January 2019 Cinema Reviews

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Bumblebee – I’m delighted to say that talk of this being the Transformers film we’d been waiting for were spot on. A film that succeeds where 5 previous instalments failed. It manages to be emotional, funny, nostalgic and it gives us the battle of Cybertron we’ve wanted to see since this franchise was rebooted all the way back in 2007. Oh and the soundtrack is awesome.

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Ralph Breaks The Internet – A fine sequel to 2012’s surprise Disney hit Wreck It Ralph, but one that tries a little too hard to be bigger and better but never quite hits it’s lofty target. It’s not quite as heartwarming or charming as it’s predecessor, and unlike the first film, the soundtrack is a bit of a damp squib. Gone is Rhianna telling you to shut up and drive, and even Vanellope’s catchy Sugar Rush song can’t be matched. The film’s biggest failing is that it wants to have an important message, but it all gets a bit lost. The writers should have just kept it light and fun like the first one. Also, I get the whole “oh you broke the internet” thing, but shouldn’t it have been called Ralph Wrecks The Internet? Wouldn’t that have made more sense in the grand scheme of things? No? Just me then.

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Colette – Such a delight from start to finish. Keira Knightley who can sometimes be a bit cloying, especially when she’s doing a period piece like this one, is actually engaging and feisty in her portrayal of real life writer Gabrielle Colette. I will admit ashamedly that although I proclaim to be a writer myself (and a woman to boot) I had never heard of Colette before I saw Knightley interviewed on The Graham Norton Show. And I almost didn’t see the movie as the clips I’d seen hadn’t exactly sparked my interest. It was only while discussing with a colleague what I might go and see at the cinema that night that she told me she had seen the film, and raved about how good it was. I’m so glad I saw it as it was a really interesting film, the sets and locations stunning, and the performances were fantastic. Knightley captures Colette beautifully; her frustrations, her anger, her inquisitive and adventurous sides, and by god her stubbornness. I’d watch this again in a heartbeat. Such a delicious story.

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Stan and Ollie – While it’s not the most fascinating, most hilarious, or featuring the most lesbian sex of all the true stories out at the cinema right now, Steve Coogan and John C Reilly are both fantastic in Stan and Ollie. It’s a gentle film that ambles along at its own pace but it transports you into their world perfectly and they are both heartbreakingly wonderful. If neither of them at least get nominated by one of the major awards givers it’ll be a travesty. Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda also put in stunning supporting performances as Ollie and Stan’s wives respectively, which gives the film even more heart. If the last shot of the wives in the theatre doesn’t make you cry then make sure you read the extra bits in the credits. If I’d not been surrounded by people I probably would have wailed. It’s completely down to the two of them and how much you bought into their friendship. Such a lovely movie.

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Mary Queen Of Scots – Excellent performances from Saoirse Ronan and Margo Robbie lift this above standard Tudor era fare. The women stand strong and defiant and it’s lovely to see the women’s roles shine in a movie that is predominantly filled with men trying to tell them what to do. It doesn’t shy away from some of the harder to stomach truths of the Elizabethan reign, which I found refreshing even if my cinema buddy was less pleased. The costumes and locations are a sumptuous feast for the eyes, and I now want to go back to Edinburgh and learn all about Mary all over again.

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Beautiful Boy – It was only after I saw this film that I saw Timothee Chalamet interviewed on The Graham Norton Show, where he described Beautiful Boy as a horror film. And while I don’t think that’s a very accurate description of the movie, I can see why he said that. The subject matter and scenes of what Nick’s drug use does to him and his family is certainly horrific. But this is definitely more of a drama than a horror. I also didn’t know until the end of the movie that this film is based on a true story. It’s definitely an important film, and I’m sure one that will speak to a great many people who have either been addicted to something, be it drugs or alcohol or something else, as well as the people their addiction ultimately hurts. I found the performances from both Chalamet and Carrell to be very affecting, but ultimately the film was overlong and felt very repetitive. That was probably intentional as it shows how repetitive recovery and relapse is, but it doesn’t really make for very interesting cinema. Also, not sure if Abbie from ER has had her lips done since her stint on that show, but I found her constant pouty fish expressions to be really distracting.

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The Mule – Similar over pouting expressions from Diane Wiest in this movie were about the only fault I could levy upon this heartwarming tale of a 90 year old drug mule and the DEA agent sent to bring him in. Clint Eastwood puts in a believable and shockingly likeable turn as Earl Stone, a man on the verge of losing everything he ever loved, who is somewhat conned into becoming a drug mule. He accepts some work as a “driver” for a friend of his Granddaughter and unknowingly takes a package from point A to point B. He soon realises what it is he’s transporting, but by then he’s starting to like the money he’s earning, and the joy he’s able to bring to those he loves by spreading his wealth. There’s a side story about the drug cartel that’s neither here nor there really, as the main focus of the movie is Earl and his attempts to win back the family he’s lost. I have to admit that I was completely rooting for Earl to get away with it but I’m not going to tell you whether he did or not. You’ll have to see for yourself.

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The Favourite – After waiting sooooooo long to watch this I’m sad to say I wasn’t much of a fan. Yes the central three performances are spectacular. Olivia Coleman brought me to tears when she talked about her babies, Rachel Weisz was an excellent scorned woman, and Emma Stone’s innocent little girl routine was perfect for her character. However these three brilliant women were all overshadowed by weird circular camera lenses that made my eyes hurt, a score that sounds like an alarm is going off, and an overlong and boring story. I’ve seen movies like this before where there’s multiple back stabbers and the audience isn’t even sure who the real villain of the piece is. But there was no such delicious intrigue in this movie, you just watch the events unfold with relatively little interest. It’s a shame as I was really looking forward to it and then I couldn’t really wait for it to be over, if just so I would stop feeling sick from all of those weird circular camera angles and that never-ending alarm of a score.

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Vice – Definitely NOT the best film of the year, in my opinion. I’ve already seen about half a dozen that are better than this and it’s only January! I will concede that it WAS interesting, especially as someone who lived through the Bush Jr administration but who was too young to really take interest in politics, or understand that he was massively controlled by his team, headed up by Vice President Chaney. But I definitely felt it needed to be more stringently edited as it was quite long, and some of it just didn’t seem to work (the weird Shakespeare bit and the part where it pretended it was ending half way through the film). Then there were other bits where it just cut off mid way through someone speaking. More and more frequently with movies like this with big directors and big name actors, I often feel they are given a little too much free reign and there aren’t enough people around them to say ‘that didn’t work’, or ‘that could be a shorter scene’. I felt that way about The Favourite too. Although in the case of this film it certainly didn’t help matters that snow was imminent and my friend fell asleep, which made me very aware of how long the film was on both counts. I will say however that Amy Adams was her usual amazing self, and Christian Bale has surely got to be doing serious damage to his body at this point from all the weight he puts on for roles which he then loses, but as usual he impressed. I wished Sam Rockwell had more to do as I think he’s a wonderful and massively underrated actor, but I understand this was a movie about Chaney and not Bush, and so the size of his role had to reflect that. Steve Carrell also continues to impress in another dramatic role, but the film overall was long, and Chaney’s story, while he was devious and villainous, it just wasn’t fascinating enough to make this a good film.

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