so much that could have been done with this character, but instead they give her a short shrift and an almost one-off film storyline. It’s a complete waste of a character. I think the same can almost be said for Gorr, the God Butcher. This is a nasty character that when he is battling Thor and the others the world goes dark and the film goes dark too. It’s the only bit of proper adult action in the film and I thought it was great. But they just don’t explore that enough and as such Gorr, who is played quite menacingly by Christian Bale, is a villain without being too villain-y.

This film has so much to look at. But when you start to notice the storytelling flaws, like the fact the main story is a story almost within a story and then someone else’s dream (yeah, try and keep up), then you really notice how flimsy this Marvel movie is. Its all style and zero substance, and that’s staying something when it comes to these types of movies.
 

FBS

Stuart Pearce
Don’t Make Me Go​

Max, a single father who learns he has a brain tumour, takes his teenage daughter Wally on a road trip to find the mother who abandoned her years before.

I’m always a bit of a sucker for a good road trip movie. And I think it’s fair to say that Don’t Make me Go is a decent road trip movie. Sure there are all the familiar beats of a story like this that run through the entire film. Teenage daughter doesn’t want to go. Teenage daughter reluctantly goes. Teenage daughter more obsessed with texting with her friends. Teenage daughter actually discovers the wider world eventually. It’s that sort of basic stuff. Yet, there is something very heartwarming throughout this film with both Max and Wally. In fact, I think the film is at its best when John Choo, who plays Max, and Mia Isaac, who plays Wally, are in the scene together, just them two either having an argument or just a discussion. It all feels very natural and very real. It's the type of performances that fit both characters so naturally that you can’t help but love both characters from the off.

The one thing this film does that really caught me off guard happens in the finale third of the film. I won’t spoilt it. However, I will say that it’s something that changes the dynamic of the film. Whether for the better I’m not too sure because it kind of didn’t sit that well with me. But then I guess the filmmakers wanted to mix it up a little bit and stray away from the standard formulae that the storyline was heading towards in that finale. It certainly did make me sit up and take note a bit more because I was so shocked at the change of pace in the story-telling.

That aside, This film does kind of move along at a nice, easy going pace and it has a few things to say about single parenting and coming of age and even trying to connect with your offspring, especially on a road trip, and I think it does it all in a very sensitive way. It also does it in a light-hearted way too (John Choo has a naturally funny side to him which we see a bit in this film). So while this might not be a stand-out road trip/coming of age movie, there is something quite wholesome and pure about it all. A rather delightful watch.
 

FBS

Stuart Pearce
18 ½​

In 1974, a White House transcriber is thrust into the Watergate scandal when she obtains the only copy of the infamous 18 ½ minute gap in Richard Nixon’s tapes.

It needs to be said that this film isn’t a true story. Neither Connie, the transcriber, nor Paul, her close aid, actually existed. There is no official evidence that the 18 ½ minute tapes were ever found. So this film is very much going on a sort of fake news type of storytelling. But then it depends on if you buy into not the story of the tape but rather Connie’s storyline about her possibly breaking open Watergate and bringing down a very powerful man. The issue is that the film doesn’t really want to be a drama or a thriller. It wants to be a bit of everything. So at first it very much plays like a drama with Connie and Paul realising what they have and that they could be being followed, or worse, being targeted for death. So they set out into the middle of nowhere to transcribe the tapes in a seedy motel. The film then flips and becomes a bit of a comedy when Richard Kind’s Jack, the owner of the hotel, seems to make everything into a joke or a sex reference. It’s difficult to know if this is meant to happen or is it just Kind being his usual comedic self??!! Also at the hotel is a group of free radicals who are more interested in being free and engaging in sex than anything else. There is no reason these three people should even be in this film except for them to be some light relief. The problem is that they just come across as being in completely the wrong film. This is a conspiracy thriller, not a sexual revolution movie.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Connie and Paul become friends with an older couple and are invited to their house for dinner. The issue arises that the older couple are very much there for sexual experimentation with anyone they can get their hands on. The whole dinner sequence, which is quite awkward to watch, lasts nearly half the film. I’m not sure why this runs for so long when the outcome has nothing to do with Connie, Paul or the tapes.

But then that’s the film in a nutshell: nothing to do with something. All the little bits in this film add up to nothing to do with the main plot. It is a confused film in that it doesn’t know what genre, or genres, it wants to sit in. And why anyone would make a Watergate film that mainly revolves around sex is beyond my comprehension. A strange film for sure.
 

FBS

Stuart Pearce
The Railway Children Return​

A group of children who are evacuated to a Yorkshire village during the Second World War encounter a young soldier who, like them, is far from home.

The original Railway Children movie hit cinemas in 1970. Now we have a sequel some decades later that is a sequel of sorts. But it’s also trying to be its own film as well. This time three children all from the same family are taken in by the village’s school mistress, who just happens to be the daughter of Roberta Waterbury (you know, from the original film. And yes, Jenny Agutter does return). So there is that connect back to the original. But here, in this sequel of sorts, it is very much a film about the kids and them dealing with the war on a very personal level. Lily is the oldest of the three kids who are taken in. She is very much the one who everyone pays attention to. She is a kind of mum to everyone because she is the oldest, yet at the same time is still a kid and enjoys doing kid things like playing hide & seek in the train yard. This is where the film kicks its story into life because they find a Black American soldier hiding in one of the disused carriages. Slowly they find that he is on the run because the American MP soldiers, who are all white, have been brutalising him and his friends since they arrived in the village. The film is very much into talking about the racism that young Abe has had to deal with not just back home but also while he has been stationed in England. I get what the writers are trying to do with this storyline – shining a light on racism as it was back then in America and how the atrocities that Black Americans had to face actually followed them around the world – But in the scheme of this film being set during World War II and that the British and Americans had joined forces to bring the Nazi’s down, this felt like a very odd central story to tell. I’m not saying it shouldn’t have been told, it’s just that this seems like it’s been told in completely the wrong settings.

The main problem this film has though is that its far too old hat. Kids and adults tastes have changed dramatically since 1970, and this feels like a product of a bygone era that isn’t really relevant to modern day movie lovers. It’s a bit of a shame really because in the moment, while I was watching it, I was kid of entertained. But this is nothing more than entertainment you would see on a Sunday afternoon on the TV. It’s not movie screen magic I’m afraid.
 

Col

Has he singed yet?
Thor Love And Thunder​

Thor enlists the help of Valkyrie, Korg and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster to fight Gorr the God Butcher, who intends to make Gods extinct.

Have we gone past peak Marvel Cinematic Universe now? Is the MCU on the start of the downward trajectory? The reason I ask is because this film really shows up Marvel’s inadequacies quite a lot. Marvel movies have always done that thing where there is a big battle and then right at the end someone makes a joke or says something sarcastic. It’s a Marvel trait. Well, what if that was reversed and the film is mainly a comedy with small battles at the end of the long, drawn-out comedy scenes? Because that’s what has happened here, and I have to say I didn’t laugh once. There are loads of jokes about Thor not getting over Dr Jane Foster. There are loads of jokes about Thor not getting over Mjolnir. There are loads of jokes about Thor being this slightly strange being. It’s just relentless on the jokes and it exposes Marvel’s joke-y side to quite poor storytelling. But they try to get around that by having some other Marvel characters turn up and do some jokes instead of Thor. The problem is that now all these superhero/comic book movies are turning into a who’s who of characters from those universes. Why can’t a film just be about the central character anymore?

The thing is, I actually really enjoyed Dr Jane Foster/The Mighty Thor’s storyline. I thought that was the best thing in this film. But it always seems like a secondary story. There is so much that could have been done with this character, but instead they give her a short shrift and an almost one-off film storyline. It’s a complete waste of a character. I think the same can almost be said for Gorr, the God Butcher. This is a nasty character that when he is battling Thor and the others the world goes dark and the film goes dark too. It’s the only bit of proper adult action in the film and I thought it was great. But they just don’t explore that enough and as such Gorr, who is played quite menacingly by Christian Bale, is a villain without being too villain-y.

This film has so much to look at. But when you start to notice the storytelling flaws, like the fact the main story is a story almost within a story and then someone else’s dream (yeah, try and keep up), then you really notice how flimsy this Marvel movie is. Its all style and zero substance, and that’s staying something when it comes to these types of movies.
Yeah, I definitely think we've hit the peak for Marvel movies and are currently on the way down. However, Wandavision, Loki and Spiderman No Way Home show that they can still hit the heights.
 

weejockmcplop

Youth Team
Yeah, I definitely think we've hit the peak for Marvel movies and are currently on the way down. However, Wandavision, Loki and Spiderman No Way Home show that they can still hit the heights.
I enjoyed Wandavision alot, but I can barely even remember Loki and I stopped watching No Way Home after about 45 minutes cos it was boring.
I still think Infinity War was the best Marvel will be able to do, but even then some of the earlier movies worked well on their own without feeling like they forced to spend too much time setting stuff up for future films.
I probably won't watch any more of them tbh. I do like Taika Waititi but I highly doubt Love and Thunder is going to show anything that Ragnarok didn't.
 

Strummer

Orel Mangala Fan Club
Yeah, I definitely think we've hit the peak for Marvel movies and are currently on the way down. However, Wandavision, Loki and Spiderman No Way Home show that they can still hit the heights.
I really enjoyed Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as well, but then I do like that character and Benedict Cumberbatch is perfect in the role, and Benedict Wong Is fantastic.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was also a belter.
 

weejockmcplop

Youth Team
Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010)
You'll absolutely love it or absolutely hate it. I doubt there's many in between.
Its the first film from the director of Mandy (The Nic Cage psychedelic horror), and it features many of the same stylistic choices. Long, drawn out shots and scenes, little dialogue, extreme use of colour etc.
In some ways it plays like a very long music video. The soundtrack backs this up though, and is full of bangers.
The story is about a young girl trapped in some kind of experimental institute who has some kind of psychic power. It also follows a man who experiments on the girl, having lost his humanity in an earlier mishap involving too many psychedelic drugs.
BUT you don't really watch this for the story. Its the weird 80s influenced imagery and intense psych-horror atmosphere that this film excels at.

The full movie is available on youtube:
 
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FBS

Stuart Pearce
Rumble​

In a world where monster wrestling is a global sport and monsters are super athletes, teenager Winnie seeks to follow in her father’s footsteps by coaching a loveable underdog monster into a champion.

This film had me at animated wrestling monsters. Just sounds like pure fund, and for the most part it is. But the film struggles outside of the wrestling monsters quite badly. Yes, it is an underdog story, or should that be undermonster??? Yes, we’ve seen this a million times before. So much so that while watching it it seemed that every beat the film was hitting was ripped directly from the first Rocky movie. Everything about it reminded me of that classic boxing movie even down to the way Winnie tries t train her monster is the same way that Rocky was being trained by Mickey. I’m sure many kids watching this won’t have even have seen Rocky, so really won’t care about that comparison. My issue with it is that a film about wrestling monsters reverts back to tropes that were used in a boxing movie over forty years ago. This film could have been so much more interesting and modern. I’d even go so far as to say that if it had been a sort of twist on Godzilla Vs King Kong type story then it would have felt a bit more modern. But this does feel very old hat.

The animation is lacking too. It isn’t as eye-catching as many other films. It almost doesn’t care about the animation because everything is so non-descript about it. And when you have monsters in a movie that should give you creative licence to make them as scary or funny or weird as possible. But all these are very middle of the road. They are the most dull to look at monsters I have seen.

I’m trying not to be too down on this film. But it’s really hard to like or enjoy it because it does nothing of note. Even when the monsters are fighting each other it is pretty uninteresting. I think it would be a sort of monster Royal Rumble or King of the Ring type affair where it just goes all out. But this does. It's one match followed by some training and then another match and then training and then… well, you get the idea.

This film has a great concept at the heart of it. But it’s final product isn’t that good.
 

FBS

Stuart Pearce
The Gray Man​

When the CIA’s most skilled operative – whose true identity is known to none – accidentally uncovers dark agency secrets, a psychopathic former colleague puts a bounty on his head, setting off a global manhunt by international assassins.

The Gray Man is Netflix’s most expensive movie to date. It cost $200 million to make. That’s a huge price tag by action film standards. They really have to be some seriously good action set pieces and this film has action set pieces. It’s just that they are pretty standard stuff. It’s all things that we’ve seen a million times before. None of it feels like it has much peril to it. There is hardly any risk in a lot of the stuff. There is a bit involving Ryan Gosling’s Sierra Six, the main character, where he is having a fight on a moving tram while Ana De Armas’ CIA Agent Dani Miranda is trying to drive a jeep next to it so he can jump over while also trying to navigate around cars and missing bullets from the bad guys cars. The problem is that for all that busy-ness going on it still looks & feels like a very flat action set piece. Think about Tom Cruise hanging off the side of a plane in Mission Impossible. That’s amazing action. This film has none of that at all. It’s all action that has been done before and so much better.

The storyline itself is pretty standard fare as well. Double and triple crossing. Nobody is sure who is whom. You can pretty much guess what is going to happen. It’s not interesting or insightful. It literally is, once again, stuff we have seen so many times before and done better so many times before. There are moments in the film where it starts to veer towards the idea that actually the real war is now tacking place via technology rather than good old fisticuffs. Then the film pulls back from that because it wants to have Gosling having a fight on a plane as a hole is blown in the side of the plane and it is going down very quickly. So the film doesn’t even have the attitude to stick to a idea that could have been more real world. Instead it just wants some running and jumping and gunning.

So, is The Gray Man a $200 million movie? No way. It doesn’t look like one. It doesn’t feel like one. It’s not even the best action movie of the year by a long shot. This is a movie that will come and go very quickly and the only reason it will be remembered is because of the price tag.
 

FBS

Stuart Pearce
The Northman​

As a child, Amleth saw his father killed. Escaping the atrocities, years later Amleth vows to return and seek revenge for his father’s death.

Here we go! This is the good stuff! This is big budget, Hollywood filmmaking without boundaries, and I am totally here for it. It’s nice to see a film do its own thing and not be hampered by studio interference. The Northman is certainly a film the plays by its own rules. Early on, when Amleth’s father is killed, we get a sense of how blood thirsty the film could be. Then thirty minutes into the film and Amleth is an adult and he is helping his tribe pillage a village the film really goes for the jugular. It is relentless for about 15-20 minutes of non-stop action and blood. It’s so in your face that there may be times you want to look away. Yet, this is what director Robert Eggers wants. He wants everyone to feel a bit uncomfortable early on so we can then see the rise of adult Amleth and side with him. It’s basically the same story as Gladiator but set in Scandinavian and with a more violent streak.

I know some people have had problems with the film’s fantasy element. To me this just added more weight to the film’s brilliance. It decided to play in the Norse God mythology sandpit at times. So it becomes almost an out-of-body experience during some scenes as Amleth and others are transported to higher plains. The film very much treads a path between fantasy and reality very well. It blurs the lines in-fact, to the point where it felt like a natural move between both of them. I think it helps that leading man Alexander Skarsgard, who plays adult Amleth, was born to play this role. A towering performance of non-stop action and aggression. He goes in full throttle on everything his character does and he makes Amleth believable and even to the point where you back him 100% even when he is slicing and dicing his way through an entire village. It is one heck of a brilliant performance.

For me, The Northman has style and substance. It looks incredible, including one of the most beautiful yet violent finale’s I’ve ever seen. The soundtrack is excellent. The cast are all at the top of the game and the directing is incredibly sharp. I really was bowled over by the brilliance of this film. It will be a long time before anyone dare make a film as bold, blood-thirsty and violent as this for a major Hollywood studio. So drink in everything this film has to offer, and it has a lot, because it is all outstanding.
 

Strummer

Orel Mangala Fan Club
The Gray Man​

When the CIA’s most skilled operative – whose true identity is known to none – accidentally uncovers dark agency secrets, a psychopathic former colleague puts a bounty on his head, setting off a global manhunt by international assassins.

The Gray Man is Netflix’s most expensive movie to date. It cost $200 million to make. That’s a huge price tag by action film standards. They really have to be some seriously good action set pieces and this film has action set pieces. It’s just that they are pretty standard stuff. It’s all things that we’ve seen a million times before. None of it feels like it has much peril to it. There is hardly any risk in a lot of the stuff. There is a bit involving Ryan Gosling’s Sierra Six, the main character, where he is having a fight on a moving tram while Ana De Armas’ CIA Agent Dani Miranda is trying to drive a jeep next to it so he can jump over while also trying to navigate around cars and missing bullets from the bad guys cars. The problem is that for all that busy-ness going on it still looks & feels like a very flat action set piece. Think about Tom Cruise hanging off the side of a plane in Mission Impossible. That’s amazing action. This film has none of that at all. It’s all action that has been done before and so much better.

The storyline itself is pretty standard fare as well. Double and triple crossing. Nobody is sure who is whom. You can pretty much guess what is going to happen. It’s not interesting or insightful. It literally is, once again, stuff we have seen so many times before and done better so many times before. There are moments in the film where it starts to veer towards the idea that actually the real war is now tacking place via technology rather than good old fisticuffs. Then the film pulls back from that because it wants to have Gosling having a fight on a plane as a hole is blown in the side of the plane and it is going down very quickly. So the film doesn’t even have the attitude to stick to a idea that could have been more real world. Instead it just wants some running and jumping and gunning.

So, is The Gray Man a $200 million movie? No way. It doesn’t look like one. It doesn’t feel like one. It’s not even the best action movie of the year by a long shot. This is a movie that will come and go very quickly and the only reason it will be remembered is because of the price tag.
You had me at „Ana de Armas“!
 
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Stuart Pearce
George Michael: Freedom Uncut​

George reflects on a life changing period of his life when he allows us access to his memories, thoughts, unseen footage and photographs never before seen.

So this documentary was what George Michael was putting the finishing touches to when he so sadly passed away in 2016. Now it has become a sort of legacy piece about not just his music but also his private life. It’s possibly the most open & honest he ever was. The documentary does a quick bit about Wham! And then then a slightly longer bit about his early solo career. There are some interesting tidbits in there. However, the documentary really starts to hit when it delves into George’s first love, Anselmo, a man who he met at one of his own concerts. The way George tells the story about seeing him for the first time is hilarious. He then goes on to explain how happy he was with this man and that he was ready to spend the rest of his life with him. Then the devastating news that Anselmo had an aids related illness. Some of the interview footage here is utterly heart-breaking. To see Michael talk about it years later but still struggle shows how deeply he cared for this man.

Yet, what came out of that period was Older an album which the documentary spends a lot of time on, which I love because I genuinely think that is Michael’s masterpiece. There is some truly revelatory moments during this time and the way it shows Michael getting back to his love of music was really inspiring. He even talks about how much that album is about healing.

I was also impressed the documentary doesn’t shy away from his court case with Sony music. In fact, there are a few people who used to work at Sony during that time interviewed in the doc. It also doesn’t gloss over his arrest for his lewd act in a public toilet. The funny thing is that the way Michael arranged this part of the documentary is actually really funny because he ultimately takes ownership of it and turns it into a bit of a comedy routine for himself.

There are interviews in the documentary with people who were close to him including celebrities such as Naomi Campbell, Ricky Gervais and Elton John. They all have great stories to tell. The interesting addition in that lot is Liam Gallagher. I know that’s an odd choice, but in the documentary he actually turns out an inspired choice because he talks about Michael’s change from boyband member to real artist. He even breaks down some of Michael’s lyrics. I was mightily impressed with Gallagher in this.

But then again I was mightily impressed with this documentary as a whole. I did what it set out to do. Which was remind us that George Michael made some of the greatest pop songs ever even though he was suffering in private from the love and then subsequent death of his lover and then followed by his mother’s death. Also his struggles with being honest to himself about his sexuality. This is all here in this documentary and I am really impressed with it.
 

FBS

Stuart Pearce
Honor Society​

Honor’s sole focus is to get into Harvard. Willing to do whatever it takes, Honor concocts a plan to take down her top three competitors, until things take a turn when she unexpectedly falls for her biggest competition.

There is more than a touch of Clueless in this film. Granted nothing can touch the brilliance that is Clueless. It’s one of the best coming of age comedies ever made in my opinion. However, Honor Society has a little bit of Clueless in it and it does it very well. It’s a sharp take down about teenagers in todays society. It’s got something to say about their attitudes to life at their age. Its got something say to say about social media. Its even got something to say about struggling to find yourself at that age. However, the biggest thing it has is the ideas behind the manipulation that Honor uses. It’s sharp, witty, a bit deranged and quite funny all the way through. I loved the way Honor not only plays certain people off of each other, but also the way she manages to do it with relative ease as well. As she says, she has been researching the teacher who can get her into Harvard since she was 9-years-old. This woman knows everything there is to know about duking the stats, manipulating the system and wrapping certain people around her little finger. The thing is Honor isn’t bad, she is just focussed. Well, at least that’s the way the film makes her out to be. But there are times where it feels like she is going too far and the film does go against her especially when she is trying to manipulate Michael, the other person possibly going to Harvard and whom she subsequently falls for in all the wrong ways. Her stalking of him to find who he really is is quite evil. Yet, that’s the point. She will stop at nothing even if it means taking someone like Michael down.

I thought Angourie Rice, as Honor, was excellent. I got a very Emma Roberts in American Horror Story vibe from her. I especially liked when she broke the fourth wall and talked direct to camera. However, I think she is eclipsed by Gaten Matarazzo, who plays Michael. Most will know him as the goofy kid from Stranger Things. This is a bit more of a grown up performance from him. One where he is a bit quieter and sullen. I liked the Matarazzo could reign it in like that. I thought they worked well together.

I think this is a smart little flick that tackles a few big issues in entertaining ways.
 

FBS

Stuart Pearce
Fire Of Love​

Intrepid scientists and lovers Katia and Maurice Krafft died in a volcano explosion doing the very thing that brought them together; unravelling the mysteries of volcanoes by capturing the most explosive imagery ever recorded.

This documentary works on a number of levels. Firstly, it is using archive footage taken by Katia and/or Maurice to show what these to action scientists were like when it came to examining volcanoes. Some of the footage is truly staggering and considering it was all taken in the 1970s and early 1980s the quality is really good and it gives a great sense of scale as to how big these volcanoes and explosions were in proportion to human beings. So the documentary looks at their academic accomplishments. Then at the same time in the same archival footage it looks at their relationship. A relationship that shows they were in love and their love was with each other because they believed they had found each other’s soulmate due to their obsession with volcanoes. There is lovely footage of them at home relaxing and yet also being completely consumed by their work. It’s a documentary about love and obsession, personally and professionally.

Secondly, this documentary is seeking to look back at the Krafft’s legacy of work though their videos. So director Sara Dosa’s use of archival footage is giving us a greater understanding of what these two people were discovering back then and how it fits into today’s scientific discoveries on volcanoes and volcanic rock. Don’t worry, it’s not over the top in science. Even a dummy like me could get to grips with just about everything that was put before them on the film. So it’s a sort of scientific discovery documentary.

Thirdly, the documentary is also some sort of relaxing nature documentary as well. I know that sounds weird when you are dealing with volcanoes. Yet, when you view the footage the Krafft’s shot and it is set to music by Royksopp or by Air then it becomes this hypnotic nature-in-full-flow documentary that would make a great double bill with Koyaanisqatsi. The footage really is quite mesmerizing. Also, Miranda July’s soft voice-over is the perfect pitch for the entire documentary.

I love how this documentary works on so many levels and a documentary just about one of those levels would be compelling. Yet, Dosa’s documentary is an addictive watch and not for what you expect it to be for (predominately, the deaths), but instead for something that is both intelligent and entertaining.
 

Captain Sinister

Senior doom Monger
Rain Man

Yes it is ancient (1988 vintage), but the Beeb have it on I Player.
Last night, I watched it for the first time since seeing it on general release at the Odeon in Exeter.
What a brilliant film - heartwarming, sad, uplifting... great performances by the 2 main protagonisits.
Why waste money to go and watch the latest Marvel movie (they are all the same, and all fjuckin' rubbish) when you can stay home, drink your wine and cudle up to your significant other while watching a truly moving proper film.
 
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