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Sorry to Bother You (2018)
Sorry to Bother You - Dark Social Commentary.
The beginning is very like 'The Wolf of Wall Street', this film is also all about capitalism and greed. Our hero, Cassius is struggling to make end meet, he applies to be a telemarketer and quickly promoted to a 'Power Caller'
He discovers that senior management are exploiting its employees to generate more profit (you'll see how towards the end). The humour at the beginning turns into dark social commentary with lots of symbolism.
I'm always apprehensive when a poster says 'the best film of the year by far' Well ... it's not the 'best', but very good and definitely different.
Tulip Fever (2017)
Tulip Fever - A fascinating erotic love story.
Romantic period drama, set in 17th century Amsterdam.
The female protagonist Sophia (Alicia Vikander) is an orphan, raised in a convent. To safeguard her future she is married off to a wealthy merchant Cornelis (Christoph Waltz) who hopes for an heir. She fails to fall pregnant after much trying.
Their housekeeper, Maria, is having an affair with the local fishmonger, before long she becomes pregnant but conceals this to carry on working.
Cornelis commissions a painting. The artist and Sophia fall in love, she secretly visits the artist at his studio, disguised as the housekeeper. The fishmonger follows her one day and witnesses a kiss but believes she is Maria, he is heartbroken and suddenly leaves forever.
Sophia soon becomes pregnant, so both girls are pregnant. Obviously Sophia wants to leave and plots to fake her own death in childbirth in order to be with the artist. Maria gives birth first but pretends this is Sophia's baby. Sophia is taken away in a wooden casket and soon has her own baby, her plan is to escape with the artist.
The artist tries his luck in the underworld tulip market, buys a rare bulb but loses everything when this is mistaken for an onion and accidentally eaten.
Don't believe the critics, the sets and costumes are well-done, the film delivers a fascinating erotic love story.
Creed II (2018)
Creed 2 - Adonis to decide what he's fighting for.
Sequel but also a respectable standalone.
Adonis is at the height of his boxing career already being the heavyweight champion, he's to fight the son of the man who killed his father, the father he never knew as he wasn't born when he died. Consequently the stakes are instantly high.
The romantic chemistry between Adonis and his girlfriend is tangible, he proposes and soon becomes a father, and this puts his life into a new perspective.
Rocky is a father figure, he's naturally apprehensive of the fight between Adonis and Victor, this appears to be a dangerous prospect. Rocky is still the trainer, much older, wiser and looking vulnerable. Rocky is worried that Adonis is 'flying too close to the sun' this time.
Victor is a skyscraper of a man and a wrecking machine, Adonis is physically smaller but has lots of heart. As is generally the case in previous Rocky films, the plot revolves around making choices.
I'd have awarded a higher score if it didn't look so much like a remake of Rocky 4.
The Girl in the Spider's Web (2018)
The Girl in the Spider's Web - Strong female hero
Action spy thriller, sequel to 'The Dragon Tattoo'.
Plot similar to 'Golden eye'.
Starts with a backstory sequence involving the young protagonist Lisbeth and her sister, we see how she is raped and abused as a child and how this motivates her to become the super hacker, vigilante hero. She escapes, runs away but her sister is trapped for many more years.
As an adult hero, her mission is to track down a laptop that contains a program called 'Firefall' with codes to all the nuclear weapons in the world. She is up against a criminal organization called 'the spider' also looking for 'Firefall.
Not a bad action film, but poor spy film which steals ideas from other action films. A mixture of 'James Bond', 'Mission Impossible', 'Jason Bourne' and 'Die Hard'.
Robin Hood (2018)
Robin Hood - looks like an Oscar winner compared to Fantastic Beasts 2
Historic action adventure.
The story of Robin of Loxley, the wealthy lord turned super hero of the poor. An origin film. Think of a mush up between 'Batman Begins', Riche's 'Arthur' and '300', set in a mixture of different locations. I found the atmosphere to be wrong, should have been muddy with dirty downtrodden citizens. But the actors were too clean, with designer clothing and pristinely made up.
Not sure who this was aimed at, but definitely another franchise starter. Not a great film, but not really a bad film either, not one I'd watch again.
Fantastic Beasts 2 - The emperor is definitely WEARING NO CLOTHES!
Fantasy nonsense aimed at teenagers, young adults and Harry Potter fans.
High action opening scene made me anticipate a reasonable film ahead, unfortunately, the plot quickly dives into GCI confusion and chaos. I'm not a big Harry Potter fan and found it hard to follow but also relentlessly boring. My wife is a huge HP fan but was disappointed, even told me she fell asleep!
So ... in summary, this is yet another prequel to the first instalment that I didn't much like either. I only decided to watch for my wife's sake.
This film is actually worse than the first spinoff and is simply an overlong set-up for yet another (third) film.
The Grinch (2018)
The Grinch - I kept thinking "I wish Robin Williams could have provided the voice part"
The Grinch hates Christmas, the local town people, the 'HOOS' love Christmas.
The town is decorated sparkly, tinselly, but this year the HOOS are making an extra special effort. The Grinch is miserable and decides to steal Christmas, he disguises himself as Santa and visits every house to steals all presents on Christmas Eve. This involves some slapstick comedy. All get returned and Grinch is forgiven.
I recommend seeing in 3d, there's plenty of effective depth. Best sketches are in the trailer. Sadly Robin Williams is no longer with us. (The Minions prison break short film, shown before this, looks excellent)
Overload - Universal Soldier Remake
Very violent fantasy horror.
American paratroopers are shot down over Nazi-occupied France, their mission is to destroy a tower holding a radio transmitter. Under the tower is a lab where the Nazi's are experimenting on the locals, their intention is to create super soldiers. They generally end up with zombie creatures. There's plenty of gory fights.
The whole plot is very predictable and made me think this was a remake of 'Universal Soldier'. All in all pretty mediocre.
Peterloo - would also make a great modern day stage play
British made film from Mike Leigh.
An atmospheric historical costume drama, based on actual events in Britain from almost precisely 200 years ago, at this point in history political disheartenment within the working class led to a large peaceful demonstration of 60,000 men, women and children.
Set in Petersfield, Manchester - outside in broad daylight on a Monday. Their aim was to establish voting rights for every working class citizen. The assembly was dispersed by the military, they trampled the crowds on horseback and cut down many with their cutlasses. This is a carefully presented character driven piece with some heavy dialogue, leading to the climatic massacre.
This would also make a great modern day stage play, where it is evident that the working classes (anywhere) are still struggling for food and jobs.
Widows - About half way my wife wanted ...
Steve McQueen has a great pedigree and was the immediate attraction for me.
The film starts with a 5 minute extreme action scene, similar to a JBond opening. This is the story of four widows with nothing in common except a $2 million debt left by their dead husbands. A slow burning drama with an additional political sub-plot, where (strangely) we see the black and white led parties have both good and bad motivations.
McQueen takes his time to flesh out the female characters through flash-back scenes, they follow the meticulous plans to their husband's next job, and we see how they carefully prepare for this.
There's a lot to like but the film is overlong and left me unsatisfied. About half way my wife wanted to bail out and would have gone home if she had been on her own. Not OSCAR material.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms - Nothing Special, not very Disney
Children's animated fantasy adventure mixed with live action from Disney.
A little bit of "Lion, Witch & Wardrobe", with some "Harry Potter" and a sprinkling of "Alice in Wonderland".
They could have made a better film if it had included some humour for parents, but still just about passable if you're eight years old.
GOOSEBUMPS 2 - Very mild horror for kids
Fantasy adventure sequel (Mild horror for kids).
The cinema was busy made up of a fairly young audience, obviously released to coincide with the Halloween period.
I hadn't seen the first instalment, my granddaughter had recently seen this on network TV. She enjoyed this but said it was a lot like the first film, she is definitely the target audience. Personally I think the plot was poor.
Not a bad film but I admit that I was bored.
Halloween 2018 - Sequel to the 1978 original.
I'm not a horror genre fan and I haven't seen any of the other instalments.
The antagonist is Michael Myers, he is not a man, more a supernatural relentless, emotionless and completely evil killing machine. He escapes while being transported between prisons. The plot revolves around his hunt for Laurie, the only survivor from the first film. Laurie's house has become a heavily defended fortress with a secret basement. Michael gets trapped in the basement and is incinerated.
This is a very violent, tense and brutal film. The killing scenes are particularly gory.
- I bet Michael comes back for Halloween3, 4, 5 etc.!
Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
Bohemian Rhapsody - Before the film my wife said to me ...
Charts the rise to fame of one of the greatest rock bands ever.
Touches on Freddie Mercury's (his stage name) background, then how he met the band and became their front man, the development of their unique sound, their meteoric rise to fame, and the key moments leading to Band Aid.
Briefly (probably too briefly) touches on Freddie's AIDS condition.
The film starts at the same moment as it ends with Freddie arriving on (Live Aid) stage, the last 15 minutes is their whole Live Aid performance.
Before the film my wife said to me ... "I'm not a fan, I didn't like their music, and I'm not looking forward to this" After the film my wife said to me ... "I really enjoyed that, think I'm a fan"
So ... this film is good, whether you think you're a fan or not.
First Man (2018)
First Man - The film focuses on the sacrifices and emotional cost to his family life and much less about the process behind getting to the moon.
Tense exciting documentary drama, based on actual events.
Ryan Gosling plays Neil Armstrong who was initially a test pilot, a man in pain following the loss of his young daughter to a brain tumour, he is obviously struggling with this. Neil Armstrong was a very quiet, private man but with drive and focus.
He successfully applies to NASA.
The film focuses on the sacrifices and emotional cost to his family life and much less about the process behind getting to the moon. There is a constant sense that the training astronauts were in real danger, there is a constantly sense that the mission could fail with no way back alive.
Of course we all know the mission outcome, at the end see the lunar surface and hear the iconic "1 small step for man, 1 giant leap for mankind"
A very nice touch was seeing Neil drop his daughter's bead bracelet into the 'blackness' of a deep crater and in doing so his final closure. A well-made emotional biopic.
Smallfoot - don't judge a book by it's cover
Children's animated slapstick adventure.
A community of yetis live in an isolated village, they live by the rules of the 'stones'. A human (small foot) pilot crashes their plane and is discovered. The head Yeti 'Stonekeeper' tries to keep the discovery a secret.
This 'OK' children's film deals with some weighty moral concepts, prejudice, conformity, challenging beliefs. This is a comedy with visual gags for kids and some aimed at parents and some catchy songs, though forgettable.
Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)
Bad Times at the El Royale
Dark, gritty action drama.
The film starts with a gangster character burying a life changing bag if cash under the floorboards of a hotel, he's suddenly disturbed and brutally murdered. Immediately the film jumps forwards 10 years where we see seven diverse characters arrive and check-in at the same hotel, each character retires to their rooms and each room is a distinctive and destructive chapter.
Over the course of the night, through slipping timelines the developing plot is observed from the guest's individual points of view. Their background stories unravel and intertwine.
Obviously influenced by Tarantino, similar to 'The Hateful Eight' - this violent, twisty film will keep you guessing.
Night School (2018)
Night School - Fell asleep part way through!
Slapstick comedy nonsense.
From the makers of 'Girls Trip', this is marginally better, but only just.
Stars Kevin Hart, who we see is a good fast-talking salesman at a BBQ shop, he loses his job after an accident causes the shop to burn down.
Flashbacks show he was a poor student in his childhood, now he urgently needs to go back to (night) school to complete his education in order to get a new job, we see that his class-mates are all damaged characters.
Very few laughs, no out-takes (there must have been plenty!)
The message is admirable - never give up and work hard. However, the plot was poor and the acting wooden, ultimately forgettable.
A Star Is Born (2018)
A star is born - Chasing fame.
Melodramatic love story.
Bradley copper (he) is a country music global mega star, he is fighting alcoholism and drug addiction.
Lady Gaga (she) is an undiscovered singer / songwriter, she is chasing a dream of fame as a singer but has just about given up.
He discovers and falls in love with her, he persuades her onto the stage of one of his gigs. The song she sings and the video clip goes viral.
Some themes explored are; ambition, massive egos, self-destruction, strong emotions, alcoholism, mental illness and deep depression.
This is a good, well directed film that proves that very little divides genius and madness.
Venom - Not bad, not great, very predicable
Superhero fantasy action adventure with horror from Marvel.
The earth is dying, the human race on the brink of extinction.
The villain runs a technology company, brings slimy aliens back from a space expedition, he wants aliens to inhabit humans, escape the earth and build a new world somewhere else.
Tom hardy plays the sarcastic anti-hero with some humour, but not enough. There's the standard love interest, but I'm bored with this stock character. There's some exciting CGI action sequences, but a bit dull before Venom properly appears. I found it hard to relate to anything. Tom Hardy never appears to be in jeopardy. There's a standard post credit scene that introduces a possible sequel.
The Wife (2017)
The wife - secrets, lies and sacrifice
Set in 1992, with flash-backs to the 1950's.
Stars Glen Close as the long suffering wife of a soon to be awarded Nobel Prize winner for literature. They both travel to Stockholm, Sweden for him to receive the award. A self-appointed biographer travels with them, determined to uncover the truth and confirm his dark suspicions. (you can probably guess)
A strong message conveyed is that writers need to write or suffocate, but also writers need to be read and this is where the problem lies for 'the wife' character. Women are discriminated against - writing, journalism, publishing are all a man's world, with the prospects of forever being confined to the side-lines or have their work completely ignored. She decides to give up everything but remain supportive and dedicated to her husband for the sake of their children.
Many flashbacks show how they met and built their relationship, the truth that slowly emerges proves that he is not the brilliant author that we are led to believe, the award has been unjustly awarded. She is in fact the author with the golden touch. She can often be seen refining his original ideas, making an award worthy body of work from his initial drafts.
This is an excellent film that would make a great stage play.
Explains the reason the author of Harry Potter signed HERSELF J. K. Rowling.
A Simple Favor (2018)
A simple favour - Sylish and Twisty
This is a clever mix of several genres - Psychological thriller - Dark comedy - Murder mystery.
The film centres on Stephanie, a charming, sweet and innocent single mum Vlogger. She strikes an unlikely friendship with Emily a glamorous and mysterious femme fatal from the social elite.
Emily suddenly disappears, Stephanie strives to find out what happened, her Vlog develops from silly home hacks to detecting unsolved mysteries.
Though I was amongst a mostly female audience, I think blokes will find this clever, twisty plot entertaining with a satisfying conclusion.
The house with a clock in its walls - surprisingly good
Fantasy adventure set in the 1950's.
Film inspired by the 1970's novel.
Film in the manner of Harry Potter.
It features a young boy, Lewis, whose parents have passed away and who goes to live with his eccentric warlock uncle and his neighbour who is a witch - they are constantly bickering and digging at each other.
Lewis and his uncle immediately hit it off, Lewis's magic training commences. Together they search for a clock that can be heard ticking but hidden somewhere in the magical house. The clock can bring about the end of the world. Lewis wants to bring his mother back to life with a book taken from a forbidden cabinet but accidentally resurrects an evil warlock who wants to end the world after seeing the horrors of the Holocaust. To do this he also needs the clock.
Be careful, this might be a bit scary for a very young audience. Perfect casting - The actors all have great chemistry. Some humour. I enjoyed this. Recommended
King of Thieves (2018)
King of Thieves - planning my own escapade now I know where it went wrong!
Documentary drama, based on actual events. This film is a reconstruction inspired by the 2015 Hatton Garden (£300 million) jewellery robbery, the biggest robbery in UK criminal history.
With a stellar cast from the cream of English acting royalty, who carry out the heist of a lifetime! After a successful robbery, dividing the booty makes them greedy, they constantly argue over who gets what. Pretty soon they're caught using modern police techniques, with CCTV, DNA and alike. Once the investigation tracks down one of the gang, they follow a clear path with their intelligence to the rest. The film is good for an older audience and could do well in UK, but I feel won't have global appeal.
Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Crazy Rich Asians - chick flick - date night movie
This is a love story, set mainly in Singapore, with glamour, opulence, rich plastic people and some funny moments. An 'ordinary' girl meets and falls in love with a 'mega rich' guy. He calls himself 'comfortable' - this is how crazy rich people describe themselves when they're JP Getty rich. They're on their way to Singapore to attend a wedding. The plot hangs on the girl not knowing he was rich until they get on the plane and travel first class. This point develops further and further (probably more than it needed to)
She meets his family and there's some predictable conflicts.
The plots gets better about half way and after we've got to know all the characters. They fall out of love, they fall in love again - He proposes towards the end, arhhh!
The film proves that love conquers all and that you can make tourist advert for Singapore out of a cliché film. It was OK, nothing special.