News Of The World, I Care A Lot, Mank and others – Screen Time February 2021

Looking back at the list of films I managed to notch up in February, I’m struck by how many of them veered towards the bizarre. For instance, there was The Prom, Ryan Murphy’s colourful film version of the Broadway musical about celebrity types injecting an acceptance of diversity into small-town America. The shopping-mall-set rendition of the Bible-basher-bashing Love Thy Neighbour (“There’s no way to separate / Which rules you can violate / Let’s hope you don’t masturbate”) certainly scored high on the weirdness meter. But it was several notches below the outright bonkers-ness of Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mark (Josh Greenbaum) which featured, amongst many other surprises, a talking crab, friendly sea spirits and the sight of Jamie Dornan delivering a (convincing!) Eurovision-style song-and-dance number containing the immortal lyrics, “Seagulls in the sand, can you hear my prayer?” Dornan was perhaps the best thing in this ludicrously enjoyable romp, striking just the right balance between straight and silly.

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Le Mans ’66, The White Tiger, Assassins and others – Screen Time January 2021

Seven films in one month is quite a poor achievement for me, and as I type these words, I’m trying to work out why I didn’t treat myself to more in-house cinematic outings. But the reasons aren’t forthcoming. Was it all to do with the extra-grey, Covid-enhanced January malaise by which so many of us seemed to be dragged down? Or was I just a bit too busy with writing commitments? I feel certain that, had we been in the ‘normal world’ (what does that even mean any more?) I would have managed to go to the cinema on more than seven occasions, but in the all-pervading spirit of counting our blessings, I suppose I ought to declare that seven is better than none.

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My Favourite Films Of 2019 + The End Of The Reviews

The year ends, and so does my little film review project. It started with a pope so perhaps it’s appropriate that it finished with two. Many thanks to those of you who took the time to read these little scribblings. Below I’ve put together a list of my favourite movies of the year. As I watched 71 in total (the lowest number for the last … Continue reading My Favourite Films Of 2019 + The End Of The Reviews

2019 Film Reviews – 71: The Two Popes [dir. Fernando Mereilles; 2019]

If theatre is better at exploring ideas than film is, perhaps that’s why The Two Popes feels as though it would have been slightly more comfortable at The National. Or maybe it’s because it consists of little more than conversations between Pope Benedict and the soon-to-be Pope Francis as they wrestle with their differing views on the role of the Catholic Church. But it would … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 71: The Two Popes [dir. Fernando Mereilles; 2019]

2019 Film Reviews – 70: Little Women [dir. Greta Gerwig; 2019]

Towards the end of this latest, mildly indie-flavoured adaptation of Little Women, Amy berates Jo for always pointing out the former’s flaws rather than appreciating her strengths. With that in mind, I ought to state that Gerwig’s take on the 19th century classic is handsomely-staged, warmly played and mostly engaging — there’s a generous, affectionate Ang Lee-esque, Sense & Sensibility glow over all the characters … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 70: Little Women [dir. Greta Gerwig; 2019]

2019 Film Reviews – 69: Atlantics [dir. Mati Diop; 2019]

It is a stain on our collective conscience that there is still a need for us to tell stories about the current migrant crisis. So large is the problem that it has almost become the stuff of ‘news wallpaper’. So perhaps Mati Diop intended to jolt us out of complacency with her decision to approach the issue in an unusual way: by examining it through … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 69: Atlantics [dir. Mati Diop; 2019]

2019 Film Reviews – 68: Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker [dir. J J Abrams; 2019]

No-one reading a review of the new Star Wars film actually needs any help deciding whether they want to watch it. They’ll leap towards it or avoid it regardless of what anyone else says. For what it’s worth, I found its conclusion of the saga – which sees Rey and Kylo Ren circling ever closer to each other while dealing with the growing power of … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 68: Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker [dir. J J Abrams; 2019]

2019 Film Reviews – 67: Spider-Man: Far From Home [dir. Jon Watts; 2019]

I must have a very perverse take on super-hero films: I didn’t think Dark Phoenix was anywhere near as awful as most people seemed to, and I wasn’t sent into ecstasies by Avengers: Endgame. So perhaps it was inevitable that I’d find myself giving Far From Home a friendly thumbs up. Yes, its high school comedy tone is frothy, but at least it never takes … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 67: Spider-Man: Far From Home [dir. Jon Watts; 2019]

2019 Film Reviews – 66: Marriage Story [dir. Noah Baumbach; 2019]

There’s no doubt that much of Marriage Story is touching and memorable. As it crosses over from America’s east coast to its west, this story of a couple handling the realities of a break-up – and its effects on their child – impresses with its honesty and its refusal to descend into mawkishness. But I’d suggest that its one-sidedness is a serious and fundamental flaw. … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 66: Marriage Story [dir. Noah Baumbach; 2019]

2019 Film Reviews – 64: Toy Story 4 [dir. Josh Cooley; 2019]

The teams behind the Toy Story films have always displayed a commendable talent for telling relatively simple, focussed stories with terrific attention to detail, neat characterisation and an insistence on intelligent, convincing plotting. However, I’d argue that this precision-led approach has resulted in sequels that have been satisfying, but haven’t quite managed to linger in one’s memory. Toy Story 4 is very much in this … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 64: Toy Story 4 [dir. Josh Cooley; 2019]