Oh jeez. It’s been… holy hell it’s been months. I’m sorry. Really I am. Things just got away from me and kept on going. That’s the past now though, let’s celebrate the here and now. If you’ve been wondering what I’ve been up to for the past half a year, well:
I designed, made, wrote instructions for and recorded a video of an origami Blade Runner unicorn for Total Film magazine, which can be seen here. I used to read Total Film a bunch growing up, so this was kind of a bucket list item, even if it wasn’t really in a movie capacity.
Built a Lego Millenium Falcon (the one from The Force Awakens, not the new giant one) and a Lego First Order Heavy Assault Walker.
Started watching E.R., and finished series 1 & 2
Met up with fellow LAMB friends from America and the UK – some for the first time – and found many snarky things to bond over
Archived a bunch of Lambcast shows, though still not up to date
Made 1,000 origami cranes
Spent a solid 10 hours making fudge
Spent a solid 6 hours making brownies
Watched a bunch of Harrison Ford movies
Planned an extended James Bond marathon
Failed to accomplish said James Bond marathon, instead just watched two movies over a period of a month
A new 1001 book came out and I’ve barely even looked at the new additions.
Became an uncle
Saw Jurassic Park on the big screen for the first time, at my first outdoor screening, and still found new details even after all these years.
Attended my first funeral (my partner’s grandfather passed away) and gave a reading at it, despite probably being the person there who knew him the least.
Attempted to write this post at least 26 times.
Visited Canada, specifically Victoria, Tofino and Vancouver, where we saw bears, whales, otters and raccoons, and I tried a bunch of new food including poutine (I know it’s just chips, cheese and gravy, but I really thought it’d be more than the sum of its parts), fish tacos and artichokes.
And oh yeah, I went and got married, no big deal. That’s what the cranes, fudge and brownies were for.
Anyway, in all that time I have also watched a bunch of movies, so let’s get down to business. Here’s everything I saw since the last one of these posts:
GoldenEye (1995) The James Bonding podcast returned and picked this as their first film to review, so it seemed a good idea to watch it too given how long it’d been. It’s a lot of fun, especially the tank chase, Alan Cummings and Famke Janssen’s characters and the opening fracas, but I also found myself getting bored more than I expected. Brosnan isn’t my favourite Bond, though I do enjoy his charm, and the main Bond girl, played by Izabella Scorupco, takes an even sharper hairpin turn than usual from disliking Bond to being head over heels in love with him. I remembered this being better, but it’s still a very enjoyable movie. Choose Film 7/10
Prevenge (2017) Alice Lowe wrote, directed and starred in this incredibly low budget horror about a woman, Ruth, whose unborn child is encouraging her to murder people. It’s initially quite episodic – Ruth meets someone, interacts with them, murders them horribly, moves on – but takes some nice turns later on to mix up the formula. Supporting work from recognisable faces like Gemma Whelan, Kate Dickie and Kayvan Novak were all welcome and, whilst the conclusion can be seen some way off, it remained intriguing throughout. Choose Film 7/10
Clue (1985) A movie of the month for the LAMB, and a chance for me to re-watch this fantastic comedy mystery. Incredible cast, so much fun all round. Huge recommendation. Choose Film 9/10
Presumed Innocent (1990) Watched in preparation for the Lambcast’s Harrison Ford draft. It’s fine if a little generic as an early 90s courtroom drama. Very predictable conclusion but some good supporting work from Raul Julia, Brian Dennehy and John Spencer. Young Bradley Whitford! Choose Life 6/10
Get Out (2017) Lived up to the hype, one of the best films of the year, and that’s coming from someone who isn’t a big horror fan. The whole cast was fantastic, but someone I’ve not heard much discussion of is Allison Williams, who I’ve never encountered before and who was really great in what could have been a throwaway role. Choose Film 9/10
Hidden Figures (2016) Also great, fully deserving of all the awards attention it received earlier this year. Very solid and insightful drama. Choose Film 8/10
Beethoven (1992) One of Aisha’s favourites that I’d never gotten around to. Silly but fun, and having a larger-than-I’d-like dog myself I think Charles Grodin’s character might be amongst the top film characters I identify with most. Surprisingly decent cast too. We now own the full 9-film boxset, so expect some more of these to crop up eventually too. Choose Film 6/10
Frantic (1988) Another Harrison Ford film, this one previously only known to me as a lyric in the Barenaked Ladies’ One Week. Surprisingly gripping and fast-paced, although the potential love triangle that felt like it was being setup throughout suffers one of my pet peeves with a cop-out resolution. Emmanuelle Seigner is gorgeous. Choose Film 6/10
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) The Last Jedi was easily amongst my most anticipated films for the rest of the year, but that’s more because of Rian Johnson directing it than it being a sequel to The Force Awakens. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of fun with this movie and I think J.J. Abrams did a solid job at making a continuation to the saga which served as a continuation of an existing story and also a good starting point for new fans, but I also don’t find myself pining for a re-watch as much as earlier films. Perhaps once this trilogy is complete I’ll have a better idea of the films and their place in the franchise. Choose Film 8/10
Morning Glory (2010) Easily the worst film I watched in preparation for the Harrison Ford show. It’s so generic and barely funny, with Ford and Diane Keaton the only bright spots (and an underused Jeff Goldblum of course). It feels an hour too long at just 107 minutes. Choose Life 3/10
Ender’s Game (2013) Surprisingly good. I liked the book a few years ago, but the film got mediocre reviews so I skipped it until now. They wisely streamlined the story to skip the goings on back on Earth, keeping the focus instead on Ender and his adventures training to fight a space war. Choose Film 6/10
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) The second best Indiana Jones film, but only just. I love this movie – it might be the Indy film I’ve seen the most. I adore the father-son dynamic between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery, the comedy that comes from the multiple sidekicks, the trials the action, there’s so much to love! Sod it, I’m upgrading this from a 9 to a 10/10. Choose Film 10/10
Clear and Present Danger (1994) To date I’ve seen three of the five Jack Ryan movies – both Fords and the Chris Pine one (Shadow Recruit). I’m told that Hunt For Red October is the one I should have seen, but the more other ones I watch the less enthused I am about seeing it, and Clear and Present Danger didn’t help much either. They’re all like James Bond movies but without any sense of fun, entertainment or indeed any reason to watch whatsoever. They’re all so dull! This one has a nice action scene in the middle, but that’s about it. Choose Life 5/10
Jurassic Park (1993) I’ve finally seen Jurassic Park on the big screen! It’s been my favourite movie for years, but this was the first time I’d gone out and watched it with a crowd of fans, at an outdoor screening no less. It’s weird – I’ve seen it so many times but there are still moments or lines I’ve never noticed before (this time around it was Grant’s line: “Tim, the human piece of toast.” It was so unfamiliar to me that I swore it was a different cut of the film than I’d seen before. Choose Film 10/10
Their Finest (2017) Fantastic film that’s not getting nearly enough discussion. An excellent companion piece to Dunkirk, given this takes place just afterwards and references the Dunkirk operation heavily. A little overly sign-posted in terms of how some characters end up, but a fantastic cast – Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Eddie Marsan, Jack Huston, Helen McCrory – and the ever dependable Bill Nighy on the finest of forms makes this unmissable. Choose Film 8/10
Logan Lucky (2017) I reached a point when I had a window in my weekend that was just the right length for a cinema visit. I had to choose between Logan Lucky, American Made and Detroit, and I don’t think I made the correct decision. Logan Lucky is fine, good even, but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations of being a redneck Ocean’s Eleven (one of my favourite movies, and in my eyes Soderbergh’s best). It’s fun and I’ll definitely watch it again, but it lacked something I can’t remember (sorry, it’s been a while). Daniel Craig was great though. Choose Film 7/10
Split (2017) I’d heard a lot of great things about M. Night Shyamalan’s latest, and unfortunately I was ultimately disappointed. James McAvoy is incredible – it was released too early in the year to stand a chance but he absolutely deserves some awards recognition – but other than that I found the film fairly bland, and the over-hyped climax was way too predictable and anticlimactic. Worth watching for McAvoy though. Choose Film 7/10
In The Loop (2009) Movie of the Month for the LAMB. I watched the first three seasons of The Thick Of It too, most of which are great, though it’s uncomfortable watching Chris Langham given his subsequent convictions. In The Loop‘s not so secret weapon is obviously Peter Capaldi, easily one of the best swearers in all the land. Choose Film 8/10
Life (2017) The best Alien-type movie this year, way better than Alien: Covenant. Bleaker than a bank holiday weekend’s weather forecast, this space-set sci-fi-horror offers many inventive, innovative deaths – difficult to do given how many movies have offed astronauts – and the first one is perhaps one of the most nauseating ways to go out in any film. I wasn’t expecting much, and I was pleasantly surprised. Choose Film 7/10
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) Aisha’s first viewing, my second. I understand that a lot of people weren’t raving about this on initial release, but I think it’s great and very enjoyable. Pratt’s Quill doesn’t get the greatest amount of stuff to do, but that leaves the film open for other characters to shine, so if Michael Rooker gets more screen time because of it, I’m OK. Choose Film 7/10
Loving (2017) Jeff Nichols’ latest took a left turn from Midnight Special into an account of the real life drama that befell the Loving family, a mixed-raced couple living in 1950s Virginia. It’s moving, very well acted and overall a very solid effort, though as almost always with Nichols’ films, no matter how much Michael Shannon he gives us, I still want more. Choose Film 8/10
Mindhorn (2016) Not as good as it could have been, but still fun. The jokes get a bit tired after not too long. Might have worked better as a spoof TV show. Choose Life 6/10
The Founder (2017) Surprisingly decent. I didn’t care about the McDonalds story as much as I was interested in watching a film with this cast (Michael Keaton, John Carroll Lynch, Nick Offerman, Laura Dern, Patrick Wilson, B.J. Novak). I’m not a fan of documentaries in general, and I think if instead of using real life footage film-makers took the stories from documentaries and remade them with casts of quality character actors I’d be much more interested in the films. Just sayin’. Choose Film 8/10
Colossal (2017) I had high hopes, and they were pretty much met. This went some unexpectedly deep places considering it’s about a woman (Anne Hathaway) who inadvertently controls a kaiju when she gets shit-faced. The metaphors aren’t exactly deep and the logic is a little contrived, but fun nonetheless. More Tim Blake Nelson and Jason Sudeikis in these kind of films please. Choose Film 8/10
Live and Let Die (1973) In preparation for a Bond podcast. The Roger Moore movies all kind of blend together for me, and I’d heard good things about this one. It’s fine, with a plethora of entertaining henchmen setting it apart from some others, but the most memorable aspect is the utterly ridiculous method by which the villain is dispatched. Just insane. Choose Life 6/10
Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) In prep for the new one. Still great, highly entertaining. Choose Film 8/10
Hamlet 2 (2008) Disappointing. Feels like the kind of film that would become very quotable and enjoyable if watched with a group in the right mindset, but alone and sober it falls flat. Fantastic but underused cast. Choose Life 5/10
Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) Not as good as the first one but still a great deal of fun. Mark Strong getting a lot to do is great, but I’d have also liked more from some of the new American contingent. Perhaps slightly too many action sequences and supporting characters – did we really need Eggsy’s girlfriend as well as his mates back home? Could have easily been streamlined, and also Eggsy himself doesn’t get a great deal to do, and as much as I like Colin Firth in this role, I think this film might have benefited from him sitting it out until part 3. Choose Film 7/10
Kong: Skull Island (2017) Wavered a little since my first viewing but I still like it more than most. Too many characters and story strands but some great scenes throughout. The giant bamboo spider remains a highlight. Choose Film 7/10
Zootropolis (2016) One of the best modern Disney films, it’s ability to tackle serious racial issues via the segregation of predators and prey is incredible, and highly entertaining to boot. Choose Film 9/10
Footloose (1984) First time viewing, and better than expected. I’ve never been what would be considered a dancer, so a town without dancing doesn’t exactly fill me with despair, but I get why some others would dislike that notion. It’s entertaining, but I’ll probably never watch it again. Choose Life 6/10
The Lookout (2007) I’m a fan of Joseph Gordon Levitt, and I’ve been meaning to watch The Lookout for a decade now, and only finally got around to it. All those years of anticipation perhaps set up too big of a hurdle for this film to clear, as I didn’t love it. Joggle (as I call him) plays Chris, who has suffered an accident which left him with severe memory issues, which a group of criminals take advantage of when they plan to rob the bank Chris works as a janitor for. It’s not a terrible film, just ultimately forgettable. Choose Life 6/10
Moana (2016) Still great, especially the songs. Even Aisha liked it. Choose Film 8/10
Point Break (1991) I’m not a fan, but this was watched in preparation for a podcast. I get the appeal, but I find it just too silly to enjoy. Gary Busey is the highlight. My main issue is I never fully buy the relationship that forms between Bodhi and Utah, and neither actor – especially Keanu – is emotive enough to sell it on screen. Choose Life 5/10
The Cabin in the Woods (2011) One of the best films from 2011, no contest, even if you go in knowing the full story. That last act is nothing but super crazy fan service, and I love it. Choose Film 9/10
Storks (2016) Surprisingly good and funny. This could be terrible, but has a lot of worth to it, not just from Key and Peele’s transforming wolf pack. Choose Film 7/10
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (2017) The first of the “honeymoon” films, on a plane with a very limited movie selection, the best of which I’d already seen. I’d been looking forward to Captain Underpants, but was ultimately disappointed. There’s some fun to be had and the animation style is sweet, but there’s only so many times I can laugh at a silly name. Choose Life 6/10
The Babadook (2014) Also disappointing, and not at all scary. Granted watching something on a brightly lit airplane isn’t the most horror-conducive environment, so I’ll probably need to give this another shot in a more fitting location. Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman were both good though. Choose Life 6/10
The House (2017) And this is when I ran out of films I actually wanted to watch. The House has potential – it’s got a great comedic cast – but it lacks a funny script for them to follow, instead relying on the cast themselves to line-o-rama their way through scenes in the hopes of landing on something funny, which they rarely do. Choose Life 4/10
Rough Night (2017) Rough Night, on the other hand, seems to have stuck pretty closely to a script, it just forgot to give many of the five main characters much of a personality to differentiate them, and those that do are devoid of anything funny to do. Only Kate McKinnon garnered the occasional chuckle, but even then they were too few and far between. Choose Life 4/10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) Half-watched whilst making dinner one night. Still the best in the franchise, but that’s not saying much. Choose Life 6/10
Doctor Strange (2016) Close to the top of my MCU rankings, I love the visuals and the effects, plus heavily involving time travel scratches my itch any day. Choose Film 8/10
A Perfect Getaway (2009) Probably the least appropriate film to watch on a honeymoon, given it’s about a honeymooning couple (Milla Jovovich and Steve Zahn) whose trip goes pretty seriously awry. An incredibly predictable twist that’s not nearly as clever as the writer thought – plus it’s signposted all the way through – make this not worth your time. Choose Life 4/10
World War Z (2013) One of the worst adaptations in recent years given how little this took from the book (basically just the title and, um, zombies), if you ignore its origins this is actually a really solid zombie flick. A lot of good, episodic set-pieces, character-actor filled supporting cast, and a lot of originality not seen elsewhere. Choose Film 8/10
Little Evil (2017) Adam Scott married Evangeline Lilly, then finds out her son Lucas (Owen Atlas) may well be the anti-Christ, but it’s funny. It doesn’t quite live up to the director Eli Craig’s previous horror-comedy outing, Tucker and Dale vs Evil, but it’s still fun. The step-dads club should be funnier though. Choose Life 6/10
Thor (2011) Hadn’t seen it for a while, not as good as I remember but still a solid early MCU entry. Choose Film 7/10
Allied (2016) Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard are WWII spies who get married and settle down, until he is forced to investigate whether she is a double agent. There aren’t too many outcomes this could take, and sadly it opted for the most predictable one. Performances and visuals are good, but it’s been a long time since Zemeckis made something great. Choose Life 6/10
Alien³ (1992) The only David Fincher film I’d never seen, and apparently for good reason. Clearly what the previous two Alien movies were missing was a bunch of identical, British, shaven-headed characters running around corridors for two hours. I appreciate that the final cut isn’t what Fincher wanted, so maybe I’ll try the Director’s Cut some day, but not for a while. Choose Life 5/10
Never Been Kissed (1999) Drew Barrymore is an adult virginal journalist who goes undercover to get the inside scoop on high school life, only to get a second shot at the popular high school experience she’d always wanted first time around. That premise alone should be enough for you to predict pretty much everything that happens in the rest of the film. Barrymore is fine, but there’s really no reason to watch this. Choose Life 5/10
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) I’d heard it was bad, but I never really heard why, so on the flight out to Vancouver I gave it a shot, but the editing was so all over the place that I bailed within 10 minutes. However the options were so limited on the return journey that I gave in and started again. I assumed the negative criticism was due to the editing, pacing and overall feel, which is awful but only occasionally unbearable, and in fact had a couple of OK-ish moments of fun, with some half decent chase and action scene. Then the climax rolled around, featuring a giant, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets-esque Basilisk never referred to before or since, and a finale that’s more video game-like than most video games, essentially being a skuffle between our hero and a monstrous CGI super-knight, and I realised that no, this film has far more problems than I could have ever imagined. If this ends up not being the worst film I see this year then I’ve got a truly dreadful movie ahead of me in the next couple of months. Choose Life 2/10
Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017) Background movie whilst editing this post. It’s been so long since I wrote one of these that I watched this film twice. Still fun. Choose Film 7/10
Eagle vs Shark (2007) Watched in preparation for the Taika Waititi Lambcast. Definitely his weakest film, it has a Napoleon Dynamite quality which doesn’t bode well for me given how much I hated that film. Eagle vs Shark feels like it’s trying to be quirkier than it actually is, and suffers the consequences of being difficult to like. Choose Life 5/10
Hunt For The Wilderpeople (2016) One of my favourite films from last year, I was very glad to find an excuse to re-watch this. I love how most of the characters seem to have grown up watching too many big Hollywood action movies and make decisions based on this. Choose Film 9/10
Blade Runner 2049 (2017) I didn’t love the original, but had high hopes for this based on Denis Villeneuve’s direction, but sadly I was left wanting. It’s an improvement on the original purely because I didn’t fall asleep during it, but only just. The plot elements were predictable, the pace was glacial, and just like the original the only things really going for it are production design and cinematography, both of which are stunning, but not enough to carry a film. Choose Life 6/10
The Lego Ninjago Movie (2017) Disappointing, given how highly I rank the previous two Lego instalments. It’s sad to note that at just three films in the Lego movie team are already retreading old ground, particularly in the case of the primary antagonist, here played by Justin Theroux. The team aspect could have worked well, especially given the calibre of actors – Dave Franco, Fred Armisen, Kumail Nanjiani, Michael Pena, Abbi Jacobson and Zach Woods – but to do that each character would need some unique quality, which can only really be said about Nanjiani (coward) and Woods (robot pretending to be human). That being said, every line Zach Woods had was fantastic. Choose Life 6/10
The Death of Stalin (2017) Easily one of the funniest films about Soviet-era Russia. An excellent cast – Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Paddy Considine, Jason Isaacs, Michael Palin, Andrea Riseborough, Jeffrey Tambor, Paul Whitehouse – all help make the terrifying aftermath of Stalin’s death into a ridiculous farce. Deserves an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Choose Film 8/10
Thor: Ragnarok (2017) One of the best and most entertaining films of the year, no contest. Potentially the most fun Marvel movie to date, and the film I’m most looking forward to watching again and again in the future, I sense there’s a great deal I missed first time around through laughing at all the hilarity. And Korg. Choose Film 9/10
Boy (2010) I hadn’t heard much about this, and given it had never been made available in the UK I didn’t hold out much hope, but Taika Waititi’s second film is fantastic. It follows the 11-year old Boy (James Rolleston), an avid Michael Jackson fan in New Zealand who idolises his absent father (Waititi), until he returns and Boy sees him as something other than he’d imagined. Waititi is perfect in the role, and the whole film is delightful. Strong recommendation. Choose Film 9/10
What We Do In The Shadows (2014) A New Zealand vampire mockumentary, why did no-one do this before? It’s such a great idea, and executed wonderfully. Petyr (Ben Fransham), the Nosferatu-like ancient vampire is my favourite of the housemates, although there’s no real weak link amongst them. The interactions with the werewolves are also terrific. Pretty much a perfect film all round. Choose Film 9/10
My Girl (1991) November’s Movie of the Month, this hit me at a rough time given it’s largely set in a funeral parlour and I saw it just a few hours after seeing my first dead body. Cue an extremely emotional viewing that wrecked me at several moments. Listen to more thoughts on it from the Lambcast episode devoted to it. Choose Film 8/10
Ant-Man (2015) Not as funny as I remembered, but still highly entertaining with some great effects. Choose Film 7/10
Point Break (2015) Somehow even worse than the original. Instead of dealing with just the admittedly not entertaining to watch surfing and sky-diving, this time around pretty much every extreme sport was covered, including motocross, snowboarding, squirrel suits (which looked dumb as anything) and even a bare knuckle fight club, and none of it was entertaining. Choose Life 3/10
Murder on the Orient Express (2017) The latest Poirot adaptation sees Kenneth Branagh behind both the camera and the moustache as he attempts to solve a murder aboard a train the name of which I can’t quite recall. An all-star cast (Daisy Ridley, Leslie Odom Jr., Penelope Cruz, Josh Gad, Johnny Depp, Derek Jacobi, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dame Judi Dench, Olivia Colman, Willem Dafoe) can’t raise this above mediocrity despite some stellar performances, particularly from Pfeiffer, Dafoe and Gad. I’m not sure why they tried to instil some action and chase sequences into a Poirot film but hey, gotta please the kids I guess. Regardless this is fine, but nothing more. Choose Life 6/10
Altitude (2017) I need to watch a film at short notice for a podcast, and that film had to fulfil three criteria: it had to be streaming, I had to be able to watch it without my full attention (i.e. no subtitles) and it had to be short. The first film I came across that fulfilled all of these was Altitude, and I wish that it hadn’t. It stars Denise Richards as an FBI agent on a plane that gets hijacked by a team headed up by Dolph Lundgren, who I’m pretty sure shot most of his scenes in a couple of days as he rarely interacts with other actors onscreen and only occasionally stands up. This has some of the worst CGI I’ve ever seen and culminates in one of the dumbest climaxes from possibly all of film. Avoid. Choose Life 1/10
Gifted (2017) Chris Evans plays Frank Adler, the uncle of Mary (McKenna Grace), a gifted girl with an aptitude for advanced mathematics. Octavia Spencer is their neighbour, Lindsay Duncan her domineering grandmother and Jenny Slate her teacher (I’ve disliked Slate in the past, but I was majorly crushing on her in this). Gifted is a pretty standard family drama that passed the time and is worth a watch, but won’t change your life. Choose Film 6/10
Justice League (2017) I didn’t expect this to be great, given the previous releases in the DC universe (I didn’t even love Wonder Woman all that much) but I’d hoped it’d be better than this. Not enough set-up was done prior to the film, so this tries to act as an origin story for more than half the team, the collective and the villain, whilst also finding things to do for the already pre-established group members and tackling the repercussions of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Essentially there’s too much going on, and the one single bright point is Ezra Miller as The Flash. No I’m not looking forward to Aquaman’s solo adventure next year, and Cyborg’s interests me even less. Choose Life 4/10
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005) Watched in preparation for the return of Star Wars Minute, who are now covering this film. It remains the nadir of the franchise for me, because it’s all so dismal and dull. There’s a couple of neat battles and I actually enjoy the character of General Grievous, but the tone is too sombre throughout, and aside even Ewan McGregor doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself any more. Choose Life 5/10
Annie (1982) Watched in advance of the LAMBcast’s Musical Draft, which proved a fruitless endeavour as no-one actually picked it but ah well. Why did no one tell me Tim Curry was in this? I liked the film, but can’t love it because all the kids, especially Annie (Aileen Quinn) are incredibly annoying and grating. Some good songs, and Albert Finney, Carol Burnett and Ann Reinking are all great. Choose Film 6/10
Moulin Rouge! (2001) Also watched for the musical draft, though more because I wanted to than I had to. I love this film, own the soundtrack and had the Elephant Love Medley as part of our wedding playlist earlier this year. Great mix of emotional and comedic songs – Jim Broadbent and Richard Roxburgh’s rendition of Like A Virgin is burned into my soul – and the Roxanne Tango is glorious. So much fun and energy on screen at all times, this is easily Baz Luhrmann’s best. Choose FilmLife /10
Die Hard (1988) The LAMB’s Christmas Movie of the Month. Best Christmas film? You betcha. Best film ever? Pretty damn close. Choose Film 10/10
Brick (2005) Watched for the Rian Johnson Lambcast. It’s gone down a little since the last time I saw it, but I still really enjoy the premise of setting a noir detective story in a modern day high school, with Joseph Godron Levitt’s Cameron attempting to unravel this disappearance of his friend (Emilie de Ravin). A lot more stylised violence than I remembered and some very tongue-in-cheek near-parody scenes make this entertaining, but the last act spirals out of control. Choose Film 7/10
The Brothers Bloom (2008) Also for the Rian Johnson show. I love heist movies, especially those involving teams and elaborate plans, but this is way more elaborate than it needs to be. It’s fun, but Johnson appears to be embracing his inner Wes Anderson a little too intimately. Rachel Weisz is great though. Choose Film 7/10
Looper (2012) I love this film. Or at least I would if it didn’t include one scene, which I know as the “fingers” scene, which makes me want to be physically ill and has genuinely made me pass out before, in a cinema. The time travel is great, the visuals are stunning, the whole plotting of a character hunting down his older self and the ethical debates of killing someone as a child to save countless others from future pain are interesting and thought-provoking, but fuck that fucking scene. Choose Film 9/10
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) I’ve only seen this once, and I won’t be seeing it again in cinemas because frankly I didn’t love it. Star Wars is such a phenomena that I don’t think one viewing is enough to solidify where this sits in my mind but at present I consider this to be the second worst film in the franchise, just above Revenge of the Sith. Aside from a solid 20-odd minute sequence in the second half and a few parts of the climax I was really bored and struggling to stay awake, plus this film features easily the single worst moment in any Star Wars movie to date, a moment that is unforgivably awful. It happens early on, and soured the rest of my viewing. There are too many critters and unnecessary new vehicle designs existing purely to sell toys without adding a single iota of value to the film, and one entire major plot strand feels like a superfluous oh-shit-we-forgot-about-these-characters-let’s-give-them-something-to-do arc. That being said it looks great and most other people seem to like it. Hopefully my thoughts will be different after a second viewing once it hits Blu-Ray. Choose Film 5/10
Finding Dory (2016) I think this is my wife’s favourite film. It must be, given how often we watch it. Still fun though. Choose Film 8/10
The Room (2003) First time watch in preparation for The Disaster Artist, and it lived way down to expectations. This may well be the worst film I’ve ever seen – a position previously held by Burlesque or Vinyl – but I can’t understand the cult status. This isn’t so bad it’s good, it’s not even so bad it’s laughable, this is so bad it’s depressing. It’s entirely devoid of good qualities. It seems everything that could of gone wrong did so in ways completely unimaginable. Choose Life 1/10
The Disaster Artist (2017) I’m not sure where I sit on this one. The Disaster Artist has been sold as a comedy, but it’s a comedy about a tragic event, that of a man, Tommy Wiseau (James Franco, stretching an SNL impression far beyond breaking point, and is always more Franco than Wiseau), putting his heart and soul into his dream project, but being totally inept at everything he attempts. He creates a monumental failure and becomes a laughing stock in the process, and really seems to be in pain at this result. This shouldn’t be a comedy, and it often felt like bullying. I’ve aware that Wiseau himself has approved the message, but given that he also claims The Room was supposed to be a comedy all along, how much can his word really be believed. The problem is that most of the jokes are funny and do land, with a supporting cast including Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Jacki Weaver, Josh Hutcherson, Megan Mullally, Zac Efron and the How Did This Get Made? trio, I just always felt guilty about laughing at them, so I couldn’t enjoy the experience. Choose Life 6/10
Smokey and the Bandit (1977) Recommended by a guy at work as it’s streaming on SkyGo and I’d never seen it. It’s not the best film ever, but it’s an entertainig way to spend an hour and a half, and shockingly Sally Field isn’t annoying. It relies a little too heavily on all policemen being dumb as planks but hey, it’s a comedy. 70s Burt Reynolds was charming as all heck, and there’s a couple of earworms on the soundtrack that haven’t left me yet. Choose Film 8/10
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) I don’t know why I don’t watch this every year. So much ridiculous fun. Choose Film 10/10
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) Background viewing picked by the wife. I’ve seen this too many times to find any reason to watch it, and am pretty much dreading the next one, especially with an increased Johnny Depp presence. The bits with the animals are fun, but this is too dark to enjoy. Choose Life 6/10
Office Christmas Party (2016) Disappointing, but made for good present-wrapping accompaniment. A great and funny-elsewhere cast is wasted with cliche moments – two flirting closer-than-friends literally get stuck locked out on the roof for a while, how are we not passed this yet? Some funny moments and Courtney B. Vance is having a blast, but this is far from essential viewing. Choose Life 4/10
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) First re-watch since the initial on-a-plane viewing. Holds up, and it was watched with a group of people who’d never even heard of it, so definitely didn’t see any of the plot points coming, which was very entertaining. Still could have done with either ending 15 minutes early or at least expanding the claustorphobic moments. Choose Film 8/10
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) My family’s traditional pre-Christmas movie, it’s been a few years since I watched it but it was on TV on Christmas morning so I caught most of it whilst waiting for the wife and the in-laws to get up and dresses. Not a perfect film, but so much damn fun, and so quotable. Easily my favourite Randy Quaid performance. Choose Film 9/10
Baby Driver (2017) My first viewing since the Spacey allegations, in fact it’s my first Spacey film since then, and I’m relieved to discover that it didn’t hurt my enjoyment of the film, which is still fantastic. In fact I think I enjoyed it more, as I went in knowing that the action set pieces didn’t ramp up in scale as the film went on, which toned down the disappointment and allowed me to appreciate them more. Choose Film 8/10
Dunkirk (2017) Still one of my favourite films of the year, still love the visuals and the storytelling technique, although I still crave a version in chronological order, just to watch it play out. I’ve not scoured the Blu-Ray extras but I doubt there’ll be a Memento-style version. Also, I hated the chronological cut of Memento, so maybe I should leave well alone. Choose Film 9/10
Queen of Katwe (2016) Had a lot of recommendations for this, and I’m overjoyed to say it lived up to them. In Uganda young Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) lives a life of hardship until she discovers the game of chess. She shows a remarkable aptitude for it, and is good enough to compete at a tournament level, but that’s not too easy given her living conditions. Everyone is fantastic in the film, particularly David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o as Phiona’s chess coach and mother respectably. Nalwanga is also great as Phiona. It’s not revolutionary in its storytelling, but it’s still a very enjoyable and eye-opening look at an unfamiliar world. Choose Film 8/10
White House Down (2013) During the 2013 battle of the White House invasion movies, my loyalty lay strictly with Roland Emmerich and against Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen. I’ve not seen that one since, but there’s a strong chance it’s gone up in my estimation as White House Down is really not good. Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx should have much better chemistry, they should be making actually funny remarks, all those phenomenal character actors – Jason Clarke, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Richard Jenkins, James Woods, Jimmi Simpson, Lance Reddick, Peter Jacobson – should be lighting up the screen, but there’s nothing here. The jokes fall flat, the action is lame, everything is just too dull. Choose Life 4/10
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (2016) It’s like the X-Men, but way, way shittier. Tim Burton throws too many elements together – time travel, invisible monsters, cannibalism, a kid made of bees – and too little of it makes any kind of sense. Eva Green is, as always, a delight, and there’s an incredible supporting cast – Chris O’Dowd, Allison Janney, Rupert Everett, Dame Judi Dench, Terence Stamp – but none of the kids are all that captivating and there’s far more eye trauma than is necessary in literally any film. Choose Life 4/10
Earthquake (1974) Ah, the 70s, when men were men and women flailed around, got in the way and just needed saving all the gosh darn time. I love disaster movies, and the 70s did ’em best, but gee whizz this ain’t a good one. It aims for an all-star cast – and perhaps at the time it succeeded – but these days the only members I’m familiar with are Charlton Heston, George Kennedy, Ava Gardner, Walter Matthau and Richard Roundtree, most of whom are underutilised. Shonky sets and effects – no, just shaking the camera does not make it look like the ground is moving and no, a big painted cardboard box does not look like a brick column, especially when it bounces off someone – a lack of narrative drive and a climax devoid of anything even remotely climactic make this a dud. Also surprisingly downbeat and very unsatisfying. Choose Life 3/10
Table 19 (2017) Eloise (Anna Kendrick) is supposed to be Maid of Honour at her best friend’s wedding, but is dumped by her boyfriend, who just happens to be the best man, a few months before the ceremony. Despite the falling out she still attends, but is delegated to the dreaded Table 19 with the other so-called “Randoms” – a couple in crisis (Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson), an awkward horny teen (Toni Revolori), the bride’s first nanny (June Squibb) and an ex-con (Stephen Merchant). I didn’t expect much from this, but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s not surprising in any way, but the cast all commit and put in some funny and touching turns. Better than expected, but not essential. Choose Life 5/10
Jungle Book (2016) Visually stunning, it boggles the mind to think that pretty much the only “real” thing ever on screen is Neel Sethi as Mowgli. Muxh of the casting is spot-on perfect – Bill Murray as Baloo, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, Lupita Nyong’o and Giancarlo Esposito as Raksha and Akela – and Christopher Walken is an inspired choice for King Louie, especially when he’s portrayed as basically a jungle mob boss, but Idris Elba just does not work as Shere Kahn, because he just seems to be playing Idris Elba and nothing more. Other than that though, this is fantastic. Choose Film 8/10
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