Not my best effort BUT click bait is click bait.
After getting in a car accident, a woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is held in a shelter with two men (John Goodman and John Gallagher Jr), who claim the outside world is affected by a widespread chemical attack.
A fantastic Hitchcockian opening sequence delivered high hopes as Mary Elizabeth Winstead attempted her Janet Leigh-esque escape from a bad break up. Bear McCreary’s sinister score. The window shots. It felt like an homage to Psycho from director Dan Trachtenberg.
Small trivia fact: I didn’t realise the voice of Michelle’s (Winstead) ex Ben was none other than Bradley Cooper’s.
The story didn’t mess about. It set everything up and let it all come tumbling down within 10 minutes. Hooked, line and sinker. One car collision later and Michelle awakens trapped in a bunker with her leg in a brace and handcuffed to the railing. Like something out of Saw.
The scene was set. The tension bubbling.
For the first 45 minutes I was transfixed, especially when John Goodman made his introduction. He was fantastic as Howard. Channeling his inner Kathy Bates. A return to form from the big man.
A ticking time bomb waiting to explode. A nuclear fall out whack job or genuine Samaritan?
I loved the Misery style cat and mouse game as Michelle tried to piece together everything that had happened. The questions mounting; was there an attack? Are they the only survivors?
It was good to see the underrated John Gallagher Jr (The Newsroom) get a meatier role to sink his teeth into as Emmett. Was he in on the act with Howard? Or another abductee like Michelle?
In all fairness, I couldn’t fault any of the performances. A crucial factor as the film relied solely on the three actors. Winstead was brilliant. She carried the film when the pace dragged, which it tragically did in places.
After the hour marker, I felt the film was running out of steam as Michelle began to accept her new life with this dysfunctional nuclear family.
Thankfully, the paranoia and suspense finally delivered as Howard’s lies became more transparent.
His concern for Michelle bordered on creepy Freudian levels as a silly game of “Who Am I?” unearthed some strange feelings. Unable to see Michelle as a woman BUT a young girl after losing his daughter.
That scene had me on tenterhooks. Goodman was intense. His “I’m always watching” conversation should have been ripe for a parody from Monster’s Inc (The Goodman link up was completely unintentional) BUT it was too unsettling as you feared the worst for Michelle.
To be honest up until the 80 minute marker, the post-apocalyptic bunker thriller had potential to hold its own as Michelle played the waiting game.
BUT then you realised that this had Cloverfield in the title. So things were about to get weird as Michelle plotted her escape.
There were a few twists BUT the finale felt tacked on and rushed for my liking. After all that slow burning tension and suspense, the teasing failed to deliver the goods for me.
It didn’t feel like a Cloverfield movie. The film’s greatest strength BUT also its greatest weakness as I felt the writers (One of them being none other than La La Land’s Damien Chazelle) quickly had to throw something in to tie this entry into the Cloverfield universe.
Don’t get me wrong, it was frenetic and racy BUT also chaotic and messy. A little disappointing with a silly open ending. Only because the following sequel we received was The Cloverfield Paradox. Sheesh!
BUT despite my grumblings, this was still a highly engaging and suspenseful thriller worthy of your time.
*NEW* BLADE RUNNER 2049 REVIEW *NEW*
Blade Runner 2049 minutezzz long
If we are lucky enough to get a director’s cut; I’d like to see the running length CUT.
A young blade runner’s (Ryan Gosling) discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who’s been missing for thirty years.
Now I wasn’t the biggest BR fan. I remember watching it for the first time, and thinking, “Is that it?!”. It was only through numerous re-watches (Thank you BA Film Studies) that I grew to love the 1982 cult classic. Not the first to say that, I’m sure.
Essentially, BR was a generic cyber noir about a disillusioned cop tracking down some killer robots. BUT what stood out and made BR so much more was the question of self and identity. Who were the real monsters? The replicants or their creators?
Hampton Fincher’s brooding social commentary on corporate capitalism (Again thank you BA Film Studies) spoke volumes BUT it also asked the biggest (and most important) question of all: was Deckard a replicant?!
Now 35 years on (What?!) . . . And Ridley Scott decides to make another sequel to another one of his movies.
To be honest, the opening had me from the get go. The Nexus 6 prologue, that opening shot of the burning flames in the iris of an eye, and that iconic Vangelis theme (teased meticulously by Wallfisch and Zimmer) blaring through those 17 Dolby Super Screen speakers. Goosebumps.
Roger Deakin’s breath-taking cinematography (You could do an essay on that alone and I’m sure people have).
Needless to say, the BR nerd in me was hook, line and sinker!
I remember watching Only God Forgives and denouncing Gosling. Screaming to the movie gods, demanding why this guy kept getting big Hollywood movies. BUT after stellar turns in La La Land and The Nice Guys, I was intrigued to see what he would do.
And he did not disappoint. A charismatic performance. He carried the film for me. Sorry Deckard. I was transfixed and happy to soak up the slow burning tension.
I will dispense a warning. There may be spoilers. So read ahead at your peril.
The character ‘K’ (Gosling) was a welcome addition to the BR universe. The fact he was openly a replicant changed the whole dynamic of the piece. He almost made the story his own.
The romantic subplot with Joi (The beautiful Ana de Armas) was a nice touch and I actually felt for them. A forbidden romance restricted in the cyber and the real world. Do androids dream of electric sheep? Can a robot fall in love with an erotic hologram?
All the little nods were there. Those origami unicorns, Edward James Olmos! The old faces working well with the new.
For the first hour or so, I was content. But then I realised there was another 100 minutes left.
This was where things went wrong for me. And as much as it pains me to say after praising Deakins’ amazing cinematography and set design. A feast for the eyes. Nice shots does not a good movie make.
If you’re looking for answers, you won’t find any. Now the question mark around Deckard was always the fun debate. The ambiguous ending a talking point for years to come. I didn’t care about getting an answer on that old chestnut (Do you? I’m not saying)
Some questions are better left unanswered. One of the appealing and infuriating messages of this film. A double edged sword.
BUT what disappointed me the most was what our hero Deckard was doing for 35 years. All that build up and promise. A welcome return for Harrison Ford. All the theories and questions about what the cyber-sleuth had been doing and the answer . . . Sweet nothing apparently.
Ford’s reactions reflected much of mine during the film. He really didn’t know what was going on or why people were seeking him?
The pace dragged and I found myself struggling to stay interested.
Robin Wright had potential as K’s superior officer Lieutenant Joshi BUT never really got the chance or the screen time. The same can be said for Dave Bautista. That guy continues to impress. Even in such a minute role.
Sylvia Hoeks was impressive as the resilient adversary Luv. A mercenary replicant on the heels of K’s quest for answers.
Despite the best efforts of the supporting characters, it lacked something.
Rutger Hauer was outstanding as Roy Batty. A charismatic and engaging turn that made this seemingly cyber punk android so much more. His “Time to die” speech left goosebumps. I felt more for the replicant than the protagonist.
Jared Leto? What the hell was he on? His performance as blind tycoon Niander Wallace was dreadful. His mind numbing monologues nearly put me into a mini-coma.
He fell short of Joe Turkel’s Tyrell (Bishop to King 7!) by a country mile. I mean, those glasses were iconic enough. Instead we get ol’ White eyes whispering and dithering away. If it wasn’t for one unexpected twist in the final act, I would have deemed him unnecessary.
It seemed like 2049 set things up for another and tried to tease that ambiguity that made the original so appealing but it didn’t work for me.
I just wasn’t as engrossed. It delivered all the nods and tried to make it on its own but it felt like a pale (albeit beautifully and bolder) imitation of the original.
Despite my nitpicking and disappointment, I do want to watch it again but somehow I don’t think I’ll fall for it as much as I did the original. I went in not expecting much and was rewarded with a mixed bag. No character of Batty’s calibre? No somersaulting Daryl Hannah (What?)
I could take the existential angst and themes of identity but it just wasn’t enough. In a way if Deckard wasn’t thrown into the mix, this might have fared better with just K.
Watchable by all means. It’s just a shame that a breathtaking opening first half was dragged down by poor pacing and a dithering plot line.
*NEW* MANCHESTER BY THE SEA REVIEW *NEW*
A wonderfully acted emotionally packed drama.
An uncle (Casey Affleck) is asked to take care of his teenage nephew (Lucas Hedges) after the boy’s father (Kyle Chandler) dies.
It’s always a pleasure when a film can surpass your expectations and reward you with something so much more.
It was funny that I was complaining about the La La Land hype with this entry coming in a swift second on the overbearing hype train.
BUT I have to say, this was brilliant.
Casey Affleck has always played strange roles from introverted wackos to isolated loners. This role was perfect for him. He made the socially awkward Lee work a treat.
The slow burning style allowed the drama to unfold perfectly.
We followed Lee as he trundled along his humdrum lifestyle of a janitor at an apartment building. The mundane tasks, the strange tenants, the complaining and weird requests. A ticking time bomb waiting to explode.
The news of his brother’s passing triggering flashbacks. Flicking back and forth between the past and present as we got a better understanding of Lee and the reasons behind his fractious relationship with his nephew.
Baffled to be awarded guardianship after all that had happened. I hadn’t read anything about this film and the revelations with Lee’s past completely surprised me. Don’t worry, no spoilers here.
Lonergan has written a heartfelt story that dealt with grief on such levels. It was almost real.
The awkward exchanges as Lee had to deal with depressing funeral arrangements, idle chit chat and various reactions from people as they learnt of his brother’s passing. It couldn’t be more in tune.
It is a huge gamble to make a 2 and a half hour movie that relies solely on two leads. BUT I don’t think it would worked without Hedges and Affleck. They were brilliant.
The power of a performance that can deliver such emotion that you get caught up in it. There were several scenes that actually got to me. I felt for all of them. Affleck deserved that BAFTA.
It was surprisingly funny, upsetting and dark. I went through a rollercoaster of emotions as did our protagonist. Struggling to communicate with an awkward teenager who was more concerned about his social lifestyle than his father’s death.
The tension bubbling away as Lee, a creature of comforts, seemed desperate to get back to his quiet life. Of course, he had his reasons.
A scene involving frozen meat triggered an unexpected breakdown out of the blue with the pair finally coming to terms with their feelings. I laughed, I cried. Superb.
I remembered Lonergan’s last effort Margaret being one for a testing pace and I know a lot of people grumbled about the pace of this one. BUT I can’t even say this dragged. I was completely engrossed with the characters and the drama. I wanted more.
The supporting cast played their parts perfectly. Michelle Williams wasn’t in this enough. From all the hype, I expected her to be in this for a good portion of the film. Her screen time probably only accumulated to 15/20 minutes?
BUT she was excellent as Lee’s ex-wife. Their reunion was heartbreaking as we realised that Lee was a man tormented by his own demons long before the news of his estranged brother’s death.
Always happy to see Mr Friday Night Lights Kyle Chandler get more screen time as Lee’s brother. Gretchen Mol (Boardwalk Empire) delivered as his volatile widow and I didn’t expect to see Matthew Broderick pop up in this?
Despite my praise, I still had my grumbles. I’m not sure whether it was the cinema surround sound BUT I found Lesley Barber’s music score overbearing. It didn’t take away the emotional impact of the scene BUT I found myself getting increasingly irritated.
It felt like someone was playing with the volume (Maybe they were. I did watch it in forum).
It was only the final act that disappointed me. And that was because it didn’t go in the direction I wanted. Forever a cynical optimist (Yeah, work that one out). Hoping for a happily ever after for the troubled pair.
BUT as the credits rolled (and a little more discussion after), I couldn’t see any other way that the story could end. It worked.
I went expecting in nothing and came out rewarded with a brilliantly acted and well written drama that dealt with grief on many levels.
It is a little gloomy BUT if you’re in the mood for a drama that delivers on the feels, look no further.
*NEW* LA LA LAND REVIEW *NEW*
Well, that’s what I thought I was going to say.
Overrated, maybe? But as much as I tried to resist the crazy hype train, I still couldn’t help but fall for this highly watchable and entertaining romp.
A jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) falls for an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) in Los Angeles.
The opening sequence did nothing to win me over. Despite director Damien Chazelle’s opening credit titles and Cinemascope capture mimicking the days of old; it was too much.
People jumping out of their cars, free-runners . . . free-running, the word ‘chaotic’ doesn’t come close. I couldn’t even hear the lyrics being sung.
All that was missing was a truck with some bongo players in the back . . . Oh, wait, no. There they are.
The soundtrack was a little disappointing. The first two or three songs were highly unmemorable.
Chazelle’s disorienting camera work and ever-growing ensembles combined with his incredibly mad and colourful palette felt like a shot of insulin being given to a caffeine addict. Overkill.
However . . .
I will admit. I’m not the biggest fan of Gosling and Stone. There’s just something about them that grate against me. The Help and The Nice Guys being exceptions.
BUT once the couple were finally brought to the fold, my grumbling was subdued.
Both caught up in their own testing life struggles from Mia’s awkward cringe-inducing auditions to Seb accomplishing his dreams of running a jazz bar.
The concept was hardly original. The focal point of the piece was just like any other musical. A love story.
BUT despite its predictable nature, Chazelle managed to cross exam a relationship from its crazy highs to its downbeat lows. All aided by fantastic chemistry between two brilliant leads and a good script.
I didn’t realise Gosling could play the piano. He was fantastic. City of Stars was probably the only song that I (annoyingly) can’t stop whistling. That blasted piano rift!
I thought the pair’s singing was very good. Considering they aren’t professionals, they sung very well. Stone’s rendition of Audition was excellent.
In all fairness, I would have been happier to watch more of their dancing. A Lovely Night was a bit of a weak song BUT with Justin Hurwitz’s score and the duo’s late night toe tapping dance in the dusk, I was entranced.
The whole thing had a slight air of Astaire and Rogers about it.
That was until their beautifully shot ballroom dance in the Griffin Observatory. Dancing in the stars. Cheesy but a nice touch with a fitting nod to A Rebel Without A Cause.
I knew the Whiplash director would sneak jazz into the mix. The only problem was that I’m NOT the biggest fan. I’m sure Seb would have a few choice words to say about that. For those who’ve seen it, you’ll know what I mean.
There were some good songs BUT it all felt a little samey to me and the pace was starting to test. If it wasn’t for Gosling’s (and Chazelle’s) enthusiasm, I would have found all the jazz trivia a little dull.
BUT I was engaged in the couple. We watched their romance blossom over the seasons as their paths crossed time and time again. Fate playing its little game.
Laughing as they inevitably fell in love and wincing as the strain of their busy lifestyles took its toll. We could all relate to moments that the pair experienced.
The epilogue was unexpected. Just when I thought I had the film pegged, Chazelle managed to surprise. And not even the Twitter references and endless memes spoiled what was a wonderfully captured and fitting swansong.
The set design, the layout, the choreography. Fantastic.
The hype may have hindered. From all the astounding comments you’d think people hadn’t seen a musical before?!
I’m not saying I’m the biggest musical fan. BUT I don’t hate them either. West Side Story, On The Town, Chicago, Singin’ In The Rain, Moulin Rouge are classics I could watch again and again (Bet you weren’t expecting me to name those titles).
As much as I enjoyed this, I wouldn’t rush to make a special trip to see it again.
La La Land certainly celebrated the much missed presence of an absent genre. I tried to compile a list of musicals in the last decade. Not many came to mind; Frozen, Sing Street (A must watch) and . . . shudder . . . High School Musical.
As much as I felt this may have been over-hyped by awards buzz, it was still an entertaining watch from two underrated actors.
Unless you’re completely anti-musical. If so then why you are here?
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