Tuesday, 14 March 2023

Close (2023) - Movie Review

I’m starting to think that Bros from last year had an even greater impact on me than I realised because, ever since watching that, I find myself becoming more acutely aware of how Gay stories are commodified and framed for mass consumption, especially when it comes to films. Sure, there are no shortage of good, heartfelt, and authentic stories out there, but there’s a certain… uncomfortable pattern that a lot of them seem to fall into. One that feels oddly in-line with films like A Dog’s Purpose, where the attempt to make an impact with the audience involves victimising the central character(s). Gay misery and tragedy get more mainstream traction than anything positive or life-affirming, and this isn’t the only case where minorities are turned into misery porn for majority audiences. And I’ll be honest, this is one of the worser examples I’ve seen of this mindset in action.

Saturday, 11 March 2023

Tár (2023) - Movie Review

As soon as I was done with this two-and-a-half-hour film, I audibly asked “What?”. And judging by the amount of giggling I heard from the rest of the audience at the cinema, I wasn’t alone in that reaction. That reaction is still strong within my mind while I’m trying to write this review out, so if this comes across as more aimless and meandering than usual… well, I at least appreciate you recognising that I’m not always like this.

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Magic Mike's Last Dance (2023) - Movie Review

Y’know, it'd be easy (and embarrassingly predictable) to undercut any attempts to pontificate about this movie in my usual way since… I mean, it’s about male strippers, there’s not a lot of wriggle room in terms of its appeal as a movie. But credit to Steven Soderbergh, as I’ve been making a habit of giving in these reviews, for making this a now-trilogy of films that are worth watching for more than just the surface-level titillation. The first Magic Mike was as much a character-driven examination of the effects of the Global Financial Crisis as it was an inside-out look at the world of male stripping. Hell, it swung so far in the former’s direction, making Mike’s decision to be a stripper into something he ‘had to do’ due to economic concerns, that its sequel in XXL almost feels like an apology for that.

Indeed, while I still don’t think it's as strong as the original, the emphasis XXL puts on a pleasure-positive message in regard to this kind of entertainment, highlighting both the man on-stage and the woman watching as equally valid-as-fuck, is quite commendable. And yeah, I’ll admit it, I’m more than certain that these two films had a fair bit to do with me coming to terms with my own Queerness, although I’m going to try not to emphasise that aspect too much. Mainly, because this continues along the same line as both the first film and XXL, and yet feels like an entirely different animal altogether.

Saturday, 4 March 2023

Winnie-The-Pooh: Blood And Honey (2023) - Movie Review

After how much I railed against last year’s trend of filmed fanfiction, I guess I’m in no position to be surprised that a slasher movie starring Winnie The Pooh and Piglet made its way into cinemas. Only this is a more literal example of such things than the Dracula self-insert of The Invitation or the myriad of Fifty Shades Of Grey-inspired releases. With the original A. A. Milne book entering the public domain at the start of 2022, this is about as direct as a story like this can get, showing Winnie and Piglet going on a murderous rampage after Christopher Robin abandons them. However, while I went into this more than willing to hear it out as a blatantly weird idea for a film, there are oh-so-many glaring problems with this whole thing.

Friday, 3 March 2023

Knock At The Cabin (2023) - Movie Review

Like with M. Night Shyamalan’s last film Old, the premise here is the kind of high-concept story that wouldn’t look out of place in an SF anthology series like The Twilight Zone. While vacationing in a remote cabin in the woods, couple Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) along with their adopted daughter Wen (Kristen Cui) receive the titular Knock from four strangers (Dave Bautista, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abby Quinn, and Rupert Grint). Under the impression that the world is about to end, they tell the couple that there is only one chance to avert the apocalypse: One of the family has to die, and it has to be by a loved one’s hand.

Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Lonesome (2023) - Movie Review

Pornography is art. As a form of artistic expression, it is as valid as any other, and within the racier realms of independent cinema across the world, that level of explicitness can add genuine thematic texture to a story. However, for every filmmaker able to wield it well as a source of inspiration (Bruce LaBruce, Derek Jarman, John Cameron Mitchell), there are just as many, if not more, that seem to operate under the impression that gratuity on its own inherently makes a work of art deeper and more meaningful; think art films that show up on late-night SBS lineups. And the sophomore feature from writer/director Craig Boreham (Teenage Kicks) falls unfortunately into that category.

Monday, 27 February 2023

The Amazing Maurice (2023) - Movie Review

With how badly director Toby Genkel’s previous animated ventures have turned out, being responsible for the gargantuan irritants of the Nestrians in the Two By Two films, the prospect of him helming an adaptation of Terry bloody Pratchett is… concerning, to say the least. Doubly so because this will be the first theatrical adaptation of Pratchett’s Discworld canon, being relegated to TV miniseries up to this point. However, knowing that the writing and storytelling was ultimately the biggest problem with Two By Two, and this is built on a foundation not reliant on toy sales to justify its existence, maybe this will work out for a change.

Wednesday, 8 February 2023

Babylon (2023) - Movie Review

Damien Chazelle might be the single most self-confident filmmaker working in Hollywood right now. No matter how idealistic (the grand romantic tones in La La Land), or familiar (the story of Apollo 11 in First Man), or just downright goofy (the colourful string of expletives in the script for Whiplash) his ideas get, there’s never an inkling that he’s meeting any of it halfway. And even when I find myself on the wrong side of some of those aspects, I’ve been unable to deny that there’s a certain infectious quality to how much conviction the man pours into each of his directorial efforts thus far. But his latest seems to be the ultimate test for that methodology, as we’ve gone from a film that would merely benefit from that much confidence behind the camera, to a film that outright requires it to work even slightly.

Saturday, 4 February 2023

M3GAN (2023) - Movie Review

After the raw crazy of Malignant back in 2021, you better believe I was hyped for what James Wan and writer Akela Cooper had planned next. And man, it’s been a while since I was completely on-board with a film right from the literal first scene it shows, here in the form of a mocked-up ad for the in-universe Perpetual Pets. Aside from initially tricking me into thinking it was an actual ad, it does a terrific job of setting up the Uncanny tone of the film to follow.

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre (2023) - Movie Review

After the pleasing return to form in The Gentlemen, I was fully on-board for Guy Ritchie to keep making movies I could fuck with again. After the painfully mediocre snoozer Wrath Of Man, I am now also prepared for Ritchie to still be capable of underperforming as he had for quite a while before The Gentlemen. Out of a want to just see something simple and engaging (I’ve spent a good amount of January stuck at home with a fractured arm, hence my lack of activity lately), I’m still willing to give this one a chance, although it could go either way. And what I ended up getting was not only a weird combination of his last two films, but also of elements from his 2010s output.

Thursday, 19 January 2023

A Man Called Otto (2023) - Movie Review

Tom Hanks as “the grumpiest man in America”.

As I got into last year with his villainous role in Elvis, Hanks isn’t as bad a fit for abrasive characters as his public persona would imply. But that’s not necessarily what he’s doing here, at least from what I saw. His performance as the titular Otto is more melancholic than outright ‘grumpy’, dealing with the loss of a loved one and just wanting the world to leave him in peace… while he plans his exit from it. The film is set up to take him on a personal journey where he learns to move past his grief and live life again, making him come out of his shell and all that, but I’d argue that the film doesn’t do that well with the idea.

Wednesday, 4 January 2023

Top 20 Best Films Of 2022

2022 was when blockbusters felt big again. Not just being cynically marketed as blockbusters and event releases, but being designed and built from the ground-up as features meant to be seen on the big screen. While cinemas have been slowly starting to open back up over the latter months of 2021, now they were starting to get the right kind of material to bring audiences back. Sure, some of it came in the form of bog-standard fare that made an impact just because they reminiscent of the norm pre-COVID, like rom-coms, period dramas, and B-action flicks, but a lot of the better films of this year, and indeed a good amount of the entries on this list, had the sense of grandeur that made going back to the cinemas worth doing, regardless of whoever else may or may not be in attendance.

Hell, even beyond the return of the spectacle on the big screen, when they were able to break the general air of disappointment that kept invading the year’s releases, 2022 provided a lot of amazing stories and experiences. Directors behind some terrific work in previous years returned to show off new high points in their respective careers, niche genres and filmmaking styles got to share in the mainstream spotlight, and that Self-Insert theme that spread through so much of the year’s worst films? Even that led to some great works of cinematic art.

So, to round off our look at a pretty damn good year for the movies, here are my pick for the 20 best films of 2022.

Monday, 2 January 2023

Top 20 Worst Films Of 2022

2022 saw the world slowly start to return to normal (or whatever can be considered ‘normal’ for us nowadays) after COVID threw everything out of whack across 2020 and 2021. Public spaces were opening back up, the collective mood was much less dire, and the cinemas were bringing back the big tentpole blockbusters that usually mark the year as it passes. At a time when the life expectancy of the physical cinema was beginning to look like it’s on its death knell, between streaming and their closure during lockdown, film releases began to feel like events again. And on top of that, some of those event releases turned out really damn good, and we’ll absolutely be looking at a few of those when we get to the Best Of list.

Of course, with that return to normalcy also came the return of the usual bleh-ness of mainstream cinema, where a lot of the year wound up just being ‘okay’ or slightly-less-than, and I say that as someone who still liked most of what I saw this year. There was a larger amount of disappointment to the year’s produce as well, where I found myself really looking forward to films that wound up falling short.

Hell, this might be the first time I actively went out of my way not to watch movies, turning down FilmInk commissions to review Amsterdam and the new Fantastic Beasts sequel because, quite literally, you couldn’t pay me to give any kind of attention to the shitpersons at the heart of those productions. As such, this list won’t be as vitriolic as in past years, since most of what I consider this year’s worst films land more on the underwhelming and disappointing side of things than outright making me angry. Oh, rest assured, some of these still got me riled up, but not nearly as many as I was expecting.

But even with how many I passed on, I still managed to watch enough films to fill up this list. As such, let’s go over my picks for the Top 20 Worst Films Of 2022.