How’d it go? – October 2021

Here’s the films I watched in October:

The Guilty (2021)

Jake Gyllenhaal plays a disgraced cop working as a 9-1-1 operator on the lead-up to his court appearance for the events that led him to the demotion. One night he becomes very involved with a call that he suspects is from a woman who has been kidnapped, and he does everything in his power to resolve the situation. I’m told the original Danish version is excellent, but I really dug this one too. Gyllanhaal is phenomenal in a role that has him onscreen for essentially the entire runtime, and the script does a good job at drip-feeding plot elements as he would learn them, keeping us engaged and curious throughout. I haven’t seen a lot of this year’s awards contenders, but the lack of discussion around Gyllenhaal’s performance here mystifies me, he’s incredible.
Choose Film 7/10

Aquaman (2018)

Watched for Deep Blue Sea: The Podcast because of all the underwater action (and Michael Beach!). I did see this in the cinema, but I fell asleep and missed quite a lot of it, something that I think is understandable given how long and boring the central plot is. Yes, Momoa is good in the lead role, Patrick Wilson is chomping all the scenery as his villainous half-brother and there’s lots of fun to be had with all the sea creatures wearing armour or playing the drums, but so much of the 2 1/2 hour runtime is exposition and tedium. I could’ve done with more Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta, but I’m sure that’ll be happening in the upcoming sequel. Listen to the podcast episode here.
Choose Life 6/10

No Time To Die (2021)

I almost don’t believe this film came out, we were waiting for it for so long! Years! Literal years! Like, actual, calendar years! Anyway, it’s here now, and I thought it was great. In the Daniel Craig era rankings I agree with most people that it fits between the two excellent films (Casino Royale and Skyfall) and the two films of considerably lesser quality (Quantum of Solace and Spectre), but is still definitely worth watching. It’s a little too long, the plot is a little too silly, and the ending a little predictable, but I was here for it all. It was also a bit frustrating that the most hyped scene in all the marketing, between Bond and Ana de Armas’ character, occurs very early on, is excellent, but is easily the peak of the film. Regardless, I loved the locations, the look of everything, all the acting, it’s great. You can listen to my appearance on the Lambcast discussing it here.
Choose Film 8/10

Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)

I hoped that by now I’d have seen all the 2021 Best Picture nominees, but alas I’m still missing Minari and Mank, despite both being readily available for me to watch at home for free via streaming services I’m subscribed to, I just cant bring myself to watch either! Judas and the Black Messiah also didn’t excite me all that much, and sits near the bottom of my rankings for the year. It’s not bad in any way, it just didn’t sit with me and I don’t remember much beyond the central performances, both of whom were way too old to play their respective characters. Fred Hampton and Bill O’Neal were both essentially kids, in their late teens and early twenties, for the entirety of the film’s events, so casting actors who look like they’re clearly well into their 30s puts an entirely different spin on their actions. (It turns out that Stanfield was 29 and Kaluuya was 31 when the film was released, but they both seem older to me.) Their performances are both captivating though, especially Kaluuya who thoroughly deserved that Oscar.
Choose Film 7/10

Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Jennifer’s Body won the LAMB’s Movie of the Month poll earlier this year, but I’ve only just gotten around to watching it and circling back to listen to that episode. I dismissed the film upon its initial release because it looked like a lad’s magazine come to life, a sister film to Lesbian Vampire Killers if you will, but that’s a fault of the marketing, it’s actually really good and surprised me a little. Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried are excellent and well cast in their roles, and I can understand why this has become something of a cult movie.
Choose Film 7/10

Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

So this is how it ends, no wonder they decided to reboot instead of carry on. This is amongst the most meh of the Star Trek films, I didn’t much care for any of it. I’d been looking forward to Tom Hardy’s appearance, and I was surprised by how prominent his role is – I was expecting an Adam Scott type single line and he’s done, but here he’s the primary antagonist! I’ve forgotten most of the film by now, but I haven’t forgotten how bored I was watching it.
Choose Life 4/10

Leviathan (1989)

Watched for Deep Blue Sea: The Podcast because it’s almost entirely underwater. I’d barely even heard of this before, but I quite enjoyed it. Yes, it’s basically Alien underwater, even to the point of having a prank played that uses a crab identical to the facehugger, but it still worked well. The cast includes Peter Weller, Ernie Hudson, Daniel Stern, Richard Crenna and Hector Elizondo, so it was fun discovering a new role for each of them, and there are some decent kills here too. An unexpected pleasure, listen to the podcast episode here.
Choose Film 6/10

The Descent (2005)

Watched for the Halloween episode of Deep Blue Sea: The Podcast because it features subterranean creatures, and because Mark kept referencing it during the show. Turns out it’s not very Deep Blue Sea-adjacent, but it is very good. It’s extremely tense, exceptionally well made and acted given the budget, and had me gripped throughout. Don’t expect me to go spelunking any time soon. Listen to the podcast here.
Choose Film 9/10

Bait (2012)

Watched for Deep Blue Sea: The Podcast because sharks! Sharks in a supermarket! A flood traps a small group of staff and customers (If they speak in the opening scenes, they’ll be alive post-flood. If they don’t, they won’t be.) in a supermarket with an underground car park, along with a couple of sharks. Hilarity ensues. I enjoyed this, but I think it could have been a lot more fun. I was genuinely expecting a scene featuring a shark pushing a shopping trolley, and I’m so very disappointed this never occurred. Julian McMahon is the most recognisable cast member and gets one of the more interesting roles of a would-be shoplifter coerced by a masked partner, and I have to give credit to Daniel Wyllie for the many bizarre acting choices he made for his character of Kirby. What an unhinged performance! The trolley armour scene is a highlight, but really the whole film is pretty good, once you get past the abysmal CGI in the opening scene. Listen to the podcast episode here.
Choose Film 6/10

Dune (2021)

I didn’t have high hopes for this, as I’d heard the sci-fi is dense and I really didn’t like Blade Runner: 2049. I’ve seen bits of the David Lynch Dune, but couldn’t remember the story at all so this was essentially my first foray into the world, and it’s really impressive. The scale, the visuals, how tactile everything felt, there’s so much to take in here. My only qualm has been I’m not a big Timothee Chalamet fan (I’m often of the opinion that if Timothee Chalamet is the perfect choice for the lead of your film, maybe you should make a different film) and here he’s fine, he fits the character, but I just don’t like the character he fits. To be fair, I have the same opinions of Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy, a character that presumably took inspiration from Paul Atreides. Stellan Skarsgard as Baron Harkonnen was my favourite part, and not just because he’s from Deep Blue Sea. The moment when he suddenly ascends into the air was my biggest “Wait, what?!!?” moment of the year, I loved it. Everyone is doing great work here, and yeah, I’m looking forward to the sequel.
Choose Film 8/10

Jaws 2 (1978)

Can you tell I was trying to catch up on podcast films? That September Scotland vacation really dented my stock of pre-recorded shows. Anyway, this was obviously watched for Deep Blue Sea: The Podcast because it’s got a shark in it. Most of my sources had described this Jaws sequel as being fine, with one insane person claiming it to be the best Jaws movie. Nonsense. It’s good, I liked it, but there’s just no way it’s even close to the original. I appreciated that there was no real effort to replace the missing Quint and Hooper, keeping Brody front and centre throughout despite Roy Scheider’s reluctance to return, but it gave the film a much more inferior flavour without that trio’s camaraderie. Also no film has ever been improved by just chucking a bunch of annoying kids at it, which is the case here. Despite this, the climax worked well, plus there’s the return of Murray Hamilton as Mayor Vaughn, so of course it’s a recommendation from me! Listen to the podcast here.
Choose Film 6/10

Freaky (2020)

I’ve been looking forward to this film for ages, and I’m happy to say it delivered on the premises of both a body swap comedy and a slasher movie, whilst somehow seamlessly melding those two very different energies together. It does feel like Vince Vaughn saw Jack Black in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and thought “Hey, I wanna play a teenage girl too, just not quite as well” but he’s good enough for what’s required. Kathryn Newton is also terrific in both sides of the role. The kills are excellent, particularly early on.
Choose Film 8/10

Jaws 3D (1983)

The final film this month watched for Deep Blue Sea: The Podcast. Some say this is the worst Jaws movie, but I liked it quite a bit, even with Dennis Quaid in the starring role. The only problem I had was that it could be so much better, given the premise of a shark swimming rampant around a Sea World, but because of the official location and branding the film-makers were anchored to not making the park seem too dangerous. There are two separate scenes with a shark following a water-ski pyramid that collapses and sends dozens of people into the water, and in both cases everyone survives unscathed! No tourists get eaten in the whole film! Not a one! I’m not suggesting they should have gone as far as Piranha 3DD‘s level of park-based carnage, because that’s easily one of the worst films ever made, but this film desperately needed a little more gore, and a little less composited footage of dolphins spinning. Plus so much of the film is out of focus! That’s probably due to the 3D nature of the initial release, but the effects throughout are mostly terrible. Oh, and I wanted so much more from the characters played by Lea Thompson (who disappears, alive, before the final act) and Louis Gossett Jr., who has a real character that could have been iconic, but doesn’t get much to do other than drink. Listen to the podcast episode here.
Choose Life 5/10

Last Night in Soho (2021)

I had to choose between seeing this or The French Dispatch and, whilst I’m annoyed I never got around to seeing the latest Wes Anderson film, I’m so happy I saw this in the cinema. I’ll watch anything Edgar Wright does (provided it’s not a music documentary about a band I’ve never heard of, that’s not really my thing although I’ll make an effort to see it when The Sparks Brothers hits streaming) so I was already on board before sitting down, but I think I’d have loved it either way. It was less horrific than I was expecting (this is a good thing), and I was enthralled by the technical wizardry on display in numerous scenes. I’m looking forward to checking out some behind the scenes featurettes when I get the Blu-Ray. Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy are both exceptional, I loved Eloise’s house in Cornwall at the start, hated her roommates with a passion (as you’re supposed to) and can’t wait to see this again soon! Listen to my appearance on Out Now with Aaron and Abe talking about the film here.
Choose Film 9/10

The Croods: A New Age (2020)

Background watch, it was fine. Not as fresh and creative as the first one with all the creature designs, but good enough.
Choose Life 6/10

4 thoughts on “How’d it go? – October 2021

  1. didn’t like the guilty as much as u did.
    I thought Dune was fine, but until we see the full movie, it’s hard to judge

    Yep. STN was one of the weakest and they did justice with the reboot

  2. Pingback: 2021 Movies Ranked | Life Vs Film

  3. Pingback: 2021: What Kind of Year Has It Been? Plus Plans for 2022 | Life Vs Film

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