It’s not quite the end of the year just yet1, but I have decided that it is highly unlikely I am going to leave the house and make the five minute journey to my local multiplex. My film logging widget tells me that I saw fewer films in total this year than I did last year and from looking at last year’s films in review blog and my letterboxd list of 2018 films, I also saw fewer new films. Was it just that there were fewer films that took my fancy released? Could I just not be bothered to go out and see them? I know there were a few that I thought “well, I’ll just wait for them to be on TV” that I can’t even remember the titles of now.
I nearly said that there wasn’t a Star Wars film out in 2018 but I guess Solo counts as one of those, so it’s not even that. I could really do with a new Star Trek film – although Discovery is coming back in the new year and I am p excited for that.
Anyway, onward – from least liked to most liked. Once again, “least liked” doesn’t necessarily mean it was bad but I think I did watch more films I felt kind of indifferent about this year:
Long Day’s Journey Into Night – This film was really long and didn’t seem to go anywhere. Sure the 3D 50 minute long single shot take is a technical achievement but like… what was the point. I guess the first section was just too vague and I didn’t care about the main character.
In Fabric – Parts of this film were entertaining but then other bits induced too much second-hand embarrassment.
The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man – I don’t know that I’m really that interested in Bill Murray’s hijinks, but it was nice to hear from people who had such good experiences and to its credit, this film is only 70 minutes long and doesn’t try to pad itself out with pointless filler.
Aquarela – Ok so this film is about water and only that. Glaciers, frozen lakes, waterfalls, oceans, hurricanes etc. all to an industrial classical soundtrack. The director said that it was supposed to showcase the immensity of water on our planet but it had been a long day and the water noises along with metal-cello accompaniment were really relaxing and I might have drifted off once or twice2.
The Quake – I didn’t see The Wave, to which this is a sequel to, but I don’t think I really needed to. Most disaster movies that I’ve seen tend to be all action, which is fine. This film has action, sure, but most of the drama comes from within the characters’ regular lives and their reactions to the disaster of the previous film. Which is a nice change.
Ash Is Purest White – I spent 20 minutes trying to remember which of the films on the list had the ballroom dancers in and it was this one. Anyway, Ash Is Purest White kind of starts off as a gangster film, but then actually follows the life of the “gangster’s moll” character who is far more interesting than anyone else.
Arctic – I actually had this one just above Aquarela but then I started thinking about it and had to move it up the list a bit. Mads Mikkelsen is exceptional in this.
Solo: A Star Wars Story – This was OK. I kind of want to rate it lower but maybe that’s because I kind of expected more from a film about Han Solo and on the whole it was fine. Unnecessary maybe, but fine. I would probably have preferred a Chewie film.
A Family Tour – There’s a lot here that I recognise in my own family, although of course, none of us currently live in exile from China or have suffered the kind of injustices that the main character here has. Although saying that, thinking about the race riots in Malaysia in the late 60s, I do wonder if I am wrong about that one.
Duplicate – This film is called “Jonathan” in a bunch of places but I guess it must have got renamed to Duplicate. Did not go in the direction I had thought it would at all, mostly because I had no clue where the story would go from the start (but in a good way).
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote – This is the only Adam Driver film I saw this year, although in a sense it was like 3 Adam Driver films in one, so I guess I’ve probably equalled last years Adam Driver film total.
Happy as Lazzaro – I didn’t really know what to expect from this film and it turned out to be kind of a meditation on sainthood. Also, did not expect the direction the second half took at all, which was great.
Outlaw King – I enjoy historical films with loads of violence, what can I say?
Deadpool 2 – Also contemporary films with loads of violence. I feel like this wasn’t as enjoyable as the first one.
Out of Blue – I guess I would compare this one to last year’s Small Town Crime, only the main character in that was a mess and Patricia Clarkson’s detective is not really.
The Hummingbird Project – This was way more heart-warming than I thought a film about putting in a fibre optic cable across America would be and I am glad of it. And SALMA HAYEK plays a great villain.
Assassination Nation – I really enjoyed this although I think it was trying to position itself as something more controversial than it was. Also another film with loads of violence. Basically, 80% of films I watch have violence in them I guess.
Widows – This was so so good and deeply satisfying. Also, there is a cute dog.
A Wrinkle in Time – I saw this so long ago, but I guess it says something that a film from right near the beginning of the year stuck in my memory and maintained its position in my chart – I often find that more recent films chart a bit higher sometimes because I remember them more. I’ve not read the book but I don’t think that’s a problem. This is a really beautiful film but wow Charles Wallace is annoying.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? – I picked this film because I really enjoyed seeing Melissa McCarthy in Spy and the title sounded interesting. It turned out to be one of the best films I’ve seen this year – both funny and unexpectedly touching.
The Favourite – Rachel Weisz is awesome. Her name is Rachel, so of course. Olivia Coleman and Emma Stone are also excellent, though they are not Rachels. Their performances made the characters seem real – even though they are real people that existed, the distance of time renders them as “just” characters in a story. Anyway, this was great and funny and moving and I really enjoyed it.
I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story – I was never a boyband fangirl myself. I just didn’t get the appeal, but I have been a fan of other things and it was a DELIGHT to watch this and feel those feels and see other people feeling those feels. Not only does this documentary tell the stories of a range of different fangirls, but it also follows the changes in their fandom and what their love of their particular boyband has enabled them to achieve. And it takes all of their fangirling and love and out-there antics and takes it all seriously. Everyone should see this.
Little Forest – This is a film where a young woman spends a lot of time cooking for herself and for her friends, eating the nice food she has cooked and hanging out with a puppy and I think this is the gentle film that the world needs right now.
Pacific Rim: Uprising – In contrast, I don’t think the world needed this particular Pacific Rim film (perhaps del Toro’s version would have been different) and yeah, there is one element of the story that is CLEARLY RIDICULOUS and UNCALLED FOR. That said, I enjoyed the story and the robots and John Boyega is a national treasure.
Avengers: Infinity War – I am here for Captain America 5eva. And most of the rest of them too.
Ocean’s Eight – This is literally the only Ocean’s film I have seen in a cinema rather than just waiting for it to be on the telly and that was an excellent decision. Sandra Bullock is my perennial fave and she and her team are just so good at all of it. Richard Armitage is there being awful in the best way. The only thing that could have been better would be if they had just put someone else in as the insurance fraud investigator.
Black Panther – It feels like Black Panther came out a million years ago but it was literally only like eleven months. Everything about this film was just right and I loved T’Challa and Shuri and her being the genius little sister.
And that’s it for the new films I saw in 2018. I feel like I would have liked to go to more gigs, but sometimes I’m just not interested in the people who are touring here. I visited Norfolk on holiday and that was great. I ate a great many delicious things. 2018 was okay.
1. Well, I started writing this 3 days ago. 2. It had been a long day.
On Saturday, I went to see Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet at the Union Chapel, with a live choir. Basically that meant that there was about half an hour’s performance of some of the songs from a choir before the film along with some dude saying various quotes from throughout the play. Then they did a song at the end and some guy in the audience then proposed to his girlfriend, she said yes, we all clapped and the choir did another song, dedicated to the couple.
I don’t really get why someone would pick Romeo + Juliet as a prelude to popping the question, as so many people die and namely the “happy couple.” I am sure it was probably a nice evening for them so that must add context.
Romeo + Juliet was great though. I first saw it when I was about 12 and I didn’t really get probably about half of the language used, but it’s like watching Chinese historical dramas – you don’t know what anyone is really saying, but they are doing the right faces. I guess it probably helped that I studied the play at school afterwards and I’ve learnt a bit more about Shakespeare and that since then. Watching now, over 20 years after the film was released, and looking at 20 years ago Leonardo Dicaprio and Claire Danes was kind of weird. I guess when I first saw it, the actors were like 5-10 years older than me and I was just watching stuff happening to people. Watching now, looking at 21 year old Leonardo and 17 year old Claire Danes, from the viewpoint of someone now in their thirties and like… they are really dramatic children. I know in Zeffirelli’s version, Romeo and Juliet are played by even younger actors – but they’re not in a relatable modern setting. I’m sure I must have written an essay about this in school, but man those kids needed some responsible adults in their lives who didn’t enable their nonsense.
It wouldn’t be quite so entertaining a play though.
I figure it’s time for my annual round up of the new films I saw this year as it’s getting towards the end of the year and, having taken a look at what’s on offer for the next couple of weeks at my local cinema, I don’t think I’ll be adding to the list. You never know though, so maybe I’ll reserve the right to revise this review closer to the end of the year.
I’m going to start with the “and stuff” of the title – my favourite band, AFI, released a new album this year (and once again did not tour in the UK) and, of course, it is awesome. Davey Havok released an album with his sideproject, Dreamcar, and that was pretty good too. The stand-out albums for me aren’t either of these albums (as much as I love them). No, the two albums that have been on repeat in my car all year (pretty much) are Dave Hause’s “Bury Me in Philly” and Maxïmo Park’s “Risk to Exist” – and Maxïmo Park’s album sat in its shrink-wrap for like two weeks before I even opened it (I opened it AS SOON AS I GOT HOME from seeing them live and hearing all the really great new songs). Continue reading “Films in 2017 and stuff”
New films I saw this year, in reverse order of how much I enjoyed them (basically, the last film in this list was amazeface) as kept track of throughout the year on Letterboxd.
Dad’s Army – This was terrible. The only good part was Mrs Mainwaring.
Anthropoid – I can barely remember this film. I imagine it must have much like any other film based on events from WW2. I think there…was a romance? I wasn’t very interested in it if there was.
The Girl on the Train – I’d not read the book before I saw this ( and I’ve still not seen it) but it was entertaining enough, if fairly predictable.
Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey – It was nice. I had a terrible cold during LFF so it was quite handy that I didn’t have to think too much when watching this.
Interchange – I didn’t entirely know what I expected when I decided that I would see a film that involved vampirism in Malaysia – certainly not anything to do with indigenous Malay tribal people. I did like that the characters switched between languages – which of course is common in Malaysia, but I don’t usually get to see it on-screen.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – I enjoyed it. Unsure about Lex Luthor, but I’m quite interested in seeing the next film.
Dancer – When this film was being made, no one involved in the film had any idea how it would turn out – as they were just following the life of Sergei Polunin. I’m glad I wasn’t making the film or, for that matter, pursued ballet beyond the age of five.
Jason Bourne – My Mum really loves Jason Bourne and Matt Damon to the extent that we joke that he is her new boyfriend.
Chi-raq – I will watch nearly anything based on ancient Greek plays so of course I was going to see this.
White Colour Black – Interesting look at being part of two distinct cultures, although I’m not sure thaat I could relate much to the main character Leke even though I’m mixed-race too but that’s mostly because I’m not a hedonistic, sought-after photographer.
Ghostbusters – Fun and very much in the same spirit as the previous Ghostbuster films. lol.
The Secret Scripture – Mum and I went to see this and Dancer on the same day as this year she was interested in going to see some LFF films (although she still thinks going to see as many as I do is a bit out there) and this was the film she was most interested in. As we got towards the end of the film, you could kind of see what was coming but that was more a nice rounding off rather than being boringly predictable.
Star Trek Beyond – I love Star Trek with all my heart and this film was a relief after the film that we do not talk about. Fun, lots of exciting action and Karl Urban is the greatest of us.
Deadpool – I also love Deadpool, but not as much as I love Star Trek and this film was still slightly more enjoyable than Star Trek Beyond though probably because of the incredible amounts of violence.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – I have too many feelings about this film. It’s a solid war movie.
Captain America: Civil War – Probably not as good as Winter Soldier, but still super enjoyable. I still don’t like spending time with Tony Stark but RDJ continues to play him well. I will never understand how Chris Evans fit in that tiny car. Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson are forever a delight together.
Arrival – This film was astounding when I saw it back in October, was still astounding when I saw it again in November and remains so as I think about it now. I think this year really needed this film. V satisfying.
As for… probably the last 7 years, I remain largely not much of a blogger anymore. Every year that I’ve attended the London Film Festival, I mean to write about what I saw and…. never get round to it.
Well. Here goes – a few words about all the new films I saw last year. At least I got into the practice of keeping a list of all the new films I saw over on Letterboxd and every time I added to it, took a look to re-arrange everything in order of how much I liked the films.
In reverse order then, starting with the film I enjoyed the least.
Avengers: Age of Ultron – Ugggh. This film was mostly just disappointing. What was going on with the Natasha Romanov/Bruce Banner thing? It came from nowhere and the relationship seemed out of character for both Romanov and Banner. Probably more because there was no lead up for us to see how it could have developed. Maybe…Nick Fury and Maria Hill were consistent with the rest of what we’ve seen in MCU? Everyone else? Not so much. 🙁
I Am Belfast – A kind of wandering essay film about Belfast. It was nice to look at and the people in it were great to hear from. That’s all I’ve got.
Blood Of My Blood – Half the film is set in 17th Italy and the other half in the same village in the modern-day. Amusing but felt kind of like there were 2 different films that didn’t have quiet enough story on their own kind of smushed half and half together.
Exotica, Erotica, Etc. – So I saw this film and then a few days later I saw Jay Malinowski at the Lexington (ditching one of the films I had planned to see at LFF because live music will probably always trump a thing I can see on DVD later) AND it felt like both things kind of mixed together – Jay Malinowski’s set was largely stuff from Martel, an album with a sort of nautical journey theme woven through.
Elstree 1976 – A documentary about some of the actors who appeared in the original Star Wars trilogy and how the films has affected their lives. I
Office – I can’t say that I ever thought I would see a Chinese musical in 3D entirely set in the corporate world but there it was. I only wish I understood the language to better enjoy it because I am CERTAIN there was clever wordplay that could not be contained in the translation.
Truth – Even though I was about 20 in 2004 I had no idea that the events in this film were even happening so it was fascinating to watch.
Youth – All I remember is that while I enjoyed this film, it felt like nothing really happened for a really long time which may have been the point. Also, Rachel Weisz was awesome in it.
Suffragette – Enjoyable enough but the main character Maud was a bit empty and obviously it was implausible for a newly minted suffragette to be at all the big moments of the suffragette movement at the time BUT I guess they had to somehow have a self-insert character for the audience to move through the story with? Maybe. Perhaps a film that followed the story of a real woman who was fighting for the vote would have been better.
Twinsters – SO I heard about these two sisters who had been adopted as babies by parents in different countries and who had found each other on Facebook a while back BUT THEN I guess they made a film and people I follow on twitter mentioned watching it and THERE IT WAS on Mum’s Netflix so I watched it and it was delightful and moving and heart-warming and all the things.
Magic Mike XXL – A DELIGHT from start to finish. I don’t think I have ever watched a film where every single person in the cinema with me had such a good time.
A Perfect Day – I don’t think I expected to watch anything so funny when I bought the ticket for this film, thinking “Oh yes, a film about aid workers in a war zone will be interesting,” but it was and I recommend it to everyone.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. – All I knew about the series that this film was based on was that it had Robert Vaughan and Ducky from NCIS. Lots of fun to watch and obviously features Henry Cavill eating a sandwich as a key point in the film.
High-Rise – The thing about the London Film Festival is that I buy all my tickets in one go based on what the BFI website says the film is about and then I forget ENTIRELY what I have signed myself up to see. And it’s not like I know much about JG Ballard or Ben Wheatley anyway. I knew that this was about a futuristic apparently utopian 70s tower block with its social hierarchy arranged on the various levels and everything then degenerating into a dystopic horror show and at some point Tom Hiddleston got his kit off. It turned out to be GREAT and a DELIGHT and HILARIOUS.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – I feel like I have only just seen this film (and kind of yeah, that’s true) and that I want to see it again in the cinema really soon BUT it is still my sixth favourite film of the year. Finn and Rey are ENCHANTING and I wouldn’t mind just watching a film where they go on an space-road-trip and discover the galaxy and everything they’ve never imagined.
Mad Max: Fury Road – While it feels like I only saw The Force Awakens five minutes ago, it feels like I watched Fury Road at least a year ago – even though this was my birthday film and that was only in May. I liked that this was basically the story of Furiosa and the Wives rather than Max.
John Wick – The violence and killing and everything was great and my Mum and I both enjoy violent action films but the REAL HIGHLIGHT was Keanu Reeves hanging out with a puppy.
Spy – So I guess a lot of my top ten includes film that were pretty funny but Spy is probably the funniest film I saw all year.
The Martian – I don’t like watching bad things happening to astronauts SO the idea of an astronaut being stranded on Mars was a bit daunting but this film is great and heart-warming and well-paced.
Jupiter Ascending – OF COURSE Jupiter Ascending was going to be my favourite films this year. It was ridiculous and awesome and Jupiter is a great heroine. It totally filled 2015’s Pacific Rim shaped space in last years cinema-going.
And that’s it. Who would have thought that Jupiter Ascending would have been so much better than Avengers: Age of Ultron at the beginning of the year?
It seems like every year I’ve gone to LFF I don’t actually really talk about it until weeks and weeks later. Such is life. Luckily I keep my Letterboxd account updated and that helps me to remember. I think the only thing I’m hazy on are a few of the shorts that I saw. Onwards. There’s going to be spoilers (probably). There’s… going to be more than one part to this report on LFF.
Earlier this month was the 57th London Film Festival. Last year I managed to see about 12 films across 7 different days, with 2 random empty days in the beginning and 3 gigs and a meeting with my university tutor in the middle. I also had a tax rebate to spend on all of that. This year… no tax rebate. So only 8 films and no gigs. I did manage to meet up with a few friends though, which was cool.
Jodorowsky’s Dune This one was deliiiiightful. Apart from the bit where Jodorowsky says something along the lines of “I was raping Dune. With love.” The rest though, yeah, delightful. I had no idea that the team behind Alien kind of all met each other due to this and that was pretty cool. Also the circumstances under which Jodorowsky gathered together all the people he was going to work with was entirely amazing.
Under the Skin This was kind of weird. Entirely enjoyable, but weird. Also, I couldn’t quite believe that so many men would just get into a strange woman’s van…but then I guess, I always come at that scenario with the genders reversed and I would never get into a strange man’s van. I don’t think many women would.
Pioneer I really know nothing about the whole drilling for oil in the North Sea thing or how that came about orrrr any of that. I didn’t really need to though. This was really exciting. The underwater scenes were awesome and the conspiracy thing remained interesting throughout.
Trap Street I think that maybe this film could have been more exciting or gone in a slightly more sci-fi dystopic direction, but that would have meant that it wouldn’t have really kept the sort of mundane realism that goes with it talking about a real world phenomenon.
Love Will Conquer All This was a short film selection, where all the films had the theme of love in some way.
Orbit Ever After – Set in space. I did start wondering about how the rest of society operated in this universe.
Full Time – This was pretty sad.
The Phone Call – I think this was pretty much the best of all the shorts.
Kick-Heart – Interesting, but probably the one I least enjoyed.
Pieces – You can kind of figure out what went on to the characters pretty early on, but that doesn’t make it less watchable.
Auschwitz on My Mind – Actually, this was the one I least enjoyed. I just…didn’t care what the kids did.
Out of Darkness – I really liked this. Seeing/hearing the same words but from different viewpoints really made me think.
Night of the Foxes – Spent most of this waiting for a tragic turn that didn’t happen.
The Zero Theorem This was really good although it ended kind of abruptly – or at least, it felt that it did for me and there wasn’t really a conclusion. Maybe that was the point though.
Locke I will admit to watching this entirely because I am a fan of Tom Hardy’s work and figured that even though this is a film where there’s just the one guy in a car for the entire film, it was worth a look. Or at least, it’d be something to try at least once. Locke turned out to be really good and while Hardy’s performance is excellent, I think that the co-stars (who we never see and only hear) really made the film compelling.
Only Lovers Left Alive I…really had no idea what this film was about other than Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston being vampires. It was really funny! Like. REALLY FUNNY. Which I had no idea that it would be because I was pretty much sold on “vampires” (although that really let me down on last years Kiss of the Damned). I liked that this film took the approach of considering that vampires can essentially be immortal and how the lack of time constraints can affect relationships and how that might play out. We sort of come in to seeing Swinton and Hiddleston’s characters as in a long-established relationship – and there’s none of the beginning of relationship or end of relationship drama that many films that address love and relationships might go for, which was refreshing.
I went there. Sorry. I have a lot of Star Trek into Darkness feels. A lot of them. I’ve basically spewed them over the comments of two different livejournal entries on my friends page, so I figure I might as well collate them somewhat. It’s got to be a list, really. A disjointed list. With spoilers.
I really do get a bit overwhelmed with feels, but only to the extent of all-caps, rather than keysmashing. I’m finding that the further away I get from my viewing of the film, the more problems I spot.